An openly gay man in the [edit: NOT QUITE] bishopric

August 22, 2011 | 98 comments
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Blogger Mitch Mayne writes: “I am Mitch Mayne, and I am an openly gay Latter-Day Saint. On August 14, 2011, I was sustained as a member of the Bishopric in the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).”

Take a look at the post, it’s fascinating. (I’ve confirmed this with multiple sources, too. It is not an urban legend. Brother Mayne just spoke about his calling in Sacrament.)

This seems like a big step, and a potentially positive development. It also seems somewhat precarious, and raises some questions. Is this move fully sanctioned by the institutional church? Is this calling the product of an exact combination of specific events and people, or is it a sign of broader potential institutional change? And for that matter, will conservative members refuse to sustain Brother Mayne?

I’ll be very interested to see how it all works out. In the mean while, congratulations — and prayers of support — to Brother Mayne in his new calling.

UPDATE: The folks at Medium Gray have reported that Brother Mayne is in fact an Executive Secretary, which is technically not part of the Bishopric. (As a variety of commenters at Medium Gray BCC have noted, this understanding is not universally held, and there are a number of Executive Secretaries who have been told and who believe that they are part of the Bishopric; however, I have been assured that the Handbook — in the sealed 116 pages which we aren’t permitted to read — states otherwise.)

98 Responses to An openly gay man in the [edit: NOT QUITE] bishopric

  1. Julie M. Smith on August 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I think that it is marvelous that people with all sorts of personal challenges are called to leadership positions. However, I am very uncomfortable with this statement from his post:

    “I am open to a relationship if fate brings that my way. I am not committing to a lifetime of celibacy;”

    I would be equally pleased if a former (yeller-at-children, conspicuous consumer, gossip) were called to a bishopric, but not at all happy to have them announce that they were not committed to avoiding those sins for the rest of their lives.

  2. Kaimi Wenger on August 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

    And, to answer the conspiracy theorists (some of whom are already around on Facebook) in advance:

    No, I have not personally checked Brother Mayne’s membership records and confirmed the calling in that way. I’m not the membership clerk for his ward or stake.

    Could this all be a giant hoax? Possibly, but it seems unlikely.

    What I have confirmed, from multiple firsthand sources from people I trust, is that Brother Mayne gave a sacrament meeting talk about his calling.

    I suppose he could have been making it all up — but if so, why would his bishop sit and say nothing during the talk?

    I’ve confirmed the sacrament talk itself, and most conspiracy theory options (he’s making this up, or he’s confused about his calling) just don’t mesh with that.

  3. George Fisher on August 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I hope it it true, but I am afraid if it is, Brother Packer is not aware of it. If he were like the dew greeting the morning sun it will be gone very quickly.

  4. zionssuburb on August 22, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Well… If it is true, that position would require approval by the Stake Presidency and the High Council of that stake…. at this point, the person who updates the MLS software for their ward has not added this brother as a counselor in the Bishopric.

  5. David T on August 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

    #1 Julie:

    It doesn’t appear that you’re taking into consideration the rest of his statement:

    ” I am not committing to a lifetime of celibacy; I am committing to adhere to the same standard of behavior that we require of any heterosexual member in a Priesthood leadership position. And, I am committed to being completely forthcoming and transparent about my relationship status with my leadership.”

    I think that is significant.

  6. anita on August 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I’m confused about his statement about living with a previous partner (male? wife?), and how that would mesh with a repentance process/temple worthiness issues. Very strange!

  7. Julie M. Smith on August 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

    David T, that doesn’t change anything for me–he is open to the possibility of a sexual relationship after he is released from the calling, or even *while* he has the calling, although he assures the blog reader that he will tell leadership about that relationship if/when it happens.

    I think his very public openness to non-celibacy is incompatible with ward leadership.

  8. Nick Literski on August 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I’m noticing the photo, which show this individual with a shirt almost entirely unbottoned, and no LDS priesthood garment underneath. He’s claiming to have been called as a counsellor in a bishopric, but how likely is that for an unendowed person? It’s possible that he’s endowed but wasn’t wearing his garments for that photo, but who on earth would choose such a photo to accompany a page announcing that they’d been called to an LDS bishopric? It makes no sense to me.

    If this man’s story is legit, I can’t imagine LDS HQ being pleased that he’s advertised the circumstances—let alone made it clear that he’s open to a future relationship, which to LDS sensibilities would mean he has an “intent to sin.” Assuming he’s telling the truth on this website, I see three potential outcomes: (1) the website disappears very suddenly, (2) he gets released from the bishopric very suddenly, or (3) we eventually find out that the LDS public relations department is behind this as part of their ongoing post-Prop 8 campaign to convince the public that they’re loving and accepting toward gays.

  9. David T on August 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Julie:

    I think he is stating he will live by the standards, such as, he will remain celibate outside of Marriage. I don’t think his promise extends to celibacy to a spouse to whom he would be legally and lawfully wed, which is the “same standard we require of any heterosexual member in a Priesthood leadership position”.

    That’s how I read it.

  10. Mark B. on August 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    But, David T, the “standards” of the church do not recognize any relationship between two men as a valid marriage–and neither for the time being does California law. And the fact that New York’s law, for example, does recognize such a relationship as a “marriage” does not make it one, so far as the standards of the church are concerned.

