Will Prop 8 Decision Increase or Decrease Criticism of Mormons?

Today, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 while leaving previous same-sex marriages intact.

My question is: What difference will the Court decision have on criticism of Mormons?

I’m not in California and I’ve yet to read anything pertaining much to this.

On one hand, I can see the decision rekindling the somewhat-cooled flame of gay activism (in comparison to November, anyway), and as a result we will see more criticism of Mormons and the Church. On the other hand, perhaps the decision will redirect anger at the state of California and the Court. Perhaps both.

At any rate, I think it’s irrational to blame Prop 8 voters for the perceived unconstitutionality of the measure. One might believe that Prop 8 was fueled by hate and intolerance (see this post for a rebuttal of that view), but it’s a very different thing to say that the supporters themselves are being unconstitutional. Seems the Court (and by extension, the State of California) is the proper target for that criticism.

Note: I am not going to tolerate, in any degree, disparaging comments made about Mormons or gays and lesbians. I wish to discuss an important issue, not open a name-calling session. Unproductive and/or disparaging comments will be promptly deleted.

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24 Responses

  1. I happen to agree with you, completely. The marriage mess in California, is a direct result of the Supreme Court justices, beginning in November of 2008 – when they ignored the voice of the People, and legalized temporarily SSM. This, resulted in Prop 8 and the “pickle” that those same judges now found themselves in.

  2. The CA Supreme Court upholding Prop. 8 will increase the “criticism of Mormons” for the simple reason that the Mormons are a very clear target for a group that has lost substantial rights first in November and again, now, in May . Without Mormon involvement it looks like Prop. 8 wouldn’t have passed. Hence, increased criticism of the most obvious group that took existing rights away until those rights are returned. Expect backlash for the foreseeable future in CA.

  3. ldsnana, we’re a republic. This means the will of the people is constrained by the Constitution. The people cannot pass a law that is unconstitutional.

  4. and now since there are now two classes of people in CA (those who have same-sex marriage and those who wish to enter same-sex marriage but are blocked by law), that would violate the equal protection clause. This marriage-based apartheid will eventually be overturned.

  5. This entire post reminds me of the old Borscht Belt punchline, “Yes, but is it good for the Jews?”

  6. Matthew,

    I’m hardly trying to imply that the most important thing related to the Prop 8 decision is whether it’s good for the Mormons.

    It’s simply a matter of focus. This is a Mormon-themed blog. Considering how implicated Mormons have been in all of this, this post is perfectly reasonable and certainly on the mind of many Mormons. To dismiss the question is to dismiss an important concern of an entire group of people. Of course, none of this is to denigrate other concerns.

  7. Mormons will be the convenient target to attack. Other groups, including blacks and the majority of the electorate, are not so convenient to attack. Attacking them would be politically incorrect. Attacking Mormons or Catholics or Evangelicals, however, is politically popular in certain circles. Through much of history, the scapegoat has had an important, if unenviable function. Mormons will be used as the scapegoat here, even though in every state where SSM has been on the ballot, the people have rejected it. A group comprising about 2% of the population will now be strongly identified with views held by the majority of the population. That will not be such bad thing for Latter-day Saints. Prop 8 has already won the LDS a lot of friends among Catholics and Evangelicals, and the LDS, in turn, have learned to work with them as well. The Church was, in fact, invited to join a broad-based coalition to defend the definition of marriage that was, until very recently, nearly universal across time, culture, and geography.

    In California the right to amend the constitution is not granted to the people, it is retained by the people. When the Supreme Court overturned the will of the people expressed in Prop 22, the people reasserted their rights with Prop 8. Government in this country since 1776 derives its just power from the consent of the governed. That is the fundamental right that the Court upheld. By 6 to 1 the Supreme Court of one of the most liberal states in the union did not find that any other alleged “right” was at stake after all since same sex unions in California are already provided with everything but the word marriage. The California Supreme Court didn’t buy the equal protection argument. The U.S. Supreme Court won’t buy it either, otherwise this ruling would be appealed directly there. Since California already granted same sex unions rights without the word marriage, the real battle was (and still is) over imposing SSM laws on the states (and on groups within those states) that have maintained by law or constitutional amendment the traditional definition of marriage.

