I’m still not quite sure what to write, here. I was going to post on Thursday, and then on Saturday, and then earlier today. Each time I had another (legitimate) excuse for not having finished the piece. But, the truth is, I just didn’t…don’t know what to write.
I grew up in Lehi, Utah, which is located just beyond what used to be the Point of the Mountain — the barrier that locals use to separate Salt Lake and Utah counties. It used to be one of the best places in the world to hang-glide and parasail. But, over the last 19 years, I have watched as trucks have carried away pieces of the mountain. It isn’t a point, anymore, and people are trying to get in their extreme sports before the wind is completely gone. I know this is going to sound cheesy, but I feel a lot like I imagine the mountain feels. I feel like I used to be able to compartmentalize better. But, little by little, either my ability or my desire to do so has been chipped away. And, suddenly, I’m left with this giant ball of me–all parts mixed together. My religion collided with my identity. And I tried and I tried to make them fit together, or to make them separate once more, but I wasn’t very successful.
I still live in Utah. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to Utah-related news over the past three-and-a-half weeks, but it’s been quite the rollercoaster for queerfolks and their families. Before I delve into that, I’ll let you know that in 2004, voters moved for an Amendment to be added to Utah’s state constitution that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. In March 2013, a suit was filed against Utah Governor Gary Herbert, challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 3. A decision was not made until December 20th, when Judge Robert Shelby found Amendment 3 unconstitutional. This, in effect, legalized same-sex marriage in Utah.
Over 1300 couples were married as Governor Herbert tried to get Judge Shelby and then the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a “stay” during the appeals process. A stay would keep Judge Shelby’s decision from going into effect during the appellate process. Needless to say, neither Shelby nor the 10th Circuit Court granted a stay. The appeal fell on the desk of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Sotomayor called for a decision to be made by the high court entire. A stay was granted on January 6th, effectively putting same-sex marriage on hold while Governor Herbert filed an appeal to overturn Judge Shelby’s decision.
On the 8th, Governor Herbert announced that the State of Utah would not recognize the marriages legally entered into between Judge Shelby’s ruling and the Supreme-Court-ordered stay, during the appellate process. This decision leaves the 1300+ couples who got married between Dec. 20th and Jan. 6th in limbo.
Luckily, United States Attorney General Eric Holder said, on Jan 10th, that the federal government would recognize the legally married same-sex couples from Utah, for taxes, benefits, etc.
On that same day, a rally was held at Utah’s Capitol Building to deliver two petitions — with a combined 58,000 signatures — asking Governor Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to forget about the appeals process that would cost at minimum $2 million and instead just let Judge Shelby’s ruling stand.
We’ll see what happens as the appeals process goes on. Like I said, it’s been a rollercoaster.
Throughout all this, the Church has made comments about the Utah marriage battle. And I just can’t help but think, for a global church, why is the Church all wrapped up in Utah politics? Did we forget about the separation of church and state, or do we just think it applies to everyone but us? And am I the only one who is getting creeped out all the pictures of clean-cut, middle class, white families with polished teeth and perfectly obedient children? I just want to know: WHY THIS BATTLE?!!?!?!
Why not address global poverty and Capitalism and how the latter is mostly responsible for causing the former? Ohp, the Pope has that one covered. What about sustainability and global climate change? I guess a bunch of the Brethren probably don’t believe in global climate change…well. How about addressing the overthrowing of oppressive governments? That’s right: we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law (Article of Faith 12).
Except when we queerfolk are involved.
This is the place…