The Race-Orientation Comparison

August 19, 2008 | 66 comments
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It comes up often enough, doesn’t it: People compare race to sexual orientation, when discussing questions of marriage, medical access, and so on. Is this comparison legitimate?

This comparison is not pleasing for at least some church members. It’s generally seen as one that undercuts arguments against gay rights. (It is widely accepted today that prior attitudes on race were morally wrong.)

And it’s certainly true that one can make principled distinctions between the two categories of race and orientation. But, it’s not as simple as saying, “race is different,” is it? Let’s look at some potential arguments on each side.

Some reasons why the comparison could be viewed as apt:

1. Historical similarities.

When was the last time that these kinds of slippery slope arguments were widely used in the marriage context? In cases about interracial marriage.

(The similarities between arguments made against interracial marriage and arguments made against same-sex marriage are really striking.)

When was the last time that doctors said, in effect, “I don’t want to serve that group of people”? The last time this argument was advanced to a large degree, was under Jim Crow.

And so on.

2. Choice.

One cannot change one’s race. Similarly, gay-rights advocates point to studies indicating that one cannot change one’s orientation.

3. Legal similarities

Under existing law, the two are often treated similarly (such as various antidiscrimination statutes).

Some reasons why the comparison might be viewed as inapt:

1. Choice / status.

To the extent that one believes sexual orientation does not exist, and that gays and lesbians are simply people choosing certain sexual acts, then they do not seem to be an immutable category like race. They don’t need protection as a group; they just need to stop doing gay things.

2. Current doctrinal status.

Currently, church doctrine treats homosexual acts as sinful. In contrast, interracial marriage (and other racial mingling) is not currently treated as sinful. For many church members, this may be the most important factor.

(Though, it gets tricky to simply say, “the prophets speak against homosexuality.” Because, prophets and apostles also spoke against the civil rights movement and against changes to Jim Crow at various points in the past.)

3. Various empirical arguments.

As Julie’s thread notes, various empirical arguments have been made. (I.e., children don’t do well without opposite-gender parents.) To the extent that those are orientation-specific, they are one way to differentiate race from orientation.

==

What do people think? What arguments do you see as relevant or dispositive in upholding or discounting the comparison between race and orientation?

66 Responses to The Race-Orientation Comparison

  1. Mark B. on August 19, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Whether a person chooses or has thrust upon him his sexual orientation, every person (whatever that orientation) chooses whether to engage in sexual behavior and with whom.

  2. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    You did a terrible job explaining why the church’s position on homosexuality isn’t morally equivalent to racism. For one thing, you know very well that homosexual *acts* are a choice even if orientation isn’t.

    I’m not surprised that you did such a terrible job, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did it on purpose. Its clear from this post and elsewhere that you think that opposition to homosexuality is tantamount to racism and that the prophet and the church should be opposed if they don’t adopt social liberalism. You have a wicked and prideful point of view that shows contempt for the leaders and members of the church.

    UPDATE:
    A couple of individuals whose judgment I trust have approached me privately to tell me that I went over the line here. I have private reasons that seemed to me to justify this, but I trust my friends’ judgment more than my own. I apologize for the over-the-top rhetoric and the brawling and I retract it.

  3. Jeremy on August 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    A minor sidenote on your second #2: I was dismayed to open my Aaronic PH Manual 3 and discover wording still there explicitly discouraging interracial marriage. So the phase out of such notions have a long dovetail…

  4. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Will Adam’s comment be moderated?

  5. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I see, so Adam can call people wicked and prideful with impunity. Does he really have this much dictatorial control over Times and Seasons?

  6. Teancum on August 19, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Seriously. Enough of Adam Greenwood. I do not object to his views on SGA/SSM (while not necessarily sharing them), but his hysterical name calling is hard enough to take on his own posts. We do not need it to spread.

  7. Mark N. on August 19, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Dan,

    He didn’t say Kaimi’s wicked. He just said that his point of view is.