  11. Steve Fleming on August 22, 2011 at 11:13 am

    That’s how I read it too, David T. I wonder if lots of publicity may not be a good thing, at least in the short term, as it will likely generate a lot of backlash. No doubt the conversations it will create will be useful. I’m very interested to see what happens.

  12. David T on August 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Mark B:

    Do you think cases like this would necessitate the wording of the Law of Chastity covenant to be altered to be more specific than “Spouse to whom you are legally and lawfully wed”? If so, do you see the Brethren making this move?

  13. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

    And for that matter, will conservative members refuse to sustain Brother Mayne?

    Conservative meaning “those who think the stated church standards should actually be followed”?

    Kaimi, you probably consider me freakishly conservative and I’d say if Brother Mayne is worthy, then he is. His preferences make no difference.

    This seems like a big step, and a potentially positive development.

    Kaimi, you’ve made it plain that you are something of a gay rights supporter, but I wonder what, explicitly, you think this would be a positive step toward? What is the end game you hope for that this movement supports?

    I guess I’m always a bit baffled by such positions from members. I have a number of gay friends and some of them have shared their struggles, many starting very young. (Almost all of them are/were members of the church.) I’d be happy to accept a change in policy with regard to gays.

    But I’m also willing to concede that God has the “right” to declare particular behaviors sinful. He does it all the time. He does it with things I do, things I want to do, things I’ve done since I was a kid, things I feel are part of my nature. In spite of the discomfort and pain it causes us, we conform with his will, not the other way around.

    Although I think same gender attraction is an incredibly huge behavior to confront given it’s status as being sinful, I don’t know that the difficulty of it puts it in a special class apart from other behaviors that we are told are sinful.

    Amen to Julie M. Smith.

  14. dog lover on August 22, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I am skeptical. I’m sure things are different in the Bay area, but in the Wasatch Front this wouldn’t be possible (at least the way things are now). In my stake he wouldn’t even pass a TR interview and would be working on having his membership reinstated if he lived w/ another guy up up until a year ago.

    A few years ago I got lectured extensively because I was only reading the children’s scriptures regularly (barely had time to do that w/my kids, personal study wasn’t in the picture then) and left feeling like a piece of crap.

    I also can’t remember even having a member of the bishopric that wasn’t married.

    So for all those reasons I am skeptical.

  15. Mark B. on August 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

    David T

    No. I don’t think that anyone who pays attention could have any question about what the covenant means.

  16. Tim J on August 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

    “No, I have not personally checked Brother Mayne’s membership records and confirmed the calling in that way. I’m not the membership clerk for his ward or stake.”

    I can check the CDOL and he doesn’t show up. Now, it’s a fairly recent calling and there’s the strong likelihood that they haven’t updated the MLS, so I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions one way or another.

  17. queuno on August 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Is that a singles ward? I haven’t seen a lot of cases where singles have been put in a bishopric.

    I agree with Kaimi that this is a positive step, in that someone who gay and yet worthy can hold these types of callings. However, I have to agree with Julie, Alison, et al, that if he’s openly saying to plans to stray from the prescribed behavioral requirements, maybe he’s not really such a worthy candidate. I’m not sure I’d want him my son’s priesthood class about obedience in that case.

    (I don’t yet have any sons in priesthood.)

  18. queuno on August 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    (If he was sustained yesterday, then it would have taken a clerk 5 minutes to update MLS. Those changes should be showing up on LUWS and CDOL tools by today, or tomorrow at the latest.)

  19. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Kaimi, it sounds like the talk was given in a ward he didn’t live in??? Could you clarify?

    Also, I’ve known lots of bishopric counselors (not bishops) who were unmarried. It was standard practice (in the 80s at least) for BYU wards to have older, married bishops with counselors drawn from the congregation. My singles wards all had single student counselors. In my married ward, my husband served for the first time as a counselor. (Side note, they did NOT ordain student counselor’s to be high priests, they remained elders. He became a high priest the first time he was in a “family ward” bishopric.)

  20. @UtMormonDemoGuy on August 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    The strangest thing about it to me is that he announces his calling on his website with a blog and PRESS INFORMATION, including professional head shots. He says, “Are you interested in contacting Mitch to say hello, request an interview or to book him for a speaking engagement? Kindly fill out the form listed below and we will contact you shortly.” His blog content is broader than his announcement about his new calling. Interesting. Unusual.

  21. chris on August 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I don’t want to comment on the specific case regarding bishopric, etc., because I just don’t think there is enough information out there. But what is presented alone does send off some concerns, but I wouldn’t say I know enough to actually be concerned.

    I just wanted to write and contrast his public pronouncement as well as the pronouncements we individually often make online in our own spheres, with that of the recent video about the 70 at lds.org:
    http://lds.org/study/prophets-speak-today/unto-all-the-world/the-twelve-and-the-seventy-part-one?lang=eng

    One thing that struck me is the 70s saying they have no agenda and they are there to represent the apostles, who represent the Lord. I often think of myself in various callings and think about the issues I’ve seen and the changes I can affect based on my personal experience and observation.

    Then I contrast my own attitude (and by extension the brother in ques ion in this piece) with that of the 70, and I think the 70 (and Apostles) really have it right.

    We should not be seeking to impose our agenda, but to take the agenda given to us by our leadership (be it Ward, Stake, Regional, or Apostolic) and strive to seek revelation on how best to implement it within our stewardship.

