Comments 86

  1. I’m mad John. But I’m in Canada. Except for a little fuss in Alberta the Church rolled over and went back to sleep over gay marriage up here.

    My heart goes out to the folks in California.

  2. What I think is funny is that the church minds more about this kind of issue in the US than in other countries. As someone said on another post, it has been legal for same sex couples to get married for two years now. In France we have the PACS which is the same as being married BUt for adoption. PACS is for either opposite sex couples as for same sex couples and I believe this kind of thing exists in other countries. I wonder what is the big issue about it IN THE US?

    As someone has said on a previous post to find a new word would probably be a good idea because as for myself I am 100% for gay couples to have the same rights as the ones I can have marrying a man. Yet when I think about “same sex marriage” I have a problem. And then I know it is only because of my education in the church. It is nothing but a word after all. I see this whole issue about the importance of the word as as wrapping thing. On my b-day I really couldn’t care less about the wrappings of my gifts. To have a wrapping is nice, to have a beautifull wrapping is even better but in the end what I want is the gift and I want it not to be broken. I guess it is really a matter of sensitivity.

    So we have not heard about it over here in France I am not looking for it. I know a sister who will not be offended by it but who may be hurt. I know she will remain faithfull but I also know it could make her sad and I love her with all my heart.

  3. I didn’t hear any announcement here in the UK. Perhaps it was just a US announcement which would make sense.

  4. I see this whole issue about the importance of the word as as wrapping thing

    Correct me if I’m wrong, if you have to qualify something by adding ‘gay’ or ‘same sex’, doesn’t that make it qualitatively different and not just nominally different? It’s more than just words. The whole disagreement comes from whether gender is an integral part of our definition of marriage. I don’t know much, but I know that men and women are physiologically different. And even if gay marriage has legal existence, it doesn’t mean that it will have popular acceptance.

    As far as the announcement is concerned, I don’t think that there would be much reaction. Most people are indifferent to the whole gay marriage thing. There are a few rabid supporters and a few rabid detractors, but most people don’t care. My prediction is that very few people will take advantage of gay marriage once the novelty has worn off.

  5. What I find weird is that they did not make any statement or outcry when Massachusetts allowed gay marriage. i was a naive Mormon then and thought it was because the Church accepted that gays could finally be legally and lawfully married.

  6. This is not particularly about the announcement in sacrament meeting, but goes along with the thread I think. A friend, whose parents live in Claremont, reported that the priesthood leadership was asked to attend a satellite broadcast from SLC with the Q12. They were told that members should support the amendment but not be “anti-gay.” Classic hate the sin, love the sinner. But I don’t think we are capable of that yet as a people.

  7. I don’t know why they read it in my ward, but I wasn’t expecting it and it shook me up a little (I don’t live in CA). Perhaps the area authority decided on reading it? I wish I knew. As I said in the other post, I don’t know what they want members in other states to do with the letter. Send money? Hah!

    An interesting thing that came from all this for me was this was perhaps the first time that I have disagreed this strongly with an action by the FP in my life. Kind of put me in a weird place for a while. For some reason I’m comfortable with calling BY racist, and denouncing other past leaders teachings, but when it’s current day it’s a whole other ball game.

  8. I didn’t go yesterday. I haven’t been in awhile, partly due to a heavy travel schedule, and didn’t want it to be my first day back. (And I figured writing the letter to the editor of the Tribune was probably enough excitement for the week.) I doubt that anything happened in my ward. Last time we were told pretty emphatically by our stake president that we weren’t to question it at all. However we have new leaders, and maybe things will be different this time. I don’t expect much to actually happen in the way of the campaign for another couple of months.

  9. Also, meant to mention that I too am very confused about why same sex marriage was essentially ignored in Massachusetts, Canada and Denmark in the last ten years or so. Why is it such a big deal in California.

