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» Robert Moore » Randall Thacker
Note: For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ RobertGayMormonMoore4AffirmationPrez
Vote for Moore in Affirmation
I would first like to send a personal thank you to all past Executive Directors/Presidents, Executive Committee members and Affirmation members for your leadership and dedication to the LGBT LDS Community.
In 2009 I was honored to accept the calling as Young Adults Program Director. A few months in this role Affirmation held a Young Adults Conference in San Francisco which was attended by young adults from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Since then I’ve served as Director of Outreach & Advocacy, Membership Director and most recently Vice President. In these callings I have met people in all different places in their personal journeys, traveled the country speaking my story of being gay and raised LDS, participated in trainings of LGBT clergy/faith leaders and facilitated trainings on various topics.
I have made lasting relationships with leaders in LGBT organizations, LGBT faith based organizations, LDS allied organizations and the LDS church. All these relationships are very essential to help Affirmation grow and stay relevant. These relationships will also help Affirmation stay a safe place for LDS youth just coming out, older members coming to terms with themselves and the straight allies, friends and family members who love and support all us LGBT Mormons.
While I still personally struggle with my own testimony of the church, I do have a very strong testimony that Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons is the LGBT LDS Organization and will be the organization to lead the LGBT LDS movement. We are the experts on LGBT LDS issues, we are not the outsiders, we are the ones living these truths, it is time for us to be okay with this, embrace it and continue to lead the way.
Over the past few months I have thought and even prayed over what direction Affirmation should take. Some say Affirmation cannot be everything to everyone, this is very true but we cannot go too far right or too far left. While I believe Affirmation as an organization should not take any official position on whether someone should stay or leave the church, I do see benefit in having programs for those who have a testimony in the church, those who have left the church or those undecided. We must also partner with LDS allied groups as equal partners to organize events, rallies, dinners and meetings.
I will have a very diverse Executive Committee; they will range from someone who goes to church every Sunday, someone who has not attended church in many years and someone who was excommunicated. The diversity I will bring to the leadership of the organization does not stop there; I will have individuals of all different ages, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, racial backgrounds and length of affiliation with Affirmation.
I will start an outreach effort/working relationship with college Gay/Straight Alliances across the county (ground work already started). I have talked to several past Executive Directors to serve on a committee to help guide bylaw changes, run new programing by and get their wisdom and knowledge from years past.
Like I said at this year’s conference I have grown up in Affirmation. I have been able to take part in many amazing life changing things. I was in California when Prop 8 passed, I was at the National Equality March in 2010, I spoke for better services for LGBT homeless youth, I was in the balcony when New York passed marriage equality and this past April I sat down and had a very heartfelt and respectful conversation with LDS church leaders at the LDS Office Building in Salt Lake City, UT.
I feel very blessed to be in a place in my life where I am stable in my living situation, health and personal life to lead Affirmation. I truly feel that all my past experiences whether it was me being kicked out a teen for being gay, my activism, my leadership in Affirmation/LGBT LDS community or my ability to have respectful conversation with people who I do not see eye to eye with makes me the perfect choice to be the next President of Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons.
Note: For more information, visit www.facebook.com/RandallForPresident
My fellow LGBTQ Mormon journeyers, friends, families, and allies:
I am strongly moved from within and also encouraged by many of you to run for President of Affirmation. 2013 is a pivotal year for this organization. Its image, membership and funds have seen a significant decline over the past decade. Affirmation has not kept up with the shifting landscape in the LGBT Mormon movement at a time when new Mormon allied groups are emerging and an increasing number of people are looking for a space where they can be fully affirmed and supported as LGBT and Mormon.
I live with my partner in Washington, DC, and have been attending Affirmation events since I first Googled “gay Mormon” in 2005. I’ve met some of my closest friends through this organization. I first helped by fundraising for the 2007 conference. I later began hosting occasional gatherings for the DC chapter, including a series of Family Home Evenings. I planned the 2011 Kirtland Temple devotional and this past April organized the DC Circling the Wagons conference. In 2012 I served as Affirmation’s Senior Vice President and on the Seattle conference committee.
