Panel Discusses Homosexuality Issues in Utah

Marybeth Raynes, although a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a heterosexual, remains adamant in her support for gay rights in the Salt Lake community.

Raynes spoke as one of three panelists in the Lesbian/Gay Student Union-sponsored discussion “Community Under Fire.” The panel, held yesterday in the Union’s East Ballroom, was designed to promote awareness of the many issues Utah homosexuals face.

“Sex and spirituality are two things at the core of our being? You can’t split yourself between the two,” she said.

Dr. Lisa Diamond, a U professor of developmental psychology, and attorney Laura Milliken Gray joined the discussion, voicing their concerns regarding stereotypes, religious conflicts and legal issues of marriage and adoption in same-sex couples.

“Homosexuals have historically been viewed as either spiritually corrupt, psychologically ill or medically ill,” Diamond said. Modern ideology poses an equal threat to the psychological conditions of gays and lesbians?one that maintains “we’re normal people, but we’re suffering,” she said.

Raynes discussed similar conflicts of homosexual identity in a religious setting, highlighting influences of the LDS faith on homosexual members, and vice-versa.

Raynes questioned the church’s stance on homosexuality with its principles that “the condition [of homosexuality] is not inherently wrong, but acting on it is.”

Raynes encouraged gays and lesbians of the LDS Church to remain stalwart in their mixed ideology of religion and sexual identity.

However, Raynes also pointed out that the Mormon Church’s policy toward homosexuals is gradually inching away from what she calls “erotiphobia,” a fear of sexual frankness and a strong contributor to homophobia.

Gray noted the implications of the state’s common ideology toward homosexuals in terms of legal limits of marriage and adoption rights.

Of such limitations on the gay community, Gray encouraged homosexuals to “educate people about who we are.?open up people’s hearts and minds and seize our rights, because we are powerful.”

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