Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Evangelicals and Gays Part II

Last night we met with the evangelical group once more; it's a monthly thing now.

And get this: This bridge-building meeting of evangelicals and gays was held in the home of a lesbian couple, the same home in which Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the LDS church, was born and raised. He was actually born on the floor in the room adjacent to the one in which we were all sitting. I have to doubt he ever thought that a lesbian couple would ever be sleeping in his parent's bed room, or that a bunch of gays and evangelicals would be socializing in his living room, some drinking a glass of wine no less :-).

Anyway, I have to say there's a soft spot in my heart for evangelicals--there's something about their form of faith that comes off as charming and cheery in a way I don't often see. All that aside, these people we've been meeting with seem to be really good, charitable and friendly people, and I've enjoyed building these relationships both before and after we get down to moderated business.

Simply, it's a shame there's this wall between the gay community and them, and that's what we were there to feel our way around (or to find if there is a way around).

Last night actually seemed more tense than the first meeting. I think the problem was that we had such a good first meeting. There was more friendship there to break, and we were to be discussing the touchy topic of the use of the Bible and God's view of homosexuality.

The simple fact is they believe, as a matter of faith, homosexuality is a sin.

It seems at this point, though, we became three groups: 1. the evangelicals, 2. the christian gays and lesbians, and 3. the agnostic/atheist gays and lesbians. Group 1 and 2 are concerned about reconciling matters of scripture, and I can certainly see how important that could be to them. Much of the meeting was spent working through that centuries long debate.

Group 3, though, well, I'll just speak for myself. I don't much see the need in going over all that. Not that I won't with some hope; goodness knows I've weathered many arguments over Leviticus and Romans. It just seems to be a problem too big to be solved in a lifetime. It's a matter of faith, and there's no proof to be given.

I was aiming--I don't want to say lower--but elsewhere.

I told them I don't mind if they think homosexuality is a supernatural sin. I don't; I've had plenty of experience being friends (and family) with folks who think that way. The preacher there was reluctant to go where the scriptural conversation was going, knowing it could turn friendship towards hostility, but I wanted him to know his faith would not be held against him by me. I only care that doesn't translate into incivility or practical action against my family in politics or on the street. I care that he doesn't debase our family to our children, but, being adults, I'm sure we can disagree on this and still get along. I only care that the faith doesn't end in him treating me in way he'd not want to be treated.

We ran out of time, but that is the question I'm left with for next month. How do we get from A to C without agreeing on B? Is it possible?

Anyway, these are very nice people and I'm glad to get to know them. We are both minorities here, though, and both have trouble with a larger group. I wish the LDS church was open to such meetings and we could have, say, a bishop come to something like this, just as we had the head of an evangelical ministry there last night. Hey, we could even offer them a tour of Hinckly's childhood home :-).

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Utah's weather is something I'm accustom too, but the winters are about a month too long for us. Worse, the state always has that one last annoying snow storm, one that comes after a week of 60 degree weather makes you think spring has finally taken hold. Today was one of those storms.

In anticipation, though, and not wanting to be bored of winter anymore, we took the kids into the mountains to go sledding yesterday. Enjoy it before it's gone, instead of feeling tired of it.

Though a snowball fight with his brother left Brian with an ear full of snow (remember how painful that was as a kid? :-)), it was a great antidote for this one last cold spell, kind of analogous to how I hope to weather future storms here, before the thaw.

Also, check out our cool new sled :

It wore out too easily, though:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cheap Shot

I watched this video the other day and ended up making a fool of myself in front of my husband when I tried to explain it to him.

Yes, it's a cheap emotional shot... But if you are a parent and it made you do what it made me do, then you, after regaining composure, have just given your kids an inexplicably long hug, which was the aim of this sappy post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Neighbor and Me

I'm starting to feel I'm focusing too much on the LDS church here; I'm hoping to fix that.

