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Lessons from a Mormon

Commentary: Politically Aware

Gay San Diego

Wondering if the United States would be ready for an openly LGBT president? Watch what happens to Gov. Mitt Romney. No, not Rick Perry. Mitt Romney.

Impeccable hair may seem to be the only similarity between Romney and a gay man, and ideologically, that may well be the case. But politically, Romney’s Mormon faith provides a Republican reflection of the issues that might face a Democratic LGBT candidate.

At 2 percent of the U.S. population, Mormons represent a minority group on par with, if slightly smaller, than the estimated number of LGBT Americans. Mormons predominantly identify with the Republican Party mirroring the Democratic leanings of the LGBT community. Both groups are geographically concentrated, with LGBT voters in urban coastal areas and Mormons in the Utah and Mountain West, allowing increasing success in regional elections.

At the national (and sometimes state) level, however, both Mormons and the LGBT community are regarded with suspicion, if not outright contempt, by other power centers within their chosen party. Proposition 8 taught LGBT Californians just how many Democratic allies were out of step with our goals. Mitt Romney may be learning the same lesson from evangelical Christian Republicans, who view the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more as a cult than a branch of Christianity.

By the most recent math, Sen. Rick Santorum won Iowa by 24 votes, ending Romney’s nine day reign as the first non-incumbent Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Santorum’s vote came largely from the same evangelical Christians who handed former Gov. Mike Huckabee a victory 4 years ago, putting the first nail in Romney’s 2008 campaign coffin.

Still, an Iowa draw and a New Hampshire victory should have gathered the G-O-P faithful behind Romney. Instead, the G-O-D faithful, or at least their alleged leaders, gathered in Texas to agree on a candidate. While their endorsement was split between Santorum and Speaker Gingrich, their clear anti-Romney message started a seismic shift that left Romney a double digit loser in Saturday’s South Carolina primary only a week after he led by a similar margin.

What does this have to do with an LGBT candidate? One can easily imagine an LGBT candidate doing well enough in a split Iowa field to earn a ticket to New Hampshire, as Romney did. He or she could be carried to victory by “Live Free or Die” voters with nearly a decade of experience in marriage equality. Sadly, one can also imagine a religious roadblock similar to the one placed to derail the Romney campaign, particularly given the analyses of the 2008 election showing that religiosity was a powerful predictor of a “yes on 8” vote, even among Democrats. (The racial and ethnic differences implicated early on largely disappear once religious tendencies are taken into account.)

Democrats hopefully wouldn’t have as overt an event as the Texas meeting, and party leaders won’t blatantly say “Don’t vote for the gay guy” any more than they say “We can’t nominate a Mormon.” Rather, expect a whisper campaign with the same euphemisms: “He can’t win in the general;” “He can’t be trusted on our issues;” or the ever popular “He’s just not one of us.” Ask the Romney campaign if they’ve heard any of those.

Candidates do matter, and Romney has problems beyond his faith. Still, we’d be foolish not to learn from his campaign, even if we’re probably 8 years from a viable LGBT candidate. If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination this year, we should steal his campaign playbook for overcoming evangelical resistance. If he loses, we should be part of the autopsy.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=20118

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012. Filed under Politically Aware, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Lessons from a Mormon”

  1. Here are the characteristics of a cult:
    • Small? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has 14 million members in 132 countries. In America, there are more Mormons than there are Presbyterians or Jews.
    • Excessive devotion? Mormons are devoted to the Savior, but in appropriate measure He would approve of.
    • Unethical techniques? Ask the pie-throwers to name one.
    • Control by isolation? Even if Mormons wanted to, this would be impossible with 14 million members in 28,000 congregations throughout the world.
    • Control by threats? Again, evidence? Mormon missionaries may be exuberant, but do not threaten.
    • Dependency on the group? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is just the opposite. Mormons want members to be self-reliant and independent so they in turn can help others.
    • Powerful group pressure? Only if that’s the way the critics prefer to define love.
    • Strange? Guilty as charged. Mormons plead guilty to all the strange things that were done by Christians in New Testament times that were lost during the great falling away in the aptly named Dark Ages, among them temple worship, baptism by immersion by the father of the family (see 2nd century font in photo above), vicarious baptism for the dead, definition of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate but united in purpose, salvation requiring both grace and obedience to commandments, prophets and apostles, unpaid clergy, and continual revelation to guide His Church.

  2. I would say that Mormons are a very different category than the LGBT group. Big difference is that the Mormon “temple” has a clearly-defined leader who is allowed to make rules and recommend (read: guilt trip) members into supporting certain causes (such as demonizing gays). There is no such leader for the LGBT community. The only thing holding them together as a voting bloc is the universal desire for civil equality, especially in the recognition of their relationships.

    The Mormon church is very powerful, controlling, and exceedingly crafty. They illegally pumped millions into the pro-prop 8 campaign, money they require their members to give a 10% tithe off the top of their income, lest the congregation shun and guilt trip them. This “church” financed blatantly false advertisements against gays meant to prey on stereotyped fears among the uneducated and impoverished. Their tactics were deplorable and unforgivable, and exposed their utterly rotten core.

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