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Mormon Church Moves to Excommunicate Critic for Supporting Marriage Equality and the Ordination of Women

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John Dehlin, a Mormon advocate for progressive change in the church, is facing excommunication after being charged with apostasy for supporting gay marriage and the ordination of women.

Dehlin, who runs the Mormon Stories website that serves as an online forum for Mormons critical of church teachings, says that his regional church leader has scheduled a disciplinary hearing for January 25.

The New York Times reports:

Mr. Dehlin said he would be excommunicated if he refused to take down podcasts that are critical of the church and to disavow his support for women’s ordination and gay marriage.

“I would prefer for them to leave me alone,” he said in an interview, “but if given the choice between denying my conscience and facing excommunication, I’d much rather be excommunicated.”

Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer who founded the Ordain Women movement in the church, was excommunicated last June, and Mr. Dehlin was warned then of the charges against him. But after the excommunication of Ms. Kelly created an uproar, the Mormon church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held off on excommunicating Mr. Dehlin while simultaneously disciplining dozens of others who had publicly questioned their faith.


Their Husbands Aren't 'Gay,' So Let's Stop Acting Like They Are

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The Interplay is a special biweekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

Last Sunday TLC invited us into the homes and lives of married Mormon men who, despite being in committed relationships with women, still felt sexual desires for other men. Taken at face value “My Husband’s Not Gay” is exactly the kind of contemporary sideshow attraction that TLC specializes in. As casual viewers we’re meant to poke fun at the documentary’s subjects and to decry TLC’s morally questionable exploitation of them. Having watched the show, however, there’s a much more interesting story being told about the complexities of modern relationships and broader cultural difference.

The joke built into the special is eye-rollingly simple, if a bit heartbreaking: here’s a group of men living in denial about who they really are; ain’t that funny? If we accept the show’s central premise as being true, then sure, there’s potential for some dark humor at the couples’ expense. When you really stop and think about it, though, there’s a degree of truth to the show’s title. These men aren’t gay, at least not socially.

Not a day goes by that someone somewhere makes the valid, though cliched, point that there is no real “X-community.” The idea is that queer people come from too diverse a set of backgrounds to simply lump together. In terms of political correctness, that’s all true.

But in our day-to-day interactions we all participate in various activities that compose a larger LGBTQ or queer culture. You there, sir or madam who’s reading this post? Congratulations; you’re creating queer culture. Everything from the music that we listen to to the legal happenings we follow is a part of of a group subculture that we, as non-straight people, are a part of.

It’s important to point out, though, that the LGBTQ community is about more than not being heteronormatively straight. Similarly, the gay community, culture, and identity cannot be reduced to gay men not wanting to have sex with women. Gays and lesbians who choose to remain celibate in accordance with Catholic beliefs, for example, shouldn’t be denied right to their identities simply because they choose not to have sex with others of the same sex. The husbands of “My Husband’s Not Gay” are up front about their urges, but they’re also fundamentally removed from the gay culture and community in a way that’s worth thinking about.

These families’ lives are built around the teachings of the Mormon Church that require certain behaviors that the typical gay man would find untenable. Unlike many popular examples of cultures that forbid homosexuality, the families here deal with the elephant in the room in an open way that comes across as both endearing and, for lack of a better term, weird.

These men are able to openly discuss their thoughts and desires with their wives and each other. If we think about these men as self-identified homosexuals, rather than gay men, who have chosen to abstain for religious reasons, then there’s a novelty to seeing them discuss their thoughts frankly.  As off putting as the the documentary’s premise may be to you or I, it isn’t fair to write off their entire way of living simply because we can’t imagine ourselves in their situations.

To be clear, there are many things about “My Husband’s Not Gay” that are problematic and made all the worse by TLC’s decision not to contextualize some of its content. Though none of the Mormon characters explicitly endorsed reparative therapy during the course of the first episode, three have been directly linked to the practice in their personal lives. Other plot elements such as the sliding danger scale and the implicit pathologization of same-sex attraction also deserve a more appropriate counterbalance that TLC could have easily provided.

That all being said, “My Husband’s Not Gay” profiles a group of families united in their faith that have somehow managed to carve out a curious, but valid cultural niche for themselves. Though we may not agree with their beliefs, the documentary is an opportunity for us to learn across our differences and perhaps come to understand that certain similarities don’t always equal sameness.


Thousands Sign Petition Calling For TLC To Cancel Mormon Reality Series 'My Husband's Not Gay' - VIDEO

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A petition calling for the cancellation of TLC’s new Mormon-centric reality program “My Husband’s Not Gay” has drawn the network’s attention before the documentary premieres this Sunday. 

