Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints files Amicus Curiae Brief in Gender-Conflict Facilities Case: Might Something Other Than Mere Bias—Mere Bigotry—Underlie the Church’s Position? Yes; Here’s Why
By Ken K. Gourdin
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come out in opposition to policies and laws which allow people to use a restroom which corresponds to their gender rather than to their outward biology. The Church of Jesus Christ has filed a brief as amicus curiae (sorry for the fancy Latin; occupational hazard: Amicus curiae means “friend of the court,” a brief filed by a party which, although it may not be a named party—e.g., plaintiff or defendant—in a particular case, has the same or similar interests in the case as a named party). See here for the brief, last accessed March 26, 2017: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/16-273-amicus-petitioner-major_religious_organizations.pdf. When another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion asked how who uses what washroom has any impact on religious liberty, I responded:
Perhaps it doesn’t, at least, not directly. However, there are various things which proponents of gay marriage, of allowing people to use facilities which correspond to their gender identity rather than to their biology, and so on, want those who don’t favor those things to ignore: Gay marriage, laws relating to gender identity (i.e., who uses which washroom), and so on, are Trojan horses for obliterating traditional marriage and for obliterating any legal distinction between men and women. Such changes are not consistent with the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which holds that men and women have divinely-appointed roles, that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and that gender is an essential characteristic of premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
Obergefell v. Hodges, [576 U.S. _____] the decision of the United States Supreme Court which legalized gay marriage nationwide, will eventually have a pernicious effect, not only on the traditional family, but on religious liberty, as well: Although the Constitution’s Free Exercise clause states that “government shall make no law … abridging the free exercise [of religion],” the magnanimous grant of the Obergefell majority (consistent with the Court’s ongoing erosion of religious liberty which extends back more than a quarter-century (at least) to Employment Division v. Smith, a decision disfavoring the purportedly-religious practice of use of peyote as a religious sacrament in favor of allowing the government to impose restrictions upon purportedly-religious practice as long as those restrictions are of “general applicability” and as long as they only pose an “incidental burden,” whatever those phrases mean) that the devout may continue to “believe” and to “teach” as they wish with respect to chastity and to traditional marriage, is more narrow than the Constitution’s Free Exercise clause.
Allowing one to use a washroom which corresponds to his/her gender identity rather than to his/her biology ==> Eventually, no legal distinction between men and women; No legal distinction between men and women ==> No reason for allegedly-outmoded religious restrictions on chastity or on who should marry whom; No religious restrictions on chastity or on who should marry whom ==> No reason for allegedly-outmoded religiously motivated segregation between the sexes in student housing at faith-sponsored schools (or for limiting married student housing to opposite-sex married couples), along with a whole host of other completely common-sense gender-based policies. Yes, those who warn of the slippery slope are seen as less erudite by the illuminati who consider themselves more erudite legally and logically, but I doubt God cares.
When another poster opined that “[t]his is really not an issue of religion,” I responded:
Maybe not, but how that issue is addressed sure as heck can have more than an incidental impact on a religion which teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and that gender is an essential characteristic of premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. [See The Family: A Proclamation to the World, available at the following address and last accessed March 26, 2017: https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true.]
Another poster responded, “My take is that gender dysphoria is hellish enough … [Ellipses in original.] If we’re Christlike, we’ll try to help those individuals or at least not worsen everyday life for them.” I responded:
I’m puzzled as to why the best solution to the problem, though (at least according to those who are politically correct) is to put non-gender-conflicted children in a tough, embarrassing spot (there are so many adjectives I could use here!) by allowing gender-conflicted children to use facilities which do not correspond to their outward biology. We could simply offer single-use-at-a-time restrooms, but … no-no … that might hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t have children, but I can’t imagine any parent being OK with putting their non-gender-conflicted child in such a tough (again, so many adjectives apply!) spot.
The poster whose inquiry prompted my first response then chimed back in, “So they have to build a new washroom? [No big deal.]” I responded:
You obviously don’t understand: Having a single-use-at-a-time washroom for gender-conflicted people/children might hurt the little darlings’ tender feelings. No, no. The only solution to the problem is to make everyone else uncomfortable by allowing those few who do face such conflict to use facilities which do not correspond to their outward biology.
Get with the program!
Another poster, who is much more sanguine than I am about the future of religious liberty in light of government coercion with respect to issues such as allowing the gender-conflicted to use facilities which correspond to their gender rather than to their outward biology, opined:
No one is going to force you to allow gays to use your restroom or the restrooms of your church building. Law makers always make exceptions for religious organizations that are acting as religious organizations. Laws won’t affect a church project or practice when “its purpose is the inculcation of religious beliefs.”
I admire your sanguineness that the devout, their faiths, and associated institutions need not worry about any of the prospects I discussed in my foregoing post. I hope you’re right. For reasons I have already explained, however, I do not share your optimism, and I find your bare ipse dixit that things will work out … unconvincing … to say the least.
To another poster who opined that opposition by the Church of Jesus Christ to measures which blur gender lines (such as those under discussion here) is a waste of time, I responded:
As has already been noted, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is less concerned with who uses which restroom that it is with the ongoing overall effort to eliminate any gender-based legal distinctions. You obviously don’t agree that eliminating such distinctions is a problem; fine. However, even if you disagree that it’s a problem, for a Church which teaches that, ideally, men and women fulfill respective roles “by Divine Design” and that gender “is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” it’s certainly not logically inconsistent for such a Church to advocate positions which are consistent with that belief and to oppose those which are not.
Another poster questioned whether the positions of the Church of Jesus Christ should call into question its tax-exempt status. I replied:
To the best of my knowledge (though I welcome correction if I’m wrong) an organization adopting a particular position with respect to legislation, and urging its members to adopt a particular position with respect to legislation, does not violate the regulation you quoted. The regulation would only be violated if leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ, were to say (e.g.), “We urge members to contact their local legislator for the purpose of persuading (or of dissuading) that legislator to vote for the measure under discussion.”
In any case, the Internal Revenue Service has been winking and nodding for decades at clergy who openly endorse or oppose candidates directly from the pulpit. It would be inconsistent (to say the least) for the IRS to announce that it now will pursue legal action against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for alleged activities which violate its tax exempt status, yet to continue to ignore churches and clergy who openly endorse or oppose candidates.
And since presidential executive orders have the force of legislation but do not go through the legislative process in which it is verboten for churches to participate, surely, you’re not suggesting that churches would simply need to shut up and suck it up if a president were to get a wild hair and order his Department of Education to start allowing students whose gender identity doesn’t match their outward biology to begin using restrooms based on the former rather than the latter, are you?
But of course, not to worry: That would never happen: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/obama-gender-student-facilities-rule/. Would it?