If elected President of Affirmation, I will apply my education and professional experience working with leaders on strategic management and organization development (www.principlesource.com/about-us/) to build a strong and sustainable organization for the future.
Affirmation has historically ministered to and helped heal those deeply wounded by homophobia in the Church, and has provided a safe space to explore what it means to be LGBT – within or outside of any context of faith. We need to continue this. However, I strongly believe that Affirmation’s most urgent mission today is to fully reclaim and draw strength not only from our unique experiences of being LGBT, but also from our LDS faith and Mormon community.
LGBT Latter-Day Saints who value their spiritual heritage and testimonies, love their Mormon community, and even the institutional Church need to feel there is a place for them in Affirmation and need to know that Affirmation will support them in their unique journeys of faith; otherwise, there can be no truly meaningful future for Affirmation.
Affirmation is the oldest LGBT LDS organization, and it needs to play an active, central role in the historic dialogue that is going on now between LGBT and straight LDS members and leaders. We must demonstrate our ability to enter into these dialogues without bitterness but with dignity, faith, patience, and empathy. We need to speak our powerful truth, but also show that we are able to listen. We need to persevere knowing there is a place for us at God’s table and that we have a valuable role to play in building Zion. Martin Luther King Jr. said that the “Arc of the Moral Universe is long but it bends towards justice,” I firmly believe that the Arc of Zion bends towards understanding, compassion, inclusiveness and justice.
As president, I will:
- Re-affirm Affirmation as a spiritual refuge where we can be empowered to celebrate and use our gifts in the service of faith, hope, and charity
- Create meaningful dialogue by engaging LDS Church members and leaders at all levels to ensure our stories and experiences are heard and considered in deliberations about greater inclusiveness in the Church
- Fully engage and collaborate with the emerging allied Mormon groups
- Increase attendance at annual conferences, by incorporating the social and the spiritual, and ensuring they are very affordable
- Draw into leadership individuals with strengths of organizational experience, mature spirituality, and a record of building relationships across organizations and with people who are racially, culturally, sexually and spiritually diverse
- Fully engage the Board and with their support increase membership and raise the significant funds needed to make a greater impact
- Focus our online presence in light of the additional resources now available
Most importantly, I believe “If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3). I will welcome all LGBT Latter-day Saints, their families and friends who feel called to join in this great work of gathering, support, and dialogue that has never been more important.
To learn more about me, visit my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RandallForPresident) and read the following:
Circling the Wagons Conference in Salt Lake City
Deadline to renew your membership before the election
Approximate date you will receive the ballot by mail
Deadline to mail back your ballot
Election results announced
Sit With Me Sunday
Seattle 2012 Conference Report
With the theme, “Celebrate the Journey,” we discussed the situation of Affirmation, shared our stories and hopes for the future, and celebrated who we are and what we stand for
By Hugo Salinas
Note: Because this conference was held only 10 days ago, we’re still processing pictures, videos, and other materials related to the conference. Please visit the Affirmation website later on for a more complete report.
Over 100 LGBT Mormons, along with family, allies, and friends gathered in Seattle on October 19-21 for the annual conference of Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. With the theme, “Celebrate the Journey,” we discussed the situation of Affirmation, shared our stories and hopes for the future, and celebrated who we are and what we stand for.
During leadership meetings held on Friday and Saturday, Executive Secretary Olin Thomas presented a report on some of the serious challenges we face as an organization. During the Friday Board meeting and the Saturday leadership meeting, all members were given an opportunity to share their thoughts and hopes for the future. During the General Business meeting, two Affirmation members made statements of candidacy.
