The Family Proclamation with Called to Queer

Monday, December 13, 2021


Special thanks to our transcriber Mary W. for this text!

Channing: Hi! I’m Channing.

Elise: And I’m Elise.

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast.

Elise: [00:00:12] But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the Come Follow Me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood.  We are here to show you all the really good ways faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. 

Channing: We saved you a seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about The Family: A Proclamation to the World, for the dates December 13th through the 19th. We're so super glad you're here.

Elise: [00:01:02] Not only are we excited that you all are here, but we're especially excited because we have two amazing guests and really good friends, Kate Mauer and Collette Dalton. 

Colette: [00:01:10] Hello. Hi, thanks for having us. 

Elise: [00:01:13] Oh, thanks for being on the episode. Would you mind introducing yourselves and sharing your pronouns so that people can get to know you a little bit?

Colette: [00:01:21] Sure. So my name's Colette Dalton. I am a licensed clinical social worker in Utah. I live in the Salt Lake area and my pronouns are she/her. 

Kate: [00:01:31] My name's Kate Mower. I currently live in Romania, but I am from Utah and my pronouns are she/they.

Colette: [00:01:43] And we're both queer. So that is partly why we were invited to be on this episode.

Channing: [00:01:50] It's a big reason why. Big reason why. Yeah. So we wanted to have you both on. We're so excited that you're here and a big reason why we wanted to have you both on this episode is because of actually this experience that I had. So Colette invited me to her birthday party. Cause she's a legit friend like that. And while we were there Kate, the first time I ever met Kate was at Colette's birthday party. And so like, honestly, Kate is amazing and she has just this, like, really exuberant, bubbly energy. And I loved just sitting with her and chatting with her. But my favorite part of the night was I remember being, like, totally glued to my chair. Just listening to Kate, talk about The Family: A Proclamation to the World. And I was in thrawled like I could not, I could not, like, look away. I couldn't think about anything else. Not only is Kate, like, so well-researched and had so much information, but she's also a really good storyteller. So it was just the best.

[00:02:54] Kate: Well, that's, that's a really nice introduction. Thank you, Channing. But I do have to add a little addendum. We were like the last ones at Colette's birthday party, like everybody had left. It was just like us and you left. And I was like, okay, I guess I'll leave too. And I left and you were gone. I, like, tried to walk with you to your car, but you're really just like out. I was like, all right, “Bye Channing!”. 

[00:03:20] Channing: Into thin air. I was just gone. So this should show pretty well. Like what kind of party goer I am. That's my idea of a good time is going to talk about church stuff. And if Kate is there even better. So I knew as soon as the Family Proclamation came up for the Come Follow Me manuals that we definitely wanted to have Kate and Collette on. And the other reason we wanted to have them both on is because they have an exciting announcement to share. Would you both be willing to share with us and our listeners? 

[00:03:59] Colette: Sure. So once upon a time, Kate and I had been talking back and forth and we just have both been on Instagram for a while, sharing just different professional thoughts being queer ourselves and different research. Kate is super well-researched in a lot of different areas. When she was talking to Channing at the party, it was, oh, I legit have this like Google doc spreadsheet and all this information. And we're like, okay, okay. And then we saw it and we're like, oh, this is a thing. So we just, as we were talking, we felt the need to have yet another podcast out in the world. We realized there are a lot of great queer content creators in the Mormon space. A lot of the queer content podcasts and things though right now are by CIS gay men or allies. And there was kind of a hole, a gap. And in sharing and having a podcast by some women/non-binary/trans people. And so we decided to start a podcast called Called to Queer. So Kate, you can take it from here. 

[00:05:05] Kate: Yeah. So Called to Queer, what we wanted was a community, both Colette and I said, we would like to have a community. So Called to Queer is where we hold space for the queer Mormon women, non binary and trans experiences. 

[00:05:25] Colette: And so The Faithful Feminists have been very gracious to allow us to use this opportunity to launch our own podcast. So if you want to go check us out, we're at Called to Queer on Facebook and Instagram, and we even have a website We're super legit. So we are very grateful for the opportunity to be able to launch this. We are very excited to be interviewing different people who have, non-binary individuals, trans and fiddles women who are, who grew up Mormon and just hear more about their experiences. As well as sometimes you'll just get me and Kate discussing things because I love discussing stuff with them. 

[00:06:07] Channing: We're so, so, so excited for this project and look out for my episode that I did with Colette and Kate in a couple of weeks.

[00:06:15] Colette: So it'll be, it will be awesome. 

[00:06:19] Channing: So before we dive into the actual Family Proclamation, we just wanted to give a little, tiny gentle reminder for all of our listeners. I know that we've covered a lot of history this year, as we studied the Doctrine and Covenants and not all of that history has shown the Church or its leaders in the most positive light. And we do understand that. And especially that was the case in our polygamy series that we did. And we just wanted to remind everyone that church history is not anti-Mormon. It's not inappropriate to learn about the history of our church and its policies doing so can help us know how these things came into being, and kind of get to know just our own history and our own development as a community, even better. And see, and learn from all of those experiences to know where we can improve and where we can do better. And so today we'll be sharing a little bit of history and development about the Family Proclamation. And we encourage you, even though it might be uncomfortable or new information to just lean in and be curious about it. 

[00:07:29] Elise: Yes, absolutely. And so I think maybe before we even dive into the content of the Family of Proclamation, I think it would be a good place to start, if we think about or talk about what even is a proclamation and how did this document come to almost feel canonized in Mormon culture and in Mormon theology.

[00:07:46] Colette: But let's note, it is not canonized. We may be studying it and Come Follow Me this week and treating it like scripture, it's never been canonized.

[00:07:56] Kate: It actually has not even been classified as a revelation except for two days in, in the past. Let's see. How long has it been? Um, let's see, 27 years, 25, 26 years or something like that. Two days of those 20 something years has it been considered a revelation and that was kind of put in its place back to no, this isn't quite revelation, so it's not counted.  Yeah. So, Dialogue is a journal, a periodical, if you know, Taylor Petrey now the editor of Dialogue, but it's been going for many years. Dialogue had an article in 2010 written by Christian Anderson. And that's where he, Christian Anderson specifically says this was officially considered revelation for two days in, sorry.  It was considered officially revelation in 2010. When Boyd K Packer called it that in General Conference and Christian Anderson writes this, “The claim of revelation by Packer was sufficiently problematic that within 72 hours it had been changed on the Church website and it was later published in the Ensign to read the Proclamation is a guide that members of the church will do well to read and follow.” So call it, they call it a guide just two days later. 

