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Gay Mormon Pens Incredible Response To LDS Bishop After Being Threatened With Excommunication: VIDEO

Taylor

A gay Mormon has penned a powerful response to his bishop after the LDS church threatened to excommunicate him for being gay. 

Utah native Taylor Knuth-Bishop (above left) and his husband, Sean Knuth-Bishop, were among 33 couples who married at the 2014 Grammy Awards during a performance of "Same Love" by Macklemore. 

RobertsletterLast month Taylor Knuth-Bishop, who now lives in New York City, received a letter from his Mormon bishop back in Utah, Morgan J. Roberts, according to the Mormon Stories Podcast

"The bishopric is considering formal disciplinary action in your behalf, including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication, because you are reported to have participated in conduct unbecoming a member of the church," Roberts wrote. 

On the blog he shares with his husband, Knuth-Bishop said he also received a phone call from Bishop Roberts: 

"On the telephone Bishop Roberts repeatedly used the word 'Choice' to describe his reason in calling the disciplinary council hearing, and that this choice could potentially lead to my disfellowshipment or excommunication from the Church. I have CHOSEN to marry Sean Bishop. It was my CHOICE to live the lifestyle I live. That was among the vocabulary used to describe my situation." 

Knuth-Bishop posted a powerful response to Bishop Roberts, in which he talks about his love for theater and his relationship with his husband — whom he calls "the greatest thing that ever happened to me." Knuth-Bishop also tells Roberts how his family has been supportive, and states that while he's no longer a practicing Mormon, he still believes in the church's "foundational teachings of love, charity, kindness, hope, and faith–among others."

"I am not afraid of who I am or who I love in the eyes of God as I see them, nor will I deny that love. To me, Jesus preached love and acceptance–not exclusivity, perfection, judgement, or fear-mongering.

"The Mormon faith has been wrong on countless occasions throughout their rocky history, both in revelations and prophecies through leadership of the church and within their own doctrine. An occasion very similar to my own would be the decision to allow people of African decent the priesthood in 1978 and allowing inter-racial marriage within the temple. Something that before that time, was unheard of- even sinful. ... 

"I, along with my entire family and close friends, have  CHOSEN to stand on the side of love, equality, acceptance and celebration."

Knuth-Bishop goes on to note that Utah leads the nation in teen suicide, which is the No. 1 cause of death for teens and young adults in the state, and that youth are four times more likely to take their own lives if family, friends or religious institutions reject or devalue them:

Taylor"Having a family who did not reject me, and having Sean by my side throughout my 'coming out' process are the only reasons I am still on this Earth. Too many are not as fortunate as I am in this regard, and TOO MANY choose to take their own lives because of men like you and processes like this disciplinary council. TOO MANY feel excluded, rejected and devalued because of comments made in passing in General Conference, from their own family, and from men like you. TOO MANY take a blade to their wrists, bullet to their brains, and pills down their throats to end their suffering because of something that they CANNOT control: a desire to live a happy lifestyle with someone of their own gender or sex. ... 

"Shame on you for calling into question a relationship that is the cornerstone of my life–that I hold above all others. Shame on you for telling me that my 'behavior' is 'unbecoming of a member the Church.' Shame on you for not honoring the promises that you made to your congregations to love, value, and respect each member. Shame on you for being so far away from the true lessons of Christ. And finally, shame on you for attacking me for engaging in a relationship that does you and the members of your congregation no harm whatsoever." 

Read Knuth-Bishop's full letter to Roberts here

Watch Sean Knuth-Bishop's remarkable marriage proposal to his husband, as well as their Grammy Awards wedding ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Gay Mormon Pens Incredible Response To LDS Bishop After Being Threatened With Excommunication: VIDEO" »


Ex-BYU Student Says He Was Evicted From Apartment After Landlord Found Out He Was Gay: VIDEO

A former student at Brigham Young University (BYU) has sued Provo apartment complex The Village after claiming he was evicted when his landlord found out he was gay, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Large-entrance-sign-provo-apartmentsOn January 23rd, Andrew White was served an eviction notice by complex managers, ten days after a disagreement with his three male roommates escalated from gay slurs into physical violence.

A copy of the eviction notice alleges White had violated lease policies, including residential living standards, the "quiet enjoyment of others” and BYU's honor code. Details of the alleged violations were not provided in the notice.

However, in seeking more than $101,000 in damages, White argued he was wrongly evicted and said the apartment manager caused him emotional distress by disclosing information which had in the past "led directly to an assault on him and a loss of living quarters."

White says that when he refused to leave the apartment, the roommates entered his room, dragged him out of bed and began removing his personal belongings. The unnamed roommates are also alleged to have again threatened White with physical violence.

The suit was settled yesterday for an undisclosed sum. As part of the settlement, White said the lawsuit was a tenant dispute and not meant to imply discrimination by apartment management.

Watch a BYU Understanding Same-Gender Attraction "It Gets Better" video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Earlier this month, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's nondiscrimination laws in housing and employment. 

Continue reading "Ex-BYU Student Says He Was Evicted From Apartment After Landlord Found Out He Was Gay: VIDEO" »


Utah Governor Gary Herbert Signs LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections into Law

As expected, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's nondiscrimination laws in housing and employment, Utah's NPR station KUER reports:

HerbertSB 296 makes clear religious organizations and their affiliates cannot be forced to perform gay marriages, and no one can be evicted or fired for expressing their religious beliefs. Governor Herbert said that strikes a fair balance.

