Rhetoric, Ideology and Prop 8

November 14, 2008 | 132 comments
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In the run up to and in the wake of Prop 8, Latter-day Saint proponents of the measure have often tried to parse their words carefully when discussing their support for it in order to avoid charges of bigotry and hate for opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Echoing a refrain from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.” This effort, however, has clearly failed to shield members from allegations of discrimination. Some high profile examples include Marjorie Christoffersen, owner of the El Coyote Cafe near Hollywood, who donated $100 to the Yes on 8 campaign and is now trying to stave off a boycott of her restaurant. In speaking to a crowd gathered at the cafe yesterday, Sister Christofferson said:

I am sick at heart that I have offended anyone in the gay community…you are treasured to me…I’ve been a member of the Mormon Church all my life and I responded to their request. This was a personal donation, not the El Coyote’s. In like fashion, any employee can support anything of its choosing…The restaurant does not support any political group…I don’t know of another place on earth where such diversity exists in harmony, joy and mutual respect. I know boycotts are planned…It saddens me that my faith will keep you away from the Coyote. I cannot and I will not, no matter what, change my love and respect for you and your views.

Another member who has born a high personal cost is Scott Eckern, the artistic director of a major theater company in Sacramento, whose $1,000 donation to Yes on 8 caused a firestorm which led him to resign yesterday. In a statement released yesterday, Eckern said:

“I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction. I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage. My sister is a lesbian and in a committed domestic partnership relationship. I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue and the accusations that have been made against me are simply not true. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues,and I am deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others…. I chose to express my views through the democratic process, and I am deeply sorry for any harm or injury I have caused in doing so. I want to support not only my friends and loved ones, but everyone in their efforts to receive equal rights so I will be making a comparable donation ($1000) to the Human Rights Campaign. I hope that through future conversations bridges may be built and healing can occur that will allow us to arrive at a better place of understanding for all involved.”

The situation these members find themselves in is not an enviable one. The debate has been framed without nuance as a battle of absolutes, either oppose Prop 8 and your Church or you’re a bigot, and they’ve been forced to try to stake out some middle ground without betraying their religious convictions.

This rhetorical balancing act has been especially difficult for Mormons in the public eye, many of whom have sought to avoid taking a public position on the issue. Shortly before the election, Steve Young was forced to address his own personal position on Prop 8 after his wife’s opposition to the measure got considerable press and was attributed to him. In response to questions about her support, Barbara intially said: “We believe all families matter, and we do not believe in discrimination, therefore, our family will vote against Prop. 8.” She later clarified her remarks, stating: “I am very passionate about this issue and Steve is completely supportive of me and my work for equality. We both love our Church and are grateful that our Church encourages us to vote our conscience. Steve prefers not to get involved politically on any issue no matter what the cause and therefore makes no endorsement.” When that failed to put an end to the news stories, Steve issued this additional statement:

“Barb and I love each other very much. It is that love of each other and the Savior that helps us come to the decisions we do. For Barb, who has a remarkable and enviable compassion for others, those political activities are far more public than mine. Those who know me, know I chose long ago not to be publicly active in the political process. I do have strong opinions. I do vote and will vote on Tuesday, but those matters are private. Barb and I and our children love our church and our faith, which allows for a wide diversity of political discourse. In our case, our diversity does not diminish in any way our or my love, respect and sustaining of the leadership of our church, which is deep and profound.”

More recently, as calls for a boycott of the Marriott International hotel chain were being bandied about, Willard J. Marriott Jr. made a post on the Marriot blog laying out “The Facts About Marriott and California’s Proposition 8” which stressed that neither he nor his company had contributed to the Prop 8 campaign:

As many of you may know I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some might conclude given my family’s membership in the Mormon Church that our company supported the recent ballot initiative to ban same sex marriage in California. This is simply untrue. Marriott International is a public company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and is not controlled by any one individual or family. Neither I, nor the company, contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8.

The Bible that I love teaches me about honesty, integrity and unconditional love for all people. But beyond that, I am very careful about separating my personal faith and beliefs from how we run our business.

I am personally motivated to speak now because Marriott was built on the basic principles of respect and inclusion. My father, who founded this company along with my mother, told everyone who would listen: “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers, who will come back again and again.”

For more than 80 years, our company has grown and changed, but that basic principle still holds up. We embrace all people as our customers, associates, owners and franchisees regardless of race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Our principle is backed up with a formal diversity program, which we established more than 20 years ago. Our Board of Directors has also focused on this priority and helped us be a leader and a better company. We were among the first in our industry to offer domestic partner benefits, and we’ve earned a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for two years in a row. Many of our hotels have hosted LGBT community functions and events for years.

One of the problems that these various experiences highlight is the rhetorical difficulties faced by members, both in and out of the public eye, who discuss their positions on Prop 8. Members who have supported the measure have the near impossible challenge (given the absolutist framework they’ve been given to work within) of trying to explain how they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage” without being portrayed as narrow-minded bigots. And members who either are trying to stay publicly neutral or who might oppose Prop 8 face the equally daunting challenge of expressing that neutrality or opposition in a way that does not cast aspersions on the Church. All three groups, those who support, are neutral, or oppose, also face a similar challenge of expressing support for gays and lesbians without suggesting that the many Americans who are not in favor of gay marriage must necessarily be uncompassionate, disrespectful and intolerant. From this one might justifiably conclude that the triumph of ideology on this issue has left little room for genuine discussion. The ideological rhetoric that has emerged as a result does not appear to be seeking, through careful deliberation, to arrive at the “truth” (since it claims eo ipso to already possess it), its goal instead seems to be for power; that is to mobilize mass support and limit opposition. This has left members of the Church, regardless of their views, in a pretty tough spot when discussing Prop 8.

NOTE: Comments which veer from the topic of the post or violate our comment policy will be deleted. Please use your discretion and avoid personal comments about those whose views I’ve highlighted.

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132 Responses to Rhetoric, Ideology and Prop 8

  1. Julie M. Smith on November 14, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Another angle:

    If one parses these somewhat ambiguous and conflicting statements a certain way, it is not impossible to come to the conclusion that Steve Young and Elder Marriott opposed prop 8. While the knee-jerk Mormon reaction might be to hiss at them over this, it is also possible to view it as a positive for the church: their opposition (if, indeed, it was opposition and their rhetoric didn’t just get away from them) proves that Mormons are not, in fact, sheep mindlessly doing whatever their leaders command.

    I know Elder Maxwell said that there was no such thing as “loyal opposition” in the church. But I do wonder: is it actually a plus to the Church to have opposition (if it is opposition . . .) from prominent members because it makes clear to a skeptical public that those not opposed are acting from their own personal convictions and not as agents of Salt Lake’s mind control?

    We might conclude that a little leaven of opposition legitimates the entire loaf of support.

  2. Jon W on November 14, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I think your argument fits any social moral that is a political hot potato. At the end of the day the consequences of these discussions will be controversial, and when the church takes such a strong stand it is unavoidable that it will catch up with you.

    In this specific case I would say there is little chance people with this challenge can overcome the prejudice which continually enters in from both sides. We see this to some degree in Canada where if any politician takes an anti-abortion position of the mildest nature is suddenly castigated for killing women in back alley abortions. Or to some groups any accommodation to a women’s right to choose is seen as killing babies. Realistically, it is incredibly difficult not to be a casualty in those types of situations.

    For most members in those middle ground situations your best bet is to pray and come to a position you can feel good with no matter the consequences. I feel for those that end up, like those mentioned, caught in the crossfire, but we are often put in that position as members of this church so it is not surprising. It doesn’t make it less sad of course.

  3. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Good post Marc. The problem is one of simple misinformation. Those supporting No on 8 scream that their rights have been taken and it takes a good deal more thought and information to see that absolutely nothing was taken from them except the judge-created intrusion of calling it a “marriage.” Support for 8 was really about the downside for religious organizations from the In Re Marriage Cases decision if allowed to stand and the fact that there is no downside for homosexuals by passing 8. The bigotry against the church from gays far outstrips anything that voting for 8 could possibly support.

    Julie: I’m just confused by your stance. I can see the benefit from others seeing that Mormons are actually human and have brains in their heads and can actually think for themselves. Wow, that’s a benefit. Yet it seems that it takes more than a little self-deception to take the position that the Church is actually better off if you publicly oppose it on what is states very clearly are essential political initiatives. “Oh, the Church is better off if I vociferously oppose it!” Can you see the tension in your statements?

  4. Russell Arben Fox on November 14, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Members who have supported the measure have the near impossible challenge (given the absolutist framework they’ve been given to work within) of trying to explain how they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage” without being portrayed as narrow-minded bigots.

    You’re not kidding.

    Good post, Marc; thanks for it.

  5. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.”

    I have heard this a lot, but mostly from friends, so I let it slide. But this is a more academic exchange, so I want someone to flesh this out. My assumption is that “pro-marriage” means in the context of prop 8 is that allowing same-sex marriage will destroy marriage as an institution. That assertion seems to be backed up by dogma but not evidence or any sort of causal theory beyond stereotypes of gays as uniquely wildly promiscuous. When your reasons for keeping same-sex couples from being married are based on dogma and stereotypes, isn’t being pro-marriage the same as being anti-gay?

  6. SLO Sapo on November 14, 2008 at 11:52 am

    “The problem is one of simple misinformation. . . . The bigotry against the church from gays far outstrips anything that voting for 8 could possibly support.”

    The irony here is really remarkable.

  7. Julie M. Smith on November 14, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Blake, of course there is tension there!

    My point was simply that anyone tempted to start calling for the heads of Steve Young and/or Elder Marriott might pause for a minute to realize that the existence of those who (seem to?) oppose the church’s position actually defangs one of the anti-Mormon arguments that I frequently heard in the Prop 8 debates, so it adds another layer of complexity to how we might evaluate (if we feel the need to evaluate) the positions that they (seem to) have taken.

  8. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Nate W. What you need to ask is: what does marriage mean if it is a relationship (sexual or non-sexual) between any consenting adults? It seems that marriage loses all meaning whatsoever. It would be reduced to being equivalent to “room-mates with legal rights.”

    I don’t believe that if gays marry that my marriage will fall apart or be legally challenged. However, what marriage had traditionally meant and the reason it was supported by the State is for the benefits the State derived. Committed heterosexual relationships where children are generated and fostered are essential to the perpetuation of our social order and species. That is a vital interest of the State. Homosexual relationships don’t have that value. Having role models of each sex as a parent is very important and the bedrock of our society. However, it is clearly just as ideal. Many single mothers and fathers do the best that they can. Yet, it is an ideal worth striving for isn’t it? it is an ideal worthy of the State taking steps to foster and protect such relationships. The State doesn’t have the same interest in homosexual relationships.

