An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

April 25, 2013 | 38 comments
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I’ve just posted my article, ‘The Divine Institution of Marriage’: An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign, to SSRN.

The article is largely descriptive, setting out in some detail the church’s actions and statements relating to Proposition 8. It chronicles a significant amount of factual material that has not been discussed at all in the existing legal literature. It may be especially relevant to people who have an interest in Proposition 8, same-sex marriage issues, gay rights issues generally, or LDS church issues generally. The full abstract is as follows:

“The Divine Institution of Marriage”: An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon church) was heavily involved in the passage of Proposition 8 in California in November 2008, which restricted marriages recognized under state law to those between a man and a woman (as construed by the California Supreme Court, it prospectively denied legal sanction for same-sex marriages while not interfering with such marriages previously recognized under state law). Church members participated in the Proposition 8 campaign a variety of ways, including extensive fundraising and various publicity efforts such as door-to-door get-out-the-word campaigns. Statements by the church and its leaders were a central part of the LDS Proposition 8 strategy. The church issued three official statements on Proposition 8, which combined theological and religious content with specific political, sociological, and legal claims. For instance, in their support for Proposition 8, LDS church leaders (most of them not legal professionals) made a series of detailed predictions about the legal consequences of same-sex marriage. These official declarations were supplemented and reinforced by a variety of unofficial statements from church leaders and members.

This Article tells the story of LDS involvement with Proposition 8, in particular the legal claims made by the church and its leaders. It assembles the statements made by church leaders and church members during the Proposition 8 campaign, briefly examines the accuracy of some of the most broadly circulated claims, and discusses implications.

I welcome any feedback that readers may have on the Article.

38 Responses to An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

  1. Travis on April 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    My primary criticism is that this is political propaganda, not legal analysis. Let me offer just one example. You offer the following as evidence that some church members were disrespectful in tone when writing about Prop 8:

    “And in a particularly stark example, an article in the conservative Meridian Magazine claimed that same-sex marriage supporters were violating election laws, screaming obscenities (at calm, collected church members), and, incredibly, “swerv[ing] their cars toward the children on the curb.””

    All of that is true. Members of my immediate family were cursed at and cars swerved towards them as they held signs on the side of the street. I don’t think the cars were necessarily trying to hit them, but wanted to scare them. I can’t imagine why you should find it incredible that people do things like that. You don’t have trouble believing that opponents of gay marriage lash out at the other side, even violently. What makes you think it incredible that gay marriage supporters should engage in similarly bad behavior?

    My brother, 14 at the time, was holding a Yes on 8 banner on an overpass when a woman in a car driving below gave him the finger and shouted obscenities. Doing so distracted her, and she rear-ended a car stopped in front of her. That made her even more angry–at him, of course, not at herself.

    The Heritage Foundation compiled this documentation of retaliations against Prop 8 supporters: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/10/the-price-of-prop-8
    Of course, that is also a political piece. But it was published by a conservative think tank, not by a law review. And I think it amply demonstrates that opponents of Prop 8 violated election laws.

  2. Lorian on April 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Travis, for every story of someone on the equal marriage side who you claim behaved badly towards someone on the anti-equality side, I can tell you many stories which I *personally observed* of how badly treated equal marriage supporters were by anti-equality supporters. My twin daughters, six years old at the time, were with my wife an I on street corners during protests, while people with religious bumper stickers on their cars drove by, honking, cursing at us, giving us the finger, and in a couple of cases, teaching their young children to hang out the window and give us the finger. No one seemed particularly concerned by the fact that we had young children with us. They were perfectly happy to scream “f—ing faggots!” out the window at us. We finally had to stop bringing our children with us, for fear they would be abused by hateful passersby.

    I was walking away from a protest one afternoon when a man in a car roared by me as I walked in the crosswalk, and yelled “f—ing faggot!” at me. I had a number of people scream that epithet at me as I passed out “No on 8″ voting handouts in the parking lot near the poll on voting day, along with others who told me I was “going to hell” and some who yelled that they hoped my children would be taken away from me.

    Okay, so lots of people behaved badly. My question for you is this: Who was trying to take away the rights of whose families? Who was spending their time and money trying to insure that *other* people’s children would not have the same rights their children enjoy?

