"Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."
When I was in high school, my best friend dated a girl who was very proud of her family's Greek roots. Since I am deeply invested in the lives of my own ancestors, I admired that--which is probably why I was so disappointed the day she told us derisively about a Turkish guy our age who had come to a Greek festival trying to fit in, and how she and all her friends had laughed at him for thinking a Turk had any business hanging out with Greek people. I realize that there's a long and bloody history of conflicting interests between Turkey and Greece, but the idea that she defined her own ethnicity so much in terms of an inherited enmity was alarming to me.
I still find it alarming, but I've realized it's hardly unique. Teenagers often position themselves culturally by telling the world what one genre of music they dislike (typically rap or country, sometimes Top 40). What they are against matters more to their peers, apparently, than who they are. Party politics work in a similar way: to be a Republican, it's important to dislike and distrust Democrats; to be a Democrat, it's best if you stereotype and suspect Republicans.
Some Mormons may be tempted to think that because of recent political disagreements, you define yourself as more Mormon by being opposed to gay rights activists or even "gays" in general. This is simply not the case.
That's why I'm so pleased that the Church is not acting this way in its relationship with local gay rights activists. Yes, the two groups have serious disagreements over same-sex marriage. The Church came out strongly against Proposition 8 both politically and rhetorically for reasons that have not gone away. And yet--in the wake of Proposition 8, Church leaders quietly began meeting with gay rights activists, trying to understand their concerns and positions on other issues. Although the Church rarely takes overt political positions, they recently issued a statement of support for a nondiscrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City.
Having disagreed with a certain firmness and sharpness, they are now looking for issues on which they can agree and take shared action. This is not simply a public relations move--it's action to ensure that we not fall into the evil habit of seeing ourselves as being, by definition, someone else's opponent or enemy.