[00:09:29] Colette: I think that's a really important thing to keep in mind. I think by default we do treat as revelation. I even so I went to BYU for both my undergrad and master's, and in my undergrad, I majored in marriage, family, human development, and I had an entire class on The Proclamation as part of my degree. And part of it, we actually had to memorize the entire thing for a grade. I'm seeing reactions. 

[00:10:12] Kate: That's true? Really?

[00:10:14] Colette: I did. I am grateful. I don't remember all of it. And I'm grateful I didn't realize I was queer at the time. It would have been a lot more triggering, I think. I think there is some good guidance in there. I love the idea of it being a guide, but treating it as revelation, not knowing. How it really came to be. You know, hearing members say things like, oh, this was such inspired revelation. When we're going into things like prop eight that was happening and things like, well, when you know the context revelation, maybe isn't the best way to look at it. I really liked the idea guide, because there are some beautiful parts of the Proclamation that I really appreciate. But so often it gets weaponized in a way against queer people in particular that's really hard.

[00:10:41] Channing: Yeah. Absolutely. And I feel like that piece about having the context of how this proclamation came into being is really, really important. And can offer quite a bit of perspective on, yeah. Again, answering that original question, like what even is this thing? Like, what is this? And yeah. So I know Kate that you have quite a bit to share on that. And so, yeah, I'm curious, maybe providing some of that, like, background on the Proclamation could be really, really helpful.

[00:11:17] Kate: I know that you and Elise are just like over polygamy at this point. 

[00:11:24] Channing: It's fine. No, it's totally fine. 

[00:11:28] Kate: But, I think it's useful to think about the official Declaration One, which is the polygamy, when we get rid of polygamy, we don't practice polygamy as Wilford Woodruff says. We don't practice polygamy and we all recognize, I think it is now part of our culture to recognize that this was happening simultaneously with statehood, for Utah. Like the political process is completely intertwined with the revelatory process. And I don't think that that's problematic.  You can think of that, how it will, how however you will. Like, I think that this is a potential for Mormons and Latter-day Saints to see how both those things work simultaneously. But I think it's also a good opportunity to see how this might be different than polygamy because when you have polygamy and statehood and the Official Declaration 1, there is a continuance of polygamy and that happens in sealings. A man can be sealed to multiple women. A woman cannot be sealed to multiple men. There is, there's still this legacy of polygamy within the doctrine where with this the Family Proclamation, you can see that those same sorts of legacies. I don't know what we will continue to see in the future.

[00:13:06] Colette: Yeah. So in continuing this conversation, I really like in our outline that you titled this section, the myth of the Proclamation, and I completely agree. I know, so I am actually originally from California. And so during the prop eight, I was actually at BYU,  for my sophomore year. And they actually had all of the California residents who are going to BYU, go to meetings to talk about, “Hey, go help with the phone banks.” “We need to have this, make sure that marriage days between a man, a woman,” and “aren't, we grateful that the first presidency for soft fight for same-sex marriage before it was even an issue.” And it was clearly a revelation. And I think Kate, you found some really good historical backing and quotes about how this proclamation really came to be. And the myth that you know, that the prophets didn't necessarily foresee this being a huge battle, this what came out of a legal case. 

[00:14:03] Kate: Yeah. And I am appreciative of the Church's beginning to be slightly more transparent about that, about that process, just ever so slightly. And the first instance of this happening is with the biography that Dallin H Oaks had written, he didn't write it himself. He asked Richard Turley to write it. He specifically picked Richard Turley to write his biography. It came out last year or this year in 2021, you can pick it up at Deseret Book, and he specifically outlines what took place for the Proclamation to come about. So, I have distributed a long quote to everybody from the book, but it tells this history, he tells it himself, Dallin H Oaks tells us history himself. So if somebody else wants to read that.

[00:15:08] Channing: So in his biography, it says, “On another occasion while dealing with a property matter in Hawaii, Elder Oaks confided to his journal, ‘My legal skills and public policy and church communication skills seem to be most in demand. But I prefer to work in the ecclesiastical areas, such as doctrine, testifying, and planning, how to proclaim the gospel to the world.’ Yet,” and this is still in the biography “Yet, he faithfully did what he was assigned, even if it did not appeal to him. ‘We each put our own offering on the alter’ he wrote, ‘and I am glad to put whatever is asked.’ During the fall of 1994 at the urging of its acting President Boyd K Packer, the Quorum of the Twelve discussed the need for a scripture based proclamation to set forth the church's doctrinal position on the family.  A committee consisting of Elders Faust, Nelson and Oaks was assigned to prepare a draft. Their work for which Elder Nelson was the principal draftsman was completed over the Christmas holidays. After being approved by the Quorum of the Twelve, the draft was submitted to the first presidency on January 9th, 1995, and warmly received.”

[00:16:20] Kate: Can we stop right here for one second? So we're going to continue on with this quote, but there's something here that we didn't know before 2021, except for in small circles, but publicly this wasn't known, it was speculated that President Nelson was probably the person to head this project. I thought that it was probably President Oaks given his legal background, but this is the first time we hear. And it's specifically from President Oaks saying, it was led by at the time Elder Nelson now President. 

[00:17:05] Elise:  Continuing on, “Over the next several months. The first presidency took the proposed proclamation under advisement and made needed amendments. Then on September 23rd, 1995 in the General Relief Society meeting held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and broadcast throughout the world, church President Gordon B Hinckley, read The Family: a Proclamation to the World publicly for the very first time.” 

[00:17:28] Kate: Okay. So these are important dates for us to remember. So, so far we've talked about only 1995. This is keep in mind, starting in January, 1995. [00:17:42] Elise:  Yes. Thank you. “During the period that the Proclamation was being drafted, church leaders grew concerned about the efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Hawaii. As the movement gained momentum, a group of church authorities and Latter-day Saint legal scholars, including Elder Oaks recommended that the church oppose the Hawaii efforts. At the same time, Elder Oaks anticipated the effect of that public opposition.  He writes, ‘This would touch off an ugly nationwide debate for the hearts and minds of Americans in which the church would step into a serious vacuum of leadership.’ He forecast in his journal, ‘I feel and said that this is the time and that this is what the Lord wants us to do, but it is a serious step that can only be taken by a United First Presidency and Twelve.’” 