    When one engages in trying to deny other people their equal civil rights, when one deliberately goes out of one’s way to try to harm other people’s children, other people’s families, I cannot imagine why one would be surprised at being met with a certain degree of hostility. I will say this, however: I went to many, many protests during the weeks and months leading up to the vote, and at the protests in which I participated, no one on the “No on 8″ side behaved inappropriately towards any other person, including the people screaming obscenities at us. There was a very deliberate effort on the part of both rally organizers and participants to keep things as calm and respectful as possible.

    No one has the right to behave rudely towards another person, Travis, but I ask you, who initiated the rudeness? The people trying to insure the rights of their families, or the people who took on the project of trying to deny those rights? And I have to wonder if you would be able to contain your temper as well as we did, if someone launched a campaign to deny your family equal protection under the law because you are a Mormon.

  3. Lorian on April 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Subscribing…

  4. Cameron N on April 26, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Lorian, you assume that homosexual marriage, or even marriage in general, is a civil right. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be, but I do get tired of talk about rights that don’t actually exist.

    Travis was merely pointing out inaccuracies in Kaimi’s article. I don’t think he asserted that the unkindness only went one way.

    I ask you, Lorian, is it rude for God to discriminate against sinful behavior, all while loving all his children and patiently putting up with their foolish shortsitedness? If you ask me, He’s quite a forbearing guy…

  5. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 2:21 am

    Cameron, since SCOTUS has declared civil marriage a civil right, and since there are hundreds of other civil rights attached to civil marriage, many of which cannot be obtained by any other legal means than by civil marriage, I’m comfortable with the conclusion that civil marriage is a civil right, whether or not you agree.

    As to God “discriminating” against “sinful behavior,” that’s perfectly fine, but it is merely your claim that committed same-sex relationships fall into this category. Certainly there is no evidence to support your claim in the Bible. How about letting people work out their *own* salvation with God, and leaving the determination of what is or is not a civil right to the courts, Cameron? Religious beliefs (or biases) are not justification for treating one’s fellow citizens with contempt or as less than equal. Worship how you want; believe what you want; but stay out of other people’s bedrooms and familial relationships.

  6. Cameron N on April 26, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Hi Lorian,

    I have no contempt for anyone who disagrees with me on this issue. Me sharing my opinion, in no way compels others to act a certain way or invades their family or bedroom. it merely informs them of my position and what I feel God’s position is. Current prophets are good at stating such positions in soft and gentle ways, but they nevertheless have clearly reiterated God’s displeasure with all sin, including homosexual behavior.

    I’ll bow out now. I had a good streak of not getting into debates with strangers on the internet. Today I guess I start over at zero. Take care, Lorian.

  7. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Thanks, Cameron, and you take care, too. That said, please don’t assume that just because you consider someone to be a prophet, this means that everyone in the nation must also consider that person a prophet and must be compelled to abide by his proclamations. I believe in God, but God has not given me any such testimony of a prophet authorized to condemn me on God’s behalf. Again, feel free to follow your own beliefs, but don’t expect to be able to compel others to live by your beliefs by means of the law.

  8. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

    “Again, feel free to follow your own beliefs, but don’t expect to be able to compel others to live by your beliefs by means of the law.”

    Then why do you constantly come on here (a forum primarily by and for believing LDS) and bash us for our beliefs? You go far beyond criticizing us, you wish to shove your view down our throats and expect us to accept them or be considered bigots or worse.

  9. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

    From page 719: “For instance, a letter dated May 11, 1999 from the
    Seventies overseeing California was read to each ward in California in May 1999. This was followed by another letter instructing church members on how to donate to Proposition 22. The letter contained instructions apparently intended to avoid legal problems – for instance, that fundraising should not take place on church property.”

    Really? My brother and sister-in-law were asked by their bishop to donate, with the usual caveat of “I’m not coming to you as your bishop” – but they were in the bishop’s office at the time. Had I lived in California for Proposition 22 or Proposition 8a nd a bishop had tried that approach with me, I would have put in a complaint to the IRS and the Area leadership the next day. (How I would have voted on either makes no difference here.)

  10. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

    John Taber, please show me a post where I have *ever* “bashed you for your beliefs.” I think you will be hard-pressed to find such a post on this or any other forum.