    When I look at much of the contention that occurs online and in wards, it usually is with differing agendas, both sides believing their agenda is right and both being able to justify why it is right.

    But that doesn’t lead to the kind of unity the Lord requires to be counted among his own. So I don’t want to pick away at an individual flaws that may be perceived in this brother, especially with regard to sexuality, but just to say perhaps we need to rethink our approach and not try to bring our agenda to the church and seek ways to correct it, but seek to implement the agenda of the Lord given to us by our leaders.

  22. Sam Brunson on August 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I wonder what, explicitly, you think this would be a positive step toward?

    I wouldn’t dream of speaking for Kaimi, but, in my mind, it is a very public demonstration of the fact that being gay doesn’t prevent one from fulfilling most callings, and that homosexuality is not a sin. And yes, I know that the Church has gone this direction rhetorically for several years now. And most people in the Church that I know personally accept and believe that homosexuality is not a sin. But this would seem to underline that stated belief by putting our callings where our mouths are.

  23. JJ Rousseau/Chris H. on August 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I am skeptical because of all the fake blogs and personas that have been popping up.

  24. JJ Rousseau/Chris H. on August 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I’m not saying that Mitch is fake, just that the whole thing is strange. I am not shocked at all by such a calling, particularly in an urban progressive area.

  25. Naismith on August 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    “I haven’t seen a lot of cases where singles have been put in a bishopric.”

    I guess it depends on where you live. We’ve had single men serving as counselors in bishoprics, and on the high council.

    Never seen a single bishop, though.

  26. SLK in SF on August 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Mitch Mayne is indeed a real person. :-)

    I don’t know him, but my sister Diane does. Like him, she spoke at one of the famous Oakland Stake firesides a couple of years ago. Carol Lynn Pearson has a web page that includes the talks given by Mitch, my sister, and others:

    Important Work in the Oakland Stake

  27. jimbob on August 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Queuno said: “it would have taken a clerk 5 minutes to update MLS”

    True, but it would assume the clerk was on the ball. I’m a clerk, and in spite of my best efforts, I don’t always get to go right to the office and update MLS on the day that someone gets sustained. Of course, the putative counselor could not do tithing until the clerk did this, so that might force the issue earlier.

  28. Rameumptom on August 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    As long as he is worthy to hold the calling, I would have no problem sustaining him. But if any person engaged in sexual relations outside of the proper marriage form established by the Church (between man and woman, etc), then that person would no longer have my sustaining vote.

    I agree with Julie and Alison (I’m also a Smith, we tend to be very smart people) on the issue. Given we may not have an exact quote from the talk, the concepts given could create a concern If he said, “I’m gay, but living the standards of the Church. Someday I may choose to wed within the guidelines of the Church”, then he fully has my sustaining vote. If instead he said, “I choose for now to be worthy of the calling, but may change my mind later in order to pursue a sexually active gay relationship”, then I would not sustain the person, as his heart would not be fully with obeying and following the Lord. One promotes the will of God while acknowledging struggles, the other acknowledges oneself with the possibility of opting out of God’s will.

  29. Mary B. on August 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    @Sam

    “It is a very public demonstration of the fact that being gay doesn’t prevent one from fulfilling most callings, and that homosexuality is not a sin.”

    Please clarify. Are you saying that the actual practice of homosexuality is not a sin, or that fact that being homosexual does not make one a sinner? I believe there is still that distinction in the policy of the Church.

  30. DavidH on August 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I know plenty of people in recovery from addiction who hold temple recommends, but do not commit to refrain from the addictive behavior for the rest of their lives; rather they commit only to refrain one day at a time. I do not believe the failure to commit to a lifetime of refraining from conduct that violates Church standards disqualifies one from God’s blessings–as I read the Sermon on the Mount, God is pleased to bless us one day at a time. The Jesus prefers that we focus on today, not on yesterday or tomorrow.

    Ultimately, the worthiness standard is applied by local leadership. From what I read in his blog, I see no reason to disagree by their determination.

  31. Howard on August 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Re: 27 So one should not hold the possibility of opting out of God’s will?

  32. Shannon on August 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    One question: wouldn’t refusing to sustain someone in a calling based on our understanding of their commitment (or lack thereof) to future worthiness be a failure on our part to sustain whichever leader extended the call?

  33. Sam Brunson on August 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Mary,
    I’m saying exactly what the Church’s current position is, in my reading: that being gay is not a sin.

  34. Mike D. on August 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I echo a lot of the sentiments expressed here. The danger is that this will end badly, and Bro. Mayne’s blog post certainly doesn’t reassure me much. It’s a feel-good story now, and (if accurate) does in fact stand for the proposition that someone who is living the standards of the Church can be given priesthood responsibilities even though they have homosexual inclinations. There’s nothing really controversial or even noteworthy in that for me.

    What is noteworthy is that Bro. Mayne has decided to make an issue of it and to make a public statement. Perhaps this is no real surprise, as you can see from looking at the headings of his recent blog post that it appears that he is active in talking about LDS/gay issues in various public forums. If I had more time this morning, I would peruse his blog to try and get a better view of his approach, but I can’t do it just now. Perhaps doing so would diminish my actual concern here, which is that I am afraid, whether by design or not, that this will end very badly.