[00:18:24] Colette: “The proposal to oppose the Hawaii legislation was approved by the First Presidency and the Twelve on January 6th, 1995, catapulting the Church into a prominent role in opposing same-sex marriage. The proposed Hawaii law, which would have applied in only one state, was defeated by efforts in which Elder Oaks and other general authorities participated. However, in a 2015 case from California, the US Supreme court overturned millennia of marriage law and tradition by ruling that ‘same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all states’ and that no state could “refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state on the ground of it same-sex character.’”

[00:19:07] Kate: Okay. Yeah, I can't help, but giggle a little bit at this. Okay. So I have to tell you that I am a history graduate student. That means I read undergraduate history papers all day, every day for, I teach and I read, and I'm grateful to have this break where I don't have to teach. I really enjoy teaching, but like I have this little break where I don't have to read. Whereas undergraduate student has told me throughout all of time, I have just read 1 million papers now that have begun throughout all of time, this and this, and this has happened. And every time I circled it in red pen, actually I use green, green pen and say, “No. How do you even know? This is not a paper about all of time I'm asking you about like 10 years?” Like, no. So the idea that we're immediately saying here that this quote from President Oaks, where he says that the “US Supreme court overturned millennia of marriage law and tradition by ruling that...” is first of all, incredibly colonial, but Channing already warned me that we can't get into that. But also, but also like, just, we're not talking about millennia, we're talking about, we're talking about right here and the cultural context right now but this is a President Oaks, this is very much a President Oaks quote, because he, I know what he's trying to do. What he's trying to say here is that, “we recognize the law of the land.” Right. And he's been saying that now several times, even within the last few months, he said that we recognize the law of the land and we need to balance these things. So that's what this quote is doing, but it's under hand by saying, marriage law has been this way for millennia, which is just not true.  And it's not global. 

[00:21:15] Channing: Well, it's not true. Even in the, the history of the church, like, obviously, like we literally just finished a series talking about polygamous marriage. And so, and that was not lawful under the United States umbrella like, and so for me, I'm just kind of like millennia now means a hundred years, apparently.

Something else that I think is significant. Earlier in the quote that we talked about was that the Family Proclamation was originally shared in the General Relief Society meeting in 1995. And like at that time, the General Relief Society meeting was not considered a part of General Conference. It was just like this appendage to General Conference. So I find it significant, especially as we were talking earlier about like, what even is this document, that it's not revelation because it wasn't shared in what we would consider even a “canonized”, I'm putting that in quotation marks, like a “canonized” context of General Conference. And so, yeah, I find that very interesting and also a little bit telling, so yeah.

[00:22:34] Elise:  I have one question just to make sure that I'm following along clearly. So was it that the Elders were already working on this Family Proclamation document before they found out about the legislation that was trying to be passed in Hawaii regarding same-sex marriage? Or did they only start working on this document after that legislation was attempting to be passed? 

[00:22:57] Kate: So the short answer is that it was after. They started working on this document after, because Hawaii had really started this process in 1991. So again, this is 1995, so it was a long process in Hawaii and the committee wasn't even informed until 1994. However, this is a great question because this isn't the first instance where  Latter-day Saints get involved in this Hawaii, this specific Hawaii legislation. Latter-day Saints were involved in the whole process. As soon as they found out that it might be happening in Hawaii. There were Latter-day Saint lawyers that came in and actually sat on certain committees. And were part of, there were certain acts that Latter-day Saints were on. And there was a point when the Latter-day Saints got kicked off of them. They said, I think it was the Hawaii Supreme court itself said, these guys need outta here. So yeah, it's a great question because my answer is yes, it was started well after. Yeah, well after what was going on in Hawaii. 

[00:24:14] Colette: “The fallout from that decision embroiled the Church in controversy and raised questions among its members. Amidst all this Elder Oaks and other general authorities relied on their legal and ecclesiastical experience in discussing how the Church should react and its teachings and policies. They also labored to protect the religious freedom of churches and the rights of their members to live according to sincerely held beliefs that might run counter to cultural expectations reflected in legal rules.” 

[00:24:38] Kate: The speech that Dallin H Oaks just gave a couple months ago, actually, I think it was in November.  He said this exact same thing. People were sending me this Dallin H Oakes, quote, or speech. And I was like, I feel like I've read this already. This is something he's repeating over and over. We want to somehow be able to balance these things. 

[00:25:03] Colette: So, can we talk more about Hawaii and what was going on there? I think most people are going to be familiar with prop eight in California in 2008, but I don't think a lot of people recognize Hawaii. And what was happening in the 1990s that led to this proclamation?

[00:25:19] Kate: Yeah. For sure. So I created an Excel spreadsheet that Channing had talked about earlier that I cannot shut up about apparently. And, cause it took a lot of time and energy and I need people to know this, I created this document and I can make it available. But this spreadsheet has quite a few news articles. And I think what's interesting about this is to go back and look at, specifically what the Church in the church news or the Deseret news is saying about Hawaii at the same time before there's even a committee built for the Proclamation. And one of those news articles comes from the church news March 1995, it's seven months, so this is, this one actually comes after the committee has been formed. But it says something very specific that shows a need for the Family Proclamation other than a guide for Latter-day Saints. It's actually used as a semi-legal document. My legal, my lawyer brother would tell me it's not a legal document, but it's going to be used for the Supreme court in. 

[00:26:45] Colette: And isn't that technically called like, an Amicus brief, right? Like, friend of the court thing that people can file saying, we agree with this and this is why sort of thing. 