    As for why I come to this blog (and other bloggernacle blogs), I never set foot in the bloggernacle until the LDS church tried to force the state of California to declare my family, my children, less valuable, less worthy of protection and equal civil rights under the law, than other California families simply because some church authorities consider us “sinners.”

    It was in the aftermath of Prop 8, after suffering the terrible things that were said and done to me and my family during that awful 6 month campaign, that I came across fMh and was able to find some *healing* in a place where I was assured that not all Mormons wanted to harm my family and that some loved and supported us.

    Prior to Prop 8, I never had an argument with the LDS Church. A huge percentage of my extended family is Mormon, and they have always been kind and loving to me and my wife and family. I was perfectly willing to live and let live, as long as the church gave me the same quarter. It’s when the church told its members to give every bit of time, energy and money they could spare to attack my family and try to bar my children from ever receiving equal treatment under the law because the church didn’t approve of who their parents were, that I felt the need to seek out the people who were doing this to me and my family and try to understand why they felt this inexplicable need to attack us and bar us from our civil rights.

    Kaimi can tell you that I am nothing if not patient and respectful in a reasonable dialog. But don’t accuse me of “Mormon-bashing,” because I did not start this. I merely answered the challenge when the glove was thrown down (and thrown down in a BIG way, I might add).

    If “disagreement” equals “Mormon-bashing” in your definition, then it’s going to be pretty hard to have a reasonable discussion, I’m afraid. I don’t question your right to believe in your prophet; only your right to turn your prophet’s decrees into civil law, binding upon the rest of the nation.

  11. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Incidentally, if the LDS Church leadership wants people like me to go away and be quiet and let this whole thing die, the best way to accomplish that would be to step up and admit that the church went too far and did a very wrong thing, and then do whatever they can to set it right. That would go a long way towards assuaging the grief and pain of people like me and families like mine. As long as people keep defending Prop 8 and the thing which were done in its name, I’ll continue to speak the truth in whatever forum I find wrong, hurtful or misleading things being said.

  12. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I’m sorry, but that seems to be your modus operandi, on FMH and especially here, to stomp your proverbial foot down on anyone or anything that interferes with your lifestyle, but especially the Church or those sympathetic to it. I don’t go to GLBT blogs to bash their way of life – why do you do that here?

  13. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

    And no, I don’t think that the “prophet’s decrees” should be civil law for the rest of the nation, or the world. I have an aunt and step-aunt who identify, and I’m very sympathetic to their needs, beginning with visitation rights. And frankly I’m a little embarrassed some things the Church and some of its members did during the Proposition 22 and Proposition 8 campaigns (see #9 above, for instance.) I have a real problem with the failure of the Brethren to clamp down on some of the overzeal on the part of local members and leaders in those campaigns.

    But we do have a place at the table here – much of law is based on individual and group perceptions of morality – like anyone else. You seem to be telling us repeatedly that we don’t.

  14. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I meant that my aunt and step-aunt identify as lesbian. While individual makeup might shape things, ultimately that is self-identication.

  15. JT on April 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Whoa there, Lorian (10). I am sympathetic to your cause, but when you say things like “the LDS church tried to force the state of California,” you smack of uncontrolled emotion and very little substance, and you effectively end any kind of open dialogue.

    For one, how does engaging in the democratic process suddenly become “forcing” a state to do something (especially when, even with all of the Mormon donations, the “No” campaign spent more than the “Yes” campaign)? Did those who raised money and stumped for Obama’s campaign “force” the United States to install a socialist dictator? This is what you are sounding like.

  16. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

    John Taber says:

    I’m sorry, but that seems to be your modus operandi, on FMH and especially here, to stomp your proverbial foot down on anyone or anything that interferes with your lifestyle, but especially the Church or those sympathetic to it. I don’t go to GLBT blogs to bash their way of life – why do you do that here?

    John, mischaracterizing my posts does not make a convincing argument. Aside from the hyperbole about “stomping feet,” and the pejorative terminology (“lifestyle”), if someone was, as you put it, interfering with your ability to live your life according to the dictates of your own conscience (not interfering with your ability to interfere in the lives of others, mind you) — say, trying to outlaw private Temple ceremonies, or pass a law against the building of LDS Temples in their city or state — I’m pretty sure you’d be up in arms, too. Just try the shoe on the other foot for a moment, and you may find that it pinches a bit.

