Monday, November 13, 2017

Two Years Later: The Exclusion Policy

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Believe it or not, I hate writing about religion on my own blog. The cost is just too high. But every time I do, someone (often, multiple someones) reaches out to me. "I thought I was the only one who felt this way," they might say. "I don't have anyone else I can talk to about this." So here's my PSA: if you need someone to talk to about church stuff, I will listen without pushing an agenda and without judging you. Your confidence is safe with me.

Two years ago this month, my church's new policy regarding LGBT families was leaked. In essence, it says that same sex couples who marry are apostates and must be subjected to a church disciplinary hearing. It further states that the children of homosexual parent[s] in a same-sex relationship (or even who were previously in a same-sex relationship) cannot be baptized, cannot be ordained to the priesthood (just boys--girls aren't ordained), until they are 18 and "specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage." These children are also not permitted to receive a baby blessing (the Mormon equivalent of a Christening).

I stand behind what I wrote here one year ago: I think this policy is deeply harmful, needlessly inflexible, and fundamentally unchristian.

Why am I writing this? Because this policy is so obviously wrong. Because silence feels complicit. Because I don't want people to forget. The policy may not be making headlines anymore, but it's still affecting lives and harming families. 

I'm straight, and most of my LDS friends and family are, too, so this policy doesn't affect me on a deep personal level. Here are the words of an acquaintance of mine that poignantly express his experience:

"Pain. November 5, 2015. It's still there everyday, even after two years of settling in with "The Policy" and working on healing within my LGBTQ community of Affirmation. Perhaps I'm more resolute and not expecting any changes anytime soon, but the pain and devastation I see still goes on in my circles. It's like a bad dream playing out and not getting resolved or getting any better. How to deal with the grief I feel of being part of the tremendous loss of human resource the church has experienced and continues to lose among LGBTQ Mormons, their friends and families. I'm sad because I loved and contributed to the Church for over 40 years of my life and it was a huge part of my identity. Now my life has become that of Mormon Refugee. I still attend occasionally, but my whole experience has changed, and feels surreal. I'm definitely one of those coals taken out of the fire, set on the hearth and am feeling the effects of cooling. And yet my deep love of the gospel still remains. Perhaps the pain will go away? I don't know."

I feel his sense of loss, of pain, of bewilderment, of resignation. It shouldn't be this way. It doesn't have to be this way. 

I don't have any local or general administrative authority in my church with which to effect change. But I can raise awareness, model empathy, and sit with the marginalized. This post is one small attempt to do just that.

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