Mormon News, March 23–27
In the News
FORMER BYU STUDENT SETTLES LAWSUIT
In the wake of Utah’s new anti-discrimination legislation, the story of one former BYU student evicted after his roommates learned he was gay drew significant attention this week. Andrew White settled with the Village at South Campus apartments after he filed a lawsuit claiming the landlord violated tenant law. White alleged that after his roommates learned of his sexual orientation, they physically assaulted him and dragged him from his bedroom. The Village initially relocated White to a different apartment, but then later evicted him after they learned he returned to his first apartment. How future conflicts at BYU will play out remains uncertain; according to the recent law passed in Utah, the LDS Church is free to refuse housing to LGBT individuals, however, a privately owned apartment is not. The unique arrangement BYU typically has with apartment owners requires that tenants adhere to BYU’s honor code, which could complicate the current law.
HARRY REID WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION
Harry Reid, the Mormon senator from Nevada and current Minority Leader, announced Friday he will not seek re-election. The seventy-five-year-old Reid, a Democrat, has remained prominent for both his role as a leader of the Senate and for his status as a Latter-day Saint Democrat in a religion that is overwhelmingly Republican. Reid was forced to cancel a fireside he had agreed to speak at after some Mormons attacked him online, with one saying that if he sees Harry Reid in the temple, he would “punch him.” Upon Reid’s announcement, many media outlets noted that Reid’s leadership in the Senate helped secure Democrat goals, while others criticized the Minority Leader for caving too often to Republicans.
MORMON DADS BECOME THE PIANO GUYS
Four Utah Mormon men played in Carnegie Hall earlier this month, a dream none of them imagined they might achieve when they ran a St. George piano store just a few years ago. The face of the Piano Guys is their cellist Steven Nelson and their pianist Jon Schmidt. Behind the scenes are producer Al Van Der Beek and videographer Paul Anderson. They are known for creative mashups of classical and modern hits, coupled with soaring visuals that look like high-budget Hollywood fare but are usually inexpensive productions created by the four men themselves. Their initial success on YouTube has led to a unique record contract with Sony. Their version of “Let it Go,” the popular song from Disney’s Frozen has garnered over 34 million hits on YouTube.
On the Blogs
Tracy McKay-Lamb, writing at By Common Consent, reflected on the problematic Mormon view that being in a constant state of happiness is considered a normal or even morally superior way of being. She reflected on Mormon funerals in particular as a cultural moment when grief and pain are avoided and masked in favor of talks about the “plan of happiness.” While McKay suggested that happiness is clearly preferable, “Grief is real. Sadness is real. Depression, anger, sorrow, frustration and weariness are all real. We are not moral failures if we feel these things. We needn’t plaster over our feelings with peel-off wall quotes and pretend everything is awesome.”
—News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor