Please Don’t Hate (H8) Me Because I’m Mormon

Since the passage of Proposition 8 in California, there have been several protests aimed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These protests are of course understandable. California Latter-day Saints did, after all, play a formidable role in donations and phone calling in support of the measure. This participation was formally encouraged by the general leaders of the Church in Salt Lake City. Considering how big of a deal this is for so many same-sex couples and others in support of same-sex marriage, these protests are inevitable and I welcome this exercise of free speech.

What I disagree with, however, is the “stop the hate (H8)” rhetoric. As if everyone in favor of Prop 8 is hateful and bigoted. Especially Mormons. This message is coming off to be awfully disingenuous and overly dramatic, and also sidesteps the major issues that need to be debated. Just because someone is not in favor of gay marriage does not mean they are hateful. Nor does it mean they are bigoted. They simply disagree with you, in terms of what should count for marriage.

I recognize that there certainly are hateful people. I have seen hate on both sides. Still, I think that most supporters and opponents of Prop 8 do not hate each other nor are they bigoted. For this reason, I hope that we can extend the same-sex marriage debate to a higher plane.

I fully recognize that there have been a lot of stupid arguments and accusations made on both sides of the debate. You’re not going to hear me talk about what social science research has shown (a hopeless argument on both sides, if you ask me, and one that ought to be irrelevant to civil rights concerns). I hope that both sides can recognize, though, that hate does not justify hate. If the message of same-sex marriage advocates really is “what the world needs now is love sweet love,” then I would hope that they would stop making demons out of those who disagree with them. In fact, Barack Obama (who I voted for, as well as a whole lot of Prop 8 supporters) is a great example in this regard — Obama would advocate for us speaking about the issues and not resorting to name calling.

In addition to avoiding demonizing, I would hope that people on both sides will drop their straw man fallacies. I want to focus in this post on a few straw man arguments that are continually made by Prop 8 protesters. I welcome respectful dialogue about these issues — and I will exercise my right to discriminate against straw man arguments and ad hominen attacks (from both sides).

My major contention is that many Prop 8 protesters want to have an “equality for all” rhetoric but continue to eat a marriage philosophy that inherently discriminates.

Let’s be clear that almost everyone is in favor of discrimination in terms of marriage. I haven’t ran into a lot of people who will admit being in favor of siblings marrying, for example. Or even cousins marrying. Or groups of three or more. (I’ll simply set adult-minor relationships aside.)

Here are my questions to opponents of Prop 8: Is it conceivable that two siblings could love each other and want to marry? Is it conceivable that their love is just as genuine as the love between two gays or lesbians? If so, then does it mean that an opposition to their being legally married is hateful and bigoted?

You might say, of course, that this example is too extreme — how many siblings want to marry each other? But prevalence is irrelevant in regards to civil rights arguments (which Prop 8 opponents are making). Moreover, I could make the same argument for polygamous relationships, which are quite prevalent.

You might argue that such relationships are unnatural or a crime, or even question that such love could genuinely exist. Here, though, you would be guilty of the same kind of judgments that have been made throughout the years towards lesbian and gay relationships. Would this make you a bigot? Bigotry does not depend on the existence of clearly identified and politically dexterous groups of people.

You might argue that a sibling-sibling marriage is clearly not good for society — you could perhaps make an argument concerning birth defects. Again, these arguments are irrelevant to civil rights concerns. Moreover, these arguments do not pertain to same-sex sibling partners or to those who are unable or unwilling to have biological children (an argument that gays and lesbians ought to be sensitive to).

Or, perhaps, you might argue that we ought not discriminate against two siblings who want to marry. If this is the case, then this betrays the fact that there is much more behind the Prop 8 debate then discrimination towards same-sex relationships. Rather, it is a question of whether there ought to be discrimination at all in terms of marriage. If Prop 8 protesters think there should not be any discrimination whatsoever, then they are being disingenuous about their desire to radically change the meaning of marriage — to the point that it becomes nothing more than a social contract between two or more adults who want to live with each other for any reason.

The merits of this radical change, I would argue, are certainly worthy of debate. Perhaps our nation will decide to go down this path. But it’s not a civil rights debate. Rather, it is a debate about the fundamental meaning of marriage — and its consequences certainly will impact everyone. I see these potential consequences, not hate or bigotry, as a reason for why many are in support of Prop 8. They believe that this fundamental change of marriage will destroy the family as we know it. It might not harm current families, but it certainly will change the way many of our children and their children view what marriage is. Prop 8 opponents might argue that these issues will have to be taken one step at a time. This may be true, but it is naive to think that voters are not going to be thinking down the road.

If opponents of Prop 8 think that the legalization of same-sex marriage will not change marriage in this way, then that is an argument I welcome them to engage me with. And not only me and other Mormons — but other groups of people like many African-Americans and Hispanics (who, unlike Mormons, it is not politically correct to make scapegoats out of).

Hopefully we can have this debate without demonizing each other.

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132 Responses

  1. thank you so much for this post. i’m going to link it to my page.

  2. If the message of same-sex marriage advocates really is “what the world needs now is love sweet love,” then I would hope that they would stop making demons out of those who disagree with them.

    So, when Christians point to their scriptures and tell gays that they are sinners and “fools, unclean, lustful, dishonor themselves, vile, unnatural, unseemly, reprobate, unrighteous, wicked, covetous, malicious, envious, murderous, deceitful, malign, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding or natural affection, implacable and unmerciful” (and that’s just from chapter 1 of Romans alone), they’re going to sit back and smile and think they’re not being demonized?

  3. Mark N.,

    I disagree with the Christians who do these things. I’ve spoken up about this several times. For this post, I am simply limiting my attention to what it is going on right now by Prop 8 protesters. Like I said, hate does not justify hate. And demonizing does not justify demonizing.

  4. Mark N
    If you don’t like what is in chapter 1 of Romans; I would take it up with God and not the Mormons. :)

  5. Although I cannot equate how the LDS Church and her sister religions are treating homosexuals as truly loving, I cannot equate such as hatred or bigotry.

    I suppose the term I would use is prejudiced, minimal love.

    Concerning what is justly eligible for discrimination, I think it’s important that we look at homosexuality vs genetic sexual attraction and homosexuality vs polygamy — and homosexuality vs any sort of possible relationship that may request the title of marriage.

    Homosexuality vs Genetic Sexual Attraction:

    I recently watched a documentary on BBC America about Genetic Sexual Attraction, and it really got me thinking about how I feel about it. In my thinking, I visited a few website forums where those who are in love with their bio-family members discuss their genetic sexual attractions.

    Frankly, what was being said was very similar to what is being said about homosexuality.

    I, indeed, sympathized with them completely as they struggled to understand their attractions (I was once equally as confused as I was trying to deal with my homosexual attractions).

    However, I could not sympathize with them in as much as even though they have fallen in love with a close genetic-relation, they have the same potential to fall in love with someone who is not so closely genetically related to them.

    That is, their ability to fall in love is not exclusive to genetics.

    Marriage that discriminates against close genetic relations does not hinder the potential of one who has fallen deeply in love with a close genetic relation to pursue … well, basic humanity* (again, because falling in love with someone who is not so closely related is possible for them in the same depth – as it is completely possible to fall out of love and get over their loved genetic relation).

    For homosexuals, however, the love is exclusive to the same sex. I cannot fall as deeply in love with a woman as I can with a man. I can fall out of love with a man with whom I fell deeply in love, but all of my other options after getting over that man are other men.

    Marriage that discriminates against homosexuality, indeed, hinders the potential of the homosexual to pursue basic humanity.

    Homosexuality vs Polygamy

    I think the most important difference between polygamy and homosexuality is that polygamy already holds a lot of what homosexuals are fighting for. That is to say, we as a society use the terms “marriage,” “husband,” and “wife” when speaking of polygamists. Hell, the term, polygamy is used to mean multiple “marriages.”

    Yet society at large still refers to homosexual spouses as “partners” instead of “husbands” and “wives.”

    Frankly, it’s dehumanizing.

    And, really, that’s what we homosexuals are fighting for — not to be seen as anything but human.

    *When I refer to basic humanity, I refer to being seen, treated, and revered as equally as any human (which humanity includes the innate human instinct to monogamously espouse a lifelong partner with whom to raise a family).

    Discriminating against genetic sexual attraction does not hinder this basic humanity. Discriminating against polygamy does not hinder this basic humanity (it is still possible to legally marry one of your desired spouses, fulfilling the basics of humanity). Discriminating against homosexuality DOES hinder this basic humanity.

    In my mind, this is why such discrimination is unjust an inhumane.

  6. “If you don’t like what is in chapter 1 of Romans; I would take it up with God and not the Mormons. :)”

    Well, it was Paul who said such things, not God. So, I, personally, will take it up with him. :) After all, Paul is not God, and Paul, himself, professed that men see through the glass of life unclearly and prophecy with partial understanding.

    (Also, such scriptures can be possibly translated in the context of heterosexuals having sex with those of the same sex … I’m not saying such is necessarily the case … just something to think about.)

  7. Andrew,

    “I cannot fall as deeply in love with a woman as I can with a man.”

    Love does not equal sex but putting that aside how am I supposed to respond to a brother-sister pair that insist that it would be impossible for them to love anyone else as much as they love their sibling? That is basically what you’re saying, that you couldn’t possibly love a woman as much as you love a man. Yet you’re asking us to just take your word for it and ignore theirs? That doesn’t strike me as very fair or consistent.

    “which humanity includes the innate human instinct to monogamously espouse a lifelong partner with whom to raise a family”

    Not necessarily. A strong argument could be made that males have an innate desire to mate with multiple partners and thereby increase their mark on the gene pool. In essence your argument centered on humanity could be used to force polygamy as we are forcing a naturally promiscuous male to be monogamous.

    I don’t see how you can open the door to SSM and then keep it shut to all other relationships (other than age based) without being unfair, inconsistent, and arbitrary.

  8. Dennis,

    Posts like this are the reason I frequent this site. This was a difficult subject which you navigated with care. You contributed something substantial to the dialog, and you gave me much to think about.

  9. I don’t understand your basic argument. You’re saying the only two choices are: A: marriage = 1 man plus 1 women living as a married couple (no sibs, no underage people who can’t form contracts) or B: We get to marry our box turtles. I sense a difficulty here.

    Gay people exist. They want to marry people of the same sex and have exactly the same sometimes wonderful, sometimes sucky, sometimes involving divorce lawyers marriage that straights get. Your B does not follow from your A. Gays in California wanted to expand the definition of Marriage to include two people of the same sex. That’s it. That’s it, that’s it, that’s it. They wished to marry the person they love. Not so different that heterosexuals. That’s all.

  10. djinn,

    “Gays in California wanted to expand the definition of Marriage to include two people of the same sex. That’s it. That’s it, that’s it, that’s it.”

    And the FLDS and Muslims want Marriage to include multiple partners. And sibling couples want to marry each other.

    “Gay people exist.”

    So do these other groups that challenge marriage norms. You can’t just wish them away because they make your argument more difficult. The only difference between them and homosexuals is they don’t have as large of a voice so we aren’t as likely to be called hateful bigots for telling them no.

  11. So, I don’t see siblings marrying each other in other countries that have allowed gay marriage, nor have they suddenly adopted polygamy, unlike some religion I could mention that dropped it only when the US Gov’t confiscated essentially all of its property.

  12. djinn,

    “So, I don’t see siblings marrying each other in other countries that have allowed gay marriage, nor have they suddenly adopted polygamy,”

    So basically we’re ok telling people that they cannot marry the person/people they love as long as they are politically impotent? But once they gain political power it’s suddenly bigotry to tell them no?

  13. Aluwid:

    “Love does not equal sex ”

    In this statement is really, in my eyes, where those who oppose gay marriage root their stance — “homosexuality is all about or primarily about erotic attraction.”

    As far as my comparison to genetic sexual attraction, I am merely going off what I have heard and read from those who are attracted to their close genetic relatives. Those in love will, indeed, believe it impossible to be able to love someone else equally (just as most in love would say). However, most of those who have not pursued their genetically attracted love were able to get over it and fall in love with someone else and live just as happily a life and marriage as otherwise. (Such is NOT the case with the majority of homosexuals who marry heterosexually.)

    Concerning the nature of humanity (polygamous vs monogamous): If man were naturally polygamous, then why are most human relationships monogamous? Sure, there may be that innate male drive to spread his seed as much as possible… but why is he, despite, drawn to settling down with just one mate for life?

    “I don’t see how you can open the door to SSM and then keep it shut to all other relationships (other than age based) without being unfair, inconsistent, and arbitrary.”

    I never said I closed the door to other relationships — I just said that closing the door to those other relationships isn’t necessarily unjust or inhumane.

    It may be a little cruel to tell Romeo he can’t marry Juliet because they are cousins, despite their deep love for each other. However, despite what Romeo & Juliet may feel at the time, they can get over each other; Romeo can find another Juliet and Juliet another Romeo. It would be tough, heart-wrenching, and filled with painful nights, I’ve no doubt, but it’s still nevertheless possible.

    However, it is completely cruel and inhumane to tell Romeo his ‘Juliet’ must be a Mercutio. Sure, Romeo loves Mercutio dearly… but there is no possibility of Mercutio filling the void Juliet filled.

    (That’s not to say I haven’t decided one way or the other yet on allowing siblings to marry, to be honest.)

    It is perhaps a little cruel to say, “You may marry one of your wives legally, but the others must remain as mistresses in the eyes of the law.”

    It is completely cruel and inhumane to say, “Any relationship you form with someone you love will be seen as inferior in the eyes of the law.”

    (As far as polygamy goes, I would probably support efforts to allow it — as such is more often than not a sincere religious belief, and I don’t think sincere religious beliefs should be hindered by the government. Sure, there may people who would abuse it and enter into polygamous relationships out of lust… but I refuse to judge allowing something based on who would abuse it; that seems ridiculous to me.)

    It’s rather inconsistent, unfair, and arbitrary in my mind to ignore the rather significant differences in each situation and lump them all together as the same issue.

  14. Honestly, I’m surprised that the OP called out opponents for using a “straw man fallacy”, then promptly proceeded with a slippery slope argument…
    My question is, how can we expect the government to allow us sovereignty to govern ourselves when we’re using it to impose our will on others?
    Also, if we argue that marriage is a divine institution, why is the state allowed to control it? Shouldn’t it be left solely to the church to decide?

  15. Andrew,

    “However, most of those who have not pursued their genetically attracted love were able to get over it and fall in love with someone else and live just as happily a life and marriage as otherwise.”

    We’re still in a situation where I have to tell someone that being in love doesn’t matter, their relationship is “wrong” and society won’t tolerate it. The fact that their sexual attraction opens them up to a wide range of potential partners doesn’t really make saying “No” any easier. Nor does it make my actions and viewpoints any more or less hateful. Besides, sexual attraction is a scale not a yes or no. Many currently in same-sex relationships have just as much potential for “appropriate” partners as any sibling relationship does.