[00:26:55] Kate: Thank you. Yes, exactly. And so the Church news is reporting on this and what the Church news says in 1995, this was March. So we've already listened to Dallin H Oaks say that by January, they have this committee formed. But then church news says, “under Hawaii law, an entity may intervene in a legal action by proving that it has substantial interests in the outcome of the case. The trial is expected to be held in September about…”, so this church news articles specifically talking about the same-sex marriage in, in Hawaii. So we're reporting on this before we ever get a proclamation. We're already concerned about what's happening in Hawaii and we're reporting it through the church news to Latter-day Saints. So it's interesting that the myth that Colette talked about this idea that this was revelation that happened for prop eight, that we have, we were getting this news. It wasn't a secret. We knew that we were concerned about Hawaii legislation. 

So I'd like to say to jump in really fast and say that, like I said, I have this spreadsheet and I've been doing this research, but much of this research has also been done by Greg Prince. So if you read “Gay Rights and the Mormon Church”, he's been talking for a long time about gay rights within the Church. Greg Prince is one who was interviewing people in the nineties and the early two thousands. And then we finally get his book a couple of years ago, this one. And if you want to, if you want to read more in depth about the legislation you can pick up his book and see what he has to say. But one part of his book that I do think is really interesting is that he talks about, so he gives you his sources as well. So I looked at the sources that Greg Prince offers and he offers this really interesting source and really interesting quotes. So 1994, the year 1994 was declared the “Year of the Family” by the UN and conferences are held throughout the world on the family. All of 1994, remember this committee is formed in 1995, but these conferences are held in 1994. There was one that was going to be held in Salt Lake City and Boyd K Packer talks about this in the PBS documentary. I think it's called The Mormons in 2007. So Boyd K Packer is reflecting on the 1994 “Year of the Family”. And again, this is quoted by Greg Prince in his book and Boyd K Packer says, “I read the proceedings of it and it was on the family and, and all the proceedings. I couldn't find the word marriage as though those didn't go together. There was a thought that they were going to have a meeting in Salt Lake City. And I thought if they were coming here for that kind of convention, we better issue. We better state our case. And so made a proclamation on the family.” So here Boyd K Packer is specifically saying we need a proclamation, not just because of Hawaii, but because we don't have anything on it for this 1994 “Year of the Family”. And we need to be talking about what marriage is. I'm sure in 1994, that Hawaii's marriage law is on his mind. That is why he's thinking about marriage as part of family. If you, why is the word marriage not found anywhere? Why is he thinking about that? Because marriage is on the table. 

[00:31:10] Channing: What I find most significant just in listening to this history and kind of seeing this relationship between marriage and family come together is like, up until this point, you know, we've spent the entire year reading the Doctrine and Covenants. And also I don't know, maybe this is just like opinion and speculation, so everyone treated us such, but that marriage and family didn't necessarily go together in the general mindset until I don't know, now that I'm saying it out loud, it sounds not true. 

[00:31:46] Kate: Wait, keep going with it though. Keep going.

[00:31:48] Channing: Well, like, okay, so, like, if from this quote alone, we're seeing that like, okay, I read like Boyd, K Packer says I read the proceedings. And there was nothing mentioned between family and marriage, but in the church, like at least the church that I've grown up in, those, I've always heard those two words together, marriage and family, marriage, and family, as if marriage is what makes the family. And I'm not necessarily sure. Like, you know, if we think about an extended definition of a family, that marriage always does make a family, because there are plenty of families that are created out of what we would consider, like official wedlock. And there are many different kinds of families. And so is it really that marriage is what makes a family? I’m not sure about that. I'm not sure, but that's just my own, like, that's my own personal opinion, but it's interesting to see that equation and also to see like, at least for myself having grown up in the Church and hearing those things go together always to then now find out that hasn't always necessarily been the case.

[00:33:00] Kate: Yeah. And it isn't, it wasn't always necessarily the case. This isn't even a 100 year issue. This is actually a 70 year issue. So I'm going to also recommend reading Taylor Petris book, “Tabernacles of Clay” because Taylor Petri gives the history of gender and sexuality and what he outlines is something that I also see as a, so I'm a cold war historian and the same thing happens in the Soviet union. What takes place after World War II, post-World War II, our gender roles become much more rigid and Taylor Petri outlines this entire thing. So when we say marriage and family, that is very specifically coming out of Cold War rhetoric and post-World war II rhetoric, but also post-World war two dynamics about the roles women can play in society and whether they can work or not, because they've just been working for however long. So now we have to solidify these roles. So this idea that marriage and family go together is not actually necessarily a Mormon thing. I would say this is. Cold war American and Soviet ideal. 

[00:34:22] Channing: It's so fascinating to me. Oh gosh. I don't, like, I get so nerdy about this because like, so I wrote an article for The Exponent. That's going to be published in a couple of months and the title, like the, kind of the crux of it is talking about the phrase that we have in the Church that is “in the world, but not of the world”. And I always find it so fascinating whenever I come across history or like, Scriptures or any part of the Church that is like both solidly in the world and not of the world. And so to hear like, okay, the Church loves to say that like, we're all about the family and the world isn't about the family. And like we, the family, that's our thing then to find out like, oh, Kate, I love talking to you. But then to like hear later, like, Oh, actually, this is just like the water. This is like the water in the fishbowl that we're all living in.  It's not necessarily, the family isn't necessarily special to the Church. It is largely influenced by the world that the Church is living in at that time. And so for me, my, like my own personal thing, I, I really do appreciate hearing that.

[00:35:43] Kate: In 2020, as we're all like, in chaos and trying to figure out what the world is going to look like.  And as there are protests happening around the country. The Black Lives Matter movement got brought up at church within Mormon culture with especially conservative Latter-day Saints because they had a specific line that's now been edited out off their website, which was that we need to re-examine what the nuclear family is and what the nuclear family, what we think of as a nuclear family.  And Latter-day Saints took that as a threat to the Proclamation, to an idea of what the family was but what Black Lives Matter was trying to say is the same that Channing is saying here, right? That we didn't always have this idea of a nuclear family. This is a very specifically World War II/post-World War II phenomenon that we can start to re-examine it isn't necessary for us to have rigid gender roles any longer.

