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The Devil Makes You Gay: The Mormon Church and Its Homosexual Misfits

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Poor Mitt Romney. It must have been so awful for him in the late 1960s. While other young men were tanning themselves in sun-drenched Vietnam, Mitt was cast off to the unmentionable Hell of Bordeaux and Paris. There he was, a fresh-faced, painfully wealthy Mormon missionary, just out of prep school and probably exhausted from all those years of bullying gay teens, wandering aimlessly along that vice-infested stretch of the Seine, the effluvium of fresh croissants, tulips and perfume in the air, a gloomy symphony of clinking wine glasses and intelligent conversation, as he tried—Lord knows did he try—to convert those elegant French savages.

In the end, Romney saved only a handful of francophone souls, and by the spring of 1969, he was taking his joyful vows with the newly Mormon Ann Davies under a stained-glass halo at the Salt Lake Temple. This was the same spot, in fact, where a future president of the LDS Church, Spencer W. Kimball, had been ordained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles back in 1943, a powerful governing body staffed by so-called latter-day prophets. Indeed, somewhere in Utah on the couple’s wedding day, Elder Kimball—who reportedly once brought Romney to tears with his revelations about racial equality—was polishing up the final draft of his LDS classic The Miracle of Forgiveness. In this 1969 book, Kimball offered some rather prescient thoughts about an issue that would, ironically, come to trouble Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “After consideration of the evil aspects, the ugliness and prevalence of … homosexuality,” wrote Kimball, “the glorious thing to remember is that it is curable and forgivable. Certainly it can be overcome,” he continued optimistically, “for there are numerous happy people who were once involved in its clutches and have since completely transformed their lives.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s rather unfair, digging up some old bigot’s misinformed views as somehow reflecting Romney’s present beliefs. Granted, you’ll say, this was indeed the rhetoric in which Romney’s brain bathed during its most formative years, crystallizing his moral prism. But after all, people do “evolve.” Churches change. Except if you’re the Mormon Church, where mid-20th century antiscientific views on homosexuality thrive. Fast-forward to the more recent past, where in 1995, the fiery jurist, Dallin H. Oaks (a current member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), penned an influential article in the LDS magazine Ensign. Titled “Same-Gender Attraction,” it was composed with litigious precision, the author stating for his confused Mormon readers the unwavering position of his client (“the Creator”) on what the latter intended for human beings to do with their genitalia. “All should understand that persons struggling with the burden of same-sex attraction,” he wrote, “are in special need of love and encouragement.”

How kind. Don’t bash us, by God—pity us, help us, for we are afflicted souls. The Devil sets traps for our mortal lives in the throbbing crotches of handsome men. And for my lesbian sisters, you poor, suffering creatures, do watch out for that Satan; he’s a tricky one. Before you know it you’re stuck in a bout of tribadism or cunnilingus yet again. Oaks urges his fellow LDS members to show compassion for those enticed by same-sex flesh. We’re just like you, only intoxicated by Lucifer’s pheromones. “[Satan] seeks to undermine the principle of individual accountability,” Oaks explains, “to persuade us to misuse our sacred powers of procreation, to discourage marriage and childbearing by worthy men and women, and to confuse what it means to be male or female.” Same-sex urges, he goes on to say, may occur for those suffering from this sickness but these urges should be “redirected” to more appropriate outlets—namely, vaginas for gay men and penises for lesbians. Acting on them is to succumb to grievous sin, which warrants Church discipline.

You might note that 1995 was eons ago in terms of how far society has come in recognizing the non-evil nature of LGBT couples: that is, those who not only think gay thoughts, but who also—brace yourself—make love to their same-sex partners. Surely the LDS Church must have gotten with the times? There are small splinters of dissent, but even today, if you show me a mainstream Mormon who has positively affirmed his or her gay identity, I will show you an ex-Mormon, or at least one imminently excommunicable. Rather, the divinely defiant LDS Church still routinely shuttles off its tortured “non-gay homosexuals” (those who “suffer from same-sex attractions” but who reject the “gay lifestyle” as an option) to “treatment programs” such as Evergreen International. Individuals with these unrelenting desires are not promised a “cure”; they’re forewarned that the road to becoming straight is anything but, and that few will make it to the end of this perilous journey. Like the alcoholic in AA, “relapses” into wrong-gendered lust are tended to by stern yet compassionate LDS mentors who’ve “been there” themselves and know what it’s like to crave such beastly, filthy things. Still, for those who try—for those who sincerely believe in miracles—these embattled mortals are assured that “there is hope.”

Directly at odds with scientific evidence and now rejected vehemently by every single reputable mental health organization in the World, LDS-based counsellors promote the asinine and potentially dangerous lie that sexual orientation can be “reoriented” through the patient’s hard efforts. In cozy collaboration with the Church’s general authorities, Evergreen peddles on its website CDs such as Overcoming Homosexuality: Developing Heterosexual Attraction and a special workbook for lesbians, Practical Exercises for Women in Recovery of Same-Sex Attraction. “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then,” a Mormon authority pronounced to those attending a recent Evergreen conference, “you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex.”

It’s unclear if Romney is exactly this stupid concerning human nature. His record on gay civil rights is notoriously seesawed. But until he clearly denounces the LDS conception of homosexuality as a wilful choice or one whose only acceptable solution is lifelong celibacy or sham heterosexuality, we can only assume (after all, he’s not been shy about his devotion to the teachings of the Church, and he even served as a longstanding bishop and stake president) that every time he gives that tired old media sound bite, “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” what he really means to say is that happy LGBT Americans are just crafty demons in disguise.



Jesse Bering About the Author: Jesse Bering is Associate Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He is the author of The Belief Instinct (2011), Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? (2012) and Perv (2013). To learn more about Jesse's work, visit or add him on Facebook ( Follow on Twitter @JesseBering.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Tucker M 2:47 pm 06/5/2012

    Go Jesse go!

    Love your science posts even more, but this is a fun rant.

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  2. 2. beartrapstrong 3:11 pm 06/5/2012

    Yep. This is super scientific. A full 2000 words or so of sarcasm and righteous indignation. Mr. Bering you seem to be an evolutionary psychologist, so I reject your claim that exclusive homosexuality is genetic. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Homosexual tendencies are not the same as exclusive homosexuality. There is no genetic advantage to exclusive homosexuality.

    On top of that nearly every other mental “disorder” has a genetic cause and yet we treat those. I myself am ADHD. I have been given terrible destructive counsel about how to deal with my problems from laymen and professionals that had no idea what they were talking about. Does the stupidity of a few mean that the concept of treatment is immoral? What about depression? There have been countless ineffective treatments for depression, and yet, they still do research on it. The same goes for anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, phobias, and a ton of other things. And yet, because a specific few caused problems with homosexuality the popular culture is just supposed to reject all other possibilities.

    Why is there a double standard on homosexuality?