    I think that there may end up being even more pressure on members to participate this time. Last time Prop 22 had much wider support even at the start of the campaign than the amendment does now (currently slightly less than 50% support it). I’m not expecting support to grow for it either, and I think as it gets closer to the election, we’ll have much more pressure to participate. I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

  10. The churches efforts in California have a chance because of the LDS population and influence. This may not be the case in many other states. In addition, California is a very influential state.

  11. Where the cows have already left the barn, closing the barn door in one jurisdiction will not have any effect, especially where full faith and confidence between jurisdictions will create further litigation and will be hard to void a marriage of 5 years after the fact.

    The influence of the Church as a vocal minority. It was the church that played a major role in the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s. Studies show that Church members, although representing less than 2 % of the population of the last states to ratify, they accounted for more than 90% of the letters to legislators. Although that is another issue, the parallels are there to suggest the voice of the people is such that the loudest voices get all the attention from legislative bodies.

  12. I’ve got family in CA, and used to live there myself. Not sure but my guess is most wards were uneventful yesterday. The letter was read, and then everyone moved on.

    I recently switched my voter registration (I used to vote absentee in CA), so I have no horse in this race. But my thoughts, going off of the earlier post (“A letter from my sister”), are that the Church has done nothing wrong and in fact has acted both predictably and in accordance with its core doctrines.

    A perhaps uncharitable way of saying it is “what do you expect from a pig but a grunt.”

    Look at Prohibition. Long before WoW questions determined temple worthiness, the Church still actively campaigned for ratification of the 18th Amendment and against the 21st. Now, when reading the entire Constitution, with its Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments, Nos. 18 and 21 look really bizarre. I mean, you’ve got protection from searches and seizures, and the banning of slavery, and women’s suffrage, and then two entire amendments about booze. In our day and age, #18 and #21 stand alongside #3 (Third Amendment rights don’t get a lot of press coverage) as quaint relics of a different age.

    But in the turmoil that followed in the wake of the Great War, Prohibition was a huge issue. It was on everyone’s lips. It was the subject of editorials. And the Church made its stance known. It encouraged and supported the movement. And when the tables turned, and most Americans witnessed the gangsterism and lawlessness that accompanied the banning of alcohol, or, in the words of David McCullough, the Great Depression hit and most Americans simply hankered for a stiff drink, the Church still fought against the 21st Amendment.

    46 states voted for the 18th Amendment, including Utah. And, despite Heber J. Grant’s efforts, Utah also ratified the 21st Amendment:

    I bring all of this up to discuss what’s going on in California. The Church has never said it would recuse itself from involvement in all political matters, but would only refrain from partisan political interference. The current amendment to the California Constitution was not sponsored by the Church. In fact, with 17 million registered voters, the Church’s entire membership of 750,000 in California is clearly not the main factor determining the initiative’s success or failure. NOR WAS IT IN 2000. What it boils down to is this: in a fair and open democratic process, there is a question as to whether voters in California believe marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. And every church member in CA who is registered to vote is asked to answer that question.

    How can anyone who knows anything about the Church expect its response to be any different? The Family Proclamation makes it quite clear. And so in nations where gay marriage has come into being through other means, there has not been the same reaction or pressure. In fact, this should demonstrate that the Church is actually NOT engaged in a quixotic quest to persecute and hound gays–if so, there would be letters sent to congregations in France, the UK, Canada, Holland, etc. And no, the Church’s reticence was not caused by fears of a backlash…if the First Presidency receives a revelation to do X, it will do X, even if the entire population of Y will leave the church over X. In the particular case of California, this initiative is citizen-driven and part of a legitimate process, and the Church has a right to make its stance known.

    And I have issues with gay Mormons, current or ex-, thinking they can use Fast and Testimony meeting pulpits to air their grievances. I have a hard enough time with people recounting their trips to Disney World or Italy, or saying how awesome their children are, or getting up to quote the latest FARMS or Sunstone screed, to sit and listen to someone say how, basically, they wish “God would agree with them.” I mean, if we do that I guess we should let folks who smoke weed or like popping over to the pub also get up and say how the Word of Wisdom is outdated (and doesn’t even mention marijuana, in fact, it encourages consumption of herbs!), and science now says we need a glass of red wine with dinner, etc. That’s the spirit!