On Friday evening, we gathered on the second floor of the hotel for a reception that included an ice-breaking activity, a celebration of the Summer of Mormon Pride, and a plenary presentation by filmmaker Kendall Wilcox. As pictures of some of the summer marches were projected on a screen, Tina and Judy, with a saxophone and a ukulele, led the group in singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
“The purpose of Far Between is to infuse the Mormon community with more and better told stories of what it’s like to be LGBTQ and Mormons,” said keynote speaker Kendall Wilcox. The project, Kendall explained, includes some 150 interviews that Kendall has recorded so far and are being posted online. The documentary film, which will be made next year, will include not only some of these stories but also Kendall’s personal story as well as perspectives from history, biology, sociology, and political science. For more information about this project, visit www.farbetweenmovie.com.
On Saturday morning, Mormon Stories founder John Dehlin received the Affirmation Allies Award. “Over the years, John Dehlin’s contributions to Affirmation have been outstanding,” Hugo Salinas explained. After listing some of the contributions made by John over the years, from a detailed survey of over 1,600 LGBT Mormons to the launching of “Circling the Wagons” conferences, Hugo called John “a champion of Mormon diversity, authenticity, and inclusion.”
During the Saturday morning plenary, John Dehlin shared his journey into becoming an LGBTQ ally and discussed some of the research he’s doing about the gay, Mormon, and post-Mormon experience.
“Our data seems to demonstrate pretty clearly that clinging to personal righteousness or the Atonement with the hope that God will take the same-sex attraction away is the surest path to suicidal ideation,” John said.
John explained that LGBT Mormons who spend years or decades asking God to change them often conclude that God doesn’t love them and that life is not worth living. Only 3.6 percent of John’s sample indicated any kind of decrease in their same-sex attraction or any kind of increase in their opposite-sex attraction through their efforts to change. “Zero percent of our sample has indicated that their same-sex attraction has disappeared or gone away,” John pointed out.
The rest of Saturday morning included two sessions of workshops, where a diversity of issues were discussed. Robert Rees, Gary London, and Jared Boundy conducted a workshop in which love was enthroned as a “more excellent way” for LDS families and church leaders dealing with LGBT people. Judy and Randall helped identify our strengths and blessings as LGBT children of God. Kirby Brown, John Gustav-Wrathall, and others shared their experiences working for marriage equality.
John Gustav-Wrathall and Kendall Wilcox suggested practical ideas to create conversations with Church members that help build bridges of understanding. Authors Marty Beaudet and Johnny Townsend spoke about their experiences putting LGBT Mormon stories in writing. LDS therapist Aimee Heffernan spoke about dating and building healthy and happy long-term gay relationships. Michelle Beaver, author of Romney’s Gay America: Mormon Leaders, Same-Sex Rights — Bridging the Gap, spoke about healing the relationship between Mormons and gay rights supporters.
The Council of Chapter Representatives (leadership meeting), which has typically been held on Friday, was moved this year to Saturday to give more people the opportunity to attend. Executive Secretary Olin Thomas reported on some of the challenges our organization faces and the decline we are experiencing in membership and conference attendance. President Joshua Behn invited all participants to speak candidly about their thoughts and feelings for the future. Affirmation founder Paul Mortensen, who attended the meeting, acknowledged that the organization may experience many changes in the future, but urged the leaders to never discontinue the national conferences. The meeting ended with a prayer by James Kent.
After the meeting, some conference-goers walked to a nearby theater where the gay Mormon-themed film The Falls was being screened in connection with the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Festival. Robert Moore and others were invited to participate in a Q&A session after the screening.
“The Falls captures the lives of two American teens struggling to make sense of the conflicts between their worlds, their feelings and each other,” the producers wrote. “What they find in themselves and in each other is unpredictable but a compliment to the human spirit.”
The evening’s events started with the General Business meeting.
Awards, Dance, and the Prom You Never Had
Instead of a banquet, this year we closed Saturday with a reception and a dance. The room was beautifully prepared with decorations and floral arrangements designed by Colby Goddard. Two awards were given that evening. The Matt Price Award, established this year to honor an Affirmation member under the age of 35, was given to Lael Taylor. The Mortensen Award was given to conference chair Fred Bowers.