  8. CNN.com’s breaking story of this Prop 8 court decision specifically mentioned Mormons as the opposition and had a bit of a tangent about the “Mormon issue” in this debate. I see that those comments seem to have been excised since Tuesday…

  9. I’m involved somewhat in the entertainment industry in LA and since the passage of prop 8, no actor or director will touch anything that involves a Mormon topic. I have a friend who lost investors and a lead actor (A Class) for a movie that would have been relatively positive of Mormons, based on a book written by a Mormon. He had to drop the project and lost he lost quite a bit of money as well. Anything that is tangentially Mormon is now taboo in Hollywood and in many other aspects of the entertainment and arts industries. It is quite unfortunate, but it is the “blow back” from the Church’s high profile involvement in support of prop 8.

  10. I’m honestly curious Dennis, are you in favor of civil unions/domestic partnerships being recognized in civil law? Employment and public accomodation non-discrimination laws (i.e., barring the firing or denial of servce in a business solely based on someone being gay)?

    If so, why? If not, why not?

    Thanks in advance for answering.

  11. Chris,

    Concerning any discrimination concerning the mere fact that someone is gay, that’s easy–I am definitely opposed to such discrimination. Now, there are some stickier issues, though — should a business be able to kick two men or two women out for making out with each other? I think that may well be within an owner’s rights, even if the same action is not done for similar male-female affection. In this regard, the discrimination is towards a certain behavior–it doesn’t matter whether the person has a gay or lesbian identity. Two heterosexual men who made out with each other would be kicked out as well–there’s a difference between identity and behavior.

    I know, I know, many gay rights advocates are probably furious with this. But think about it — ought we not be wary against any person who claims that a certain identity gives them a right to act contrary to the standards of someone else’s property?!? What if I’m the member of a certain religious group and my religious beliefs hold that I should be able to proselyte in any public place? Are we sure we want to hold that this person gets this right on the basis of non-discrimination of religious beliefs? What about someone whose religion condones groups making out together? Do they have the “right” to participate in this behavior at your business? Overzealous gay rights advocates often don’t think about these things.

    Concerning civil unions, I think I’m in agreement with Jon Huntsman. I’m not totally confident that any two people have a “right” to a civil union, but I think it’s fair and good politics to allow for this.

  12. I have to chuckle at the words about dismissing ‘…an important concern of an entire group of people.’ That is exactly what happened when Mormons decided to destroy marriage equality for ‘an entire group of people.’ It would appear that the thoughts so far here reflect the view that homosexuals’ concerns (their families) are disposable, as long as it proves to be a PR plus for the Mormon Church.

  13. Don Harryman,

    Well, I’ll simply invite you to show me how it appears that the “thoughts so far here reflect the view that homosexuals’ concerns (their families) are disposable.”

    I have in no way denigrated the concerns of gays and lesbians in this post nor in my comments, and I believe that’s true for everyone else’s comments. This is simply one more example of taking offense when no offense was given or intended (and this happens way too much on both sides of the debate). It’s true that gay and lesbian concerns have not been the focus of the post, but that’s simply a matter of focus, Don. Now if you don’t care about Mormon PR concerns, that’s fine. But, good grief, that doesn’t mean you need to turn this post into your own sounding board for how mad you are at the Mormons. This is not the place, I’m sorry. I’m sure you can find hundreds of places online to vent your feelings.