    And finally I want to address the issue of empathy. Without question, those with a gay sibling or parent are going to be much more understanding of this difficult issue than someone who has never met a gay person in their life (or so they think, you never know what the High Priest down the road struggles with). It has to be one of the hardest things anyone in Mormon culture has to experience–being gay but having a testimony. In fact, those gay but faithful Mormons I do know, either in person or online, are strong examples of faith and perseverance. They are AWESOME, because they stand in the face of anyone and everyone in our society. Shunned by the general church membership, and derided by the anti-s and ex-s who wish to exercise a heckler’s veto over their faith. These striving gay Mormons should be encouraged and supported, and there needs to be a niche carved out in Mormon culture for them. But empathy should never lead to enabling or equivocation. Some Mormons, living in more diverse locales, might even want to pat themselves on the back for being so open-minded:

    But in the long run encouraging a lifestyle that has no continuation in the eternities isn’t being a real friend, is it? And by encouraging, I mean saying to any dissenting voices “The First Presidency doesn’t speak for me, they’re just mean old men.” It’s not so hard to say to your hetero wine-swilling, club-going, weed-smoking buddies that while you are both really in to Modest Mouse, you draw the line at wholeheartedly endorsing their lifestyle. Why should gays be treated any different?

    Luckily President Bush has yet to dismantle the secret ballot, so Mormons in CA are free to vote any way they wish, just like they did with the 21st Amendment. It’s only if they start beating the drum in open defiance of the Church that they deserve to be sanctioned. (My sister voted against Utah’s same-sex marriage ban and told her friends and family so, but she draws the line at writing love letters to the Tribune).

    (composed by an untutored man during an argument)

  13. i really don’t think the criticism that the church wasn’t active in massachusetts or other nations holds much water. the church is very pragmatic. they simply don’t have the population base in the other places mentioned to make much of a difference. in california–well, mormons are definitely a minority but they’re a significant one and the church is old and well-established here. it doesn’t surprise me at all that the church would pick its battles and, in doing so, pick california but not massachusetts. and jared is right–california is hugely influential in setting national trends. it tends to be a few years in advance on quite a few social and/or “progressive” issues.

    that’s not to say i don’t see the inconsistency in the approach. i just understand the approach. it’s also not to say i agree with the church’s approach. i find it incredibly distasteful. i don’t think the church should *ever* instruct its members to participate in politics in some way. what happened to “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves”?

    as for my experience (in orange county; and in a particularly conservative part of that already conservative bastion of a county):

    1. there were no protesters outside (i think Stephen M asked about this on AdamF’s thread).

    2. i would have walked out, but my sense of obligation to fulfill my calling prevented me. which i find amusing. i’m the organist and to have walked out would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to play the sacrament hymn. may have made my walk out more of a statement, but it would have been more disruptive than i was comfortable with.

    3. i did buzz my hair off and wear a rainbow ribbon to at least visibly state my support for gay marriage. it’s not much, but it’s something. and at least a few people noticed.

    4. i did walk out when the speaker essentially had us worshiping america instead of god; specifically when she moved from singing the praises of historical americans to praising the current leadership and the current war. but that doesn’t have much to do with homosexuality or gay marriage. 🙂

  14. @dpc #5: to me adding “gay” or “same sex” makes what I am talking nominally different and not qualitatively different. But as I said this is only my point of view here.
    My opinion comes from the way I have been raised obviously but also from the fact that I have heard gays in Europe sharing my point of view.
    If to you in the US not calling actually marriage would make a difference then there are only two options left:
    1) fight anti same-sex marriage and force acceptance over the years (which is probably going to happen).
    2) work out a way for another word to be seen as valuable as the word marriage (not likely to happen if I understand things correctly).

