Friday, November 07, 2008

Because Sometimes Other People Say It Better

(Or at least just as well.)

I spent much of the past several days restraining myself from writing posts that formed themselves in my head. As I did so, I discovered that if I just wait long enough someone else will say what I was going to say.

First, here is a faithful Mormon's explanation of why she opposed Proposition 8. It's good to remember that the question of gay marriage is not the war between homosexuality and religion that it's been made out to be. As this woman eloquently reminds us, we are all "alike unto God," and there are people of all faiths on all sides of the issue.

This is particularly pertinent in light of the protests at LDS churches and temples that have taken place since last Tuesday's passage of Prop 8. Presumably in response to these protests and other understandable demonstrations of anger at the forces behind Prop 8, the No on 8 campaign issued a statement reminding their supporters that "We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss."

The LDS church, of course, has issued its own response to the protests, claiming that "It is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship." Many bloggers have responded to this press release, but my favorite response so far is that of Chanson at Main Street Plaza: "If you open up a grocery store in the middle of your chapel, you can hardly complain that people are disrespecting your 'sacred places of worship' by shopping there." (Not to mention, I would add, that the church-supported Yes on 8 campaign has been stomping all over the sacred ground of other peoples' marriages and families for the past six months.)

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish implores angry anti-8 protesters to "chill." He notes the fact that young voters overwhelmingly voted against 8 as evidence that this is only a temporary setback for marriage equality. This view is further supported by Gallup polls Scot has posted at showing how rapidly public opinion is swinging toward support of gay rights in general and same-sex marriage specifically. Those who oppose marriage equality must recognize they're fighting a losing battle.

Dale Carpenter at The Volokh Conspiracy recognizes the right of people to express their anger at the LDS church's involvement in Prop 8, but notes the danger of picketing their places of worship and calling for tax audits:
Stop the focus on the Mormon Church. Stop it now. We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion. So now some of us attack a religion? People were warned that churches would lose their tax-exempt status, which was untrue. So now we have (frivolous) calls for the Mormon Church to lose its tax-exempt status? It's rather selective indignation, anyway, since lots of demographic groups gave us Prop 8 in different ways — some with money and others with votes. I understand the frustration, but this particular expression of it is wrong and counter-productive.
He suggests instead that gay couples lead sit-ins at marriage license bureaus in California, peacefully demanding their constitutionally guaranteed right to be treated equally until the government steps in and does what it must.

The absolute best response to Prop 8 and the LDS church I've heard all week comes from Equality Utah and Utah Senator Scott McCoy. In a news release today they've invited the church to back up its statements that it "does not object to rights ... regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights" by supporting proposed legislation that would grant these specific rights to same-sex couples in Utah, who currently do not enjoy these legal protections. I see this proposal as a win-win situation: gay rights takes a major step forward in Utah, and the LDS church gets a chance to prove to the world that they are not the bigots many people believe they are. Most importantly, it's a chance for the church and the LGBT community to find common ground and work together rather than against each other, which is what I wish would have happened six months ago. Regardless of your faith or your stance on same-sex marriage, I urge you to sign your support to this effort to bridge a gap that just days ago looked unbridgeable.

Finally, I want to mention a couple things that have touched me in the past few days. First, I was grateful to get calls from family members who likely disagree with my position on the LDS church and Prop 8, but were nonetheless concerned for me personally because they knew this has been hard on me emotionally. I've made it clear before that Prop 8 has no legal impact on me or my family, and I don't pretend to suffer in the same way as my friends whose legal rights have been taken away, but I would be lying to say that my experience has been that of the concerned straight liberal who cares about gay rights from a purely intellectual standpoint. In a less-than-rational way, I have felt personally attacked by the church I was raised in, and I appreciate those loved ones who have expressed genuine empathy for this feeling, irrational as it may be.

Perhaps related to that sentiment, I was touched to discover yesterday that one of my brothers-in-law, who I've never before heard express much of an opinion about anything, has been very vocal on Facebook about his anger at Mormons' support of Prop 8. I don't know whether his fervor has anything to do with me or if it's just your basic liberal indignation, but regardless I'm happy to feel that solidarity with him. Tonight he shared a video of commentator Keith Olbermann making a powerful case for why everyone--everyone--should support marriage equality, even if you don't know a single gay person. It just about brought me to tears.


Craig said...

It absolutely did bring me to tears, at least 3 times.

Thank you for sharing this.

skyeJ said...

yeah. I liked the Olberman piece a lot. I remember a previous commenter stating that African-American voters were the major influence on why Prop 8 passed. There's a pretty good posting about how this is statistically implausible at this site. I really enjoyed the first post you linked to. Thanks for posting this. Where love is, there God is also.

Recession Cone said...

Thanks for the restraint. It means a lot to me that you didn't allow yourself to write hateful things about those who supported proposition 8, unlike a great many no-on-8 blogs I have been reading.
Proposition 8 has been heart-rending for many of us on the pro side as well.

I think genuine tolerance is the order of the day, as you pointed out in this post. Thanks.

