Marriage is more than a “right”

Something is wrong, here. It’s suddenly become very normal to talk about marriage as a “right” and a “freedom” and that seems to me a rather impoverished way of talking about marriage. And yet, though one side (those opposed to gay marriage) often disagrees on marriage being a “right”, neither side can seem to get past this issue.

The “right” to be self-fulfilled

Let me try to articulate what I’m talking about: by talking about marriage as a freedom and a right, people are essentially drawing on a narrative like the very one I grew up with: when I marry, I want someone to whom I am physically and sexually attracted; I want someone who treats me well (in part because of their attraction to me) and who helps me reach my full potential as a person (can take me to the temple, etc); I want someone who cares for me like I care for them, who I can keep secrets with and who will share my life with me. I want… I want… I want…

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In Defense of Elder Hafen: Brief Response to FMH

Elder Hafen recently gave (at an Evergreen conference) what I consider to be a wonderful speech concerning same-sex attraction and gay marriage. It is linked on the LDS Newsroom. This speech is probably the most well-balanced and well-informed article on same-sex marriage by an LDS general authority.

Then, to my dismay, I came across this post at FMH, in which ECS criticizes Hafen’s speech, in particular his use of references. But the FMH post itself is misleading and needs to be critiqued.

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How We Reason About Politics (And Why It Matters): A Survey

A friend of mine is piloting a survey about political reasoning. I encourage you to take it. It only takes a few minutes and I think you’ll find it to be interesting (much better than all those lame Facebook quizzes).

Click here to take the survey.

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There is currently a petition to the First Presidency to apologize on behalf of the Church for “official statements, rhetoric, policy and practice” that “have been injurious to gays and lesbians and their families and friends.”

First, I should say that in many ways I respect this petition. There clearly is a self-conscious attempt to address reconciliation without demanding the Church change its moral position on homosexuality or its political position on gay marriage. There has been a genuine effort, I think, to actually try to make inroads with the Church. I especially like the line, “We believe that people of good will may have differing views about homosexuality, while maintaining amicable relationships.” Yes–let’s hope this is true.

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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?

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Elder Ballard: Regardless of Party Affliction (er, Affiliation) Pray for Obama

I received the following report in an email newsletter from my friend Don Jarvis (quoted with his permission):

A senior LDS apostle recently told Provoans that “We need to pray for our new president, regardless of party affliction, I mean, affiliation.”  Speaking on January 25th in the Provo Tabernacle at the conclusion of an Oak Hills (east Provo) Stake Conference, Apostle M. Russell Ballard spoke warmly of the inauguration, read excerpts from President Obama’s inaugural address, advised members to read it, and said, “I like his emphasis on personal responsibility.”  The audience chuckled at the “affliction” slip, but was otherwise unusually hushed and attentive as Elder Ballard voiced his strong support for our the new Democratic President.   Continue reading

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.

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The Election: Why I’m Happy and Sad

Like most things in life, this election is bittersweet.

I’m happy Obama won.

I’m sad that so many of my friends and family members are, well, not so happy.

I’m happy that so many people across this country have brighter hopes for America and for the future.

I’m sad for those who think that the end is near.

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Open Letter to Mitt Romney (Dear Cousin)

Hey Cuz!

You don’t know me, but I think we’re fifth cousins or something like that. We’re both descendants from Parley P. Pratt — 2 greats for you, 3 for me. We have lots in common: we’re both active Latter-day Saints, we’ve both graduated from BYU, and we’re both not afraid to change our minds about political matters.

Considering we don’t know really know each other, I was touched that you would take time out of your busy schedule and send me the postcard that I received today. How thoughtful of you!

You wrote to tell me to vote Republican this year. I wish your postcard would have arrived earlier — I’ve already voted! And I’m worried you’re not going to approve because I actually voted for some Democrats.

I voted for some Republicans also. So hopefully we can still kind of be friends.

But what I really wish, cuz, is that I would have sent you a postcard before you sent me mine!

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Some “Alternative” Presidential Candidates

Don’t like McCain or Obama?

Well, you do have other choices.

Of course, there are the more visible third-party or independent choices: Charles “Chuck” Baldwin (Constitutional), Ralph Nader (Independent), Bob Barr (Libertarian), and Cynthia McKinney (Green).

But I bet you haven’t heard of some of these other “worthy” candidates (be sure to check out the links): Continue reading

Obama vs. McCain 2008: Who Will You Vote For and Why?

