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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “17 – Buckley Jeppson”

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17 – Buckley Jeppson and the Sunshine Rule


“We knew it was only a matter of time.

I’m preparing for an interesting fight. I am being summoned by my stake president because my new Bishop brought me to his attention.…

The interesting difference is that I was legally married to Mike in Canada over a year ago. I cannot find a precedent for disciplining someone for getting married.”  (Buckley Jeppson email, October 31, 2005)


“The arrangement Buckley has with his branch president is that Buckley won’t ask for a temple recommend in the branch president won’t inquire into his personal life, but the stake president apparently has other feelings and wants to see him.”  (John-Charles Duffy email, November 3, 2005)


“I meet with my stake president on the 19th and what has been characterized as a casual meeting between just him and me at his house on a Saturday morning.…

Some time ago I made the decision to create as much noise as possible for the cause if the case develops further.…

So, in short, I paid my dues, thought it through carefully, and I’m ready to pay the personal price of a public affair.”  (Buckley Jeppson email to Lavina Fielding Anderson and Hellmut Lotz, November 4, 2005)


“He told me he called me in to discuss my ‘situation.’ I asked what situation and he explained that Bishop Ross Davidson had spoken to him about the conversation I had with the Bishop a couple of weeks ago, during which I had told the bishop I was married. I told him I had not given my bishop permission to discuss our private conversation and it was my understanding that he needed such permission to disclose private pastoral information. Pres. Archibald did not believe that to be the case.…

I told him my understanding from reading the literature, interviews, news articles, and Dallin H. Oaks’s interview on CBS was that the issue was one of celibacy outside marriage. Since I’m legally and lawfully married there didn’t seem to be an issue. He changed his wording and said that it was a central doctrine of the church that marriage had to be between a man and a woman only.…

The lifestyle I have chosen, he said, was having improper sexual relations with another man. I asked how he knew that was the case, as I have never discussed my sex life—or lack thereof—with anyone. I told him that no one had asked me that in over 25 years of marriage to my wife, either. He asked me directly if I was having sex with my husband. I told him that since he probably did not ask that question of any other married couple (because it is out of bounds and has no place in an interview) I considered it a private matter. He backed off that line of questioning.…

Pres. Archibald asked about tithing, so I explained I give my tithing donations to other organizations that help people because I do not approve of how LDS Church tithing money is spent. He asked what I meant and I explained the recent statistics from the UK that 0.2% of tithing money goes to humanitarian efforts, the lowest of any religious denomination in the world.…

He said I needed to straighten out my life (his choice of words was unintentional, I’m sure), repent, and lived according to the teachings of the Church. I asked if that meant I should abandon my husband, moved to Canada to establish residency for a year so I could divorce him, and then move back. He said, ‘You do what you have to do.’ I expressed dismay that the church that swears by the sanctity of the family would even entertain such a thought. I asked what possible gain could be achieved by hassling me when there are so many needy people in the boundaries of our state who could benefit from our care. He said he did not intend to hassle me and was sorry I felt that way.…

He said it was his duty to discuss my behavior with me. I asked if he had ever been involved in a case such as this, where one spouse in a same-sex marriage was LDS. He said no. I asked if such cases were happening in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and other countries with marriage equality. He said yes. I asked for information about them so I could study them. He said it was a confidential matter and that he couldn’t disclose that information. I asked how he knew about the cases and he answered that he ‘had heard.’…

He then explained the options available to me:

I could resign my membership in the matter with and, or he would call the disciplinary counsel to determine my future standing in the church.…

I asked who could gain from destroying my family: him, my ward, the stake? He said that one of his charges is ‘to protect the good name of the church.’ I asked how damaging our lives and causing such guilt feelings squared with the Church’s statements that the family is the most important unit in society. He said it is important for others to see that ‘the lifestyle you have chosen’ cannot be tolerated in the Church. I replied, ‘In other words, you feel you are protecting the members of the Church and the rest of the world from seeing me at peace with myself and God and leading a happy and healthy family life.’ He responded that it is his job.…”  (Buckley Jeppson, “Meeting with stake president Nolan Archibald,” November 12, 2005)


“Things happen so fast and it seems like I’m too busy to get anything done. But here are developments:

