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Gay Marriage? Yes, and No

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Two pieces about gay marriage: Hendrik Hertzberg's Talk, and a pro-gay-marriage editorial by a Brigham Young University instructor who was fired for writing it:

“I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral,” Jeffrey Nielsen wrote in the June 4 Salt Lake Tribune. “Currently the preponderance of scientific research strongly suggests that same-sex attraction is biologically based. Therefore, it is as natural as a heterosexual orientation, even if rare.... [L]egalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.”

Brigham Young is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which provides most of the university’s funding. Leaders of the Mormon church have spoken out recently against gay marriage and have encouraged members to speak to their U.S. Senators about passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Nielsen, a practicing Mormon, has taught one to three courses per term at BYU for the past five years, including a philosophy course this spring. He learned he would not be allowed to fulfill his summer teaching obligation in a letter from Daniel Graham, chair of the philosophy department, that arrived shortly after the op-ed piece ran. Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokeswoman, said the choice not to rehire Nielsen came from the department, which has the authority to make personnel decisions on part-time faculty.

“The department made the decision because of the opinion piece that had been written, and based on the fact that Mr. Nielsen publicly contradicted and opposed an official statement by top church leaders,” Jenkins said.

Nielsen said he had long supported the idea of same-sex marriage but never spoke out publicly. He figured the piece would cause a stir, but he maintains he was making a political statement, not attacking church theology. “I thought they’d talk to me about the issues,” Nielsen said in an interview Wednesday. “I didn’t think they would let me go. They have every right to do that, but I think it was the wrong decision. It will breed a culture of fear and uncertainty. Academic institutions shouldn’t restrict honest opinion and the pursuit of truth.”

Read the rest of this galling Inside Higher Education story. Then alleviate some of your rage with comedian Eugene Mirman's diabolical phone prank on some unsuspecting zealots.


Actually, no rage. I’m quite impressed with his words: [L]egalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.”This is exactly the kind of logic that has been escaping Christians for years, and yet it’s as plain as the president’s nose on their asses.(was that too sassy to say?)As a child, the idea of love and transcendence of the soul (over the body) were drummed into me in Sunday School, and funnily enough I came to the conclusion (at a very tender young age) that I’d have to be prepared to find love in any being (man or woman) with a soul, and that the choice wasn’t mine to make. (I rather hoped it wouldn’t be a bug, or a cat or a tree, though.)

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