    Love the viewer. Hate the view.

    :-)

  8. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Why is this comment allowed on T&S?

    You have a wicked and prideful point of view that shows contempt for the leaders and members of the church.

    I believe the very first rule in the Commenting Policies is:

    1. Comments are expected to reflect different points of view. Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person. No insults.

    Rule #3 is:

    3. On the flip side, it is also unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.

    Rule #8 states:

    Please respect the bloggers and readers.

  9. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Mark,

    Haha! You know, I tried shifting the wording back on Adam’s thread and he still moderated the comments. Truly something is wrong here. But alas, this isn’t my blog, and I do tend to be dictatorial on my blog too.

  10. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Credit where credit is due: This question has come up in a number of contexts, but was recently raised by ECS in a thoughtful comment on another post. I shameless poached her idea and posted it here, so as not to threadjack conversation elsewhere.

  11. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Those of you who would support the Church on proposition 8 are racist scum, she thoughtfully explained.

  12. ECS on August 19, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Adam – A person may be a racist without being “scum”. Many Mormon prophets and leaders were racist.

    Here’s a familiar example:

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Prophet Brigham Young. Journal of Discourses, 10:110).

    Reading these words should give us pause, no?

  13. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    For those of us who think that Blacks and the Priesthood is the defining event of the gospel, sure.

    Anyway, I’m glad to get your clarification that by supporting Prop. 8 we’re morally the equivalent of racists but not necessarily scum. We all feel better.

  14. JimD on August 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I think a *major* problem with Kaimi’s reason #2 against such comparisons is that while individual church leaders condemned interracial marriages, I am unaware that we ever had the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 issue a united statement explicitly saying that “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between members of the same race, lawfully wedded as husband and wife”.

    Moreover, IIRC a number of early church leaders explicitly left doctrinal “backdoors” on racial issues (eg the priesthood ban) that are, I think, completely lacking in all current pronouncements on the morality of gay sex.

    I would yield to historical evidences to the contrary, but as I see it the Church’s pronouncements regarding homosexuality vis a vis the law of chastity cement its position far more than the church’s statements on race (or even those of its leaders individually) ever did.

  15. JimD on August 19, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Hmm. Didn’t see #12 before I posted #14. The BY statement is duly noted. :-)

  16. ECS on August 19, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Adam, Brigham Young’s quote did not pertain only to the Church’s policy of denying the blessings of the Priesthood to Blacks. He states (very clearly!) that blacks are an inferior race to whites.

    I’m not sure you’ve given me enough information to decide that you are “morally equivalent” to a racist, and I’m not even sure what that means. Brigham Young was surely racist, as was Harold B. Lee and many other leaders of the Church. You’re in good company.

  17. greenfrog on August 19, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    It seems to me that the principal distinction (I don’t think it amounts to a difference) between the two kinds of discrimination is that the effects of racial discrimination tend to be perpetuated from generation to generation because the discriminatory characteristic (skin color) tends to be inherited, while the effects of orientation discrimination tend to be more isolated because the discriminatory characteristic (orientation) does not tend to be inherited (for multiple reasons).

    I highlight effects because I think that the causes of both kinds of discrimination are perpetuated from generation to generation, as are most other cultural values.

    Still, there is something to the action/condition distinction — as the Scalia opinion in Smith demonstrates. But I didn’t like the line much in Smith, and I’m similarly dissatisfied with it in the proclivity/action distinction the Church uses.

  18. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    At least as long as enlightened people like you stay in the Church, ECS. But without those of you who preach the true gospel of social liberalism, what kind of company would there be? Only me and the racist, sexist homophobe troglodytes like President Monson. None of us would be scum, though, so that’s something.

  19. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I didn’t know President Monson was racist. I don’t recall him saying anything against other races. Or is Mr. Greenwood impugning the character of our prophet?