    “If man were naturally polygamous, then why are most human relationships monogamous? Sure, there may be that innate male drive to spread his seed as much as possible… but why is he, despite, drawn to settling down with just one mate for life?”

    Culture. Our current culture leads men to be monogamous. Just as our current culture (at least until recently) strongly discouraged homosexuality. You’re still picking and choosing which innate characteristics are ok for culture to suppress and which are not.

    “It’s rather inconsistent, unfair, and arbitrary in my mind to ignore the rather significant differences in each situation and lump them all together as the same issue.”

    I disagree. I’m being asked to change my position for same-sex marriage primarily on emotional grounds. Yet that same emotion can be just as fairly be demanded by other groups that want to change marriage norms.

  16. Aluwid,

    It’s nice to see us agree on something … Thanks for your comments to Andrew and djinn. Makes my job easier :)

    djinn,

    Regarding your “that’s all” comment. I’m fine with that. That’s a possibility I’m granting for in my post. But if this is the case, then the “equality for all” argument is bogus. That’s my point. Stop casting one group as discriminators if you yourself wish to continue with marriage discrimination.

    As to your point about not allowing siblings to marry in other countries. There was a legal dispute not too long ago about sisters in Europe (I don’t recall the country, but it is in a country that allows for gay marriage) who sued the government that just because they were sisters they were disallowed the civil union benefits that virtually any other two people could receive. Now, I don’t know how this case turned out — but if this case came up in the states, how would it not be discriminatory to keep these siblings from “marrying” each other (who had lived with each other for decades, by the way). My point is — if who can marry each other becomes a matter of civil rights, then the inevitable conclusion is that any group of people should be able to contract with each other according to a marriage agreement for any reason whatsoever. Notice how I put “marrying” in quotation marks — I do that because that’s exactly what marriage would become.

    Andrew,

    I appreciate your tangling with me (and Aluwid). I think you bring up some good points. I always appreciate a good argument, even if I disagree.

    Your argument about a sibling-lover being able to find a non-sibling love is an intriguing one. A few problems, though.

    First, it is conceivable that someone will NOT find another love — that expecting them to do so is about as realistic as expecting a gay person to marry someone of the other sex. If you have religious beliefs, for example, that polygamous relationships are mandatory, then your option to do otherwise is about as viable as a gay or lesbian marrying the other sex (or changing their sex). Options are theoretically present for either situation — but that hardly means it is desirable or humane. (And in many cultures polygamists do not become drawn to settling down with just one mate.) Your probable approval of polygamy betrays the fact that this issue is more than about gay marriage.

    Second, not all people who would want to marry someone of the same sex will identify themselves as exclusively homosexual. This is especially the case with a growing number of women, as the research of Lisa Diamond (at the University of Utah) will attest. I believe that we will see sexual orientation be much more fluid in years to come.

    Third, when you say “It’s rather inconsistent, unfair, and arbitrary in my mind to ignore the rather significant differences in each situation and lump them all together as the same issue.” Exactly. That’s why the “equality for all” rhetoric is disingenuous. That’s why saying that those who want to place limits on who can marry are hateful, is completely absurd.

  17. Aluwid,

    “Besides, sexual attraction is a scale not a yes or no.”

    To you, personally, assuming you are straight-leaning on this believed scale, you could be just as happy in a homosexual relationship? -or- Assuming you’re gay-leaning on this believed scale, you could be just as happy in a heterosexual relationship?

    “Culture”

    What drives culture but human behavior?

    “I disagree.”

    I didn’t expect anything else, to be honest.

  18. theimpossiblek,

    Honestly, I’m surprised that the OP called out opponents for using a “straw man fallacy”, then promptly proceeded with a slippery slope argument…

    To point out similarities is not to commit a slippery slope. Nor is using extremes to demonstrate a point. My argument stands without any resort to slipperiness: If Prop 8 opponents think that we ought to discriminate concerning who should marry, then their “equality for all” argument is bogus. If they think that no such discriminations should be present, then it reveals that this is a much bigger issue than simply concerns same-sex marriage. Show me where the slippery slope is in this argument.

    My question is, how can we expect the government to allow us sovereignty to govern ourselves when we’re using it to impose our will on others?

    All sorts of political organizations “impose” their will on others. This is hardly a unique case for this issue. It’s simply easy to pick on religious folks.

    Also, if we argue that marriage is a divine institution, why is the state allowed to control it? Shouldn’t it be left solely to the church to decide?

    Thanks once again for betraying that this issue has to do with fundamental questions about marriage. In answer to your question, I would argue that most religious people would argue that marriage is not only “divine”. It is also a fundamental organization of this world and the foundation of any civilized society. The fact that a whole bunch of non-religious folks are interested in marriage shows that marriage can hardly be left to churches…

  19. Andrew,

    “To you, personally, assuming you are straight-leaning on this believed scale, you could be just as happy in a homosexual relationship?”

    That’s somewhat of a trick question as I belong to a religion that teaches that homosexual sex is sin and that “wickedness never was happiness.” But if what you’re really asking is if I, currently a heterosexual male, could function in a homosexual relationship then your answer is yes. I have no doubt that I have an innate potential for same-sex attraction. I’m thankful that my life experiences didn’t lead me in that direction, but I do worry how many people are like me which weren’t as lucky. And yes this most definitely affects my opinion on the immutability of sexual orientation.

    “What drives culture but human behavior?”

    In earlier decades culture dictated that homosexuality was deviancy. Was culture correct about human behavior then? I don’t think you want to give culture the final say about what is innate in human behavior because culture can and does change. Besides, even today I think it’s hard to argue that males are strongly bound by monogamy. Culture has kept it in check in the past (outside of polygamous civilizations), but that’s breaking down now.

  20. Andrew,

    To you, personally, assuming you are straight-leaning on this believed scale, you could be just as happy in a homosexual relationship? -or- Assuming you’re gay-leaning on this believed scale, you could be just as happy in a heterosexual relationship?

    I see your point to Aluwid. Still, a couple problems. “Just as happy” is not fair, assuming that two siblings might never be “just as happy” with anyone else. Furthermore, I don’t see Aluwid as saying that ANY person in a same-sex relationship would be “just as happy” in an other-sex relationship. He is saying that for some of them the issue is more fluid, and this is definitely true.

    What drives culture but human behavior?

    I guess I don’t see what your point is. The majority of cultures, historically and currently, allow for polygamy. How does human behavior driving culture refute this point?

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  22. Dennis & Aluwid,

    As I was writing my responses, I realized it really all boils down to semantics, beliefs, fears, prejudices, knee-jerk reactions, social taboos, etc. — and working backwards (on everybody’s parts, including my own) from such things instead of from the ground up.

    Most are starting with the notion that homosexuality is evil, that sibling marriages are evil, that polygamy is [currently] evil.

    And, you know, whatever. You are entitled to your beliefs as I am entitled to mine. You can live in fear of these perceived boogy-men, that’s you’re choice.

    But, I have personally been trying to drop basing my judgments on what is good and what is evil on what I’ve been told is good and evil. And I have been trying to truly take upon myself the teachings of Jesus Christ, having faith that He spoke reliably when He declared good and evil is apparent from the works being brought forth (Luke 6: 43-45).

    (That is, I’ve decided to stop fearing shadows, to turn on the light, and to look under my bed and in my closet to see what these shadows really are.)

    I’ve also decided to base my stance on what is truly good on Christ’s teachings that the greatest commandment is charity (Matthew 22: 37-40).

    Granted, I have a ways to go… but I think I’m getting closer to being finished judging things on outward appearances, prejudices, traditions, etc.

    (I know such this comment ‘dodges’ the other responses… but, really, arguing semantics and beliefs… rather futile… and is where the term “bigot” really comes into play — and I am inferring both ends here, mine included.)

    But, really, I say we stop being afraid of perceived evils and really take a long, hard look to see if such is truly evil — polygamy, siblings in love, beastiality, murder, rape, incest, whatever is in question.

    Why is it so difficult to trust Christ’s words, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16, KJV)?

    We have instances of gay couples united as one. Why is it so difficult to look at their works to judge whether or not they are good? Why do we have to base our judgment on traditions, beliefs, taboos, etc. ? How is that truly the Christian thing to do?

    We have instances of polygamy. Why is it so difficult to look at their works to judge whether or not they are good? Why do we have to base our judgment on traditions, beliefs, taboos, etc. ? How is that truly the Christian thing to do?

    Equality should be distinct upon equal works and indistinct of prejudice, believe, taboo, race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, what-have-you. If the works are equal then the concepts should be treated equally.

    And because X produces equal works to Y, doesn’t mean Z will. And just because X and Z are similar doesn’t mean that legalizing X will necessarily lead to legalizing Z. Nor does any of this mean that X, Y, or Z are necessarily bad things.

    We have to take X, look at X, and ask, “What kinds of works is X doing?” and then place X into the legal category X deserves.

    We then have to take Y, look at Y, and ask, “What kinds of works is Y doing” and then place Y into the legal category Y deserves.

    If X and Y are producing the same legal works, then X and Y should receive the same legal standing.

    And, again, it’s not like we have to guess, “WILL X produce the same legal works as Y?”

    We have instances of gay couples and their families. We have instances of sibling couples and their families. We have instances of polygamy. We have instances of beastiality. We have instances of murder. We have instances of rape. We have instances of bowling. We have instances of Botany. We have instances of whatever.

    Let’s look at what is, instead of what is feared to be.

    That’s what I would like to personally do.

  23. In the spirit of the post title, and as someone with a rather spectacular Mormon background, I won’t hate you because you are Mormon, butI will approach you with a certain amount of nervousness. That is, unfortunatelyl, you’ll have to show me that you’re not a Prop. 8 donating bigot. Which I hope to be true.

  24. Your argument is subtle, but it is mostly sophistry. It tries to corner supporters of gay marriage into advocating change that is so sweeping as to be have no chance at being accepted by the larger society. I suppose we should all be grateful that you ‘set aside’ the pedophilia comparison (while managing to subtly raise it anyway thus intoducing the taboo without having to grope with the obvious disadvantage that it is not possible to fairly compare an adult consentual relationship of any kind to abuse of a minor.) At least you have the courtesy not to raise the specter of bestiality. Thanks.

    With regard to incestuous marriage. There is a clear societal interest in regulating such things because serious and demonstrable harm to children of such unions is so probable as to be a near certainty. You acknowledge the consideration of birth defects, but wrongly state that “these arguments are irrelevant to civil rights concerns.” All civil rights concerns are a question of weighing one citizen’s rights against another. In the case of the children of close relatives the harm to their rights is not theoretical or debatable (as in the case say of a fetus in the first trimester. ) The rights future citizens to have a reasonable chance to be born without debilitating defect must be weighed against the rights of any sibs who may fall in love. This is where the rarity of incestuous love may be fairly considered, when weighed against the near certainty of defects from incestuous reproduction.

    And, for your information though, several states, including UT have flirted with statutes that would allow first cousins to marry provided that they were past the age of child bearing, and such bills did not engender anywhere near the level of opposition as gay marriage.

    By contrast the right of gay people to partake equaly in the rights and priveleges afforded by law through marriage far out weigh the basically non-existent harm gay marriage might do (I have yet to hear anybody convincingly justify the ludicrous argument that anti-gay marriage laws are really a ‘defense of marriage’ Where is the harm to any marriage done by allowing another? Quantify it! Gay marriage advocates can clearly name and quantify the harm suffered under current discriminatory laws.)

    It is of greater interest that you should move on to raise the question of polygamous marriage, especially in a blog that begins by declaring in it’s title that you are Mormon. The hypocrisy of the LDS church in actively fighting to suppress the rights of other citizens to pursue marriages according to the dictates of their own conscience (after suffering generations of bitter persecution in large part for claiming that right for themselves) should be apparent to anyone who gives the matter any thought. Mormons protested loudly for decades about the bigotry and hatred of laws that denied them the freedom to marry as they chose and now their literal and spiritual decendants fight to impose these laws on others.

    Truth be told, I sometimes suspect that the LDS Church takes such a large and public role in opposing gay marriage, in part because it fears that the legalization of gay marriage could lead to the legalization of pollygamy. A nightmare for Mormonism! It would lead to messy disputes since the practice is still doctrinal and was discontinued specifically and expressly to conform to the laws of the land. (Go back and re-read the D&C!) Pressure from splinter groups to be accepted back into the fold would be uncomfortable and make for bad press, and could undo over a century of effort by the church to be accepted in the mainstream.

    But Mormonism aside, I for one am willing to be perfectly open about the fact that polygamy per se should not be outlawed – so long as there are guarantees in place to assure that all parties are consenting adults who are free to make an informed choice. In practice, polygamy very rarely happens in any social setting where women have equal acces to education and to the seat of government. Also, the incidence of pedophilia and of undue pressure to consent tend to be much higher among practitioners of polygamy than among society at large, and THOSE things should be the target of any laws. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to strictly monitor and prosecute the various evils that are often associated with polygamy without outlawong the practice itself. (This is in effect the status quo, since, despite what the laws may say polygamy itself is almost never prosecuted anymore. If polygamists are arrested it is usually for child rape or some other associated practice.)

    But these arguments aside, my objection is to the basic strategy of your argument. By raising incest and polygamy, efffectively seek to portray gay marriage as a relatively marginal social concern. You dismiss any consideration of the frequency of gay marriage out of hand as irrelevant to civil rights, but it is you who are making use of the very INFREQUENCY (and by extention the unfamiliarity and associated distrust) of these only peripherally relavent practices to give your argument weight.

    You know that there is a knee jerk cultural response in most Americans against polygamy and incest (in the case of the latter, there is probably an actual genetic aversion hardwired into most of us.) You know the percentage of Americans whose lives are actually impacted by either of these is vanishingly small and therefore that most people have not spent a great deal of time examining any prejudice they may have. Your argument seeks to capitalize on such unexamined prejudice to counter any progress the gay movement has made in encouraging Americans to examine their homophobia. You basicly assert that no progress should be made in the debate of gay marriage – which effects a vastly larger number of citizens – until gay people embrace their hidden alliance with these smaller, frankly fringe, concerns.

    The point is not that the civil rights of these others are of less concern because their numbers are fewer. The point is that the social impact of reevaluating the leagal status of incestuous or polygamous marriages would be negligible compared to the social impact of legalizing gay marriage. We can safely discuss and debate the gay marriage issue without delving down these paths, because if we debate gay marriage on its own merits and convince society to accept it, any ensuing expansion of plural marriage rights or incest rights would scarcely be noticed in the sweeping tide.

    The only reason to raise these concerns is to raise fears and categorize gays with groups that are widely considered even more marginal and unworthy of acceptance.

