Salt Lake City - Pro Gay Anti Mormon Rally

So, I'm in the Salt Lake area. And I heard because of the aftermath of Prop 8 and the LDS Church's role in it, that they were going to have a protest at Temple Square on Friday. I think there was an estimation of roughly 2000 people there.

If you don't know what Temple Square is, most people are familiar with this building.

I decided to go check it out. Hey, if anything interesting happened, I would catch it on film, so I took my camera along.

I didn't get any video, but because of the location, my goal was not to antagonize the protesters. I didn't even really say anything, I was more focused on getting it on camera and hoping it would remain peaceful. For the most part it did, at the rally before they marched, the protest organizers were trying to emphasize to keep it peaceful, though some were itching to get in anyone's face. You could tell that there was a lot of anger.

The first guy who got up to rally everyone made me a little sick to my stomach, I was mostly observing, but the stuff he was saying made me wish to disagree with his position even more. The speakers after him were trying to calm the crowd afterwards, because he seemed to be itching for a fight.

Again, although I disagree with their lifestyle, I don't hate these people, I think a lot of them are angry at what happened in California which looked to be a defining moment in the quest for gay rights and the church just happened to be an easy target. A few of them had clever and creative signs to state their beliefs.

I thought this one was pretty funny.

There was a few instances where protesters poked fun at the Church's polygamist history.

there were many instances where it was just a simple statement of support.

But I saw a theme going on with a lot of people who wish to revoke the tax exemption status of the church for getting involved in political matters. This I disagreed with highly for several reasons and when I talked to people, I would try to civilly defend the church's position, which I agree with.

For one, in my understanding, the church itself did not donate any money to Prop 8, but it encouraged the members to get involved. Most of the time, the Church will stay out of politics, they don't tell you who to vote for, does not take sides with Democrats or Republicans (however, there are a lot of Republican Mormons) and will only get involved in situations where it is an issue of moral beliefs, such as the sanctity of marriage and issues such as Abortion.

"The Church does: Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church."

My debate with these people would often be in regards to defending the church's stance while respecting their beliefs as being neither correct nor incorrect, just a disagreement, and most agreed the church had the right to view homosexuality as immoral. The people I did talk to once we got into a debate seemed to appreciate that I made it known that I didn't hate them, I gave a few of them hugs to show that I held no animosity toward them, but that I merely held a disagreement over one aspect of their lifestyle but it didn't make me think that they were bad people. On contrary, a few of them I talked to I found some common ground, to include one woman who recently got out of the military and we traded army stories for a bit and poked fun at 'don't ask, don't tell.' I could see that I could probably have a friendship with this person as we had some common interests, and she appreciated that we had our differences and disagreements and didn't hate one another for it.

My main goal was to try to show her the church's position in support of Prop 8, she believed they should lose their tax exemption status, which is something of which I disagree and I laid out the argument as to why. A lot of people see this as a political issue, the church strictly sees it as a moral issue. The church does not support homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, but also officially believes that one should approach this as a disagreement without bringing contention to it and to be respectful. Not all Mormons live by this and can be contentious, but I think most believe in the cliche 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' mentality in regards to this issue. I know I have many acquaintances who are gay and I have noticed that I can have a disagreement with them on this and many other issues while maintaining a friendship.

I mostly see diversity as a difference of ideas as much as it is a difference in race and lifestyle. A lot of people may have similar disagreements, but true diversity and tolerance means that one understands that there is a disagreement in beliefs but does not cause these beliefs to breed contention and hate. Some people were marching just to get their views of what they believe to be their rights out. However, there was a lot of speech critical to the church. The church does not hate gay people, but some of the signs at the rally suggested as much, attacking the President of the Church and toting slogans such as 'Separation of Church and H8'.

Prop 8 passed not only because of the church's involvement, which was only one factor. 70% of the African American Population, who voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama supported Prop 8. There were other religious groups who supported this proposition and are being attacked for holding a certain view as a moral issue, and they are being demeaned as being hateful and intolerant of other's 'Right' of marriage.

Again, I contest that Marriage is defined between a man and woman. I am supportive of two people who love each other being in a monogomous relationship, and I am not against them getting certain rights from the government, but you can't change the definition of marriage to mean something that it is not to fit your agenda.

As a side note, there were some counter protests going on as well.

These were actually not LDS, in fact, on the back of that kid's sign was a protest against Gays and the Church.

This group, (which I joined briefly) was singing hymns to try to bring peace to the protest in a matter to suggest, 'we don't hate you, you are at our Temple, please be respectful of our beliefs and don't desecrate our temple.'

There were a couple of somaons (Big guys) who showed up late, one of them brought his bible for a little healthy debate, but mostly to protect the temple as he heard rumors of protestors pasting signs on the LA temple (some big somoans pulled them down there and then banded together to protect it, from what I have heard) so he wanted to make sure that the Salt Lake Temple wasn't desecrated as well.

I'll end on that note. If this ad isn't Anti-Mormon, I don't know what is.

Update: More thoughts on this issue over at The Volokh Conspiracy

News on the LA Protest against the church.

More Updates:
The church offered This statement on the matter. This is their official statement on the passage of Prop 8 and their role in it.

Some pictures of the LA Protest

SockPuppet Politic gives their view. Including this on the LA Protest.

Gay Conservative puts it in perspective that some people need to take a chill pill, as they are sounding a little hypocritical, so he tells people to "Grow the Hell Up."

The LDS church is not the only one under attack apparently.

Some thoughts from Classical values

Papa Mike's input on the topic.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to comment with getting the left's opinion, straight from the horse's mouth over at HuffPo, which is leading the charge to strip the church of its tax exemption status.

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