Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marriage Equality

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops published a letter on Jan 12, 2012 that gives their opinion that marriage equality will destroy religious freedom. The letter was signed by leaders of many other churches, including the LDS Church.

The main point in this letter is that marriage equality will infringe on the freedom of religion of churches who don't practice equality. This is essentially the same point the LDS church emphasized in a publication earlier this month.  

The following is from the Executive Summary of their letter and summarizes it's key point.
"Altering the definition of marriage will change not just one law but hundreds, even thousands, of laws.  There will be government mandates, requiring the recognition and accommodation of so-called same-sex “marriages,” that pose a critical threat to institutions and individuals who for reasons of faith and conscience will resist the law’s compulsion."  

"The law not only will coerce and impose disincentives, but will also teach that religious 
objectors must be marked as if they were bigots."

In this particular letter they don't say that marriage equality would harm any individuals, only that the legal fallout may require organizations that currently discriminate to act otherwise and that they may be labeled as bigots. Well guess what? That's not new, we are already there. Organizations that discriminate ARE viewed by the majority of people as being out of touch with the behavior of best-in-class organizations.

Today in Washington State, Microsoft, Group Health, Nike, Vulcan, Concur and Real Networks joined with 70 other businesses to endorse marriage equality and urge the Washington State legislature to pass the legislation this year. This is where leading organizations are headed.

What do these businesses see as a benefit in marriage equality that the churches obviously don't see?  Below is from Microsoft's press release about why they support marriage equality.

"At Microsoft, we pride ourselves on our products and services, our brand, and our global reach. But unquestionably, our employees are our greatest asset."

"To be successful, it’s critical that we have a workforce that is as diverse as our customers. Every day, the national and global economies are becoming more diverse. The lifeblood of a business is its ability to understand and connect with its customers. We’re no exception. Now more than ever, the most effective workforce is a diverse workforce."

"While some of our employees literally grew up around the corner, others have come from every state and almost 150 countries around the world. They reflect virtually every background in the country and on the planet. They bring their creativity to work, and they put it to good use in developing new products and serving our customers. There simply is no substitute for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experiences."

"Inclusiveness is therefore a fundamental part of our values, and is integral to the company’s business success."

"This means it’s important to go beyond simply forbidding discrimination; we strive to actively promote diversity, equality and inclusion in our workplace. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex domestic partnership benefits. For almost two decades, we’ve benefited from this support and the resulting contributions of our LGBT employees."

According to Microsoft it's fundamentally about inclusiveness. This is where religions have a problem. One of their basic tenets is that they don't want inclusiveness. They only want to include those who agree with their creeds. They certainly have the right to include and exclude who they want. Should they also have the right to deny a privilege to individuals who don't want to belong to their church?
Below is some more from Microsoft's statement about supporting marriage equality and discusses how they believe marriage equality AND religious freedom can co-exist.

"While Microsoft’s support for marriage equality is motivated by respect for our employees, we also respect the views of those who may not agree with our position. For example, we have many highly valued and highly successful employees who hold a wide range of views on this and many other issues. We’re not asking anyone to change their views to conform to the company’s position."

"We also recognize that marriage has meaning as both a civil and a religious institution. Like the marriage equality bill passed last year in New York State with bipartisan and business support, this bill preserves religious freedom in Washington’s churches while ending discrimination in Washington law."
What? No crisis or end of the world if marriage equality becomes reality? Apparently not, according to these businesses in Washington. 
In truth, the biggest threat to traditional marriage is the high rate of divorce among heterosexual couples. For generations now young people have lived through the divorces of their parents and have become wary of marriage. Marriage equality may actually improve society's respect for the institution.

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