“In the last year, Fred spent countless hours working for the planning of the Seattle conference,” one of the nomination letters read. “He prepared detailed reports, created online resources, drafted articles for Affinity and The Messenger, prepared a promotional video, wrote hundreds of emails, and communicated by phone and email with thousands of people. He also traveled to Seattle to see the conference hotel. Sometimes he would stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning helping advance different aspects of the conference and trying to make sure that we will have the best conference possible.”
Mark Packer sang two songs: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “The Impossible Dream.” The reception concluded with a dance with music from different decades. It was a wonderful celebration of diversity: we danced, laughed, and celebrated. The reception and dance were a resounding success.
Given the success of last year’s Kirtland pre-devotional testimony meeting, this year we proceeded with a similar format. The testimony meeting was a time to laugh, cry, and share authentic and deeply personal stories. We also had the privilege of hearing Adam White sing.
The devotional was a simple but deeply moving program. The choir sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which many of us remembered from the Kirtland conference, and “Eternal Life” (The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi). James Kent conducted a memorial moment in which we remembered some of those who have passed on. Speakers included Bishop Robert A. Rees and New York chapter co-director Tina Richerson.
“I know it is not just for you to have to respond in this way to an institution and individuals who have treated you in unkind, unjust and, yes, un-Christian ways,” said Bishop Rees, “but if we are to find our way out of the labyrinth we are in, which I think we must do together, it is incumbent upon us all to do what Christ calls us to do.”
“It is through this work that we reform both ourselves and our Church,” he added. “It is in this constant reforming that we prevent both ourselves and the Church from becoming idols. Thus, in order for this to happen, we have to get out of our social and religious ghettos, see one another’s real lives, and try to understand one another’s lived experiences.”
After his speech, Bishop Rees received an Affirmation Allies Award—the second given on that weekend. “The day he finally retires, Bob will be remembered for many things, from his explorations of countless LDS-related issues to his humanitarian service and his interfaith work,” said Senior Vice President Randall Thacker as he delivered the award. “But for us, I believe he will be mostly remembered as a pioneer who challenged the LDS community to treat LGBT people with love and respect.”
The closing devotional speaker was Tina Richerson, who is active in the Affirmation New York Chapter as well as her Park Slope Brooklyn Ward. Tina, who last March shared some of her story at her Relief Society as part of a “Women in Faith” Lecture Series, shared some of her story with all of us. She told us that as she read the book “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” written by a Tibetan Buddhist monk, she realized that one cannot simply leave their religious roots behind. Tina concluded that eventually she would have to return to the church.
“As Jesus Christ is one with God, we are one with Jesus Christ,” Tina said. “And if that is so, let’s ask ourselves: ‘where do I end, and he begin?’” “We have a mighty work to do,” Tina concluded. “Let our hearts be open, let our hearts be full of love for those who cannot or choose not to love us. Know who you are; stand in your place; fear not, doubt not, for the Lord God is with you.”
We ended the devotional by singing “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.”
The closing luncheon included a panel with BYU students and alumni who are members of USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction), an unofficial BYU group which functions similarly to a gay-straight alliance.
“I see a sea-change happening among Mormons around this issue,” declared John Gustav-Wrathall as he introduced the speakers, “and a deepening of dialogue and understanding .”
Speakers included two current USGA members, Adam White and Nathan Pasquett, and comments by two recent USGA alumni, Nathan Norman and David Schefcik. Q&A followed their presentations.
Before closing the conference, Joshua Behn announced that he will be serving along with Mark Packer as co-director of the 2013 Affirmation conference to be held in Salt Lake City in the University Guesthouse area of the University of Utah.
“If you have a desire to serve, you are called unto the work,” Joshua concluded. “It is the clear sense of this meeting this weekend that we are not to shut down. There will be no more talk of shutting this organization down. We will continue!”
We closed the conference by singing two classic Primary songs and “Love One Another.” Fred Bowers offered the closing prayer.
God be with you till we meet again in 2013 in Salt Lake City.
