[Pro-gay marriage Mormons] Squished in the middle of the sign-waiving crowd packed into City Creek Park Friday evening and completely unable to make out anything Rocky Anderson was saying, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with a cute newlywed couple. Pasted to the women’s cardboard sign—but protected in a plastic sheathe—was their three-week-old California marriage license.
The couple—both returned missionaries—first married in a commitment ceremony 14 years ago, an event they still consider their official marriage date. Even so, Marilyn, one half of the couple, said she hadn’t realized what societal sanction of her union meant until she welled up in tears during her California marriage ceremony and surprised herself thinking, “I’m getting married to the love of my life.”
Many of those who turned out to march around the LDS Church complex in protest of LDS church support for California’s ban on gay marriage were Mormons, or former Mormons, upset, or embarrassed by, the church’s support of Proposition 8.
“I paid tithing for 23 years. I want my money back,” read Chris Lemon’s sign. It was one of many Mormon-themed placards.
“What’s the difference between Nauvoo and now? The persecuted have become the persecutors”
“Shame on Monson”
“Ban Temple Marriage”
“Every 10th Saint is a Queer”
“Family is Unconditional”
“30 % of Your Eternal Family is Gay”
“Joseph Smith didn’t believe in marriage between 1 man and 1 woman”
“Dear Mr. Monson. Please try not to take away my inalienable rights. Thank you very much.”
Several signs compared the LDS stance on gay marriage to rules that once bared blacks from the Mormon priesthood. “Time for a revelation Mr. Monson,” read one. Steve Hausknecht’s piece of cardboard was like that “John 3:16” sign you used to see at football games, only it quoted a passage from the Doctrine and Covenants--“D&C 134:9 No mingling religious influence with civil government”--written in a different era when Mormons were trying to find a place to practice their religion unmolested.
One of the thousands came from Weber County, an active Mormon attending Friday’s protest with her grown son and carrying a sign that read, “Mormons for Equality.” “I’m the only one I know who’s got the guts to say I’m both” [Mormon and gay], she said.
For the past five or so years, the woman has chosen to live as a celibate in order to return to the LDS church. The message from church leaders calling on members to work for passage of Proposition 8 wasn’t read at her ward. If it had been, she said she would have walked out and complained to the bishop. Most at the ward house know she was gay and likely would have walked out with her, she said. Until recent news reports, the woman didn’t know the extent of LDS Church support for the California marriage ban.
“I feel very betrayed and disrespected by what [church members] did in California,” she said. “I don’t think churches should enter the political arena in any way.” She added she didn’t approve of “bashing,” including some of the “Mormon bashing” at Friday’s event.
Some agitated for continued action. One man gathered signatures on a drive to pressure authorities to take action against the LDS church’s tax-exempt status. Others passed out a list of national and Utah business owners who had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, calling for a boycott.
As the happy throngs passed down North Temple—pausing outside the entrance to the LDS Church’s Main Street Plaza (a no protest zone by city ordinance since 1999) to chant “shame”—a lone man carrying a “Yes On 8” sign tried to engage the crowd. The people had spoken, he said, and gay marriage had lost. Most ignored him. Finally a young, straight married couple paused to talk. The Yes Man began by attacking the couple's sexuality. "I'm not gay," said the female half of the couple, "I'm married." She held out her ring finger. “Do you know the church says it’s OK to be gay?” her husband asked. The Yes Man stuck to his guns for a minute’s argument, then gave up, dropped his sign to his side and walked up the street alone. (Ted McDonough)