Who is my neighbor?

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  • Joshua Steimle Draper, UT
    Jan. 18, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    I'm LDS, a business owner, and was a landlord for many years. I've employed at least one gay person that I know of, and can't imagine considering that as a factor in my hiring practices nor who I would rent a property to. But I am troubled by the idea and practice of allowing the government to dictate how one's property should be used. If I use my property to do physical harm to someone who has done me no harm, then that is one thing, and there should be means by which the person I have committed an act of aggression against can seek redress. But if someone refuses to hire someone, what harm has been done to them? As Jefferson might have put it, nobody's leg has been broken nor anyone's pocket picked. If an employer refuses to hire a gay person it may not be Christ-like, it may be wrong, but is it wrong enough that we want the government involved? Might persuasion be the better remedy, rather than force?

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Jan. 17, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    Latter-Day Saints ought to open their doors to anyone who comes through them, sinner or saint--if not, we would never have any opportunity to conduct missionary work or share the Gospel with anyone other than those who already possess it. We would not be able to be examples onto others of what it means to show Christlike fellowship to others and would be derelict in our priesthood duties to stand as a witness for Him in all places, times, and things.

    But all of this has to be done by virtue of our own personal righteousness, with individuals exercising their agency to make others feel loved and welcomed in spite of any differences or sinful behavior that it is not our place to judge. If any member of the Church fails to do that, the condemnation falls upon them more than it does whomever they turned away. Laws outlawing "discrimination"--essentially, trying to control how people think--are ineffective and not conducive to having a free society.

    If we do not love the sinners, we cannot be Christ-like. If we are not Christ-like, we cannot expect to inherit the Celestial Kingdom. It is that simple.

  • DaveGarber1975 Provo, UT
    Jan. 16, 2014 11:12 p.m.

    I think that people should freely preach hating sins but loving sinners (while noting that we're ALL sinners), as the Church teaches. I also think that people should respect each other's rights, including contract rights, and that governments should expertly help us to defend those rights. If we believe that our neighbors are exercising their rights foolishly, then we may always freely preach to them, but it's not right to compel them except as a last resort in self-defense. I don't think that governments should compel people to interact contractually in the name of being nondiscriminatory, which does less to change hearts/minds than it does both to promote hypocrisy and to encourage resentment.

  • canvas1 San Tan Valley, AZ
    Jan. 14, 2014 12:35 p.m.


    You are making my point. Yes, my religious convictions say homosexual acts, not homosexuality, is a sin. And the gay agenda will not rest until they compel religions, to accept as normal homosexual behavior.

    There was a case submitted after Judge Shelby made his ruling in December, against the LDS church as one of the defendants, brought forward by one of the recently married lesbian couples stating that their religious rights to worship had previously been infringed upon. You think it will not stop there?

    Again, it is the proliferation of sexuality on our youth that lead many, not all, who experience same-sex arousal to go through challenging difficulties, because like it or not, stigma or no stigma, most do not want to be homosexual or wish they were not and would love to change it. And in some cases many have successfully altered their sexual preference, and don't say they are lying to themselves because you do not know.

    So to normalize same-sex marriage as an institution will open a huge can of worms on society that is not healthy, to think otherwise is being naive.

  • Rob_Bird Potomac, MD
    Jan. 14, 2014 10:14 a.m.


    The abuse of a person, especially a child, by someone of either gender is deplorable. I'm very sorry for your son's abuse. Yet I still have to wonder how many cases of same-sex abuse DIDN'T lead to same-sex attraction. Yes, there are no doubt emotional scars, but I'm sure there are plenty who still choose to enter into heterosexual relationships. Yet, I concede that it's a very complex set of circumstances with no clear cut, one-size-fits-all answer.

    As for the government's recognition of same sex marriage leading to more victims of sexual abuse, I'm sorry, but that is a non sequitur. How in the world do you go from two people getting married because they love each other--with said marriage sanctioned by the government--to abusing children? It seems that you must think that homosexuality is a perversion and therefore must be "practiced" by perverts and deviants. That is like thinking that if a man is attracted to women and wants to sleep with one, he also must be attracted to little girls and want to sleep with one.