    If or when Bro. Mayne decides to engage in a relationship with another man, for whatever reason, the result will be that he will be released from his calling at the very least. One can expect as much (and possibly more) publicity from Bro. Mayne about this release as attended his call, and I can only speculate as to what will be said in the event of such a release. Does anyone here think that any goodwill gained by this call won’t be immediately erased if or when Bro. Mayne decides to marry another man? I can almost write the intro of the San Francisco Chronicle story right now: “Mitch Mayne, local Mormon high priest and congregational leader, was recently stripped of his duties and standing within the Church as a result of his recent marriage to William ___________ in New York City.”

    I hope and pray it never comes to this, but I am concerned about how the rest of this story will play out.

  35. Mary B. on August 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    @ Sam, Thanks for clarifying. I love Elder Holland’s talk. From your previous post I wasn’t sure if you were endorsing gays who practiced homosexuality as eligible to hold callings, or for that matter, membership in the Church.

    This situation is very interesting in that Brother Mayne states he recently “left” a partnership, and endorses “gay marriage”, from what I have read in his blogs. I am assuming that he has taken the necessary steps since leaving his partner to become temple worthy, because I believe that is a requirement for service in the Bishopric, especially since they issue recommends themselve. This whole scenario is very perplexing.

  36. Dan on August 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    this is a step in the right direction, if it is true as stated. The more our church steps away from discrimination, the better.

  37. Ben on August 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I think one of the issues is that repentance requires one to forsake the past instead of saying “I’m temporarily suspending this activity, but I don’t reject it and I may well choose to return to it in the future.”

  38. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I am another very skeptical observer.

    But to answer Nick Literski #8 about the shirt issue. I wear the nylon mesh garment tops with a large oval neck in size XL. The neck of those particular garments is large enough to allow for an unbuttoned shirt (similar to the one on the photo) to still cover the garment even when generously unbuttoned. I usually wear my shirts with the top two or three (depends on the design) buttons undone during the summer and my garments underneath won’t show.

    But I agree with others that this sounds very unrealistic… or maybe his stake is ready to break off from the mainstream church. It woudln’t be the first time it happens, although it would probably be the first time it happens because of an openly gay leader.

  39. Ben H on August 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    On one reading, it sounds like Brother Mayne is saying he is only chaste at the moment by happenstance, and that he is not planning to alter his behavior beyond informing the leadership if he becomes sexually active again. If that is what he is saying, he is vocally undermining Church standards, and that is very problematic for a leader. Even a temporary commitment, say, for the duration of his calling, would be contrary to the spirit of repentance, which Alma indicates means a commitment to obey God’s standards throughout one’s life.

    On the other hand, if his point is that he is committed to the law of chastity, meaning to be sexually intimate only with a legally married spouse, and that it is possible the Church will accept civil marriages of same-sex couples at some point in his life, that is a position that shows integrity in my opinion. I think it’s unlikely that the Church will change on this any time soon, but I respect someone who is willing to comply with the current policy even while hoping and praying for a change in policy.

    It’s not really clear which of these scenarios Brother Mayne has in mind (I’m just working from the open letter on his home page). My hunch is that even if he is thinking in terms of the second scenario, he doesn’t really want to put too fine a point on it, because it would seem to be giving the Church too much moral authority in the eyes of some audiences that matter to him, possibly including himself. I’m not sure his position is tenable in the long run. If he wants to take a public stance to the effect that current Church policy/teaching on sexuality is wrong, I don’t think he can do that while serving in a bishopric. An ambiguous stance might be tenable, but only if people will let him keep it ambiguous, which seems unlikely! It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  40. Lorin on August 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “Is that a singles ward? I haven’t seen a lot of cases where singles have been put in a bishopric.”

    I’m familiar with one in an adjoining ward where I once lived. It was his second or third time in a bishopric and I believe he may have been on the high council a couple of times. I may have read him incorrectly, but I would give you 50/50 odds that the reason this good-looking and wealthy man in his mid-50s had never married was because he was not interested in women. I’ll also give you 98% odds that if this is the case, he will die 100% celibate and 100% faithful in the church.

    I observed him acting as a very wise, devoted and humble servant, and when it spoke it was with incredible spiritual power. I think he had extra helpings of this power due to the possible sacrifice he made before the Lord, putting obedience ahead of all else, and his demonstrated willingness to live up to his covenants all his days.

    I do not believe the gentleman in the OP or any man/woman of any orientation can have such power unless he lives the law of chastity. That is why I find his intention to not remain celibate his whole life troubling. To me, that is not only an indication of future trouble but an indication of present issues that do not bode well for his effectiveness in this calling.

  41. Mark D. on August 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I have a really hard time imagining someone who is not a temple recommend holder being called to serve as a counselor in a bishopric. I would further assume that any significant departure from temple recommend standards would lead to a release from such a position in short order.

    However, assuming those standards are being met, and this fellow has a character above reproach, this sounds like a positive step to me.

  42. Tom O. on August 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I think Doctrine and Covenants 58:43 bears mentioning here:

    “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”

    I’m not privileged to see into anyone’s heart, but the pronouncement on his blog doesn’t carry the spirit of forsaking as far as I can tell.

    The LOC requires that intimacy be shared between those “legally and lawfully” wedded. While a same-sex marriage may be legal in a given jurisdiction, from the perspective of the Gospel could that marriage ever be considered lawful? As far as has been revealed, the answer to that appears to be “no”.