2/28:  The bishop and his wife came by to do their home teaching (last day of the month, showing Zion really is the same everywhere).  He asked how I was and I told him. The last four months have been the worst of my life because of his discussion with Archibald. I am fighting for my family’s cohesion 24/7, and it is very painful. I told him I had been approached by press people (there was a message from Jennifer Dobner on my voicemail) and had so far resisted talking to anyone. I was sad that it was coming to such a point. He asked why the press would be involved. I asked him if his family and their eternal bonds were threatened if he wouldn’t use every tool and weapon on earth to save them. He answered that he would, and he understood.…

I asked if his silence for over three months meant that he had discussed the matter with Elder [Earl] Tingey or someone in Salt Lake City. He said he would not discuss conversations he has had with his priesthood leaders (which sounded like a ‘yes’ to me).… Archibald was very angry and frustrated and asked why I was so intent on embarrassing the church. I explained that it was not my choice. He has backed me into a corner and refused to leave me alone.” (Buckley Jeppson email, March 5, 2006)


“Church members and friends under the banner of the Safe Space Coalition are banding together to send thousands of pink flowers to President Archibald and the leadership of the Washington DC Stake in support of the Jeppson – Kessler family and asking for the creation of more safe space for both straight and gay members within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  (Brecken Swartz, “Safe Space” blog, March 6, 2006)


“Jennifer [Dobner] called me again tonight. Archibald called her tonight and put some pressure on her, saying he didn’t believe I had characterized the situation correctly. He wouldn’t give her any details and would not answer any questions. She ran through the details with him and he would not confirm or deny anything. He said he was trying to save the Church and HER embarrassment in case she said something untrue.… So Jennifer will take the story to her boss in the morning.…” (Buckley Jeppson email, March 9, 2006)


“’The Mormon Alliance deplores this threatened disciplinary council in the strongest terms,’ wrote Trustee Lavina Fielding Anderson. ‘It exposes an essential hypocrisy in the Church’s position that everyone is being held to the same standard of chastity outside marriage and fidelity within marriage. Buckley Jeppson and Mike Kessler went to considerable trouble and inconvenience to make their union a legal marriage. For Buckley to be threatened with church discipline for his fidelity in this marriage is a shocking revelation that the LDS church really does have a double standard.’” (Matt “Christ” Christensen, “The Mormon Alliance Decries Actions against Jeppson,” www.affirmation.org, March 10, 2006)


“I spoke with Jennifer [Dobner] twice today. She and Archibald have had a couple of difficult conversations, one this afternoon was especially heated on his part. She had a transcript of a phone conversation I had with him and tried to ask him specific questions to verify I was telling the story factually. He wouldn’t answer, so she finally had to tell him she had a transcript of the conversation. He was very unhappy, to say the least. I believe he is used to bullying people and getting his way, and he is frustrated that he can’t control the scenario. So Jennifer says the story will go on the wire tomorrow.”  (Buckley Jeppson email, March 13, 2006)


“I just hung up from another lengthy conversation with Jennifer [Dobner]. She spent time with Church PR people this afternoon and emerged unscathed. They gave her a primer on church discipline and expressed their concern that she was playing into the hands of the gay agenda. They said they believe it has always been my intention to embarrass the church and cause lots of pain. She didn’t buy it.

It seems that the whole thing hinges on whether or not Archibald intends to call it council. He is repeatedly given me two choices and I have repeatedly turned one of the two down, so one could deduce there is only one choice left. So after calming down and walking her dog, she has decided to call HQ in the morning and tell them that they have two choices: let the story run as is or give her permission to add to the story the fact that Archibald has not officially made a decision. Works for me.

She said the story has been through three editors and the AP attorneys and they are all satisfied that she is being as fair and cautious as can be expected.…

She says her story seldom exceed 500 words. This one exceeds 1000.…”  (Buckley Jeppson email, March 14, 2006)

3285, 3286:

“A gay man who is a lifetime member of the Mormon church could be facing disciplinary action and excommunication after legally marrying his partner in Canada.

Buckley Jeppson, 57, says he’s been informed verbally by a senior church official that his life is incompatible with the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that a disciplinary council will address the matter.

Jeppson, of Washington DC, married Mike Kessler in Toronto on August 27, 2004.

It is believed that if Jeppson is excommunicated, it would be the first time a Mormon in a legal, same-sex marriage was punished by the church, said Olin Thomas, executive director of Affirmation, an advocacy and education group for gay Mormons.

