In the wake of President Barack Obama's statement that he believes gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a "Mormon"), made a statement of his own, also supporting gay and lesbian couples' right to be legally married.
Senator Reid explained that while he personally believed that marriage is between a man and a woman, he also believed that loving same-sex couples deserve the equal protection afforded them by being able to be legally married like any loving heterosexual couple, and that same-sex couples being able to be married would have no effect on his marriage or family in the least.
"The idea that allowing two loving, committed people to marry would have any impact on my life, or on my family’s life, always struck me as absurd," he said.
Senator Reid also acknowledged that from the perspective of his children and grandchildren, the rightness of same-sex marriage was "a given." He felt confident that it was only a matter of time before DOMA and the various state laws and amendments banning same-sex marriage would be a thing of history.
The Salt Lake Tribune article I linked to above acknowledged the LDS Church's position that it does not discipline members for the positions they take on political issues or for how they choose to vote. Harry Reid -- despite speculation to the contrary I've heard among friends on Facebook -- is not at any risk to be subjected to any form of Church discipline for taking the position he has. It's not that he's "protected" because he's a high profile public official. Bro. Reid has not publicly criticized the Church or its leaders in any way. He's simply stated his belief that same-sex couples should have the same legal protections as their heterosexual fellow citizens. In his publicly stated view, it is reasonable to distinguish between religious teachings and practices in relation to marriage -- which may may vary from one faith tradition or church to another -- and civil law, which rightly protects the rights of everyone. Reid has not said or done anything that could possibly merit Church discipline.
I'm personally grateful for Harry Reid's statement, not just as a gay man, but as a Mormon. Obviously, I am grateful for Senator Reid's public support for my nearly twenty-year-long relationship with my husband. As a Mormon, I am, ironically, grateful for his statement in the same way that I have been grateful for Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy: because it helps to dispel some of the negative stereotypes so many people have about Mormons. I think it's great to have two high-profile, respected American citizens and public officials who are devout Mormons, who also hold diverse political views and who can publicly and civilly agree to disagree.
I know from having spoken with other Latter-day Saints that many feel the same way Harry Reid does. They don't have any desire to contribute to political or social inequality of gay Americans. They don't see same-sex marriage detracting in any way from their own marriages, or their family happiness, or their faith. And they're genuinely happy for the happiness of others -- be those others gay or straight.