    I would quickly add that the State has some interest in stable homosexual relationships: (1) to the extent children have been procreated through heterosexual means but for whatever reason end up with homosexual parents the State has an interest in a stable home; (2) committed homosexual relationships seem to be morally superior to promiscuous relationships to me. To that extent, the State has an interest is protecting and fostering stable homosexual relationships. But the interest just isn’t the same as for more valuable heterosexual relationships which seem to me to morally superior and better for kids who need role models of both sexes.

    I advocate calling every relationship that the State recognizes or creates merely a civil union. I take that stance because the State has only civil authority and can create only civil unions. I also take that stance because to the extent the State mimics and copies religious rites and ordinances it violates the Establishment Clause.

    I also believe that the licensing for LDS Social Services and other church programs needing licenses was (and perhaps still is) in jeopardy in California to the extent that the Church will not place children with homosexual couples or recognize them for purposes of receiving support of one sort or another. The biggest problem is that in a few years the homosexual radicals will be successful in equating homosexuality with racial rights and any organization that doesn’t simply recognize homosexual sex as morally and civilly equivalent to heterosexual sex will be regarded as a backwards pariah out of touch with the prevailing social customs and standards. The Church may well be forced into such a social situation the way the lesser law was given to Israel in consequence of its unwillingness to receive the greater light and the greater law.

    If we could just get the message across that the pro-Prop 8 was essential to protect vital interests of the church and had no actual adverse impact on any protection, privilege or right of homosexuals, I believe that we would be seen as being rational and morally thoughtful and considerate folks.

  9. Dave on November 14, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Fine post, Marc. This issue may be around for years. It’s the new polygamy.

    Blake, I’m not sure Julie was really arguing that position, just nudging the door open and taking a peek at it. I’d be more direct and say the Church certainly does benefit (from a PR perspective) as being seen as an institution that is capable of tolerating disagreement on political issues. Furthermore, I think the Church also benefits from actually being an institution that is capable of tolerating disagreement on political issues. It helps if you actually are as you want to be seen.

    I think there is a difference between opinions on political issues and opinions about the foundational authority claims of the LDS Church. Political issues are ones on which reasonable people, including reasonable Mormons, may disagree. The policy of the Church in the modern era has been to carefully avoid making political issues the basis of being a member in good standing. That seems to be the import of the Salt Lake Tribune’s recent summary of statements made by Elder Clayton that “Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the [Prop 8] issue without facing any sanction.” Even the official request that California Mormons support the initiative with time and money doesn’t make it into a litmus test for good standing in the Church.

  10. CE on November 14, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Blake,

    In #1 above, Julie said that “it is not impossible to come to the conclusion that Steve Young and Elder Marriott oppose prop 8.” She holds this up as an example of the kind of “loyal opposition” that might help the church in the eyes of the skeptical public. You rephrase this to imply that Julie believes “the Church is better off if I vociferously oppose it.” I generally like your writings and bloggernaccle commentary, and I think someone of your caliber should be able to successfully debate a point without twisting and stretching another’s words beyond recognition. We don’t need a repeat of the tedious wranglings on TT’s thread at FPR from earlier this week.

  11. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Dave: You are correct that one can disagree with Church leaders on what it says are vital political issues and not face sanctions — but can one be trusted to support the Church? Certainly there is a difference between committing adultery (which can affect fellowship) and opposing the church openly on political issues. I suspect that there is a heavy cost to be paid in terms of trust however — for both sides. Those who oppose the church demonstrate their open distrust of Church leaders and it takes a toll on those who know of their opposition. I suspect that those who oppose the church will not be trusted to support the church in other respects as well.

    Here is the problem I have with Julie’s suggestions (which I acknowledge has some common sense merit) and with those oppose the Church for such reasons: it implies that it is a valid inference that those of us who would support Prop 8 only do so so because we are unthinking sheep who have no mind of our own and follow the brethren blindly and without thinking. It isn’t a valid inference and it is contemptible that anyone would give weight to such a view and give it the merit of attempting to counter-weight such fallacies and bigotry by actually opposing the church(!).

  12. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Blake:

    There are obviously some parts of your comment I disagree with, but I will note that we agree on this:

    I advocate calling every relationship that the State recognizes or creates merely a civil union. I take that stance because the State has only civil authority and can create only civil unions.

    I think this is the only stable solution from a pragmatic perspective.

    As far as LDSFS, I understand your concern but I think that past practice shows that states will let LDSFS discriminate against non-Mormons so long as they don’t take state funds or diversify into foster care, etc. LDSFS has not encountered any resistance from Massachusetts as far as I am aware. I think that in order for that to change, there would have to be a lot of other things in society that change besides gay marriage.

    In short, I think you have the right idea here, Blake. The church needs to proffer secular reasons of vital importance (religious freedom is a secular reason, btw) that would be strongly adversely affected by same-sex marriage to avoid the label of “anti-gay.” The problem to me is that those secular reasons are not founded on good arguments, but rather speculation and the necessity of assuming that society will change in myriad ways independently of same-sex marriage in order to reach the impact. The more twisted and convoluted the logic, the more others identify it as a pretext.

  13. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    CE: You’re right, Julie didn’t say that. However, it is an implication that follows quite reasonably from what she does say. We are stuck not only with our words but with the reasonable implications entailed thereby.

  14. a california mormon on November 14, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I’m with Steve Young, what I vote for and who I vote for is my private business and none of yours.

  15. CE on November 14, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Regarding Marc’s original post:

    Great thoughts. It’s interesting to see how people use labels to shape public policy debates. In the Prop 8 case, people considered themselves to be either “for traditional marriage” or “against hate,” both of which sound like admirable goals. I can think of other euphemistic labels on other issues too, like “second amendment rights” or “pro-choice” or “pro-life” or “PATRIOT Act.”

  16. Cicero on November 14, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    My grandfather had a saying. A very bitter one that I never liked, but seems to apply here:

    “Never explain,” he’d say, “Your friends understand, your enemies don’t care.”

    Much more is going on here than just anger over the issue of the definition of marriage. Nor is it about any lost legal rights, (since under domestic partnerships the gays have not lost any).

    This is about power. Gays felt that they had finally achieved power in California, and along came these “believers” who proved differently. This is why the passage of Prop 8 is juxtaposed so often in their posts with the election of Barrak Obama. Obama’s election was symbolic of gaining power for liberal views across the country. The passage of Prop 8 however, represented a loss of power inside California. It also explains why many non-gay liberals are just as enraged as the gays.

    In their view, the believers have robbed them of their right to the government. That’s why they keep yelling about “separation of church and state” as if that somehow means religious people should sit down, shut-up, and let secular ideas exclusive control over the government.

    The flat result of this is that the gays don’t care. They don’t care why we are opposing them. They only care that we are opposing them, and thus are a threat to their power. The acts of intimidation, the forced resignations of Mormons who donated to Prop 8, the demands made of El Coyote- these are all just means of reasserting their power.

    The rage displayed by the gay movement and allies is no different from the rage I saw come over schoolyard bullies when some small little kid (me) refused to kowtow to them. In saying this I would like to point out that like most bullies the gay movement became bullies because so many gay people have been bullied growing up. Though making their anger understandable, it does not justify their actions.

    They are afraid, because they felt helpless growing up. Gay Marriage is not really about marriage, it’s about having the security blanket of first, being designated as no different from others, and second (and more importantly) of being the ones in power. Feeling powerful soothes their insecurities. That’s why they demand Marjorie Christoffersen donate money to repeal Prop 8, it would show that they really can control her, and thus they can be safe around her.

    It’s why they are focusing their anger on the Mormons (and before Prop 8 on Boy Scouts). We are weak and vulnerable compared to the other backers of Prop 8. Attacking us is most likely to be successful and allow themselves to feel powerful and in control. Just like kids who were bullied, pick out a person weaker than themselves to bully.

    So you see- explanations are useless. They don’t care. They don’t want understanding or compromise. They want us to grovel, and beg them for forgiveness, and make them feel like they have the power and we have none.

    The frustrating thing is that we have no way of retaliating, because as a suspect class, gays can not be fired for being gay, nor can they be refused service- yet they can and will do all these things to Mormons- especially those who supported Prop 8. Our legal system is rigged in their favor, and they will use it to the maximum effect that they can.

  17. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Nate W. We clearly disagree on the likelihood of legal implications. I would state that the holding in North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc v. Benitez very strongly supports my legal conclusions. Are you calling my suggestions regarding licensing “twisted and convoluted logic”? I suggest that you read the case.

  18. Timer on November 14, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Religions deal in high-minded beliefs and lofty ideals: peace, charity, kindness, family, etc.

    Political campaigns deal in spin, manipulation, and oversimplification (and occasionally blatant deception and outright lies).

    Anything who thinks ProtectMarriage.com is an exception to this rule has not been paying attention. Once you start donating to political campaigns like this one, you are spending money to distort, oversimplify, and malign the views of your opponents. You should not be surprised when your opponents spend money to distort, oversimplify, and malign you. If this includes unfair charges that you are bigoted and anti-gay, that’s just part of the game. He who lives by the sword, after all.

    But you know, the sad thing is that most of the Mormons who donated to this cause are not political activists. They didn’t want to live by the sword. They didn’t want to make anybody angry. They just wanted to follow the prophet and make their bishops happy. Now that they are getting more than they bargained for, one can’t help but feel sympathy. I think of little old ladies, handed a sword and nudged into battle by well meaning priesthood leaders. Now the other side is hitting back, and they are going to get hurt.

  19. DavidH on November 14, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Blake,

    Why would same sex civil unions not create the same risk of licensing loss for LDSFS as same sex marriage (or some day, loss of tax exemption for BYU)? How does calling the civil union “marriage” increase that risk, from a legal/technical standpoint?

  20. queuno on November 14, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    What’s funny to me is how people seem to have an assumption that their public support should not have any private consequence (losing friends, jobs, etc.).

    When the Church leaders asked for unequivocal support from CA members (or in other areas, when they ask us to stand for something), it doesn’t mean that it didn’t come with ramifications. I don’t understand why that isn’t intrinsically understood…

  21. DaveB on November 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    One real difficulty here is that “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage” sounds awfully condescending to proponents of marriage equality. We are pro-marriage, too. I\’ve celebrated the marriages of straight friends and gay friends, and would like to see access to this societal institution opened to all couples regardless of sexual orientation.

