Nov 16

Religion, Ancestry, and Gays

Tag: computers & internet,genealogy,legalities,religionDonna B. @ 2:19 am

One of the internet sites I actually pay to use is Ancestry.com. I haven’t looked into the ownership, but I suspect it is supported, if not owned by the Mormon church.

Census records are public domain, but indexes and databases derived from them are not. It takes an incredible amount of work to digitize and index the census records. I am grateful that it has been done and is accessible in a format that allows me to track my family’s history easily.

I said easily, not perfectly. There are a lot of areas where Ancestry.com can improve; their search engine is #1.

Keep that in mind while I’m telling you that I’ve never been a fan of the Mormon church and actually got kicked out of their education classes when I was 14 because I asked ‘uncomfortable’ questions.

Forgive me, I’d just read Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I was also a bit of a jerk. It hit home when my good friend was no longer allowed to associate with me and that damped a lot of fire in my protest. I wondered if I’d inadvertantly done harm where none was intended.

In some ways, it would be fine with me if all organized religion were to disappear. Much human blood has been shed for what I see as minute theological differences. But I’d be a bit of a hypocrite for taking advantage of the work of an organized religion for my personal needs (and paying them for the privilege) wouldn’t I?

One of the few persons that I have shared the deepest, darkest, and brightest moments of my life with was a gay man who shared the same with me. Our friendship was short because he could not flourish in a small town environment in the early 1970s. I miss him because it’s not easy to find that kind of friendship regardless of gender. He’s the girlfriend I have never quite had since.

So… I am left wondering if I am betraying his friendship by financially supporting a church whose theology I have never accepted and which uses those finances to support an agenda that might hurt my friend.

At the same time, I wonder why any gay or lesbian person would want to participate in a religious sacrament that specifically excludes them, or to subscribe to a theology that classifies their desire and love for another human being as a sin.  

Marriage and committment are a state of mind. Frankly, one does not need a paper or a ring to love and commit. That these symbols are relevant is a desire to proclaim such, not a requirement for their existence. These symbols are not meaningless, far from it. But they do not have to be issued by the state.

The real sticking point for me is that without some changes in laws, homosexual partners do not have protection from spousal abuse. That is where I think the state needs to intervene. Homosexuality does not confer one with sainthood, and there are those, both male and female, who are abused by their partners, but not welcome at domestic abuse shelters because of their gender and/or sexual orientation.

For a rambling essay with random thoughts, this is a pretty good one, eh?

I’m not ready to boycott Ancestry.com because of the Mormon church’s stand on marriage. I may disagree, but I’m willing to to pay for a service I consider valuable. (Don’t raise the price, I could change my mind.)

I am ready to say that if you do not agree with a particular religion, do not join that church. We hear so often that this country was founded because people wanted to have freedom of religion. That includes not joining any religion. So don’t join. Establish your own. I won’t join if I disagree. But we can still be friends, can’t we?

UPDATE: a commenter corrects me:

Donna, you are completely incorrect about Ancestry.com being owned by the LDS Church. I know because I am an employee of Ancestry’s parent corporation, The Generations Network (www.tgn.com) which is in turn owned by Spectrum Equity Investors.

http://www.spectrumequity.com/investments/index.html

5 Responses to “Religion, Ancestry, and Gays”

  1. RB says:

    You get an A-Plus for rambling. Especially when confusing a civil union with a religious sacrament. The former
    conveys some legal rights; the latter is not yet after all these years defined. It can be documented that civil
    courts have dissolved what had theretofore been immutable and immortal marriages, treating them as civil unions.
    We trial lawyers are almost salivating at the market in gay divorce.

  2. Donna B. says:

    I’m not confusing civil unions with a religious sacrament, I’m saying they are two different things. In the eyes of some churches, I’m not married because a JP only performed a civil ceremony. Doesn’t Texas still recognize common law marriages where there was no religious or civil ceremony?

    The civil part is to settle property and custody questions. And you are right that it will be an entirely new field of law there.

  3. CM says:

    Donna, you are completely incorrect about Ancestry.com being owned by the LDS Church. I know because I am an employee of Ancestry’s parent corporation, The Generations Network (www.tgn.com) which is in turn owned by Spectrum Equity Investors. http://www.spectrumequity.com/investments/index.html

  4. RB says:

    You speak of “In the eyes of some churches”. Why, pray tell, does that matter? Organized Religion is great
    when it does beneficient things, but not when it is proseltyzineding. (I am serious about this spellcheck thing.)
    And why should you care? If I want to marry Manolo just to get the landscaping in check, how does that affect
    you? Your JP? Your some churches?

  5. Donna B. says:

    CM, thank you for clarifying the ownership of Ancestry.com.

    RB… um, the point is that it doesn’t matter.