Kyler Powell, 21, was raised as a non-denominational Christian in Boise, Idaho. But at the age of 16, after his parents divorced, he voluntarily converted to Mormonism and got baptized. The Mormon Churchs stance on abstinence, dating, and the clothes you wear resonate with my personal morals, says Powell.
But as a gay man, having lived in Seattle for three years, hes protesting the actions of his own moral institution. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led the charge to pass California's Proposition 8, which stripped nearly 20,000 same-sex couples of their marriage recognition last week. I was kind of outraged with Prop 8, which inspired me to start a protest, Powell says.
A rally will begin in Volunteer Park at noon on Saturday as part of a national day of action. Dave mentioned it here. (The national protest site, Jointheimpact.com, has been overwhelmed with traffic, Powell says, so another sister web site was launched to handle the overflow.) Marchers in Seattle will leave Volunteer Park at about 1 p.m. and hoof it down to Westlake Park for another rally. Powell is trying to recruit local elected officials, including state Rep. Jamie Pedersen and Congressman Jim McDermott, to speak at the event. (We're told that another event, previously scheduled at city hall, has been combined with this march and rally.)
Mormons turning on the LDS church for supporting Prop 8 isnt just a local phenomenon. MormonsForMarriage.com makes the case for gays getting married, these Mormons say that Prop 8 is contrary to scripture, and this high priest risks excommunication for opposing Prop 8.
But the churchs local leadership is in denial about its role in passing the measureeven after yesterday's protest outside a Mormon chapel in the University District.
The Catholic Church was also involved in it, so I don't know how they can single out the LDS church, says Thomas Olson, president of the Mormons Seattle North Stake.
However, national church leaders sent this memo to members of the church this summer, stating, We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Members of the church contributed an estimated $22 million to the campaign, making up two-thirds of the money for the pro-Prop-8 campaign. Seattle-area donors contributed huge sums.
I'm not sure what [the protest] accomplishes, based on they are targeting our places of worship based on a vote taken in the State of California, says Olson. We certainly don't condone bigotry or targeting gays or lesbians, he says. I guess people would say that we have done that, but that is not out intent.
When repeatedly pressed for an example of the harm that same-sex marriages would cause Mormons, Olson couldnt name one. Instead, he cited the churchs own morality. It gets back to this basic view about God's intent for his children, he says. I don't know I can give you any more clarity without sitting down and talking to you about this. (I declined)
Powells commitment to the LDS, meanwhile, is waning. After putting in so much time and effort [to the church], it is hard to accept them because they are saying thatfor what I have been born withthey would excommunicate me, He says the church doesnt know hes gay (well, they might know now), so he hasnt been excommunicated.
I honestly am ready to write my resignation letter to the church, Powell says.