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  3. 3. Tucker M 5:08 pm 06/5/2012

    (a) I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Jesse claim that homosexuality is genetic, here or elsewhere;
    (b) there are plenty of undeniably genetic things that confer no obvious evolutionary advantage (to the contrary: just think of all the genetic disorders out there);
    (c) unlike you, actual psychologists no longer classify homosexuality as a disorder;
    (d) even if you choose to classify it as a disorder, it’s different from all other mental disorders in that it doesn’t actually impair, cause pain or distress, or risk harm to others; so
    (e) the “double standard” you mention is probably related to the fact that “treatments” normally seek to alleviate the impairment, pain or distress, or potential harm to others caused by a disorder, rather than seeking to impose a normative standard of morality-based behavior.
    But say we reject the so-called double standard. Why, under your “single” standard, do you think homosexuality is something that warrants treatment?

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  4. 4. swray48 5:28 pm 06/5/2012

    It is absolutely STUNNING that a periodical with the history and status of Scientific American would allow such one-sided prejudiced screed as Jesse Bering has done. This brings into question the “objectivity” of the entire Scientific American project. I am re-evaluating my opinion of the magazine.

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  5. 5. Mendeleev 6:57 pm 06/5/2012

    I respect the author’s prerogative to target a politician, or to disparage a rather pseudo-scientific organization, Evergreen International, that he believes does more harm than good. This article, however, also blatantly misrepresents Latter-day Saint or Mormon beliefs and seems to contribute to the allegedly intolerant or misguided atmosphere that the author seeks to decry.

    I won’t comment on Romney or the political opinions of the article (disclosure: I’m voting Obama too) but let me correct a few things regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or shortened LDS Church, called in the OP by its pejorative label “Mormon Church”) and its beliefs and people.

    First, Mormons and the Church they comprise are not anti-science, nor do they believe “the devil makes you gay” or that homosexuals are “misfits”. The 1960s book cited, which isn’t part of LDS canon anyway, did originally refer to homosexuality as a disorder, but that was the view of the APA at the time of publishing. It was the standard scientific view. When that view later changed, so did LDS discussions. Furthermore, Mormons don’t believe the devil did or could ‘make you gay’- in Mormon belief God is behind all creation, and people are their own agents- the devil can’t ‘make’ you be or do anything. These are central beliefs that even a small amount of research would quickly confirm.

    It is good that the article links to an actual LDS publication from Oaks, primary sources are always helpful. It may be worth noting that Oaks cites a few studies, with the admission that he’s not a trained scientist, and says “In any emerging (keep in mind this was 1995 and the field has truly boomed since then) area of knowledge, a new source of evidence is most welcome”, clearing showing that he is not anti-science. Mr Bering, though, falsely alleges that Oaks’ article suggests gay feelings should be redirected to penises and vaginas, when it didn’t. Mormons do NOT recommend that gays or lesbians should marry heterosexually to try to ‘cure’ themselves.

    Asked whether homosexuality makes one a Mormon “misfit”, as Bering’s title alleges, Oaks’ article (which I hope Mr Bering read before paraphrasing) explicitly says “of course” homosexuals have a place in the LDS Church and that “the hand of fellowship offered by the Church is the same for all”.

    Mr Bering then discusses Evergreen International, an organization that markets itself to Mormons but is NOT affiliated with or supported by the Church, much less filled by ‘tortured’ LDS “routinely shuttled off” by a “defiant” Church. Like Dr Spitzer and the LDS Church, I do not support Evergreen, nor Exodus International, a much larger similarly-marketed group for Christians. Dr Spitzer recently decided that trusting a few ex-gay’s own claims to their changed orientation was not sufficiently scientific, and retracted his own study that documented a very low but existent ‘success’ rate among such organizations. But even before the retraction, he didn’t endorse or support Evergreen or its peers, and neither did the LDS Church. This paragraph is rather superfluous then, but it’s important to re-clarify that Evergreen is not supported by the LDS Church and that homosexuals are not ‘misfits’ in the Church. Claiming such is hurtful and possibly hate-mongering.

    This is getting long, but I would add in conclusion that although Mormon sexual beliefs are increasingly divergent with popular sexual beliefs, they don’t single out or indemnify gays. Mormons think that premarital and extramarital sex are sins too, not just gay sex. Before and after homosexuality became widely discussed, there have been plenty of straight Mormons who live celibate lives because they are not married, some for a lifetime. This idea is hardly new. Most Americans and most Churches had similar beliefs for hundreds of years. Catholic, Evangelical, and Orthodox teachings are currently the same as Mormon ones in this regard, and have been for millennia, with the added Catholic belief that all priests should be celibate as part of their religious devotion. Sacrifice has always been part of religious devotion. For gay Mormons who want to hold to Mormon beliefs, celibacy will be a chosen lifestyle, as it is as has been for unmarried Mormons or for Catholic priests and nuns. This is understandable daunting to many, and I’m glad that people have the freedom to choose not to live Mormon or other religious beliefs. That would put them with 99.9% of the world population, innumerably many of whom enjoy their lives without Mormonism.

    I respect the deep devotion exhibited by gays and others, Mormon or not, who remain celibate for their beliefs; they obviously value their beliefs highly to willingly make that sacrifice. I have less respect for people who disparage those beliefs or twist or misrepresent them, as some of this article’s assertions did. The devil doesn’t make you gay,and gay believers aren’t misfits in Mormonism or in other churches or belief systems; they are beautiful people whom God loves, the furthest thing from demons.

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  6. 6. harveymilk 7:02 pm 06/5/2012

    It is astounding that SA actually allows a bigoted view to be placed in a prominent part of it’s magazine. Wow really? Bigotry is alive and well in America, and it just now has reared it’s ugly head on the SA website. Your magazine should also know better. Do the words slander, vilification, bigotry, defamation, worry the attorneys at your magazine. Every bit of what this loser has said is absolutely outrageous and offensive to me as a member of the LDS faith. It’s slanderous, its disgusting, and to be honest, I’m going to speak with one of my friends at the ACLU to see about a lawsuit. Religion does enjoy certain protections under the law. You’re magazine is outright supporting slanderous and bigoted statements.

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  7. 7. Wayne Dequer 7:29 pm 06/5/2012

    Mr. Bering’s first paragraph sets the wildly biased tone for his whole article which has little if anything to do with Science or accuracy. For those who care at all about an even-handed account, I would suggest Wikipedia – Mitt Romney – “University, France mission, marriage and children: 1965–1975.” There are other reasonable articles as well, but this is NOT one of them. ;-)

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  8. 8. LightWithinU 8:11 pm 06/5/2012

    I can’t say if all or any of what is said here is true however I will say this; the LGBT people have been denied the same rights as heterosexual in the US for entirely too long. As an American citizen they do not have the same rights as everyone else. Religion is to blame for this segregation and the blame doesn’t fall to a single faith, it falls to just about all of the traditional faiths. It really doesn’t matter what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms. Sexual preference doesn’t determine the goodness or Godliness of any individual. LGBT pay the same taxes us heterosexuals do, they are governed by the same laws as we are and yet they are not allowed to marry and have the same protections for their partners. That is wrong, it goes against everything that the US is supposed to stand for; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

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  9. 9. drdanfee 9:23 pm 06/5/2012

    Though one poster takes great pains to clarify official LDS stances on some hot button issues, along with updating us all; I still take the underlying point of JBs rant (a fun rant, if another poster is to be believed).