    Or perhaps I've misunderstood your point?

  • canvas1 San Tan Valley, AZ
    Jan. 14, 2014 2:20 a.m.

    No one is disputing that there are those who are born gay. But there are many with same-sex tendencies who are not born gay but are victims of a sexually permissive agenda being pushed by many groups seeking an elimination of right and wrong in sexual behavior.

    I have a son who 15 years ago at age 7 was severely molested by a 14 year old boy. We found out about it when he was 13. Damage done. He experimented as a preteen in gay acts. Where did this teenager get this idea? He had to see it or it was done to him first.

    I have a neighbor whose 17 year old son moved in with a gay 27 year old last year. The 17 yr old was repeatedly molested by his father when he was young. Was he born gay? Don't think so.

    With sexual trauma of a child 10 and under where there is arousal the brain's development is altered resulting in difficult challenges as the child grows older. I empathize with those who struggle under these circumstances. But to redefine and weaken the institution of marriage I believe will result in a proliferation of experimentation of sex, and therefore more victims.

  • Troy Williams Salt Lake CIty, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 5:47 p.m.

    Thanks Erika,

    As a gay returned missionary, it is inspiring to see such a thoughtful, loving op-ed. I hope that eventually both the LDS and the LGBT communities can see that we have more in common that not. In fact, so many of us are both Mormon and gay! It will be a beautiful day when we can put down our fears and suspicions and join each other in friendship.

    Sending love to all of my Mormon friends and family!

    Troy Williams

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 11:29 a.m.

    IMO we are required to love EVERYBODY, not just our "Neighbor" (so defining "Neighbor" is irrelevant).

    If you find yourself needing to define "Neighbor" so you know who you must love... and who you don't need to love... you're probably focusing on the wrong thing.


    We must love everybody... but that doesn't mean we have to adopt or support their political agenda!

    You don't hate gay people if you just don't support their effort to redefine the term "Marriage". I can love them and not support their politics. I can love them and not support their lifestyle. I can love them and not join them. Same goes or Mormons.


    Sure we have to love everybody... but don't confuse our role with the government's role. The government is different than we are. It's the government's job to enforce the law. It's OUR job to forgive.

    So when a Christian family forgives the murderer of a family member (something they must do)... it doesn't mean the Government must also love him and forgive him. Government must enforce the law... while the family forgives and heals.

  • PolishBear Charleston, WV
    Jan. 11, 2014 8:37 a.m.


    Did you HONESTLY think that the marriage equality movement for Gay couples was some sinister plot to make homosexuality compulsory for everyone? Gosh, I hope not. But if so, let me reassure you: The human population has always been and always will be predominantly heterosexual, and Straight people will continue making babies as they always have. In states and countries where Gay couples are allowed to legally marry, there has been no phenomenom of Straight people deciding to "turn Gay," nor has there been any corresponding reduction in the fecundity of Straight couples.

    The fact tht the human population of Planet Earth has gone from 3 billion to 7 billion IN MY LIFETIME ALONE suggests to me that a decline in procreation is the very LEAST of our worries.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 6:11 a.m.

    Good fences make good neighbors. We can respect each others personal space. Respect is lost for lairs, cheaters and thieves.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Jan. 10, 2014 9:41 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    11:28 a.m. Jan. 10, 2014


    You keep using this lame reason that only men are women who can have children be the only one allowed to be married.

    Alright then,
    Since you and your wife can no longer bare children, I demand you get a divorce.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2014 7:00 p.m.

    @ OlderGreg: The proposed legislation would apply to businesses and rental units over a certain size.

    If you are renting out a room in your home, or renting out your basement, or renting out the other half of your duplex, or other small properties - especially if you, as the landlord, live there - this would not apply to you.

    Likewise, if you are a small business owner, this legislation would not apply to you.

    This law would be an expansion of current anti-discrimination laws and would work exactly the same way.