    And I aggree with you one the subject of the disagreement. To me marriage is between a man (who can be a jerk) and a woman (who can be a witch). BUT in the mean time I try to put myself in the shoes of someone else and I try to consider that aside from religious values there is nothing really that should/could/would prevent a gay couple from enjoying the same rights as the one I can have, thus preventing it becoming something terribly unfair, I have a hard time standing on one side or the other.

    What I don’t understand though is why would the church bother about it? Would it save the world to prevent same sex marriage? NO! Do we need to save the world? NO!

    If someone feels like answering to me I would gladly appreciate to have some kind of answer. And please keep the words simple. I am not stupid I am a foreigner and sometimes I have hard time catching on the subtle points you are all trying to make.

  15. “….out when the speaker essentially had us worshiping america instead of god; specifically when she moved from singing the praises of historical americans to praising the current leadership and the current war”

    Goodness! What’s wrong with americans, seems they don’t get it.

  16. Don’t get what, Conservative Member? The Promised Land does not necessarily mean the 50 United States and absolutely nothing else. S. American nations also threw off colonialism early on and established Republics. Canada operates under a system of parliamentary democracy. “This land will be a land of liberty” is an amazing Book of Mormon concept…but it is not limited to the USA.

    And using a sacrament meeting pulpit to pledge allegiance to the worst president in US history is not a spiritually edifying practice. No way no how. Would you like to sit through a sacrament meeting devoted to forgiving Bill Clinton? You know, ’cause he said he was sorry and we’re supposed to forgive? Or how about a lesson devoted to praying for Osama bin Laden (pray for your enemies)? Would you want to sit around and listen to that?

    Not to get off topic or anything…I just sense Conservative Member likes to be deliberately provocative (in an off-topic sort of way)…

  17. I came to Church wearing a rainbow ribbon. I don’t know if anybody noticed or not. When they read the letter, I didn’t notice any nods, a few squirms maybe. I was planning on walking out, but I felt prompted not to. During the sacrament, I pleaded with my HF to ensure that if there were any gay people in the ward that they would feel loved and that they would feel like there was a place for them. I was pleasantly surprised when two of the talks were about “Caring for/Seeking for/Encircling the One”. I can’t quite remember the correct phase, but they were two excellent talks about how some members leave the church because they feel different or because they feel there is no place for them, and how important it is to search for the one lost sheep. I felt the spirit so strongly, and I felt really good that I had come to church and that I had not walked out. I am planning on wearing my rainbow ribbon to church every Sunday until November. My hopes is that people might talk to me privately (who either share or don’t share similar viewpoints) and maybe some healthy dialog can ensue. Is the ribbon disrespectful in any way? I do not want to be disrespectful or distract from the spirit. I felt like it was the most respectful, non-intrusive thing I could do.

  18. Theads like this one are what make me think of much of the blogernacle as anti-Mormon “Mormons.” Ark steading is alive and well.

  19. I’m visiting my inlaws in WA and it was read in their ward too. I’m still scratching my head on that.

    It’s fine for the Brethren to take any stance they feel is appropriate. Just as long as they don’t lie about the consequences (once again, I’m hearing “this will force SSM in the temples if it fails”) or cut corners on the rules. (Hopefully this time, there won’t be the pre-empting of meetings or “I’m not coming to you as your bishop.”)

  20. RE 14,

    And I have issues with gay Mormons, current or ex-, thinking they can use Fast and Testimony meeting pulpits to air their grievances.

    Well, most F&T meetings have the airing of all kinds of different grievances (like Festivus). I suppose that ought to be expected when you have “open mike day” at the chapel. 🙂

  21. But in the long run encouraging a lifestyle that has no continuation in the eternities isn’t being a real friend, is it?

    So I guess you want to outlaw Catholic and Jewish marriages too. As I recall, 99.99% of all marriages worldwide are for “time only.” This is a moral issue if I’ve ever heard one. Let’s stamp out all non-temple marriages!

