032: Human Rights Campaign – Working for LGBT Mormons

Sharon_GrovesNatasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Sharon Groves from the Human Rights Campaign.  They discuss important issues that directly affect the Mormon LGBT population, research implications for families wanting to support their LGBT youth, interfaith efforts that HRC is heading, and implications of the current dialogue of “religious freedom” happening in parts of the USA.  They also have a discussion on transgender individuals and the unique challenges they face in faith communities and our culture at large.

Sharon joined HRC in September 2005 and brings considerable experience through editing and writing skills.  She has overseen the creation of numerous new resources, including a weekly preaching resource, a guide to living openly in your place of worship, a curriculum that follows the movie For the Bible Tells Me So and another that helps congregations wrestle with issues of gender identity within their faith communities. She has published a number of articles on such topics as religion and marriage equality, the importance of religious advocacy within the LGBT movement and the struggle for equality within world religions.

She is a lay leader at All Souls Church, Unitarian, where she has chaired the Committee on Ministry and worked extensively on issues of racial justice, community voting rights and neighborhood outreach. Sharon received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Maryland in 2000 and since then has engaged in extensive course work in theology and sexuality from Wesley Theological Seminary and the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Family Acceptance Project

Trans Faith


Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for audio production of this podcast.

We apologize for some of the audio issues on this podcast – they were not picked up on during taping, and we thought the interview was too important not to include.


2 comments for “032: Human Rights Campaign – Working for LGBT Mormons

  1. Bill
    March 23, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    My family and I have recently stopped attending the LDS church and started attending the Unitarian Universalist church. What a difference. It is very refreshing to sit in church with people who are there because they want to be there, not because they feel guilty if they don’t come. I have taken to calling it church for grown-ups. Dr. Groves is a great example of everything we find attractive about the UU. It is great to sit in a room full of people like her. We feel home there like we never did in our LDS ward because our political and social views were so often quite different from our fellow ward members. Thanks for your work and thanks for representing the UU so well!

  2. Barry Thatcher
    April 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    As an English professor, I know quite well the background and formation of Dr. Groves, so i was excited to see and listen to this interview. But I was also struck by the lack of understanding in Groves and in the end, I was not convinced at all.

    Groves never examined the source of LDS doctrine for heterosexual marriage–that we have a heavenly Mother and Father, that we are literal spiritual children from that union, that on earth we follow this pattern, and we can become just like our heavenly parents later on. Instead Groves chose a textual interpretive approach from the bible and then deconstructed those passages. I can deconstruct any textual passage any time I want. All communication, all writing, an act or event can be deconstructed.

    The source of Groves’s doctrine of marriage equality is quite thin, based on cognitivie-behavioralism (that if the human feels this way, it must be right) and equality. Although these sources are very important for political and economic discussions of equality and fair treatment under the law, they are not the source of doctrine on marriage. As many critics have mentioned, a whole host of behaviors can be justified the same way. For example, much evidence suggests that the sexual drive of men is faster/more sustained in men than in women. Following Groves’s doctrine, a man should be able to justify having sex with more than his wife.

    I fully support political and social equality of gay partners, but I don’t find this doctrine of equality a solid foundation for defining what marriage is. This is a key dissonance to unpack for us all.

    I also conjecture that in the original war in the pre-earth life, a great deal of discussion was on the inequality that would be an obvious fact of earth life and that one reason many were persuaded away from the original plan was the idea that some would not make it back while others would. A lot of deep thought here…

    Speaking of deep thought, I was particularly suspicious when Groves talked about deep thinking (from experience and equality) and characterized the typical LDS viewpoint as superficial. Recognizing this ever-present academic strategy, it was easy for me to see through.

    So i want to challenge Groves to think through the sources of LDS doctrine that I have articulated and be more transparent about her own sources. Then maybe we can move the discussion forward.

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