The momentum continues strong to “normalize” homosexuality as part of God’ creation. The greater society has largely come to terms with the fact that a segment of humanity is gay and that being homosexual is not a choice. It is not a choice that our sisters and brothers are attracted to their own gender and want to experience and share love with a same-sex partner.

The apparent move in Congress to end the military don’t-ask, don’t tell policy that keeps outstanding people out of the military for being authentic about their sexuality is long overdue.  I served in the U.S. Army, and I certainly can say a gay soldier would never have impacted my morale or made me uneasy.  I believe it comes down to maturity and educating  at what one tolerates and accepts.

Given the hostility in parts of society toward gays, it remains apparent that people would never opt to be gay if it were a choice. And the fact that homosexuality has been found independently in scattered tribes, cultures and social units across history suggests being gay wasn’t some fashionable choice – or that it was adopted by subculture after subculture like missionaries spreading Christianity to heathens.

Tragically, entrenched religious dogma, traced back millennia when humans didn’t have a clue about hormones, genes and neurological wiring, still serve as the basis for some religions to reject gays outright. It seems so fundamental that we cannot and should not marginalize anyone because of the fate of his or her birth: gender, race, ability/disability or sexual orientation. Yet some people are incapable of such a self-evident leap of understanding. These people basically don’t handle new ideas and engaging in an intellectual discipline that transforms their beliefs. Not to mention how important peer pressure and groupthink dominate religious groups – and you adopt the group’s wrong positions to stay comfortably within its fold.

We see in country after country of enlightened Europe and in our better educated and progressive American states (New England, Canada, Iowa and California) that gay marriage has been approved. States, communities and nations where education lags and conservatism, as a result, fills the vacuum, intolerance and bigotry flourish. We know full well that stimulating education, travel, reading, work mobility and marriage across cultural, religious and economic boundaries are major forces that break down such bigotry and show us there are many ways an ordered society can function well as long as we accept differences.

On the other hand, behemoth religious blocks, especially those with vertical hierarchies led by powerful, unquestioned male authorities, are perfect for stubborn resistance to change. They guard their orthodoxy just as the generation of old men before them did. The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orthodox Judaism and the Southern Baptist Church may be the best examples.

I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming documentary film “8: The Mormon Propo$ition,” which will be released June 18. It makes the connection between the Mormon Church and the bitter approval (52 percent to 48 percent) in November 2008 of Proposition 8, which put a quick end to same-sex marriages in California just months after the state supreme court approved them. One of the film’s director, Reed Cowan, is a former Mormon missionary. He teamed with Steven Greenstreet to investigate how the Mormon Church hierarchy allegedly pressured its members to contribute handsomely to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

They found that $25 million of the $40 million spent in the quest to kill gay marriages came from Mormons, even though there are only 2 percent of Californians were LDS. Investigators found more than 59,000 Mormon families contributed. Those millions were funneled into PR agencies producing slick and powerful commercials. “The Mormon Church hierarchy led the way on this attack on gay families and the California constitution,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a group based in New York. The film raises questions about how far the Mormon Church may have crossed the barriers restricting political action by churches.

Mormons were the major financers and organizers for The National Organization for Marriage. “The Mormon Church has been able to wage this war in secret,” said Greenstreet. “Not until the California Fair Trade Political Practices Commission launched an investigation into the Mormon’s involvement in Proposition 8 did the secrets of the Mormon effort become a matter of record.”

Mormons and the church, of course, say again and again that they don’t hate gays, but homosexuality itself is immoral. The religion that puts so much stock in marriage and children doesn’t see their all-important need to grow and expand benefitting from homosexuality. The group Affirmation, a gay Mormon organization that strives to break down barriers to their acceptance, has long been a strong voice and a great support to Mormons who find themselves estranged from their families.

The promotional material for “8: The Mormon Propo$sition” notes, “… the homophobia that prompts otherwise loving parents to kick teenagers out of their homes is deep-seated in current Mormon ideology.” Certainly this film will raise new questions about this peculiar church born in America and long on the defensive for its social

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