Recession Cone said...

skyej: thanks for the link about the influence of the African American vote in passing proposition 8. It may be true that African American voters weren't the deciding factor for passing proposition 8. I'd like to note, though, that many of those arguments apply strongly to Mormons as well: African Americans are 6.2% of California, active Mormons are somewhere around 1%. African Americans have a young demographic (meaning many can't vote), so do Mormons, etc.

I actually find myself in strong agreement with the No-on-8 campaign that Mr. Fob quoted: "We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss."

cool_guy said...

Thank you for this post..

Rebecca said...

For a few days I was SO upset that if anyone said anything pro-prop 8 I just jumped down their throats. Well. That was the opposite of effective. So I decided I'm going to make my position clear, I will explain it to anyone who asks, but I am no longer going to argue about it. At all. So far I'm doing PRETTY well with that. It's hard, since I am rather confrontational by nature, especially when I see injustice.

I do think you're right that being nice about this is going to get us a lot further.


I also think that the anger is justifiable, and while I don't think we should be nasty, I also don't think we should just smile and say it's ok.

As for the petition you're talking about, I thought about it a lot before I signed it. The reason I decided I felt ok about signing it is that years ago - before it ever even crossed my mind to think of questioning the authority of the church - I had seen their involvement (and heard about past involvement) in the political arena and wondered if that was altogether on the up-and-up, and thought that it should probably be looked into.

And I never stopped thinking that. Their involvement seems pretty sketchy, and they should be held to the same legal standards as everyone else (the LDS church has gotten the most press about this, so I am not aware if there are any other religions that have been involved to the same extent - if so, they should also be examined).

And as for the church's statements about equality being ok as long as it doesn't have the same title (leaving aside the fact that I DO NOT think that's good enough, though it is, at least, a step)...well, if they said that, then they need to check back with themselves and get some things straight, because they also said this, which states basically the opposite (I posted it on facebook a day or two ago):

Sorry this is so long.

B.G. Christensen said...

Craig: You're welcome. I'm always happy to make people cry.

Skye: Thanks for the link. That article is pretty thorough.

RC: Thank you. I've said my share of hateful things in the past and I probably will again in the future, but I'm trying to remember that there are human beings with human feelings on all sides of this and every other issue.

RC again: Though I agree it's counterproductive to lay blame, I think it's inaccurate to compare African-Americans' role in passing Prop 8 to that of Mormons. Mormons contributed between $15 and $20 million to the Yes on 8 campaign, which is somewhere between 40 and 60% of the total donations. They did so because the leaders of the church told them to. The church should be held accountable for the part it played--not blamed for single-handedly banning gay marriage or accused of hate and bigotry, but held accountable for their part. Collectively the church and its members played a substantial role--much larger than proportional to their 1 or 2% representation in California's population--in passing legislation that hurts same-sex couples and their families. I'm not sure what being held accountable means, in this case, but I imagine it may be as simple and natural as letting the facts of their involvement be known--without blowing things out of proportion or speaking hatefully of them--and letting them take that hit in PR. I suspect a good number of people will be less willing to talk with LDS missionaries now, and if so, I see that as a totally natural and appropriate consequence of the church's actions.

Cool Guy: You're welcome. Thanks for your comment.

Rebecca: No need to apologize--since you don't blog anymore, long comments are as good as it gets. :) I've also had my share of pointless arguments where all I succeeded in doing was convincing people that those who support gay marriage are mean-spirited, hateful people, so I'm trying really hard to stop. But I also agree that anger is justifiable--the question is what to do with it in order to further our cause.

I considered signing the tax petition when you sent it my way, but decided not to because based on my very shallow understanding of tax exemption law I'm pretty sure the church is within legal bounds. I later read what Dale Carpenter has to say about it and I think he makes some good points, but I'm certainly not going to fault you or anyone else for signing the petition.

I'm curious to see how the church responds to Equality Utah. I suspect they won't actively support this legislation, but the fact that they have said they don't oppose non-marriage rights for same-sex couples (despite what Oaks and Wickman had said before) will likely help in getting this passed in Utah regardless. We'll see.

skyeJ said...

have to say, the tone of this post and comments are like a breath of peaceful fresh air in this area of debate. way to go FOBs!

SenecaSis said...


To Senator McCoy for making his suggestion that Utah "walk the talk".

To Keith Olberman for pointing out that it's been barely 40 years since the last amendment to the legal definition of marriage was made. His reminder that the President-Elect's parents would not have been able to legally marry if this law had been in effect in this state (and most likely many other mixed-race couples, as is common in this melting pot of the Pacific)--indeed, the marriage of my own parents' mixed-race marriage--brings reality and realization as to how recent this amendment is.

But most of all, Bravo! to the Faithful, Mormon Californian member for taking a stance on her personal beliefs. I believe she more completely demonstrates the unconditional love of others that we are taught to develop as church members.

B.G. Christensen said...

Thanks, Skye. I fail at my pacifistic ideals more often than not, but it's nice to succeed once in a while. I'm also thankful that my readers are such a friendly, peaceful lot.

Amen, SenecaSis, amen.