Jeppson said that over the past five months Nolan Archibald, the senior leader—or president—of a group of Mormon congregations in the Washington area, has encouraged Jeppson to resign his church membership, which would avoid disciplinary action.

Jeppson is unwilling to do that.

‘It’s not going to be my choice to deny my heritage and my faith,’ Jeppson said in a telephone interview from his home.

Contacted by The Associated Press, Archibald declined a specific comment, saying he has a sacred duty to keep matters involving church members confidential. ‘I would like to say, it’s a total misrepresentation of the conversation we had,’ Archibald said.…

Copies of letters written by Jeppson to Archibald, which Jeppson gave to the AP, indicate the men have been discussing Jeppson’s choice—resignation or disciplinary action—since November.

Jeppson does not expect to prevail in any disciplinary action, nor does he expect the church to accept same-sex marriage. Given the choice, Jeppson said his preference would be for the church to ignore him.

‘I’m not attending in a dress or wearing a boa or anything,’ Jepson said. ‘I show up in my suit and white shirt and split after sacrament meeting. I just want to participate and I want to worship quietly in a safe place.’”  (Jennifer Dobner, “Mormon in Legal Gay Marriage Faces Cutoff,” New York Times and Washington Post online editions, March 15, 2006) [3287 lists 27 newspapers and television stations that carried Dobner’s AP story by 5:03 p.m. on March 15, 2006]


“This afternoon the story of my threatened excommunication hit the Associated Press wire and seems to be generating quite a bit of interest so far. It seems I am the first LDS person legally married to someone of the same sex to be threatened with a disciplinary council.…”  (Buckley Jeppson email, March 15, 2006)


Jennifer Dobner’s AP article was published in the Deseret News on March 16, 2006, but under a different headline: “Gay man faces LDS excommunication over marriage.”


“’ I don’t believe in being told that my marriage and my life are not legitimate and that I don’t have a legitimate family,’ he [Buckley Jeppson] said.

‘I feel I have been forced to the edge of a cliff, where I stand holding hands with my husband, my daughter and her husband, and our ancestors,’ he continued. ‘Our hands are joined with those gay Mormons who are being shunned throughout the world. I will not leap off the cliff, denying my heritage in my face, to save the church from embarrassment. The church is going to have to push me and live with the consequences of their decision in this life and in the afterlife to come.

He added that he would prefer the church simply ignore him and let him attend and live as he is always done.…

Asked in an interview by John Dehlin of Mormon Stories Podcast whether he is seeking to be a test case or a national activist, Jeppson replied, ‘At the beginning, and still if they called it all off, I would be delighted. I would be perfectly happy. That’s my goal. But also in the back of my mind, now that it has gone this far against my will, I’m of the mind that is somebody else can see it and learn from it, maybe becoming more enlightened about the issues, about the ramifications of what they are saying about Canadian civil law and their respect for it and if they think about the real natures of families and how they put them together … if I get people to think about that along the way then that’s a bonus. But then, I’d be perfectly happy if they just let it go away.’” (JoSelle Vanderhooft, “LDS. Gay. Legally Married. Excommunicated?” Q Salt Lake, April 1, 2006, p. 14)


“Buckley and Michael wanted to be married for several years. They did not feel that Vermont’s Civil Union was sufficient, in that it did not grant full marriage equality to same-sex couples. They planned to travel to Massachusetts as soon as the courts demanded marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples, but Gov. Mitt Romney (ironically also a Mormon) used his executive power to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples living outside the state.…

Buckley’s commitment to his church is life-long.  He was raised a Mormon, served in the church throughout his youth, served a mission in South America, and was married in the Los Angeles Temple.…

After his separation from his wife of over 25 years, Buckley moved to Washington, D.C.…

WHAT HAS CHANGED?  In the late summer of 2005, two branches in Washington, DC, were combined to form the Washington DC 3rd Ward, and a new bishop, Ross Davidson, was called to lead the congregation.  After a few weeks, the new bishop called Buckley into his office after services for a discussion.  He expressed his disapproval of the ‘lifestyle’ Buckley had ‘chosen.’  He said it was his duty to report him to the stake president, Nolan Archibald.…