  20. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Don’t worry, Danmnan. ECS assures us its perfectly OK to be racist.

  21. Margaret Young on August 19, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Adam, leave the computer. Eat some chocolate. Walk around the block. Get yourself back. This kind of insulting talk harms all of us.
    Kaimi–maybe you should move your discussion to a different site??? You ask good questions, but I’m not sure T&S is the place to ask them. The reaction was somewhat predictable, wasn’t it?

  22. Amanda B. on August 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Religion is protected as well. Religion is a choice. Much as homosexuality is.

  23. Dan on August 19, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Well Mr. Greenwood, I find your comment to be wicked and vile. President Monson is not racist.

  24. John Mansfield on August 19, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    “When was the last time that doctors said, in effect, ‘I don’t want to serve that group of people’?” Ignoring the last decade of health care financing debate?

    Arguments depending an analogies have very little logical weight. Like metaphors, they are tools for focusing the mind, nothing more, with usually little to no justification for mapping the features of the analogy to the concept in question.

  25. JimD on August 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    You ask good questions, but I’m not sure T&S is the place to ask them.

    Out of curiosity–why?

  26. fifthgen on August 19, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I think the choice issue is driving and will continue to drive the debate. To the extent that medical science continues to demonstrate that sexual orientation is genetic or influenced by in utero conditions, society will increasingly equate orientation and race. And, as if with race, society will conclude that treating someone differently because of a status they have but did not choose is unfair.

  27. Teancum on August 19, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    25: I assume Margaret means because of the reaction of people like Adam.

  28. DCL on August 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    As a longtime reader of T&S (though infrequent commenter), I used to have a lot of respect for the civility of this blog. There are plenty of other places on the net to read the base screeds of naked extremists; I guess it would be too much of a good thing to really expect otherwise from T&S.

  29. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Precisely right. KW and the Godbeites deserve at least the respect they give the Church. Oh, wait . . .

  30. fifthgen on August 19, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Comment 26 should read “as with race.”

  31. non-mormon outsider on August 19, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    And yet, once again, you can just see Jesus’ love radiating from those who oppose same-sex relationships. ‘Love the sinner hate the sin’? Where is the love? It becomes just a license to hate those who are different from yourself. The people who I see with the most Christ-like love, and what Jesus would have done, are those whose hearts are breaking for the position that the church has put its gay love ones in; and those who are trying to understand the other side of all this, regardless of the ‘official’ stance of the church. They were persecuted before 1978 too, when they preached equality for all races and the church shut them down. Eerily similar now. The standard party line is that we are preventing same-sex relationship out of love, but I sure don’t see any. I just see fear and hate.

  32. Bookslinger on August 19, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Adam, I think comment #2 went over the top, even for you. You’re smart enough and lawyerly enough to more diplomatically denounce social liberalism.

    I’ve witten a couple comments on T&S I’ve wished I could delete. Please give consideration to deleting #2 and re-doing it.

    I think the SSM battle is almost lost. Too many people have given in to the false ideas that sexual-orientation is entirely genetically determined, that no one chooses or is steered into homosexuality, and that SSM is a civil-rights issue. That last one seems to be the “stop” card people are using to stop thinking logically about the societal and cultural consequences of SSM. I think someone who believes SSM is a civil rights issue is not likely to be convinced otherwise. So move on to the undecideds.

    Homosexuals say they didn’t choose homosexuality, reasoning “Why would someone choose to be hated and discriminated against in this society?” But if social liberals succeed in making homosexual behavior acceptable in our society, then that barrier against choosing homosexual behavior will be removed. It will then become a viable choice, because society will have then given it’s stamp of approval, SSM. Orson Scott Card touches on that, and the following, in one of his essays against SSM.

    Lesbian experimentation among college women became somewhat fashionable in the 1990′s. In 15 to 20 years, when the next generation enters high school and college after growing up in a society that considers homosexual behavior fully normalized or acceptable, how will that affect teenage sexual experimentation? Did you see those commercials for the Oprah show about present teenage sexual experimentation ? Kids see things on the Internet, and say “Hey, let’s try that.”