    No, you say? Marriages of Catholics and Hindus have social worth, even if they are going to be dissolved in the hereafter? Fine. The same is true of gay couples, for the same reasons. Forcing gay people into the shadows is inhumane.

  22. Further to MoHoHawaii’s point, the religious issues here are not in issue. Nobody is trying to legislate away the constitutional guarantees of freedom for religion, instead a couple of religions are trying to negative in the most absolute manner possible a group of people that the highest court in a jurisdiction has determined are entitled to equal treatment. That is the issue for me. The church can teach whatever it wants, it can send out all the missionaries it has into California to convert all who can be convinced and avoid the occurrence of same sex marriage; however to step into the public forum with the express and sole purpose of depriving a minority group of the rights determined by an impartial judiciary to be an inalienable right, then I have a problem.

  23. # 20 N8Ma

    Problem is praising the current president and the Iraq war.

    ie she wrote “….specifically when she moved from singing the praises of historical americans to praising the current leadership and the current war”.

  24. Amelia, re your comment 15: I lived in MA when it was passed (and thought your buzz cut was cute :)). The gay issue there was one hill I was willing to die on, and was one of the reasons I left the Church then. I know the Church did nothing, and I suspect it had to do with Mitt Romney and his politics. When you say the Church simply has little influence there, don’t you think even a letter stating its position one way or another would have been something? Instead, at least one of my priesthood leaders agreed with me when I told him I thought it was wonderful gay marriage had passed.

  25. my personal opinion is that the church should be consistent. if it’s such a pressing issue, they should ask their members to do the same regardless of the size of the mormon population. they should make their position known, regardless of how likely it is that doing so can make a difference.

    please note: i’m making a statement here about consistency; NOT about the church’s position on gay marriage (with which i disagree).

    my position aside, i think the church is simply very pragmatic. which explains its treating the issue differently in different places.

    were you in the longfellow park ward when i was there?

  26. let me also say: the reason i point this (the church’s pragmatism) out is that i don’t think the way to effectively critique the church’s position on such matters is by calling it inconsistent–either in regards to how it responds to the issue in different places or in regards to its history of polygamy.

    in my opinion, the only compelling reasons have to do with actual gospel principles–compassion, love, etc. and especially the principle of not compelling others to agree with and abide by our beliefs.

  27. Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote in 2004, during the same-sex marriage debate in Massachusetts, “The experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination … The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along.”

    I totally agree with the above comment, taken from a good article in Meridian on this issue:

    (I know Meridian is a hiss and a byword among liberal Mormons and I too often read it only out of morbid curiosity, but once in a while they have good stuff I overall agree with.)

  28. given the scare tactic nature of that meridian article (for instance, it suggests that churches will lose their tax exempt status if they refuse to sanction same-sex marriages; i see no basis for that assertion, though i’d be happy to hear analysis; the article also uses boldface liberally in order to manipulate its readers’ emotions/fear), i’d appreciate seeing that quote in its original context. of course the meridian author doesn’t cite sources…

    i certainly understand the assertion that legalizing same-sex marriage may create confusion about how existing institutions and businesses may have to adapt. and i’d be happy to see information about that presented in an even-handed, objective fashion. i just don’t think the meridian article meets that standard.

    i also don’t understand the assertion that religious persons and groups will be the victims of intolerance and discrimination as a result of marriage equality. to my understanding, the state would not be able to compel a religious organization to perform a marriage ceremony. so i don’t think that there’s really a threat in that fashion. i can see that religious persons who publicly express their opinion that homosexuality/homosexual sex is a sin may be denounced as bigoted, but isn’t that simply the nature of public discourse? isn’t that the risk you run when you espouse a belief? and if there’s been a change in the general attitude towards something, we should expect that our less popular ideas will be spoken poorly of.

    i just have a hard time seeing this as anything but a scare tactic unless i can see some objective, reasoned argument to go along with it that justifies maintaining a discriminatory status quo in an attempt to avoid a different version of discrimination that may be more harmful. i’m of the opinion that there is a middle ground to be found on any issue. our goal should not be preserving one extreme or establishing the other; it should be achieving a balance.

