At a showing of â€œ8: The Mormon Propositionâ€ Tuesday night, resources for students struggling with sexual identity were discussed and CSU student Rich Guggenheim encouraged students to reach out.
â€œI want the people at CSU struggling with sexual identity to know theyâ€™re not alone and that there are places to go for help,â€ Guggenheim said, pointing out the GLBT Student Services in the Lory Student Center. â€œShowing this movie is part of raising that awareness.â€
The film was shown at Avogadroâ€™s Number to about 20 community members. It looks into the role the Church of Latter-Day Saints played in passing Prop. 8, a law banning same-sex marriage in California. A panel was held after to discuss the issues raised by the film.
The ultimate goal was to create a dialogue and educate the community on same-sex marriage and other GLBT issues, according to Guggenheim, who organized the showing of the film.
The movie has a point of view and Guggenheim noted that itâ€™s biased. â€œThatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve tried to work with the local and larger LDS community, but nobody has been too open to dialogue.â€
As a gesture to his commitment to getting the LDS community involved in the conversation, Guggenheim left an empty chair for the LDS community member missing from the panel.
The LDS Churchâ€™s arguments for Prop. 8 were wholly grounded in religious text, Guggenheim said. â€œThey are trying to blur the line between church and state.â€
Members of the LDS Church could not be reached for comment, but according to the film, their level of involvement was unprecedented â€“â€“ upward of $22 million and countless hours of volunteer time was provided by the Mormon community at the behest of the church hierarchy.
Guggenheim also explained why the issue is important to students at CSU.
â€œFor CSU this issue is important because we have a large GLBT community and people who are allies of the community,â€ he said.
Discriminatory laws like Californiaâ€™s Prop. 8 donâ€™t just affect the GLBT community, Guggenheim added, â€œAnytime any group is marginalized, it affects the population as a whole, regardless of if theyâ€™re a member of that group,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s six-degrees of separation.â€
Another important message of the panel was that the LDS Church didnâ€™t speak for all religious groups on this issue.
â€œWhen we hear the word â€˜Christian,â€™ there is no umbrella we all stand under,â€ panel member Sharon Troyer said. â€œWhen you denigrate someoneâ€™s sexuality you shut them off to spirituality.â€
Panel member Jim Rath also shared his personal story with the audience.
â€œIâ€™ve been with my partner 12 years,â€ he said. â€œSeven of them recognized as married.â€
Shortly after saying their vows Rath and his partner received a letter from the state of Oregon saying their marriage was no longer recognized.
â€œI want to be married, I want it to be real and I want it to last,â€ Rath said, â€œand I donâ€™t want someone else to tell me I canâ€™t.â€
The movie invoked deep reactions in some audience members.
â€œI found it extremely painful,â€ said community member Peggy Christiansen, â€œItâ€™s sad to me that groups can get behind an agenda and be so deceptive in getting their agenda through.â€
The future of Prop. 8 remains in the air. The legislation is currently in the appeals process in Californiaâ€™s ninth-circuit court. Regardless of the decision, Prop. 8 is sure to be appealed by either side until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.
â€œIf it gets overturned by the Supreme Court, we can thank the LDS Church for bringing marriage equality to the whole country,â€ Guggenheim said, â€œTwenty-two million dollars well spent.â€
Staff writer Jesse Benn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.