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32 LGBT Mormons Aged 14-20 Have Committed Suicide in Wake of New Anti-Gay Policy, Group Says

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LDS Church Leaders Call Trend ‘Heartbreaking,’ Say They ‘Mourn with Families’

Thirty-two young LGBT Mormons reportedly have taken their own lives since early November — when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new devastatingly anti-gay policy labeling people in same-sex marriages “apostates” and barring their children from being baptized. 

All of the victims were between the ages of 14 and 20, with an average age of 17. Twenty-seven were male, three were female and two were transgender, and all but six of the suicides occurred in Utah. 

Those figures are based on a report from Mama Dragons, a support group for the Mormon parents of LGBT children that we first told you about last May. Wendy Montgomery, co-founder of Mama Dragons, announced recently during a conference of Affirmation, another Mormon LGBT support group, that the families of the 32 victims had contacted her directly about the death of a child or sibling. 

The Deseret News, a Salt Lake City-based daily newspaper owned by the Mormon church, reported the shocking figure Wednesday after obtaining the following statement from senior LDS leaders.

“Every soul is precious to God and to the church and the loss of life to suicide is heartbreaking,” an LDS church spokesman, Dale Jones, said. “Those who are attracted to others of the same sex face particular challenges and pressures in this regard, both inside and outside the church. We mourn with their families and friends when they feel life no longer offers hope. Each congregation should welcome everyone. Leaders and members are taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated. The church has repeatedly stated that those who feel same-sex attraction and yet choose to live the commandments of God can live fulfilling lives as worthy members of the church. We want all to enjoy the blessings and safety offered by embracing the teachings of Jesus Christ and living the principles of His gospel.”

RELATED: 1830 Mormons In Salt Lake City Quit LDS Church Over New Anti-Gay Policies

The 15 million-member LDS church teaches that acting on feelings of “same-sex attraction” is a sin, and excommunicates gay and lesbian members who decline to remain celibate. The church fought vigorously against the legalization of same-sex marriage, bankrolling the campaign in support of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008.

In the ensuing years, however, the church appeared to soften its anti-gay tone and left decisions about the issue in the hands of local leaders. As a result, some “wards,” or congregations, in progressive areas became welcoming of LGBT people. Last year, the church even supported a bill banning anti-LGBT discrimination in Utah, although the measure contained significant religious exemptions. 

RELATED: Amid Mass Resignations, Mormon Leaders Try, Fail To Soften New Rule On Children Of Same-Sex Parents

But in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality, the church took a major step backward. In the policy released Nov. 5, the church relegated same-sex couples to the same status as those in polygamous marriages, labeling them “apostates,” a term for those who’ve renounced their faith. The policy also bars the children of same-sex parents from becoming full members of the church until they turn 18, disavow their parents’ relationship, and leave the household. 

The new policy prompted thousands to leave the church in protest. Then, earlier this month, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M. Nelson, declared that the policy was a revelation from God to LDS President Thomas S. Monson, which elevated it to the status of church doctrine. Nelson is next in line to become church president, and his wife later said that LGBT people could “repent” and have their “sexual feelings be in harmony” with God’s law. 

Even before the new policy was announced, Utah had the fourth-highest rate of suicide in the nation, and suicide was the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 10-17. Sadly, the families of LGBT Mormons who commit suicide typically don’t publicize it because they want to avoid the associated shame from fellow church members. 

Nationally, LGB youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide, according to the Trevor Project. LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide as those who report no or low levels of family rejection. And one quarter of young transgender people “report having made a suicide attempt.”

 

Image by Brian Palmer via Facebook

 

 

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RACISM A FEATURE NOT A BUG FOR GOP

McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

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“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”

After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.

McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.

In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.

It did not go well.

The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.

One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”

The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.

Here’s what some are saying.

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ANALYSIS

‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help

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While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.

Some of these tactics were highlighted analysis by Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler and on the Democracy Docket website.

Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.

“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”

He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”

Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”

But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.

Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”

Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”

On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:

After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:

Image via Shutterstock

 

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RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY

Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University

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Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.

“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.

But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.

“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”

“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.

“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.

The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply  damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”

Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.

In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.

“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.

But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.

“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

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