  14. I did not say you denigrated the concerns of gays and lesbians, but as you clearly state ‘gay and lesbian concerns have not been the focus of the post’ which I simply pointed out is the same thing that can be said of the Mormon Church’s broader involvement in Prop 8….gay and lesbian concerns don’t matter in any context for Mormons. How could they matter to Mormons, when the entire focus of the Mormon Church’s intense political activity has been to demean, marginalize and make homosexuals unequal under the law? I can understand why my comments would make you uncomfortable, since the focus of the post is Mormon PR concerns. Mea culpa. Your message is the familiar one we essentially hear from Mormons in every context….gays and lesbians don’t matter and Mormons are above criticism because they speak for God so just go away because we don’t want to hear it. I now understand that this is not the place for anything but self congratulation for Mormons for having defeated the ungodly homosexuals and worrying only about the Prop 8 campaign’s effect on Mormon PR concerns. Heaven forbid any thought would be given about its effect on real people who don’t matter because they are homosexuals. Accordingly, if you prefer, this comment if you choose to allow it, will be my last.

  15. I fully reject the contention that “the entire focus of the Mormon Church’s intense political activity has been to demean, marginalize and make homosexuals unequal under the law.” The Church has over many years spoken out of many public issues besides SSM (e.g., gambling, alcohol, the basing of nuclear weapons, etc.). The Church (and other allied faith groups) in dealing with Proposition 8 spoke in tones of moderation designed not to be demeaning or marginalizing (unless you believe any disagreement with the gay lobby is ipso facto demeaning or marginalizing), but rather to stick to the legal issues at hand. Some in the gay lobby, in contrast, would be happy to marginalize people of faith and drive them from the public square. This is particularly true in parts of California, where the gay lobby is very powerful (one of the most powerful lobbies in the state) and fully capable of punishing those who cross its path. See http://catholic-dads.blogspot.com/2009/01/phil-ting-attacks-catholic-church-in.html for example.

    The San Francisco-based California Supreme Court by six to one specifically held that Proposition 8 does not constitution inequality under the law, Don’s assertion notwithstanding. An appeal is being planned to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the appeal goes forward, I fully expect the current Supreme Court to uphold the California Supreme Court’s decision on this.

  16. The moderator has made it clear already that this forum is only for those who wish to discuss the impact Prop 8 has on Mormon PR concerns, and that the concerns of homosexual Americans are not a concern here. That of course is understandable, since the concerns and lives of homosexual Americans are of no concern whatever to Mormons, as long as making homosexuals second class doesn’t make the Mormon Church look bad. Accordingly, I will not engage in any further discussion here, and let you all continue with your Club of God’s Chosen People without further interference.

  17. Don,

    Leave the melodrama at home. Yes, I pushed against your threadjacking a post, and you have chosen to see this as my resistance to concerns of homosexual Americans, which is completely false.

    Did you read the comments on the Don’t H8 Me Because I’m Mormon post? You’ll see that there is much discussion, in good faith on both sides of the issue, as well as considerable openness to hearing other people’s point of view. I was simply trying to rein you in concerning a threadjack.

    Moreover, your comment about “Club of God’s Chosen People” appears to be nothing more than a disparaging comment reflecting an opinion you already have about Mormons. It seems to say nothing about this blog. Did you have a purpose for coming here other than to say these kinds of comments? If not, then it makes sense why you do not want to engage in further discussion here.

  18. How convenient to dismiss my comments as ‘melodrama’ when you can’t or won’t address them. But then, as I said before, this is your site and as an American who believes in the Constitutional protection of Freedom of Association, I believe you are welcome to run your site as you see fit. You are free to stick to the Mormon narrative: Mormons are God’s Chosen and they alone speak for God, Mormons are therefore beyond criticism, homosexuals are not deserving of Equal Protection Under the Law so they deserve what they get, Homosexuals and their families (including children) can be demonized by words like perverts, deviants and enemies (all used over the pulpit by Mormon leaders) but criticism of Mormons equates to hatred of God, hatred of religion (since after all Mormons alone represent God) and the destruction of the ‘family’. (At least those who meet your definition of family) Did I miss anything? Your efforts to immediately quash anything I say critical of Mormons says it all, and reading through your site has yet to reveal anything that departs from the standard Mormon narrative. You are not looking for open discussion and participation, but more cheerleading for defeating the Godless Homosexuals, so I will respect your wishes—what more do you want? As you said before there are plenty of venues where open discussion is welcome and need not be approved by the Correlation Committee in SL. I have no illusions about the Mormon Church’s hatred of homosexuals and its unrelenting goal of the complete destruction of homosexual Americans. You might do well to likewise free yourself of the illusion that you are interested in open and free discussion.

