AMERICAN FORK — In 1867, American Fork became the torch bearer of the present free school system, when its mayor, Leonard Harrington, authorized the levy of a tax for the support of schools, a first in the Territory of Utah. Regardless of income, all could receive an education.
In December 2011, the city had the opportunity to be the first in Utah County to pass an LGBT housing and employment non-discrimination ordinance, four years before the state took up its own bill. But the city failed to be a torch bearer there. Three members of the council (out of five) indicated they would not support it, citing the need for more studies. The mayor said: "I don't know if we are there yet." The city never took up the issue again.
The ordinance would have probably been ratified if an apostle of the LDS Church had paid a visit to American Fork and publicly supported it. After all, the State of Utah recently passed an LGBT anti-discrimination bill only after the church endorsed it, a fact acknowledged by its sponsor. "Could I have passed this bill if the church had remained silent? No way," said GOP Senator Steve Urquhart.
Utah is brave for not batting an eye at this last statement. I'm a member of the church, but the idea that a bill's success can hinge on the church's approval scares the living daylights out of me. It shows that I have elected representatives whom I can't trust to do what's right... unless the church first says so. Making matters worse, the church hasn't made it clear to its members how LDS doctrine and gay rights are reconciled, leaving parents and lawmakers confused.
For example, the Utah State attorney general seemed confused when he linked same-sex marriage and discrimination against LGBT in housing and employment a year ago, putting both issues in the same bag. In February 2014, he called for the moratorium on any anti-discrimination bill until the same-sex marriage case works through the courts. I fail to see the connection. The church doesn't see the connection either because it has always been against gay marriage, but has always supported anti-discrimination legislation protecting LGBT people, like in Salt Lake City.
While the church is clear on same-sex marriage, it hasn't said whether a member will remain in good standing if she freely exercises her right, as a citizen, to publicly support gay marriage. When I spoke to my Stake president, he said he had received no guidance. Will a Relief Society president be released and stripped from her temple recommend if she writes "Congrats!" on a Facebook post, when one of her gay friends gets married? Will a doctor in a leadership position in the church be released if he does artificial insemination for a lesbian couple? A devout Mormon, who is a good friend of mine, was wondering aloud if she should allow a little girl to take horseback riding lessons from her because the girl's parents are gay. In short, members -- citizens and lawmakers both -- are confused on the level of support they can doctrinally lend to gay rights.
The night American Fork missed an opportunity to be a torch bearer of anti-discrimination, someone littered many windshields in the parking areas with anti-gay fliers quoting the Old Testament. The apostles of Jesus Christ, it turns out, would have approved such ordinance.
—Danny Crivello, Editor
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The following young men received the rank of Eagle Scout within the Boy Scouts of America organization:
Zachary S Meyer, of American Fork, age 16. Coat and backpack hooks in hallways for students at American Preparatory Academy. Coleman B Decker, of American Fork, age 16. Painting project for the American Fork Police and Fire Station. Braden S Griffiths, of American Fork, age 18. Replaced metal doors with wooden ones for Courage Reins. Benjamin S Bushman, of American Fork, age 15. Made quilts, stuffed footballs, got coloring books and beaded geckos for the Launfal Foundation. Seth M Graff, of American Fork, age 14. Headstone project for American Fork Cemetery. Benjamin J Cummings, of American Fork, age 18. Refurbished picnic tables for LDS Church. Colton M Evans, of American Fork, age 16. Erected a park monument for AF City. Garrett T Johnson, of American Fork, age 14. Cemetery plot project for American Fork Cemetery. Tahj U Daley, of American Fork, age 15. Cemetery project for American Fork Cemetery. Ossian J Hansen, of American Fork, age 15. Cleaned asphalt area for 5 basketball courts then painted lines and put up new chain nets. Brandon T Bowen, of American Fork, age 16. Cars for the Tiny Tim Factory.
To submit your free announcement, click here. Find the listings in the Our Towns section on Sundays and online at afcitizen.com and heraldextra.com.