  43. jimbob on August 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    For a few minutes, there was a comment from someone claiming to be Mitch Mayne and admitting it was all a hoax. Did the admins decide the admission of a hoax was a hoax itself?

  44. Whizzbang of Winnipeg on August 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I have known a several singles who have served in Bishoprics, High Councils,etc. Heck around here they even call people who grew up in Alberta-so you can never tell with these things

  45. Mike S on August 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    The Church may change its wording in the future, but from what I understand there are 2 main things the Church has specifically stated in the past:

    1) Being gay, in and of itself, is not a sin
    2) Chastity is defined as no sexual relationships outside of marriage, and fidelity to someone to whom you are legally married, in the temple or out.

    Brother Mayne is obviously not “in sin” for merely being gay. And regarding the second point, he stated: “I am committing to adhere to the same standard of behavior that we require of any heterosexual member in a Priesthood leadership position.” Notice that he does not say he is just going to have sex with a man anytime, but he does NOT preclude becoming sexually active again if he were legally married, which is what the Church expects of heterosexuals as well.

    At the current time, the Church hasn’t specifically said that they will recognize some legal marriages and not other legal marriages. Perhaps the publicity given to this will force their hand, but I think they are between a rock and a hard place. If they make a policy that they will NOT recognize a legally valid marriage, this will likely lead to more bad publicity than the “I’m a Mormon” campaign may have garnered. But I can’t see them saying that they WILL recognize gay marriages either.

    I’m just glad I’m not in downtown SLC trying to come up with a response to this.

  46. Tom O. on August 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    #45. So, we’re all about the publicity now?

  47. bbell on August 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I wanted to remind the readers of my controversial post about the Oakland stake on http://www.mormonmentality.com

    http://www.mormonmentality.org/search/oakland%20stake

    If this calling is indeed true then I believe it is indeed a step towards schism/apostacy in the Bay area.

  48. Mike S on August 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    #46 Tom O:

    Our main goal is obviously NOT publicity. However, the reality is that the Church has to exist in the context of the society around it. Our members live in society. Our missionaries get converts from that society. It is just reality.

    And the Church’s image is also obviously important to them. They have spent millions on ad campaigns. They have well-done and professional websites that cost money. We put MormonAds on TV and radio. We have PR-sites. We want the name of the Church given a certain way.

    So, yes, publicity, while not the fundamental goal of the Church, makes a difference.

  49. Nick Literski on August 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Notice that he does not say he is just going to have sex with a man anytime, but he does NOT preclude becoming sexually active again if he were legally married, which is what the Church expects of heterosexuals as well.

    I am personally acquainted with an active LDS man who is legally married to his male partner. Together, they support a family member on an LDS mission. They both interact on a regular basis with LDS members, and are socially acknowledged by them as a married couple. I don’t believe LDS leaders have quite determined yet if/how they will handle situations where a civil marriage exists between same-sex partners.

  50. Julie H. on August 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I think almost everything has been said here but in response to #45:
    YES, the Church has taken a stand on which legal marriages they will and will not recognize. It’s in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, which clearly states that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It’s very clear.

  51. Megan G on August 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    What callings can a man who is cohabitating with another man as part of a homosexual relationship hold? Mitch claims that he was active and held callingS during that part of his life. Are we to assume that his leaders simply thought his partner (and the reason he wore a wedding ring) was a woman?

  52. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Re:bbell #47,

    That’s my take on it too. I think the question you posed back then is even more significant now if this calling happens to be true.

    “Could you see the Oakland stake at some future point deciding to walk their own path and leave traditional Mormonism?”

    I think my answer now is, yes I could see this happening.

    But if that were to happen, it would be very interesting to see the type of rehtoric that would unfold from both sides and the efforts the Church will make to control the tone of the story.

  53. Paul on August 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    If Brother Mitch was called and sustained, he was also interviewed prior to that calling and his worthiness assessed and found acceptable.

    #30 David H is right about those in recovery from addiction: they can typically only do it one day at a time.

  54. Scott B. on August 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Re the CDOL/MLS update–I also checked this and noted that there is not such individual listed in the bishopric for the Bay Ward. However, I also noted that the currently-listed bishopric was sustained in 2006, which would put them right in the 5-year wheelhouse for release.

    It’s definitely possible that the apparent contradiction is just a function of a lazy clerk–two Sundays have passed with no updating of the ward directory (for shame!).

  55. @UtMormonDemoGuy on August 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I think and hope that this announcement, if true, could be a very positive thing. It would be great if gay people felt welcome, included and appreciated in the Church. I also fear, like Mike D (#34) that it could end badly. I envisioned the same scenario Mike D describes. Let’s hope Bro. Mayne’s priesthood leaders had a really good feeling about this.

  56. observer fka eric s on August 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Here is the registration data for the url mitchmaynes.com. Whoever bought it on August 17, 2011 did so through DomainsByProxy Inc. This keeps his/her/its name anonymous.

    Registrant:
    Domains by Proxy, Inc.