The thing is, as a young kid the LDS church was like a friend of a friend, or a friend of family. Eh, call him Larry, Larry Daysaints. He ran the neighborhood, and on whole was a pretty good guy. I liked and revered and followed his father, Bob Protestantsen, and grew up in a school with Bob as my teacher (stick with me here :-)). I suppose I wasn't really clear there was a difference between the two men at such a young age.

When Larry told me there was a difference, though, I decided to give him a shot. I befriended him, then I revered him, and then I believed his every word. I'd come to find though, I couldn't trust his every word and so returned to following Mr. Protestansen. For a while, in my teens, I thought Larry had evil motivations, in his trying to pull me away from following Mr. Protestantsen, but eventually concluded that the Daysaints had good hearts and were just honestly mistaken. After all, I started to notice very similar problems with the older Bob. I eventually decided to not believe everything either of them said.

Then I went through puberty and found I wasn't like the rest of the boys. Bob and Larry would have had a problem with that, but Larry and I had already cut ties and I knew Bob had problems of his own. So who cares what they think, right? And that was that for many years.

I got married, and we moved to get my MS in California. I hardly noticed we left Larry and Bob in the old neighborhood, and really got comfortable rarely realizing being gay was an issue any more pressing than my eye color. Still, I had fond feelings for both old neighbors, and in fact still respected them from afar (or respected what I remembered of them).

Then it came time to become parents and we wanted to raise our kids around family, and so we moved back to Utah, back to having Larry as our neighbor, which I naively didn't give much of a worry. Outside my neighborhood, Larry controls very little and I was used to that, but in Utah it's different.

So we were blessed with children, and suddenly I started hearing rumors, or more accurately I started noticing it much more. Larry smiles to our face and says horrible things about me and my husband to the other neighbors; it turns out he always had and it just didn't hit me hard when it was just some old guy spouting off about something he knew nothing about, but, when aimed at my marriage and kids, that made a difference. And yes, I know, friends had told me he was a jerk but I thought that was just a temporary mistake or a lapse on Larry's part; we all make mistakes.

Then he started putting insults right to our faces, lawn signs in his yard aiming at us. It was not just in his private neighborhood meetings anymore, and, worse, he began publicly insulting our kids. Of course he claims it's all for our own good, constructive criticism, tough neighborly love or something, but who does he think he's fooling, right? How would he like it if I treated his family like that? I got upset, and told him we're officially not friends anymore, but, of course, he didn't much notice.

Then--would you believe it--Larry starts asking the neighborhood to work to harm my husband and kids and many other families of friends we love. He's telling us he doesn't hate us or disrespect us, no; it's just that families (if he'd even use the word for us) like ours, having equal rights to Larry and his wife, well, that upsets him. He says he's just defending family and marriage by harming us and doesn't get how his choices could ever be disrespectful or immoral. He can't seem to understand we are all for marriage and family too and to insinuate we are not... well, I'd rather be called faggot to my face. It all came to a head when he made himself instrumental in an attempt to annul my legal marriage last November, with the help of other neighbors and distorted facts about what has happened in neighborhoods where we are treated with equality.

Then, when I confronted him about his behavior, he acts all offended and goes on about his rights and being persecuted, complaining about my incivility and lack of respect for him. Weird, right?

Anyway, I digress.

So I've got this bizarre long-history with this neighbor I once liked but who has now turned himself into a great source of harm for my family, and I don't know what to do with it. For months since the election, I find myself waking up about once a week at night worrying what he's going to do to my family next. I know, behind the scenes, he's still plotting against us. It's making me paranoid. He's already expressed interest in our children, and has shown his power and influence with his interest in our marriage. But it doesn't have to be that big; what if he starts spreading more lies to my family? Instructing them? Many of them are torn and some will do whatever he tells them. What about what he's doing to the gay children in his home? I hate to bring it up in a lighthearted metaphor like this, but what gay man in Utah doesn't know a kid who killed himself here?

If Larry was feeling sad because I stopped taking notice of him or what he had to say for all those years, he should be pleased; he has tight hold of my attention now.

