Commentary: An open letter to Mitt Romney

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney speaks in Orem after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Tuesday June 26, 2018. Ann Romney at right.

An Open Letter to Mitt Romney

I was delighted to read the essay you recently wrote and posted on your campaign web site in which you addressed the tragic and divisive events that occurred one year ago in Charlottesville, Va. Prominent voices like your’s help illuminate the issue and clarify how we should act and react toward racism and bigotry in this country.

As we enter the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the fall campaign season, as the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in Utah, you have a loud and influential voice not just in Utah, but around the nation.

Utah is dealing with a major crisis. LGBTQ members of your church are facing the grueling effects of a continuing suicide epidemic that has spiraled out of control.

This epidemic and its spread have happened since the leaking of the cruel November Policy three years ago by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church). It deems same-sex couples apostate and forbids their children from enjoying full participation in the church. Recently, the church has chosen to double down on this hateful policy, and announced that it is now included in the church’s Sunday school curriculum and in Preach My Gospel, the manual for all missionaries.

The time has never been more urgent for prominent voices within the church to speak up against this policy that is causing so much suffering and so many teen suicides.

When your father, George Romney, was the governor of Michigan, he stunned the Republican Party and the Mormon Church because he strongly supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He worked tirelessly for its passage and marched shoulder to shoulder with Civil Rights activists in Michigan.

Your father’s actions took tremendous political and personal courage over 50 years ago.

Mormon church leaders immediately tried in vain to reign him in. Prominent Apostle Delbert L. Shapley sent him one of the most racist communications ever uncovered from that period. His infamous letter to your dad dated Jan. 23, 1964, said, “I just don’t think we can get around the Lord’s position in relation to the Negro without punishment for our acts; going contrary to that which He has revealed. The Lord will not permit His purposes to be frustrated by man.”

Your father stood up to the threats and intimidation from his church, which backfired. According to news reports, after he received the Shapley letter your dad worked even harder for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In your essay you eloquently wrote about your father’s fight for equality, what an impact his courageous actions had on you and how proud you are of that legacy.

How will your sons and your grandchildren remember you and your legacy? Will it be just that of a successful businessman, governor and soon to be United States senator? Or, in the future, will they write about you and how you stood up to your church and to many in the Republican Party and fought for equality all LGBTQ Mormons?

Why not write another essay and ask the leadership of the Mormon church to reverse their hate filled November Policy and welcome LGBTQ Mormons and their families back into the church?

Make your dad proud and be the beacon of light within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Use your national platform, just like your dad used his, to advocate for those who are hurting. As the most prominent member of your church in the nation, and the next U.S. senator from Utah, you are in a unique position to influence so many others to support full equality for all LGBTQ Americans.

History sides with those who stand on correct principles and are not afraid to speak up against injustice. This fall, follow in the footsteps of your dad, a heroic man who dared to speak up against his party and against his faith, by doing what was right and speaking out against injustice and hate, just as you did in your essay. It is time to publicly oppose the exclusion policy of the church.

It is time to save lives.

Fred Karger

Fred Karger is an LGBTQ activist and discovered the Mormon church’s active role in California’s Proposition 8. He is president of Rights Equal Rights and director of MormonTips.com