WHY IS THIS CASE IMPORTANT?  To our knowledge, this is the first time the Mormon spouse of a legally married gay couple is faced with excommunication.  The implications for the LDS Church and for other gay couples are huge.…

WHY NOT JUST RESIGN FROM THE CHURCH?  In his March 3 letter to President Archibald, Buckley wrote: ‘You asked me this evening why I wanted to be a member of a church that was so disapproving of my relationship.  That question stung me hard because it so demonstrated your lack of understanding of the strength of my faith.  I explained that being a member of the Church is not like belonging to a club. It is my history, my family heritage, my testimony, and the faith to which I have devoted the last 58 years of my life.  I have prayed, fasted, and studied for decades, just as you have, and feel that my petitions to my Heavenly Father about my life and its direction are answered regularly.… That’s how seriously I take my membership and my covenants.

WHAT DOES BUCKLEY WANT?  He says, ‘I just want to be true to my faith, worship quietly and peacefully in a place that is safe.  I don’t ask the Church to change its doctrines or practices.  I just want us to be left alone again.’…” (“LDS Safe Space Coalition Takes Up Jeppson and Kessler’s Case,” Q Salt Lake, April 1, 2006, p. 15)


“Buckley Jeppson married Mike Kessler on Aug. 27, 2004, in Toronto and thought maybe he could have it all – his Mormon faith and his longtime love. Jeppson still attended the Washington, D.C., Mormon ward he had called home since 1997, and several straight LDS couples even came to their wedding reception.

That optimism survived until early this year, when Jeppson’s LDS stake president suggested his marriage was incompatible with Mormon teachings and urged him to resign his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or face excommunication.…

‘I wasn’t going to say to my family that all my years of service in the church meant nothing, that I no longer believed it,’ Jeppson said. ‘I was not making a big statement, not marching or protesting or anything. I just wanted to worship with my tribe every week.’…

Jeppson, too, has sensed some baby steps in the church’s handling of homosexuality.

Within a month after newspapers reported the threat to his membership, Jeppson’s LDS bishop was called on a mission to Mexico and his stake president ‘got quiet.’

Since then, Jeppson has continued to do what he’s always done – sit quietly on the back pew in his LDS inner city ward week after week and slip out without causing a ruckus.

‘The irony is,’ Jeppson said Saturday, ‘I had to go public to be able to worship in peace.’” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Gay Mormon describes life on brink of excommunication,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 13, 2006)


“My hysterically secular home teacher, whom I love dearly, broke down on his visit a week or so ago and told me that his wife (the Relief Society president) was in a meeting with our bishop last month. The bishop told her that the stake president advised him that word had come from Salt Lake City saying to watch me and to watch for opportunities to discipline me. The bishop is a young (30 years old) kindhearted soul and when he told the Relief Society president he broke down and cried.

Upon hearing all this, I set up an appointment with the bishop and spoke with him last Sunday evening. Sure enough, he said I was ‘on a list’ sent from Salt Lake. The stake president (who the home teacher described as a Nazi) asked the bishop what he was going to do about it. The Bishop said he answered, ‘I will make sure he feels welcome as a part of the ward family, and if that doesn’t meet your needs you’ll have to find a new bishop.’ Whoa!

I’m glad to be in such a good ward with people circling the wagons to protect me, but I was sad to hear that Salt Lake didn’t have anything better to do with their time than to make lists of people who should be singled out for special offensive scrutiny. Tithing dollars at work.

I mentioned it here because he let on that the main reason that this has happened is that they have monitored websites and blogs and didn’t like my stance on marriage equality. That means any one of you who is still remotely active could be next. How’s that for a sobering thought?” (Buckley Jeppson to Randy Butterfield, December 2, 2008)


The second tale concerned Buckley Jeppson.  Shortly after I joined the high council in the spring of 2006, a Washington Post syndicated article, written by Jennifer, reported that Nolan Archibald, who was then president of the Washington, DC Stake, was going to hold a disciplinary council on Buckley, who had traveled to Canada to be legally married to his gay partner.  After the Post article, however, the story went away.  I never heard a word about it during the time I was on the high council, which was another five or so years.

The story-behind-the-story was that Buckley approached Jennifer with the story, along with recordings of all the phone conversations he had had with Nolan.  When Jennifer called Nolan to tell him she was reporting the story, he got furious and threatening.  Soon thereafter, she received a phone call from Kim Farrah of LDS Public Affairs, asking that she attend a meeting with herself and Mike Otterson.  She agreed to do so.