And that's what I'm hoping to change. I'm thinking of him too much. It's like the year our mailbox was blown up, Christmas decorations slashed with a knife, and we were left, on our doorstep, a cryptic handwritten letter about us turning to Christ, in Spanish (true story :-)); each little bump I heard at night, sounded like those vandals trespassing again. Similarly, after our last year with the LDS church, I'm thinking too much of them trespassing into our home, our most sacred unions again. Sure, we have real conflict but I'm also seeing conflict where there is likely none.

I want to stop that and go back to our old neighborly relationship, before all this. I want my neighborhood back, to feel like my home again, not some bully's territory. I want neighbors who say they're sorry when they harm us, instead of "stop hitting yourself". I don't want to be suspicious anymore of people who count Larry as a friend. I even want to like quirky old Mr. Daysaints again, if he'd just live and let live.

So, while we have to be in his neighborhood, I'm going to try to turn my attention away from his every insult and political maneuver, on this blog and in the real world. I'm going to try to ignore proclamations in my brother's home, and CTR rings on my child's finger... treat it like the inappropriate words that come out of the mouths of my older relatives. It's certainly not that I find the behavior any less objectionable, but I don't want to spend as much time thinking about it, worrying the next time Larry walks by he'll salt our lawn, or tell my children they're of inferior moral character to other kids, or something. We'll deal with it when he does.

So what do you think is a fair goal? Only one post about Larry per week, month? How does one go back to those pre-prop 8 days, anyway? Seems a lot of us around here want to know.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last Sunday we were invited to my nephew's mission homecoming. While several of my siblings' families have had sons return from missions, I think this may have been the first we were personally invited to by the parents. To be clear, I don't think we were not invited to other such events out of hostility. I imagine LDS church functions are a difficult subject for some family to bring up, even if we see eye to eye, and so they assume we'd prefer not to come or that we'd just hear about it through my parents and decide to come or not. Heck, things get lost in the mail and as phone messages too. Point is, the specific personal invitation made me feel we should go to this.

Going, though, presents a problem for us too. While I want to celebrate my nephew's return, there's the whole issue of a church that threw the first stone, one that teaches that my family is inferior, fights hard to politically harm the people I love most, and even tells its members our children are defective and questions their moral character... I can't celebrate my nephew's conversion of people to that way of thinking, any more than a mixed race family could celebrate the same back in the 60's when the LDS church was aiming at them. I also can't feel right taking my children into a church building and telling them to show respect to a place in which they and their family are slandered and plotted against.

I wish things were as they were when I came out and there wasn't this whole history of LDS involvement in Proposition 8, or Amendment 3, or on and on. Back then, going to a LDS church building would not have felt such like a betrayal to my home. I can take sitting though doctrine which I don't buy, but when that doctrine has aimed to do such harm to us, how can I take my family there, right? How could I risk my kids hearing something like what was heard at my sister's wedding?

So, it's another tricky family/faith decision. We ended up with a good compromise, though. We made the two-hour drive two-hours late, missing the church service, and meeting up to celebrate with my family back at my brother's home.

One thing, however... I walked into my brother's home and noticed he had framed and hung the "proclamation on the family" in his kitchen. He's in a new home, but I never noticed this in his old home. I suppose he must have it up, being the bishop, or maybe he agrees with it wholeheartedly now. Maybe he interprets it unconventionally as innocuous when it comes to his brother's family, as some around these parts have suggested.

I don't know; I was under the impression he was all for equal rights. As with that wedding, I wasn't about to make an issue of it there, though. All I know is that that "proclamation", with all its subtle and not-so-subtle language, has been often used as a weapon by church leaders and laymen alike against my family. It has been used to try to excuse harm to those I love most and to insult my children and my marriage on both real and supernatural scales. And it's framed and it's hanging in my brother's home.