  29. Chris #33 “Gay marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination.”

    You mean as opposed to the current era of intolerance and discrimination? But hey, I’m fine with swapping one era of intolerance and discrimination for a new era of intolerance and discrimination. We can call the era “I&D 2: Electric Boogaloo”. Why should religious persons be the only persons who get to be intolerant? That’s just not fair. I say let the Gays have their run at intolerance and discrimination as well.

    Yes, we certainly have a lot to look forward to: a level playing field, where anyone can marry; and anyone can be intolerant and discriminate. Woo hoo!!!

    Yes, the end of civilization is nigh. And fearmongering is alive and well in the halls of Harvard and Meridian.

  30. i see no basis for that assertion, though i’d be happy to hear analysis


    i also don’t understand the assertion that religious persons and groups will be the victims of intolerance and discrimination as a result of marriage equality

    The fears are based on what has happened in other countries, from actual events. discusses things of this sort from time to time (it is a group of blogging law professors who are into free speech, among other things).

    Thurston points out that he feels that the LDS Church ought not to worry or resist things that could result in persecution, and his arguments have an interesting point to them. Though it isn’t the level playing field but government interventions that worry people.

    Are the worries well founded, well, that is a different question.

  31. i agree with matt. i see no reason why the assertion that discrimination and intolerance may result from marriage equality should keep us from changing something that should change. it’s not as if we live in a world in which there is no intolerance or discrimination.

    and i really don’t think blanket generalizations about “actual events” in other countries are justification for trying to make people frightened that the church will lose its tax exempt status or that suddenly our society will discriminate against religious people. if those things have happened in other societies, the point is not to then be frightened into maintaining the discriminatory, intolerant status quo; it’s to change the status quo to make it less discriminatory and intolerant in the ways it currently is so while building in appropriate protections against potential new forms of discrimination and intolerance.

  32. amelia, I understand and agree with that ideal, but it’s hard to tell people who have seen real events transpire and real pressure be applied and real “reverse discrimination” occur to ignore those real events and believe that we will be different. In general, what we can see trumps what we hope might be – which also is the most basic issue with spreading religion.

    Iow, you are asking people to accept **on faith** that we will be different. I like it, but you have to admit it’s delicious irony.

  33. i’m not really asking anyone to accept something on faith–at least not purely. i’m asking that we believe that we can make real change in this world, rather than sitting around bemoaning that human beings are flawed. it makes no sense to refuse to make needed changes on the grounds that they’ll bring about negative consequences.

    so what i’m calling for is in part about faith. but it’s also in part about hard work. i don’t think the point is ever to sit around and wait until the good thing happens to us; i think we’re meant to construct the good things. refusing to do so on the grounds that it will be hard and will pose difficulties is a real problem.

  34. #36. Could you actually post some examples of reverse discrimination in other countries that have legalized gay marriage so we can have some idea of what we are talking about here?

  35. Since when did having a differing opinion or idea about something have to result in a charge of intolerance and discrimination? People are entitled to their opinion and their beliefs without having to endure attacks from opposing viewpoints accusing all sorts of things.

    The fact is the majority of the Christian world and a significant portion of the non-Christian world does not think that homosexual relations are right. So, naturally, they would oppose SSM on the same grounds.

    All of those of you who do not feel the same way need to chill and respect that opinion even if you disagree with it. And the same goes for those who do. We can have a reasonable discourse without the attacks and bad feelings.

  36. working mother – Not actual examples here, but these threads on this topic have gotten me thinking. Is the purpose of SSM to give homosexuals access to partner benefits, ability to adopt, etc.(meaning to eliminate discrimination), or is it to make SSM equally acceptable with traditional marriage in society? If the agenda is the former, case solved, legislation is not necessary or could be changed to reflect that. Access to partner benefits should be a concern of employers primarily and the govt could regulate that partner and dependent benefits can’t be restricted in discriminatory ways. As for ability to adopt, I know many gay people who have successfully adopted children. So again, moot point.