    I don’t know how LDS institutions/people typically treat or mistreat their own sons or daughters who discover themselves to be LGBT, though I have come across plenty of anecdotes which suggest that things can get pretty rough between LDS and those non-straight offspring.

    Meanwhile I wish JB had done a little more with the research science that might help us link stress injury with ex-gay programs like Evergreen and Exodus. I personally spent ten very formative adolescent years of my life diligently following everything that my chuch, family, and local farm town community told me was needed to please God, show moral rectitude, and become as heterosexual as possible. Of course in three increasingly horrible phases (I had so many exorcisms in the pentecostal second phase, that I lost count)the end point was a real human disaster, all the more unnecessary for attempting to correct a human nature variance which in itself poses no innate life problems. Now, fifty some years later, all that dubious business has come back to haunt me in typical willy nilly PTSD fashion: After getting a stage four cancer diagnosis, I started to have repeat, vivid negative flashbacks to the exgay nonsense, and all that pain and suffering has continued to resurface in discrete episodes (disorienting to say the least) for about the past year. The harm or injury that outfits like Evergreen or Exodus do often does not fully reveal itself until much later in life, at least for really involved and really serious participants such as I was between about thirteen and twenty-three years old. My head got free, thank goodness, so I don’t believe any of the going negative preaching; but intense, deep feelings inside demonstrate for me that large sectors of my vital personality have been persuaded in favor of the faked moralisms and the junk science that is used to buttress the exgay enterprise.

    My point? The current narratives talk about freedom, but my own stress injury suggests that real emotional or ethical freedom to do as well in one’s life as one may, is completely beside the point. Exgay stuff is all too often complete quakery; and nobody much has to take professional responsibility for any harm … because if you hang yourself thirty years later because you can’t bring yourself to feel decent no matter how differently you have come to think and believe, the exgay folks will natter on in their own defense about how much time has passed; or exgay enterprises will hide behind services or programs being religion, not science.

    Like bullying, exgay involvements are a whole secondary realm via which LGBT teens can be systematically and frequently tormented or abused, with absolutely nobody held responsible, other than those times when the teen or youth gets blamed for not being able to become heterosexual or happily asexual.

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  10. 10. cantabman 10:37 pm 06/5/2012

    Mr Bering: With this juvenile hit piece, you have unwittingly unveiled yourself to the world to be the very thing you try to denounce — a backward bigot. Good luck with that.

    I am embarrassed that SA would allow such intolerant blather on their site. Truly the antithesis of ‘scientific’.

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  11. 11. VirginiaGas 10:46 pm 06/5/2012

    I am embarrassed for Scientific American for allowing this rant.

    For those interested in science and Mormonism, you may want to check out:

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  12. 12. CHedelius 12:24 am 06/6/2012

    Um, wow. Are all Scientific American authors so deliberately poor at reading and interpreting their sources? I think I’ve just formed a lasting and very negative impression of this publication.

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  13. 13. HarminicResident 1:18 am 06/6/2012

    Same-sex attraction CAN be overcome, through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

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  14. 14. Nayajja 1:19 am 06/6/2012

    How in the world did this diatribe find itself into a magazine called Scientific American?

    And all my life I had viewed Scientific American as a serious periodical that published articles on science. How did the editors allow this trash to be published in a magazine that I once thought had a good reputation?

    Thank you Mendeleev, for taking the time to write a thoughtful response. And at the same time I apologize for my impulses to respond to trash with name-calling of my own, but sometimes I just cannot help myself.

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  15. 15. HarminicResident 1:28 am 06/6/2012

    Author writes: “But after all, people do “evolve.” ”

    Really? And if “evolving” entails “evolving” into a new human with no desire to produce offspring, how does that fit? Let’s hope not everyone so evolves, or such evolution will lead to extinction.

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  16. 16. bonnertara 7:24 am 06/6/2012

    Ha! It’s more than a little hilarious that all these LDS commenters are here defending their homophobic faith. The Mormons see homosexuality as a sickness or disease and view gays who are not celibate as secondary citizens. Fact. Romney will do the same. Bering doesn’t sugar coat and pithy as always and he’s absolutely right.

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  17. 17. tobeylp 8:13 am 06/6/2012

    beartrapstrong, although it wasn’t illustrated in the article, there is a great genetic advantage to homosexuality and I don’t think it is a mental disorder as it also occurs in animals and does not do harm.

    Let’s take for example our dangerously underpopulated planet [sic]. If 3% (I think it’s higher, but I don’t want to ignite that debate) of the population is homosexual, then when the population was 2 (Adam and Eve) there were zero homosexuals. When the population jumps to 7 billion you get around 200 million homosexuals.

    We have limited resources that can be produced at any given time. As the population increases there is a strain put on these resources and overpopulation could easily cause widespread starvation.

    Homosexuality is the safety valve that the lord god almighty put in place to limit the population and in his infinite wisdom, he decreed that this would be a percentage of the population, so that we would never hump ourselves into extinction. Hallelujah!

    On the note of sarcasm, I don’t see any other way to respond to such ignorance by the moron church and it’s followers. I look back at history and wonder why people aren’t bowing down to Zeus, Anubis or Buddha. It’s simple. People are worshiping the most popular god because he is the one that took hold. Just like Myspace (and countless others) lost out to Facebook.

    One of the main theories on what causes homosexuality in men is that the mother’s body produces hormones to fight the perceived infection of the male DNA in her womb. Whether or not a male fetus is born gay is determined by how well a mother’s body fights it balanced against how strongly the fetus resists. The mother’s body is thought to get better at fighting with each pregnancy. This gives each successive child a greater change of being born gay and that is the safety valve kicking in.

    I think the book was called Biological Imperative that details homosexuality among thousands of animal species. I’m not sure that all of these animals had an overbearing mother that caused a mental condition.

    Please educate yourself, so that you can contribute intelligently to these discussions instead of spewing yet more ignorance on the internet.

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  18. 18. Sister Gemma 8:19 am 06/6/2012

    Although the rebuttals in the comments to this article are excellent, Scientific American owes their readers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (and yes, there are many scientists who are members)an apology, for this emotion-laden piece of religious bigotry, rife with misconceptions about our religion as the previous comments have noted so thoroughly. As a reader, I am offended and highly disappointed that a publication of your caliber would publish this kind of misinformation and Dr. Bering ought to be fired. While he has every right to free speech and to express is opinions, this article is far below the standards that until now, I thought Scientific American upheld. I hope to be reading an apology to the readers in the very near future and an announcement that Dr. Bering has been fired.

