Friday, June 10, 2011

Olympic Gold Medalist Steps Down Amid Prop. 8 Protests

Long time, no see, huh, readers? Life moves along at a swift pace, but my heart is still with the fight for religious freedom and seeking equality and tolerance for all - not just those in vogue in our ever-complicating world.

Like so.

Yesterday a friend posted this Orange County Register article to Facebook about how Olympic gold medalist - and Latter-day Saint - Peter Vidmar has stepped down from serving as chef de mission for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics amid outcries against his support of Prop. 8.

In the editorial piece, Register editor David Whiting provides a breath of fresh air by maintaining that while he disagrees with Vidmar's stance, he doesn't think that should bar Vidmar from serving in this capacity, one that has nothing to do with marriage, religion or politics.

I have a great deal of respect for Whiting, having worked with him a bit at the Register and read his work over the years, and I really appreciated his viewpoint. To me, this is what tolerance should be. You have your opinion, I have mine, they may be diametrically opposed - but that's okay. We can all respect one another and not let personal beliefs get in the way of public service.

Here's the email I penned to David that I wanted to share with you all. I would've left it as a comment on the article, but the system wouldn't log me in - feel free to add a comment on there as well:

Hi, David -

Just a note regarding your Peter Vidmar article: the name of the LDS Church should always be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on first reference, Mormon Church or LDS Church on subsequent references. "Latter Day Saints" is incorrect. Not to be nitpicky, but as a Reg alumna, I hate seeing errors go uncorrected. :)

And thanks for your piece, supporting Vidmar despite a differing opinion. I would've left this comment on the piece, but the system wasn't letting me sign in. Anyways, I, too, was involved with Prop. 8 with the LDS Church, and I have seen so many friends be basically blackballed for their participation. One friend was the gallery manager at Jonathan Adler in Newport Beach until the LGBT community threw such a fit that she was axed. It's discriminatory and wrong, and I find it so ironic, coming from a group that preaches "tolerance." It seems like that tolerance only goes one way. Personally, one of my best friends is gay, he's in a great relationship, and I couldn't be happier. I have another gay friend who is engaged and am happy for him to have found a great match. My reason for supporting Prop. 8 has more to do with religious freedoms and rights, something that might seem ancillary and secondary to the freedom to wed. There are so many instances where churches' hands have been forced in the name of "anti-discriminatory" rulings to act contrary to their beliefs, from a Christian church in New Jersey that views homosexuality as a sin being forced to allow gay marriage in its camp's chapel (even though they said the couple could wed anywhere on their site EXCEPT in the chapel, which they felt was inappropriate, seeing as the ceremony diametrically opposed their doctrine) to Catholic Charities in Mass. stopping their adoption services because they couldn't specify that children could only go to heterosexual couples (again, despite homosexuality being against their beliefs) to a Christian doctor being forced to personally treat a lesbian couple with IVF even though she said she was uncomfortable doing so because of her beliefs but would happily have another doctor at the practice help them. The list goes on and on.

When it comes to rights, the only "right" lacking for gay couples is to not have their union legally solemnized. Other than that, they have every right a heterosexual couple does, thanks to great equality laws on the books and the ability to give one's partner power of attorney. Beyond that, it's the social recognition they crave, and they can have a celebration and ceremony without scrubbing every reference to "husband and wife" on the books or altering the education curriculum to promote homosexuality as an equal if not preferable lifestyle, starting with kindergarteners (again, it's happened, I'm not pulling this from thin air). That's my opinion, for what it's worth. Regardless, I do respect and appreciate ALL people for the contributions they bring to the table, and I get tired of being labeled a "religious fanatic" or "bigot" for my viewpoint when I'm one of the most accepting, least discriminatory people out there. My heart goes out to Peter Vidmar for the same. I've had the privilege of meeting him on a handful of occasions and hearing him speak since my teen years. What a phenomenal, kind, big-hearted man! It's a shame that he's being stopped from serving in a way that would benefit the Team USA in the 2012 Games, just as it's a shame to see discrimination in any way, shape or form in the public arena (or private, really, for that matter).

Thanks again for your thoughtful, balanced piece, David. I hope all is well at my much-beloved Register!

Christa [LAST NAME]
(formerly of [the community papers where I wrote])

PS: Just an observation - the way you refer to the protests on every major intersection during Prop. 8 seems to imply that the protests were against it when, in fact, it was mixed (and more were FOR Prop. 8, if anything). It's a bit misleading. Perhaps interjecting something along the lines of "protests for both sides" would clarify?
Honestly, friends, it is disappointing - albeit not all that surprising - that we're still dealing with this. I don't think it will ever end, frankly, and that's a little harrowing, especially when I was so publicly on the front lines. As the balance leans more and more in favor of gay rights in our anything-goes society - ever-moving away from supporting religion, God, or so many of the foundational American principles I hold dear - we're just going to see this more and more frequently. May we all be able to stand firmly together and leave a record, for God and for our posterity, that we held our ground and did not flinch, no matter what.