I have to wonder how they'd react if I hung a proclamation in my home that states the unions of my siblings are inferior, threatening them that they will be "accountable to God" for violating "the family". What if I framed a paper and hung it in my kitchen, for them and their children to see, that encouraged governments to resist support of LDS marriages and families? I would, of course, never do that. I, of course, love and respect their families, but would they even come to my home, if I were similarly "pro-family"?

I'd like to think it's all unintentional. Who knows?

But, yeah. I'm not whining about anything new here. It's difficult. It's complicated. For all. Et cetera...

To be clear, I'm not saying I'll refuse to go to my siblings' homes and risk alienating family that has no ill intent because of such displays; we'll just be there feeling we are merely tolerated, which may, in fact, be part of the message intended by those encouraging LDS members to display such a thing. Also, yes, I know it could be a lot worse, and I know it is for many gay men and women.

It would just be nice to go without the wedges that strangers in the LDS HQ push down into my family with these "pro-family" proclamations from on high. It would be nice to just have the simplicity of typical family differences ;-).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Phase Change

Travel Advisory: Severe Navel Gazing Ahead.

It seems a defining habit of mine, one that I can often see play out here, has to be my way of dealing with threat. Typically, my emotions won’t run their course until I feel the threat has passed. As I've written before, if we hear a bump in the night, I never feel fear; instead I methodically search the house like it's a game. I don’t first feel sadness over the death of our family dog; I go calmly hunting for the coyote that killed him. When Rob and I suffered loss trying to become parents; it would be weeks later before I did all I could to get us back on track and I could finally relax my drive and let that loss run me over.

I'm not complaining; when I whiteness the options on other human models, I’m glad I’m built how I am. I experience happiness in real time, and negative emotions are delayed until dissolved by the solution I find, or at least dulled by the realization of the problem’s irreversibility. It’s probably why I’m one of the happier people I know.

Trouble is, though, I look back now and I see I’ve keenly felt my family has been under threat in Utah since we became parents, six years ago. That’s a long time to be putting off, to be vigilant. In that time I have, of course, tried to fix the problem. Maybe it's because people don't know us? Maybe it's because they don't have the facts? Maybe it just takes political energy? I can take all that on, right? They make me feel I can take anything on. So I worked on everything from isocrat.org to political campaigns… so many editorials (you catch my last one? ;-)). Each little bit making me feel like I'm doing something to protect them and each, of course, too small to dent such a huge problem.

I’m hunting that damned coyote, and have been for a long long time.

Recently, Proposition 8, the “Common Ground” losses, the increased local social hostility, the "love" "respect" and "civility" of those aiming to harm us legally... all that really stepped it up an order of magnitude for me this year. That's a lot to hold for later, and it hit me harder than I noticed, and I noticed a good deal.

I can see myself trying to go back to my habit, the day after the vote, and put off feeling it until I fix it. However, I know I can't fix this one--it takes time and many more people--and I've written that before, but I have to get it through my head. This often helpful habit of mine has become a dam on this issue, holding back six years of GLBT political weather and last year we had record rainfall. And yeah, I know, it has been cracked and has been leaking all over my blog (me and my metaphors... :-)).

Funny thing is I didn't realize the extent to which I'm tired of this fight until someone in power yesterday, out of the blue, offered to help me and the gay community in a little corner of local government. It just took someone to offer to help to make me realize I needed it, like someone offering to take my place at a guard post; only then I felt how tired I was.

Then, as if the universe was trying to drive home the point that I can't win against such threats, we found a neighborhood cat yesterday, killed in our yard by the material forms of my metaphorical threat, those coyotes (Apologies to new readers here who don't understand why I'm going on about coyotes. These animals have been a long time issue with our neighborhood, and my reaction to them strikes me as similar to my reaction to political threats here in Utah; just search the blog :-)). I guess the fauna indigenous to Utah, be they in the wild or in our wild legislature, won't be caught and won't stop following their instinct, and so I can't keep dealing with it like it was just any other one-time threat with a solution I could reach if I only focus more, work on it more, put off anger just another day.