[00:36:56] Channing: Yeah. Sorry. I get so nerdy about this. Cause this is like, I've also just like come across like a ton of, not, not I've only recently come across a ton of research on this, but I've been reading an article titled “the Caliban and the Witch” by Silvia Federici and she talks about how like long, long time ago, like, I don't even know the dates like the early 13 hundreds, like before capitalism even came into play, like gender roles were not a thing. Like, everyone plowed the field. Everyone gathered the wheat, everyone worked the, like worked the land and participated in the, in the thing. And only when property ownership came into play, did gender roles start taking really deep root? And once, like people could own small bits of property, then women started becoming more confined to the home and their like the duties that they performed became more limited. And before that, Oh, talking about like Black Lives Matter and this idea that like, that they were threatening the nuclear family, this idea that the nuclear family has existed from time immemorial is not like isn't even necessarily reflected in like archeological finds from ancient times.  Like we know that communities live together and that they shared children with other couples and that the community functioned as its own large familial unit. And so I know Kate, like we were, we were beforehand, we were like, we can't even talk about the colonialism, cause I don't think we'll have time. But I do think that it is kind of this important part of the Family Proclamation. This idea that the nuclear family has only been nuclear since World War II I think is really, really important.

[00:39:02] Elise:  But then just the fact that like, the Church will use the phrase nuclear family only when it serves them. Right? So in the Family Proclamation, it serves them. But in many other aspects of Mormon theology, we don't even care about the nuclear family because we're so concerned about like, linking all of our generations together to each other. And we're all siblings in Christ. Like all of these things that are so much bigger and more expansive than a nuclear family, but the church shows up and says, well, when it benefits us, we are really strict on the nuclear family. But when it benefits us to not be strict on the nuclear family, then we're more expansive. 

[00:39:35] Kate: We talk a lot. This podcast is about feminism. This podcast is about feminist ideas and readings and those sorts of things. But I think often femininity or talking about feminist issues, also is thinking through gender issues and gender more broadly, and thinking about masculinity here and thinking about World War II and post-World War II and real genuine, a crisis of masculinity that was taking place during that time. Not just because women are in the workforce, but also because men are coming home with PTSD. And we don't talk about that very often. We don't talk about the struggles of masculinity and the struggles of watching your friends be killed or whatnot throughout the world and how problematic that would have been for men as well.  So, I think this comes about, this idea of a nuclear family comes about because,  not just because women are in the workforce, but also because men are going through something that is really difficult that we don't talk enough about. 

[00:39:59] Channing: Absolutely. 

[00:41:00] Colette: And going along with gender, can we talk a little bit about how this was presented in the Relief Society? We mentioned this a little bit earlier, the Relief Society general meeting in September, 1995 and the interview with, you know, with Chico Okazaki, I think is really fascinating if we want to talk a little bit more about that part of the gendered nature of this coming to be. 

[00:41:25] Elise: So I just want to read an excerpt from the interview between Greg Prince and Chico Okazaki that was held in 2005. Okazaki says in 1995, “When the Family: A Proclamation to the World was written, the Relief Society presidency was asked to come to a meeting. We did, and they read this proclamation. It was all finished. The only question was whether they should present it at the Priesthood meeting or at the Relief Society meeting. It didn't matter to me where it was presented. What I wanted to know was how come we weren't consulted.” Greg Prince says, “You didn't even know it was in the works?” Okazaki says, “no, they just asked us which meeting to present it in. And we said, whatever President Hinckley decides is fine with us. He decided to do it at the relief society, meeting the apostle, who was our liaison said, isn't it wonderful that he made the choice to present it at the Relief Society meeting? Well, that was fine. But as I read it, I thought that we could have made a few changes in it. Sometimes I think they get so busy that they forget that we are there.” 

[00:42:26] Colette: Yeah. This. I wish you could all see Channing's reaction to this quote being read.

[00:42:36] Channing: For me, like every time I just, every time I'm just like benevolent patriarchy here you are again, like, isn't it wonderful. Isn't it wonderful that they presented it at the Relief Society meeting. And I just can see like, I wish that I could have been there to see her face and for her to be like, well, yeah, like it doesn't really matter. I want to know why we were asked about it. I want to know, like, cause I'm reading through this document and I'm like, that could be changed. That could be changed. That could be changed. And so for me, I like my reaction to this when I first read it is the same as it is now. Like my position on revelation or on official church doctrine is that if we aren't consulting a significant portion of our membership about something that affects the entire church, then does it apply to the entire church? Like if women were weren't consulted for the Family Proclamation, does it apply to us? For me personally, I've decided no. If queer people weren't consulted for the creation of the Family Proclamation. Does it apply to them? For me, the answer's no, because from this quote, it's very apparent to me that this document was written by men for men, like by CIS hetero men and for CIS hetero men, because that's who the document serves and that's who it was written by 

[00:44:12] Colette: CIS hetero white men. Make sure we add that. We're not going into the colonial aspect of this, as we said, but that's an important note. 

[00:44:20] Channing: Important. And I just, Ugh, it's so frustrating to me, not surprising, but always continually frustrating to me to see that that's the case. 

[00:44:29] Elise: Yeah. And you said that it was written by these men for these men, but the tricky thing about benevolent patriarchy is that in their minds, they think that they have the authority and personal experience and full understanding and an expansive worldview to write something that should apply to everyone. And it just makes me think, how benevolent patriarchy shows up and says, Hey, you know what? This is going to be good for you, even though we didn't consult you or ask you, or really know anything about your experience, this is going to be good for you because we love,  “We love you.” And this is one way we can show our love for you. And I think that that is a, a painfully tricky way that the Family Proclamation gets forced and pushed onto people who weren't thought about or included in the decision-making process. 

[00:45:21] Channing: Well, and I think too, like the whole idea of like, well, we're going to give you, we want you to participate so please tell, make a choice between one of two options. We can either present this in the Priesthood meeting, or we can present this in the Relief Society meeting. And like, as if that's participation. As if that qualifies as a condoning or acceptance of, you know, this proclamation when that's not even true, like it's, it's, it's a no win situation. The document’s going to be presented either way. And there was no participation at all. 

[00:46:03] Elise: Right. And having voice and power to make changes and shape doctrine and shape theology within an institution is far different than being given a like, red or green choice. Right, that's not the same as participation. It's not the same as having voice or power within an institution. It's the scraps. 