    Just think of the influence that one man’s (Bill Clinton’s) and one woman’s sexual behavior had on an impressionable generation, a significant percentage of young people now think that oral sex isn’t sex, and it’s okay for people who are not married to each other to engage in. Not just because one particular influential man and one woman did it, but because millions of other adults, including many who are role models and leaders of youth (teachers, etc.) defended them doing it, saying it was noboday else’s business, and what they did in private didn’t matter.

    Do we, as a society, want to risk the Clinton/Lewinsky effect on the next generation, not in terms of whether oral sex between non-married partners is acceptable private behavior, but whether homosexual sex is acceptable private behavior? Our society already says that pre-marital sexual activity is okay. SSM will say that homosexual sexual activity is okay, pre-marital or post-(SSM)-marital.

    Adam, one of my favorite denunciations of the social liberal position of SSM is that they are the same group of people who have said since the 1970′s that “a marriage license is just a piece of paper, you don’t need to be married.” Heterosexuals have used a social liberal position to justify cohabitation for over 30 years. Now, all of a sudden, a marriage certificate demanded by some.

  33. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Adam G.,

    Is it your view, then, that people who make arguments which you view as disrespectful to the church — a group which apparently includes at least Dan, ECS, Julie, and myself — are undeserving of respect as persons?

  34. John Mansfield on August 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Non-mormon outsider, keep in mind that the overwhelming bulk of those advocating marriage between homosexuals are heterosexuals such as Kaimi Wenger. So, any acrimony directed to such advocates is not hatred of homosexuals.

  35. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Um, guys? Where’s my advocacy?

    I haven’t exactly been saying, “rah rah, gay marriage!” on blog, have I?

    I guess I could always start . . .

    “Gimme a G!”

    “G!”

    “Gimme an A!”

    “A!”

    “Gimme a Y!”

    “Y!”

    “What does that spell?”

    “Marriage!!”

  36. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    people who make arguments which you view as disrespectful to the church — a group which apparently includes at least Dan, ECS, Julie, and myself

    I would hesitate to include Julie S. in that category. Dan too, frankly.

  37. Mark B. on August 19, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Greenfrog says:

    the discriminatory characteristic (orientation) does not tend to be inherited (for multiple reasons).

    Nobody’s sexual orientation in and of itself is the basis for discrimination. Only if a person chooses to act on that orientation might it become the basis for discrimination. Otherwise, nobody will know about it, and, not knowing, how can even the most evil among them do anything about it.

    It’s sort of like discriminating against University of Utah football fans. So long as they keep silent about it, I can’t exclude them from my social circle, even if I wanted to.

    It’s the act, not the orientation, that is the basis for discriminating. And if the act is entered into freely, the concern about discriminating against some innate characteristic goes away.

  38. Martin Willey on August 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Bookslinger makes the most persuasive argument I have seen in long time for preserving traditional marriage. The difficulty we have as members of the Church is how to defend the normative conclusion that homosexual conduct is bad. For members of the Church, prophetic and scriptural pronouncements probably do the job, but how do we discuss this issue with those who do not share our view of morality? The fact that heterosexual marriage has been the norm across times and cultures is one argument, but is not persuasive to all. I am sincerely interested in hearing arguments.

  39. mpb on August 19, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I used to think this site was a paragon of respectful discussion and thoughtful consideration of these types of issues. In (what I consider to be) its heyday in 2005 and 2006, it really was.

    Now it causes me genuine sadness to see discussions like this. The T&S experiment is failing…I am almost embarassed to recommend it anymore.

  40. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    keep in mind that the overwhelming bulk of those advocating marriage between homosexuals are heterosexuals such as Kaimi Wenger.

    Don’t blame him, John Mansfield, he was born that way.