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  19. 19. Nayajja 10:11 am 06/6/2012

    The masthead of the Scientific American website claims: “In print or online, no one delivers innovative thinking and enlightening ideas like Scientific American.”
    Really? I looked in vain for anything innovative or enlightening in this screed. Instead I found the following inflammatory rhetoric in just the first few paragraphs–is this Science in America?
    “Poor…cast off to the unmentionable Hell…fresh-faced, painfully wealthy Mormon missionary…exhausted from all those years of bullying gay teens..wandering aimlessly…vice-infested…effluvium…gloomy symphony…elegant French savages…stained-glass halo at the Salt Lake Temple…a future president of the LDS Church…some old bigot… the rhetoric in which Romney’s brain bathed…mid-20th century antiscientific views…the fiery jurist…unwavering position of his client (“the Creator”) on what the latter intended for human beings to do with their genitalia….the throbbing crotches…a bout of tribadism or cunnilingus…intoxicated by Lucifer’s pheromones…vaginas for gay men and penises for lesbians.”

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  20. 20. Thriver 11:33 am 06/6/2012

    For years most of us went along ignoring the LDS Church and what happens behind closed doors in far-away Utah. When Ted Kennedy tried to use it against Romney in a political fight – Mitt’s father stepped in and basically said religion was off the table.

    Utah is no longer a back-water ghost town and the success of certain LDS members necessarily opens that culture to more scrutiny….That and the fact that they managed to spend $22 million to keep gay marriage out of California with fear-mongering ads mostly aimed at lesser-educated poor Latino markets. Forty-eight percent of Californians would have preferred they keep their anti-gay, dogmatic dollars in Utah.

    If indeed what one commenter says is true, in essence that the LDS church has no problem with homosexuals – then all of the films, the personal testimonies, the suicides and painful divorces are all a sham; invented for the sole purpose of demonizing the LDS hierarchy. I highly doubt it.

    My own experience spending time in Utah is a sense that there’s a tacit agreement among the majority that being white, mormon, prolific and LDS-abiding is really a superior way to go through life. Everything else is more or less tolerated. This plays out of course in every conversation I’ve ever had with an LDS missionary.

    It’s hard not to adhere to a certain group-think when all around are department stores, banks and newspapers run by a branch of the church. And of course local legislation is inspired by the church. A visit to an SLC oyster bar started with “Are you a member?” when I said I didn’t know it was a private club the waitress said “You must be from out of town” and explained this was how local restaurants got around Mormon anti-alcohol laws. She immediately made me a member which allowed me to order a glass of wine with my meal.

    So just how many of the state legislators are Mormon?

    The sense of community created by this rather uni-dimensional culture is incredibly powerful and most Mormons I know truly enjoy the interdependence and care members give to one another. But when that same community is used as a tool of repression in the form of official “shunning” because a member is gay, it can and has literally led to suicide.

    My father in law lives in a small Mormon farming village in which he personally knows three families in town where the fathers have left to finally live with a man causing incredible pain for everyone involved. He describes a big Mormon Curtain between the LDS members of the farming community and all the others – particularly in business dealings.

    Perhaps the LDS church has evolved in some ways. In the meantime their policies are causing real people real human pain.

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  21. 21. antilocapra6 11:39 am 06/6/2012

    If Scientific American will print this garbage then everything else they run is suspect as well. What a load. Nothing to do with real science, just another bitter hater of a religion that refuses to sell out to the “with it” rabble. Nothing at all related to the principles of science and further knowledge. Oh yeah, love the comment about homosexuality being an overpopulation “safety valve”…I suppose infanticide and cannibalism have a new “sanctioned” partner!

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  22. 22. bonnertara 11:56 am 06/6/2012

    The LDS “poor me” victimization mentality in the comments is really embarrassing. Is someone finally calling you out on your “hate the sin, not the sinner” BS? What a load of bull!

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  23. 23. anotherjenny 11:59 am 06/6/2012

    It’s a blog post people. Not an article. A blog post, with plenty of links for further reading on the subject. Complaining about the content does nothing, why not have a reasoned conversation about these issues? Oh, I forgot, people who are anti-gay have no reasoned objection, it’s all irrational fear of difference and theological thought from thousands of years ago.

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  24. 24. lorinmay 12:26 pm 06/6/2012

    Re: 25

    “It’s a blog post people. Not an article.” Correct. And while most organizations do not hold blog posts to the same standard as their other publications, they do hold them to SOME standard. It’s okay if a lot of people want to point out that this post is substandard even according to that practice.

    “why not have a reasoned conversation about these issues?” Great idea. The problem is, the author’s post makes it evident that he had no interest in reasoned discussion. Sarcasm and snark are what one uses when he wishes to end a discussion.

    “Oh, I forgot, people who are anti-gay have no reasoned objection …” (Sigh.) Apparently, the author isn’t the only one who is having a hard time obscuring the fact that he does not wish to engage in a serious discussion.

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  25. 25. Sister Gemma 12:50 pm 06/6/2012

    The point is, “Thriver”, that anecdotes about nasty Mormons someone encountered in Utah is not science and this is a publication or blog that is supposed to be about science, not tales about Mormons who were less than kind. If people want to share anecdotes, I could share plenty of my own anecdotes about living in Utah when I was inactive in the church, that would contradict these tales, since I was never shunned by active members of the church and had no problem making friends, both in and outside the church in Utah. However, the point is that in any organization of that size, there are going to be people who do not live the teachings of the church, which include a Christ-like, nonjudgmental love for all people.

    There are many of us who would be more than willing to have a rational discussion, but as others have noted, this blog posting certainly does not set the tone for such a discussion. Obviously the author already has made up his mind and the substantive rebuttals that have been provided here will likely fall on deaf ears. However, for others who are open to actual information about the church and what its beliefs and practices are, and are good places to start.

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  26. 26. bonnertara 1:06 pm 06/6/2012

    Hey “Sister Gemma” maybe we’re reading a different set of responses but I haven’t seen a single “substantive rebuttal” aside from claiming you’re really all about peace and love. Are you saying that the Mormons are gay friendly and that they do not in fact view homosexuality as a mental illness? That’s news to me! Where exactly are the “anecdotes” in the article? The author QUOTES directly from AUTHORITIES in the Church!

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  27. 27. Joel454 1:20 pm 06/6/2012

    Politics and politically correct garbage. This is as scientific as creationism.

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  28. 28. lorinmay 1:44 pm 06/6/2012

    28: The newest quotations in the post are from 17 years ago. Most are much older than that.

    My understanding is that the LDS Church publicly came out in favor of gay-specific anti-discrimination ordinances in Salt Lake City (a liberal oasis in conservative Utah), and many gay rights groups gave them (often reluctant) kudos for that. I also understand that Brigham Young University enrolls many openly gay students, although they, like their heterosexual classmates, can be kicked out for sex outside of marriage.

    If you look at more recent official church statements, I think you’ll find out that the official church has a more tolerant attitude toward people with “same-gender attraction” than most traditionally conservative churches. They don’t claim to know why some people are attracted to their own gender, and if anyone ever taught it was due to “mental illness,” that hasn’t been taught for many years.