    And no, I don’t think that the “prophet’s decrees” should be civil law for the rest of the nation, or the world. I have an aunt and step-aunt who identify, and I’m very sympathetic to their needs, beginning with visitation rights. And frankly I’m a little embarrassed some things the Church and some of its members did during the Proposition 22 and Proposition 8 campaigns (see #9 above, for instance.) I have a real problem with the failure of the Brethren to clamp down on some of the overzeal on the part of local members and leaders in those campaigns.

    I’m glad to hear it, John. There’s something we can definitely agree on. But the fact is, the Brethren didn’t “clamp down” on the “overzeal,” because the overly-zealous behavior was actually what the leadership *asked* of Mormons here in California — to “do all in your power” to make sure that Prop 8 passed.

    But we do have a place at the table here – much of law is based on individual and group perceptions of morality – like anyone else. You seem to be telling us repeatedly that we don’t.

    Everyone has a place at the table, but not everyone’s ideas of what the law should say are in line with the constitution and how our laws are constructed. You claim that it is proper to pass laws based purely upon religious beliefs or personal perceptions of “morality.” That’s actually not a constitutional basis for laws which restrict the rights of other citizens. Laws which significantly restrict the rights and freedoms of groups of citizens must demonstrate a clear reason for doing so which is based upon the direct and provable harms that the free exercise of those rights would do to other citizens or the society.

    That’s why the religious right has worked so hard to try to drum up “studies” and “statistics” that claim to show that gay people and our families somehow “harm society” and that allowing us equal civil rights would be in some way detrimental to other people or to our families. Unfortunately for them, the peer-reviewed body of scientific data does not support these claims. Kaimi also discusses the little pamphlet the church circulated during Prop 8 which made a number of false claims about the ways that equal marriage would supposedly infringe upon religious freedoms. Morris Thurston wrote an excellent rebuttal to those false claims, which Kaimi references.

    The fact is, Prop 8 is based in *nothing* but religiously-based repugnance for people with same-sex orientations and our families, and this is not sufficient constitutional grounds for passing a law restricting our rights and freedoms. We don’t pass laws in this country against murder because “the Bible says it’s a sin.” We pass laws against murder because it consists in one citizen depriving another citizen of his right to life. We don’t pass laws against theft because the Quran says it is wrong. We pass them because theft involves one person depriving another person of the right to own property. We don’t pass laws based upon some person or group’s moral repugnance for something, otherwise we would have laws against eating meat, against owning pigs, eating pork, working on the Sabbath (which Sabbath? Jewish, Muslim, 7th Day Adventist, Mormon, Catholic?) (there used to be such laws, by the way, but they were found unconstitutional), drinking coffee, women going about with uncovered hair, etc., etc.

    No, sorry. Moral beliefs are not, in and of themselves, sufficient grounds for legally restricting the rights of other citizens. Laws drawn in this manner are not constitutional.

    I meant that my aunt and step-aunt identify as lesbian. While individual makeup might shape things, ultimately that is self-identication.

    As is your (presumed) self-identification as “heterosexual.” While individual makeup might shape things, as you say, still, there is no way for me to verify objectively that you are heterosexual. I can only take your word for it that you are sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, and could not find true happiness and fulfillment in a same-sex relationship.

  17. John Taber on April 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

    The long-established definition of marriage goes far beyond anyone’s morality. To legally toss gender out the window in this case (which the ERA would have eventually done across the board) and dress it up as “marriage equality”, I find absolutely repugnant.

    That’s all I’m going to say on that subject.

    As for you, Lorian, your behavior on the “Why Gay Marriages are a Good Idea” thread speaks for itself.

  18. JT on April 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    “No, sorry. Moral beliefs are not, in and of themselves, sufficient grounds for legally restricting the rights of other citizens. Laws drawn in this manner are not constitutional.”

    Lorian, again, I am sympathetic to your cause, which may be why I am sensitive to your bad arguments. With regard to the statement above, I would encourage you to attend a first-year law course some time. While it is a popular notion that laws should not be based on “moral beliefs,” they are. All laws are based on some principle or moral held by those who enact them.