  • Linguist Silver Spring, MD
    Jan. 10, 2014 6:33 p.m.

    @Mike Richards, "I find it hard to agree with anyone who would eliminate all human life within one lifetime if his ideas were practiced by everyone'

    With respect, if everyone were a neurosurgeon, we would soon die of exposure to the elements for lack of housing, die of starvation for lack of food. And even neurosurgeons wouldn't be able to practice without all the support staff and the people who make their equipment.

    But that hardly means that it's a bad thing to be a neurosurgeon.

    Not everyone is gay. In fact, most people are not gay. And, indeed, those of us who realized we were gay (most of us well before puberty) didn't have and didn't need anyone to tell us to make our knees buckle and our tongues stammer when we encountered someone we were attracted to. That's not the way sexual orientation works.


  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 5:09 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    If you believe being gay is a choice(and reading your comments you obviously do), than you must also believe that being straight is a choice. Logically a choice means you can take 2 or more paths(metaphorically) and you choose one of them. So my question to you is when did you decide to be straight? Because the people I know knew from a very very early age what they liked. I know I have always liked women(occasionally to my own detriment) While I have no problems with gay people, and think they should be allowed to be married. I've never had an inclination that being with a man would be enjoyable for me. Is it really that inconceivable to you that a gay person could feel the exact same way about people of their own gender?

  • Rob_Bird Potomac, MD
    Jan. 10, 2014 4:37 p.m.

    It kills me when people talk about the concept of convincing other people to be homosexual. It always makes me wonder if they think that way because they themselves could be convinced. I concur with A Quaker: I'm attracted to women and no amount of conversation with another person is going to make me change that. Would it make you change, Mike?

    As for the teen who logged into the "chat room," sounds like he was already aware that he is gay, and some creep was trying to convince him to have sex, not to become gay.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    Jan. 10, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    @ cjb - The LDS church website mormonsandgays.org states "The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people...Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them."

    As a faithful member of the church in this situation, this is my reality. One of the biggest barriers to effective conversations on this topic is when people assume that we somehow did something or made some bad choice to be in this situation and that we could inversely do something or make some choice to get over this feeling. It does not go away. We can keep it quiet and guard ourselves but we live with it.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Jan. 10, 2014 3:04 p.m.

    @MikeRichards said, "I find it hard to agree with anyone who would eliminate all human life within one lifetime if his ideas were practiced by everyone."

    On what conceivable basis can you conclude that allowing gays and lesbians, who constitute about 1 out of every 20 people, to marry each other, will suddenly turn everyone in the country homosexual?

    I don't know if or who you love, but I love a member of the opposite sex, and nothing is ever going to change that. Like most straight people, and we are about 95% of the population, I feel zero attraction to my own sex. I can't even imagine what you're talking about.

    With or without gay marriage, only about 5% of the population is gay. Those who are fighting a battle with their SSA are only a fraction of that. While I wish you luck, personally, mostly I wish for equal treatment under civil law for all committed couples.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 2:25 p.m.

    "and institutions ranging from the American Psychological Association to the LDS Church have acknowledged that being gay is not a choice"


    When did the LDS church do this? I remember they came out with a statement that God didn't make anyone gay which would seem to imply the opposite of what is being said here in this article.

  • Sorry Charlie! SLC, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    Mike Richards

    Anything taken to an extreme (everyone doing the same thing ) is unhealthy for any society, for example if we were all carpenters we would all starve to death in really nice houses sitting on fancy furniture and any country that has forced everyone to follow one religion always falls into brutality and eventually war. No one is talking about everyone being forced to be gay we are talking about peoples right to live their life without your interference so maybe we can scale back on the all or nothing thinking.

  • UteExpat New York, NY
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    Mike Richards, maybe your (our?) creator defined "marriage" as you (and me?) understand it, but that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about the government's definition of marriage. The government's decision to change its definition of marriage to ensure the law protects all equally has no bearing on God's definition of marriage (nor mine, nor yours, nor the church that I assume we both attend).