    As far as any civil rights are concerned, it seems a pretty clear cut argument to me. To claim that gay people should not insist on the legal right to marriage is to claim that straight people DO have that exclusive LEGAL right. You may feel that straight people have a moral right or a traditional right or even a sacred right to ‘marriage,’ But prop 8 and its relatives across the country do not amend our ethics, traditions or morals, they amends the LAW, and the law should not separate one group from another.

    If it is really the sanctity of marriage people want to preserve they should demand that the government get out of the marriage business altogether. If ‘domestic partnerships’ are just as good, then the government should not need to offer ‘marriages’ to anyone, right? Domestic partnerships for all! Gay and straight. If marriage is sacred, let your church or whatever other person or institution you choose to solemnize your domestic partnership call it a ‘marriage’ – or whatever else you want.

    By definition, nothing the government does can be considered ‘sacred.’ It’s in the 1st amendment. Yet there are hundreds of ‘marriage’ laws instituted by our secular government. This means that in the US marriage is no longer merely sacred, but secular. Government liscences and administers marriage, and sets forth specific rights and priviledges which married citizens may claim. Once the law offers a contract with specific benefits and choses to call it ‘marriage’ then it is discrimination to withhold access to that contract to some citizens. Period.

    Oh, and I don’t h8 you, I don’t even know you. But I am a returned missionary living in downtown Salt Lake. And when my FORMER church uses its clout to advance a bigoted agenda, seeking to ensconce it’s version of morality into the laws of my land, I will come right out and call it hate. I don’t feel the need to sugar coat it out of concern for the feelings of those who disagree.

    Just because someone is not in favor of gay marriage MIGHT not mean they are hateful. But for my money, it does mean they are bigoted. They just might not know they are. Does any bigot?

  25. Andrew—For the sake of curiosity, what would your response be if someone claims to have done exactly what you say and reached the opposite conclusion, that the “works of homosexuality” as you say are mostly not good? There are good and bad works done by every group. If you mean to say that all the fruits of homosexuality are good, I think you are a little naive. If you mean to say that the good fruits of homosexuality outweigh the bad, that is a subjective judgment. In that case, you ought to allow that someone else could come to a different subjective conclusion than you have without being motivated by fear or hatred.

    I would also add that the “by their works” passage, which is found in Moroni 7, is used in regards to judging individual people, not institutions. Furthermore, it goes on to say that to judge principles, one must apply a different gauge. One must determine whether or not that principle “persuadeth men to do evil.” Again, that is an interpretation that is subject to an individual’s experience. Hatred should not be a label applied across the board to the group of those who support and donate to Prop 8 any more than violence should be applied to all those who fight against it. What should be respected is if someone is willing to calmly listen to the other’s side, and accord the other person a right to vote according to the dictates of their own conscience, even if that dictate differs. I respect that attitude on both sides of the fence, where it can be found, and have no respect for those who refuse to learn and listen. That, also, can be found on both sides of the fence.

  26. Meisnerman—based on your arguments regarding polygamy, I don’t think you understand the principle. The Lord commanded the practice to stop, and the Church has no pressure to automatically resume the practice even if it is made legal. And if the Lord commanded, the Church would practice it again.

    Also, I don’t think every supporter of Proposition 8 thinks of marriage as a legal right. Marriage is a privilege, not a right, which is part of what this post is getting at.

  27. As the Sacramento Bee (which opposed Prop 8) editorialized November 13th in describing the No on 8 protests

    “…some opponents risk crossing the line that separates civil protest from harassment. And by crossing that line, they undermine the message that some gay and lesbian leaders are trying to impart: that everyone’s rights should be respected.”

    Recent rhetorical and physical incidents add evidence to the thesis that the anti-8 forces should not be trusted with the legal, political and social cudgel they sought to silence, intimidate, and litigate against anyone who disagrees with them.

  28. Dennis,

    I love this post! I agree with your argument; it is subtle, but true. In essence, if the problem of Proposition 8 is discrimination, then there can be no limits to marriage, because any limit will entail discrimination of some form.

    Thanks!

  29. SilverRain:

    “For the sake of curiosity, what would your response be if someone claims to have done exactly what you say and reached the opposite conclusion, that the ‘works of homosexuality’ as you say are mostly not good?”

    That depends on how homosexuality is being defined and viewed.

    Personally, I refer to the homosexual’s work when compared to the heterosexual counterpart (i.e. the works of the promiscuous homosexual compared to the works of the promiscuous heterosexual… the works of the truly committed and monogamous homosexual couple compared to the works of the truly committed and monogamous heterosexual couple… etc.)

    I think it also depends on what you view as good and evil.

    Hypothetically, let’s say that a vegan is looking at the works of a farmer. This vegan could very well deem the farmer’s works as evil since the farmer slaughters his pigs and sells the meat.

    With that being said, however, I’ve actually had several people come to me and tell me just what you have presented. That they have observed the works of the homosexual couples and have deemed them not good.

    My response is always the same. I ask them, “What were your observations? What were the works being brought to pass?” (And I am completely sincere in my questioning; I want to honestly make sure I am looking at everything, not just what I want to see.)

    So far, whenever I ask such things, either 1) they never respond, and I never even hear from them again; 2) they have based their entire stance on observing a rather small collection of situations (i.e. one or two families) which results of situations I have witnessed within the families of even the most loving and caring heterosexual marriage; or 3) they have based their stance not on any works they’ve observed but on what works they fear will take place.

    However, if someone were to ever present to me something solid, I am 100% willing to change my stance.

    And by something solid I mean, “I am a social worker and have worked with thousands of families, including hundreds of families reared by homosexual couples. From my observations, the children being raised by homosexual couples compared to the heterosexual counterpart are socially defunct, awkward, disrespectful, self-centered, etc.”

  30. “One must determine whether or not that principle ‘persuadeth men to do evil.'”

    I think this a very apt and vital way of looking at institutions.

    Again, as you said, this depends on one’s beliefs.

    Personally, from the hundreds of homosexuals I have met and spoken with — and from the thousands of blogs I have read — I have seen how entering into a committed, monogamous relationship inspires good works, whether gay or straight — specifically in reference to charity. On the other hand, forcing a socially inferior status onto homosexuals… well, I honestly hate to play the suicide and hate-crime-murder cards, but it’s the blunt and unfortunate truth.

    In my mind and from what I have seen thusfar, the principle of “gay marriage” is dripping with persuasions of charity while the principle of “gay inferiority” is drowning in persuasions of pride and vanity.

  31. Your post rests on the shakey ground that all discriminatory acts are somehow equal.

    All discriminatory acts are not equal. In US law this this is codified by three different sets of rules–strict scrutiny, (must be a member of a “suspect class” must have very very good reasons) intermediate scrutiny (Gender, mostly–must have a reasonably good reason), and rational relationship (everything else, very weak protection.)

    There’s a four-part test to determine “suspect class” and its just about impossible to pass. Religion’s there, as is race, national origin, alienage, and now, in California, sexual orientation.

    Your other examples do not rise to the level of “suspect classification” and so laws about them can still be passed without such “strict” standards.

  32. SilverRain – I understand the principle just fine. Go reread the “manifesto” and the “exerpts from three addresses” again. Nowhere does canonized scripture state that the lord changed his mind about the eternal and exalted nature of plural marriage or that the repeated “revelations” to Joseph Smith to institute the practice on the earth were rescinded. Indeed, plural marriages are solemnized every day in LDS temples around the globe for deceased persons. It remains an eternal principle of the church, and President Wilson merely said that, “Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws and to use my influence with members of the church to do likewise.” In the canonized “excerpts”, Wilson explicitly states that Jesus commanded him to withdraw the practice of polygamy among the living saints for the specific reason that legal sanctions would otherwise cripple the Church. Remove the legal sanctions, and the doctrinal basis for polygamy is 100 percent in tact.

    If your point is simply that the authority of the President is absolute, and the former practices would not be reinstated without his direct command, I agree. But you are wrong to assert from that observation that there
    would therefor be ‘no pressure’ for the church to resume the practice with a change in law. The ‘pressure’ would be intense and pubic, and even if no actual change occurred in church practice, the resulting publicity and damage to already shaky public perception of Mormonism would be undesirable to leadership.

    If instead you are arguing the absolute authority of ‘The Lord’ rather than the prophet, I suggest again you reread what the ‘prophets’ Smith and Wilson have actually commited to scripture with regard to the direct word of ‘The Lord’ to them in this matter. You may not emerge so certain that ‘The Lord’ would NOT reinstitute polygamy if the laws of man were to change. ‘He’ has declared repeatedly through the mouths of his ‘prophets’ that plural marriage is among the highest, most sacred dispensations of his church. Perhaps it is you who don’t understand the principle.

    Also I don’t really care if supporters of Prop 8 ‘think’ marriage is a right or a privelege or a ham sandwich. It is not amatter of opinion, but of law.

    Marriage in it’s civil sense is accompanied by a very large number of specifically codified legal rights. This is a statement of fact, not just something I ‘think’. Extending legal rights to some citizens while denying them to others is the very definition of discrimination. Explicity writing such discrimination into the law of the land ought to require a very clear demonstration of specific and quantifyable harm which makes it necessary. I await any such demonstration.

    I am unconcerned with marriage in it’s sacred sense, or any other sense than it’s legal, civil sense. These are not a matter of law and are rightfully the province of individual conscience. Asserting that the LEGAL sense of marriage ought to conform to any person’s SACRED sense is just discrimination, and frankly bigotry. Supporters of Prop 8 willingly confuse this distinction and try to maintain that because they have a specific view of marriage in its sacred sense, they aught to have the discriminatory right to impose that view onto marriage in its civil sense. This is inimicable to a free and open society and a threat to all minorities. As I stated before, Mormons have been victimized by such tyranny of the majority in the past and should be more sensitive to others who suffer like persecution.

    If you think marriage is a privelege, fine. Treat and honor it as such. But the law should not be concerned with guaranteeing your ‘priveleges’. Only rights are fragile enough to need the protection of law from the forces of tyranny. If you want to protect marriage from being secularized or cheapened you need to be fighting to get all reference to marriage out of the secular laws of the land. So long as they remain there, marriage cannot be considered purely sacred. The law turned marriage into a purely secular contract between citizens a long time before any gay people set their sights on it.

  33. Meisnerman,

    Thanks for engaging my argument.

    Your argument … tries to corner supporters of gay marriage into advocating change that is so sweeping as to be have no chance at being accepted by the larger society.

    Not true. I said that it’s one or the other: it’s “equality for all” or it’s discrimination for some. If you pick the latter, ditch the former slogan.

    I suppose we should all be grateful that you ’set aside’ the pedophilia comparison (while managing to subtly raise it anyway thus intoducing the taboo without having to grope with the obvious disadvantage that it is not possible to fairly compare an adult consentual relationship of any kind to abuse of a minor.)

    I set aside this issue because it is, I agree, an unfair comparison. My intent was not to subtly introduce the taboo. I mentioned it simply because others have (unfairly) used it as a comparison. I’m certainly not doing anything original by mentioning it.

    All civil rights concerns are a question of weighing one citizen’s rights against another. In the case of the children of close relatives the harm to their rights is not theoretical or debatable (as in the case say of a fetus in the first trimester. ) The rights future citizens to have a reasonable chance to be born without debilitating defect must be weighed against the rights of any sibs who may fall in love. This is where the rarity of incestuous love may be fairly considered, when weighed against the near certainty of defects from incestuous reproduction.

    So, what about same-sex siblings? No children are involved. How are one citizen’s rights raised against another in this case? How would it not be discrimination? We certainly could ask the same of polygamy.

    Several states, including UT have flirted with statutes that would allow first cousins to marry provided that they were past the age of child bearing, and such bills did not engender anywhere near the level of opposition as gay marriage.

    There likely are several reasons for this — but one is the issue that this change does not radically change marriage. Cousin-marrying is a part of our nation’s heritage, for heaven’s sake. Almost all of us have cousin ancestors who have married, within 5-6 generations back. For what it’s worth, I think legal sanctions should be lifted against cousins marrying. Chances of birth defect are minimally greater than average, and even lower than certain blood type combinations. There is a lot of prejudice against cousin marrying, but it is largely unfounded. Still, I don’t think a lot of opponents to Prop 8 would agree — or at least they wouldn’t admit it.

    I simply disagree with you that questions of who a person can marry is a matter of civil rights. So do a lot of justices. At any rate, I hope we can agree that this claim is highly debatable. I believe that the state has the right to regulate marriage according to a certain set of protocols even if this disqualifies certain groups of people (though not individuals) from marrying. So, heterosexual marriage is not a civil right. It is a legal right — it certainly could be taken away with legislation. There are, however, certain civil rights that are involved with marriage rights — hence, civil unions ought to be allowed according to a civil rights argument. Furthermore, the state does not have to pass some kind of quantification or scientific standard in the way it governs. Science certainly can inform policy, but one has to be wary of the naturalistic fallacy — that the way things are ought to inform the way things should be. Legal matters are always wound up in moral values — science itself is, for that matter. Those who argue otherwise, from my experience, have naive, sacrosant views of what science is.

    It seems to me perfectly reasonable to strictly monitor and prosecute the various evils that are often associated with polygamy without outlawong the practice itself.

    Would you say the same thing regarding HIV-spreading promiscuity from certain gay men? (Should these men be neutered or something? Clearly this activity is as evil as the things you are associating with polygamy, if not more so.)

    Regarding the frequency of gay marriage — all it takes is one case to make a civil right (one atheist in a school of Christians, for example). Thus, all it takes is one fringe person suing for marriage discrimination — if it becomes a civil right that anyone can marry anyone. Now, like I said — this doesn’t have to be the case with accepting gay marriage. You are misrepresenting me. It is simply disingenuous to say “equality for all” when you advocate for continued discrimination. Moreover, if gay marriage is allowed then it is very reasonable to ask the question of what will happen will marriage, including for all of these issues, especially polygamy.

    Concerning polygamy, you should know very well that polygamy, as stated in the Book of Mormon and as evidenced by the creation belief of Adam and Eve (not Adam, Eve, and Linda) that polygamy is an exception that God occasionally allows for. To claim that the legalization of polygamy would suddenly require the Church to adopt it is, at the very least saying to much. MAYBE the practice would be restored — but it wouldn’t be automatically. If so, then Mormons in African countries would be polygamists — instead polygamists in African countries (where polygamy is legal) who wish to join the church are not allowed to do so.

    We can safely discuss and debate the gay marriage issue without delving down these paths, because if we debate gay marriage on its own merits and convince society to accept it, any ensuing expansion of plural marriage rights or incest rights would scarcely be noticed in the sweeping tide.

    Thanks for proving my point that this issue is about more than gay marriage.

  34. Leo,

    Recent rhetorical and physical incidents add evidence to the thesis that the anti-8 forces should not be trusted with the legal, political and social cudgel they sought to silence, intimidate, and litigate against anyone who disagrees with them.

