Tuesday, April 17, 2007


In my search of prominent conservative blogs today for some indication of how the Virginia Tech shooting might affect the chances of immigration overhaul this year, I didn’t find much, for which I was grateful. The murders were a heartwrenching tragedy. I would hate to see them used to stymie much-needed, already precarious immigration reform. I think that had the killer been a Chinese national here on an F-1 visa as people initially speculated, a bill would be impossible this year. Since he hailed instead from a strong U.S. ally (at least on paper—South Korean public opinion is fairly anti-American these days, here’s one example) and had lived here as a legal permanent resident for half his life, the connection to the immigration issue is more tenuous. Not that this matters to anyone who lost a loved one in the violence—nor should it—but it will matter to the millions of out-of-status immigrants hoping to bring a measure of normalcy to their lives.

But in my browsing I stumbled across something I didn’t expect at RedState—not that I read RedState on anything resembling a regular basis, so my expectations were based almost solely on my own preconceptions. But I was still pleasantly surprised to read a stern rebuke by RedState poster Erick of a conservative Georgia judge who took a young girl from her lesbian adoptive mother and put her into foster care. The girl’s best interests were pretty obviously not served by the decision, and the adoptive mother ended up in jail. According to the post, the case is currently tied up in appeals. Comments on the wisdom of the judge’s decision were divided, but to me, the tone and substance of the post, as well as much of the debate in comments, were hugely encouraging.

Here’s another indicator that public opinion on gay rights is inexorably shifting: BYU just changed its honor code to permit LGBT students to come partway out of the closet.

A small but significant change in how Brigham Young University's honor code may be applied clarifies gay students' status just weeks after gay-rights advocates were arrested at the school.

The changes, which condemn behavior rather than sexual orientation, "remove a lot of the Gestapo atmosphere from the campus," said Brett Condron, a BYU freshman.

The changes don’t look like much, but will make a difference to many students.

From the Tribune, the old provision:
Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation. Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

The amended provision:
Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One's stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

LGBT students still can’t hold hands on campus and are condemned to official celibacy. But with this policy change, the BYU administration (and therefore the church leadership) moved slightly further away from Riyadh and towards modernity. Keeping in mind that this is the church that excluded black men from positions of leadership until 1978, the year I was born. (Women are still excluded.)

Baby steps.

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