    There\’s a limit to what rhetoric can do here.

  22. queuno on November 14, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    (My comment in 20 applies to both sides. Taking a stand on one side or another opens you up to conflicts with the other side. Maybe the other side is generous and forgiving. Maybe not. But having taken a side, you don’t get a say in how the other side chooses to react.)

  23. DavidH on November 14, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Neither Steve Young nor Elder Marriott stated that they opposed Proposition 8; however, they did not publicly state that they supported it either. (Disclosure: Of course, I have not stated publicly whether I supported Proposition 8, nor did I contribute to the campaign.)

    I may have misunderstood the argument, but I am a little uneasy about the implication that a public failure to support (as distinct from public opposition) what the Brethren ask us to support, of itself, means that we cannot be “trusted.” Speaking for myself, an argument that Latter-day Saints should desire to be “trusted”, and that one cannot be “trusted” unless one publicly supports (and/or financially conributes to) the Brethren’s position on a political/moral issue, undermines the notion that Latter-day Saints, who desire to be “trusted” and who also supported Proposition 8 did so in an independent way.

  24. WillF on November 14, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    What worries me about the escalation going on is that there doesn’t seem to be a strong Martin Luther King leader to keep things peaceful. The decentralization made possible by the internet has made it possible for leaders to be anonymous, and yet very effective. For example, “The JoinTheImpact Team” is leading the massive protests tomorrow: http://jointheimpact.com/jointheimpactcom-mission-statement/
    If things get out of hand, whose voice will calm things down? My only guess is MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann whose recent commentary on Prop 8 has all but been canonized by the Prop 8 opposition.

  25. Jim on November 14, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    This is a complex situation on so many levels. It seems that there isn’t even consensus among members of the church as to the question of homosexual conduct being a sin. That is the first breakdown in communication. It is affecting how members connect with each other and how they interact with the external world. For, if two people, or groups, cannot agree that some conduct is wrong, they cannot agree on how to deal with the conduct.

    The second breakdown of communication is internal to the church. A person’s support for Marriage Amendments can come from many sources ranging from principled support of the Proclamation on the Family, the united stance of the First Presidency and the Twelve, and the scriptures, to at the low end deep personal animosity for some perceived or actual offense from someone who happened to be homosexual. On the other hand, the source of a member’s opposition to Marriage Amendments can range from equally principled application of other sound doctrinal principles down to someone who wants behavior that is currently considered as sin to be accommodated and accepted so that they do not have to adapt to the standards of the church. And this difference is where, I think, the greater problem may be found. For there is one faction that is asking “how can one oppose the leadership of the church when they are so notably united in this stance?” While the other faction is asking, “how can these leaders be so wrong about this?” Then add in Elder Maxwell’s comments about there being no ‘loyal’ opposition in the church and the scriptural admonitions, particularly in the Book of Revelations, that people are either on the Lord’s side or they are not, it’s easy to see how this can become a serious stumbling block for members on both sides of the issue.

  26. Bradford on November 14, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Certainly it’s possible to support Prop 8, or find oneself aligned with the Church on a public policy issue, and not be perceived as “sheep mindlessly doing whatever their leaders command.” Well-articulated and –reasoned support can be just as, if not more effective than the perceived leavening agent of opposition. I’m not disparaging opposition out of hand, but advocating clear and lucid support. It’s also unfortunate that faith-based support is often given less credence than stances not based on personal religious convictions.

  27. Patricia Karamesines on November 14, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    The ideological rhetoric that has emerged as a result does not appear to be seeking, through careful deliberation, to arrive at the “truth” (since it claims eo ipso to already possess it), its goal instead seems to be for power; that is to mobilize mass support and limit opposition.

    Bull’s eye. This is the goal of all such rhetoric marshalled under any ideological banner. The name-calling is a dead giveaway.

    Thanks for this post.

  28. Bro. Jones on November 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    #17 The LDS Church and LDS Family Services are not health care providers, and are not under any public duty to provide health care to people regardless of sexual orientation. So no, that’s not a convincing legal argument.

  29. the narrator on November 14, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Let us not forget the rhetorical balancing act that LDSaints who oppose Prop 8 have to (ineffectively) play to avoid being accused of apostasy and a total disbelief from their fellow LDSaints.

    Just as many of the gay community have been willing to make claims about LDSaints that they have never met, so many LDSaints are just as quick in individual attack and accuse fellow LDSaints who opposed Prop 8 that they have never met either.

  30. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    David H and Bro. Jones: The holding of North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc v. Benitez was that those who are licensed by the State cannot refuse services to homosexuals based upon religious beliefs; they must be treated the same as heterosexuals. It is hardly a stretch to see how that applies to LDS Social Services. The reason that Prop 8 may (not definitely will) affect a different outcome is that there is now a constitutional basis for seeing homosexual unions has having different status than heterosexual marriage and thus is a reason for treating them differently. However, the Benitez case was decided under California’s anti-discrimination statutes and not Prop 8 and thus may continue to be read the same way even in light of Prop 8 being placed in the CA Constitution. Nevertheless, the holding of In Re Marriage Cases that homosexual marriage is a basic and fundamental constitutional right will likely be read in light of Prop 8 and a different outcome is now likely. Same sex civil unions don’t create the same conflict because they recognize a a rational distinction between heterosexual marriage and same sex unions — thus institutions licensed by the State can make the same rational distinction.

  31. Mark N. on November 14, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I advocate calling every relationship that the State recognizes or creates merely a civil union.

    Let’s assume that the CA Supreme Court decides that this is what needs to happen.

    So, when gay couples go get their civil union license, and then find a “liberal” (for lack of a better term) church to marry them, will the pro-8 people not be bothered by this, or will they be content with things the way they have turned out?

  32. queuno on November 14, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Let us not forget the rhetorical balancing act that LDSaints who oppose Prop 8 have to (ineffectively) play to avoid being accused of apostasy

    You’ve ignored the flip side — LDS have to perform who support SSM but chose to support Prop 8…

  33. jeff hoyt on November 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Cicero;

    Rarely (perhaps never) have I seen here elements of an issue so thoroughly and accurately analyzed and so concisely explained. Thank you and bravo.

  34. Ben on November 14, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    “when gay couples go get their civil union license, and then find a “liberal” (for lack of a better term) church to marry them”

    I’d be fine with that…

  35. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Mark N: The State couldn’t touch what a church is willing to recognize within its doctrine — there’s that small issue of the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause.

  36. James on November 14, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Nate W., I’ll see if I can answer that because I’ve been attempting to come to grips with that question myself.

    To first see clearly the issues involved we’d need to remove the very emotional baggage on both sides of the argument and talk only about logical and possible repercussions. And we’d also need to understand that we are at times talking about things that “may” happen or “could possibly” occur. But given that Prophets have issued statements to these possibilities, I’m willing to believe that these events could transpire.

    First off, it is not about gay rights. As was issued by the Church’s statement on the matter, the Church does not have issue with the rights of individuals. It is also not about gays being “wildly promiscuous.” That is a fallacy created by the extremists on the other side of the issue. (I’m reminded of a political cartoon that showed two men quietly sitting at a kitchen table, sipping coffee and reading the paper in a nice house with cats. The title was, “The Radical Gay Agenda.”)

    The issue is central to the idea of marriage and how it is looked at by the culture we live in. Not just by gays, but by the culture as a whole. And marriage has, for many different reasons, been treated as far less important than it should be during the last few decades. This can be seen in our society by the high frequency of excessive divorce rates, infidelity, sex outside of marriage, teen pregnancies and unrestrained selfishness in relationships.

    It is somewhat ironic that the changes in our society that has lessened the importance of marriage has allowed the LGBT community the opportunity to marry. To their credit the gay community does place a high importance upon marriage; more than the society does as a whole I believe.

    Now marriage, and especially the family, is an integral part of our civilization. It is from the family and the parents that the future is made. The changes that are created in culture, society and even the world’s civilization are generated within each family in each generation. And so it can be said that a society’s moral compass is a reflection of the majority of that generation’s family and upbringing. If a culture deems that one thing is repugnant, but another thing is ok, it is the result of what that set of people were taught while growing up. (It’s of course much more involved and complex than that, I’m simplifying the matter greatly so as not to write a novel on the subject.)

    And so it can be said that for the last few generations, a large portion of children have been taught that marriage is less important to them. That it’s ok to just “sleep around.” It’s ok to be selfish or to have an affair. Everyone else is doing it, right? What’s the harm? And as each new generation loves to push the boundaries and restrictions of their parent’s ideals, each generation will continue to lessen the importance of marriage until it becomes a relic of the past. Much like the manner of courting in the 1800’s seems out of date and old-fashioned, the idea of traditional marriage is slowly changing too (as is the concept of religion, by the way). This change in perception of marriage has not yet fully materialized in American society of course, but we have been heading in that direction for many years now. And quite a few countries in Europe and elsewhere have already gone down this route ahead of us.

    The problem with these cultural changes is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints places a VERY high importance upon the ideals of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that it is a divine institution, and not just a civil & temporary contract between two people. We believe that by raising children up to believe in a better way of living (such as showing honesty, chastity, virtue, love and charity) can and does make a better world. We believe that a child needs the examples and challenges of what both a man and woman can bring to them. And we believe that a family unit is not just a collection of haphazardly related individuals, but a strong and unified unit that has an eternal future. We will not be separated by death. The family is eternal and has significance far beyond our conception.

    We also believe that any sex outside of marriage is a sin. We also believe that homosexual sex is a sin. But let’s be clear: it is not the homosexual urges or tendencies that are a sin, just the giving into those urges. I personally believe that homosexuality is from nature and not nurture. And I believe it is a very difficult thing to deal with, especially if you are within the Church. But I also believe that sex of any nature outside of the restrictions that God has given to us is a sin. (So it can be argued that homosexual sex is as much of a sin as adultery. But it’s even less so in my perception, because a gay person is not betraying their partner. What I don’t understand though is why we don’t see adulterers being picketed and abused like the LGBT community? Why single them out? But I digress.)

