Tuesday, September 9, 2008

California Proposition 8 and Why I'm Voting NO...

Well…I guess I am writing this for the five of you who actually read this. Truth be told, I am writing it for myself. I don’t have a punching bag down in the basement in which to release my frustration so the verbal barrage is about to begin. After writing my “I Give Up” posting it now seems as though everyone and their mother wants to discuss Proposition 8. They must have missed the whole point of my blog. I no longer want to discuss it. Alas, I am throwing this together to hopefully (and finally) close the book on my feelings on California Proposition 8.

A little over two months ago, our local Bishop read a letter from the First Presidency (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage) over the pulpit during Sacrament meeting and read as follows:

“In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

“The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

“A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

“We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to
assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.“

This has inevitably sparked various talks from ward and stake leadership on the evils of homosexuality and the eventual impacts on church, family and society if it is allowed. The raging amounts of propaganda and slander assigned unilaterally on every gay person simultaneously denouncing gay bashing and promoting Christ-like love was enjoyably disgusting to say the least. Not a single Sunday has gone by since without the Proposition 8 being addressed in some fashion and usually it dominates the gospel discussions.

Recently, the state of Utah has been considering a flat rate income tax and the church was solicited for a response and gave one. It raised the following question: “To what level do members of the church give credence to statements issued by the church on social policies?”

The LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills replied to that by saying: "Church statements on public policy issues reflect the united voice of church leaders. While such statements often reflect church teachings and practices, positions on matters of public policy do not rise to the level of doctrinal declarations." (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,605154969,00.html?pg=2)

And what of those “doctrinal declarations”? We have to look no further than the Doctrine and Covenants to find our revealed and inspired position: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” (D+C 134:9).

My beef with this from the beginning has been the premise that marriage is under attack and we need to prevent the gays of America from laying claim to what the conservative Christian base of America clearly holds so dear. The fact that more than half the marriages end in divorce and the insanely large number of Americans cherish the marital commitment by shunning this sacred institution and “shack up” as Dr. Laura so eloquently labels it.

Clearly marriage is failing because of the homosexual influence of America.

I also find the LDS Church taking an ironic stand on the issue. It wasn’t much more than a century ago, Mormons wanted the definition of marriage out of the hands of the government. For any of you “Big Love” fans out there (it got a second season so someone is watching), you know Mormons practiced polygamy which contrary to network television officially ended in 1890.

However, in 1862 we find the first Government legislation attempting to define marriage specifically addressing the polygamy found within the Mormon community. Church leaders were furious and were appealing to the Bill of Rights for justification: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Mormons wanted the government to butt out of the religious practice of marriage. They found loopholes in the legislation continued performing plural marriages. Further legislation was issued in 1882 and 1887 to seal the loopholes and the LDS Prophet received revelation in 1890 indicating that it was time to put the practice of polygamy on hold.

Now we, as members, find ourselves in an interesting situation. We are now being encouraged to petition the government to stick their noses in and define what marriage is and who can participate. We are being asked to deny an infinitesimal fraction of the population from entering into a covenant of committed love. Are Christians afraid that homosexuals may actually succeed where they have personally failed? Or maybe, out of Christian concern, religionists are trying to save them from the inevitable doom of divorce?

Why are we even looking to the government to define marriage? In the LDS church, a proclamation went out to the world from our governing leadership declaring: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God…”

Not ordained by the government but of God and most traditional Christian religions believe this. The answer seems simple enough: Let marriage be for the religionists and civil unions be for the government. If you would like the government to recognize your union, or domestic partnership, apply for the license. If you would like to have a religious marriage ceremony to profess your commitment before God, go to your churches. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Do I even dare address the catalogues of propaganda being spewed over pulpit, during class discussion, and over the Internet?

1. “Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage.” - Is that drastically cataclysmic? Do Christians seriously fear that they cannot combat current issue education with their home taught and church instructed moral values? They are already being taught about evolution, failure of prohibition, slavery, and sex education in the public schools. Is there an epidemic of Christian teens becoming alcoholic, sex fiend, slave-owning evolutionists?

2. “It will lead to more government intrusion into private lives.” – No. Asking them to intrude into our private lives will lead to them intruding into our private lives.