    Yes, I think that it is possible that these protests might do more harm than good for the cause of gay marriage. At the least, there’s no room for comparison with MLK or Gandhi.

  35. Meisnerman,

    Just because someone is not in favor of gay marriage MIGHT not mean they are hateful. But for my money, it does mean they are bigoted. They just might not know they are. Does any bigot?

    Certainly, self-deception runs high among bigots. You can think what you want about my bigotry — but one way I check myself against bigotry is to always be a friend to everyone and to always be willing to discuss issues like this one with others. And to always have my mind open to change, to be willing to be persuaded otherwise. I hope you at least recognize that most bigots would hardly be willing to exchange in dialogue with you at this level of respect. Most bigots simply shout at each other. In this regard, perhaps there is some bigotry on both sides of this debate.

    In my humble opinion, non-bigots have little reason to shout “Bigot!” They might humbly suggest that someone else might be acting bigoted in a certain way. And they’d prefer to persuade, discuss, rally, petition, etc.

  36. djinn,

    There’s a four-part test to determine “suspect class” and its just about impossible to pass. Religion’s there, as is race, national origin, alienage, and now, in California, sexual orientation.

    Your other examples do not rise to the level of “suspect classification” and so laws about them can still be passed without such “strict” standards.

    It all depends on how the implications of these discriminations play out. Gay brothers would not be able to marry each other, but gay non-relatives would be. In both cases, sexual orientation is involved but in only one case it would be legal. The distinction between relative and non-relative relations has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with which types of people can marry. In a strict sense, no gay or lesbian is being discriminated against — they all can marry someone of the other sex. Now I realize many will mock at my suggestion here. But I guess I just don’t get why sexual orientation rights come with a special supra-individual relational status whereas other distinctions don’t. Why, for example, do the religious rights of an FLDS person not have as part of their polygamist identities the rights to enter into polygamist relationships? Why are not these rights wound up in the person’s identity in the same way that many think gay and lesbian rights ought to be? How is allowing these special supra-individual relational rights appropriate in one case but not in another? How is this not discriminatory?

    If you can answer these questions, my hat is off to you.

  37. I don’t have much to add, but I want to thank everybody involved for a great post and a great discussion in the comments, here.

    I am a same-sex-marriage supporter, and an active mormom. I just have never agreed with legislating morality. I think most drugs should be legal, and so should prostitution and other crazy things. From a religious standpoint, I am disgusted by these things–but from a political standpoint, I can’t argue against them.

    Dennis, you make some fantastic arguments here. I hope more same-sex marriage supporters get a chance to read this. I don’t expect their minds to be changed, but I hope they can at least understand the point of view of same-sex-marriage opponents. There are some very valid concerns with gay marriage. Even though I personally support it, I can see why others can be against it without being a bigot.

    It’s truly ugly to see people try to paint the LDS church as a bigoted, hateful church. It really isn’t.

  38. We have a system of laws in the US that allows for different levels of judicial review for different circumstances. Homosexuals are born that way; in spite of whatever nonsense is coming out of the Ex-gay camps, giving up Calvin Klein underwear and teaching boys to play football (I swear I read these as actual treatments) let alone shock therapy is not going to change someone’s sexual orientation. This counts.

    The only choice for marriage for a Gay man is another Gay man. Therefore, they fit under strict scrutiny, which, of all people, Scalia realized. We currently all have the opportunity to marry one someone, as long as they are of a different sex. It’s not stretching boundaries so far to allow someone to marry one other someone that is the same sex–there’s no other option for marriage for them.

    The immutability of Homosexuality sets it off from all of the other examples you mention. Why shouldn’t a gay man be able to marry another man (with all the related headaches (sez djinn having gone through a tremendously unpleasant divorce.)) Not being able to marry keeps many rights away from gay couples, such as the right for a surviving partner to inherit a house without tax penalties, etc……

  39. Dennis-

    “But I guess I just don’t get why sexual orientation rights come with a special supra-individual relational status whereas other distinctions don’t. Why, for example, do the religious rights of an FLDS person not have as part of their polygamist identities the rights to enter into polygamist relationships? Why are not these rights wound up in the person’s identity in the same way that many think gay and lesbian rights ought to be? How is allowing these special supra-individual relational rights appropriate in one case but not in another? How is this not discriminatory?”

    I don’t understand how same-sex couples are asking for special supra-individual relational rights. What does this even mean? If anything heterosexuals opposed to same-sex marriage seem to be the ones asking for special rights. Homosexuals just want to be on equal legal footing with other citizens of the country to which they pay taxes. Maybe I am not understanding your point, so please clarify.

    As far as polygamy and family marriages, I think it would be fair to say that these relationships should be given legal rights as well as long as their unioun is not contrary to the interest of the state. This does not include any moral implications, but practical. There are arguments against both that they are not in the best interest of the state. Incestious marriage, particularly immediate family, has a high probability of producing an offspring which will be a drain on public resources. Polygamy often leads to use of welfare because one husband is usually unable to provide for multiple families. These outcomes are not in the states’ best interest. If we can come up with even one reason same-sex marriage is contrary to the interest of the state in practical terms, then there is a start to a valid argument for them being denied a legal right. I have yet to hear one myself.

  40. What is the point of supposed Mormons trying to be so “open-minded” and “tolerant”. God isn’t. Truth is truth regardless of how one tries to disguise it. We have the words of countless prophets teaching the one true gospel–not the gospel of foolish irrationalities.

    What the Church needs is more valiant, unwavering members and less ignorant, wishy-washy “pretend” members. We don’t need deaf, dumb, and blind wannabe Mormons. We need the faithful to stand as a testimony against not only the evils in the world, but the evils in the Church. Luke-warm behavior is not part of the gospel–nor has it ever been. Aberrant behavior is not tolerated by the Lord, no matter what dishonest arguments are presented as “valid”. If people want to leave judgment up to “judicial review” or “individual interpretation”, then the will reap their rewards.

    No one should ever apologize for the truth or their testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And they certainly have no need to apologize for speaking out against behavior and ideology detrimental to this blessed nation. It doesn’t matter if you put lipstick on a pig, it will always be a pig.

  41. THANK YOU!

  42. Samara: “This does not include any moral implications, but practical. There are arguments against both that they are not in the best interest of the state. Incestious marriage, particularly immediate family, has a high probability of producing an offspring which will be a drain on public resources. Polygamy often leads to use of welfare because one husband is usually unable to provide for multiple families. These outcomes are not in the states’ best interest.”

    I fail to see how the issue of what is in a states’ “best interest” is not a moral issue. Suggesting that a mentally challanged individual is a drain on public resources assumes an economic self interest as the best moral interest. In your senarios, states’ best interests are determinited not by equality of civil rights and opportunity, but economic concerns. If we adopted a different moral outlook, we might argue that it is in the states’ best interest to make civil and legal distinctions on fundemental human rights regardless of economic advantage or disadvantage then I think the arguement would look quite different.

    I’m not suggesting that matters of economy and practicality can be ignored, but I don’t think that those issues can be addressed seperate from the moral implication tied to those issues.

  43. Billy Bob –

    I can sympathize with where you are coming from, but you might want to tone it down a few notches. Check, for example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints’ own official response to Prop. 8 Here.

    Djinn-

    1- I’m not going to take your word for it that “Homosexuals are born that way”. I’m familiar with a lot of the research on this topic and while biological factors have been implicated, they certainly weren’t overwhelming (correlations around .5). What would a decisive study on this topic even look like? If you believe that humans are able to make choices, you have to realize that EVERYTHING is more complicated than being “born that way”.

    2- Even if we assume that “Homosexuals are born that way”, what does it mean? A lot of people are born a lot of ways. We can’t pull our “oughts” from our “is(s)”.

    I like some of the other stuff you’ve had to say. However, I think we disagree with each other on what it means to be homosexual. To say that “The only choice for marriage for a Gay man is another Gay man.” really makes homosexuality sound like a curse. You are born this way and you are unable to alter this significant portion of your identity. What could be less humanist than a sealed fate? Don’t humans forge their own destinies?

    Also, I don’t think Dennis was suggesting that a Homosexual person would necessarily be happy marrying someone of the opposite sex, only that he/she could legally do so. Heterosexuals aren’t any more legally able to marry a member of the same sex than are Homosexuals.

    Great discussion.

  44. djinn,

    Let me echo what Dan has just said about the problem with the “born that way” argument. I realize this argument is very popular, but it is very problematic from a scientific standpoint. I am very acquainted with the psychology of gender literature, and nearly everyone in psychology agrees, on the basis of the research, that it cannot be concluded that homosexuality is inborn. Most are gravitating towards the position that we need to stop arguing whether it’s nature or nurture — the question is how nature and nurture interact. (Consult, for example, Hillary Lips’ textbook Sex and Gender.)

    In terms of lesbianism, the “born that way” argument is very suspect. Consult the research of Lisa Diamond at the University of Utah (who, by the way, is a self-identified lesbian and so could hardly be criticized as having an anti-gay agenda). Diamond’s research has shown that sexual orientation is very fluid for a large percentage of current and former lesbians. These women insist that their gender orientation is not inborn, but that it changes — sometimes several times throughout their life span. I suspect we will see this more among men, as well, in years to come.

    So, my question is — should it matter if a person was NOT born that way? Would same-sex marriage only be an option for those who have no other options? I think that you’d have a hard time answering “yes” to this question.

    One other thing about this, while I’m thinking about it. The legalization of same-sex marriage would not simply be something for gays and lesbians. Theoretically, someone who is heterosexual might want to marry someone of the same sex. (In fact, I suspect this happens more often than some might think. I’ve read, for example, of women who insist that they are heterosexual but who nonetheless are in a sexual relationship with another woman. Some would insist that these women must be bisexual — but they would explicitly reject that label. Their behavior might be accurately called bisexual, but anyone who knows anything about sexuality issues knows that behavior does not equal identity. These women explicitly reject the identity of bisexual. They identify as heterosexuals who are in a relationship with another woman.)

    So, should heterosexuals have the legal right to marry someone of the same sex? Or is this right something afforded to homosexuals only? Would you need to be registered as gay or lesbian? If not, then how is this issue simply a gay rights issue? Isn’t it really an issue about anyone being able to marry anyone? And isn’t the issue of whether one has other options irrelevant, considering that many people DO have other options and still will be able to choose between same- and other-sex marriage partners?

  45. Samara,

    I don’t understand how same-sex couples are asking for special supra-individual relational rights. What does this even mean? If anything heterosexuals opposed to same-sex marriage seem to be the ones asking for special rights. Homosexuals just want to be on equal legal footing with other citizens of the country to which they pay taxes. Maybe I am not understanding your point, so please clarify.

    Forgive me for my obtuseness. When I say “supra-individual,” I mean that the “rights” of an individual are circumscribed not only by their individual identity but by their relations to other people in a way that is in accordance with that identity.

    Let me spell this out a little more clearly. There are certain gay rights that do not require a supra-individual status. For an employer to discriminate against someone who is gay, for example. This discrimination is straightforward and has to do only with that person. Likewise, to discriminate against someone who is gay in terms of marriage, as it is defined by the law as between one man and one woman. This would also be a straightforward discrimination. The same would be the case regarding a member of the FLDS church. Anyone should be able to marry (one person of the other sex, because that’s the way marriage is defined) regardless of sexual orientation or religion.

    Supra-individual rights come to play, however, when rights of individuals are bended to accommodate not only the simple non-discrimination regarding a particular identity, but are extended to aspects of that identity. In this way, marriage itself is seen to need to be changed to not only allow gays and lesbians to marry (one person of the other sex), but to allow them to marry in a way that is reflective of their sexual orientation (one person of the same sex). By this same logic, a member of the FLDS church would need to be allowed to marry in a way that is reflective of their religion (polygamy). Why should it be any different? Why should gays/lesbians have these special rights but not polygamists (on the basis of religion)?

    So, we can certainly take this a step further. What if someone’s religion allows them to marry their sibling? From this logic, it must be allowed. Otherwise, you are discriminating according to religion. What about a religion/cult that requires group marriages? To not allow this, again, would be discrimination. And it doesn’t matter what the interests of the state are — if we are talking about civil rights, then these rights supersede the state’s interests. Which is why we must be careful in the granting of civil rights. The reality is that what is going on with so-called gay marriage rights is an extension of civil rights in a radical, unprecedented way. The better solution, if gays are to be married, is for this change to be decided by legislators and/or the people.

    Let me attempt another example. Imagine an employer who is willing to hire a Mormon employee (and therefore does not discriminate because of religion). The employer demands, though, that the Mormon work on Sunday. The Mormon says he can’t work on Sunday because it’s against his religion. The employer responds, “Well, you can’t work here, then, because this job requires you to work on Sunday.” From the same logic that would grant gays and lesbians marriage rights, the Mormon would have the right to work for the employer and not to work on Sunday, regardless of whether the job demands it. In this way, the job would be fundamentally changed to suit the Mormon’s supra-individual rights. This, of course, would be a disaster.

  46. Brent M.-
    Why can’t we separate economic concerns from moral implications? Such concerns are an objective measure which effect all citizens equally. When the state starts making civil and legal distinctions based on a given,subjective morality we run into problems. Who determines what is moral and when will a group or groups use it against us?

  47. Dennis, I love the subtle but compelling logic.

  48. [Comment deleted because it appeared to be simply a rant/advertisement that has not considered this discussion at all.]

  49. […] Please Don’t Hate (H8) Me Because I’m Mormon Thinking in a Marrow Bone – November 13, 2008 […]

  50. Homosexuality exists in a wide variety of species. For instance, sheep. 8% of rams are exclusively homosexual. This is a problem for people who purchase rams for breeding stock, if they don’t breed. Male Penguins, too, form family bonds and raise abandoned baby penguins! Remember the gay penguins in New York? Exclusively homosexual organisms exist throughout nature. Rams certainly don’t get that way through insufficient male influence in their lives, to cite an explanation I read recently on one of these blogs.

    I agree that women are somewhat more problematic. However, there are exclusively lesbian women that have different traits than their non-gay sisteren.

    But boys who only like boys exist, and are popped out by good Mormon families. It’s immutable. What scientific evidence is there against this?

  51. Oh, and why shouldn’t I, well, not h8 you, but approach you with a certain amount of wariness, as you (and, me, too, as I am still on the books) belong to a church, to which, it appears, one of the basic tenents is “hate teh gey” disguised, only slightly, under ever-so-slightly accomodating language.

    In 1992, Mormons supported and provided monetary support that enacted a constitutional amendment in Colorado that explicitly made legal explicit sexual discrimination against homosexuals.

    in 1998the Mormon church itself, the office of the President, gave $500,000.00 out of a total $600,000 raised to support (and win) an anti-gay marriage ban in Alaska. They also contributed $600,000 to a similar Hawaiian effort .

