Tuesday, February 10, 2004



by Robert Graves of Allen, Texas
I want to share with you information I obtained about an initiative the
Church has begun in Texas to marshal support for yet-to-be-introduced
legislation that would ensure that non-traditional unions would not be
recognized in Texas.

On December 31 we attended the Allen 2nd Ward in Allen, Texas (a suburb
Dallas) with dear friends of ours. I stayed with my friend for all three
meetings, but Lani left after Sacrament meeting. Instead of Priesthood
meeting, they had a combined Melchizedek Priesthood/Relief Society
The first item on an agenda that was handed out was a presentation by a
member of the stake high council.

The presentation began with citations of excerpts from the 1995 First
Presidency Proclamation on the Family, and it quickly became clear that
same-sex marriage was going to be the topic. The presenter spoke of the
Vermont law allowing same-sex unions, claimed that 26 Texas couples had
entered into such unions, and raised concerns that these unions would
to be recognized in Texas unless a law was passed to deny them
The presenter then explained that the area presidency under the direction
the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve has asked the members
the Church in Texas to actively join an effort to support the fight
civil unions and to support the concept of traditional marriage.

In the middle of this presentation, my friend raised his hand, was
recognized, and objected strongly to the idea of having this type of
conversation about a political issue in church. The presenter said he'd
cover the reasons for discussing this in church at the end of his

Later, I raised my hand, and after holding it up for about five minutes,
presenter called on me. I gave some brief background by way of
introduction, including mention of my pioneer forebears and my many years
service in bishoprics, high councils, as a seminary teacher, etc. I then
explained that I was the father of four children, and that my oldest was
29-year-old gay man. I mentioned how talented and capable my son is and
proud I am of him, and then explained that from his earliest years he had
been attracted to boys, not to girls. I explained that he did not choose
be gay any more than I chose to be straight, and that he could not change
the way that God had made him. I spoke against any effort to deny
recognition of same-sex unions, saying that this issue was indeed a moral
issue, and that although it broke my heart to say so, the Church was on
wrong side of it. Seeing an urgent signal from the bishop, the presenter
politely but firmly cut me off.

Toward the end of the presentation, my friend interrupted the presenter
protest the assumption that everyone in the room supported the action
was being proposed by the Church. One or two growls were then heard from
other members of the audience who did not appreciate any show of
to the presentation. At one point the high councilor presenter pleaded
the audience not to shoot the messenger, but he then added that he
personally supported the action.

After explaining that the Church authorities wanted the members to
their legislators and newspapers, etc., the presenter tried to bring the
topic to a close, saying that no other comments would be taken. However,
quickly yielded the floor to the Stake President who happened to be in
audience. The Stake President cheerfully explained that this direction
been given at a regional leadership conference in Houston by Apostle Neal
Maxwell and other general authorities, and that since we believe we are
by prophets of God, the members could rest assured that this course of
action was correct.

As the bishop was making a closing comment, I asked if I could make
brief comment. Somewhat to my surprise, he gave me the floor again. I
explained that my son suffered from loneliness, that the thing he wanted
most was to form a permanent union with someone he loved, and that this
fundamental right applied to all people and was inherent in the
of Independence and the Constitution, which we believe was ordained of
I said that supporting my son in such a committed relationship in no way
threatened my marriage or anyone else's heterosexual marriage. I said
this initiative by the Church was wrong and that I was convinced that
himself would have no part of any effort to deny these fundamental rights
gay people. I thanked the bishop for allowing me to express my opinion.

Since this topic had taken most of the time, the remainder of the agenda
covered in about five minutes and the meeting ended. Afterwards, several
people approached me to let me know that I was not alone in my views and
express support. One said that we had seen these kinds of political
committees before, but in the past the participants had worn white
A couple of people said they thought it had taken a lot of courage to
out as I had. I politely disagreed, saying that I knew too many families
that were being torn apart unnecessarily by the Church's mistaken stand
homosexuality. I explained that good people were being driven to despair
and even suicide, citing the case of Stuart Mattis. I said that my wife
I had decided years ago that we would not be silent, but would speak out
against this kind of discrimination and persecution.

I have attached the handout that was given to people attending the
The material summarizes the Church's position and the action it is asking
its members to take. It also includes suggestions for letters to the
and contact information for members of Congress, the state legislature,
the state board of education. There is another sheet that I did not
that is to be filled out and submitted by Church member volunteers. It
gives a laundry list of ways in which the member can serve this cause,
including "recruiting new members," raising funds, contributing funds,
holding neighborhood discussion groups, delivering fact sheets to
neighborhoods, helping with mass mailings, staffing phone banks, visiting
legislators, voting, etc. The filled-out sheets are to be returned to
3616 Far West Blvd., Ste. 117-133, Austin, TX 78731." (I'm sure that
stands for Coalition for Traditional Marriage.)

It was obvious from the presentation that this is just the first step,
that the Church intends to rally its members around this initiative in
the same way it has done in places like Hawaii, Alaska, California and
others. In fact, the presenter cited the Church's activities in these
states as clear evidence that such activities were appropriate for the
Church in Texas.

Please feel free to post this to the Family Fellowship reflector, and to
share it with anyone else you'd like. I'd appreciate it especially if
would share it with Evan Wolfson, or alternatively you could send me his
e-mail address.

I look forward to the day, and I hope I live to see it, when the Church
we have loved gets true religion on the issue of homosexuality and stands
again for truth and justice, instead of prejudice and persecution.

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