    DomainsByProxy.com
    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: MITCHMAYNE.COM
    Created on: 17-Aug-11
    Expires on: 17-Aug-12
    Last Updated on: 17-Aug-11

    Administrative Contact:
    Private, Registration MITCHMAYNE.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
    Domains by Proxy, Inc.
    DomainsByProxy.com
    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States
    (480) 624-2599 Fax — (480) 624-2598

    Technical Contact:
    Private, Registration MITCHMAYNE.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
    Domains by Proxy, Inc.
    DomainsByProxy.com
    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States
    (480) 624-2599 Fax — (480) 624-2598

  57. Aaron B on August 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I think Ben H’s second reading of Bro. Mayne’s letter is plausible. It’s what I initially imagined Mayne was saying, though I admit I’m really not sure. I find myself wondering if his disavowal of future celibacy is a position that the local leadership who called him was actually aware of at the time they called him.

  58. BJohnson on August 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    #45 Mike

    “but he does NOT preclude becoming sexually active again if he were legally married, which is what the Church expects of heterosexuals as well.”

    I agree with Julie that the Church defines marriage only partially in reference to the civil law.

    I’ve inquired numerous times of church/temple leaders regarding the phrase “legally and lawfully wedded” and have always received the same answer. It refers to a marriage that is both “legal” under the civil laws of the jurisdiction where it is performed and also “lawful” under the laws of God as articulated in scripture and by Church leaders.

  59. @UtMormonDemoGuy on August 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    So, Observer (#55), help a technologically challenged guy out. What does this mean? Bro. Mayne’s website really isn’t his anymore? Or that he might have registered it recently through some service? Does this make it more or less likely that the blog post/announcement of his new calling is a hoax?

  60. Tom O. on August 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    For everyone being overcome with the warm fuzzies over this (if it pans out as true), I suggest a little thought experiment: substitute the name “Mitch Mayne” with that of “Kody Brown” (of Sister Wives fame) and see how you feel about the situation. Of course, let’s assume for the purposes of this experiment that Kody makes all the same declarations relative to his particular situation, including reserving the right to enter into polygamous marriages at some point in the future should they become legal.

    If you reject the comparison, why?

  61. Keri Brooks on August 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    @UTMormonDemoGuy #58 – Proxy domain registration is fairly common. It keeps the website owner’s physical address from being plastered all over the internet and provides a bit of privacy. I wouldn’t be immediately suspicious of a proxy registration, especially given the potentially controversial nature of the site.

    The fact that it was just purchased within the past week makes me wonder, though. It could be that the site has been around for a while and it was just time for renewal. It could be that the author put up the site in anticipation of publicity as a result of the calling. It could be something else.

  62. RW on August 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Mitch Mayne, if I am not mistaken, presented in a panel discussion at the last SF Sunstone Symposium. Of course the panel took up gays in the Church. The other panel members were either not celibate or had left the church for obvious reasons.

    I was most impressed by Brother Mayne’s commitment to the church, wondering if I could have done the same.

  63. urban envy on August 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    According to the Ward FB page, it’s legit. The admin for the page said he was put in the bishopric yesterday (Aug 21st) but the admin didn’t know he was gay until like 7 hours ago when Rachel Cox posted the question on the page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bay-Ward/232709443427661

  64. RW on August 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm
  65. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Tom O.

    Although I am not nearly feeling overcome with the “warm fuzzies,” I do reject your comparison.

    Kody Brown happens to be of a different religion. Although his marriage status is unnaceptable under current LDS standards, he is actively living a polygamous life and his marriages are not considered “legal.” I can see your point, but your comparison fails.

  66. Kaimi Wenger on August 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    The person commenting as “Mitch Mayne” used a fake e-mail and had text which was inconsistent with Mayne’s blog (saying “it’s a hoax” and “it makes me sick”). This strongly suggested that that comment did not actually come from Mitch Mayne.

    The full text of pseudo-Mitch’s comment was:

    This is just a joke. I promise you, its a hoax. It’s for publicity, and you’ll see the Church will confirm how stupid we all are talking about how this could possibly be true. It makes me sick.

    If that comment being purportedly made under Mitch’s name *doesn’t* set off your troll-o-meter, then you probably haven’t been blogging for very long.

    ETA:

    Besides having a fake e-mail and being inconsistent with Mitch’s website, pseudo-Mitch’s comment traces to a European IP address (which is often a sign that a proxy server is being used to hide the person’s real IP address).

    So, to sum up: Mitch really exists, has a real webpage, really gave the talk in Sacrament (confirmed by multiple bloggernacle participants who were there). He has spent a lot of time, on his webpage and at Sunstone and in his ward, discussing his identity as a gay Mormon.

    Pseudo-Mitch comments with a fake e-mail and fake IP, in a way that goes contrary to Mitch’s clear statements. Why exactly would real Mitch do this? Unless I get some direct confirmation otherwise, pseudo-Mitch’s comment goes into the troll file.

  67. Mike D. on August 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I’m starting to wonder if Bro. Mayne is the victim of a very uncool prank. If you look at the timing of the registration of the site pointed out by Observer (#55), and the fact that there is nothing on his personal blog pointing to the mitchmayne.com website, I have to wonder if he’s being hijacked. In fact, I strongly suspect that Bro. Mayne has nothing at all to do with mitchmayne.com. I’d be interested if anyone does have any proof of authorship.

    To add something new to the mix, Bro. Mayne has posted on his blog about this (sometime today) and the tone there is decidely different than the letter on the mitchmayne.com website.

    http://mitchmayne.blogspot.com/2011/08/embarking-on-new-journey-my-farewell.html

  68. wreddyornot on August 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Meh.