    In 2004, the Mormon church explicitly endorsed a Utah law that ensured that gay couples have no rights whatsoever. Etc.

    So, viewing the evidence, dispationately, what is one to conclude?

  52. “No rights whatsoever”? I am not an expert of Utah law, but many individual rights, which do exist, automatically allow rights for couples. For example, the right of two or more individuals to form private contracts for property and inheritance purposes exists in all fifty states. In California the state conferred and still confers on domestic partnerships every right associated with marriage except the word marriage. This is now viewed as terribly oppressive. If homosexual couples are so oppressed, why is it that they prosper economically more than heterosexual couples?

    See http://www.rainbowreferrals.com/sponsors/statistic.asp

  53. djinn,

    I’m failing to see the relevance of the argument that “boys who only like boys exist”. And why on earth would we need scientific evidence to refute it? In fact, we aren’t interested in refuting it at all. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong here)

    Boys (and girls) who are only interested in hurting others exist. Men (and women) who only like children exist. Women who like men and women exist. Men who like men but think maybe they like women a little more exist. Men and Women who aren’t attracted in the least to either sex exist (and deserve all of the same tax benefits that any other adult gets). I know of at least one case where a boy who only liked a shoe existed.

    “IS” does not equal “OUGHT” It is up to us- each individually- to decide what ought to be. It isn’t something science or philosophy can answer for us.

    “So, viewing the evidence, dispationately, what is one to conclude?”

    That the church is against the granting of marriage to homosexual couples. (However they are not against any other legal benefits according to their official response I linked to in my previous comment)

  54. Samara,

    Why can’t we separate economic concerns from moral implications? Such concerns are an objective measure which effect all citizens equally. When the state starts making civil and legal distinctions based on a given,subjective morality we run into problems. Who determines what is moral and when will a group or groups use it against us?

    We can’t separate the two because economic concerns ARE moral concerns. The very desire to separate the two is a moral concern. EVERYTHING has a moral basis at some level. We can’t separate ourselves from values, and religious values have just as much credence in political discourse than non-religious values. BOTH are MORAL values, as both are concerned with what is right and wrong, good and bad, should be done and not. This idea of “don’t legislate morality” is ridiculous, in that ALL legislature is moral.

    Economic concerns are hardly “objective matters,” nor do they affect everyone equally (as should be very obvious with the recent tax debates between McCain and Obama). They are not objective because the relationship of economic figures to what OUGHT to be done is not straightforward. Otherwise, there would be no debate among economists about anything.

    Who decides what is right and wrong? In almost all matters, the people decide via a democratic process, as indicated in our Constitution. Sometimes this is through an indirect process (via legislators); other times it is through a direct referendum (as is the case with Prop 8). In matters of dispute, judges make rulings. We might not like how everything is decided, but it’s hardly based on a whim.

    The CRUCIAL question here is whether gay marriage is a civil rights question. In my opinion (and in the other opinion of many others, including judges across the country) it is not. In the opinion of many others (including judges across the country), it is. In BOTH cases, these opinions are moral. Good people with enormous judicial skill and experience disagree. Of course their disagreements have to do with their values. The problem, though, is that it is common for non-religious folks to think that religious people are the only ones with “subjective values.” This is silliness.

    The question that I want answered, in this regard, NO ONE HAS YET ANSWERED:

    As far as I can tell, the ultimate question is whether gays and lesbians deserve SPECIAL rights. Why do they deserve the right not only to get married (they already do — anyone can get married) but that they also have the right to have the definition of marriage radically changed on their behalf? And why are we not fighting for this for the polygamist, on the basis of their religious rights? What is the difference?

    These are real questions, not rhetorical ones. Please answer. Anyone. Please.

    In my opinion, because this is such a radical change of marriage and also implies a radical, unprecedented, extension of civil rights — the proper course is for this decision to be decided by the people and/or their legislators. The courts, however, will ultimately decide whether this is the case. Really, the Prop 8 fight ought to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The people have legitimately overturned the California Court, by due process of law. You can talk about “writing discrimination into the constitution” all you want — but it is lawful. Just as lawful as the way the Constitution discriminates against non-U.S. born persons as well as persons under 35, to be U.S. President. Technically speaking, there’s no problem with “discrimination” in the constitution.

    Whether this particular discrimination should be, should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. If they rule in favor of gay marriage, it will imply a radical change in the meaning of marriage. Even still, their decision can be overturned by a constitutional amendment, and then there’s nothing any Court can do about it.

  55. One more thing to add to my last comment:

    In fact, there is nothing that is more denigrating to the U.S. Constitution than the idea of an “objective” standard that determines what is right and wrong. The Constitution requires “objectivity” (a hopeless standard, in my opinion) only inasmuch as the people (non-objectively) require it. Rule of law is determined by a written constitution that is interpreted by judges (not objectively observed) and the voice of the people, either directly or through elected representatives (and popularity certainly doesn’t mean objectivity). According to the Constitution, interpretation and popularity are the rule, not so-called objectivity. (The same applies to criminal court judgments by jurors.)

  56. Dennis-

    “When I say “supra-individual,” I mean that the “rights” of an individual are circumscribed not only by their individual identity but by their relations to other people in a way that is in accordance with that identity.”

    Thank you for answering my question, but
    I am still confused, not by your definition of ‘supra-individual rights’, but by the implication that gays are asking for anything different than what is already granted most of the rest of the population. I only see that they are asking for equal rights, not special rights. We have rights based on our relations to other people and it is called marriage. These rights grant us many benefits including tax exemptions, work related benefits, respect, support in our commitments and so much more. Gay persons pay the same taxes that we do, in fact they support our children’s education, the high public cost of divorce, and other things some of which they are not even entitled to be a part of.
    Part of my belief, which is one reason I do see this as a civil rights issue, is that most same-sex attraction is not a choice. I believe just as we do not choose our skin color or sex, same-sex attraction is for the most part not a choice. The bill of rights says that all men are created equal, then why are some excluded from rights based their genetic make-up? I know this is probably a moot point if one thinks same-sex attraction a choice, but I think it is a valid consideration.

    “And why are we not fighting for this for the polygamist, on the basis of their religious rights? What is the difference?”

    I think by changing the definition of marriage the polygamist issue will inevitably need to be delt with as well. Again, I only object to polygamy if men are fathering children they can not support. And your right, the economics can’t really be separated from the morality, but I do think economics is a consideration in both polygamy and same-sex marriage. Some have suggested the church is so adamantly opposed to changing the definition of marriage for the very reason that polygamy may become legal as well ,and the church would have to deal with all that would come with that.

  57. Samara-

    “These rights grant us many benefits including tax exemptions, work related benefits, respect, support in our commitments and so much more.”

    As for the first few, it was my understanding that such benefits are already available to same-sex couples–especially in California. As for respect and support, why would a group that wants religious folks to “get their morality out of my government” seek to legislate respect and support for specific groups? How is that not legislating morality?

    “The bill of rights says that all men are created equal, then why are some excluded from rights based their genetic make-up?”

    I don’t think your interpretation of the bill of rights is a very defensible one. Many are born with genetic disorders. Even common psychological disorders like depression and anxiety have genetic connections as strong as same-gender attraction. We often seek to help people with such conditions, but they aren’t typically considered as groups. Certainly they are never compared to a race. Rather than change society to help them, we are more interested in changing them to fit society. This, like any “born that way” argument, simply fails to answer the question.

    “Some have suggested the church is so adamantly opposed to changing the definition of marriage for the very reason that polygamy may become legal as well ,and the church would have to deal with all that would come with that.”

    Its true that some have suggested this (On this very website, in fact). I just wanted to throw in my two cents. I really doubt this is a factor in the church’s involvement, but if we suppose that it is, what exactly does that mean? It isn’t a stand-alone argument against the church’s involvement in Prop. 8.

  58. Samara and Dan,

    Concerning the Church’s supposed fear of the legalization of polygamy, I’ll repeat again something I said in an earlier comment:

    Concerning polygamy, you should know very well that polygamy, as stated in the Book of Mormon and as evidenced by the creation belief of Adam and Eve (not Adam, Eve, and Linda) that polygamy is an exception that God occasionally allows for. To claim that the legalization of polygamy would suddenly require the Church to adopt it is, at the very least saying too much. MAYBE the practice would be restored — but it wouldn’t be automatically. If so, then Mormons in African countries would be polygamists — instead polygamists in African countries (where polygamy is legal) who wish to join the church are not allowed to do so.

  59. One thing to add to my last comment:

    In my view, polygamy will require a revelation again to be reinstated. There is nothing in the revelations that implies that if the current laws were lifted, polygamy would automatically be reinstated.

  60. The title of this post is “Please don’t H8 me because I’m Mormon.” That sounds reasonable to me. But then you say “As if everyone in favor of Prop 8 is hateful and bigoted. ” Your individual feelings don’t count to those whose marriages have been (or will be) invalidated. By you. It makes no difference how you feel, it’s your actions that count. Get it?

    You voted to take away actual civil rights from actual humans to get married. Your personal kind feeling or whatever you call them make no difference. Your actions, as you state them, “yes on 8” are all that matters. Your self-described actions, are in the charming shorthand, “h8.” Suck it up.

    PS. did you see this?

    “Thirty-seven percent of all Americans do not know a Mormon, and 55 percent of all Americans do not know an active Mormon. In fact, those who know one Mormon have a worse opinion of us than those who don’t know any Mormons,” Lawrence said.

    That’s Gary Lawrence, who oversaw the Mormon Yes on 8 campaign in CA, and has a gay son who does not feel the love. (Mormon source.)
    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=4845779

  61. djinn,

    So, actions are all that matters? Well, then you are a liar. You said I voted yes on 8 and I did not. Regardless of your intentions or how you feel about them, it doesn’t matter. Your actions are all that matter. And I, not you, am the one who gets to say what your actions mean. I am the objective arbiter of the meanings of your actions. Suck it up, liar.

    Seriously, djinn, we won’t get very far by playing a zealous but unknowledgeable judge of others’ actions. Or by being a bully. This is a lesson people on both sides of this debate can learn …. leave some of the drama at home, and start making some logical arguments. THIS action is one that truly will matter, if you ask me …

  62. djinn,

    Doesn’t the survey research you linked highlight the importance of Dennis’ topic of discussion? I’m not sure of the relevance otherwise…

  63. The LDS image problem is of long standing. There is a steady stream of anti-LDS books coming from the Evangelical right. However, the work of the broad coalition of Catholic, Evangelical, and LDS leaders on Prop 8 actually softened some of the feelings of Evangelicals towards the LDS, and a number of Catholic and Evangelical leaders have stepped forward to defend the LDS from recent attacks, for which I am grateful.

  64. I was much too harsh, and I’m sorry I misread your comment about voting and Prop. 8., as you voting for it.

    Of course no one should assume anything so private as individual voting behavior based on someone’s religion.

    I just did a little moseying around on the internets, and there does appear to be quite a bit of praise for Mormons from Evangelicals, even some that looks quite a bit like admiration. So, perhaps this will bring Evangelicals and Mormons closer.

    But, I still think it’s pretty mean to take civil rights away from an unpopular minority by vote. The court system was specifically set up to prevent just that outcome. “Tyranny of the Majority” and all. “Activist Judges” are just doing their job.

  65. djinn,

    Well, your having been too harsh and misreading someone’s actions qualifies you to enter a very, very large club. Which I also am a part of :) (I still need to write my open apology to everyone I have ever offended on the Internet …)

    I am wary of an increased Mormon-Evangelical alliance — I agree one may be happening. I would prefer increased alliances with African Americans, Latinos, and Catholics. An alliance that would change the Democratic Party rather than make Mormons more of an inclusive part of Republican and conservative circles.

    It definitely is mean to “take civil rights away from an unpopular minority by vote.” I consider myself a champion of civil rights and of the need for courts (even in some cases “activist” judges) to fight against the “tyranny of the majority.” I think that nearly all Mormons do (though I am certainly more on the liberal side for my tolerance for “activism”).

    I simply don’t believe that this is a civil rights issue. And this is the case for I think nearly everyone who voted against it. If I and others are wrong, then the case should go to the U.S. Supreme Court (something same-sex marriage fans don’t want). If we are right, then the issue still is an important legal matter and some of us might be persuaded by respectful dialogue. But not accusations of bigotry. That’s one of the biggest points I wanted to make in writing this post.

    So far, I’ve yet to hear a good defense to the sincere questions I have raised (in the comments, above).

  66. Could you please repeat the sincere questions? I seem to have missed them.

  67. Actually, I believe I answered your questions on Nov. 14th, where I discussed the three different levels of discrimination, as seen by the US court system, which I assume, perhaps wrongly, that we are discussing,.

  68. Why isn’t it a civil rights issue? The benefits of Marriage that we all share, no matter our religious background are all civil matters. The tax code, probate issues, rights to visit spouses in the hospital have no religious angle at all. Marriage, the one that requires a marriage certificate issued by the State and gives a person State and Federal benefits, is absolutely civil. Religious marriage may bestow extra benefits, but those have nothing to do with the desire of two people to be able to visit their loved one in the hospital if one is injured in an accident in some unfriendly portion of the country. Utah, perhaps?

  69. Oh, and by voting on Prop. 8, those that did, absolutely took away an actual civil right, the right to marrry away from actual human beings. How else can you parse this?

  70. djinn,

    I’ll quote what I wrote earlier:

    The question that I want answered, in this regard, NO ONE HAS YET ANSWERED:

    As far as I can tell, the ultimate question is whether gays and lesbians deserve SPECIAL rights. Why do they deserve the right not only to get married (they already do — anyone can get married) but that they also have the right to have the definition of marriage radically changed on their behalf? And why are we not fighting for this for the polygamist, on the basis of their religious rights? What is the difference?

    In regards to this comment of yours:

    Why isn’t it a civil rights issue? The benefits of Marriage that we all share, no matter our religious background are all civil matters.

    Of course marriage is civil. That doesn’t mean it is a civil right. Or, even if it is a civil right, it doesn’t mean that it is a civil right to marry whoever you want. Again, anyone can still marry in California. Nobody took away the right to marry from anyone.

  71. Nobody took away the right to marry from anyone.

    Nonsense.

    Ballot label: Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry.

    Nobody argued the truth of the ballot title before the election. The only thing they argued was that it would unfairly bias the voters towards voting “no”.

  72. I’m sorry Dennis, I’m truly trying to understand. Civil unions, recognized only in California, and certainly not recognized in the 20-odd states that forbid such things, are not Marriage. If DOMA were to be repealed, the difference between Marriage and a civil union would be even more stark.

    “Nobody took the right ot marry from anyone.” This statement is demonstrably and obviously false. Gays could marry (a civil right) until the vote, and then, by vote, they couldn’t. You simply cannot deny that a right was taken away, unless you’re also willing to deny, say, that the sky is blue, during the day, when it’s not cloudy.