  41. Peter LLC on August 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Where’s my advocacy?

    I suppose a certain reading of Matthew 12:30/Luke 11:23 might yield support for those who equate questions such as “What arguments do you see as relevant or dispositive in upholding or discounting the comparison between race and orientation?” with “contempt for the leaders and members of the church.”

  42. Steve Evans on August 19, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    “There are plenty of other places on the net to read the base screeds of naked extremists”

    Represent!!

  43. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Me too, mpb

  44. Mark N. on August 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    To try and get down to the brass tacks:

    Is it not the position of the Church that A) there is a Savior who in a pre-mortal existence proposed a Plan of Salvation that can lead to exaltation and that B) homosexuals (as defined by their sexual activity) will not be exalted (along with many other people for many other different reasons) in the Celestial Kingdom?

    I believe and accept both A and B.

    There are, of course, many more people in this world that do not believe or accept A and/or B.

    Do I have a moral right to pass laws that spring forth from my beliefs in A and B and enforce them on those who do not believe in A and/or B, given that I can not demonstrate the absolute correctness of either A or B to my fellow non-believers?

    Would this not, in the words of Alma, force people “on to unequal grounds”, which, according to Alma, is “strictly contrary to the commands of God”?

  45. Martin Willey on August 19, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Mark N.: I am not sure you are responding to my comment, but I certainly think everyone has the right to try to pass morally upright laws for whatever reasons they want. But to get them passed, you have to get a majority to go along with you. Assuming that, “Because I think/know it is right,” or even “Because God said,” will not persuade a majority, are there other arguments out there that would? Please note that I am not saying that the Church should not take the position it has. I am asking how members would best present this position to those who are not.

  46. DavidH on August 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I think someone is impersonating Adam.

    I think another analogy to the Church’s opposing legal recognition of same sex marriage would be the general opposition of western civilization to legal recognition of marriage to more than one spouse.

    There is generally a “live and let live” attitude towards men who cohabit with more than one wife or mistress (or vice versa). While many are repulsed by such a “domestic partnership”, very few would advocate criminalizing it (absent underage partners and the like). Yet even many of us who are not repulsed and who could “live with” multiple partner domestic partnerships (or hospital visitation rights or the like) would not favor legal recognition of multiple spouse civil marriages.

    I do not think that opposition to legal recognition of same sex marriage is inherently homophobic any more than opposition to civil recognition of multiple spouse marriage is anti-polyamory or anti-religious freedom of our FLDS cousins.

  47. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Comment #35 made me laugh.

    RAH!

    RAH!

    Shish! Boom! Bay!

    Two-bride weddings are great!

    But only if they’re gay!

  48. Mark N. on August 19, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Martin, I didn’t see your earlier comment until after I had posted mine, but I do find myself in agreement with what I believe you are saying/asking.

    Sometimes I find myself wondering (as a resident of CA and all) if the Church leadership is simply trying to stake out a position because God requires it while simultaneously having no real hope of persuading the majority to pass the constitutional amendment, or if the leadership really believes that our involvement with the issue will actually be persuasive to the hoped-for majority of voters.

    Mormon found himself in the unenviable position of being unable to persuade his fellow Nephites to change their ways and for whom he had given up all hope of seeing them repent.

    Is that what California saints are being asked to do? Stake out a moral position even though we might be personally convinced that it’s hopeless because we can’t frame our argument in other than religious “God says so” terms?

  49. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    DKL writes,

    “Perhaps Prop 8 should define a marriage as involving at least one chick”

    This is what Stanley Kurtz warned us about. Today, gay marriage. Tomorrow, small feathered barnyard animals.

    Where are we going, why is getting so warm, and why are we all sitting in this damn handbasket?

  50. Margaret Young on August 19, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Great comment, Kaimi.

  51. Martin Willey on August 19, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Mark N.: Interesting thought. It makes me want to read those chapters of the BOM again to see what I learn about how to handle this situation. Thanks.