[00:46:24] Channing: Well, and the other part of this quote that like, really gets me, she says “the apostle, who was our liaison”. I'm like liaison to who?! And what, like, if we truly believe that, like, if the church is truly gonna say, like, we value women and they're like participation is equal and their voices equal, then why is there a liaison? Why are they not sitting at the same table? I don't, ugh,, yeah, so you can probably hear my voice that I'm just. So frustrated, I'm so frustrated with this and yeah, but like that frustration also comes from like my perspective as a cisgendered white woman. And I know that there's so many other reasons to be frustrated with this document that I can't even give voice to.

[00:47:19] Elise: Especially with the, because the document shows up and it kind of offers a strict definition of gender roles and thus like, reinforces heteronormativity. We have this rhetoric that shows up that says, this is what it means to be a real man. And this is what it means to be a real woman, which hurts everyone, not just Cis people.

[00:47:37] Kate: I personally, I know that lots of people read this quote and they're very appalled by it, but I think, oh, I'm so glad the Relief Society like, don't have to sign their names to this thing, actually. Like, for me, for me, I think like that's a blessing to, to not have the women have their signatures on it or whatever.

[00:48:02] Channing: Yeah, well, and it's not like so far off, right? Like we just covered in our polygamy series, like the Relief Society hasn't always been in agreement with what the general church leaders say. So like, maybe this is just like a modern day case of resistance. I can appreciate that. 

[00:48:23] Colette: Good reframing, like it. I think as we've been talking kind of around the Proclamation, which is really important, but I think it's also important to point out what is actually said in the Proclamation, which is interesting to look at, especially as I reflect back on when I used to have it memorized. I wasn't sure if any of you had anything you wanted to particularly point out with what it actually says and doesn't say, I think we could have a good discussion with that. 

[00:48:52] Kate: Could we start out with what it doesn't say? Please.

[00:48:53] Colette: Yes. Yes. We can 

[00:48:55] Kate: Never says the word sealing. I don't know how many people have noticed that it does not talk about sealings. It does. It says you're able to have, potentially able to have an eternal something along those lines. Colette can tell us, cause she has it memorized. 

[00:49:16] Colette: Used to. That was, I don't even know, like 14 years ago now. 

[00:49:19] Kate: and it doesn't have the word sealing and it doesn't really talk about eternal marriage at all. So for me, that's an indication that right there is a red flag to me to say that this is evidence of it as a legal document use for a Abacus brief to say, this is, we believe this, but we're not going to talk about that eternal marriage thing that we got going on in Mormonism. It also makes it so this document could be recreated very easily within other religions, which happens by the way. So after 1995, many religions adopt a similar proclamation and it has continued to this day, which hopefully fingers crossed, we can talk a little bit about. But yeah, so it's very interesting to me that it doesn't say it doesn't talk about sealings. It doesn't talk about eternal marriage.

[00:50:13] Channing: Something that stuck out to me, and that does continually stick out to me about the Family Proclamation is this idea, like there's a phrase in here that says children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony. And I'm like, I don't know if it's just like, because in my life I know so many people who have had children outside of wedlock that are happy and do have a happy family, but I'm also remembering like, okay, who do we all know who wasn't born inside of the bonds of matrimony? Jesus. Like his parents were not married when he was born. And so for me, I'm like, we don't even fall. Like we don't even, there are so many parts of this story, I'm like, we don't even believe that this is true. And I think like going back to something that Colette said earlier at the beginning of the episode, like there are parts of this document that I feel like, are really beautiful and like, deserve to be a part of like, our cultural beliefs. Like “parents have a sacred duty to rear their children and love” like, okay. Yeah, I can totally get behind that and “provide for their physical and spiritual needs”. Like there are parts of that that I feel like, definitely deserve a lot of love and a lot of acceptance from this document, but there are other parts like this one. And then also when they talk about gender, like “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal mortal and eternal identity and purpose.” And like, I can get behind that with an expanded definition of what gender is, but unfortunately the Family Proclamation doesn't provide an opportunity for expansion because it defines gender in only two ways, man or a woman. I think we could have a conversation about like, what even gender is. And is it something that really is eternal because I don't necessarily think it is. I don't know. Ah, I'm digging myself in a hole.

[00:52:19] Colette: Maybe this needs to be a note for Kate and me to discuss on one of our future podcasts, because I actually had a really interesting discussion with my sister about it. I'm like, I need to think about this more. 

[00:52:29] Kate: So we can look at some different ways that this document's been interpreted. One of those ways is through Blair Ostler’s book, “Queer Mormon Theology”, and, and Blair talks about how gender can be essential and all the things that the Proclamation says about gender without necessarily saying that it's the way, that…

[00:52:56] Channing: Static.

[00:52:56] Kate: Thank you. We don't have to necessarily think of it as static I, as a non-binary person would say we really have to get into the nitty-gritty of what is the difference between sex and gender. And then we really have to get into the nitty gritty about what is biological sex, because it is not as straightforward as one might think it is. And that really is a whole other episode. And I would, you know encourage people to go listen to Blair Ostler’s podcasts episodes, or also read “Queer Mormon Theology” to get a better sense of these distinctions, because what might seem very straightforward is just not. And it's also a Cold War phenomenon. This is definitely and colonialism, but we won't get into that. 

[00:53:52] Channing: Someone needs to do an episode on colonialism and the Family Proclamation. Cause that could also be a great episode 

[00:54:01] Colette: Noted. I also think we're not going to go paragraph by paragraph through the Family Proclamation, but at the very end, I think it's important to note that the last paragraph says, “we call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures, designed, to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society”. That's clearly shows the legal document type of a part of this proclamation and being able to then use it as an Amicus brief in different court decisions about ruling, about marriage. So remember. That background I think is important to keep in mind.  I'd love to talk a little bit. Oh, go ahead. 

[00:54:46] Kate: Just really quickly. This paragraph has exactly why I thought, why I assumed all those, all that time that Dallin H Oaks had written it because this is a reflection of the things that he's been saying over and over the last couple of years. 

[00:55:02] Colette: Yeah. And so, as we continue the conversation, I do want to talk a little bit about what's been the result of the Proclamation. We know that it started in 1994 because of that committee that was formed into 1995 with the stuff going on in Hawaii. But I love, you know, Kate talking about. It didn't stay in Hawaii, right? It continues on, most people are pretty aware of proposition eight in California in 2008. And what's continuing to go on now and how the Proclamation’s continuing to be used to hurt particularly the queer community in regards to talking about legislation that's going on right now, that's trying to legislate what transgender individuals can and can't do with their bodies and using bathrooms and participating in sports. I'd love to hear any thoughts about that.

