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HRC Almost Gets It Right – Mormon Church Still Doesn’t Get It

by David Badash on November 19, 2010

in Uncategorized

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Earlier this week, in “HRC Wrongly States Mormon Church Says Same-Sex Attraction is “Normal”,” I wrote, “Nowhere in the Mormon Handbook does it state that “homosexuality is normal.” This is a dangerous misstep by HRC, and appears to be more of a marketing move than anything else…” I also wrote in that piece that I had reached out to HRC the day before, and I wanted to follow up now with you to share the results.

To their credit, HRC responded very quickly — several times — and told me they were looking closely at it. They also spoke separately with Pride In Utah’s Eric Ethington, who runs an excellent blog and is very in tune with the LGBT community’s dealings with the Mormon Church. Also to their credit, HRC removed their press release and the next day posted, “HRC & Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons to LDS Church: You Have Further to Go.”

Well, this is a big improvement over stating that the Mormon Church now thinks homosexuality is “normal.” (They do not.)

But did HRC go far enough?

Eric Ethington doesn’t think so.

In, “HRC Releases A Revised Statement On New Mormon Handbook,” Ethington writes, “While it’s much better and takes a more appropriate tone, they still got one major point wrong.” Ethington says that HRC’s piece, “claims that the Mormon Church is no longer calling for professional counseling for LGBT people. This is absolutely incorrect. While the Mormons DID remove the call for counseling from one page of the handbook, it is still there in the 2010 handbook on page 165.”

“Overall though,” he writes, “I’m thrilled to see the HRC taking a stance calling for further changes, rather than giving credit to a religion which to this point deserves none.”

I’ll defer to Ethington on this, and I do agree. But I’ll also add this:

First, the Mormon Church needs to move much further into the twenty-first century. Semantics and “softening” don’t undo centuries of ruined lives or countless suicides.

Second, HRC.

Everyone makes mistakes. But part of being a major player, and a major voice, is owning up to those mistakes, and realizing that our mistakes can cause damage and harm. Newspapers are often criticized for making errors on their front page and issuing retractions on their back page. That’s bad, but what’s worse is when there’s no retraction, no public acknowledgement, no correction, no admission of fault.

(I should note that this is a major issue I have with Perez Hilton, and have written him directly on this, and in these pages as well. There’s no reason to hold Hilton to a lower standard, especially give the fact that his reach is huge, as is his income. But that a point for another day.)

HRC, while removing the offending and incorrect piece, did not go far enough in its analysis of the Mormon Church’s so-called “new” position on homosexuality, and did not publicly state its error or issue guidance of how it corrected its mistake. And that is unacceptable.

HRC is often held to a higher standard, and rightly so. It is perceived as the premiere LGBT advocacy organization, and often seen as the voice of our community, at least from outside our community.

I’m not here to criticize HRC, any more than I am here to praise them. I will do both, objectively, as often as I need to, and that goes for any other person or organization that impacts our community and our rights.

HRC did some damage, and acted quickly to fix it, but they did not undo the damage.

The first step would be a retraction. The second, an apology.

We are a community, and when any one of us missteps, these are things that we need to do to make things right. I hope HRC sees that it will gain far more ground playing ball with the rest of us, and holding itself to the same standards that its reputation and stature require.

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we handle them that is the true test of our honor and integrity. I trust that in the future, HRC will have learned and will do better for our community.

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