Monday, July 20, 2009

Respectful Group Discussion

Recently I have had the opportunity to sit down with a group of LGBT and LDS people, who have come together with kindness and respect, with hopes of building bridges, dispelling rumors, spreading truth, and, as an absolutely amazing woman put it, “just get everyone to love everyone.”

Participating members include someone from Equality Utah, a gay dad of two children, me, an active LDS husband and wife whose husband is gay and not secretive about it in his ward (although not sexually active with other men, just his wife), an ex bishop and his wife, the church lobbyist, a stake relief society president, and one of the directors at Planned Parenthood.

As I type all those people out, you would probably assume our meetings are politically charged and emotional. Strangely, they are not. In fact, the discussion moves rather fluidly, and understanding is at the heart of it.

I think the thing I am most proud of about this group is how well we all get along, and how successful we have been at presenting ideas that could cause actual change – not in doctrine, mind you, but in the way people think and approach the subject of homosexuality.

The church lobbyist has been of particular interest, because he was heavily involved in prop 8. Also, since he works in church PR, we often get the inside story, and a refreshing view of the church’s stance on a lot of issues.

For example, the recent news has had a lot of stories about the gay couple cited with trespassing for kissing on the church owned (yet public) Main Street Plaza. According to the lobbyist, the couple, indeed, was engaging in behavior that would have been questionable for either heterosexual or homosexual couples in public. He was also told that there is no video tape of the incident (contrary to many public naysayers who claim to have personal connections to church security members).

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is how important it is to have respectful dialog with people of opposing views. Even though I know there are people in this group that fundamentally disagree with me regarding issues such as marriage and family, I have no doubt that they have grown to love and respect me. Had it been me on the plaza, and one of these group members as church security, I have no doubt the outcome would have been different, and much less news worthy.

We all need to commit to discussion. We are all a member of the human family, and as such, cannot keep demeaning and vilifying those unlike ourselves. And the only way to stop the other side from vilifying you, is to discuss with them the fact that you exist… and that you love.

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