[00:55:54] Kate: Again, as the non binary person, I think maybe other people don't pay attention as much as I do all of the time to the legal ramifications of transgender bills and intersex bills. This is just talking about the United States, you know, there's globally, this is a big issue, particularly in the UK. And the idea that this document is used to marginalize an already marginalized community without offering much empathy. It's weaponized against us. It's weaponized against what I am. I am a non binary person. I don't associate as a man or a woman. That really has nothing to do with my pronouns, but my pronouns are she and they, and this document has been used to say, I'm not going to use your appropriate pronouns because this document has said, this is the way things are and what, what good does that do? And what harm does that do? If you're weighing those things, you might not recognize the really deep impact and harm that that does. And for transgender folks, I think Colette probably has some, the statistics better than I do. I'm pretty sure it's 41% or 42% of transgender, that includes non-binary youth attempt suicide. This is not even just considered, this is attempt. Is that right? 

[00:57:50] Colette: I don't know that exact statistics, but I just pulled up an Instagram post I made at the beginning of pride month. And there's a lot of really interesting things. If you want me to read through why I thought we still need pride month. So let's keep in mind. Same-sex marriages only became legal throughout the US six years ago. There are 69 countries where it's illegal to be queer. And some of them still enforce the death penalty for that. There are still gaps in employment discrimination. If you're LGBTQ, you can be fired for being queer. A queer youth represent up to 40% of the homeless youth population as they may be kicked out of their homes for being queer. And I'm going to pause on that because I think that's a very interesting one. One thing that really bothers me about the Proclamation is we're all about the family, and the Church in general sometimes if we’re being real, we're all about the family until you’re queer, and then we're going to kick you out and disown you. Like, I don't understand. We're all about love and families until you don't fit in this prescribed box that the Family Proclamation has created. There is an epidemic of homeless youth because of the Proclamation and other heteronormative, compulsive heteronormativity, and cis-gender rhetoric. 42% of queer youth say they live in a community that doesn't accept queer people. Queer youth are twice as likely as their peers to be physically assaulted. 92% of queer youth say that they hear negative messages about being queer. There were 37 known murders of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, which was more than any other year since the human rights campaign started tracking in 2013. And I know that number is higher this year, even. There've been more than 250 anti LGBTQ bills introduced in states across the country. That's this year, 2021. And more than 700,000 queer people have been suggested to conversion therapy, including myself. Not, not electroshock therapy, but there's definitely some conversion therapy going on with one of my therapists. I didn't realize at the time. More than one in three queer Americans face discrimination of some kind in the past year. More than half of queer Americans report hiding a personal relationship to avoid discrimination. I include myself in that. 22% of queer adults are living in poverty and queer people face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization. Queer individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual, men and women to have a mental health disorder. And that's not because they're queer, let's set that straight. Funny sayings that it straight when I'm talking about breathing always make a queer joke when you can. That is because they are in a society that doesn't accept who they are. Of course that's going to cause potential emotional and mental health difficulties. That's not because they're queer that they have mental and emotional difficulties. It's because they're in a society that won't accept them. So those are just, oh yeah, and then here's going to go into the suicide back to what Kate was saying. LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times. The rate of heterosexual youth, LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. And that is not saying trans individuals because transgender individuals and here you go, Kate, you know, stats, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt at 92% of those individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.  And a big part of that is because of rejecting families. If you are being rejected for who you are, of course, why would you, that is the emotional pain of that. And obviously I can wax on and on about this. It's something I'm very passionate about in my work as a therapist, working with queer individuals, especially those who did grow up Mormon, whether they're Mormon or not, it can be really hard to figure out where you fit. I kind of joke that I'm too Mormon for the queers and too queer for the Mormons. And I think a lot of people feel that way when you read the Family Proclamation and you don't see yourself fitting in this compulsive, heterosexual and cisgender society, it's just really, really tough. And I, I don't know if I even have the words, just reading those stats is making, I think all of us, a little emotional and I don't know what to do right now, just sitting in it. And this is the reality, and this is the harm that the Proclamation can cause too many people.  

[01:02:30] Kate: And that's not to say that it, that our religion doesn't mean something to all of us. We recognize that the Family Proclamation means a lot to people because we happen to also be Mormons. We are Latter-day Saints and we're so often even thrown out of the discussion of that we can be Latter-day Saints that we can believe these things that we really, you know, I spend so much of my time researching and thinking about the scriptures and praying and the idea that I'm constantly cut out of the Latter-day Saint discussion, that those LGBTQ people over there, you know, that's really hard. So, I looked up the statistics that I was looking for and I came across the Forbes. It's yeah, it's pretty easy to find the suicide statistics for LGBT  youth and adults. But this article starts out first, first paragraph. It says “the numbers are stark worrisome, and should set off alarm bells, 52% of all transgender, nonbinary, young people in the U S seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020, more than half.” I think that's important for us to hear more than half thought it would be better to be dead. Rather than trying to live with the rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying, and being targeted by politicians and activists, pushing an anti transgender, anti-trans legislation. And that's not to say that your religion isn't important to you. It's important to us too, but maybe offer some empathy for what that feels like. 52%.

[01:05:08] Colette: Kate and I talk quite a bit on our podcasts about the reality of depression, mental health, and suicide with queer individuals who grow up religious. And I really appreciate you bringing your emotions to the table, Kate, and being able to show how real this battle is. You and I have both dealt with thoughts of suicide and.  It's interesting. Looking back at how real those were now that I'm in a better place. That, that was my reality. I really did think that it would be better for me to be dead than to keep living and be queer. That's not okay. That is not okay. And when we have people legislating other people's bodies that continues and perpetuates the problem.

