I’m not gonna lie. The recent ruling supporting marriage equality in Utah might very well be challenged. (In fact, I hear the challenge is in the works already.) But for now, I (along with a bunch of Utah friends) am excited beyond belief. Amazingly so. The Utah part of my Facebook feed is awash in excited posts about my state’s first gay marriages. Of course, the Utah part of Facebook feed is also awash in ex-mormons and liberals. Some of my friends are probably awash in posts predicting the end of the world right now. Opninion is mixed here so far. Salt Lake and Washington counties have already begun performing marriages, but my own Utah County is not yet on board the equality train.*
To oversimplify/sum it up, Utah is very very Mormon, and officially Mormons are not into marriage equality. You’re allowed to have “same sex attraction,” you’re allowed to identify as gay, you’re just not allowed to actually, you know, do gay stuff. No gay sex, no gay marriage. Not if you want to be good with The Church.** My state is one of only three in the U.S. to prohibit adoption (PDF) by same-sex couples; non-married (ie. non-hetero) couples are considered inherently unfit to adopt here. A few years ago my state was one of several that tried to make marriage equality unconstitutional. The amendment was passed (but later struck down). You can see why I thought my state would be dead last in the race for marriage equality.
You can see why there might be challenges***. We might be about to relive the California Prop 8 debacle. If we do, you’ll have to endure endless updates from me on the whole mess. Frickin’ Mormons.
But seriously, I used to be a Mormon so I get the dilemma. On the one hand, Mormons are super conservative “traditional marriage” types. That’s the official position. But on the other, Utah desperately wants to be mainstream and Utah Mormons really want to seem cosmopolitan. And frankly, the Mormon church encourages people to see the world and be part of the larger community so they can convert everyone; sometimes this actually makes people more open to other ways of living. So, for a sort-of-culty, top-down church, there’s a surprisingly independent streak in a lot of Mormons. Add that to the large and growing liberal non-Mormon and ex-Mormon contingent in Utah and this ruling has a fighting chance. The Mormon church has a presence in other countries where marriage equality is already established, and there they just . . . deal with it. They maintain their weird stance on a church level, but respect the law otherwise. Having it in their own backyard will be tough, but not impossible.
And that’s the story for now. I’m so excited (and nervous for the future) I can hardly see straight, and I just had to share the good news. I’ve seen up close how the Mormon stance on this ties people in knots and hurts both individuals and families. It’s one of the reasons I quit. I know my (former) church and this won’t go on without a fight, but I just can’t give up hope. My state might be awfully misguided about a lot of things, but it’s full of good people who mean well and I have to believe we can get them to understand that everyone deserves love, happiness, and protection under the law. I hope this ruling helps.
*We did have our first Pride Festival this year, though. So there’s progress even here. Look up Provo Pride on Facebook if you wanna support a good cause.
**The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That church. You might not have heard of it, but trust me, out here it’s the biggest Church in town.
***Okay, there definitely will be. But our attorney general just resigned (big scandal, not important here) and the whole office is in a shambles right now. So they might not be mounting the best or quickest challenge to the ruling. So . . . boo to corruption in the attorney general’s office, but yay for marriage equality.