“As a devout Christian, I understand the important role faith plays in the lives of the show’s main characters,” writes Josh Sanders, who started the petition. “As a gay Christian man who’s seen first hand how this message can harm people, I am calling on TLC to cancel “My Husband’s Not Gay” and to stop telling America that LGBT people should lie to themselves and to their faith communities about who they are and who they love.”

Sanders continues:

“The men featured in this show deserve to be shown compassion and acceptance. Perhaps even more importantly, TV viewers need to know the horrific consequences of trying to change who you are.

Instead, TLC is presenting victims’ lives as entertainment, while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex.”

Currently, the petition has just under 100,000 signatures. As word of the petition spread, TLC made a point of issuing an official statement to US Weekly magazine reaffirming its decision to air the program.

"TLC has long shared compelling stories about real people and different ways of life, without judgment," said a network representative. "The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves."

The Salt Lake Tribune, meanwhile, reports that three of the Utahns profiled on the show are closely tied to groups that peddle dangerous, discredited conversion therapy:

Preston "Pret" Dahlgren is the former chairman of Evergreen International, a Mormon-linked organization that promoted so-called "reparative therapy." After Evergreen shut down last year, Dahlgren joined North Star International – yet another such group – as a board member.

His wife, Megan, has worked with three "reparative therapy" groups — Evergreen, North Star, and People Can Change.

And Jeff Bennion, another of men profiled in "Not Gay," is a spokesman for North Star.

None of this is mentioned even in passing in the special. Which is a clear attempt to deceive the viewers.

“My Husband’s Not Gay” airs this Sunday on TLC. Watch the trailer for the program AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Thousands Sign Petition Calling For TLC To Cancel Mormon Reality Series 'My Husband's Not Gay' - VIDEO" »


TLC's 'My Husband's Not Gay' Documents Gay Mormon Men Dating Women To 'Overcome' Their Sexuality: VIDEO

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TLC will air a documentary on January 1st about gay Mormon men in Salt Lake City who are married to women.

The men claim to use their faith in god to overcome anything that goes against their religious beliefs. Featuring three married couples and one bachelor, one of the men says he has “chosen an alternative to an alternative lifestyle.” Another participant helpfully explains “I’m interested in men, I’m just not interested in men.”

Some of the wives are delusional.

Watch a trailer for the TLC special, AFTER THE JUMP...

Mormon leaders recently reiterated the church's opposition to homosexuality.

Continue reading "TLC's 'My Husband's Not Gay' Documents Gay Mormon Men Dating Women To 'Overcome' Their Sexuality: VIDEO" »


Mormon Church Responds to SCOTUS Decision: 'Only Marriage Between A Man and a Woman Is Acceptable to God'

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a response to the Supreme Court's decision today that let stand the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling overturning Utah's ban on same-sex marriage

Read the statement, in part:

"The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God.

The statement went on to say that churchgoers should continue to reject "persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation."

U.S. Senator Mike Lee also weighed in on today's news, calling the Supreme Court's decision to not review the appeals "disappointing."

In related news, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes held a press conference this afternoon with Herbert conceding, "We are a state and a people who believe in upholding the law of the land and that has been determined for us today in a way that may be not satisfactory for some, but it is the law of the land." 

You can watch a clip of Reyes and Herbert speak at the press conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously, "WATCH: Gay Couples Tie the Knot in Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Utah, and Wisconsin" [tlrd]

Continue reading "Mormon Church Responds to SCOTUS Decision: 'Only Marriage Between A Man and a Woman Is Acceptable to God'" »


LDS Church 'Sad' About Salt Lake City Gay Bar's 'Dress Like a Mormon' Party: VIDEO

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A gay club is making headlines in Salt Lake City for a promotion meant to take advantage of the LDS General Conference in town over the weekend, KUTV reports.

The club erected a muscular Moroni statue on its roof, posted photos of its staff as missionary "Elders" and gave them similar nametags. It is also offering liquor specials such a "Sacrament shots", "Baptism by Fireball", and "Garment Droppers" and is offering free entry to those wearing "garments, missionary nametags, or their missionary suit."

The stunt has offended at least one patron who says she'll "think twice" about going back.

An LDS Church released a statement about the promotion:

"In recent years many people in our community, including religious leaders and representatives of the LGBT community have worked hard to create greater understanding and develop more sensitivity and good will toward each other. It is sad to see events like this - deliberately designed to offend and alienate - given any kind of attention."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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