We have finally reached the end of our weekly forum on the presidential election. We have had many great discussions on a range of topics, such as character, Iraq, the economy, abortion, relationship with LDS Church, health care, faith and family values, terrorism and diplomacy, education, and political corruption. Click here to see the full list of topics.

One of the great things that has been achieved in these forums, I think, is a respectful demonstration of a diversity of political viewpoints held by faithful Latter-day Saints. This kind of conversation, unfortunately, is rare — and so I applaud everyone for making it happen.

Now is the time, for those who are willing, to declare which presidential candidate you are going to vote for (or have already voted for). Be sure to explain why. Arguments for third-party or independent tickets (or even for staying home, I suppose) are welcome. Feel free to make predictions also. Again, please keep things respectful; if you wish to bash a candidate, this is not the place.

If you feel more comfortable using a pseudonym (fake name), feel free to do so.

(By the way, this is TMB’s 100th post!)

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The Highest Law of the Land

In this post, I will explain how, in an ideal world, it would not matter to us so much as it does now who becomes our next president. The Founding Fathers asked an important question during the formation of the Constitution: How much power should a centralized federal government have? Most of the text of the Constitution deals, at least indirectly, with this central issue. The colonists were tired of government fiat from overseas, and wanted to govern their own affairs. None of them wanted another king in Philadelphia.

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Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 21: Symbolism of President

This is the twenty-first of a weekly series of public forums on TMB.

Arguably, one of the most important and consequential factors of a U.S. president is not simply what the president does, but what he/she symbolizes.

What might be the national or international consequences of what a McCain or Obama presidency would symbolize? Feel free to also weigh in on what this might mean, if anything, for the growth of the Church.

Be sure to visit next week (beginning Monday, October 27) for our final round, Who Will You Vote for and Why? This is your chance to declare who you will be voting for and why. Arguments for third-party or independent tickets (or even for staying home, I suppose) will also be welcome.

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The Prime Directive

I was not always in favor of a non-interventionist foreign policy. At one point, I strongly supported the invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was an evil man, and I believed that it was the moral imperative of the United States government to destroy the tyrannical regime that he led. And of course he had WMDs… he was a tyrant, after all. And even if he didn’t, he surely had and used them in the past (which he did), and that was sufficient enough reason to support any military action against him.

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Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 20: Race and Gender Issues

This is the twentieth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

Only three more weeks!

This week’s topic is race and gender issues. I realize this is kind of a vague topic, so I’ll give some possible issues to talk about:

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Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 19: Illegal Immigration

This is the nineteenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

Illegal immigration. McCain. Obama.


Next week: Race and Gender Issues

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Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 18: Crisis Intervention

This is the eighteenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

This topic is arguably more important than any other, as far as the next President is concerned. Especially considering the recent economic crisis on Wall Street. (Feel free to comment on what each candidate had to say about this at the recent debate.)

Which candidate will do the best at handling these kinds of crises?

We can certainly look to events of recent months to compare the way the candidates handled things: Wall Street, energy concerns, the Russia-Georgia conflict, and Hurricane Ike. (There are separate forums for discussing Iraq; the economy; oil, energy, and the environment; and terrorism and diplomacy.)

What do you think?

Next week: Illegal Immigration

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Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 17: Urban Concerns

This is the seventeenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

Urban concerns. Something that has not been talked about all that much for the general election. And something that I know little about, as far as McCain and Obama are concerned (especially McCain).

Possible topics: Homelessness, poverty, gang violence, drug abuse, welfare, teen pregnancy, AIDS, health care, and educational equality.


Reminder: The first presidential debate is this Friday (Sept. 26).

Next week: Crisis Intervention

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Playing the “Democrat Card”: Utah County Politics

We’ve heard a lot this campaign season about playing the gender card or race card. But there’s another kind of card-playing that is unique to highly conservative areas, such as Utah County, Utah: playing the “Democrat card.” This is the story of a Utah County Republican who is playing the Democrat card in order to distract voters from the real issues surrounding his campaign for reelection.

Republican Stephen D. Clark, a four-term representative for Utah House District 63 (East Provo), has never had a challenger printed next to his name on a November ballot.

Until now. Continue reading

Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 16: Cindy McCain vs. Michelle Obama

This is the sixteenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

The topic of this week’s forum regards the two potential First Ladies: Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama. I’ll leave this fairly open, but I want to keep it focused on what is most important (e.g., who will be a better First Lady, who will be a good role model, etc.). Degrading comments are inappropriate and will be deleted.

Substantive comments concerning possible roles of the First Lady are welcome.

Next week: Urban Concerns

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