Anyway, to be responsible for a gay-headed family in Utah… I fear if we lived the rest of our lives here, I’d be waiting the rest of our lives to finally let the water out of that dam. But don't get me wrong. This may sound like a gloomy post, but it just took letting it out with Rob and I'm in good spirits. I'm just realizing more and more that I can't treat this problem like others we might face, and am writing this down in the hopes it will eventually sink in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I recently updated the isocrat.org page on the marriage stats in jurisdictions offering same-sex union rights, here.

For some reason, I get a lot of folks linking to this blog on posts where I have the old versions of these images (if you're one of them, I'd recommend using the isocrat.org images as they get updated). Here I'll just put up the new figures, for anyone wanting to use them, but they are described and analyzed and updated on that page. References to the sources of the data are there too.

Finally a couple more on public opinion, discussed here.

You gotta love graphs, right? Any suggestions as to how to make them more visually friendly/informative?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Not-So-Grave Marker

Brian asked if he could go outside this morning with a piece of tissue in one hand and a paper in the other; I said yes and watched him go out to the garden and back. When he came back in I went out to find this monument:
This post is dedicated to all those ants needlessly killed by bathwater each year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What I'll Miss, A

Yesterday I left work early to go with the boys to a Birthday party for one of their classmates. It was at a Laser Tag arena and the mom wanted all the parents to play along with the kids, and we all had more fun that I would have anticipated. The parents ended up agreeing we should leave the kids home next time :-).

I even took the top score, by 30 hits, and won some "my dad is better than your dad" points for the boys :-). Anyway, if in war against a bunch of seven-year olds and 30/40-somethings, I'd totally be victorious.

Having such a good time, laughing, and comparing score cards with other parents... It made me think, though, of what a gamble moving is. Our boy's school has a great bunch of parents and kids, most all of which haven't a problem with our family being there. Many have become our friends... well more Rob's friends, as he, as Room Mom Parent, interacts with them more.

Sure, we've had some new discomfort recently, aside from the big political and familial issues. Our boys have play dates easily and almost no parents seem to have a problem... But the mom of Brian's best friend has been awfully difficult to agree to anything--she even took a month to return a call--and who knows why. We've also noticed things have changed around our neighborhood since November. I'd like to think we were being paranoid, but it really does seem the more devout LDS have stopped returning our waves and the less devout have stopped socializing; we used to spend long whiles talking but now they seem to be uncomfortable and cut our conversations short. Eh, it's either paranoia or the discomfort that can come when around a neighbor you know knows what your chosen church is trying to do to his family. Maybe that wedge is inevitable. I mean, I'm sure I'd feel uncomfortable talking to my LDS neighbors if a community to which I belonged was out to legally harm their families, and annul their marriages, even if I didn't agree with my group.

The trouble is that we do have some really good connections here, which I hope we can reproduce. In whole Utah is harmful to us, but it's what we know, and there are parts that are great and that I hope we can take with us. Wherever we end up, I'll hope we end up with a great group of children and parents in our kids school, those we can socialize and laugh with as the kids open presents and eat cake, those that don't worry about our kids and our family being treated equally at school. That and I'll also hope for parents who can't show me up in front of my boys at Laser Tag :-).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Twin, King, Queen

I left Hawaii too soon, in a couple of ways.

I forgot about what I found to be a funny bit of history repeating. I didn't even mention that the last time we were in Hawaii was on our Honeymoon, 13 years ago. Just look at those hansom young men :-):
Last week we went to the same attractions and swam in that same waterfall. We stayed in a hotel just a short walk down the beach from where we stayed on our honeymoon. The kids got a kick out of the family history--really, they did--and I loved driving home the point for them that their parents have been stable for longer than even the beach in front of our new hotel had existed.

Something has bugged us though, just a little bit, about our honeymoon for a long time now.