    Human beings are born and nurtured with ambiguities, including uncertainties in reproductive organs and sexual attractions. When revelation comes to our leaders that marriage is marriage — a loving, stabilizing, yet dicey intimacy — without any discrimination of such ambiguities, I’ll rejoice. Until then I’m be inclined to say to this man thank you for your service.

    As in the case of blacks without the priesthood before 1978, in this case I’ve already gotten my own assurances change will come in the church.

  69. Mike D. on August 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Oops … I hit post too quickly. To clear one thing up … Bro. Mayne’s blog is hosted by blogspot, and appears to be clearly his. The blog doesn’t link to mitchmayne.com at all, though mitchmayne.com links back to the blog.

    Perhaps all of this is nothing more than a well execute attempt to smear Bro. Mayne at this critical juncture in his life. Unless I find out for sure that this was indeed authored by Br. Mayne, I’m going to assume it wasn’t.

  70. B.Russ on August 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    On the other hand, if his point is that he is committed to the law of chastity, meaning to be sexually intimate only with a legally married spouse, and that it is possible the Church will accept civil marriages of same-sex couples at some point in his life, that is a position that shows integrity in my opinion. I think it’s unlikely that the Church will change on this any time soon, but I respect someone who is willing to comply with the current policy even while hoping and praying for a change in policy.

    There are at least three ways you could read his statement. This is how I chose to read it.

    If this calling is indeed true then I believe it is indeed a step towards schism/apostacy in the Bay area.

    Yes, that does seem to be the only possible outcome of something like this; that or the jaws of hell will undoubtedly gape wide and swallow the stake whole. . . Amazing the news hasn’t reported a spontaneous fiery sinkhole appearing in Northern California already. . . I wonder what is holding the destroying angel’s hand back.

  71. observer fka eric s on August 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    The “farewell” link has now been pulled down.

  72. Scott B. on August 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    This is just bizarre. The Sacrament Meeting talk on his blog is now gone. The FB page for the Bay Ward (referenced above) is only a month old, and just contains a bunch of random photos. The (now removed talk) says he was called to serve in the Bishopric of a ward he evidently didn’t live in. Just bizarre to me.

  73. Mike D. on August 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    According to the “farewell” talk, since removed from Bro. Mayne’s blog, he was called to serve in that ward due to the fact that he is openly gay and faithful to the Church. Apparently, there are a lot of single LDS people living within the boundaries of the Bay Ward who don’t come to church, perhaps for reasons that need no identification here. He said that he was called to the position specifically to reach out to these individuals. I don’t find this odd, as I have a lot of experience both in and out of singles wards where members of the bishopric were selected from outside the boundaries of the ward itself.

    I wish I hadn’t already closed that tab, and I could have reposted it, but perhaps Bro. Mayne isn’t upset that I closed the tab because maybe he doesn’t want it reposted.

  74. Martin on August 22, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t find it bizarre, Scott. You make a point a little too emphatically during dinner conversation, and you might find everyone in the restaurant staring at you. And those you’re sitting with might be embarrassed by you and ask you to pipe down.

  75. Ray on August 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    #51 – Such a man could hold LOTS of callings – pretty much any calling that a heterosexual, single man could hold, assuming he is not sexually active and, rather, only “co-habitating”.

    I can’t comment on the post itself, since I have no idea if it’s legit or not, but “co-habitating”, in and of itself, is not a violation of the Law of Chastity.

  76. Megan G on August 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Obviously he could hold any calling if he was not sexually active in what he described as a “committed, monogamous relationship with my partner of several years.” My question was based on the assumption that he was actively “participating,” if you will, in this committed homosexual relationship. I made that assumption since he seemed to refer to the ending of that relationship as the catalyst for his current worthiness and ability to serve in the bishopric.

  77. Suleiman on August 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    If a heterosexual single man was involved with a woman for several years and then broke off the relationship just one year ago, would he be called into the Bishopric? I have heard of single men rarely being called into bishoprics. I have seen divorced men remain serving after going through a divorce. But I have never seen one called into a bishopric AFTER being going through the divorce and still single.

    And I honestly don’t think Mitch Mayne has time to serve in a Bishopric. From the photos it looks like he spends most of his time in a gym.

  78. Guy Murray on August 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    #2 Kaimi wrote:

    And, to answer the conspiracy theorists (some of whom are already around on Facebook) in advance:

    No, I have not personally checked Brother Mayne’s membership records and confirmed the calling in that way. I’m not the membership clerk for his ward or stake.

    Could this all be a giant hoax? Possibly, but it seems unlikely.

    What I have confirmed, from multiple firsthand sources from people I trust, is that Brother Mayne gave a sacrament meeting talk about his calling.

    I suppose he could have been making it all up — but if so, why would his bishop sit and say nothing during the talk?

    I’ve confirmed the sacrament talk itself, and most conspiracy theory options (he’s making this up, or he’s confused about his calling) just don’t mesh with that.

    Based on the disappearing blog posts, and all the inconsistencies in his “story” it seems to me, that it’s his story that doesn’t mesh with reality.

  79. Guy Murray on August 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Does anyone have a cache of Mitch’s blog post referenced in #67 above but now gone?

  80. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Did he speak at Sunstone West?