Seattle Conference: A Report of the General Business Meeting
Amendment Passed on Article V of the Charter
by Affirmation’s Executive Secretary Olin Thomas
The General Business Meeting of Affirmation, which is held every year at our Conference, was more eventful than usual this year. After the meeting was called to order by Joshua Behn, Affirmation President, Josh asked if there was any new business to be brought before the assembly. Bruce Maughan then made a motion to re-open nominations for President. The motion was seconded by Tina Richerson and a discussion followed. David Melson opposed the motion, stating Oct. 15 had always been the deadline. Olin Thomas supported the motion, stating the traditional deadline had been the end of Saturday of Conference, to allow discussion amongst members at conference, and the Oct. 15 additional deadline had been added later (around 2000). He felt it was in the best interest of the organization to have the opportunity for nominations through the general business session, as discussions at conference could change people’s minds. A vote was called and twenty-four were in favor, seven opposed, with many members abstaining from the vote. The vote allowed the floor to be opened to new nominations for President.
At that time, Judy nominated Randall Thacker for President. No other nominations were made, and Randall accepted the nomination. Following this, nominations were closed without opposition and the Candidates were asked to address the assembly. First was Emmanuel Andro, who announced he was removing his name from the ballot. Next, Hugo Salinas spoke and anounced he also was removing his name from the ballot. Then Robert Moore spoke concerning his candidacy, service in Affirmation and goals if elected. The last speaker was Randall Thacker who addressed the assembled members about his path to becoming a candidate, his vision of Affirmation’s future and desires to serve Gay Mormons.
There were also three proposals to change either our Charter or the Bylaws. The first proposal was to change the Charter, Article V, “Legislation”. This was proposed by: Olin Thomas (primary) with Bruce Maughan, Randall Thacker, Hugo Salinas and Joshua Behn. The proposal would have all future changes to Charter or By-Laws to be voted on by all members, through mailed or electronic ballots, rather than the current process of Executive Committee, Council of Chapter Representatives and final approval at the next General Business Session. Questions or comments were offered by Dave Melson, Anna Gershwin, Emmanuel Andro, Deborah Griffin, and Sam Wolfe. The only major question was about a provision in the proposal that would allow the executive committee to not bring “frivolous” measures to a vote. The Executive Secretary called for an non-binding poll of the attendees and an overwhelming majority were in favor of leaving that provision in, so the vote proceeded on the original proposal. Forty-seven were in favor, two opposed, and therefore the proposed change is adopted. You can read the full text of the change here.
The legislative guide distributed by the Conference Committee included a proposal to change Article III of the By-Laws, Election of the President, and Article VII, Duties of the Executive Committee. However, this was withdrawn, as it was not submitted by three members to for consideration. The member who proposed it, Emmanuel Andro, said it was a suggestion for the E.C. to consider and as the E.C. did not wish to adopt it, the proposal was withdrawn.
The third proposal was to change the Charter’s Foreword and Article III “Purpose”. The proposal would have changed the Foreword by substituting a passage from John, Chapter 9 for D&C 58:26-28, which is currently used. Article III would have been reworded in various ways. This measure was proposed by Emmanuel Andro (primary), supported by Tina Richerson and Todd Maxwell. The discussion included statements by members David Melson, Robert Graves, John Gustav-Wrathall, Hugo Salinas, Mark Packer, Judy, and Chris Doss. When the vote was called for, one person was in favor, thirty-six opposed and six abstained. The proposal is therefore not adopted.
At this time the meeting was closed and members proceeded to the Awards Ceremony and evening entertainment, which was a dance organized by Colby Goddard.
Amended in Seattle, Washington, on October 20, 2012
Proposed amendments to this General Charter, and to the By-Laws, may be submitted by any three or more dues paying members of the general association to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall present any such proposed amendments in writing to the full membership (all current dues paying members) with provisions for voting on the acceptance or rejection of the amendment. The amendments shall become permanent upon the ratifying vote of a simple majority of the ballots or votes received in reply, or alternatively, by a simple majority of members of Affirmation in attendance at a general business session of the next general conference. A vote must be called for, by mail or electronically, within no more than six weeks of the Executive Committee having received the proposed amendment, or by a vote at the general business session of the next conference if the proposed amendment is received less than two months before the start of the next conference. Should the Executive Committee and three other dues paying members unanimously agree the amendment is frivolous, they may refuse to submit the proposed amendment to the membership for a vote.