  19. Steve Smith on April 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Cameron (4 & 6), marriage is a civil right. Any two people have the right to obtain a marriage license from the court provided they are of age, consenting, not immediate family members, not in other marriage contracts, and in some states of the opposite gender. The court is required by law to give those people marriage licenses and would be acting illegally and unconstitutionally to bar them from marriage. Therefore it is a right.

    Second, you actually don’t have the right to discriminate against gays in many contexts. If you are a business owner or employer, it is illegal for you to not service or hire someone only because they are gay. You have the right to disapprove of their behavior and call it sinful. But this issue isn’t about forcing you or the LDS church to approve of the lifestyles of those who are openly gay. The gay rights movement by and large respects the LDS church’s right to exclude gays from certain religious rites, much like it does women, or did in relation to black Africans before 1978. This is about the civil courts no longer discriminating against gay couples by barring them from marriage, and the LDS church ducking out of politics by not campaigning against gay rights, as it should.

  20. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    JT, while principles of morality do affect our basic judgments concerning what things are “rights” (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.), moral judgments, and particularly moral repugnance, is not, in and of itself, sufficient cause for depriving citizens of rights and protections of law. This is a foundational concept of our legal system. Any first-year law student should probably be aware of that fact. ;)

  21. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    John Taber says:

    As for you, Lorian, your behavior on the “Why Gay Marriages are a Good Idea” thread speaks for itself.

    I’m so glad you think so, John, because I agree completely, and stand by my comments in that and other threads, knowing that I said nothing unjust or of which I should be in any way ashamed. I believe in following the Golden Rule, and I believe my posts make that clear. Thanks for your thoughts.

  22. Hunter on April 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    [sigh] I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read Kaimi’s article. I think I seem to remember that this post was about an article written by him. I think. I could be wrong.

  23. Dave K on April 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I read the article Hunter [22]. Kaimi cites to T&S twice as often as he does to BCC. So it must be a well-reasoned piece.

    On a serious note, though, I think this will be a very helpful article for future posterity. It doesn’t contain much new information for me, but I (and many others here) have been swimming in these waters for the past several years. We forget how quickly things pass into oblivion in the internet age (reference, e.g., Kaimi’s various citations to archive.org). I wish someone had done a compilation like this for the ERA or other previous church political actions.

  24. Steve Smith on April 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    JT, “force” is the correct term to describe what the LDS church was trying to do in relation to gay marriage in California. Because the proposition would have forced the judiciary to rule null all gay marriages that had taken place up until then and not grant marriage licenses to any more gay couples. Oh and yes, all of us have also been forced to accept as Obama as president of the US, like it or not, by virtue of the 2008 and 2012 election results. I don’t see your point.

    I think the problem is that you just disagree with Lorian’s position and can’t figure out a reasoned way to rebut it, and therefore you resort to ad hominem attacks, trying to groundlessly brand her as an irrational person with no base for an argument.

  25. Mark B. on April 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Your argument, Steve Smith, undercuts itself. You claim that marriage is a civil right, and then immediately admit that minors and and the mentally incompetent and those within certain degrees of consanguinity are not permitted to marry.

    And to suggest that a black woman cannot be barred from marrying a white man means that a woman of any race can marry another woman of whatever race is simply not logic. It may be your desire, but you have turned the meaning of “marriage” on its head. And feel free to argue for that, if you want. But don’t claim either that it’s simply part of a broad “civil right to marry” or that it’s simply extending “equality.” Because there is no civil right to enter into a different class of relationship and call it “marriage” and same-sex unions are not equal to opposite-sex unions (which is what marriage has always entailed).

    Further, asserting the existence of a right and then complaining that denial of that right is unfair discrimination is begging the question.

  26. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Mark B., you are correct in noting that the existence of a civil right does not necessarily mean that the right in question is open to all comers. As you point out, minors cannot, except under certain circumstances, marry at will. Nor can close relatives (with the degree of consanguinity left to states to determine acceptability).