“And I do believe that what we’ve done here will become a model for the rest of the country of how they too can resolve these issues in their own respective states as we find the right balance necessary to discourage discrimination while protecting religious liberty,” Herbert said.

Protections under new law will take effect in July. 

National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell defended the bill in a Facebook post yesterday, saying it was the right move for Utah but shouldn't be viewed as a model for other states to follow:

 

 


In Contradictory Votes, Utah House Passes LGBT Protections and 'License to Discriminate' Bills

Equalityutah

The Utah House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to approve a series of bills relating to LGBT discrimination protections and religious beliefs, with mixed results for supporters of LGBT protections.

HerbertSB 296, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's nondiscrimination laws in housing and employment, passed the House in a 65-10 vote. The bill was supported by both the ACLU and the Church of Latter-Day Saints and exempts religious organizations and their affiliates (schools, Boy Scouts, etc) from the law. Governor Gary Herbert (pictured right) is expected to sign the bill into law in a special ceremony tonight. 

SB 297, approved by a 66-9 vote, would permit government workers to opt-out of same-sex weddings, but would require county clerks ensure someone is available to perform the nuptials. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the bill, which also prevents "government retaliation against individuals who invoke religious beliefs as grounds for refusing to perform weddings or provide accommodations," was endorsed by the Mormon church and "somewhat reluctantly" by Equality Utah. 

HB 322, the state's own "license to discriminate" bill, was slammed by LGBT advocates as a thinly-veiled attempt at stripping away much of the protections that would come with SB 296. The bill passed 54-21 and heads to the state Senate for a possible vote today.

For more on what's playing out in Utah, check out Salt Lake City Fox 13's great breakdown of each bill and vote. 


HRC Throws Support Behind Utah Anti-Discrimination Bill Backed By Mormon Church

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 2.37.26 PMThe Human Rights Campaign today announced its support for a proposed non-discrimination bill in Utah that would extend employment and housing discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity today. HRC President Chad Griffin is pleased with the support behind the bill, including backing from the Mormon Church.

Said Griffin: 

"This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history. The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States."

The bill, S.B. 296, is headed to its first hearing tomorrow and contains three consequential provisions. In short, the bill states employers, landlords and property owners are prohibited from denying jobs and housing based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and no religious exemptions from non-discrimination provisions will be permitted for individuals or for-profit businesses. Should Utah legislators approve the measure, the state would join 21 other states that have explicit non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, and 18 other states that have explicit gender identity protections. HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow hopes Utah legislators move quickly on the matter.

Said Warbelow:

"This is a very encouraging step for all of us committed to equality. With just a short time remaining in the state legislative session, we hope for quick and positive action on this important measure."

The HRC had spurned a previously proposed non-discrimination initiative that was supported by Mormon leaders. Many critics, including the HRC, found the proposed initiative's more robust exemptions for religious organizations unacceptable.


HRC Spurns 'Deeply Flawed' Mormon 'Deal' as Utah Gay Dems Celebrate It

The Human Rights Campaign today criticized a proposal from leaders at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which the Mormon church pledged support for Utah LGBT non-discrimination initiatives in exchange for religious exemptions, couching its proposal in "religious freedom" rhetoric.

LdsSaid HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a press release:

"Symbolically, seeing the church leaders advocating so openly for these protections will no doubt be deeply meaningful to Mormon families with LGBT members, and provide encouragement to LGBT youth in the church. But, as a matter of public policy, it appears deeply flawed....We share the church's commitment to freedom of religion. We embrace the principles of the First Amendment and believe churches do and should have the right to make determinations about who fills their pews. But non-discrimination protections only function when they are applied equally. It should be stated that there are countless LGBT Mormons, and Mormon allies, who support equality, not in spite of their faith but because of it. All Americans should have the right to be employed, receive housing and services in environments free of discrimination. We await the day the church embraces that fully, without any exceptions or exemptions."

Meanwhile, gay Utah Democrats were celebrating the 'deal'.

DabakisSaid state Senator Jim Dabakis in a statement:

"I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. As a religious institution, Mormons have had a long history of being the victims of discrimination and persecution. They understand more than most the value and strength of creating a civil society that judges people by the content of their character and their ability to do a job. Since serving as a Senator, and as the only LGBT member of the Utah legislature, I can say one of the joys of the job has been to meet and enjoy the company of LDS officials. I know that together, we can build a community that strongly protects religious organizations constitutional liberties and, in addition, creates a civil, respectful, nurturing culture where differences are honored and everyone feels welcome. Now, lets roll up our sleeves, get to work and pass a statewide Non-Discrimination Bill."

Equality Utah also saw the Mormon deal as a win.

Said Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams in a statement:

“We laud the LDS Church’s statement of support. The Church joins a growing number of faith, civic and corporate leaders who also stand on the side of compassion and fairness. We believe that gay and transgender Utahns can live and work beside people of faith. Many within the LGBT community are themselves people of faith. We look forward soon to the day when all Utahns have the opportunity to live and work freely in the state we call home.”

Watch the Mormon press conference from earlier today HERE.


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