Mormons Unite to “Circle the Wagons” around their LGBTQ/SSA Loved Ones Despite Differences in Life–Decisions and Perspectives
Featuring Josh Weed, Joseph Broom, Allen Miller, Elbert Peck, Lee Beckstead and Former SLC Mission President and Area Authority Seventy President Blake Sonne
Salt Lake City – October 22nd, 2012 — Josh Weed, gay marriage and family therapist known for speaking positively about his marriage to a woman, will keynote at the 2012 Salt Lake City Circling the Wagons conference along with gay bloggers Joseph Broom (Invictus Pilgrim) and Allen Miller (Clive Durham) who were both previously married and have now come out as gay. All three will address the theme “Seeking Authenticity and Understanding” and will together make an effort to create a safe conference space where LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families, ward members, friends and allies can express themselves authentically regardless of differences in life–decisions, beliefs or relationship to the LDS church. Their mutual hope is that individual and community healing will take place. Registrations are now being accepted at CirclingtheWagons.org. Preregistration is recommended; walk–ins are welcome. Free admissions are available.
The Mormon belief that gender and heterosexual relationships are eternal has historically had an adverse effect on some Mormons experiencing same–gender attraction. Many report having felt rejected, excluded and belittled for their sexual feelings and have expressed the perception that there is no place for them within the Mormon church unless they are able to hide or change their sexual orientations. Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and same–sex attracted Mormons have responded to this sense of rejection by working together to create the Circling the Wagons conference series allowing LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families and friends to meet together to authentically discuss their experiences without animosity or fear that any person or perspective will be rejected or belittled.
“Who we love and how we understand and honor God are deep, personal issues that carry an especially profound weight in Mormon communities,” says Circling the Wagons organizer Christian Wallin, a straight ally. “Same–sex attraction has been the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, judgment and hurt and has divided gay Mormons over how to address and negotiate the choices they face. In convening our conferences we are inviting LGBTQ and SSA Mormons and their families and allies to step beyond historic divisions and come together to share their life–experiences authentically and respectfully.”
The inaugural Circling the Wagons conference held in Salt Lake City in November of 2011 garnered national media attention thanks to Bishop Kevin Kloosterman’s courageous public advocacy for Mormons everywhere to open their hearts to their gay brothers and sisters. Previous conferences have been held in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
Presenters at this year’s Salt Lake City conference will include representatives from gay–supportive Mormon organizations that have markedly different approaches to the issue of same–sex attraction. Steven Frei, President of North Star, Randall Thacker, Vice–President of Affirmation, Erika Munson, Founder of Mormons Building Bridges, and the USGA (Understanding Same–Gender Attraction) alliance at BYU will all participate in the program. Topics will include the experience of straight spouses, the transgender experience, lesbian authenticity, family conflict resolution, the value of transparency, and the roles parents, ward members, allies and families can play in the lives of their LGBTQ/SSA loved ones.
The main portion of the three–day conference will be held Saturday, November 3rd at the Wasatch Presbyterian Church located at 1626 South 1700 East in Salt Lake City between 12 noon and 6:00 p.m. Early comers will be treated to an art show. The day’s events will include keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and several community speakers. The final Saturday session will be an open microphone Story Sharing Meeting allowing all attendees the opportunity to briefly and authentically share their personal life–experiences. On Friday the 2nd, psychologist Lee Beckstead will co–facilitate an interactive mental health workshop with therapist Hollie Hancock, seeking to strengthen family relationships through healthy communication. The conference will conclude on Sunday the 4th with an afternoon interfaith service featuring sermons by former Salt Lake City Mission President and Area Authority Seventy Blake Sonne, Dr. Christine Contestable, Associate Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Baptist Pastor Curtis Price.
Please visit CirclingtheWagons.org to register. Free and reduced–cost admissions are available.