    My understanding is that people who are attracted to their own gender are accepted in full status and hold callings in the LDS Church, but that people who engage in homosexual relations can lose their status or be excommunicated from the church. The church doesn’t consider sexual orientation to be a critical issue, but it does consider sexual behavior to be a critical issue. Non-marital and homosexual sex are both considered very serious sins. Homosexual attraction is not considered a sin at all.

    You wouldn’t have gotten that from the original post.

    Disagree with Mormon teachings if you wish, but at least disagree with what they actually teach, not what some leaders used to teach (or allegedly teach).

    Link to this
  29. 29. Thriver 2:50 pm 06/6/2012

    Sister Gemma, Lorinmay –

    You’re right: 1) this is clearly an opinion piece and 2) I am generalizing to all mormons when I base my beliefs on my multiple personal encounters inside and out of Utah.

    But as my grandmother used to say: if people keep calling you a horse you may consider buying yourself a saddle.

    Have you ever met a gay person who has been shunned by the LDS church? Who struggles with depression, suicidality, sleeplessness, self-loathing? As a mental health professional I have seen more than my share. The power of that community is extraordinary when it supports its members and does charitable work and extraordinarily destructive when it has decided that someone in their ranks is not the way they want them to be.

    Twenty-two million dollars is the most money ever spent on a referendum in the history of the US. Because CA has transparency laws I saw the names and addresses of the many wealthy Utahans who sent thousands of dollars to keep people from marrying the person they love two states away. It is commonly recognized that the movement started in CA but was MASSIVELY funded by SLC. That was in 2008 – not 17 years ago.

    One social scientist described a form of “incestuous thinking” that we humans exhibit which basically leads us to forgive in our own leaders certain behaviors that we condemn in competing group leaders. I’m afraid this is a case of that: you can like the LDS church all you want but to insinuate that the outcome of their questionable discourse on homosexuality is any different from the deaths caused by the gay-hating regimes of Jamaica or the venomous bible thumping Southern Baptists is purely disingenuous.

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  30. 30. Extremophile 3:08 pm 06/6/2012

    beartrapstrong: “There is no genetic advantage to exclusive homosexuality.”

    This may be just wrong.

    Consider a gene mutation, that improves the fertility of women or their ability to grow children, but as a side effect would lead to men becoming strict gays.

    As long as there are enough other men around without the mutation, the evolutionary benefits would easily exceed the disadvantages.

    I haven’t seen Mr. Bering make a statement that homosexuality is genetically determined. If he did, he were probably right and you were – sorry – wrong.

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  31. 31. Sister Gemma 3:25 pm 06/6/2012

    Here is the response I was referring to by Mendelleev, which is quite a substantive rebuttal:
    He states several facts which demonstrate that the author of this piece has gotten a number of things wrong about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For example, Evergreen is not affiliated with the church, hence Mr. Bering is making straw man arguments by associating things with the church and stating beliefs such as the title of this piece, that in fact are not beliefs of the church.

    This cannot be rationally dismissed by further attacks on the religion or unwarranted generalization from anecdotes. Obviously, if someone has their mind made up, they will look for experiences that confirm that, which is the reason why, as any scientist knows, such anecdotes are not good evidence.

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  32. 32. Sister Gemma 3:31 pm 06/6/2012

    Thriver asks: “Have you ever met a gay person who has been shunned by the LDS church? ”
    No, I have not. There are undoubtedly gays who have been shunned by individuals who happen to be members of the Mormon church, as well as individuals who are Catholic, Orthodox Jewish and members of any of a number of Christian evangelical religions. Such individuals exist in any large organization, but it does not follow that the church ought to be blamed, since such shunning flies in the face of everything the church stands for. Even if people leave the faith, the church does not shun them. One can always find individuals who have done so of a number of faiths or no faith at all, but if they do, they are not practicing the Christian principles espoused by the church.

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  33. 33. bonnertara 4:14 pm 06/6/2012

    “Sister Gemma” I’m a straight female LGBT positive ally in my PNW college and have run across Evergreen International before. “Mendeleev” is either deliberately lying about the LDS Church’s connection or is just uninformed like you. Here’s what Evergreen had to say just in 2009: “We maintain close relations with the Church. The Evergreen Board of Trustees always includes one or more emeritus General Authorities, and they continue to meet every year with Area Presidencies and other Church leaders. Upon request, they provide training to stake and ward leaders. Over the 15 years, they have trained nearly 12,000 Church leaders.” And Guess where those leaders end up? Your local branch!

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  34. 34. davidbassett 4:57 pm 06/6/2012

    This article is an embarrassment to ‘Scientific’ American. Under the banner of a publication that purports to be scientific, balanced and evidence based the author instead subjects the reader to a triad of partisan statements with little to back them up.

    The author seems to quote poorly and is guilty of the very bigotry he accuses others of.

    While I do not support Mitt Romney and have no interest in defending him, I do abhor the hypocrisy and vindictiveness present in the article.

    Scientific American should not allow their publications reputation to be slandered by articles such as this.

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  35. 35. HubertB 5:00 pm 06/6/2012

    Sure. And every Roman Catholic refuses to use birth control because the Pope says so. And no Southern Baptist ever darkens the door of a Liquor Store even in states that are not dry and Southern Baptists make up a majority of the population. And all Pentecostal wives submit to their husbands. And no Muslims ever drink a drop of alcohol. And Romney and all other Mormons follow every dictate of the 12 Apostles of the Mormon Religion.
    Bering needs to leave his atheistic enclave and get to know religious people. He also needs to meet some real Mormons.

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  36. 36. Thriver 7:37 pm 06/6/2012

    Sister Gemma -
    A very brief google search with keywords such as “shun”, “disfellowship” and “LDS” brings up PAGES and PAGES of people in pain because they were directly shunned by leaders of the Mormon church – not just a couple nasty Mormons who had a bee in their bonnet.

    Interestingly I also found many testimonies of people who describe resigning from the church and being regularly visited by members of the church to the point of harassment, as well as divorces that happened because one family member has a change of heart and the other can’t possibly continue to be a TBM (True Believing Mormon) and stay married to that person, other stories of children no longer speaking to a parent because he/she chooses to no longer be a mormon.

    Sorry Gemma but this sounds even more like a sect than I had expected.