    So the Church’s issue with gay marriage is not in a direct opposition to the gay community even though the Church and it’s members believe gay sex is a sin. Just as we are in opposition to abortion in most cases, or in opposition to a myriad of other societal conflicts with our beliefs. It is not an opposition to the people themselves as individuals, but upon the beliefs and practices that the society as a whole is reflecting. And it is also the belief that as a society becomes less and less tolerant of differing views as it has so many times in the past, that a church or organization that has differing views will be cast to the outside and castigated because of it. As a society becomes more and more tolerant of actions that a church believes is a sin, that church’s insistence and stubbornness to it’s position will be deemed as outside of the norm. And once a church or organization, or even a person is in that position, then a culture can easily distance the “outsiders.” And such a culture can even enact laws that while on the surface seems logical & fair, will severely limit the ability to raise a dissenting view. And such laws can force a church to go against their teachings so as to be more inclusive to the new & changed morality of the culture. Such things have already begun to occur to some Christian charities and organizations.

    So in short (ok, I guess it’s too late for being short… ) The Church’s position is not a direct action specifically directed at the gay community, although I can very much agree that it seems on the surface to be nothing but an attack. It is instead an attempt at a redirection of the nation’s morality so as to hopefully alter the direction the society in America is going. It is, in essence, a much larger field than simply gay marriage that the LDS church is working on. It is far larger than just the gays in California, but is instead an attempt to reign in the progress that has been made against traditional marriage in our society. And to ensure the ability for dissenting views on moral issues with regards to a church’s beliefs.

    (On a personal note: while I understand and agree with the larger issues that the LDS Church is working towards, I believe that many serious mistakes were made in the implementation of the Yes on Prop 8 issue. It was not so much the top Church’s leaders who made the greatest mistakes as it was the individual members and the lower ranking leaders: Stake Presidents, Bishops, etc. I saw far too many supposed Christian church members turn this into an attack on the gay community instead of a moral issue. There were far too many hurtful things said by individual Church members that do not mesh with the gospel of Christ. It wasn’t just the LDS Church members, of course. There were many other churches involved who did similar things and caused a great deal of pain. I would like to say publicly that not all LDS Church members are like that. And I’m positive that is also the case with the other churches involved. Hopefully next time we can act more like Christians?)

  37. DavidH on November 14, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Blake,

    If Proposition 8 now means that a provider can distinguish between a civil union of same sex partners and a married union of opposite sex partners, when the provider could not do so before, does that not mean that our GLBT brothers and sisters did lose some legal protections because of Proposition 8?

  38. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Blake:

    I think if non-discrimination statutes do not include religious exemptions, you have reason to worry. Presiding Bishop v. Amos says that those exemptions are constitutional, and LDSFS is an organization that is protected by those exemptions.

    And I wasn’t calling your reasoning twisted, I was just saying that a lot of these horribles are not dependent solely on the legalization of same-sex marriage. In social science, theories are given more credence based on the principle of parsimony: the fewer explanatory variables, the better. The problem with most of the theories that lead to loss of religious liberty &c. is that they not only require the legalization of same-sex marriage, they also require the eradication of existing legal protections to get to their impact. Usually this eradication would lead to the impact without legalization of same-sex marriage. To take your example, Blake, the existing non-discrimination statute would have to be amended for you to get your impact. But if that were to happen, the impact would happen even if same-sex marriage was not legalized. I think that to construct a proper causal argument, you would have to deal with alternate causation arguments, and you would have to show a proper theory about why legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to the revocation of substantive protections against the impacts you fear that would not happen if same-sex marriage were not legalized.

  39. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Nate W.: I work on the Amos case that went before the US Supreme Court. As you know, it was based on the Federal rather than the California state Constitution — so your reasoning in this regard is flawed.

    Further, the non-discrimination statutes don’t have to be amended to have an impact since now they must be read in light of (in pari materia with) Prop 8 constitutional language. So they don’t have to be amended, just read light of a new constitutional construct.

    DavidH: No, it doesn’t mean that homosexuals lost any rights. It means that religious people and organizations retained their rights. No one has a “right” to have an adoption by LDS Social Services. The question is whether LDS Social Services would be refused a license if it won’t provide adoptions to homosexuals on the exact same basis as heterosexuals. It won’t, so it could be denied a license.

  40. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Blake: That’s true if there is precedent that would lead one to believe that California’s establishment clause would invalidate religious exemptions to non-discrimination acts. If it does, that would be independent of the legality of same-sex marriage.

  41. Mark N. on November 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Blake@35: Yes, I understand that the state has no control over what a religion decides is doctrine. My question goes more to the point that most of the hollering about “gay marriage” seemed to be coming from those who just don’t like the idea that a gay couple can claim to be “married”. Is the sticking point the idea that the determiniation that a couple is “married” is offensive to some only because it’s the state making the pronouncement (as opposed to a particular religion saying so), or do they object to gay couples using the word under any circumstance? My impression from the beginning of the whole Prop 8 thing has been that it’s the latter, and if that is true, then allowing the state to issue nothing but civil union licenses is not going to solve anything for those people, because the Church Of We’ll Marry You Even If You Don’t Belong To Our Church Or Even Believe In God At All is going to maintain a situation to which they will always object.

  42. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Amendment to 40: That’s true if there is precedent that would lead one to believe that California’s establishment clause would invalidate religious exemptions to non-discrimination acts or if there is no religious exemption to California’s anti-discrimination statute.

  43. SLO Sapo on November 14, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Nate, is that an amendment or a revision?

  44. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Mark N. – Neither the Church nor the government can complain if a religious groups wants to perform ceremonies they call “marriages for homosexuals” that are recognized by that group alone and not by the State and not by other religions. Look, we perform eternal marriages but the State does not and cannot object that it only does marriages for time. The Church may not recognize divorces that are recognized by the State and the State has no say about that. At times the Church may not recognized a marriage as valid that is recognized by the State as valid — such as the quick 48 hour marriage and sex and divorce in Vegas. The Church still disfellowships for that kind of facade (as it ought). So what a Church recognizes and what the State recognizes may be quite different.

    BTW there is also a solution to plural marriage here (or a big problem depending on your perspective). Say that the State only recognizes the first marriage with wife as a civil union but the Church recognizes the marriage to the other three women as valid without asking the State to do so. The State would have to treat the other marriages as equivalent to adultery (which the State simply ignores). So we have plural marriage but the State only recognizes the first marriage as valid and the other 3 are not bigamy because all are disclosed and don’t pretend to be State recognized marriages. How could the state treat such an arrangement differently from he millions of cases of adultery on Equal Protection grounds? I know that almost no one wants to see plural marriage come back, but if I were representing modern day polygamists, that is the argument that I would use and I think it is a pretty darn compelling argument.

  45. Jonovitch on November 14, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Julie (1), your comment re: Steve Young is interesting, because when I read his very carefully chosen words, my impression was that he did indeed support Prop 8, but didn’t want to come out and disagree with his wife in the press for all to chatter some more about.

    Jon

  46. ronito on November 14, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I’m not anti-guns! I’m just pro…uh..not…guns.

  47. Geoff J on November 14, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I like Blake’s approach to solving this problem. The question is if our leaders in SLC like that approach. Ronan recently presented evidence that they may not at this point.

    I, however, think that the time is quickly coming that the church will have no viable choice other than moving toward the solution Blake suggests.

  48. Geoff B on November 14, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Marc, this is an excellent summary of the difficult role members face is explaining their support for traditional marriage, the Church and also their love for all people, including those who have same-sex attraction.

    It is impossible for me to look at this situation without being struck by the irony of how much society has changed in such a small amount of time. Mormon and Moroni saw it in their day — we are witnessing it unfold in our day. It seems clear to me that every generation of Saints has its own test, and ours is to remain faithful to the Church while suffering persecution and intolerance from those who disagree with our position. It seems this test is purposeful, which may not be the point of your post but is the way I read it.

  49. Mariska on November 14, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Lucifer sought to change the terms of Salvation by taking away freedom of choice. As Mormons believing in the War in Heaven, how can we deprive others from the freedom of choice, even if we don\’t like their choices?

  50. MikeInWeHo on November 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    re: 16

    Wow. Just wow. That is off-base and offensive on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. Personally, I’m always cautious about analysing individuals I have never met, much less entire subcultures.

    One word regarding #16: Projection

    (Look up Psychological Projection on Wikipedia– I tried to include a link but it sent my comment into the void)

  51. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Mariska: How did Mormons take away anyone’s freedom of choice?

  52. Nate W. on November 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    James:

    Having read your response, my only question is can you make the case that married same-sex couples are more harmful to the institutional integrity of marriage than same-sex couples that just cohabit or are in domestic partnerships? It seems like a lot of the lacksidasical attitude toward marriage is that there are alternatives to marriage as an institution. Why then would the expansion of these alternative institutions have a salutary effect on the younger generation’s perception of the institution of marriage, especially since younger people are more inclined to see “traditional marriage” as a discriminatory institution?

  53. John K. on November 14, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    #49

    Mariska,

    Why do we have a legal system at all if all it really does is deprive and punish people for making choices?

  54. James on November 14, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Nate W.,

    Good question. And a hard one to answer clearly without delving into rhetoric. But I’ll try.

    I personally believe that same-sex couples are not more harmful than domestic partnerships when you really get down the the reality of it and remove the emotions and fear. They are both an alternative to traditional marriage. The only difference is that the same-sex partnership is less traditional than a domestic partnership between a man and a woman.

    But the lacksidasical attitude toward marriage in our culture should not be attributed to the the ability to find alternatives to marriage. In fact the alternatives are one of the results of the loss of importance of traditional marriage, and not the other way around. If marriage were deemed more important to the culture, there would be no strong insistence to find alternatives to it.

    As I see it there needs to be a compromise. Nothing will be accomplished concerning this issue if both sides do not reach across the divide and try to understand one another. One thing that can not be compromised is a church’s belief that homosexual sex is a sin, because that comes from God. However all other things can and should be on the table. This includes the mostly mistaken belief that gay’s rights are identical to rights for blacks. They are very similar, I agree, but not identical. The gay community must understand that their strict & unwavering insistence of all freedoms that they demand does directly restrict the freedoms of churches and organizations to speak out in opposition to what they see as a sin. Just as the churches must understand that their belief of God’s commandments must not be force fed upon others who do not have that testimony.

    There is a great deal of conversation that can take place between those two extreme positions. But until both sides stop treating the other as the enemy and evil incarnate, nothing nothing good will ever come of it.

  55. NoCoolName_Tom on November 14, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Re: #49:
    And we have another example of the Reductio ad Korihorem.

  56. TMD on November 14, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    MikeinWeHo: While I don’t necessarily agree with all of #16’s agreements, I do think he’s right in at least some regards. Firstly, that the gay rights community does not care about our reasoning, does not care about compromise, does not care to try to come to a solution to this other than their own prefered one–one in which will seems ultimately directed toward to eliminating heteronormativity from the public square. Please, show me the proposals of the moderate gay rights agenda, proposals that take into consideration those who may not share all of their beliefs.

