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So I could ask the obvious questions: Why would an openly gay man marry a woman, and why would he so vociferously oppose the rights of other gay men to marry?
And of course, an even more obvious question, to which Erin’s conspicuous show of affection was the perfect segue.
One, he does not practice gay conversion or reparative therapy, as some of his critics accused after his coming-out post.
But Troy Williams, a Salt Lake City LGBT activist, knows many of the amici and their wives.
He couldn’t disagree with them more, but he understands them.“Family is part of the cosmology of Mormonism,” Williams said, referring to the tenet of eternal progression. In a way you actually become like a god, have your own planets, and then populate them with your own children.” Perpetuating that family through all eternity depends upon a man being sealed in marriage to a woman in an LDS temple.
The quotes in the brief are out of context, Weed told me. The Weeds’ words appear as laconic and choppy quotations, to the point of having zero impact on the argument.)He found out about the 38-page manuscript after one of the signees—he won’t say which—gleefully emailed it to him, knowing it would upset him.
Panicked, Weed emailed Darrin Johns, the lawyer who prepared the document, and asked to be removed from the brief.
When Desmond, still in his Sunday best—tie, white button-down, green vest—dashed into the room, I hesitated and smiled. That Danny feels “under attack” is hardly surprising. The church’s early history is marked by the persecution of marriage practices others found peculiar: Americans didn’t take kindly to Mormon polygamy in the 1800s.
Danny and Erin smiled back at me from the couch where they sat entwined, squeezing hands. Threatened, tarred-and-feathered, and driven from state to state—their founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, shot dead—Mormons slogged across the continent until they landed in present-day Utah, where they found sanctuary, a place to marry whomever they wanted. Because of that history, Mormons’ loud and public opposition to gay marriage has always carried with it an undeniable irony.As a Mormon growing up in Oregon, he remembers strong same-sex urges as an adolescent.“I just believed if I went on a mission and was super-righteous that I’d be okay and it would go away eventually.”He proselytized the Mormon gospel and papered over his sexuality with rightwing politics. But Williams’s sexuality kept bubbling to the surface, until he realized he could no longer deny his nature.At issue in the pending Supreme Court ruling is whether the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to guarantee equal protections, bans states from treating gay and straight couples differently.Cautioning the justices against ruling in favor of gay marriage, the brief Danny and his wife pinned their names to states: “Rather than expand liberty, such a judgment would not only ignore the deeply fulfilling marriages between same-sex-attracted men and women and their spouses, but would also constitutionally demean such marriages and families.”“I decided to sign it,” Danny told me, “because our marriage that we have, I do feel, is under attack.”Danny, a therapist, and Erin, a part-time pediatric nurse, had invited me into their home in Orem, Utah one Sunday after church so I could learn more about that marriage.When he was 18 he had a choice: Attend a Mormon school—Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho—or “If not, then I will start pursuing relationships with men.”The 35-year-old father of four daughters carries himself like a jovial stand-up comedian—Drew Carey, say—cracking jokes as frequently in person as he does on his blog, The Weed.His most notable physical trait is his left eye, which is legally blind and makes him look, as he once described it, “like I’m recovering from a concussion and a hangover and a bee-sting to the pupil all at once.”He’s a colorful frontman for the Mormon mixed-orientation movement, and the closest it has to a pioneer.The basement we chatted in is a sort of rec room for the thirtysomething fans of ’60s psychedelic rock; along with The Doors, posters of the Grateful Dead and the Beatles cover the walls.Desmond, their three-year-old, takes his name from the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” They have two other sons, Jude (as in “Hey”) and Field (as in “Strawberry”).Virtually all have children, all seemingly models of traditional family values.Of all the amici I contacted, only Danny and Erin Caldwell agreed to a sit-down interview.