Mike Kessler (right) with husband Buckley Jeppson
Affirmation Supporter Responds to Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman
"I ask you to please remove this mock interview from the LDS.org Web site. Not only is it highly offensive, it is also riddled with untruths and circular reasoning which shows that you are unable to support your stand.”
by Mike Kessler
I am writing in regard to the mock interview about "same-gender attraction" which is posted on the LDS.org Web site's area for the news media. Your article contains more than 8,500 words, and, when I printed it out, was thirteen pages long. I already knew that homosexuality was of concern to you, but I never realized how much you dwelled upon it until I saw this interview.
ELDER OAKS: "This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable."
Much scientific research has been published in the last twenty years which indicates that homosexuality is a normal human condition for a small percentage of the population. In fact, homosexuality is a normal condition for a small percentage of many of the earth's species .
You seem unable or unwilling to grasp some fundamental aspects of the basic human rights, basic American rights, which many gays and lesbians are seeking. That is somewhat understandable, since you are not gay. Still, many people who are not gay or lesbian understand that, as humans, probably our most dire need is not for sex, but for love.
I assume you married your wife because you love her, not merely because she had the body parts you required. If people, straight or gay, only desired sex and not love from a partner, then there would either be many fewer unmarried people or no married people at all. When there is a lack of love and intimacy in a person's life, it almost always leads to depression, social disorders, and sometimes death. (Before recommending that other people live alone and celibate, I would suggest you attempt this yourself for five years, and see how you fare. Now think of living that way for your entire life.) It is irresponsible to ask that others put their lives on the line in a way that you would not consider for yourselves.
Personally, I married my husband because I love him; I value his intelligence, his wit and his commitment to his family and now to our combined family. I could have "settled" for someone else if I wanted something lower than love, but I waited many years until I received what I believe to be Divine confirmation that my husband and I had been destined for each other. We have been legally married for two years now. We had to fly to another country to get married, but we said the same vows that most people say when they are married, and we made those vows in the presence of my parents, several of our friends, and a legally appointed official of the City of Toronto, in a wedding chapel at Toronto City Hall.
One point of confusion you apparently have is that there is only one type of marriage. It is true that in the United States a couple can receive a simultaneous religious and civil wedding. There are many countries throughout the world where this is not the case. In those countries, a couple must first obtain a civil wedding in a legally designated location (such as a courthouse or city hall) by a civil official, and then, if they wish, they travel to another location for a religious wedding. I know several couples who live or have lived outside the United States, and it is not uncommon for the religious wedding to follow weeks or even months after the civil wedding. A civil marriage confers a large set of civil rights on the couple, and a religious marriage confers blessings which no government could ever bestow on a couple.
Let me make it clear that I do not seek to compel any religion to perform a religious wedding against their will. To quote your own Doctrine and Covenants 134:4:9, "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied."
Also, Joseph F. Smith further emphasized this when he said, "...We favor: The absolute separation of church and state; No domination of the state by the church; No church interference with the functions of the state; No state interference with the functions of the church, or with the free exercise of religion; The absolute freedom of the individual from the domination of ecclesiastical authority in political affairs; The equality of all churches before the law."
In other parts of your interview, you say things such as "Everyone has some challenges they have to struggle with," "[L]ife is full of physical infirmities that some might see as discriminations — total paralysis or serious mental impairment being two that are relevant to marriage." You often refer to homosexuality as an affliction which some must bear and suffer. I assure you, the only suffering I have done as a gay man is at the hands and through the words of those who choose to treat me unkindly and unjustly rather than with love and compassion. Gays and lesbians are about as healthy as the general population. While some do have a disability, it is separate from that part which is gay or lesbian.
Frankly, I am utterly appalled at Elder Wickman's exploitative use of his disabled daughter in order to make a case against same-sex marriage. I pray that, in private, she is afforded more dignity than he has shown her in public, and not unknowingly trotted out in the future as a sacrificial lamb.
I ask you to please remove this mock interview from the LDS.org Web site. Not only is it highly offensive, it is also riddled with untruths and circular reasoning which shows that you are unable to support your stand. You already know that people have died because of these unrealistic expectations, and thousands of others have been abandoned by their families. Do not expect of others what you would not expect of yourself. Do not expect others to live a life of loneliness, deprived of love and affection, merely because their love is different from yours. Please show that you value compassion, thought and love, not blind unquestioning obedience to impossible and cruel expectations.