About the Post

Author Information

J. PATRICK REDMOND was born and raised in southern Indiana and recently returned to his home state after sixteen years of living in South Florida and teaching for the Miami-Dade County Public School System. Presently he teaches English Composition at the University of Southern Indiana. Patrick holds a BA in English from Florida International University in Miami and an MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. He is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, and his writing has appeared in the NOH8 Campaign blog, the Southampton Review, and in the Barnes & Noble Review’s Grin & Tonic. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction. Some Go Hungry is his first novel, and when asked about it, Patrick says, “It’s about God, guns, gays, and green beans.” Additional information is available at jpatrickredmond.com.

I Am Mormon – We Don’t Approve of Gay but We Accept Gay

I posted the Rosie Perez video and quote below on Facebook.

A former high school classmate responded: “Pat, this election isn’t all about gay rights or race. I love you though. I only know this…..I am Mormon….although my religion doesn’t approve of being gay….we accept gay…it isn’t my right or responsibility to judge. Thank God.”

My religion doesn’t approve of being gay but we accept gay? What does that mean?

Below is a revised response to my former classmate. To protect her privacy I refer to her as Gladys.

Dear Gladys,

According to your comments Mormons “don’t approve of gay but they accept gay.” And as a Mormon you say, “it isn’t my right or responsibility to judge. Thank God.” Mitt Romney is a Mormon. So if I understand correctly, by virtue of practicing the same faith you both share the same ideology?

To begin, because gay rights are really civil rights, let me address one civil rights issue: Gay Marriage.

According to your logic it’s not the right or responsibility of a Mormon to judge so why does Mitt Romney, according to an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer prior to his 2008 presidential run, say his position on gay adoption is integrally connected to his opposition to same-sex marriage? 

Opposition to same-sex marriage sounds like judgment. 

Marriage is a CIVIL RIGHT not a RELIGIOUS RIGHT. Mitt Romney wants me, and others like me, to live by his Mormon tenets, which as you point out “don’t approve of gay but accept gay.” What about the Christians that want me, and others like me, to live by their tenets? Or the Muslims that want me, and others like me, to live by theirs? When do I, and others like me, get to make our own decisions about the way we live?

I must say that not approving of gay but accepting gay is akin to Christians saying, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” The argument doesn’t hold up.

Replace the word “gay” with “woman”, “black”, “Gladys”, or “Mormon.”

     “My religion does not approve of women but they accept women.”

     “My religion does not approve of blacks but they accept blacks.”

     “My religion does not approve of Gladys but they accept Gladys.”

     “My religion does not approve of Mormons but they accept Mormons.”

Sounds foolish, right? Especially the woman, Gladys, and Mormon part because it now becomes personal. Woman, Gladys, and Mormon are integral to who you are. Not to mention the whole position seems reminiscent of the separate but equal argument used for African-Americans during the 60’s. “My religion approves of keeping African-Americans separate but accept that they are equal.”

Galdys, gay is who and what I am. Mitt Romney does not want me, and others like me, to have the same rights as you. He proposes legislation —against gay marriage for example— that will undeniably write discrimination into the United States Constitution. If he’s elected he’ll have the opportunity to choose Supreme Court justices who parrot his policies. Together they’ll change my life, and others like me, for as long as we’re alive. And I plan to live a long life!

So your argument then becomes that the election isn’t “just about gay rights and race.” You are right. It is not. It’s also about economics. It’s about women’s rights too. And when populations of people are not afforded the same rights as others, or those rights are taken away, it affects their economics, which then affects national economics. Romney is all about Main Street. Well guess what, there are plenty of gays with businesses on Main Street! Economics and Civil Rights cannot be separated.

  • If a homosexual can be fired from his/her job in 29 states just for being a homosexual, it affects his/her economics.
  • If a homosexual in a relationship is not afforded domestic partner benefits, it affects his/her economics.
  • If homosexual couples are not allowed the 1,138 Federal benefits, rights, and protections that heterosexual couples are granted (both sets of couples are paying taxes; only one set is getting what they pay for!), it affects their economics.
  • If one half of said homosexual couple is a small business owner and he/she dies his/her partner is not granted inheritance, it affects their economics. (And Mitt Romney is supposedly all about small business owners!)

I can keep going.

Point is, Gladys, you’re a straight white woman and other than straight white men, some might argue -–Mitt Romney included— that straight white women have had it pretty good. Of course, I can’t promise “having it good” will last under a Mitt Romney administration given his unwarranted invasion and potential pillaging of women’s rights —your civil rights— and his need to make decisions about women’s bodies. Same goes for gays. Mitt Romney cannot be allowed to make decisions and propose legislation that will deny women and gays their rights, let alone take away rights women and gays already have.

I grew up where you did. I grew up with the same people and listened to those in our community. Middle America, southern Indiana in particular, is not representative of the rest of the nation; Mormons are not representative of the nation; Christians are not representative of the nation. Our country is not as it was in the 80’s or the 50’s for that matter. The 1950’s were wonderful for one demographic –straight white men. Our nation must adapt or folks will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Seems you never hear from those people that participated with pride in the blockade to prevent James Meredith from attending the University of Mississippi in 1962. I wonder if any of those people keep a framed picture of the event in their living room?

Nothing I’ve presented here, Gladys, will convince you to vote differently or change your mind, I know that. Mine is an exercise in futility. But it’s important to note your position and my response, especially for others to see, so folks get a better understanding of the conservative ideological magical thinking crap that gays and lesbians have been force fed in this country by their friends, family, coworkers, and houses of worship. The “don’t approve but accept” comment is indeed, as one friend said, magnanimous.

Lastly, I leave you with an opportunity to read my favorite poem. Google the TRADE UNIONIST by Martin Niemoller. Take out the word “Trade Unionist” and replace it with “homosexuals” or “women” or “Gladys” or “Mormon.” See what you think. If you reason that this scenario cannot happen in this country you need to brush up on your history.

Having said this I want you to know that I love you too, though.

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