3. “It will lead to speech monitors.” – Yes, just as giving equal rights to other minority groups lead to speech monitors. Now, you can no longer use derogatory names when referring to homosexuals…boo hoo hoo. The bar for public awareness has been raised to include another minority section of the citizenry.

4. “Anti-discrimination regulations will become more important than religious beliefs.” – An example was cited in which a lesbian couple sued a doctor who refused to perform a requested artificial insemination because of the doctor's religious beliefs. Although another doctor offered to do the procedure, the California Supreme Court held unanimously that the ‘1st Amendment's right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt defendant physicians here from conforming their conduct to the … antidiscrimination requirements.’ Religionists see it that Anti-bias laws will outweigh religion rights. I say that is ridiculous. Let’s say this doctor retires because of this situation and decides to open up a Bakery Café. This same lesbian couple stop by the Café and the doctor/baker decides to tell them that he will not serve them but that Starbucks is across the street and they will serve lesbians but he cannot because of his religious bigotry towards hell bound sinners. Is this not discrimination?

5. “Churches will be sued over their tax-exempt status if they refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public.” – The thought is that religions will be required to allow such marriages in their chapels and sanctuaries. Who knows? Maybe it will but more than likely the worst case scenario is that no one has access to church buildings for weddings or wedding receptions. So much for the cheap cost of Mormon weddings versus those of mainstream America…

6. “Religious adoption agencies will be challenged by government to give up their long-held right to place children only in homes with both a mother and a father.” – The example often cited in this one is that Catholic Charities in Boston has already closed its doors because of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts which is so untrue. Catholic Charities has not closed their doors they simply have chosen not to continue the adoption agency section of Catholic Charities because they relied heavily on state taxpayer funding to stay in business. I do not believe that LDS Adoption Services will run into that issue.

7. The implication that 100% of homosexuals are so by choice. If we just look at general authority statements on the issue over the last 20 years it clearly shows how our Church position is evolving. Ten to fifteen years ago you never heard prominent church leaders admitting that there may be those born “with tendencies.” I wonder what their statements will look like with another 10-15 years of scientific advance.

8. The constant barrage of salacious comparisons of homosexuals and pedophiles. That is almost as ridiculous as saying all adulterers or fornicators are pedophiles. The Church went through the same cycle when the huge lawsuit against the Boy Scouts was underway. “We can’t let gays into Boy Scouts because they’ll molest our kids.” Foolishness. Just state that your interpretation of “morally straight” part of Boy Scout oath means not gay and move on. That is a respected position and answer, not the fear mongering.

9. Again from the proclamation: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” I have no issue with the statement, it is that just that some people have interpreted “gender” to somehow equate with sexual orientation. I don’t find the two compatible.

10. “This is a doctrinal issue not a civil rights issue.” How is it not? We are essentially saying that Mormon morality (again which I do believe, in case you forgot that by now…) should be the civil law of the land forcing those who do NOT share our same moral code to live by and honor it. And yes, I understand that the voice of the people voted for the amendment however many years ago and now the California Supreme Court overturned it. I understand. But the question that I still have not answered for myself is: Can the voice of the people calling for a morally restrictive civil code be enforceable while still upholding the constitutional rights of all a state or nation’s citizens?

In defense of the current Church leadership, I will say that they actually issued a very well prepared document explaining to the church members why they were getting behind this. You can read it at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Many would counter with “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). The Declaration simply states they are entitled to “the pursuit”. Just because we Mormons are so confident/arrogant in our position as “the one true church”, it doesn’t mean we can force our moral code upon the citizenry of America. “What if, “ you then ask me, “the majority of the populous decide to not allow homosexual citizens the right to marry? Doesn’t the will of the people decide social policy?”

If you accept that mentality then you are essentially saying that the will of the American people, the wickedness of a nation of Gentile non-Mormon believers, had the capacity to change God’s position to His chosen people on polygamy and declare it unnecessary for church practice.

The most insane part of this whole thing is that it isn’t going to matter what the outcome of the California vote is. The fact that California is addressing it for a second time and that the state citizens are in opposition to the California Supreme Court upholding Constitutional rights of a minority group will inevitably force the United States Supreme Court to finally address the issue instead of continually pushing it back to the states. The time has come and we need a federal policy even if it only meets the issue somewhere in the middle of both sides of the argument similar to the Roe v Wade decision did.