  73. Oh, between the ballot initative being passed and the titling of the ballot, the CA supreme court ruled on gay marriage, making sexual orientation a suspect class, with all its associated rights. The title of the Ballot was simply and inarguably correct. Argue, please.

  74. Mark N. and djinn,

    You must forgive my strict literalism. When I say “Nobody took the right to marry away from anyone,” I mean that gays can still marry. They can marry someone of the other sex. There is nothing about their being homosexuals that can keep the state from interfering in such marriages. So, yes, gays CAN still marry — a subtle but crucial point.

    So when the ballot label says “Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry,” it is referring to taking away the right of couples, not individuals. It is this special right of couples — not individuals — that I am challenging.

    This difference between couple rights and individual rights is at the heart of the “sincere questions” I am asking (above).

  75. This is all a word game. Words like marriage, gay (which once meant something quite different than it does now), spouse, civil right, etc. need to be defined before they can be discussed. If marriage is defined as it has almost always has been until very recently then homosexuals have the right to marry as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. This is the same right the heterosexuals have. Heterosexuals are not allowed to “marry” those of the same sex and have that union legally recognized. They are equal in that regard, whether that is their preference or not. They have the same civil right. In addition, couples in California have extensive domestic partnership benefits, the equivalent of civil unions, which now seem anathema to the GLBT community, despite the fact that they effectively address many real concerns about property, healthcare, etc.

    If the new “civil right” is to marry anyone you want, that “civil right” is denied to those desiring polygamy, of whom there are millions world-wide. But what makes something a “civil right?” It is a question of a definition. Blacks, who know something about the civil rights struggle, overwhelmingly rejected the notion that same sex “marriage” was a “civil right.”

    Many pro-life people argue that since life begins at conception, then abortion denies the most basic “civil right” of all, namely life. The counter argument is that that definition of life is the incorrect one. So who gets to define what is the proper definition of the beginning of life or what is a “marriage?”

    I would argue that civil rights in the U.S. are properly identified by a constitutional process. In California, the right to amend the constitution is not granted to the people, it is reserved by the people. The people as whole get to define words and what they mean. Hijacking a word and giving it another meaning (whether by activist judges or a constant barrage from the media or the blogosphere) was not accepted by the people. In fact, the definition was voted on twice in California with the same result. In every state where the matter has been put to a vote by the people, the result has been the same. Nationally, the polls overwhelmingly support the historic definition of the word “marriage.” If something, such as a new definition of a word, is forced on the people against their will, they are naturally suspicious of those doing the forcing. If those who exercised their right to vote their conscience are now shouted down and intimidated, they are even more suspicious of giving into a powerful and vocal minority that construes any opposition as intolerance, hatred, and bigotry.

  76. To keep it brief, the right to marry is meaningless if it doesn’t mean the right to marry the person of one’s choice.

    It’s not much different from inviting someone with a seafood allergy to dinner at Red Lobster and saying, hey, pick anything on the menu, it’s on me. “Sorry, but there’s nothing on this menu I can eat.”

    Oh, too bad for you.

    “Let’s go to Black Angus. I can eat steak.”

    Nope, the offer is Red Lobster or nothing.

    “How generous of you.”

    It’s just the kind of guy I am.

  77. I am sorry that you are allergic to marriage, as it has been historically defined. That is your problem, not a problem with the definition of marriage. You should get your own institution rather than hijack someone else’s. I have no problem with civil unions. Just don’t create a legal demand that a Kosher deli must serve you a bacon cheeseburger.

  78. Just don’t create a legal demand that a Kosher deli must serve you a bacon cheeseburger.

    First of all, I am married, with 5 kids, to my wife of 29 years (less a couple or three weeks). No personal allergy there.

    Second, I’m not interested in insisting that Kosher delis serve bacon cheesburgers.

    But it would seem that there are lots of people who insist on making sure that no restaurants anywhere are allowed to serve any bacon cheeseburgers to anyone. That choice will simply not be allowed on anyone’s menu. All possible healthy menu choices have heretofore been created, and no new recipes are allowed. Why?

    Because God says so.

    Understand: I am an active member of the Church, and I have no desire or expectation that gospel doctrine regarding “gay marriage” in the Church will ever change.

    However, the challenge is to convince the world that God does not approve of gay marriage, or homosexuality in general. I really don’t think that supporting and passing laws like Prop 8 is going to get us there.

    Preaching the gospel might get us there (but not everyone will accept it). But it looks a lot better than the Prop 8 route, to me, at least.

  79. Gay unions are not “marriages” by definition. What is your objection to civil unions? It seems to me like it is an alternative restaurant and most likely to lead to a decent civil order. Forcing a change by fiat against the will of the people and the common definition of the word does not strike me as good government. Remember Prop 8 merely repeated Prop 22, which was overwhelmingly passed and overturned by the courts. The people merely responded that in California the people are still sovereign. Meanwhile, California’s very extensive domestic partnership rights are unaffected. I live in California and have no objection to those laws.

  80. Mark N.,

    God’s spokesmen apparently disagree. It’s them you need to convince, because I believe they know much more than we do, and until you change their mind, you’re not changing mine.

  81. Oh, and Mark, don’t go around saying the prophets have got it wrong and yet claim you are an active member of the church. I’m sorry, that just isn’t right. I believe that people can differ in opinion from the prophets, sure, but to actively try to persuade other members to disregard their instructions is just wrong.

  82. But Dennis, how would you like your choices of marriage partners to be exclusively of your sex, male, I assume. The fact that they can marry people whom they have no interest in marrying, as the Mormon experience in attempting such behavior attests, is not a recommendation.

  83. Jeff Thayne, on November 26th, 2008 at 3:35 pm Said:

    God’s spokesmen apparently disagree.

    About what? That the best way to convince the world of the truth about how homosexuality leads to damnation is by attempting to pass laws forbidding gay marriage?

    What about all of the other “divers ways and means” “whereby [we] may commit sin”, “even so many that [King Benjamin] cannot number them”? (See Mosiah 4:29.)

    All sin results in damnation. When do we start passing laws to prevent everyone from wandering down all of those other “divers ways” whereby we may commit sin, which all lead to the same exact destruction that homosexuality leads to?

    You really think that passing coercive laws will solve everything?

    Moroni 7:

    6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
    7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
    8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

    Coercive laws do not righteous people make. So, what next?

    If Prop 8 had not passed, the Supreme Court would not be getting itself involved with questions as to the constitutionality of eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry by way of voter initiative. But now those Justices are definitely back in the picture. If the Court remains consistent with its view as stated in the “In re Marriage Cases” ruling, we pretty much know that Prop 8 is headed for the dustbin.

    Nothing fails like success.

    The scriptures and the prophets are clear: homosexuality has no place in the Plan of Salvation. Where do we go from here to convince the world “that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations”? Back to the ballot box again?

  84. What is your objection to civil unions?

    My objections don’t matter much, because I’m not gay.

    Gay people object to them on their “separate but equal” status, or so it appears to me.

  85. The Prop 8 debate was not about sin and damnation. Californians did not vote on those subjects. They voted on a very specific legal definition of marriage to reverse an act of judicial activism and to protect the rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of parents to influence what their children are taught. The passage of Proposition 8 was designed to prevent coercion. The coercive tactics used by gay marriage campaigners confirm believers’ worst fears. See http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/same_sex_marriage_and_its_threat_to_religious_liberty/ No single law will make every group happy, but many voters, including myself, felt that a combination of strong domestic partnership rights and Proposition 8 was the best solution for the diverse parts of California’s society to live and let live.

    You write “If Prop 8 had not passed, the Supreme Court would not be getting itself involved with questions as to the constitutionality of eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry by way of voter initiative.” This sentence makes no sense. The California Supreme Court’s involvement was the catalyst for Prop 8’s passage. The so-called “right” was invented by the Court against the expressed will of the people in Prop 22, which will was reaffirmed by Prop 8. In California, the right to amend the constitution is not granted to the people by the courts, it is reserved by the people. The idea of the initiative process is to allow the people to overrule government which does not represent them. You may recall these words from the Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. If you are referring to the U.S. Supreme Court, I doubt the current court would agree with you.

    The separate but equal argument in analogy to the Jim Crow laws was overwhelmingly rejected by blacks, who well understood the Jim Crow laws, and who strongly supported Proposition 8. Homosexual couples prosper more economically than heterosexual couples, in stark contrast to the continuing plight of blacks and many other minorities. The GLBT lobby in California is arguably the most powerful in the state, in stark contrast to blacks, who were disenfranchised for decades in the South. Race is an arbitrary social construct in this country, not a clear biological one, and a construct that has a unique history literally in chains and slavery, the effects of which still linger. Gender is not the same as race. Behavioral preferences are not the same as race. I find the black civil rights analogy unconvincing.

  86. In the end, it’s not going to matter what I think, or what you think. It’s going to matter what the Supreme Court thinks after it hears the arguments come this March. We’ll just have to wait and see what those radical, activist (Republican-appointed) judges have to say.

  87. The Prop 8 debate was not about sin and damnation.

    I suspect that in the minds of many LDS voters, that’s exactly what the debate was about. They don’t want a bunch of sinners co-opting their definition of marriage.

    You write “If Prop 8 had not passed, the Supreme Court would not be getting itself involved with questions as to the constitutionality of eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry by way of voter initiative.” This sentence makes no sense.

    If Prop 8 had failed, the CA Supreme Court wouldn’t have scheduled any further debate on Prop 8, because the whole thing would have been moot. Now they have chosen to be involved again as a result of the lawsuits files as a result of the initiative passing.

    What possible lawsuits could the “Yes on 8” people have filed if the measure had failed at the ballot box? None come to mind.

  88. Jeff Thayne,

    Quoting your response to Mark N.,

    “God’s spokesmen apparently disagree. It’s them you need to convince, because I believe they know much more than we do, and until you change their mind, you’re not changing mine.”

    I assume you are addressing his previous comment,

    “However, the challenge is to convince the world that God does not approve of gay marriage, or homosexuality in general. I really don’t think that supporting and passing laws like Prop 8 is going to get us there.”

    If this is correct, then I have to take issue with your assessment. I have NEVER heard ANY mention from ANYONE in church leadership that church involvement in Prop. 8 had ANYTHING to do with spreading the gospel or with convincing others that homosexual behavior is wrong. So, Mark N. can have his opinion on how Prop. 8 is or isn’t effective for those specific purposes without disagreeing with any church leaders.

    Switching topics,

    Dennis’ point that this represents a new way of thinking about civil rights is a valid one. Reviewing the comments, I can only find emotional (moral) responses to this point. Not that emotional responses are necessarily wrong or invalid, but shouldn’t the H8 rhetoric be dropped if this is truly the case? Or have I misunderstood something?

  89. Here in California I heard not one word in any commercial or political ad about Prop 8 talking about sin and damnation. I didn’t hear such rhetoric from any spokesman of any faith tradition, and I attended meetings where Catholic, Protestant, LDS, and Jewish representatives spoke. So I am not impressed by your suspicions about why people voted the way they did. It does matter, Mark, what you think when you publicly express those thoughts to impugn the motives of voters whose minds you do not know and to discredit the results of an election.

    The Yes on 8 people will be represented in court in the upcoming challenges to Prop 8, and I fully expect Prop 8 to be upheld.

    If Prop 8 had failed, the issue would hardly be over. The next steps would have been to use the California law to challenge federal DOMA laws and the laws of other states, demanding that California marriages be recognized in all fifty states under the full faith and credit clause of the constitution and the newly minted civil right. If Prop 8 had failed, sooner or later some of the millions of Moslems worldwide who have contracted polygamous marriages would migrate to California and demand the state recognize their civil right to be married to whomever they want.

  90. Here in California I heard not one word in any commercial or political ad about Prop 8 talking about sin and damnation.

    They didn’t have to.

  91. So people are judged not on the arguments they make, but for the arguments they didn’t make, but which you presume to know were there real motivation? Is this a game you are willing to play on other issues and in other elections?

  92. Leo, the Church went out of its way to emphasize that this was a moral issue, hence their involvement with pushing the membership to see to it that the Proposition passed. I don’t think you can separate concepts of morality and sin and damnation in the minds of the members, particularly when the campaign talking points went to how children would be affected by the existence of gay marriage. It stopped being about “saving” marriage, and started being about “saving” the kids from the evil influences of gay people. And what righteous Mormon parents wouldn’t be vitally interested in seeing to it that their kids didn’t end up in the telestial kingdom with “they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie… who suffer the wrath of God on earth… who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire… who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God”? In the minds of Mormon parents, I think that’s what the stakes were.

    It’ll be interesting to hear the direction that the arguments made in court in March take.

  93. Mark N.,

    I’m going to have to agree with Leo on this one. You’ve decided that you know the entire motivation behind most, or at least many, Mormon voters in CA. This isn’t based on a census, or even a survey of the population. You’re simply extrapolating from (presumably) limited data from your own experience. On top of that, you’re also using a pseudo-psychological profile that you’ve generalized to the “Mormon parents” demographic which, I assume, is also based on your own limited experience. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the church or how many wards you’ve been in–you don’t speak for the voting membership of the church in California, nor should you try to totalize them (or their voting behavior) into a two-dimensional caricature. I think I can see your line of reasoning, and even know some people (not all Mormons) who probably were motivated along the lines you suggest, but that hardly justifies sweeping generalizations.

    If you’d like, we can talk about what it might or might not mean IF your assumptions are correct, but that isn’t really on topic.

    I agree that it will be interesting to hear what goes on in March.

    I hope that didn’t come across as too harsh. Overall, I’m really enjoying this discussion.

  94. I agree it’s a sweeping generalization. But good Mormon parents who have been raised in the Church must surely have integrated some portion of section 76 of the D&C into their subconscious at the very least. When the focus shifted from the concept of saving marriage to saving their kids, somewhere way back in the corners of the mind, I would think that some of this has to be shooting up little subconscious red flags. When the focus stops being an abstract concept and turns into little human beings with faces who they know and love, well, now we’re dealing with the plan of salvation on an individual basis.

    I’m not saying this was the immediate motivation of most LDS parents, only that there’s likely some piece of this going through their heads as a result of this being a “moral issue” tied to their kids in the eyes of the Church.

  95. Mark, you didn’t answer my question if you judge other election issues on what you see as subconscious motivations of the voters. I agree that is it one way to make decisions, but it strikes me as less reliable than looking at the issues that were actually put on the table, like the proper balance between gender preferences and the rights of religious freedom, freedom of speech, the rights of parents to influence the content of public instruction, the right of people to participate in the public square without harassment, and even the right of the people to have their democratic votes recognized.

    I, too, agree that it will be interesting to hear what goes on in March. This issue is not going away, and I have had my eyes opened about what is going on in the public square and how that might impinge upon my rights.