Jennifer told me that she intentionally wore pants and a low-cut blouse to the meeting in order to send the strong message that she was playing by her rules and not theirs.  (She is Episcopalian.)  As soon as she slid the transcripts of the phone conversations to Mike Otterson, the tone of the conversation changed.  Otterson gave her a statement that she could print, she ran her story, and the whole matter went away.  The Sunshine Rule prevailed.

(Jennifer Dobner interview, August 10, 2014)

Prince: On a personal note, Nolan Archibald called me to the high council early in 2006.  I was at a scientific meeting in Hawaii and was reading the Washington Post online and saw the Associated Press article about a member of the Washington, DC Stake.  My immediate response was, “Oh shit!  The first thing they are going to ask me to do is go out and hang Buckley.”  I fully expected to be summoned to a church court, but it never happened.

Jeppson: It was very odd.  It actually began in October 2005.  I had had no problems.  I had worked in the bishopric of the ward downtown for years under Sheldon Fisher when he was bishop, when it was a district, before it was part of the stake.  Then, I was back working in the Kensington Ward, again in the bishopric.  So I had served and worked pretty hard.

Then, when things started to come to grips with this was when my wife and I split.  I was attending the ward downtown, in Mt. Pleasant.  Everything was fine until Ross Davidson was called to be bishop.  He was under a lot of pressure.  I believe he worked for the Department of Agriculture and was being hassled by Congress.  There were a bunch of outside things, but he went on a crusade where he was bound and determined to root me out of this.  He did not have universal support from other members, because I had been in the ward for years, and Mike and I had been attending since we got to know each other.  It was really kind of difficult.

As soon as they started allowing [gay] marriage, the first place was Massachusetts.  But Mitt Romney, who was governor, found that obscure law that said, “We aren’t going to perform marriages that will not be valid in the jurisdictions where the people live.”  It was an old law from the 1910s to stop interracial marriage from becoming an issue.  So that stopped non-residents from getting married in Massachusetts anymore.

So the closest place at that time was Canada.  The only provinces that had marriage were British Columbia and Ontario, so we went to Ontario and got married in 2004.  That was held up—because I had been married, they had to have a legal determination in Canada that the divorce decree in the United States would hold up in Canada.  It it’s legal there, then you can go ahead and apply and get your license.  So we had to wait for that clearance, which has to be done by an attorney in Canada.  You have to go through a whole lot to make it work.

As soon as it did, we immediately flew up.  Mike’s parents flew up from Florida, and we had some other friends from the area, and we got married in August of 2004.

Then, it was two years later that Bishop Davidson started hassling me.  It was not a very kind thing.  It really turned into he and his wife showing up and badgering me.  He had no answers; he just wanted to give me a bad time.  It was really odd, because it was so different from other experiences that I’d had before.  We tried to lay under the radar so that it wasn’t going to be a big deal.  I was not interested in creating a drama.  By that point I had been out since 1997, but I was not trying to create any problems.

He went to Nolan Archibald, who, I guess, didn’t act on it, didn’t do anything about it.  He just sat on it; I guess he didn’t want to get involved.

Prince: Did you have the feeling that the bishop had initiated the whole thing, and not Nolan?

Jeppson: Yes.  And the bishop was clear that he was going to initiate it.  He kept warning me and warning me, and then he told me that he had spoken with Nolan, and that nothing had happened for a month or two.  Then he said he was going to go back to him again.  He kept asking me if I had heard from him, and I said, “No.”  In fact, he asked me to call him and I said, “I don’t see any reason to do that.  I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.”

Finally, Nolan Archibald did call me and I went out to his house.  We had a sort of polite, information-gathering kind of interview.  He expressed his gratitude for the work I had done in the stake during some really tough times in the ward.  The bishop had gotten injured in a car accident and I was first counselor, so for several months I was basically the acting bishop.  He expressed his gratitude for that and how well everything had gone.  He was very good.

Then he started saying, “What are you going to do?”  I said, “I’m going to keep on keeping on, doing the best I can.”  He said he was going to think about it, and then he would talk to me at another time.