  57. MikeInWeHo on November 14, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    It’s hard to respond to comments filled with phrases like “Gays felt they had finally achieved power in California,” “they want us to grovel” and “the gay community does not care,” etc. Every ounce of my civility is required to bite my tongue in the face of such rhetoric, quite frankly. I probably shouldn’t even be in here (the anonymity helps).

    I’ll go back to an argument I’ve made several times before: It’s clear that BOTH sides of this issue feel existentially threatened by the other. “Eliminating heteronormativity” boils down to eliminating everything that you value most, doesn’t it TMD?

  58. ronito on November 14, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    TMD: While I don’t necessarily agree with all of #16’s agreements, I do think he’s right in at least some regards. Firstly, that the mormon community does not care about our reasoning, does not care about compromise, does not care to try to come to a solution to this other than their own prefered one–one in which will seems ultimately directed toward to eliminating homosexuality from the public square. Please, show me the proposals of the moderate mormon agenda, proposals that take into consideration those who may not share all of their beliefs.

    Hey this deomonization game if fun fun FUN!!!

  59. Blake on November 14, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Ronita and MikeinWeHo: Two wrongs don’t make one right.

  60. TMD on November 14, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Ronito, I actually am quite conversant with queer theory and the gay rights legal movement (in particular), in the US and elsewhere. I am being perfectly honest when I say that I do not know of a set a set or arguments or proposals from either that would leave space in the public square for individuals and institutions to actively promote heteronormativity without sanction, with or without official government recognition of, for instance gay marriage. In essence, based on their discourses and legal strategies, I can see no reason to believe that they do not plan to use marriage rights as a further lever against heteronormativity and institutions that express it, up to the very doors of the sanctuary (that is, up to the place where first ammendment rights would _probably_ protect against it). I am honest in my interest in learning of any on this point. If you can’t see moderate mormon opinion and proposals (incl apparent acceptance of civil unions in the CA debate), well, then you might look a little more closely at the comments on this page.

    MiWH: I very strongly agree that both sides feel existentially threatened (members of the gay rights movement have in fact explicitly made this argument, with rhetoric about the ‘suicide crisis’ in adolescents). The question is how can it be resolved? My earlier point was that I see no interest in any resolution short of full victory on the gay rights side; I see more interest in a moderate resolution on those who supported prop 8. I know that I would certainly be willing to support gay marriage rights if I thought they would just leave us (i.e., those who advocate heteronormativity, either as churches, individuals, or non-governmental institutions in the pubilc square) alone. But I just don’t see it happening. And so I fight it.

  61. TMD on November 14, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Seriously, at this point, if you accept heteronormativity (i.e., the idea that there is normative value in particularly heterosexual marriage), what is the alternative to fighting right now? Cause I’m tired of this fight. That doesn’t mean I’ll quit, because I know that if I do it will just get worse.

    It just means I’d really prefer to not have to. I’d like a mutually respectful bargain that lets us all go home. But I see no interest in that from the gay rights community.

  62. John K. on November 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    TMD & James,

    You sum things up nicely.

  63. we on November 14, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I want to observe that, as in all issues, there is a continuum of positions in all directions. After I read Marc’s entry and the first couple of responses, I came upon the statement: “Those supporting No on 8 scream that their rights have been taken and it takes a good deal more thought and information to see that absolutely nothing was taken from them except the judge-created intrusion of calling it a ‘marriage.’” The statement put me off right away because I happen to know that not everybody supporting “no” screams. Some do; some don’t. Some remain silent, some whisper, some talk in normal tones, and some scream and worse. In legal matters, hazards of litigation often exist arising from doubt as to the conclusion of fact and of law. Agencies of government, for instance, often make compromises because such doubt exists. I think it is insincere to lump everyone into one camp or another as is so often done or to think that the issue is so clear that it is either yes or no without risk on either side. The GAs apparently recognized reasonable members could differ without receiving censure.

  64. dp on November 14, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    When gay marriage is eventually recognized by law, how long before Churches will be required to \’recognize\’ such marriages. How long before Churches will be required to \’perform\’ such marriages?

  65. MikeInWeHo on November 14, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    “…up to the doors of the sanctuary.” I basically agree with you, TMD. The gay civil rights movement rests on the premise that homophobia is morally equivalent to racism and sexism. I would argue that the gay rights movement is in fact an extension of the feminist movement, so it’s a bit more complicated than you present in #60. Ultimately it’s about gender equivalence society-wide.

    We would probably also agree on where all the social, legal, and political trend lines point. It’s definitely more problematic for Latter-day Saints and others of conservative, traditional religious views. The gays in CA lost a ballot measure by a thin margin and even that probably won’t stick for too many years. Your side feels like it is losing a cultural and sexual revolution. I really do get it.

    So frankly, I think the gay community’s fear is overblown in the current environment. But given the history (sodomy laws! vice squads! shock treatment!) and rhetoric from the extreme right, perhaps you might indulge our paranoia a bit. We should return the favor.

  66. mlu on November 14, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Intimidation and bullying shouldn’t be sanctioned or excused, I think.

    The middle falls away and we are left with no choice but to choose.

  67. Ray on November 14, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Mike, #65 was one of the most concise, clear summaries of the historical context that I’ve read anywhere. It also applies in many ways to the collective Mormon conscience, which makes it both ironic and sad that these particular groups are fighting each other.

    There has to be a way to compromise without losing one’s soul on either side, and I favor full and equal civil rights for civil unions of all (straight and gay). Let churches work to make “marriage” mean more than “union” – putting the onus on ideological conversion, rather than legislation. I have a few, somewhat radical ideas about how churches could sanctify marriage in a real way, but they generally require the existence of an alternative for those who (by their actions) do not sanctify it to have “marriage” revoked without losing the civil benefits of a legally recognized union.

  68. mlu on November 15, 2008 at 12:27 am

    It could be that if you insist on “sanctifying” marriage in any way, or harboring any secret thoughts that there could be any moral reason at all for preferring a heterosexual relation, you will be identified as a bigot to be smoked out and intimidated into silence. Why should churches be allowed to perpetuate their “homophobic myths” and their “hate speech”?

  69. ronito on November 15, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Blake, no. it just makes both sides wrong.

  70. Roland on November 15, 2008 at 2:35 am

    California Prop 8 Supporters are beginning to wonder – where are our government leaders?

    How come they are not out condemning the and protests and hatred being hurled at supporters who followed the democratic process in presenting their proposition to the people?

    Does Gov. Schwarsneggar and Sen Fienstien and Sen Boxer want to encourage citizens to obey the law and to follow the democratic process?
    Or are they encouraging religious bigotry?

  71. Nate W. on November 15, 2008 at 2:52 am

    James:

    Not sure if you caught my point. Gay couples will exist whether or not they are allowed to marry. The question is whether they do more damage to the institution inside of it than outside of it, and why.

  72. Chino Blanco on November 15, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    “I don’t want to give the impression that the church is saying civil unions in all cases are okay,” Otterson said.

    In other words, who is Blake and why should I care?

  73. djinn on November 15, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Go Ray!!!!!!!

  74. Blake on November 15, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Who is Chino, and why should I care? Only because listening with an open heart and looking at real solutions is the only workable way.

  75. djinn on November 15, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Blake, all your arguments about “heteronormity” break down, rather quickly, to “Hate teh gey, ” cuz, you know, God does, as we can tell from a handful of ambiguous passages in the Bible, which we only believe when we feel like it.. (Preferably, some cat on canihavcheezeburger should be saying that.) People notice. So, your arguments, at the basic center, are all religious. Last time I checked, we here in the United States, were still a civil country — no matter the heated debate. Give me a non-religious argument against gay marriage.

  76. Blake on November 15, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    djnn — Your ad hominem caricature of my arguments is not merely flawed but insulting. My arguments are legal. You might not like them; nevertheless, they not only have merit but most of them have been suggested by courts in various rulings. Read my arguments again — they are based on a cost-benefit analysis of social costs.

    I challenge you to find just one argument that is based on “hate gays because God does.” Instead of giving a caricature of my arguments in a way that I don’t believe any fair minded person would accept, show where I make such arguments and respond. Further, I haven’t sited the Bible even once. Your uncharitable in extremis post is unworthy of further comment.

  77. Blake on November 15, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    MikeinWeHo: I used to have a dear friend that I grew up with and went to school with that now lives in West Hollywood. I haven’t heard from him since — but I visited with his mother today. I can’t imagine that you are that person — but if you are, you have a great family and I miss you.

  78. Ray on November 15, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    djinn, simply in response to your direct request, how about the following:

    Issues of sexual practices historically have been left in the arena of common social morals – meaning, essentially, that the voice of the people (expressed through legislators, not judges) has been the arbiter of what is acceptable and what is not. This was the case with anti-polygamy laws in the late 1800’s, anti-adultery laws in many societies, former birth control laws, marriage laws in every society ever formed (like prohibitions on marriage still active in our society that have nothing to do with sexual orientation), former and current bans on gay marriage, etc. The current methods of defining what is socially acceptable in this regard have grown to include the direct voice of the people (primarily because wimpy legislators have lost their willingness to tackle difficult questions and are deflecting responsibility directly onto the people) through referendum/proposition/issue ballots. This is because sexual practices are of such a personal and non-secular nature that only the will of the people should be used to change societal norms. This perspective is opposed to the judiciary reaching into sexual practices and dictating what is acceptable and not acceptable – which is the main legal argument I have heard from most supporters of Pro. 8. (and, yes, I understand the irony of that stance – addressed in the rest of this comment)

    This is not the foundation argument I would make – and it is not an argument “against gay marriage” in and of itself. Rather, it is an argument against gay marriage until that time when a society is willing to accept it. Once that acceptance has been reached, the standard changes accordingly.

    I find it fascinating that those who tend to preach the voice of the people as supreme (think of the outraged cries of voter disenfranchisement following Pres. Bush’s Supreme Court win) are now screaming that the voice of the people shouldn’t count – that judges should decide this issue. It points to the relative hypocrisy of BOTH sides – that EACH side is making the political argument that supports its desires best, regardless of how inconsistent that argument is with their former arguments on other issues.

    Since political arguments can be and are twisted like this all the time, maybe it’s best to admit that it really is about religious perspective in the end and try to convert instead of legislate.