    I have a hard time understanding why people think that making the government's definition of marriage or family more inclusive is an attempt to change what they believe or God's definition of marriage? Are we seeking a Mormon version of sharia? We don't drink alcohol--should it be illegal to make or possess? Should "relations" outside of marriage be illegal? What about sabbath day observance? Fines for all who open their stores and the shoppers too?

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    @Mike " Secondly, the only way that a homosexual individual can find someone to have sexual relations with is to convince that person that he/she is also homosexual.'

    It looks like your comment is getting beaten up quite a bit, with other commenters claiming that you are spreading baseless fears. In reference to the quote above, I know that this is absolutely taking place. One of my teen relatives announced to his family that he was gay and logged into a gay chat website soon thereafter. It was no surprise that he was skyping with a gay adult 24 hours later who was trying to convince him to have sex with him. Even the teen realized that he was being rushed into something he wasn't ready for.

    Not all gays are predators and not all hetero-sexuals are child molesters, but there are a a significant abundance in both groups.

    Gays deserve equal housing and employment, but they are at risk for something that laws cannot protect them from. They deserve all the protection they can get.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    "...Given the rapid pace of change in the prevailing attitudes toward LGBT people, many of us may feel fearful and cut adrift in uncharted waters. But while fear can save us from imminent physical danger, it is not a helpful emotion as citizens seek to make their communities harmonious and loving places...".


    Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:08 p.m.

    "How do we follow this exhortation when it comes to our LGBT/same-sex attracted brothers and sisters?"

    Don't be a third derivative of position. (math pun)

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    "I find it hard to agree with anyone who would eliminate all human life within one lifetime if his ideas were practiced by everyone."

    As long as in-vitro fertilization exists, you're not even factually accurate in that statement.

    Do you also dislike heterosexual couples who, for whatever reason, don't have children either? I had dinner last night with two friends who never want to have children, do you hate them too?

    "just because they "feel" that the physician was wrong when he told them that they had a male body or a female body. "

    For the last time... the "wrong body" thing is trans, gay/lesbian deals with who one is attracted to. Gay men still consider themselves men, for instance.

  • sunderland56 Moab, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    @Mike: >> "He defined marriage as being between men and women."

    Do you mean like Solomon, who was "married" to 700 wives, and had 300 concubines?

    Or do you mean between a rapist and his victim - who was forced to "marry" her assailant? (Deuterotomy 22:28).

    Or do you mean the virgin female prisoners of war who were forced to "marry" their invaders? (Numbers 31).

    I certainly hope you don't mean the "marriage" defined in Genesis 2:24 - where a bride who was not a virgin was stoned to death.

    So which exact definition were you referring to? Or, shall we just say that the definition of marriage is not as clear-cut as many people think?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    Mike, thanks for your discussion. Now, here's the deal: I'm not obligated to buy into it. Not one iota. Plus, your contention that a gay individual has to 'convince' someone else to be gay in order to obtain a partner is a total denial of the idea, which according to the article even the mormon church supports, that people do not choose to be gay.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    You cannot claim to love someone

    and work to deny them the legal protections, you enjoy.

    Double talk is not what God intended.

    For more evidence, we need to see what Jesus actually said about gay marriage.

    Which is, nothing.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2014 11:28 a.m.

    @ A Quaker,

    Perhaps my "contempt" is showing. I find it hard to agree with anyone who would eliminate all human life within one lifetime if his ideas were practiced by everyone. I find it hard to agree with anyone who would require the schools, the churches and the government to teach people that his way of same-sex sex is normal and acceptable when same-sex sex, if practiced by everyone, would eliminate all humanity within one lifetime. I find it hard to agree with anyone who claims that his lifestyle and his definition of marriage be considered equal to the marriage of a man and a woman when his style of marriage would eliminate all humanity within one lifetime.


    When you find the way to ignite the "spark" that gives a body life, then you can tell God what to say and when to say it, until then wouldn't it be more prudent to study His word and align yourself as perfectly as possible with His doctrine?