We had two or three meetings where we spoke.  He was becoming agitated.  It was clear he was being pushed a bit by the bishop.  He said, “Bishop Davidson is pushing me a bit.  It’s his flock, and it’s my obligation to keep things in Zion straight.”  At one point he told me he thought it would be a really good idea if I would just resign my membership and quietly go away and not cause any problems.  I told him I would think about it.

The next time we got together I said I had thought about it and the answer was no.  It has always been my view that if they want to take action, they need to take responsibility for it, too.  I felt like I was at the edge of a cliff and I was asked to jump, or else be pushed.  I didn’t really find that to be a tenable choice—I was going to have to be pushed.  So he said he would probably be convening a disciplinary council.

He didn’t for a while, and Bishop Davidson kept calling me.  “Has he called you?”  “No.”

Eventually we met.  I said, “My daughter is pregnant right now, and due soon.  I would like her to be able to come out from Utah to attend and to talk about her experience growing up.”  I asked if he could wait for just a few weeks until she was able to travel.  He said, “No, I’m not going to wait.”  That, for me, was really the last straw.  After being pushed for months, from October through to April, and then he couldn’t wait for three weeks or something.

In the meantime, I had never heard of anyone in the Church who was legally married elsewhere who had then been subjected to some sort of disciplinary council.  There was no precedent for it at that time that I knew of.  So I thought, “Who would know about that?”  The first person I thought of was Lavina [Fielding Anderson] because of her organization of tracking ecclesiastical abuse [The Mormon Alliance].  I knew Lavina and had worked with her in publishing in Utah, so I contacted her and said, “Do you know of any other case?”  She said, “Well, I don’t, but let me check around a bit.”  She checked around a bit and came back and said, “I don’t think so.  I hope it’s OK, but I gave your name to a friend of mine who is a reporter for AP, and she’ll probably contact you.”

Prince: Jennifer Dobner?

Jeppson: Yes.  So Jennifer contacted me and I explained the situation.  She warned me that it could be not pretty.  I said, “Well, what have I got to lose at this point?”  I gave her the whole chronology.  She called Bishop Davidson a couple of times, but he didn’t answer or wasn’t there.  She was trying to get the sources and validate the story.  One time she spoke with his wife, who had been his sort of home teaching companion and had come to most of the meetings at my place.  She said, “I’m trying to find out about this, if this and this are true.”  Bishop Davidson’s wife said the one thing reporters love to hear, which was, “Well, I probably shouldn’t say anything, but—.”  And then she went on for an hour, giving everything she knew.  Jennifer then had the validation of the story and sources and dates from the bishop’s wife.

Then she went to Nolan about it.  He is a little more savvy than that.  He was really quite angry with her.  He made the mistake that you never make with a female reporter, which is throwing his weight around saying, “I don’t know who you think you are, but I can have your job!”  That, of course, made her unhappy.  So suddenly we had people and their egos involved in all directions, which was not at all what I wanted.  All I actually wanted out of it was the leverage of, “This hasn’t happened.  You don’t want this to happen.  This is newsworthy because it has never happened before, and do you want to be the one to get in the middle of this?  I think not, so why don’t we just drop it and everybody go their quiet ways back to church.”  I had been treated always very nicely and very well at church.  I never had any problems with people and I didn’t create any problems, and I just wanted it to stay that way.

He was pretty angry, but that was kind of where it went.  After that [the AP article] appeared, that was the end of it.  He never spoke to me again about it.  It never came up again.  Once the article came out, that was it.  There was nothing else.

Prince: The Sunshine Rule.

Jeppson: Yes.  It just sort of quit.  Davidson was released, but I don’t think I had anything to do with it, and sent on to be a mission president in someplace in the desert in Mexico.  He was only in maybe six or eight months as a bishop.  He was under investigation by a congressional panel at the time.  I remember reading a transcript and the panel asked his boss, “Why on earth did you hire somebody so incompetent?”  It was not something you wanted in the Congressional Record.  So he was released, and he and his wife went away, and then it ended.  That was it.

Prince: Was Rich McKeown the next bishop?

Jeppson: Yes.  He was more politically savvy, and he was a very kind person.  We immediately met, and things just sort of stayed where they were.  He said that as far as he was concerned, it was in the hands of the stake president.  That’s where it’s been the entire time.  It never appeared after that.  I was never called in, I was never talked to.  I have no doubt that my membership records were flagged way back when, but that was pretty much it.