  79. MikeInWeHo on November 15, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Nope, that’s not me Blake. There are a lot of gay Mormons (ex- and inactive) here in WeHo. A lot of gay people from conservative, non-affirming religious backgrounds wind up in these enclaves. It’s like a homo refugee camp, but with yoga class.

    re: 78
    I’m not sure I agree with your first long paragraph, Ray. Maybe someone who knows history better than me can comment, but my sense is that the judiciary has been the primary force of change over the years vis-a-vis laws on these topics. For example, weren’t the anti-miscegenation laws struck down by the courts, not “the will of the people”?? Certainly, the sodomy laws were mostly struck down by the courts.

    Personally, I’m horrified by the idea that “the will of the people” would ever reign supreme in deciding what society does and does not allow between consenting adults. By that argument there could still be states where blacks and whites are forbidden for marry, for example. Mormons of all people should realize the danger of allowing a simple majority to dictate civil norms in areas so “personal and non-secular.”

    But of course you’re right, we’re all hypocrites in this area.

  80. Jack on November 15, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    And yet there’s something really scary about a handful of judges–four or five people!–determining what is and is not “law” rather than “lawful.” The idea, for example, that mere interpretation on the part of a few appointed judges can empower society to abort millions of pregnancies without any legislative action is (to me) more horrifying than whatever the voice of the people may have been on the subject.

    I think the courts have been all too involved in the business of creating rights rather than protecting them.

  81. Ray on November 15, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Mike, remember, I said in the next sentence that it is not the foundation argument I would make. I think it has a degree of merit to it, but it has its limitations.

    As Jack said, if the will of the people is scary (and it certainly is to any minority), the will of 3-5 individuals is just as scary – especially when those individuals are on the other side of the debate than you or I. I don’t think it’s really who decides that makes the difference to most people; I think it’s nothing more than being on the wrong side.

    Seriously, think about this for a minute:

    If the courts had banned gay marriage, gay marriage advocates would have done exactly what gay marriage proponents did – put it on the ballot and claim the “voice of the people” should be honored. When something this fundamental and emotional is at play, it really isn’t consistency of legal argument that matters; it’s whatever position or argument can be used to win. So, in answer to djinn’s question about a non-religious argument, I would say:

    The best non-religious argument is whatever worked the last time the case was made – no matter who made it, and almost everyone believes that when push comes to shove.

  82. Ray on November 15, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    #79, Sorry, Mike. Somehow I missed the last sentence of your comment. Total brain freeze, I guess.

  83. Ray on November 15, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Yikes. I meant “gay marriage advocates would have done exactly what gay marriage *opponents* did.” I need to sleep or change my glasses.

  84. queuno on November 16, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Time Magazine has an article about how the anti-8 community wants to take away the right to be heteronormative: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859323,00.html?cnn=yes

    Bullying individuals and companies (and Churches) into silence?

  85. MikeInWeHo on November 16, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Oh absolutely, Ray. I agree with you completely about the legal process. It certainly is messy.

    In the very long run it’s the court of public opinion that matters. Interracial marriage was forced on places that didn’t want it; a few decades later even the deepest south wouldn’t think of banning it again were that possible.

    I’m barely in my 40s and even I can remember when the fight was over the repeal of sodomy laws and whether or not gays could be cops and teachers. My impression is that a lot of younger people don’t even know about those old debates.

  86. Drew C on November 16, 2008 at 2:01 am

    #84 etc.

    The acceptability of heteronormative belief is really what the conflict is about. Esoteric debates about the purposes of marriage is not what primarily drives interest in the issue, or votes. It’s whether it is or is going to be ok to publicly believe that homosexuality is wrong (non-normative) and that only heterosexuality is right (normative).

  87. Murray on November 16, 2008 at 5:34 am

    From a great distance here in Australia – does anyone else see some irony here? In the 1800s, when the Church was seen as being anti-establishment, the establishment tried to “kill” the Church by banning what was seen as being a non-normal system of marriage.
    Now the Church is (seen to be, by the GLTB) trying to “kill” the GLTB movement by banning what is seen as being a non-normal system of marriage.

    Maybe I have not expresssed this very well (I am not a lawyer!) but do you see what I am saying? If the GLBT movement want things their own way, why don’t they do what the the Church did and go to some new frontier where they can govern themselves and not force their agenda on the rest of society? I know that is impossible these days, but they do seem to be acting like the persecuted here, although from what I can see in the media, the LDS are once again the persecuted ones.

    One other question. I have not seen any comment in the media (or here) about SS marriage being a toe in the door to adoption by SS couples. Has that been an issue?

    It seems to me that SS marriage proponents want to have the benefits of living in “normal” society, but they don’t want to accept the norms of a normal society.

  88. Drew C on November 16, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Murray – Am I understanding correctly that you think that the Mormons went to Utah out of respect for mainstream norms, so as not to force their polygamous beliefs on them? That seems like a novel interpretation.

    As for adoption, same sex couples can already adopt in many, but not all, states in the US. They have a much larger “toe in the door” there already than they do in marriage.

  89. Drew C on November 16, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    The framing used by many, like Murray that allowing gay marriage “forces their agenda on others” illustrates my point in #86. Legal same sex doesn’t force a change in the lifestyles of any heteronormative couples, nor does it force heteronormative folks to change their beliefs. But it does legally enshrine the idea that homosexuality is not non-normative, thus putting heteronormative belief at odds with legal convention.

  90. Kent M on November 16, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I appreciate the thoughtful and measured comments that have been given. It is informative and helps me to understand issues more clearly. However, what I feel is a great sadness that no matter how much effort is put into a rational attempt at discourse and reconciliation, a resolution that will be acceptable to both camps (Yes and No on Prop 8) will be forever beyond our grasp. We want what we want. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

    We are not relieved of the responsibility to be peacemakers, just don’t expect peace over this issue. If I can quote the Coen Brothers, “This is no country for old men.” I fear it will get messy before the end.

  91. MikeInWeHo on November 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    But lots of LDS practices are at odds with legal convention and societal norms. Alcohol is legal too right?
    So is pre-marital sex, porn….lots of things that go completely against traditional morality. Why not ban all of them too?
    It’s odd that one particular practice (SSM) which affects so few people has become the lightening rod for traditionalist wrath. Trying to annul gay marriages in California is like turning off the stove when the whole house is already on fire.

  92. Utahn in CT on November 16, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    #91 “No country for old men” does not originate with the Coen brothers, or the Cormac McCarthy book on which it is based, but comes from a poem by William Butler Yeats, “Sailing from Byzantium.” The poem begins presciently, for this discussion. We all need to get beyond our “monuments of unageing intellect”

    That is no country for old men. The young
    In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
    — Those dying generations – at their song,
    The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
    Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
    Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
    Caught in that sensual music all neglect
    Monuments of unageing intellect.

  93. Kent M on November 16, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks, Utahn In CT. After I posted I found the McCarthy basis for the film, but I did not have the Yeats reference.

  94. djinn on November 16, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Ray, the problem with the Supreme court’s decision in Bush v. Gore was not that it was against that voice of the people, it was that it was so plainly partisan…..you may recall that the Supremes themselves made it non-precedentual, meaning, basically, they knew their arguments were garbage. There were also Sandra Day O’Connor’s statements about how she could now retire, leaving one or two to believe that her vote was not entirely based on the legality of the decision…. etc., etc., etc.

    But you and I agree about the will of the people essentially expressed in the laws that a country has. Mostly. The will of the upcoming generation (21-30 in CA) is that 60-some-odd to 30-some odd is that Gay Marriage ROKS!!i8i!! I have a child at West high school in Salt Lake City, Utah, Mormon central. I had a child at West high school 14 years ago. Between then and now, there has been a sea change in how the students themselves feel about being gay. Towards, not so much greater acceptance, as towards not knowing why anyone cares–and finding the thought that people do pretty creepy. A change is gonna come.

  95. stephen m (ethesis) on November 16, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I still think that much of the debate misses the point, though this discussion comes closer.

    Marriage, of course, has to have some meaning or it is without meaning. The question is what should that meaning be, and does gender or sex have anything to do with the meaning? If so, should the relevance of gender/sex/etc. merely be exclusivity (the “forsaking all others” part of the traditional vows) or something else?

    How imporant is exclusivity vs. other factors? What other factors are important?

    Exclusive, pair-bonding, child/family oriented marriages seem to be the goal, which as a frame includes many gay marriages (and excludes other relationships). Are all three elements necessary? Does it matter?

    I know, I have more questions than answers, but there are issues and matters being obscured by the gay marriage debate that I think ought to be reflected on more first.

  96. djinn on November 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Traditional marriage back in the day didn’t have anything to do with exclusive, pair-bonding child/family oriented marriages. It was all about who would inherit–specifically disallowing rights to children born outside of the marriage bond, keeping all the money in the “family,” as it were. In fact, this sort of assumed that men, at least, would stray; and allowed them to do so without financial hardship. So, my reading of marriage law is that “exclusivity” for men, at least, was certainly not assumed. Plus, through the concept of couverture, women pretty much lost all their property, and other, rights upon marriage.

    You’re positing the 1950’s version of marriage as the only one that ever existed, or you’re equalling “tradition” with whatever was happening 60 years ago.

  97. Ellis on November 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I don’t have time to go through all 96 post to find the one or two that deal with the question of whether or not LDS Social Services could lose its license to act as an adoption agency. So if I am repeating something already said please excuse me.

    In Massachusetts Catholic Charities had is license to do adoptions revoked because they refused to place babies with gay couples. So this is not a far fetched. It is something that has already happened once. Not everyone in Massachusetts is happy with the way things are going there on this front and they may yet have enough support to get something on the ballot.

  98. MikeInWeHo on November 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    re: 94
    A change has already come. From my perspective the SSM battles in CA and other blue states represent the end-game from a legal perspective, and lag the cultural change that has already taken place. I agree though, it’s remarkable how much attitudes have changed and how fast. Remember when Ellen came out? It was a huge, huge deal. What was that, a decade ago? Now she gets married and everyone is agog over how gorgeous her wife’s dress is!

    When I learned that my little high school in rural Michigan now has a Gay/Straight Student Alliance, my jaw just dropped. It’s a small group, but the fact that it exists at all is remarkable.

    So how exactly does barely pushing through Prop 8 reverse these trends? As you point out djinn, this ‘traditional marriage’ that has existed for millennia and must be ‘preserved’ is illusory anyway. It’s as if people watch old TV shows and pine for a return to the era of Ozzie and Harriett. Since that’s a dashed fantasy, in frustration they lash out…and gays make the perfect target. It’s certainly easier than looking inward.

    Just my take on it.