I will close this by maintaining that while I am voting NO on California Proposition 8, for the reasoning listed above, I do not believe that either side is completely right or completely wrong on this issue. I simply believe the Devil is doing his job and we are arguing about the wrong issue. He has achieved his goal of taking the teaching of Christian principles out of our church meetings and replaced them with the political rhetoric of hate. I once again leave you with the words oft attributed to the Reverend Martin Niemoller circa 1945 in reflection of the Nazi rise to power and subsequent atrocities:

“First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.”

14 comments:

Heidi Maloy said...

ok, t, now you need to write the cliff notes version so we know what you wrote about... i don't have the attention span for something that long... hahaha

Heidi Maloy said...

oh, and i'm not voting so what do i care... hahaha ("i'm just kidding"- voice of that weird guy on SNL)

Nicole Shelby said...

of course you can explain everything so much more eloquently and with greater clarity than i.

i can't help repeatedly thinking about one of the most motivating factors for most people coming to America. freedom. personally, my own ancestors came her to escape religious persecution and oppression. even before the Church was restored. they came to find a place where they could live with integrity to their consciences...soul-authenticity.

our own modern religious history had us almost fighting a war...and abandoning official american-soil.

one of our articles of faith is specific about the freedom to worship how, where, or what they may.

the world is filled with too much enmity, too much violence, too much oppression - all justified because of personal religious beliefs.

i'd feel too hypocritical forcing my own moral code onto another...

and somehow how i believe that my husband isn't the antichrist...he isn't going to hell and taking us all with him...and that the possibility of allowing gay marriage is the catalyst for world decimation through flood and fire.
c'mon - the symbol for homosexuality is currently a rainbow - isn't that the promise that there won't be a flood?

whatever, i'm exhausted, you know what i mean.

Tom said...

Thanks for your promise of a NO vote on 8.

One thing you should also know is that no religion will be forced to marry any couple it doesn't want to. This is from the May 15 decision: "affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)72"

Christopher Maloy said...

I kinda feel like I am living through the Nancy Regan First Lady time period again when she was fighting her war on drug use. "JUST SAY NO!"

I have not finished reading this small novel yet, but I will respond soon.

That was pretty informative what your friend Tom said though.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

I love this comment. I am even more shocked that it came from a Mormon. Just kidding. Some of my best friends are Mormons.

"I will close this by maintaining that while I am voting NO on California Proposition 8, for the reasoning listed above, I do not believe that either side is completely right or completely wrong on this issue. I simply believe the Devil is doing his job and we are arguing about the wrong issue. He has achieved his goal of taking the teaching of Christian principles out of our church meetings and replaced them with the political rhetoric of hate. I once again leave you with the words oft attributed to the Reverend Martin Niemoller circa 1945 in reflection of the Nazi rise to power and subsequent atrocities:"

Jodi Jean said...

interesting ... even in more depth than the previous discussions that we had on the subject. while i agree with you on some points, i differ on different ones. and thats ok. are we not all given the freedom of choice -- thats what makes this country so great.

Jodi Jean said...

oh and i think its funny that both heidi and chris (who don't live in california, and therefore are not affected by this proposition) commented before even finishing reading the entire post

and i found tom's comment very informative ... i did not know that

Scott H. said...

Um, i enjoyed the read, I actually read your post yesterday but then became enthralled in looking up that quote by Tom, I have yet to find it in the CA Constitution and am continuing research. I agree with some things, disagree with others, and as always, respect your opinion. BUT, I am preparing a rebuttal post that I'll hopefully have done before the end of the month...

The only question I have for you is this: If you were in a different ward/stake environment where the issue wasn't addressed in a completely inappropriate manner every week, would you feel as perturbed about it? Would you still be voting no?

Another interesting thought I had for you is that I read the link to the Church's official statement and it seems like your ward/stake are actually going against many of the things that were published in that document. Again, keep a look out for my post.

Oh, and I think the size appropriate for such an issue with so many facets...

Tom said...