The night we checked into the first hotel on our honeymoon we found our reserved room had two double beds; this, it goes without saying, was disappointing :-). Fortunately, the hotel had an extra room with a king. I just thought they made a mistake and I asked to switch. That's fine; everyone makes mistakes, I thought.

Then the next hotel we stayed in (well, it was more of a B&B) the exact same thing happened; we were reserved a room with two tiny beds and they had no other rooms this time, and so we were 1950's Ozzie and Harriot the rest of the trip.

How could this happen twice, when it had never happened to us before? I was frustrated and asked the front desk how that happened. They looked at their notes and said our travel agent was very specific in requesting a room with two double beds. I then, curious, had to call the first hotel and they said the same thing; our travel agent requested it and they even referred to her by name.

To book our honeymoon we used a travel agent that had booked vacations for my family for many years. Up to then, though, Rob and I had made our own travel arrangements as a couple. She lived in our neighborhood and was LDS but, again, back then I was quite naive about all that and didn't think she'd have a problem helping us. She was always very friendly and congenial to our faces, even though she knew who I was marrying and even after I told her our trip was for our honeymoon. When asked about the double beds when we got back, her excuse was that she just wasn't thinking, but, well, that's kind of hard to believe; I'm pretty sure the purpose of the trip stood out in her mind :-).

Regardless, the point of this anecdote (that, okay, isn't my best): Having separate beds for part of our honeymoon, and the thought that it may have been purposefully done has annoyed me for a while now... And it never happened on a trip again in the 13 years since, until we got back to Hawaii and into our rooms and saw this:
Just like old times... But this time it was the Hotel's fault, and it was good for a laugh. Now that event doesn't much bother me; Double beds were almost romantic, given the history :-).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wedding Crasher

Well, it didn’t take long for trouble to find me back here in Utah.

I did not sleep all night on the red-eye flight back from Hawaii, and my sister was getting married the day we got home. By the time I had to be there for pictures I was in that fuzzy sleep-deprived state that I remember from our boys’ infancy. Which is fine; the twins taught me I can go months in that state :-), and I was happy to be there.

All my brothers and sisters were there and it was nice to see them outside the usual holidays; we met up in the mezzanine of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. My sister, the bride, was to be married there and not in the temple as her first husband died long ago. That building holds very fond memories for my family. As a kid we used to go there for dinner every Christmas Eve, back when the LDS church ran it as a hotel (with a big bar and all :-)). I would come to find, however, I don’t much feel welcome there anymore.

She looked beautiful, and, as I always do at weddings, I got caught up in the emotion of it as our dad walked her down the isle. But then everything went downhill. The LDS Bishop, literally in his first sentence, started out by going off on marriage for gay couples . He said that the institution of marriage was under attack, and “the family” was being “mocked”, but look how lucky his audience is to know the value of a real marriage. He read from the President of the LDS church, quoting that marriage between a man and a woman is the only union that’s ordained by his God, and I’m fine with him thinking that, but he went on to say how only that union contributes to society and only that union raises healthy children. The guy was disparaging our children, and my marriage, and as a matter of course in his wedding ceremony for my sister. Furthermore, this sister has a newly out gay child, who I could see tense up as the man spoke.

I'm left wondering if this is part of other LDS Bishops' marriage ceremonies?

I actually considered I might be dreaming, being so tired and out of sorts (who'd do that while performing a wedding, right?) but a hand on my leg by another sister brought me back to knowing this was an actual event. She, a very faithful LDS woman too, leaned over and whispered she loved me and my family and that she believed my family matters too. She wanted me to know the Bishop wasn’t speaking for her. Just then I noticed my mom, a couple seats away. I heard her voice and looked over. She was visibly upset, and I could hear her voicing her objections to our dad. It sure did feel like a dream.

I tried to get back into the spirit of things as the Bishop finally got away from political attack to the actual ceremony. This was my sister's wedding and I knew where she stood and I'd not let this jerk get in the way. Funny thing is he actually gave some of the same advice I do. Then we all cheered as the couple was presented and the bride was kissed. But I knew that was not the end of it.