  96. Leo, what rights of yours are about to be impinged upon?

  97. Mark,

    You still didn’t answer my question.

    If you went to the link I posted above on November 27th, 2008 at 9:25 am, I already answered yours.

    I think I have already made it clear that if gender preference rights trump all other rights then the right of the people to democracy will be trumped, the right of religious institutions to exercise their free speech rights will be trumped, the right of religions to perform traditional marriages will be trumped, and the right of parents to opt out of certain sexual education curricula will be trumped. Why should I give away my rights when domestic partnership rights provide a more reasonable balance of everyone’s rights?

  98. Is this a game you are willing to play on other issues and in other elections?

    So far, this is the only election I can recall with this big a push from the Church to get the membership to support a moral cause (I know the call from the Salt Lake pulpit has happened before, but I’ve never seen the local ward put in so much time and effort on seeing to it that the vote went the desired direction), so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if it happens again.

    Does that answer the question?

  99. Leo, given the amount of credence you give the article you cited from http://www.mercatornet.com, does this mean you’ve lost faith in the following statement:

    “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:540

    What, really, does the Church have to fear from “gay marriage”, or anything else, for that matter, if what Joseph Smith said about the gospel of Jesus Christ is true?

  100. Here’s the latest interesting news on the Prop 8 front:

    Prop. 8 backers splinter as court fight resumes

    “Thanks for all your help, Mr. Thomasson, but you’re making us look like something we don’t want to look like right now, so, please, just sit down and shut up.”

  101. Mark, so this is the first time you have played this game with elections? It is an interesting game, implying you know someone’s real motivations and ignoring their actual arguments.

    I fail to see how the article I cited at Mercator implies I don’t believe in the ultimate triumph of the Restored Gospel. Your argument seems to be that since the Church will triumph, Church members need do nothing and that Church members may safely ignore the counsel of the general authorities. That is unorthodox, to say the least.

    The National Review has editorialized: “Anti-Mormon bigotry is unfortunately common, and gay-rights activists are cynically exploiting that fact…. Freedom of conscience, or diversity of belief, is the last thing the homosexual lobby will tolerate… If you believe that churches and synagogues, priests and rabbis won’t eventually be sued for their statements on sexuality, you’re kidding yourself… Given their cavalier disregard for the freedom of conscience, it’s little surprise that the gay lobby is equally disdainful of democracy…They’ve already burned the Book of Mormon. The First Amendment is next.”

    If any church, synagogue, mosque, or temple in America, loses its basic First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly without fear or intimidation, irreparable harm will have been done to the civil rights of their members and to the fabric of the whole country. Even if the Church triumphs, as I believe it inevitably will, I do not want to see any religious organization loose its First Amendment rights.

    So I think this is a big issue and that effort of the Church was not out of proportion.

    Re the SF Gate article. It is true that the groups that joined forces to pass Prop 8 do not march in lockstep. That is their constitutional right. They have a right to split if they don’t agree. I am not sure what you point is. The official group that owns ProtectMarriage.com and to which I donated, is and was and is dedicated to protecting the traditional definition of marriage. No more. No less. There are other groups that have other agendas. I did not support them. So again, what is your point in referencing this article?

  102. Mark N.,

    I think what Leo is trying to ask is that in ANY election–whether the church is involved or not–would you be willing to play the psychoanalysis of voters game?

    I would guess that your answer would be “yes” as there isn’t anything special about church members that makes them more appropriate subjects for psychological reading.
    Of course, you may be willing to argue that there IS something special about church members that makes them easier to read, but that sounds an awful lot like prejudice.

    Whomever the voters are, the “real motivation” game isn’t a fair game to play. Its like playing poker with all the aces up your sleeve–anytime someone might win, just pull out the trump card.

    Note: I am not saying that you aren’t right. You may be entirely accurate in your guesses. It simply isn’t fair, nor entirely charitable to those whose voting behavior you’ve characterized.

    You need to give people a chance to speak for themselves. If you’ve already decided not to believe their spoken answers, relying instead on assumed underlying motivations, you either believe they are dishonest or too unintelligent to discern things for themselves. Either way sounds a lot like you’ve made up your mind before the ballots are even counted. It seems to me that you only see kool-aid drinkers on one side of the fence (or at least you see a disproportionate amount on one side).

    Also, of course the lawyers are wanting to distance themselves from the more extreme groups. I’m sure the anti-proposition 8 lawyers have some groups that they like to keep at a healthy distance, too.

  103. Oh, sorry. If I had seen Leo’s response I probably wouldn’t have posted that last comment. Go ahead and pursue your own argument, Leo. Sorry for butting in.

  104. Dan,

    No problem. I appreciate your contribution, which is more eloquent than mine. This is a public forum, and I have no wish to have this become a two-person argument. Mark is constitutionally entitled to his views. There are many other topics that are of greater interest to me that this one, but a steady drum beat of attacks on the Church has resulted in my involvement in the issue.

    My understanding of the legal and cultural issues raised in this controversy has evolved during the past year. My eyes have been opened regarding disturbing trends. I am convinced that those favoring not only traditional marriage, but also rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, the right of people to participate in the public square without fear or intimidation, need to defend themselves and make their views known. It is a duty we owe to the rising generation.

  105. Mark, so this is the first time you have played this game with elections?

    I’m certainly not playing it with regard to how or why Obama was elected. I’m “playing this game” with Prop 8, and I’m speculating on the motivations of only the LDS voters who voted for Prop 8 because of the Church’s involvement in this “moral issue”. You can’t tell me that doctrinally-aware members of the Church are going to walk into the voting booth and turn off the part of them that has integrated the lessons they’ve been taught over their lifetimes about the plan of salvation. They’re all going to put their paradigm front and center and assume their doing the right thing by taking away rights from the gay community, because God via the Prophet has said it’s the right thing to do, and like Bro. Eckern who lost his job after having been “outed” as a Prop 8 donor, they’re going to suddenly be very surprised at the reaction they get from the gay community when they’re perceived as having gone on the offensive against them by working as hard as they did on this issue.

    I see no reason to expect any different result from the Supreme Court next year with regard to Prop 8 than what has already been stated about Prop 22. Then we’ll all learn a valuable Civics Lesson in the Aftermath of Prop. 8.

    Should that be the case, I guess maybe Prop 8 will become the Zion’s Camp of our day. I didn’t accomplish what it set out to do, but will be looked upon as a trial of the member’s faith, and a criteria the leadership can use to distinguish the truly faithful in the flock for the purposes of callings to be made in the future.

  106. you may be willing to argue that there IS something special about church members that makes them easier to read, but that sounds an awful lot like prejudice.

    The only reason I’m trying to “read” LDS Church members is because I’m one of them, and think I have a slightly better insight into their thinking than one who is not a member, that’s all.

    Whoops, the previous message should have stated that “it didn’t accomplish”, not “i”.

  107. Now, here’s what we used to teach about marriage.

    From the Journal of Discourses, a talk from Elder Orson Pratt on October 7, 1874, wherein he comments on “traditional” marriage:

    Marriage is an ordinance pertaining to this mortal life—to this world—this probation, just the same as baptism and the laying on of hands; it reaches forth into eternity, and has a bearing upon our future state; so does baptism; so does the ordinance of the laying on of hands; so does every ordinance which the Lord our God has revealed to us. If we attend to these things here in this life, they are secure something beyond this life—for eternity. They neither baptize, nor receive baptism, after the resurrection. Why? Because neither was intended to be administered after the resurrection. After the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage. Why? Because this is the world where these ceremonies are to be attended to. That which is secured here, will be secured hereafter, if it be secured upon the principles of law which God has revealed. Marriage, then for eternity, is the great principle of marriage with the Latter-day Saints; and yet, I am sorry to say, that there are some of our young people who will suffer themselves to be married by the civil law; not for eternity, but just like the old Gentile custom—the way our forefathers were married. A justice of the peace, a judge, or some one having the right by the civil laws, will pronounce them husband and wife for a short space, called time; perhaps to last only about three score years, and then it is all over with the marriage contract; it is run out; they are husband and wife until death shall separate them, and then they are fully divorced. We do not believe in any such nonsense; it is one of the ideas of the Gentile world in regard to marriage…

    [Eternal marriage] is the kind of marriage that we Latter-day Saints believe in; and yet some of our young people, professing to be members of the Church and who say they wish to keep the commandments of God, go and get married by a justice of the peace, or some person authorized to perform that ceremony by the civil law. Ask parties who are guilty of such folly, why they were married by these officers of the law until death should part them? and they will say, “We did it inconsiderately, and without reflection,” or perhaps they will say that their parents did not teach them on that point. Do you not know that such marriages are not sealed by him that is appointed by divine authority? that they are not of God and are illegal in his sight, and your children are illegitimate in the sight of God? If you expect to have any benefits in eternity arising from you children, they must be yours legally, according to divine appointment, under a divine marriage. “What God has joined together let not man put asunder.” But what has God to do with it, when a magistrate, who, perhaps, is an infidel, and does not believe in a God at all, says to a man and woman, “Join your hands together,” and then, when they have done so, he says, “I pronounce you husband and wife?” What has God to do with such a marriage as that? Has God joined them together? No, a civil magistrate has done it; and it is legal so far as the laws of the country are concerned, and the children are legal and heirs to their parents property so far as the civil law is concerned, but what has God to do with it? Has he joined them together? No, and the marriage is illegal, and, in the sight of heaven, the children springing from such a marriage are bastards.

    There’s the “traditional” marriage that we worked so hard to protect in this last election.

    And here we have Elder Henry W. Naisbitt (JD, from the tabernacle, March 8, 1885), putting his finger on the real threat to marriage:

    If we treat the marriage relation with levity; if we should believe that it was but a civil contract, and for time only, we should be weak as others and should not excel: if it is not part of our religion and of God, then it is not of value to us. In my experience—and that is not a very lengthy one—I have marked the change in feeling that has come over the nations in regard to this marriage question. When I was a lad it was very unusual for a man to take to himself a wife without the sanction of religion. All the marriages of Old England had to be celebrated in the Established Church, and a record was kept of them there, and of the posterity issuing from that marriage, and when these died, their death also was recorded, so that there was an unbroken chain of genealogical evidence in that respect often of immense value for legitimacy and other purposes. But by and by the spirit of religious liberty, as it was called, began to spread. It is but a hundred years ago, or a little over, since Methodism was established—the now dominant, or next to dominant religious organization of Christendom. It began in a small way; but it increased and spread abroad; it multiplied its converts, its ministers and its chapels; it became a potent factor, in a political sense, in the nation, and it was necessary that political parties should conciliate and cater to this increasingly wealthy religious organization; and when the Methodists wanted marriages performed in their own, instead of going to the Established Churches, their power and influence, the influence of wealth and numbers, their power as a political factor of the nation, gave them favor in the eyes of the ministry and the legislature. By and by they were allowed the privilege of marrying in their own churches and chapels, and by their own ministers. And as it was with this body, so it was with the smaller bodies, the satellites thrown off and revolving around the great planets of religious organization in that country. And then as this so-called religious liberty increased in spirit, scepticism began to grow in the minds of many in regard to religious doctrines. There were thousands of people that had no more faith in Methodism than in the Established Church, or in Catholicism. They had more faith in Tom Paine, and Voltaire, and Rosseau, and such men as Ingersoll, and their liberty made it appear plausible to them that there was no necessity to go to any church, or seek the aid of any minster, or have any religious ceremony in connection with their own marriage or the marriage of their families. So provision was made for this ever increasing host of sceptics, and finally it was decreed that marriage was nothing but a civil contract, not needing the service of a minister, or the sanction of religion, but requiring simply that it could be entered into after due notice was given, in a public place and not before a worshiping assembly. In such cases marriage was entered into as “a civil contract,” and when this stage was reached, inasmuch as it was but a civil contract, “only this and nothing more,” the next step of necessity was, that it could be dissolved. Where is there a contract of this nature that cannot be dissolved? If I am engaged by an employer we can dissolve the engagement whenever either of us is dissatisfied. And so this feature was applied to marriage; the laws of divorce were introduced, and that which was once considered discreditable, difficult and expensive, and would have been sounded from one end of the land to the other as such, became common and unworthy of remark.

    Thus the bonds of society are loosened; the sanctity of the marriage relation is destroyed; and the world is filled with entanglements that are the product of this civil contract business, and even where this contract remains intact, there is a spirit made manifest to avoid the responsibilities of marriage as to offspring, and to live together in numberless cases without any marriage at all; so that when the connection is broken it may be swept to the wind with no results traceable or injurious to any of those concerned.

    Once upon a time, we defended only eternal marriage. Now the line has moved a fair bit. We’ll defend civil marriage, just so long as the gay community doesn’t have it; or, rather, so long as the gay community isn’t allowed the use of the word “marriage”. Civil unions, wherein they are granted “equal rights” (which they really aren’t) are now OK by us.

    As the old cigarette commercials used to state, we’ve come a long way, baby.

  108. I will not attempt to persuade Mark N. If he is not persuaded by the living General Authorities of the Church he professes to belong to, he will not be persuaded by me.

    My agenda is very simple. I wish to defend the Church and its leaders against those who would attack it. I also wish to defend my first amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly, rights my forefathers fought for and which I will not surrender. I have argued above and will continue to maintain in future posts that surrendering the public square on this issue will do serious, if not irreparable harm to those long-established rights upon which this country was founded. I do this not only for myself, but for all who believe in these rights. In the interests of full disclosure, since no one knows who you really are on the internet, and anyone can claim to be a faithful member of the Church behind an anonymous post, my screen name is my real name, and I reside in the University City First Ward in the San Diego (California) North Stake.

    While I won’t argue with Mark, I will in future posts try to address the issues on this thread for the possible benefit my friends who are in sympathy with the spirit of Elder Eyring’s conference address “Finding Safety in Counsel,” (Ensign May, 1997) which talk I recommend to all.

  109. Mark N.,

    Thanks for the old quotes. It is always nice to hear something from the earlier history of the church every now and then. Of course, the quotes don’t say anything about the church being politically indifferent to civil marriage. I suspect that, had gay marriage been on the ballot back then, we may have been getting entirely different messages from church leadership. Your comparison can’t be used to draw any certain points of the sort you are trying to make.

    Not that it would matter whether or not you could anyway. Some might see continuing revelation as a way to keep the church from changing, that it must always be completely the same somehow. However, one of the greatest strengths afforded by continuing revelation is a sort of greater adaptability, so we would expect change whenever it was required and whenever it was relevant to an inquiry by church leadership.

    As to the psychological reading of church membership, I may have misunderstood you. It sounds a lot more like you are defending the church members’ voting behavior and not blaming them at all. I’m curious who (if anyone) you would blame for what you obviously see as a mistake in the church’s support of prop. 8.

    I’m wondering how you would argue that equal rights aren’t actually equal rights without bringing more psychology into the picture.