    Just to titillate a few folks – while reading about “disfellowship”, “excommunication” and “Shunning” – I found these 12 Steps adapted by ex-Mormons to help other questioning Mormons free themselves of the church:

    1. I admit that I am powerless to change the fact that I have been Mormon for a good part of my life, whether because I was born to Mormon parents, or because I voluntarily converted.
    2. I realize that I have within me the power to free myself from the harmful part of my Mormon past (with the help of a higher power if I believe in one), and that I am no longer bound by promises or covenants which I was induced to make based on the false promises of Mormonism.
    3. I make to myself a firm promise to listen in the future only to reason, rationality, and factual evidence in making decisions about how I should live my life, rejecting all emotional appeals, guilt-inducing threats, myths, pretty stories, promises of castles in the air, and superstition.
    4. I make a searching and fearless moral and intellectual inventory of myself with the purpose of recognizing in myself those weaknesses which induced me to remain Mormon for so long.
    5. I itemize (preferably in writing) to myself and to a trusted loved one (and to a higher power if I believe in one) the specific reasons why I can no longer be Mormon.
    6. I make the decision to do what is right, and to accept whatever the consequences may be for acknowledging the truth and living accordingly.
    7. I begin working through each of my Mormonism-related problems of mind, body, relationships, and (if I believe in such a thing) spirit.
    8. I make a list of those for whom it would be important to know of my decision and the changes I am making in my life, and prepare myself emotionally to discuss my decision with them all, realizing that many may react with hurt, anger, emotional outbursts, or other unpleasantness.
    9. I discuss my decision with them (except in those cases where I think it would cause greater harm to do so than not) in a calm, friendly and loving way, without argument.
    10. I continue to take personal inventory, and where I find artifacts of Mormonism, I carefully consider whether they should continue to be a part of my life, or whether I should discard them.
    11. I seek out truth wherever I can find it, whether religious or secular.
    12. Having had an awakening and renewal as the result of these steps, I try to be helpful to other recovering or doubting Mormons, and to practice these principles in all of my affairs.

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  37. 37. Kanawah 8:19 pm 06/6/2012

    That should be MORON not Mormon.

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  38. 38. rationalpanties 10:36 pm 06/6/2012

    Judging from the way you Mormon zombies are getting your magic knickers in a twist, I’d say Jesse Bering hit the mark.

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  39. 39. cantabman 11:17 pm 06/6/2012

    Thriver and bonnertara,

    Many of your posts rely on ‘victim playing’…perhaps to quell the cognitive dissonance you’re experiencing? I don’t subscribe to your point of view that being a bigot toward mormons (or anyone) is somehow justifiable.

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  40. 40. anotherjenny 3:52 pm 06/7/2012

    lorinmay – Sorry, but I have never, not once, been presented with a NON-RELIGOUS argument to support anti-gay bias. Never. Religious arguments are not rational. Your faith is fine for you, but it isn’t for everyone. If you can present me with a NON-RELIGIOUS argument go ahead, but I seriously doubt you can.

    People may have reason to think that Bering has misquoted people, and that he is being snarky and maybe even rude and that’s fine – but the fact is that same sex relationships harm no one. There is no credible evidence whatsoever to indicate that allowing same sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples will do any damage of any kind to society – it’s not like this is new. We’ve got almost a decade of data now. On the other hand, the actions of many organizations – such as the LDS church – are very harmful to many LGBT individuals and their families. Children with same sex parents saw those ads various organizations ran during the proposition 8 fight, and were scared they would be taken away from their loving family if the law passed. People are harmed when they are thrown out of their communities. I personally have friends who are Mormons and they actually agree with me that the church is spending money on these issues that could be better spent to help people who actually need help, like children who are living in poverty, or individuals in need of medical care.

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  41. 41. pastrami 3:54 pm 06/7/2012

    Pathetic. I am shocked such a despicable and hateful rant would be published by the once-venerable Scientific American. Best wishes to the author- he needs all the help he can get.

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  42. 42. bonnertara 4:33 pm 06/7/2012

    “Cantabman” cognitive dissonance? are you crazy? if anyone should be having cognitive dissonance it’s active LDS members trying desperately to reconcile their “love all people” faith with the patronizing homophobic views of the church. BYU was doing LDS supported electric shock treatments for its gay students LONG AFTER the rest of the world saw it as barbaric and refused to use it anymore!

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  43. 43. lorinmay 1:47 pm 06/8/2012


    First, who is in favor of anti-gay bias? Not me. I believe that vast swaths of the gay rights agenda are reasonable and honorable — simply basic civil rights.

    I am not in favor of changing the definition of marriage. I am in favor of civil unions, as long as they are not a euphemism for marriage. In other words, two divorced sisters raising their kids in the same house? Civil union. Grandson moves in to take care of his ailing grandfather? Civil union. Any other two people move in together (gay or straight) for reasons that are nobody else’s business? Civil union.

    I frankly believe any two people should be able to make certain personal contractual obligations toward one another, and that a civil union should be a cafeteria of options that the two partners choose. But you don’t get a divorce from a civil union, although there can be penalties for breaking the conditions, and either party can dissolve it.

    If two people under the same roof want to own common property, file joint tax returns, enjoy hospital visitation rights or certain other powers of attorney, I think they should have those rights.

    Marriage — now that’s an entirely different beast, with a lot of other expectations, obligations and consequences to greater Society. I believe that expanding the definition of marriage will further weaken the institution. Heterosexuals as a group are doing very poorly in understanding the reasons and obligations behind marriage, and it’s getting far worse. Most non-college educated people don’t see the point in marriage at all and aren’t getting married.

    I believe that broadening the definition of marriage will further dilute and damage an already suffering institution. I can empathize and sympathize with many of the arguments of gay marriage supporters, but the forseeable and unforseeable costs are too high. I’m especially worried about the unexpected, unintended consequences that come years after we tweak the definition. (Example: No-fault divorce and the divorce rate.)

    Once we kick that rock down the mountain, none of us has any control over what it hits and what chain reactions it may start along the way. Gay marriage is too risky for society in general. So I believe the rights that gay couples feel they are missing out on should be acquired in other ways.

    There: an anti gay marriage argument without a hint of religion! (Not anti-gay. If someone doesn’t think gay people have inherent civil rights, they’re not on my team.)

    If you’ve never seen a non-religious argument to gay marriage before, you really need to do a little reading. They’re all over the place.

    Marriage is a different beast.

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  44. 44. Drballard 8:13 pm 06/8/2012

    Seeing the ignorance and malice here is disturbing. I had a manager some time ago. He and his brother were gay and the sons of the head of the church educational system. They had frequent interactions with leaders of the LDS church. He told me at no time were any of them anything but loving and kind to him and his partners. Are some Mormons hateful? No moreso than author of this op Ed piece. Is it scientific to believe all gays are as hateful as this author, based on his comments (and the comments of many posters)? Based on my years of observation, the leaders of the Lds faith, while flawed, show more respect and love to gays and lesbians than any other major faith. It is truly a shame to allow your lifestyle to color observation so thoroughly. I wish the author (and others that hate Lds merely because of what they believe ) all the best in their journey to truth.

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  45. 45. Drballard 8:20 pm 06/8/2012

    Perhaps the author (and others here) could show the same respect for Mormons that they wish to receive. If his desire is to persuade rather than vilify, perhaps he could point to any example of ad hominem attacks persuading anyone to change their minds ( surely the goal of any scientist). Instead, he and those that agree seem to wish to vent, and have no desire at all to convince using facts or reason. I would welcome any reasonable argument.