[01:05:55] Kate: I have to bring up colonialism. One thing we don't talk enough about within the Church is cultural genocide. We have a history of cultural genocide. We have explicitly and devastatingly and violently imposed harm on all sorts of people of color to become more white and wholesome. This is a reality that is in our past. We have a really a white supremacist in the full meaning of the words where you think the whiteness is superior. We have thought in the past that whiteness has been supreme and it has led to cultural genocide. And what is happening to queer people right now within the Church is a cultural genocide. And the way that Blair Ostler talks about it in “Queer Mormon Theology” is that this is, yeah, she calls it celestial genocide that we, the queer people just aren't in the celestial kingdom. We don't, we don't exist there. And that is a type of cultural genocide. We are, we're just, discarded or there will be fixed. That is a type of, of genocide, a cultural genocide, that's taking place right now with this document. 

[01:07:24] Colette: Yeah. When you get the explicit or implicit message that it's better for you to be dead than queer or one thought for me, when I was dealing with suicidal ideation was, well, if it's going to be better in the next life and I'll be fixed, why not just speed that process along? Why keep enduring this pain and rejection now when I can just be fixed later? Granted, I don't believe that being queer as something to be fixed. Now I've worked through a lot of my own internalized homophobia around that. But a lot of people still do interpret the Family Proclamation this way. And this is us just talking about what's happening in the U.S. with different legislation, Kate, with their knowledge about Romania, things are happening in Romania can try to legislate this as well. This is everywhere. And I don't think it's one of those things that you don't realize how embedded it is into church culture and society at large, until you start looking for it and then you see it everywhere.

[01:08:26] Kate: You do totally see it everywhere. So Channing and I were sitting at Colette's birthday party and Channing was like, Hey, what's up? And I was like, let me tell you, well, we can tell you about my research into the World Congress of Families and the Romanian history of the Family Proclamation. And Channing was like, I'm here for it. And of course, I'm going to get, it's been a long time talking about, yeah, I don't think we have a lot of time to talk about this, but I do want to introduce this idea that Colette's talking about. This is just the United States. And when you look at places like Romania, this particular document, this specific document has impacted Romanian legislation. I will be speaking at the local university here in Romania, where I live, Ovidius University. And they've invited the University of Bucharest to attend a lecture that I'm giving on the pro-family legislation that took place in 2018, which I was here for, which said we're going to change the constitution. The Romanian constitution says, marriages between spouses. And they wanted to change it to say marriage is between a man and a woman. And I was here in 2018 and my red flags were going wild. Like I have heard this language before. I know where this comes from. And so doing a little bit more research into this, it turns out that there's an organization. There are actually several organizations on the family. One of which is called the World Congress of Families. And the World Congress of Families has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And by the human rights campaign, it's been labeled a hate group. And it has intricate and detailed ties to Latter-day Saints. And this document, the World Congress of Families is what funded, what gave rise to the 2018 legislation in Romania. Latter-day Saints, working through this notion of the Family Proclamation, are actually working with the Russian government, which sounds like it's such a conspiracy, but I am a historian, I have my sources on this. All joking aside. Like I really do have many sources on how the Russian state and the World Congress of Families work together to impact legislation in Eastern Europe, in Africa to do things like the Romanian 2018 legislation that says that marriage should be between a man and a woman. So this isn't a fight that's anywhere close to over, just because we've, you know, it's been six years, as Colette says, we're done with the United States. Well, that's just one place. And this is, this is impacting, this document is impacting queer families across the world. Continually. It makes it so my queer friends in Romania can not get married.

[01:12:00] Channing: I'm really glad that we talked about the impact that the Family Proclamation has had, especially on the queer community since it's been released. And those statistics that you shared Collette are honestly harrowing and there's nothing else to say about it other than we can do so much better and we have to do so much better. And the queer community needs us to do so much better right now and within the LDS community and within the LDS church and the culture and the context, I think that there obviously, as we've talked about today, is a lot of room for improvement. And  we were talking about celestial genocide and this idea that's implied and inherent within the proclamation that queer people just don't exist in the eternities. I'm remembering back to the episode that Elise and I recorded for the Plan of Salvation. And at the very end Elise had this wonderful re-imagining of heaven as a big house that everyone lives in. And there's lots of different rooms that we could go into. Like there's the sunroom that has like. Warm fuzzies and like, maybe sunflowers. I don't know. And then there's like, the star room where like, honestly, I hope we get to like tell stories in there and look at all the constellations. But I'm wondering too, with this conversation that we're having today, like what if in the Plan of Salvation and in the Family Proclamation within the Church, we could create a rainbow room where there's so many, there's all the people and everyone's welcome and we can all leave. We can leave and enter and move within all of the rooms and everyone's welcome, but there's a place that's made especially just for queer people, especially just for everyone who like, for me, I would love a pink purple and blue room. That'd be the greatest ever. Those are my three favorite colors and I want, and I think that this is my attempt, a little bit of trying to say, like we could, if we wanted to expand our Plan of Salvation, we could expand the Family Proclamation. We could expand everything in order to include everyone. 

[01:14:23] Kate: Yeah. Can I just say one thing? I think it's important. Queer people are members of this church and they are receiving personal revelation. And I have spoken with many of many queer people who have received personal revelation. We are not, we are not just out here to destroy the Church and we aren't, we don't want to leave. We are parts, we want to be here and we've received revelation that our experience does not line up with the Proclamation.  And what, where do we go from here? What do we do? Every one of us, every single one that I've talked to that wants to be a part says I've turned to the scriptures and to the fundamentals and what I believe. And I believe in Jesus Christ and I believe in the Restoration or whatever it is. And it's these basic principles that we talked about every single Sunday, right?

 Every single Sunday, what are the primary answers for things that's a queer people are doing? They're not just trying to have pride every day of their lives, right? A big pride parade. They're fighting, they're struggling and they want to be a part and they believe and I think it's important for us to make space for that belief and wanting to participate and to recognize that we have a really good relationship with our own personal revelation and our own personal relationship with Heavenly Parents or with Christ or Christ figure.

[01:16:06] Colette: Love that. Thank you. And going along with that, I love just Kate, how you said we're not other, we are part of this. And that is a big part of why we have launched our podcast. Again, one more plug Called to Queer. You can find us on any streaming platform, any podcast platform on Instagram and Facebook. And we hope you'll follow along to learn more about different people, sharing their experiences, being queer and Mormon.

[01:16:44] Elise: A big thank you both to Kate and Collette. Thanks for being here. And then a big, thank you to all of our listeners who have joined us today. We love you so so much, and we can't wait to talk with you next week. Bye.

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