    That does not negate, however, the fact that it *is* a civil right. The right to vote is a perfect example. It is a quintessential civil right; however it is not open to those below the age of 18, and, in some circumstances, is denied to felons. The fact that the rules for enfranchisement have varied over time likewise does not negate its status as a civil right. It was formerly denied to women and to black persons, even after black persons were freed and made citizens.

    In the same way, marriage has been denied to various groups over the course of our nation’s history, including mixed race couples. The *key* in determining whether such denial of a civil right is legal under the constitution is whether or not the government can show just cause *why* the right should be denied — either based upon the incapacity of a citizen to properly exercise the right (as in the case of a 12-year-old who is not permitted to vote because s/he is not considered, yet, to be a fully-invested, fully-competent adult member of the society), or the risk to others or to society at large should the citizen be allowed to exercise the right (as in the case of a closely consanguineous couple, whose offspring would have a greater risk of genetic malformation than the state considers to be acceptable).

    This latter was the basis upon which interracial marriages were denied, with many claiming that the offspring of such marriages would be inferior to “pure” examples of either race (though most were truly concerned only for the white race, since they considered anyone with even a drop of African blood to be inferior). Excuses were made that children of interracial couples would “face discrimination” from extended family and from society at large, and that “the Bible said it was an abomination for the races to mingle), and that it was “traditional” for people to marry only within their racial group, and that allowing civil marriage to interracial couples would redefine “traditional marriage.” It was also claimed that if interracial couples were permitted legal civil marriage, it would interfere with the rights of churches to discriminate against or teach against interracial marriage (it hasn’t).

    The point is, the fact that criteria for determining who is permitted to exercise a civil right have changed over time does not mean that it is not a civil right. Nor does the fact that some are not permitted access to it — BUT, in order to deny access to a civil right, government MUST show good cause, in terms of demonstrable harm to others or to society, why it should be denied. And thus far, no one has been able to come up with any valid reasons as to why equal marriage rights for same-sex couples would violate anyone else’s rights, harm anyone else, or cause clear and demonstrable harm to society

  27. Steve Smith on April 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    OK, Mark B., so based on your logic, voting can’t be a civil right since minors and felons are not barred from voting. Look, based on its current laws and statutes, the US protects marriage as a right. By law the court has no power to bar me as a US citizen from granting me and my partner of choice a marriage license unless either me or my partner are not consenting, not of age, of the same intermediate family, cognitively disabled, and/or currently in another marriage contract (or of the same gender in 41 states).

    I never said that the marriage of two people of the same gender is justified because the barring of interracial marriages is now deemed unconstitutional. The reason to bring up the previous bar on interracial marriage is to show that the definition of what marriage is and is supposed to be has varied across space and time and to render moot this idea that there is some sort of eternal or natural definition of marriage that the legalization of gay marriage would then violate. To this day many (particularly in the deep south) believe that interracial marriage is a violation of social mores and should be made illegal, just as it had been several decades ago. Many believe that the marriage contract is indissoluble and that divorce should be made illegal. Many believe that marriage cannot take place without the blessing or arrangement of the parents and/or the payment of a dowry and that the court should deny people a marriage contract unless their parents/guardians sign a statement of agreement or provide evidence of a dowry payment.

    The logic behind legalizing, or ruling it unconstitutional to bar, the marriage of two people of the same gender is this: it cannot be scientifically proven that being gay is a cognitive or physical disability (sure gay couples can’t physically reproduce, but laws currently allow infertile and post-fertile people to marry; having children is not a precondition for marriage and you are not required by the law to marry in order to have children) or that being gay makes you inherently more predisposed to misbehavior than being straight. Also it has not been scientifically proven that romantic relationships between gays are inherently inferior to romantic relationships between straights or that gay couples are inherently more or less capable of raising a good family than straight couples. Therefore much as it is considered illegal discrimination for employers to not hire someone simply because of their sexual orientation, it should be considered illegal discrimination for the courts to bar a couple from marriage simply because they are of the same gender. Furthermore our laws are established and changed to reflect current predominant social mores. And the trend now is that a majority of people in the US believe that a marriage between two people of the same gender should be legal. And I think that you’re soon going to find your current position more an object of ridicule than a point of resonance. Let me ask you this, on what exact grounds do you regard romantic relationships between two people of the same gender to be inherently inferior to those between two people of the opposite gender?