As the crowd dispersed, I decided my sister's wedding day was not the time to get into a political argument with her bishop. I just hoped she was too nervous to notice what he said. However, I know my dad as well as anyone, and I knew he was going to come to a different conclusion. I searched him out in the dispersing crowd, to head him off. I've had to get between him and anti-gay advocates before. I’m grateful to have such an advocate and friend in my father, but I asked him to not make an apparent issue of this at the wedding and he agreed he’d only take the Bishop aside quietly. That he did, and it was a good thing it was done in a quiet corner of the room, as the Bishop said worse and made it clear he wasn’t misheard or misunderstood.

As they were at it, an in-law came up and apologized for the Bishop, and I realized everyone probably felt the hostility in the man; it wasn't just my close family. Worse, as I went up to give the bride a congratulatory hug, she apologized as well and said she was thinking of us through the ceremony because of the guy’s words. That’s what burned off my dreamy haze and finally got to my temper. I’m so used to such “loving” assault on my family from the LDS church that I took it as just another arrow from just another sanctimonious stranger… but to think this worry had to be brought into my sister’s mind during her wedding, when she should have been thinking of her union and the importance of the ceremony. That’s just horrible; real pro-family and pro-marriage of the guy, right?

Of course, some family didn’t acknowledge any of that. I bet some agreed with that Bishop, maybe not with all the legal ramifications of their church’s position but with the spiritual superiority of their family over their brother’s, at least. They were off socializing together, probably thinking it unfortunate we had to hear the tough love “truth”, but that it was good for us? It doesn't really matter.

In the crowd I eventually ran into my mom and she gave me a hug and I could see she had been crying. I was glad to see it wasn’t just for me as I’d hope she knows I can and do take far far worse than that :-). She was with her gay grandchild and was upset about us both sitting through that. I told her not to worry about me, but I know, as a parent myself, that’s kind of useless. Regardless, gay relatives and supporters eventually coalesced at our table, and we enjoyed the company and the rest of the evening. But the wedge in our family was palpable.

I often defend my LDS family against non-LDS family, even before I came out and even as an agnostic. It’s how they make it through the day and how they feel significant and secure in the world and their hoped-for world to come. I remember what it’s like and if they enjoy thinking obeying some organization during their brief time here will lead them to being immortal gods and goddesses, why should anyone pull threads from that sweater? But when those beliefs become attached to others that hurt and demean my family and my kids, I have a hard time trying to get the side that supports and loves us to see the point of view of the other.

I still, however, try to keep peace. Should I? Half way through the night a very LDS brother-in-law approached me and told me he has always respected the way I’ve juggled family in this area, but it kind of made me feel like I've sacrificed what's right for peace. Should I have felt like my dad and went for confrontation, even at my sister's wedding?

I’m in an odd position in my family. So often my home is the issue, though not the only issue, that causes LDS family to harden up and, as often, I’m the one who tries to connect both sides. It feels as though, perhaps with too much self-importance, that if I’m not the ambassador and just treated those family members like I would any stranger who supported a group that attacks my family, then a future split in the larger family would be on my shoulders, my fault. I’m a bone of contention that thinks at least he can be the link that brings together the two beasts pulling on it :-).

Or maybe any bone of contention is just a source of, well, contention and all would be happier if it snapped, halted attempts to smooth over? Even though I can’t get angry with the other side—I know they’re under significant psychological pressures here—maybe, again, we should act as though we were angry, for the sake of both sides. I mean, I’m sure most LDS at that wedding would have been much happier to have only folks there who’d nod in agreement when told how superior their families and children are, and I don’t want to be an issue at my sister’s wedding.

