CommunityPam's House Blend

Mormon head calls for flock to lobby on fed marriage amendment

Doesn’t Gordon B. Hinckley have any more pressing matters to attend to? (365gay):

In a letter read in all congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday senior officials of the denomination said that the Church has “repeatedly set forth our position that the marriage of a man and a woman is the only acceptable marriage relationship.”

It was signed by LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors.

We urge our members to express themselves on this urgent matter to their elected representatives in the Senate,” the letter said.

The Utah-based Church has spent millions of dollars campaigning against gay marriage. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is a co-sponsor of the amendment.

In the past, Hinckley has pontificated about gays, including this unhinged appearance on Larry King:

We love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem.”

King then asked the 94-year old leader of the world’s Mormons if the “problem” is one caused by gays themselves or one they were born with.

I don’t know. I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem, Hinckley replied.

Gay Mormons rightfully fear stepping out of the closet — they can face shunning and rejection by their church and their families. I’ve blogged about Jayce, a young man who was featured in the MTV True Life documentary “I’m Coming Out. He was so upset by the fact that he had same-sex feelings and what that would mean as a Mormon that he literally paid to have the gay shocked out of him — reparative aversion therapy suggested to him by his bishop. An account of what he went through:

It’s 1995. He is sitting in an office on the campus of BYU, where his counselor has attached electrodes to his hands, arms, torso and genitals. His Mormon Bishop gave him a referral to the counselor. Jayce is shown pornographic images of men having sexual encounters. Then, ZAP! His body tingles, then aches from the electrical shock administered by his trusted counselor. He is scheduled for twice-weekly sessions for four months. “Toward the end of the program I could press a button and it would stop the shock and then a picture of a woman would come on.”

But Jayce is 19 years old and he willingly goes back for more. He gives them his college savings — $9,000 — for the treatments which are promised to cure his homosexuality.

“They promised me it would work, and who doesn’t want to live a life that’s normal and acceptable in your society and have your family embrace you?” he asks rhetorically.

Therapist Ron Lawrence of Community Counseling Center in Las Vegas says this “reparative therapy” is “equivalent to what I would call the kind of torture that people experienced in Nazi concentration camps.” Jayce displays the scars on his hands and tells of more scars where the electrodes were placed “on my torso, and [breathing deeply as though reliving some excruciating pain ] on my genitalia.”

The words don’t come easily to Jayce as he explains why he so willingly gave up his education savings — and put his earning potential on hold — in order to endure what Lawrence describes as “assault and battery, abuse”.

“You’re taught that the leaders of the church will never lie to you, never deceive you and you’re taught to believe them blindly,” Jayce explains. “I believed the counselors. I believed it would work. I believed that through that [reparative therapy], faith, temple attendance and prayer and fasting I would be healed. I believe that through God anything’s possible. And I was told it would work. It probably sounds really naive, but I truly believed it would work.”

There are more stories and support at the Affirmation web site, a resource for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons and allies.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding