Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pride Limp

The Utah Pride Parade was this weekend, and I did not march in it. Despite the whole heterosexual thing I was planning on marching in the parade. I was going to keep my orientation closeted.

The idea of marching was not to poke fun, even though it is a fabulous and fun event, but to swell the ranks of a set of atheist groups that have supported gay rights in parades since there were enough gay rights for such marches to legally take place.

Atheists of the humanist variety often have a hard time making a big deal out of supporting gay rights issues on their intrinsic merit alone. On the face of it the idea of equal employment or equal housing or whatever is a collection of blindingly obvious issues. There is no substance in debating them, and spending time listening to people who oppose these rights is tedious and irritating.

A discussion of “gay marriage” with an atheist is likely to yield comments like: “Marriage…are you sure about that. If you want to get married then go ahead and stick your head in that oven. People are not much more likely to get a marriage to work just because they are some flavor of LGBT.” The attention is on whether marriage would be a good idea for you; not if you would be a good idea for marriage. People should think hard about getting married because marriage isn’t the right thing for everyone; it isn’t even the right thing for most people who get married.

As to the question of gay marriage being legal…well I’ve yet to hear an argument against it that is not tedious and irritating.

It is the extrinsic factors that motivate atheists to support gay rights. The main extrinsic factor being that enough of those rights do not exist in our country’s law. When a misguided idea like banning marriage for same-sex couples goes from ill-conceived rambling into law it is transformed from irritating to wrong. It is easy to find motivation to support the elimination of wrongs.

For sheer volume of justifications for perpetuating the particular wrongs visited upon the rights of LGBT people nothing comes close to religious arguments. It is a natural fit for an atheist group to march in opposition to the wrongs championed by the very groups they are primarily defined as not being.

The atheist groups marching in the Pride Parade must be incredibly tempting for the other participants. Not only are we a tremendously sexy group (even though some of us may be closeted heterosexuals) carrying suggestive signs saying things like: “NO GOD, KNOW LOVE”, but the basic message is one of unwavering support for a human’s most obvious rights.

I wanted to be in that number; when the so-not-saints go marching in.

Unfortunately a set of stairs collapsed strategically under me, and I was sent awkwardly flailing into the fractured remnants of the plate of food I was carrying. I would spend the weekend barely walking, let alone marching.

I missed the headline-grabbing Mormons Building Bridges group who marched at the head of the parade this year. These were heterosexual (and out, not closeted like me) Mormons marching to support the LGBT community in Utah. This was actually a big deal as just last year the LDS church was revoking the temple recommends of people who were seen as too closely associating with gay rights groups. By the largest counts I’ve seen there were almost 300 of these bridge-building Mormons marching through the heat in their Sunday best.

This cohort represented over one one-hundredth of one percent of the Mormons in Utah alone. There is a liberalizing force at work in today’s Mormon Church, and I’m sure that more than half of it has nothing to do with the hope that we will soon have our first Mormon president.

The message of the Mormons’ Building Bridges group was clear. They wanted everyone to know that they and the LDS Church fully support the LGBT community in every way; as long as they did not do anything that was…y’ or the like.

They were also letting the LGBT community know that they were welcome in the LDS Church. They could attend most of the services, and they might even be allowed to get a temple recommend for a while. Sure they would not be able to get married now, but the prophet might eventually be told by god that things are different; it worked for the African Americans. In addition, if any members of the LGBT community wanted to become heterosexual the church would support their attempts, and even let them get married and raise a proper family.

You’ve come a long way baby.


postmormon girl said...

I would like to feel optimistic about Mormons Building Bridges but the cynic in me feels this is just part of the Mormon Church's attempt to appear more tolerant --- I don't see the Mormon Church changing in any significant manner any time soon.

adult onset atheist said...

There is something calculated about MBB. Anything good is something good, but I don't want to overstate the value of MBB. I would honestly believe that the participants of the MBB portion of the march were genuinely tolerant, but I also believe they are honestly hypertolerant of intolerance in their religion.