  28. Steve Smith on April 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Sorry if I am repeating what Lorian is saying in 26. I didn’t see her post before I posted mine.

  29. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you for corroborating and expanding upon my points, Steve.

    There’s, unfortunately, one point you’ve made a couple of times which I need to correct. You are, I think, under the impression that there are widespread legal protections for gay people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Sadly, this is not true. There are only about 20 states and a few localities which provide such protections currently. I was involved in some of the earliest attempts to pass this type of legislation in Chicago and here in Southern California, and it has been very tough going. Many people still feel they ought to be able to fire or refuse to hire someone if they found out the employee is gay. Even more people feel they should have the right to rent an apartment to a gay person, or refuse a gay person service in their business establishment (gay wedding cakes and photographs, anyone?).

    Members of Congress have been trying to pass ENDA, the Employment Non-discrimination Act, which would provide comprehensive employment protections to gays and lesbians at the federal level, in EVERY congress since 1994, and are still to this day unable to pass such a measure.

    Gays and lesbians remain the last large minority group which it is okay to hate and discriminate against. This is rapidly changing, but antidiscrimination laws have not yet caught up. Even the nondiscrimination law in Salt Lake City which the church so proudly proclaimed their participation in passing was only allowed by the church to pass because they got specific exemptions added to it for all church-owned businesses and properties.

    So, your point is well-taken that discrimination *should not* be allowed against LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations *or* civil marriage, but, sadly, it still is in much of the nation.

    Thank you again for your kind and supportive words.

  30. Steve Smith on April 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the correction Lorian. I was under the misguided impression that gays had more rights than they actually did. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind. Gay rights isn’t my area of expertise, and I am just an amateur debater about gay marriage. But I am certainly in favor of equal rights for LGBT. Thanks for your comments here and God speed.

  31. Lorian on April 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks, Steve. Very much appreciated.

  32. Bradley on April 27, 2013 at 3:02 am

    If I may take the pragmatic view, the church would be wise to pick its battles. It made much ado during the civil rights movement, and for what? History is repeating itself. Being for monogamy and against promiscuity is more important than making a distinction between genders.

    Also, in this time of great pollution, gender can be flipped during fetal development. These things aren’t so clear cut.

  33. Mark B. on April 27, 2013 at 7:54 am

    The church made much ado during the civil rights movement? Really? That would come as a real surprise to those of us who lived through that era.

  34. Mark B. on April 27, 2013 at 8:16 am

    The reason to bring up the previous bar on interracial marriage is to show that the definition of what marriage is and is supposed to be has varied across space and time and to render moot this idea that there is some sort of eternal or natural definition of marriage that the legalization of gay marriage would then violate.

    All of the historical changes in marriage (is it arranged by parents or by the parties themselves? is it monogamous or polygamous? is a dowry required? are interracial marriages permitted?) are rather like changing the paint color on your house. The color on the surface may change, but the house is still the same structure. Because none of those changes affects the core of the relationship, which is a union of a male and a female.

    Remove that core from the definition, and what’s left? Certainly not the house that you began with. And probably no house at all. Because there isn’t any limiting principle that isn’t arbitrary.

    And there is a natural definition of marriage. It’s called biology. There is a oneness in a male-female union that does not and cannot exist in a same-sex union. Even a child can tell you that “Heather has two mommies” is a legal fiction–and if the day comes that men and women in white lab coats succeed in producing a child that is the genetic offspring of two women, then it’s time to rewrite “Are you my Mother?”

    In that case, I’ve voting for the Snort.

  35. Lorian on April 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Mark B. –
    1. Yes, the church made much ado during the civil rights movement. Did you miss that part? I was alive then, too.

    2. Marriage has *not* always meant the union of one man and one woman. You, yourself, referenced polygamy, which has meant many different things in many different places, most of them considered immoral today for a variety of reasons, including rape, child molestation, keeping of unmarried mistresses, etc. Additionally, there have been some societies where marriage between people of the same sex was not only permitted, but treated with honor. Witness some of the Native American tribal rituals and beliefs. There are even some ancient documents which suggest that in the first few centuries of the Christian church there were rituals for the matrimonial joining of two men.