  19. Don,

    I am not dismissing your concerns concerning homosexuality as melodrama, I am dismissing your dramatic, unsupported assertions about this blog.

    All of your assertions are unsupported:

    1. That I am sticking to “the Mormon narrative” that you describe.

    2. That I have claimed that Mormons are beyond criticism. (I’ve left up your criticisms, haven’t I?)

    3. That Mormons alone represent God.

    4. That homosexuals do not deserve equal protection under the law (I disagree that this entails marriage) or that they can be demonized with the words that you chosen. Have I used words like that? Have I ever even implied them? No — apparently the mere fact that I am a Mormon who disagrees with you implies, ipso facto, that I feel that way. What narrative are you sticking to?

    5. That criticism of Mormonism means hatred of God and religion.

    6. That I have immediately “quashed” anything critical of Mormons. (Note: I have not moderated any of Don’s comments.) I simply disagree with you Don, that doesn’t mean I’m “quashing” your views.

    7. That my site does not depart from the “standard Mormon narrative.” You clearly haven’t read close enough, as I deny that there is in fact one standard Mormon narrative.

    8. That I am looking for cheerleading against godless homosexuals. This is simply ridiculous.

    9. That I am not interested in free and open discussion. I am very much interested in that or I certainly wouldn’t be continuing to correspond with you. That doesn’t mean that I’m interested in someone threadjacking a post to suit their own pet interests.

    I invite you to support each of these assertions with actual data from the blog. Good luck.

    You might not believe it, Don, but I am probably one of the few Mormon-friendly blogs that is honestly interested in fair discussion concerning things like Proposition 8. The problem might well be that you are too quick to paint all Mormons with the same brush.

    I have no quarrel with you. I would hope to hear your perspective. But if this cannot be done without demeaning accusations toward ANY group of people (not just Mormons), then we won’t get anywhere.

    I have not in a single instant spoken poorly of gays and lesbians, nor have I sought to paint a single group of people with a brush. Other readers will decide who is being fair and who is not.

  20. I repeat, the San Francisco-based California Supreme Court by six to one specifically held that Proposition 8 does NOT constitute inequality under the law. If you disagree, please support an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, where constitutional questions of equality under the law are traditionally ultimately settled, rather than engage in ad hominem attacks. It is a weak case that has to rely on ad hominem attacks.

  21. I apologize, everyone, for people like Boy in Boycott and their offensive, spiteful, and completely unproductive comments. I’ve deleted these comments, and this user’s future comments now require my approval.

    Let me remind such people (whatever your religious or political beliefs) that this site is devoted to intelligent discussion, not screaming accusations or name-calling.

    If you’re interested in these childish activities (screaming and name-calling), just go to the discussion boards on the CNN Political Ticker or something like that. You’ll be in good company there.

  22. Leo,

    You are exactly right. The cry of unconstitutionality does not go to Mormons or any others who supported Prop 8.

    Apparently, the need for a scapegoat is so high that it justifies completely irrational and often laughable accusations.

  23. Dennis,
    I enjoyed reading some of your political thoughts during the election. I think you are a smart person with an interesting point of view. But I haven’t seen anything from you about Obama or the new administration since inauguration. If you get some time, I’d like to know how you feel about their performance thus far, and the direction that this country is taking. As an Obama supporter, would you say his first few months have met, exceeded, or come short of your personal expectations? This is all just for curiosity, and you don’t have to answer, but if you get time, please indulge me and make a post out of it. Best wishes.

  24. Brandon,

    Thanks for your compliments.

    Yeah, I’ve kind of neglected Obama lately, haven’t I? I think it’s because I became somewhat weary of blogging on political topics.

    But maybe I can do a post soon. Maybe a 6-month mark post (of Obama’s presidency) or something.

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