  52. jjohnsen on August 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Wow has this site has lost it’s glow. If I responded in the other thread using a tone similar to how Adam is writing, would my comment be edited? Reacting like a rotten five-year-old is acceptable on this site because he occasionally writes predictable posts about how horrible gay marriage and abortion are?

  53. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    As a friend points out, the last time that slippery slope arguments were used in connection with marriage was with the ERA and similar state provisions. The concern was that these provisions would lead to gay marriage agitation.

  54. greenfrog on August 19, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    In reading #37, I realize that I didn’t do a spectacular job of fleshing out the point that I think emerges from the differences in generational effects associated with racial and sexual orientation discrimination.

    More explicitly, my thinking goes like this:

    1. Discrimination (whatever the variety) denies certain kinds of legal, social, and economic advantages to categories of persons subjected to it.

    2. Economic and at least some social advantages (such as education) tend to be inherited. Economic wealth typically passes from parent to children, and there is a positive correlation between the economic position of persons in one generation of a family and persons in the next. Same with education — there is a positive corellation between the education level attained by parents and the educational level attained by their offspring. The same is true, I imagine, with respect to other social advantages.

    3. Some of the markers that delineate categories of persons subjected to discrimination are a function of genetically inherited characteristics, such as skin color. Some are not so clearly genetically inherited, such as sexual orientation.

    4. When you combine ## 1, 2, and 3, you get a situation in which the effects of discrimination tend to accumulate to greater degrees with respect to the population where both discriminatory harm (economic and social disadvantage) and the characteristic selected for discrimination (skin color) coincide. Just like compounding of interest at a bank, compounding of discriminatory treatment renders the burdens on those subjected to racial discrimination greater in degree (but not in kind, I’ll argue in a minute) than those subjected to sexual orientation discrimination, where the impact of the discrimination tends to be cut off at the single generational level.

    From my perspective, the difference in degree explains why racial discrimination was addressed by our society first — it was the most obvious because the harm it inflicted had compounded for generations and generations. By the 1960s, the disparity between the categories of “subjected-to-discrimination” and “not-subjected-to-discrimination” was huge, and television communications technology advancements erased information borders within the United States. As that happened, the moral opprobrium that one part of the US held for racial discrimination combined with the increasingly evident (because of communications advances) social and economic harm that resulted from the practice of discrimination. The result was the Civil Rights Act and its progeny — both legal and social progeny. Bless Martin Luther King, Jr., for presenting the situation in morally impeccable terms of non-violence, as his doing so, IMO, allowed the change to happen sooner than it would otherwise, had the situation devolved into violence and entrenched us-v-them attitudes that violence seems to foster.

    Having learned the lesson of what happens to those subjected to discrimination when its affects can accumulate over multiple generations, we’re now presented with the question of what to do with discrimination where factors ##1 and 2 are present, but where #3 tends not to be. One answer is that without the accumulation of generations, we shouldn’t care about discrimination. Without that generational compounding, the effects on society are relatively smaller, so why care? In essence, I think this is the argument that those who contend “gays have lots of buying power” are making. If the results of discrimination are not evident at a macro level, society shouldn’t infringe the liberty of those preferring to discriminate.

    For my sensibilities, I think that what is wrong to do to a family is wrong to do to an individual, as well. The difference in harm to the one subjected to discrimination is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. The evil associated with the discrimination is the harm to the individual. Racial discrimination against an individual results in generationally-compounded harm to a given individual, but it isn’t different in kind from the harm inflicted on an individual as a result of that individual’s sexual orientation. Both entail social and economic impacts. The magnitude shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

    And as for the rest of #37′s comments about actions/proclivities — I can attest from my own experience that not acting as a homosexual does not shield one from discrimination against homosexuals. I’m comfortably heterosexual, but for a substantial portion of my grade school years, my peers believed me to be gay. I can attest that celibacy is no protection from discrimination. Perhaps your point was narrower than the words you used — that the form of discrimination the Church advocates with respect to homosexuality is action-based. I agree that it is at present. (I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t.) But the action/proclivity line doesn’t really reach what I’ve tried to articulate as my central concern with discrimination — the harm to the individual, whether grounded in racial or gender or sexual orientation or whatever.