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  46. 46. jessebering 6:12 am 06/9/2012

    Dear LDS-Affiliated Commenters,

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses. First, please note that I am no more anti-Mormon than I am anti-religious for any other denomination. I am, however, anti-ignorance. I have focused my attention on the LDS-doctrinal views concerning homosexuality in this opinion piece for the sole reason that LGBT citizens, including countless gay youth, will undoubtedly be negatively affected by the election of a religious president who has been informed by senior members of his Church that same-sex attraction is equivalent to alcoholism and drug addition.

    My piece was rhetorical in nature, but you mistake my intention if you thought I meant to to have a meaningful, impartial conversation about your theology. Rather, it was to expose the formal LDS Church as holding severely antiquated, patently antiscientific views regarding the subject of homosexuality, views that explicitly and arrogantly reject unanimous psychiatric opinion as well as that of the American Psychological Association. Individual Mormons and branches may hold differing views, but until otherwise established, your General Authorities remain staunchly in agreement with the satanic conspiracy position advocated by Elder Oaks in the aforementioned editorial.

    If this makes me a ‘bigot’ in your opinion, rather than your own spiritual leaders who advocate to your gay youth that they should struggle against their nature, that the Devil inspires them to engage in relationships with the same sex, and that loving homosexual couples are inferior to heterosexual ones, then we have a very different conception of bigotry.

    Mormon communities may look upon LGBT individuals today with a compassionate, pitiable smile, but seeing them as having a mental illness is no less toxic an environment for gay youth than the recent decades when aversive behavioral conditioning, including electric shock therapy, was being conducted on gay students at Brigham Young University. Arguably it is even more psychologically insidious.

    I do, however, remain optimistic that one of the Apostles will have a revelation that God is now a supporter of gay marriage. What better timing than now?

    Sincerely yours,
    Jesse Bering

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  47. 47. Drballard 9:21 am 06/9/2012

    Mr Bering- As a psychologist, what is the purpose of a religious organization?
    You clearly have negative feeling towards religious members that has colored your ability to argue your point. If not, you would not refer to Mormons with the venom you have. Indeed, some of the anger you feel towards the religious is due to how the speak pejoratively towards the gay community. Please do not return the favor.
    So as a psychologist- what is the purpose of religion? It is to govern the behaviors of its members. All other activities are secondary to that. Ideally a religion will not try to govern the behavior of non members. And a religion should freely allow members to depart if they no longer wish to live by that belief set. Every instruction from lds leadersI have witnessed in 45 years of membership has followed those principals.
    What is disturbing is when non members like yourself want to change the belief set because it makes you uncomfortable. Any gay or lesbian member can choose to accept church belief or leave the group- the same as with any voluntary organization. Why do you insist or foisting your belief on a group you have no desire to join?
    As for the suffering of lgbt teens, the Lds group believes a sin is a sin. As a psychologist, do you know how a group even classifies what sin is? Mormons believe smoking is a sin- should we change that so smokers don’t feel rejected?
    I know a small portion of the anguish lgbt teens have gone through. I have suffered many hours working through my own sins. Being a teen is difficult enough without the rejection a gay teen feels thrown on top.
    In any case, the more rational response, though littered with errors, was appreciated. Good luck in all you do.

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  48. 48. Drballard 9:25 am 06/9/2012

    By the way, the electroshock and aversion therapy you decry, was that ever practiced by members of the APA? Has the APA ever endorsed therapy or views that you now find repugnant? Were the BYU students treated against their will?

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  49. 49. Thriver 1:23 pm 06/9/2012


    If you read the testimony of the expert who spoke AGAINST gay marriage during the 10 day trial in California – a fascinating discussion about everything from who holds power in America and the role of the church to the history of racism, civil rights and the role of the gay community – you will hear the social scientist attest to the fact that studies actually show that gay marriage not only helps gay folks, it makes better communities.

    You have the right to enter into a contract with someone and magically that person can get a green card, get access to your social security benefits, get time off when you have a kid, get recognized and celebrated by your community. If you go to the hospital and enter a coma that person will automatically be your power of attorney. Gay folks don’t have these rights (well fortunately they find communities that do celebrate them). The fact that this contract –though rubber-stamped by the government- is formally entered into within the walls of a church is one of the ironies of the America’s church and State relationship.

    I imagine you probably don’t even think about these 1100 or so rights you receive — in a similar way that I forget that certain things come more easily to me because I’m a tall, able-bodied, white man.

    For nearly one hundred years we Americans lived under the premise that “all men are created equal” but we continued to sell black folks as “merchandise”. It took a devastating war for America to come to an understanding about something that seems so obvious to us today.

    In the last forty years gay people in America have decided to not “take it lying down”. They have had the incredible courage to stand up in the face of massive enmity and violence and say out loud: “This is who I am – even if it is not convenient to the status quo”. It has changed history; the same way Rosa Parks refused to budge from her front-row bus seat. Today the US census counts same-sex couples acknowledging them as part of E Pluribus Unum.

    Every year we Americans spend millions of dollars to change our sidewalks because we have recognized through long hard legislative struggles that among us are handicapped folks who have special needs and as a democracy we need to make an extra effort to accommodate them.

    Gay folks aren’t asking for a special parking spot near the entrance of the supermarket – they are simply asking for equal treatment. Your proposal for two separate contracts, though laudable and perhaps in accordance with your church’s doctrine, simply doesn’t meet the high standards that we agree to live under as citizens in a democracy.

    Drballard –
    Some folks believe that the purpose of a faith community is to celebrate together the mysteries of life in all their forms. To adhere to a faith simply because it helps keep certain behaviors in check seems rather reductive to me.

    Also if your church does not try to govern the behaviors of non-members perhaps you can ask your leadership why they helped generate $22 million to stop gay marriage for citizens living two states away.

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  50. 50. Artwinged 3:10 pm 06/9/2012

    When a religion, any religion, tries to extend its beliefs into the political realm in order to govern the behavior of the society at large, it overstep its bounds. It is one thing for the individual members to vote their conscience at the polls and quite another to subvert the process with massive advertising campaigns that misrepresent the facts of the issue.

    Marriage is a legal contract between two adults. You cannot marry without a license granted by your state. Churches may choose to “bless” it and are the usual venue. But, there is no legal requirement that they do so. I think the separation of church and state should apply to this matter. Committed adult relationships create a stable society, regardless of the genders involved.

    Drballard: Telling a person, raised in the church, that he can simply “leave the group” is absurd. You well know that Mormon youth are steeped in the belief that their bond to their family is irrevocably linked to the church. They would not just lose a religion, they would lose everything. You don’t know anguish like that.

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  51. 51. Drballard 7:34 pm 06/9/2012

    So shall we tell a whole voluntarily associated group to change its view so a minority can feel comfortable? Why do you feel that gays need to be treated as infants, rather than adults? Do gays have less autonomy? Again, you seem to set up a false premise- gay Lds are bound by a belief system that says they can’t leave and keep their family. This same belief says that homosexual acts are a sin. So are you saying gays lack the intellectual integrity to disregard one doctrine without disregarding another? Why do you have such a low opinion of the lgbt community?