Prince: Have you maintained your church membership since then?

Jeppson: Yes.  I’m still a high priest.  When we moved here in 2008, which was a couple of years later, I was kind of concerned, and so I sent a note to the mailing list of the Sunstone people in the area saying, “Here is where I am moving.  Does anybody know about the ward and how welcome we will be there?”  I immediately heard back from the Relief Society president who said, “This will be great!  We’d love to have you.”  The next one came from the bishop.  He was a wonderful bishop, thirty years old, an inner-city ward in Portland.  He was very welcoming and very kind.  Jane Ann Peterson is an attorney here in a different ward in the same stake.  She said, “If they won’t take you, we will.”  It was a really great experience in making that switch to here.  People were there on our doorstep.  They involved us very much in the ward.  They made sure we were called and asked to help out at church dinners.  I was still doing contracting with government agencies from afar, remotely, but my husband was unemployed when we first got here.  He had been working at the World Bank.  The bishop showed up with his clipboard and filled out a recommend for him to able to go in and get job help at the job center here.  Everybody was extremely nice.  It was an inner-city ward; when you get out in the suburbs, it’s different.

But it never happened after that.  That was it.  That was the end of the official action.

Prince: It’s interesting how this whole thing was the best and the worst of the Church.

Jeppson: Yes.

Prince: Once you got out there, you saw what it should be.

Jeppson: Yes, and what it had been before one bishop came in.  The following bishop there privately told me, “I wish this would just go away.  Everybody knows you, and we don’t want this to be a big thing.”  I think that was people’s attitude.

Prince: Did you ever get any indication that Nolan had gone up the chain-of-command for guidance?

Jeppson: I did, and I’m trying to think why I did that.  He did check with the area authority.  I don’t remember his name, but he told me he had spoken with him.

Prince: Did he say what the counsel had been?

Jeppson: He just said he had spoken with him.  That’s all.

Prince: That’s a really compelling story, and I think it’s a crucial piece of the overall puzzle.  You, unwittingly, became a test case.

Jeppson: Yes.  It was right after that that Elder Oaks came up with his “interview,” and in that they specifically talked about someone who had been married in Canada.  There were things in there that were right out of my interviews with Nolan Archibald.  There were little snippets that were almost phrases from it.  I assumed those had been happening elsewhere, and therefore it was boiling to the surface, but that was a matter of months after this.  It was in the form of a news conference, a Q&A sort of thing, a really odd format, I thought.

Prince: And it was not really a conference.  The whole thing was staged.

Jeppson: Yes, it was clear it was staged.  Like so many things, they just keep stepping on their own feet, making offensive statements that they don’t realize are offensive.  “My daughter is handicapped too, and she’ll never be able to go to the temple.  It’s what she has to bear.”…

It was clearly going to be a test case, which was what Jennifer saw and what Lavina saw.  That’s what so many people saw.  They said, “This is it.” Carol Lynn Pearson called me up and said, “This is the pioneer thing.  You are one of the pioneers now.”  I was glad that it did not resolve ultimately.  There was only one resolution, which was to throw me out.  But that would have been very painful because of some of the people I knew who were on the high council.

Prince: Like me.

Jeppson: Yes, and like Kent Mikkelson.  Kent was a wonderful friend of mine in my ward.  There were others that I knew.  I knew probably half of the members of the high council.  So it was not going to be pretty.  There was nothing good that could have come out of that.  That was one of the reasons that I decided to call his bluff.  I just thought, “He does not want this, I don’t want this, nobody wants this.  Let’s not do this.”

Prince: Yes, and my prayers were answered when I never got the call.

Jeppson: So I was pretty glad that it was resolved as best it could by simply not resolving.  It’s like the court leaving something untouched—it just leaves it open.  It’s kicked to somebody else another time.  Over time, I think it has evolved a little bit, and will continue to.  Because the discipline thing is such a local kind of thing, it means that there are a lot of people I know who serve.  They go to church all the time with their spouses, they serve, they do things to whatever extent their bishop decides they can.  In time, I think, it has evolved to a point where if they aren’t hassling the ward, if they aren’t creating drama in the ward, just leave them alone.  That’s where it seems to be.

(Buckley Jeppson, October 5, 2015)