  99. djinn on November 16, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Speaking of Ozzie and Harriet, I must admit, I like the idea of vacuuming in pearls. Other than the vaccuming part. And, as I can never talk my significant other (such a barbed phrase) who does all the vacuuming in our house to ever wear any sort of necklace, I guess I’m out of luck.

    But, all jesting aside, the battle has been won (or lost, depending on your position) — the fallout has just been delayed; I read, somewhere, about a kid stealing her Mormon parents’ “Yes on 8″ sign,” they, of course, attributed it to evil outside forces. Nope.

  100. djinn on November 16, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Big sigh. In MA;, Catholic charities did not have their licence to provide adoption services revoked, they just lost state funding, as they were no longer following state rules. Big difference. LDS agency adoptions, with all their rules, are absolutely still allowed — they are just not subsidized by the state. You, Ellis, have been lied to. And I do, sincerely hope that you haven’t taken your pseudonym from the Bronte sisters, whom I love.

  101. Ray on November 16, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Just to echo djinn, I wish the whole Catholic Charities argument would die and be buried deep. They are very, very different than LDS Social Services – for exactly the funding reason that djinn describes.

    Also, I agree with Mike and djinn that gay marriage will be permitted within the next generation. I don’t see anything stopping it – and I see much of the reason for that as the religious groups who oppose it making horrible decisions about how to frame their opposition. Just like the old “homosexuality is unnatural” and the “evolution is wrong because God created everything ex nihilo in 6,000 years” arguments, when you adopt a stupid and incorrect argument you lose. The vast majority of the arguments I have heard against gay marriage being argued in the public and political realms over the course of my life have been inaccurate and dumb.

    That’s my take, anyway. If nothing else, we should learn to admit it’s a theological divide and be willing to own that divide – even as we strive to pray to understand ways to find positions of accommodation in ways that will not compromise our core theological perspective – that can be ratified by revelation. I really do believe they exist, but they require rejecting former justifications and parsing carefully our foundational doctrines – and resisting the natural inclination to have to make everything a battle to be won.

  102. Jack on November 16, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Ray,

    It’s mostly a theological divide–not completely. Though there are some strong opinions in the secular arena, science really doesn’t know what to do with homosexuality–at least not quite yet. And until there is some kind of “solid” scientific consensus on the matter, favoring of a “Darwinian” resolution, there will be doubt about SSM being appropriately defined as a civil right.

    That said, I don’t think the lack of scientific consensus will do much to stop SSM from becoming more broadly legalized in the U.S. The doubts I speak of will continue, but as nothing more than philosophical fodder.

  103. fash on November 16, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    In trying to figure out how I would justify myself and the position of the church if I were talking to a gay person, I came across the following npr piece.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340

    If you scroll to the bottom there is a list of ways gay rights have threatened or diminished religious freedoms. I know the Catholic Charities example has been addressed. But what of the others mentioned? There is also the story of the father who wanted his daughter opted out of same-sex marriage discussions in a public school in Lexington, MA but was not told when the discussions would take place. When he refused to leave a planning meeting, in hopes of getting some answers I imagine, he was arrested.

    This to me is a core argument: religious and personal freedoms are at risk. So please Ray, Djinn and Mikeinweho (in all sincerity), help me to see how this will not be the case. Even the author of that NPR piece seems to think it will be.

  104. Jack on November 16, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    fash,

    I’m afraid it will be the case. Theoretically a same sex couple will be able to sue the church for being rejected from baptism on a count of discrimination. Now we may not see that type of case for a little while yet-but it is inevitable. That’s the wave of the future. Other types of cases that we may see in the nearer future are SS couples suing BYU and the like for not allowing admittance.

  105. Ray on November 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    “Theoretically a same sex couple will be able to sue the church for being rejected from baptism on a count of discrimination.”

    No they won’t. Gay individuals can’t do that now; gay couples won’t be able to do that in the future. Even racial minorities or men/women/children have no recourse if a religion refuses to baptize them. That would take a seismic shift that has nothing to do with homosexuality.

    fash, I’m not saying everything will be peachy-keen and everyone will be happy – singing while holding hands in perfect harmony. There will be legal battles no matter the result, and individual persons and organizations and institutions will vary in how they act – but that is happening now completely irrespective of sexual orientation. It’s not core and unique to same-sex marriage.

  106. Jack on November 17, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Ray,

    I’m saying, theoretically, if something like SSM can be passed into law on the premise of anti-discrimination, how will that particular premise be contained in the civic arena? How can it not eventually have any legal ramifications in the religious community? While I certainly hope you’re right that such a thing could never happen (the above mentioned) I think it’s a real possibility that religious organizations may be severely challenged by civil law (rights) in the future. It may be a ways off but it certainly seems to be heading in that direction.

    The Constitution is a rather flimsy document these days. One may feel assured that a particular right will not be infringed upon. But then, lo, another right is used to nullify it–as in the case of the right to privacy trumping the right to life.

  107. Ray on November 17, 2008 at 1:13 am

    “How can it not eventually have any legal ramifications in the religious community?”

    It hasn’t even for racial minorities – and their fundamental rights have been established for some time. If it hasn’t for even those (relatively) long-established cases, it certainly won’t for brand new ones. Is it possible? Perhaps, since anything technically is possible. There simply is no precedent for it in our entire history.

    There is a possibility, I guess, that I might drop dead tomorrow of a massive heart attack or through a collision with a falling UFO, but I know of nothing that would make it probable. There simply is no precedent for it in either my familial or societal history.

    Might I be wrong? Of course. I just can’t see a way that the probability of me being wrong on this one is higher than the probability of you being wrong. On other things, perhaps, but not on this one.

  108. MikeInWeHo on November 17, 2008 at 1:39 am

    re: 103
    Religious freedom simply is not at risk, fash. Every church has complete freedom to baptize, marry, divorce, excommunicate, ordain….whoever it wants. Please check your facts about the event in Lexington more carefully. Massachusetts is not a bastion of religious persecution. On the contrary!

    In our society, employers aren’t allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. We can’t legally refuse someone a job because they are Baptist. But the Church has every right to only admit LDS in good standing to the temple…no Baptists allowed! Everybody accepts that. It’s a non-issue and always will be.

    Substitute the word ‘gay’ for ‘Baptist’ in those sentences.

  109. Jack on November 17, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Ray and Mike,

    I wish I were as optimistic as you are. I hope you’re right–that religious freedom will never be at risk. I don’t want to be an alarmist–I really do believe the world is better today than it ever has been–in a lot of ways. But ultimately I see the legalization of SSM on the basis of anti-discrimination as a slippery slope. I know folks around here have gotten tired of slippery slope arguments, but I think we’re already seeing it–in the way it’s beginning to affect employers and even religious organizations.

    I think we’re just gonna have to have a chat in twenty-or-so years.

  110. Nate W. on November 17, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Jack,

    Before you go any farther, I think it would help if you clarified what you think religious freedom means. To me, it is the rights to preach, congregate and perform religious rituals. Simply put, a lot of the “religious freedom” issues identified in the NPR article aren’t religious freedom issues, and the issues were resolved consistent with existing precedent. There was no new law in that article, and not one of those issues had anything to do with legalized same-sex marriage.

    Really what is being talked about in this debate is that religious people want to be able to denounce homosexuality without being called a bigot, and gays (in California, anyway) want the legitimacy that the word marriage provides. There are no substantive rights at the core of either one of these positions. This is a battle for the social legitimacy of each side’s views–the law is just a vehicle for promoting social legitimacy.

  111. Chino Blanco on November 17, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Joseph Smith:

    “With regard to elections, some say all the Latter-day Saints vote together, and vote as I say. But I never tell any man how to vote or whom to vote for. But I will show you how we have been situated by bringing a comparison. Should there be a Methodist society here and two candidates running for office, one says, ‘If you will vote for me and put me in governor, I will exterminate the Methodists, take away their charters,’ etc. The other candidate says, ‘If I am governor, I will give all an equal privilege.’ Which would the Methodists vote for? Of course they would vote en masse for the candidate that would give them their rights.”

  112. fash on November 17, 2008 at 11:01 am

    I suppose in looking to that NPR article I was trying to find a different justification for the church and others who support prop 8. I don’t envision being able to openly condemn homosexuality and not be thought of as a bigot. I was looking for an argument that worked around that. Its upsetting to realize that we will now be viewed as bigots (on a large scale) just as we were/are viewed as racistis because of the whole priesthood thing. Surely peoples views of us as racists has diminished as all races can now participate equally. But because full participation will never be allowed for active homosexuals (I suspect), I don’t see how the idea of Mormons as bigots will die. Certainly winning the vote did not help to establish our social legitimacy. I think it once again established us as a peculiar people. Will we always be pariahs? Is that extreme?

  113. MikeInWeHo on November 17, 2008 at 11:30 am

    re: 110

    Great comment comment, Nate. Very well stated. I agree with you almost completely, although I would argue that there are still “substantive rights” being fought for by gays even in CA. While Prop 8 alone didn’t really eliminate anything other than use of the word marriage (due to DOMA in particular), obviously nationwide and at the federal the so-called gay agenda has long way to go. Both sides of the SSM battle in CA are well aware of that. It’s like cultural trench warfare. Right now the front line happens to be around Prop 8 in CA, but everybody agrees that’s not the primary struggle.

  114. Blake on November 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Ray and Mike: I believe that the case of Catholic Charities is much more relevant and predictive than you suggest. It is true that Catholic Charities voluntarily decided to cease doing adoptions. However, that decision had absolutely nothing to do with funding or State receipt of funds as Ray and djnn assert. It had to do with the fact that the State of Mass. would not grant a religious exemption to Mass. antidiscrimination laws and that the State of Mass. had declared that it would not issue a license to Catholic Chariities unless it performed adoptions for homosexuals on the same basis as adoptions for heterosexuals. Catholic Charities decided to get out of the adoption business because of the anticipated cost of the legal battle that was inevitable and the likelihood that it would lose anyway given the state’s anti-discrimination laws which are virtually identical to California’s.

    The same result in California is made very likely before the passage of Prop 8 in light of the North West Coast Women Care case in California which expressly held that the State will not grant licenses to those who refuse to treat homosexuals the same as heterosexuals in all respects. It could still happen in California despite the passage of Prop 8; but Prop 8 gives a Constitutional basis for such distinctions and religious exemptions as part of the and so this disasterous result could still be avoided for LDS Social Services.