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  52. 52. Drballard 7:41 pm 06/9/2012

    As for me not knowing the anguish of family leaving the faith, do you know anyone whose entire family accepts the same doctrine? Half of my family vehently dislikes my faith,, despite being raised Lds. Do you think we don’t love and accept each other? If that has been you familial experience, you may have bigger fish to fry than your disagreement with mormonism.
    By the way- African American churches had a much higher participation rate in prop 20. Why aren’t they getting the same treatment as Lds?

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  53. 53. Drballard 7:53 pm 06/9/2012

    I think the pro gay marriage group is being intellectually lazy. Mormons make up less than 2% of California voters. What margin did prop 20 pass by? What margin does gay marriage get defeated by in every state it goes to the ballot in? Why is that? So why do you have special hatred for Mormons? And why are you content to enforce your views on the majority against wishes? It seems that the animosity towards Mormons is tolerated for the same reasons larry odonnel feels free to defame them as a group- you know you can get away with it. Don’t you feel weird using the same tactics as those you bullied you for your orientation?

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  54. 54. Thriver 12:36 pm 06/11/2012

    Yes drballard many people are expecting a whole voluntarily organized group to change its position: in the same way the world accepted the earth was round, that black people are not merchandise and that women actually have enough smarts to vote.

    I find you singularly lack in empathy vis a vis this particular group of the human population. They are not asking for the right to eat human entrails while standing on their hands naked in your temples, simply the right to be supported by the human family when they love someone.

    They beauty of it is they tend to love one another so they really aren’t asking much of the heterosexual population – except perhaps learning to work through your own discomfort.

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  55. 55. cantabman 4:20 pm 06/11/2012

    Drballard: Your posts are well formulated and should provide rational consideration for those not already dedicated to their narrow-minded prejudice toward Mormons.

    Mr Bering: Your emotional outbursts in this blog post have taken you away from your chosen profession as a research psychologist. Purposefully using outdated quotes from LDS leaders in the 1940s through 1960s throughout most of your blog would perhaps be better suited for an historical dissertation. Unfortunately, as a dubious amateur historian you fall prey to the elementary fallacy of presentism. I hope that you are somehow able to disassociate from your heightened emotions on the topic in order to approach the debate from a more rational perspective in the future.

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  56. 56. Drballard 7:19 pm 06/11/2012

    Thriver are you equating the doctrinal belief that homosexual actions are a sin to the practice of slavery?the outcome of my belief for society is that a gay person can choose to accept that belief or leave associating with the Mormon community. I believe there is a large vibrant gay community in Utah, is there not? So clearly, that belief does not keep gays from behaving as they wish. What I believe, though you disagree, does not interfere with your activities. So why do you let it? By the way, why are you not writing angry missives and picketing black churches that share my beliefs?
    By the way, as my examples have illustrated, I have seen nothing but love and support for gays by the Lds community. Google josh weed’s blog to read his experience. And As this is supposed to be a scientific discussion, could you please explain why the suicide rate for gay Lds teens is half that of non Lds gay teens? If we are as homophobic as you claim, why do gay Lds teens have a lower suicide rate? I would welcome an intelligent response.

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  57. 57. Drballard 7:23 pm 06/11/2012

    By the way, you mentioned has society has changed to allow women to vote. Which state allowed women the vote first? Perhaps that would illustrate some misconceptions you have. Also, are you aware which “conservative” religion demands, as doctrine, to treat homosexual acts the same as heterosexual acts?
    I believe a little research on your part may help in this discussion, if it is a rational discussion you want.

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  58. 58. Glendon Mellow 11:55 pm 06/11/2012

    Good for Jesse to take on this topic, and a well-said rebuttal here in the comments.

    The amount of sway religion has over American politics freaks me out. Y’know, here in the Great White North, we’ve had gay marriages for years now. And it’s led to happiness for more citizens and no earth-shattering disasters have happened to our society as a result.

    Wondering about a candidate’s commitment to equality versus their commitment to spiritual beliefs seems incredibly relevant to me in the lead up to an election.

    Disclosure-y note: I’m another blogger here on Scientific American, and I’m Canadian.

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  59. 59. Drballard 11:23 pm 06/14/2012

    Just out of completely idle curiosity, why does that silly “DNA proves Mormonism false” story even get mentioned by scholars? Last I checked, mitichondrial DNA is maternal. Did that bozo even read the source material?

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  60. 60. martin.edwardes 10:16 am 06/15/2012

    I read this article with interest. As a gay, former-catholic atheist, I am aware of the nastinesses that organised religion can bring to any debate about human rights. I’m sure that, in the past, the Mormon church leadership has been as unhelpful to the LGBT community as any other religion.

    But today I read this:,UF2P,1PJG55,2HYOM,1 (I apologise for the URL length).

    It certainly seems that the rank-and-file of the church are not slavishly lining up behind the Elders on LGBT issues, or the Elders themselves are moving their position. It may just be baby steps for now (but the whole of LGBT emancipation has been a movement of short advances and long consolidations), but it does give Mitt Romney wiggle room to be both a good Mormon and a progressive conservative (like David Cameron here in the UK).

    Let’s celebrate our victories, however small – and our allies, however tentative.

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  61. 61. anotherjenny 2:33 pm 06/18/2012

    Lorinmay -
    You give no reason why extending civil marriage rights to same sex couples (not family members as you imply might be the case but same sex couples not otherwise related to each other) will “further dilute and damage an already suffering institution.” You just assert that it will – and give no support for that assertion. In fact, countries that allow gay marriage (and states such as MA) actually show the opposite, that family structure and stability are not negatively impacted by same sex marriage. In addition, the fact is that children with same sex parents ARE suffering because their parents are not able to access the rights that Thriver very eloquently explained in post 49. Elderly gay/lesbian couples are likewise hurt by this lack. I pay higher taxes, for crying out loud, than my heterosexually married neighbors!

    The ability to access a civil marriage contract and the rights and obligations that come with that contract is a civil right. This was asserted in Loving v. Virginia over 3 decades ago, when people had nearly identical arguments over interracial marriage.

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  62. 62. raptor45 9:22 am 07/3/2012

    Keep deluding yourself and your breathless supporters Jesse but you have it wrong…dead wrong. God doesn’t support homosexuality and His Word is completely clear about the matter. Either you believe it and trust Him to know what is right or you don’t but you cannot have it both ways and you cannot change His rules.

    That really sucks, doesn’t it??

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  63. 63. futuremd 5:58 pm 11/2/2012

    Is Lakota.

    Is not Jewish.

    LDS is debunked.

    (By the way, I find it hilarious that their attitudes toward homosexuality essentially arise from “But I can’t marry three twelve-year-old girls? Why can he have one husband? Bawwww”

    Link to this

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