I also hate how it can bring out a similar ugliness in me. I love my sister, and respect and support her union, but I admit the thought crossed my mind: how can her Bishop insult our 16-years together and 6-years of parenting, while performing a marriage after for a person who has divorced twice and is well past the age to raise children. I adamantly want her to have all the same legal rights and privileges and responsibilities I want to have for my family in marriage, but, if the Bishop wants to argue which marriage will produce more for society, then these “ideal family” arguments cut both ways. Fact is we should not be measuring our sibling’s or our neighbor’s marriage like that and especially on bias about inborn traits like sex, but that’s the weapon the LDS church wants to use here, making it hard not to pick it up as well. I regret feeling that temptation.

Anyway, how should people socialize with siblings who choose to belong to a group that teaches that their children are somehow defective? Should people even go to a building owned by a group that wants their family to be legally invisible or second class because of their sex, and has said so with pride, pretending to defend from us what we have and cherish too? What if the issue was race and not sexual anatomy? We know this same church was doing this for race once before; how was that best handled back then by those families?

I still don’t know, and, along with my sadness, I will have some relief in making the question less important once we move from family.

It’s just sad.

Friday, March 06, 2009


We're back from our Island vacation, the one Brian asked for and got from Santa. He graciously didn't go alone and shared his gift with the rest of us :-).

Not that I'm bragging (okay, maybe just a bit), but this was the view from our hotel window:
That was easy to wake up to.

First full day there we went to the Dole pineapple plantation, where we made it through their maze, with only some cheating:
But, of course we spent most of the time at the beaches:

I get such a kick out of the expressions on our boys' faces at the beach, even once they've worn themselves down:
Day two we went to the Punchbowl National Cemetery. Alan said he knew a "skinny blond guy" who died in World War II and he looked at a couple markers to see if he could find this guy's name. Some may consider this evidence of reincarnation, something Alan already likes the idea of, but he was also sure this man was sent off to war in WW2 by Abraham Lincoln :-).
Day three... was it 3? It's easy to lose track there, anyway, we went to the Waimea Falls Park. The trees there are amazing:
And we had a great time playing at the base of the falls:

Best of all that day, Brian finally lost his first tooth!
He had been babying it for about a month, and I was probably as excited as he was to see it finally come out. I love the fact that the memory was added to this trip.

Then... Ah, yeah, we (minus one tooth) went to the water park:
It was perfect as almost no one was there but us. That steep white slide behind Rob's head there... if one can be violated by fast moving water, that slide can do it. It nearly removed my suit.

Then, we had a Luau, of course. Here we are waiting for it to start.
We look a bit subdued there but that's one of my favorite pictures of Brian and me together taken on this trip. But, okay, here's one of us all:
Alan got a little goofy with his shell lei and palm crown:
We got there early so we could be right up front:
The boys absolutely loved it. The last day (and I know I'm missing days of just beach and pool here but they all blissfully melted together), we drove around Oahu. I had the best banana I've ever had off a roadside fruit stand, and we stopped at a couple sights, one being Hunauma bay:

I remember being under amazement at all the colorful reef life that would swim beside you there as a child their age. When I was a kid you could feed the fish there and they'd come up to you in great swarms of bright yellow, blue, green. Now you can't feed them, but it was still a great experience, and fun to share it with them. Children have a great way of making you see things in both new and old ways. As you can see from that picture, one kid was a bit more suspicious of possible eels and sharks than the other. With minimal protest, though, we got way out there, and ended up seeing a huge sea turtle.
Then our trip was done. We spent our last hour on the beach there, goofing off and waiting for our boarding time:
We took a red eye home, during which the boys slept the whole way, lucky kids. I spent the flight trying to keep Alan's feet off the stranger sitting next to us and thinking about the crafty politicians, religious forces, and tough decisions we were returning to. But I'm glad to say my family had a wonderful time and I'm home with rest and added clarity under my belt.

Boy, I hope Ca keeps legal at least our marriages already performed; we do love the ocean.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


The blog you have reached u - t - a - h - c - o - g is not in service.

Being the greatest threat to the nation is tough work. Please give us a week to recharge and we'll be back at it in no time :-).