  55. jeff hoyt on August 19, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I am surprised that I have not seen what I believe is the major relevant distinction between race and orientation – That being there is essentially no emotional and physiological distinction between a black man and a white man, but there is a huge emotional and physiological distinction between men and women.

    On another note, I must say that it seems a little arrogant to presume that our society is so much wiser than every great religious tradition and every great moral thinker in every generation previousto our own.

  56. quin on August 19, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    The saddest part of all this may not be that citizens of this country no longer uphold the ideal “In God we trust”, but that some members of His Church do not.

    Mark N.,
    I think it goes deeper than the Church seeking to stake out a position. Are we commanded to stand as “witnesses in all times and all things and in all places” or just when the odds of success are in our favor? Prop 8′s success or failure has no bearing on whether or not God’s laws are true or not, but our ultimate success or failure has and will always depend on whether WE are true to the Savior or not. “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.

    Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, . . . For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. Ether 2:10 and 12

  57. Michael on August 19, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    If I may interject. As an active gay LDS convert (living the newly enacted “law of celibacy”), I still find it very perplexing (and strange) that the issue of choice versus orientation continues to be such a contested item. Why is it so hard to accept the experience of the many millions of gays and lesbians who lived through puberty and adolescence fully aware of their developing sexuality? In any other situation, one would look to learn from the experiences of those affected. In the case of homosexuality, our experiences are discounted, ridiculed, pyscho-analyzed, and trivialized. We are told that we are not full men (or feminine women) and that we are “confused” about our gender. We are told that our deep feelings and desires for intimacy are only superficial lust. We are told that we are deluded about true love and that we need to live cocooned social lives to stay away from temptation (how come straights never have to do that?).

    How come it is so hard to accept that our orientation is part of our nature and that there is some purpose for it in the Plan of Salvation?

  58. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Agreed, Michael.

  59. Bookslinger on August 19, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    #55 (quin): Excellent points. I was just reading in 3rd Nephi (and I think it’s also in Jacob) about what would happen to the Gentiles who inherit this land if they turn from God. I think “Gentiles” in 3rd Nephi’s context would still include church members who are not “natrual born” descendents of Israel, which I think is most members. (Do patriarchal blessings state or distingish between whether one is adopted into a tribe of Isreal or is a literal descendent of Israel/Jacob ?)

    #54 (jeff hoyt): re: wiser than every great religious tradition and every great moral thinker. Great point.

    #54 (jeff hoyt): I understand that the “emotional and physiological distinction between men and women” exists, but generally not between men of different races or between women of different races. But I don’t immediately or intuitively see what follows or connects that to whether or not sexual orientation issues are congruent to civil rights issues. Can you verbalize the next logical step?

  60. Julie M. Smith on August 19, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I’ve been out and then suffering from poor net access for a few hours. I would like to register a strong objection to Adam’s extremely offensive comment. I would moderate it now but then we’d have a dozen nonsensical follow-up comments.

  61. Steve Evans on August 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Julie, since when is that a problem?

  62. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I am extremely offended that my comment is being condemned.

  63. Adam Greenwood on August 19, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    there is essentially no emotional and physiological distinction between a black man and a white man

    You racist. I’m sick of your emotional distinctiveness genocide.

  64. Steve Evans on August 19, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    See?

  65. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Is there really any purpose to these snarks, Adam, other than sabotage?

    Do you enjoy pissing on the blog so much?

  66. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the discussion, those who tried.

    I don’t think there’s much point in keeping comments open further, so I’m closing it up.