Scott -

That quote is not from the Constitution, but from the May 15 decision that overturned Proposition 22. Just look up the text of the decision, search for "officiant" and it should come right up for you.

T.J. Shelby said...

Scott,

Unfortunately, I have been hearing similar stories from various friends all across the state and via many different blogs.

I was impressed that leadership did put out their 5-6 page explanation because it was a break from tradition. Normally, the edict is issued from SLC and there is no explanation behind the mandate. Obedience is expected and demanded or it is assumed a testimony of a living prophet is being denied.

That being said, the church has not had this "opinion of encouragement" presented before the body for approval to accept it as revelation and acceptance into the canon as Official Declaration #3.

The bulk of my essay/blog was to dispute the varying points of rhetoric but the main message is that we are arguing the wrong point. I honestly believe that we are being roped into giving the government even more control using the only means that could conceivably do so. We are asking the government to define something holy and the homosexuals are the instigating force that the powers that be knew would force the religionists hands into action and say "Hell no."

For all other issues, we as a (relatively) conservative Mormon population typically want LESS government involvement in our lives but we are being blinded by the GAY issue and are literally volunteering to give more power into the hands of our governing institution.

So yes, despite the annoying ward habits, I would still be voting NO.

Connie H said...

Hi TJ - this is one of the 6 that read your blog (lol). It's Dad not Mom.
I found your recent posting interesting, insightful and well thought out.
I will just make a couple of comments.
I agree and have thought about the erosion of marriage by divorce and 'shacking up' a great deal since this whole issue of Prop 8 has come up. From the time I was born in the 50's to today has seen a dramatic shift in the actual numbers as well as the attitude and societal perception of the importance of marriage. It seems that we have failed to do anything about this huge tidal wave that has swept over the land - like the 3 foot tsunami - it may seem small, but causes great destruction, However, an argument to do nothing about one challenge because we aren't doing anything about the bigger problem is not as strong as some of your other points, but valid nonetheless.
We have been fortunate in Ontario to not have been exposed to any gay bashing (yet). I agree that this is nauseating.
I enjoyed your insight and comparison of the leaders handling of polygamy legislature to this current challenge. This is tricky ground and you traverse it well.
I am voting yes for Proposition 8. 1) I was and am outraged by the audaciousness of judges who over-rule the vote / will of the majority of the people of California, and 2) same sex couple rights are protected under the law and marriage (sorry I am like Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof") is traditionally, since the beginning of time, a man and woman. I think that same sex couples need to find new terminology - I often think( my perception - which my be wrong! lol) that they want marriage just because, like a spoiled child, they can't have it.
Your blog is excellent, insightful and and worth a re-read.

Connie H said...

I am voting yes on California Proposition 8.
I am writing this post for two reasons, 1st to state where I stand on the issue, 2nd to respond to this blog written in opposition to Proposition 8.
There are many reasons but I will site and focus on my main reason. My true conviction and beliefs follow the doctrines of the Restored Church, The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints. I am not a blind follower, I have studied it out carefully and found the truth to be revealed to me personally. Therefore, I will follow a living prophet! He has revealed to us and I quote "We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage" this is signed by a 3 living prophets. Who am I to justify or reason in disagreement with a prophet of the Lord. I believe him to be a watchman on the tower. He sees and understands things that I can not, we always don't understand why he is asking this of us but his abilities and insights are always on point. We can find ourselves on the left-hand or the right-hand of the Lord, the decision is ours. Heavenly Father gives us everything that we have and the only thing that we can give back to him is our will, we have two choices, and I choose wholeheartedly to follow the living Prophet Thomas S. Monson who is the spokesperson of the LORD, and in Amos 3:7 it states that God reveals secrets to his prophets. In 2 Nephi 2:27 it speaks directly about the consequences of our choices and I choose to follow God so that I might obtain Liberty and Eternal Life. I also would like to direct you to Mosiah 3:19, it is not always easy to put off the natural man and become as a little child but worldliness is open rebellion against God. Be careful in all decision that you make. I know that the Prophet is looking out for our best interests and I will follow him. I vote YES.
Connie Hendrickson

Heidi Maloy said...

Maybe I should get over it and read your novel, since you have started quite the debate.... but for now, I'm going to hulu