    He commanded us to marry. He defined marriage as being between men and women. He commanded us to replenish the earth.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:52 a.m.


    Depending on religious persuasion, it appear our Creator has changed his/her mind several times on the definition of marriage, types of family structures, etc.

    Or, like on a recent clarifications of a previous racial ban, maybe the religious leaders earnestly *thought* they were given specific direction from our Creator on acceptable or even recommended marriage structures, but they weren't.

    In any case, it appears the results of those divergent family structures didn't exactly ruin society. There are still some of those family types in existence today, in Utah and other states, and yet for the rest of us, life goes on unabated.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    Erika, well said. You brighten my day.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    I can invite loved family/ friends into my home and still appropriately deny them a shared room.

    I am still groping with the concept about making a law that puts restrictions on that.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    Thank you Erika! I love the suggestion to find an LGBT person in our community and ask what this legislation would mean to him or her. Really getting to know and listening to our LGBT neighbors and family is the best way to bridge the divide of misunderstanding about these issues.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    Thank you for posting a loving editorial on a subject of civil justice. No society benefits from hatred and persecution. This law will ultimately strengthen your state. Good luck to you in getting it signed into effect.

    @MikeRichards: Your contempt is showing. Transgender people and homosexuals might be statistical minorities in our population, but within the context of our society, they work, study, keep house, shop, drive, vote, pay taxes, tend to their loved ones, manage their finances, water their lawns, and do almost everything else, just like the rest of us. They can even be good neighbors, if they're not beleaguered with the fear of being hated.

    So, I would argue that they might be uncommon, but that doesn't mean they're abnormal. And civil rights won't change that. They'll still be uncommon. But they're already "normal" enough for society's purposes.

    Hey, if you don't like who someone is marrying, don't go to the wedding. And if you don't like the couple next door, no one says you have to accept their invitation to dinner. But, everyone should have a right to live peaceably, under the protection of law.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    I think Mike's comment represents why it is so important to protect the free speech of those you disagree with the most. He is changing the hearts and minds of others as he shows the true colors of those that so ardently oppose LGBT rights (Including ignoring the counsel of his own religion). I say let the man speak and don't be afraid to point out the flaws in his logic. The more people see and hear these types of venomous comments and see good people stand up and speak out against it the sooner we can reach true equality for the LGBT community.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 10, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    After my eyebrows returned from the back of my head reading this the first time, I actually feel sorry for you Mike. It’s clear you see a world filled with all sorts of evil (e.g., homosexual brainwashing others to “turn” gay) and you no doubt feel it to be your Christian duty to stamp out this evil.

    And as chilling as many others will likely find your last sentence above, I’m curious how you reconcile such draconian laws – and can we assume “gay gulags” for those who break these laws – with your strict libertarian views of our Constitution?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2014 8:17 a.m.

    The message is very clear. Anyone can have sex with any consenting adult at any time, regardless of sex, but no one, absolutely no one, has the right to change the definition of the most sacred unit on earth, the family. No one, absolutely no one, can claim that they are being treated "unequally" just because they "feel" that the physician was wrong when he told them that they had a male body or a female body.

    We can show tolerance and empathy for those who disagree with their doctors, but we do not have to redefine "marriage" to accommodate anyone who wants to be made "normal" by a judge's decree.

    The problem is two fold. First our Creator defined "marriage". Secondly, the only way that a homosexual individual can find someone to have sexual relations with is to convince that person that he/she is also homosexual. Until there are laws that would convict anyone who even talked to minors about homosexual "feelings" or "orientation", then the homosexual community is asking us to open our homes and our schools to their propaganda.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 7:13 a.m.

    I had to check thrice to see if I was actually reading the DN.

    Very nice op-ed, Erika. Now if you can convince the Sutherland Institute... they're running those awful ad's claiming that granting protections to LGBT people takes away the rights of non-LGBT people.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 6:54 a.m.

    The message is pretty clear: "We love you...as long as you remain second class citizens."

    With "loving" neighbors like that, who needs enemies?