    In this discussion it is essential to distinguish between a homosexual orientation and sexual activity. No sexual orientation is inherently sinful. It is only conduct that could be sinful. If the cost of political acceptability for the Church is willingness to accept conduct that is sinful as if it is sacred like married heterosexual sex, then the Church will take its lumps just like it does on any number of issues. However, I believe that were homosexual unions to be recognized by the State, the Church could make a moral distinction between non-state-sanctioned sexual activity (i.e., committed in a state union to one person) and sexual activity outside that civil union — just as it does for state “heterosexual marriages” which are merely civil unions from the Church’s perspective. It seems to me that commitment and fidelity are more virtuous regardless of orientation. I don’t believe that homosexual relationships have the same value to the State as heterosexual relationships. But that doesn’t entail that committed homosexual relationships are a not morally superior to promiscuous homosexual relationships in my view.

    In my view, the assertion that the larger issue is about whether the State will bless and anoint homosexual relations as being morally equivalent to heterosexual relations. I am against the State doing that for two reasons: (1) I don’t see it as the role of the State to make such moral judgments (especially given the negative consequences to those who make a different moral value judgment); and (2) it just ain’t so — homosexual relationships are not as valuable to the State or essential to the propagation of humanity as stable heterosexual relationships.

  115. djinn on November 17, 2008 at 11:58 am

    “The problem with these cultural changes is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints places a VERY high importance upon the ideals of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that it is a divine institution, and not just a civil & temporary contract between two people. We believe that by raising children up to believe in a better way of living (such as showing honesty, chastity, virtue, love and charity) can and does make a better world. We believe that a child needs the examples and challenges of what both a man and woman can bring to them. And we believe that a family unit is not just a collection of haphazardly related individuals, but a strong and unified unit that has an eternal future. We will not be separated by death. The family is eternal and has significance far beyond our conception.”

    “We also believe that any sex outside of marriage is a sin. We also believe that homosexual sex is a sin.”

    Blake, as you called me out, you argument, as partially reproduced above, is, by your own admission, religious. It, also, by admission, says “We also believe that homosexual sex is a sin.” You may think that my precis of your argument,–e.g., “hate the gay” is going too far. But id does mean, by your very own admission, treat gay poeple who have sex (pretty much all of them) are sinners unworthy of constitutional protections (the whole point of the thread). And furthermore, make sure such behavior contines to be marginalized. Not much of a difference.

  116. Jim on November 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    #112 – “Will we always be pariahs? Is that extreme?”

    Fash, the answer is yes. With rare exceptions the scriptures indicate that this has always been the situation. It is only going to get worse until the Second Coming, then it will get better.

  117. Blake on November 17, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    djinn: I didn’t say what you quote in #115. You’re quoting someone else. Further, you assert that I admit that such an argument is “religious.” Since I didn’t give this argument, I didn’t say it, and I have never referred to it, you are duty bound to recognize and admit that you have falsely attributed these words to me.

    Further, I would never suggest — as you attribute me to me again without any basis in fact or remotely connected with reality — that “gays are sinners unworthy of constitutional protections.” That is just simple nonsense. I say no such thing. I imply no such thing. Gays are as entitled to Constitutional protections as the rest of us sinners. However, there is no constitutional right to marry just anyone you want. However, you are correct about one thing: I stand firmly with the prophets and the Church that gay sexual activity is sinful. You can’t make what is sinful good just by getting social approval for your sin. It is not the role of the State or the courts to declare immoral conduct to be moral and acceptable. I do assert these things. I also assert that we have a sacred duty to accept and love those with homosexual orientation and even those who have sinned (whatever the sin) as we love ourselves and as our brothers and sisters.

  118. djinn on November 17, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Blake, you left out the most important issue in the Catholic Charities loss of license. They were contractors, in Boston, with the state of Mass. It was this license that they lost. Then they flounced off–shedding eight board members in the process. In fact leaving off this dispostive piece of evidence — STATE MONEY — leads me to wonder with how much good faith you are arguing.

    In Mass., there is still a Catholic Charity that gets state funds as as adoption agency. It’s in Worcester. They simply refer children that would be placed in gay adoptive homes to another agency to handle the actual adoption.

    Interestingly enough, Catholic Charities in San Francisco worked out a similar deal to that in Worchester, MA, where they would still be able act as a adoption contractor through the state; they would just refer same-sex adoptions to another contractor who allowed them.

    So, yes, the whole adoption fiasco in ONE diocese in MA ,who had no interest in making a deal with the state that was avaiable to them and was hardly onerous, is a non-issue.

  119. djinn on November 17, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Blake, I’m sorry if I misread that comment at 115 from being from you. I see now that it was from James. Again, sorry. Happy monday.

  120. Blake on November 17, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    jdnn: I repeat: State money had nothing to do with it. I actually spoke with Catholic Charities attorneys in the process of decision. They had plenty of funds to continue and the fact of State funding had nothing to do with it. The issue was a religious exemption to the anti-discrimination laws. You are correct that other Catholic agencies now have worked out a deal where they just refer same sex adoptions to private adoption agencies.

    It is far from a non-issue. The CASELAW AND EVIDENCE that you ignore is the fact that North West Coast Women’s Care was not a state funded individual but merely an individual who wouldn’t go against her religious beliefs. She is now denied a license and that has NOTHING TO DO WITH STATE FUNDING. (Why are we using capitals?)

  121. Blake on November 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    djinn: Apology accepted and your graciousness noted and appreciated.

  122. djinn on November 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Blake, then why does Catholic Charities still operate as a state actor in Worchester?

  123. djinn on November 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Oops. I see you answered my question….

  124. Drew C on November 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Mike at #91 — re: “So is pre-marital sex, porn….lots of things that go completely against traditional morality. Why not ban all of them too?”

    I think that’s a good question. First, I think lots of LDS folks would be in favor of banning those sorts of things as well; but those issues don’t happen to be on the national agenda. But I think that issues around homosexuality are different because they are about an identity category, not just about behavior. So if you are anti-adultery, you are not seen as bigoted against adulterers, because it isn’t a category that people self-identify with, it’s just a behavior. In addition, not outlawing adultery is not the same as saying it’s ok, but just that it’s something that the state shouldn’t regulate.

    State sanction of gay marriage is, however, very much a statement that homosexuality is ok. But being heteronormative is to believe that homosexuality is wrong. And since heterosexuality is an identity category, being heteronormative is to assert that a fundamental self-definition of a group of people is, in fact, an immorality. Now it’s not too socially inconvenient to categorize a whole group as being fundamentally immoral if most of society believes the same thing (like it’s not socially inconvenient to believe that blacks are not the equals of whites in a society where most folks believe similarly). But if society accepts homosexuals as ok and fundamentally on equal moral ground as heterosexuals, then to believe otherwise means that you will be seen as bigoted by the majority society. So the stakes for losing the battle on heteronormativity are very high for people who believe that homosexuality is evil (and, by implication homosexuals as well), because losing that battle will make them social pariahs, just as racists are now.

  125. cchrissyy on November 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    “Just to echo djinn, I wish the whole Catholic Charities argument would die and be buried deep. They are very, very different than LDS Social Services – for exactly the funding reason that djinn describes.”

    Let’s not forget that LDSFS is operating in Massachusetts right this minute. So whatever happened to CC’s operations related to to gay marriage or gay adoption rights, if we look around in the most elementary way, we can note that LDSFS was not shut down.

    If we look just a moment longer, we see that CC’s trouble with the state of Mass predates gay marriage being made legal. sigh.

  126. MikeInWeHo on November 17, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    re:124

    But hasn’t that already been lost, Drew C? What percentage of the American population believes that only celibate singles and married heterosexual couples are fully moral and “normative”? It isn’t close to a majority any more, that’s for sure. In vast swathes of American society, you’d already fall under social condemnation if you openly described a gay couple as immoral.

    The longer I engage in these Bloggernacle discussions, the more I realize just how polarized our culture is right now. Anybody else notice that?

  127. Jim on November 17, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    #126 – I have certainly noticed the polarization. There is a lot of anger and frustration on both sides of the cultural divide. I don’t think that it will ever get better, at least for Latter-Day Saints.

  128. Jack on November 17, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Nate W.

    Re: Your comment (#110): I disagree. I think those particular issues have everything to do with the legalization of SSM–and further legalization of SSM (especially in CA) will only codify any resistance to Gay “rights” as an issue of discrimination.

    I’m no lawyer, bit it seems to me that when the courts speak what we get is a precedent that will influence further related court decisions–sometimes for generations. It is no coincidence that legalized SSM and and gay anti-discrimination law suits are happening side by side.

  129. djinn on November 18, 2008 at 12:07 am

    This may be off-topic, but I’ve been thinking about the Boston Diocese’s problem with the whole adoption thing, and I think that what happened is that adoption rights were, in that rather disturbing phrase, “friendly fire casualties. In Boston, for centuries, the Catholic church held a position of prime importance, got to throw their weight around whenever they felt like it, and just generally behave like the party in charge. Rather spectacular misbehaviou by Cardinal Law, the Archbishop of the Boston Diocese (the details of which I will not get into here) resulted in a huuuuge hit in the power of the Catholic church in Boston. Six years later, they’re finally feeling it. Hence, the tissy fit they threw when they didn’t get a religious exception to the current MA law. Other Catholic dioceses, not so wed to the Law line have, adapted, as did the MA gov’t. So, I think the adoption case in MA has absolutely nothing to do with gay marriage anywhere else and everything to do with Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI coming into power. (He was the one who said “don’t back down.”)

    This is a Catholic fight which has nothing to do with us. Let’s talk about the Wirthlins complaining that their kids were forced to read a book meant to instill the fact that perhaps it was a bad idea to beat the crap out of a kid whose family had a non-traditional marriage. Mormon all around.

  130. djinn on November 18, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Oh, and Blake, thank you very much for your kind comments.

  131. Drew C on November 18, 2008 at 10:52 am

    re: 126

    I don’t think the battle is over yet, as the Prop 8 results suggest. And, more to the point when we’re talking about motivation for the strong opposition, heteronormative folks don’t think it’s been lost. Of course, some may think that loss is inevitable, and that’s almost certainly accurate.

    But, in the end, if the pariah status actually becomes strong enough to really be a problem for the organization, history (polygamy, Blacks & the priesthood) suggests that God will come through with revelation to let the Church off the hook.

  132. MikeInWeHo on November 18, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Can somebody help me understand this: Rather than fight against the gays (whose increasing social acceptance almost everyone here seems to think is inevitable) why don’t Latter-day Saints put the same amount of energy into reinforcing and preserving the rights of religious minorities to practice and express their faith in the public square as they see fit? I just don’t get it. It’s like picking the wrong battle.