  81. Guy Murray on August 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm
  82. Guy Murray on August 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    doctrinalnet:

    Thanks

  83. Thomas Parkin on August 22, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Whatever Bro Mayne’s situation and current calling, his worthiness is between himself, his bishop and God. The arrogance and lack of generosity demonstrated in much of this discussion ruined my afternoon.

  84. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Or just at Sunstone ;)

    So, to sum up: Mitch really exists, has a real webpage, really gave the talk in Sacrament (confirmed by multiple bloggernacle participants who were there). He has spent a lot of time, on his webpage and at Sunstone and in his ward, discussing his identity as a gay Mormon.

  85. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Guy, thanks.

  86. Whizzbang of Winnipeg on August 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Suleiman-I have seen a divorced and still single man serve in a Bishopric, quite well. I know two people who were divorced and later re-marry get to be a Bishop and the other is a Stake President. Brigham Young and some other prophets were divorced, and Pres. George Albert Smith wasn’t married when he became President of the Church, he had been married but not when he was Prophet. Heck I know a guy who molested his daughter,abuse his wife and he got to be a Branch President, later a Temple Pres. Counselor and now a sealer in a Canadian Temple so I don’t know what to make of it all but we see through a glass darkly

  87. Scott B. on August 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Martin,
    I used the word bizarre–not the word “impossible” or even “unlikely”–for a reason. This event is quite indisputably bizarre IMO, as is the reaction to it here. While I am sorely tempted to react as Thomas Parkin did above (as he is a far better man than I am), I find myself somewhat sympathetic to those who find this so remarkable that they need a greater witness of it’s accuracy than a website or FB page. While opining on his worthiness is not appropriate, the furrowed brows and sincere concern or curiosity speak, in this instance, more to the purely shocking nature of the event than to the busy-body tendencies we may all be prone to.

  88. Kaimi on August 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thomas Parkin writes:

    Whatever Bro Mayne’s situation and current calling, his worthiness is between himself, his bishop and God. The arrogance and lack of generosity demonstrated in much of this discussion ruined my afternoon.

    Amen.

    Okay, folks, let’s dial back the negative speculation. Now.

  89. observer (fka eric s) on August 22, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I hope it is understood that questioning the legitimacy and authenticity of information found on the internet, like the Open Letter, is not the same as judging Mitch Mayne’s alleged calling and relationship with God and others. The open letter struck me initially as out of LDS character based on the totality of information surrounding it and LDS cultural observations. That is different than saying a worthy person with homosexual inclinations, or even past actions, serving in a calling is odd (which it is not).

    The Open Letter is odd on multiple levels if you are at all familiar with LDS culture. For starters, most LDS members do not announce their callings on the internet. Not that they can’t, they just typically don’t. Second, single LDS members typically don’t announce on the internet that they are open to sex (non-celibacy) if the opportunity should arise. So that raises curiosities as to legitimacy. Third, members of the bishopric usually don’t announce that they are gay on the internet or otherwise. That is a new type of public announcement to find on the internet. The exceptional features of the Open Letter go on and on. I’m not putting a value judgment on whether these LDS cultural observations are “good” or “bad”; I’m simply saying they are observations that raise questions of authenticity of the information source.

    And questioning authenticity is different from, and in no way, is a condemning or disparaging sentiment as to the substance of what the Open Letter says. It would be like saying that investigating wormholes in space is an insult to faith and the creation power of God.

  90. Mike D. on August 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I would have posted something like #90 if I hadn’t had to run some errands this evening, and if I were a better writer. The “Open Letter” reads like it was written by some quasi-provocateur. Once I had a chance to read the rest of his stuff, I suggested that he was being set up. I was one of the first, if not the first, to suggest that Bro. Mayne’s online identity may have been somewhat hijacked. I’ll continue in this belief until proven otherwise.

  91. B.Russ on August 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    90 – yeah, good points.

  92. B.Russ on August 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    And I honestly don’t think Mitch Mayne has time to serve in a Bishopric. From the photos it looks like he spends most of his time in a gym.

    Seriously?

  93. I am not Mitch Mayne on August 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    So I posted earlier saying it makes me sick that someone would go to the lengths necessary to make this all up, and that surely at some point the church would confirm to us that this is a hoax. The fact that I posted with the guy’s name, I thought, proved the point that I thought it was a hoax. Guess the pun was lost on the admins. I would have preferred, in hind sight, to not have used his name but perhaps something more obviously not him but still proving the point.

    There is just too much which doesn’t sit right about all this. The new website, the missing blog post, the Facebook page and the ‘its news to me’ reply, the unusual behaviour of a church leader stating all this. I believe its a hoax and that the only purpose is publicity. Now its been posted on the ward’s Facebook page I guess its working. And the hundred comments here.

    Time will tell.

  94. Bill of Wasilla on August 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    If by chance this is true, then I think trouble is headed this gentleman’s way as this story circulates and is read by high church authorities.

  95. Kaimi on August 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. We’re about at 100 comments, where we often close the thread. I don’t think that much more will come out of this conversation, so I’m going to close discussion. Thanks again for your comments!

  96. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

    No worries, IANMM. I think that some folks took your prior comment wrong, because of the name. But you’re certainly not the only person who has suggested that it’s a hoax.

    Good night, folks!

  97. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 12:01 am

    And if anyone has something SUPER interesting / articulate / important to say on the topic, e-mail me, and we may post it. Or wait until a follow up thread, if any.