    Regardless of that, what may or may not be historical tradition has very little relevance to modern concepts of equality and fairness. The concept that slavery is inherently evil and that there is no class of human beings which can rightfully be enslaved is one which has only existed in any large-scale sense for about the past 300 years. The concept that *all* citizens should be able to cast their own vote (including women and non-landowners) is less than 200 years old. Even the ancient Athenians, who practiced “pure democracy” (in that all citizens voted on every law, with no representational component to their government whatsoever) did not consider women “citizens” or allow them a vote.

    Things don’t always stay exactly the same, Mark. When we discovered that black people were as human as we were, we realized it was wrong to enslave them and, ultimately, we stopped. When we realized that women and men were equally capable of determining the course of our society, women gained the vote. When we realized that people of various races were so inherently the same that mixing races in marriage and childbearing produced children who were just as smart, just as beautiful and valuable to society, as children of a single race, and that barring people of different races from marrying was discriminatory and wrong, we did away with antimiscegenation laws. When we realized that mental illness was an *illness*, not something caused by sin or by devils, something which could be medically addressed rather than punished, we stopped locking up mentally ill people for life in prisons and cruel sanitariums. We stopped sending them out to live in the cemeteries with the pigs. We stopped chaining them to headstones.

    Mark, you make the argument that same-sex couples and our children don’t “deserve” the rights of civil marriage because we can’t produce offspring genetically related to both parents (and even if we could, you think that a piece of construction equipment would make a better parent than we would). It’s sad that you feel that way. I wish you could meet my beautiful 11-year-old twin daughters. Except that, as a good mother, I’d probably be wary of introducing them to someone who felt as you do, for fear you would say something hurtful or damaging to them. I’m protective of my children, just like heterosexual mothers.

    Straight people adopt. Straight people have children created through the use of donor gametes. Your argument suggests that there is something superior in the relationship between a genetic parent and child which makes their relationship more worthy of civil rights and protections than other parental relationships where no genetic link exists. Do you really want to pursue the defense of that line of thought?

  36. Steve Smith on April 28, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Mark, there is no natural definition of marriage. Marriage is a social construct and always has been; human beings have always defined what marriage is, not nature itself. The purpose and nature of marriage has always varied across time and space. I believe that the reason you can’t accept a binding union between a gay couple as marriage is not because you are trying to defend the institution of marriage itself. If anything allowing two people of the same gender to marry would seem to strengthen the institution, not weaken it; fewer divorces because one or the other partner is a closeted gay, more marriages based on love and not societal pressure.

    It is because you believe that romantic relationships between gays are inherently inferior to those between straights. What I can’t understand is the reason why you think that this is the case. The overwhelming majority of scientific studies have shown us that one’s sexual orientation is not a personality or biological disorder and that two people of the same gender pursuing romantic relationships does not have any negative impact on society. In fact, denying a gay person to pursue a romantic relationship with a person of the same gender has a proven negative effect. And I believe that we should base our laws on what science has shown us rather than preconceived religious biases.

  37. stephenchardy on April 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Is it even remotely possible that we could discuss the Article referenced in the opening statement here? Haven’t we hashed over all of this again, and again, and again?

    Let’s discuss Kairmi’s piece. He said that his paper contains:

    “…a significant amount of factual material that has not been discussed at all in the existing legal literature.”

    What are those things? Kaimi? Anyone? What is new here?

    This discussion is as tedious as it is repetitive. Can we break new ground? Can we discuss something other than historical definitions of marriage, or how beautiful and innocent children are who come from same-sex or oppositive-sex unions, or the natural biological barrenness of same-sex unions, or the relationshiop of gay rights to civil rights?

    Unless Kaimi’s article says something new or different about them, as they apply to the Church’s involvement in the passinig of Prop 8.

  38. Lorian on April 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Stephen, did you read Kaimi’s article? What parts did you consider relevant or insightful? Or irrelevant and lacking in insight? It seemed pretty straightforward to me, and summed up the events as I experienced them at the time. Do you stipulate that it is accurate, or object to some aspects of it? Rather than jump all over other commenters for not commenting the way you think they ought to comment, how about contributing some substance to the discussion? I’ll be happy to discuss the article with you, and I’m betting Kaimi would be, as well.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.