Eighteen years ago today, fifteen men created a one-page political document that they and other LDS people would use against the legalization of marriage between same-sex partners in Hawaii during their version of Prop 8 back in 1995. They called it, ironically, The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
As I walk through Provo’s very first Pride Festival last Saturday, I am reminded of this document that has hurt so many people in my life. I see the Utah Gay Fathers Association with their beautiful children, and tears start to form in my eyes. Why would anybody want to treat these amazing men as less than their straight counterparts? Why would anybody think two awesome moms or two outstanding dads are somehow less able to raise children than a man and a woman?
I think of my trans* friends and how many of them were told by their cisgender Mormon families and friends that they were not the gender they identified as and felt most connected to. I thought of all the trans* people who commit suicide every year. The Proclamation was trying to tell them that their experience was a lie. Saying such does nothing but attempt to oppress an already oppressed class of people.
And what of my genderqueer friends? What about all my friends who don’t identify with either gender or as both genders?
So many people want them to fit in this neat little gender box, but here they say, “Screw it. I just want to be myself.” They take the criticism, the cat calls, the abuse, the employment and housing discrimination, the dehumanization–they take it all so that they can accept themselves fully.
So many LGBT*Q people sacrifice so much just so they can live happy, fulfilling lives.
And then fifteen upper middle-class, white, cisgender men say that what our awesome LGBT*Q sisters, brothers, and siblings are experiencing is eternally wrong.
And what of the amazing business women who CHOSE to have a career? Should we criticize them for not following their “divine gender roles”? Or should we celebrate with them for living out their dreams and for all they’ve done to help society?
What of all the women, men and people who choose not to have children? Is it truly our place to judge them? Is it truly the place of fifteen men born in a different time to judge them?
And what of all the men who don’t want to be a provider for their family? What of those who wish to be stay-at-home dads? Why is it anybody else’s place to tell these awesome men what to do?
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m just not a big fan of the Proclamation. I have friends who argue whether it’s doctrine or not. Apparently Boyd K. Packer had to change his talk when he said that the Proclamation was a revelation. Some people, myself included, have argued that the Proclamation is the natural byproduct of the sexist and heteronormative rituals of the temple, rituals that have been changing throughout the years, but oh so slowly.
Honestly, I just can’t wait until we get rid of it. I can’t wait for the day that we’ll realize just how hurtful the Proclamation has been to some people. I can’t wait for the day we don’t have to tear down others’ families and others’ life decisions just to validate our own.
Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we consult women before making a document concerning their lives? Can’t we consult gay people and trans* people and genderqueer people before telling them what to do?
Better yet, can’t we just accept and love people as they are and just stop the prescriptions, proscriptions and prejudices and let people run their own lives? There is no one size fits all for any individual or family, so let’s stop pretending there is and learn to love the diversity.