    Thanks for the linked article as well. What I don’t understand here is the fuzzy logic going on with regard to tyranny of the majority. We have existing laws that discriminate in this country. I’m sure there are minority groups (and certainly individual citizens) who would rather do away with all speed limits on highways. I’m sure we could even find some genetic similarities between individuals with such a desire (which apparently helps to consolidate their status as a group). I’m thinking that Dennis is right to suggest that this issue represents an entirely new way of looking at civil rights. And this new way of looking at civil rights will have real consequences that deserve to be weighed carefully before any such rights are granted.

  110. There is real danger in surrendering the public square to the gay lobby. If society can be tricked into redefining “marriage” then churches and church members can and eventually will be prosecuted for “hate speech” if they dare to speak out against homosexual behavior, if current trends continue unopposed. There will be a steady drumbeat for ordination of homosexuals and the performance of homosexual “marriages” as the price to pay for membership in the society of acceptable churches and institutions.

    Sound farfetched? In Sweden a pastor was sentenced to jail for criticizing homosexuality. The Left Party in Sweden now wants to force pastors to perform same-sex “marriages.” Catholic Charities in Boston shut down its adoption agency, rather than comply with the new “anti-discrimination” requirement for the placement of children. A similar case has occurred in Britain. A Knights of Columbus chapter in Canada was sued when it refused to rent out its hall for a same sex wedding reception. A similar case has occurred with Methodists in New Jersey. A Christian marriage counselor lost her job when she referred a lesbian couple to another therapist, rather than counsel them herself. In Canada a Mennonite school was informed that it must conform to the official provincial curriculum, which includes teaching homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle. At last report, the Mennonites were considering leaving the province rather than permit the imposition of the state-sponsored curriculum on their children.

    We have seen that if you cross the gay lobby, they will use the legal system to go after you. It is apparent of late that they will use any tool they can to go after you, including, if they can, blacklisting you, forcing you out of your job, and shutting down your business. It is reasonable to believe that any new gender preference rights will be used to trump free speech rights, rights to freedom of religion, rights to opt out of parts of the school curriculum, and even the right of the people to have their election results legally recognized.

    Embracing the homosexual agenda, however, will not prosper churches that do so. Churches that change the ordinance and break the covenant, churches that sell their birthright for a pot of message, have dubious prospects. The religious groups opposing Proposition 8 are those with steep membership declines. The Anglican and Episcopal churches are facing schism over the ordination of openly practicing homosexuals and homosexual “weddings.” The gay agenda is the path of church self-destruction.

    I believe the answer is for Latter-day Saints to stand with others of like mind in broad-based coalitions of people of faith to quietly and civilly, but firmly and steadfastly stand for our time-honored and God-given rights.

  111. For those interested, here is an official statement from ProtectMarriage.com on the progress so far on the court cases:

    The official proponents of Proposition 8 and ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, the campaign committee responsible for its enactment by voters today said it is “profoundly gratified” that the California Supreme Court granted all their requests by agreeing to accept original jurisdiction of three cases challenging the measure’s validity, granted their request to intervene in the cases as Real Parties in Interest, denied the request of others to delay implementation of Proposition 8, and refused to allow outside groups to directly participate in the litigation.

    “This is a great day for the rule of law and the voters of California,” said ProtectMarriage.com General Counsel Andy Pugno. “This order means that voters will get their day in court and ensures that voters will have a vigorous defense of Proposition 8 before the California Supreme Court. We are profoundly gratified with the Court’s order and are confident that Proposition 8 will be upheld.”

    The Supreme Court has accepted original jurisdiction of three cases that claim Proposition 8 is a constitutional revision rather than a constitutional amendment and thus should not have been presented to voters. The Court’s order accepting the cases, as was requests by the proponents of Proposition 8, will provide a ruling on Prop 8’s validity in a matter of months, rather than potentially years of protracted litigation.

    Perhaps the most significant part of the Supreme Court’s order is to deny the requests of the plaintiffs in the three cases to stay the implementation of Proposition 8. This means that, once the vote is certified, Proposition 8 will take effect as of midnight, November 5th. The Constitution of California has been amended to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman will be valid or recognized in California.

    “The California Supreme Court is recognizing the People’s vote on Proposition 8 and is allowing the measure to go into full effect,” Pugno said. “This is a great legal victory for voters.”

    Also of key significance, the Court has granted the request of the proponents of the initiative and their campaign committee to intervene in the litigation as Real Parties in Interests. This ruling grants the backers of Prop. 8 full legal standing to submit written arguments and appear in oral argument before the Court.

    “Granting the backers of Prop. 8 intervention in these cases means that voters can be certain that there will be a thorough and vigorous defense of Prop. 8, “Pugno said. “Voters will not have to solely depend on Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend the measure. Since the attorney general was an active opponent of Proposition 8, we did not want the fate of the measure to rest in his defense of it.”

    The Court also denied the request of unrelated parties, including the Campaign for California Families (CCF), to intervene in the litigation. The proponents of Prop. 8 had asked the Court to deny CCF’s proposed intervention.

    The cases seeking to invalidate Proposition 8 are Strauss v. Horton, S168047; City and County of San Francisco v. Horton, S168078; and Tyler v. State of California, S168066.

  112. Some notes from the ProtectMarriage.com website on the legal challenges to Proposition 8:

    …courts in neighboring states have uniformly rejected nearly identical challenges to measures banning same-sex marriage. “Other courts addressing similar revision/amendment arguments under closely analogous constitutional provisions have rejected them…Proposition 8 is simple, narrow, and targeted to a single issue. It restores the definition of marriage to what it was and always had been prior to May 15, 2008-nothing more…Whatever one’s view of the wisdom of Proposition 8, the people of California have spoken and their will should be respected.”

    “When using the initiative process to amend the Constitution, the people exercise their sovereign power of self-government. The three branches of government must accord profound respect and great deference to that authority, which is the very basis of the government’s democratic legitimacy.”

  113. churches and church members can and eventually will be prosecuted for “hate speech” if they dare to speak out against homosexual behavior

    I’m just not buying this line of thinking. However, if we want to cite Reynolds vs. the United States as evidence that you may be right, and that the courts have been known to stick their nose under the tent around religious belief, I’m not sure I’ll have much to say to counter your point here in all honesty. I just think that if the courts really ever do decide to go that far, then the nation itself will be in serious enough trouble with regard to its willingness to ignore its own bill of rights that religion won’t be the only aspect of society that will suffer from such decisions.

    Of course, I’m one of those who believe Reynolds was decided wrongly in the first case and that current events may eventually take us to the point where that has to be reexamined, but who knows…?

  114. Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with ANY case in which religious liberty should win.” (emphasis added).

    Of course, the people might object, if they get a chance to and their votes are allowed to count.

  115. Having read Gay Rights Law Faces Legal, Religious Challenges (found as a result of doing a Google using “Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor religious”), I’m not sure that Prop 8 would do anything to protect businesses like Elane Photography from being sued for refusing to offer their services to gay couples.

    If the law is increasingly going to take the viewpoint that discriminating against gay couples is the equivalent of discriminating against black couples, how would Prop 8 change that?

  116. If the law is already being used to go after anyone the GLBT lobby targets (cf. Andrew Greeley’s phrase “the lavender mafia”), I am not going to give them any more legal tools. Judicial activism to overthrow Proposition 22, the Proposition 8 referendum, and the tactics that followed when it passed, have awakened a sleeping giant, and as Jennifer Roback Morse put it in NRO November 6th, we won’t be going back to sleep any time soon.

    By the way, Mark, what ward and stake are you in?

  117. I’ll just leave my location as being in the Sacramento area for now. I was baptized on Feb. 29, 1964 at the tender (and usual) age of 8 (particularly memorable because it was a leap day).

  118. Mark, Obviously, Prop 8 has nothing at all to do with Elven Photography for the simple fact that New Mexico doesn’t have gay marriage. Duh. What you all need to fear is anti-discrimination laws. That’s also, more or less, what got the Catholic adoption services in trouble in Boston. (But not in nearby Worchester.)

    You need to fight to keep sexual orientation legally discriminatory. Of course, this means you would then get to fire people, throw people out of their rental properties, etc., for the simple fact that they were born with a sexual orientation with which you find distasteful; but, hey, collateral damage for the greater good, right?

  119. djinn,

    Gay rights advocates simply can’t do without the “born that way” rhetoric can they — even though there is virtually no scientific evidence to support it.

  120. The other essential piece of rhetoric, besides “born that way,” is the analogy to racial segregation. Blacks, however, as measured by their votes, didn’t buy that argument.

    “Collateral damage for the greater good” seems to be the philosophy and intention of the gay protests, black lists, and forcing people from their jobs following Prop 8’s passage.

  121. Dennis, Leo Brown, there is no scientific evidence to show that Gay men (and to a somewhat lesser extent) women are anything but “born that way. ” What are you talking about? Not only are gays born that way but it’s impossible to change ones sexual orientation. You should look at the research on children born with sexually ambiguous genitalia and see what happens to them when well-meaning people choose an orientation, and get the wrong one.

    Besides, why would someone pick to, uh, undergo reparative therapy (cf. BYU) kill themselves, etc., if they could just change their mind? Plus, homosexuality is rather more than well documented in a gazillion species. I suspect you mean something different by the term “scientific.”

    Also, 57-58% of Blacks voted against Prop. 8. Not the bigger numbers being thrown about the blogosphere. But really, the percentage of a particular group that voted for or against is not an actual argument.

  122. Dennis and Leo, could you have grown up as female? Could you marry a guy? Happily?

  123. “There are few issues as hotly contested — and as poorly understood — as the question of what makes a person gay or straight. It’s not only a political, social, and religious question but also a scientific question, one that might someday have an actual, provable answer.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/09/60minutes/main1385230.shtml

    “No “gay gene” has been discovered. Dean Hamer is the scientist most widely accredited with the discovery. The media have not trumpted the fact that his results have never been replicated. Surveys of identical twins indicate a heritability level for homosexuality of roughly 20% to 35% which makes it, for all practical purposes, non-genetic.
    Moreover, survey data of behavior indicate two overwhelming facts. First, homosexuality is not a well-defined phenomenon. It is a complex combination of behavior, attraction and self-identification. For instance, the definitive University of Chicago study by Edward Laumann and colleagues, showed that only a minuscule less than one percent of the population have had exclusively same sex partners since puberty. They also report sizable groups of people who have had same sex experiences or same sex desires, but who do not identify themselves as gay.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/JenniferRobackMorse/2006/02/20/the_hetero-flexible_gene

    “…an exit poll of California voters showed that black voters favored the measure [Prop 8] by a ratio of more than 2 to 1.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gayblack8-2008nov08,0,1601616.story

    Personal preferences aren’t really the issue in re-defining marriage. In California gays are not being forced to change their upbringing, orientation, preferences, feelings, whom they are happy with, etc. California domestic partnership rights are intact. Likewise, in Vermont, the sky didn’t fall in when civil unions were introduced. Marriage is between and man and a woman, but for different preferences and behaviors, there are other institutions.

  124. “only a minuscule less than one percent of the population have had exclusively same sex partners since puberty”

    I’m finding this one a little hard to buy. That makes me 1 in 100, and my wife is 1 in 100, so I guess as married partners, that makes us 1 in 10,000.

    Really hard to buy.

  125. Mark, you are misreading the statement. It doesn’t read or mean “the same partner” it reads “same sex partners,” i.e. same-sex partners.

  126. […] Talks: A More Excellent WayNude Art and MormonismWhat Does It Mean To Think in a Marrow Bone?Please Don't Hate (H8) Me Because I'm MormonObama vs. McCain […]

  127. Does anyone really expect homosexual Americans to believe that Mormon opposition to same gender marriage is based on anything but hatred of homosexuals? I spent the first part of my life in the Mormon Church, and after my experiences, including aversion therapy (electro shock ‘therapy’) at BYU and experiencing Mormon money and effort in state after state to denigrate and marginalize homosexuals in many areas of legislation including employment and housing discrimination–not just marriage, I personally have NO doubt about what motivates Mormons to engage so much money effort and emotion to make sure that homosexuals are marginalized–in fact, you could say that I have a testimony of it. I am convinced and will try to convince as many people as I can that the Mormon Church is the most well financed and dedicated enemy homosexuals have in this country.

  128. Don Harryman,

    Someone reading your comment might think you hate Mormons.

    But that would be awful presumptuous.

    They also might think your comment is stereotyping Mormons.

    And that would not be presumptuous at all, for that’s exactly what you’re doing.

  129. ‘Someone’ is entitled to think whatever they want. If someone feels that Mormons are being unfairly hated or stereotyped, then they might have a small inkling of what homosexuals deal with everyday. Someone might also understand that even though being hated based upon a stereotype isn’t fair or pleasant, they might also understand that Mormon millions paid for stereotyping which can lead to hate in political campaigns in CA, HI, etc etc etc. At least homosexuals are not pumping money into campaigns that stereotype Mormons and may lead to hatred and making Mormons unequal before the law. However much Mormons may be the subject of stereotyping or hatred, no homosexuals propose or try to campaign for Mormons to have anything less than full equality under the law. Many of us accept the fact that we must daily subsidize Mormon tax free status which is used to persecute us as the cost of living in a society that protects freedom of religion.

  130. I have never attended any church meeting, LDS or otherwise, in which hatred of homosexuals was promoted, advocated, or advanced. I attended multiple Prop 8 meetings where the speakers of many faiths (Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, LDS) repeatedly emphasized that the issue was the defense of the traditional definition of marriage that has been virtually universal for centuries, while stressing the importance of not hating groups or individuals. They also rightly pointed out that SSM laws could well be used to attack first amendment rights and parental rights, enlisting the power of the state to do so. In contrast, the gay lobby tried to frame the debate so that any disagreement with them was automatically labeled hatred. When Prop 8 won, the internet was full of fury (hatred?) from Prop 8 opponents, including a call to burn the churches and tax the embers. Supporters of Proposition 8 (of whatever faith) continue to be demonized and efforts have been made to blacklist their businesses. Anti-Prop 8 advocates used some of their money to fund an ad specifically attacking Mormons, who are now the convenient scapegoats in the whole affair. California law (and the whole tenor of the state establishment) grants every right to same sex couples that opposite sex couples have, except the word marriage. By six to one, the San Francisco-based California Supreme court upheld the validity of Proposition 8, despite all arguments to the contrary. An appeal is being planned to the U.S. Supreme Court. I would be very surprised if the current U.S. Supreme Court agrees with Don’s views. However, if it is self-validation Don is looking for, the courts can’t supply that. Taxing all churches out of existence won’t supply that either.

  131. […] Prop 8 came about as a result of what Newsom and those lawyers did. Supporters of traditional marriage and Prop 8 didn’t start this cauldron. They rose up in defense of an institution that was threatened. Enough with the catch-phrases. This was never about equal rights. […]

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