    If the real goal is equal social acceptance, that is an interesting agenda indeed, and frankly, the more likely agenda here. Legislating social acceptance does mean that if you don’t consider SSM equal to traditional marriage, then you are in fact discriminating and can be punished by law. Legally, this could lead to affirmative action (often considered “reverse discrimination”). Here are some potential examples:

    1 – adoption agencies could be sued for discrimination or licensing withheld if they don’t have a proportionate representation of SSM adoptive parents. Perhaps that’s okay, but some adoption agencies are religiously affiliated. Does that mean they would be shut down or restricted if they refused to allow SSMs to adopt?
    2 – real estate agents could be sued for discrimination or have licenses suspended if they don’t sell a proportionate represenation to SSM couples. HOAs that fail to have a representative amount of SSMs could be considered discriminatory.

    Those are the first two that came to mind. The church preaches PoF (children have a right to both a mother and a father) so the adoption example (which someone cited elsewhere as an issue that has occurred in Europe) could be a very real issue. Downfall of society? Perhaps not. Eroding of principles in PoF? Yes.

  37. i understand the concern you list in #1, hawkgrrrl. that’s something that would certainly need to be addressed. a related question was at issue in california not long ago when catholic charities specified that its employees’ health benefits could not pay for contraceptives and/or abortion. i didn’t follow that issue closely, so i can’t say much more about it than that it was an issue. i do see parallels between that and the adoption issue you’ve raised. i honestly don’t know how such an issue would be resolved. thoughts anyone?

    the concern you bring up in #2 doesn’t seem as troublesome to me. i think it’s simple discrimination for either a real estate agent or an HOA to exclude homosexuals. regardless of the homosexuals’ marital status. i believe current legislation would cover such discrimination as it is. you do mention the idea of “proportionate representation,” so maybe you raise that issue purely as an example of affirmative action, in which case it could be an issue as you describe. i don’t think affirmative action is necessary in the instance of marriage equality. i haven’t heard people calling for such affirmative action and don’t think it will happen. has anyone heard of such appeals? affirmative action on behalf of homosexual couples?

  38. one other thought: i don’t know that the issue is to legislate social acceptance, so much as to legislate equal access to existing civilly recognized marriage. the consequence of legislating equal access to marriage may be social acceptance of homosexuality without ever necessarily legislating that social acceptance itself. which could avoid both of the problems you identify, leaving problematic situations to be resolved through existing anti-discrimination laws.

  39. I am still waiting for a single example of real world reverse discrimination based on legalization of SSM in other countries. There could very well be such examples, but I think if people say this is happening there should be some documentation.

  40. working mother — I’ve given links to a site that often discusses actual cases.

    More interesting are analysis like this one, which take us onto a different topic altogether:

    Or consider

    There is an interesting complex of cases and analysis.

    But, as to your question, with a little work you can find the posts analyzing the guy who was fined and punished for refusing to accept business promoting same sex marriages and some other associational and speech analysis.

    Interesting stuff, though I’m tired of the SSM analysis. The issues are cold and the problems are well settled.

    Are the fears that the same things could happen here valid? Have similar suits arisen, similar claims? After all, we all know that the Boy Scouts don’t face any problems, do they?

    Now should the Boy Scouts have contracts canceled and deals reversed? That is another question. But there is no question but that they are under attack all across the country.

  41. amelia – I tend to agree that my 2nd example above is one for the courts to resolve, regardless of SSM. It would be hard to prove purely on statistics unless there really were specific evidence of discrimination. The first example is probably the most problematic for the church if SSM is legally recognized.

    My own view that I’ve expressed before is that the state should only perform civil unions for all. Marriage should be a religious ceremony at the discretion of individual churches. That solves the discrimination issue and leaves the term “marriage” as a religious term. Those seeking SSM will find churches willing to perform SSM or will be satisfied with a civil union. Many heterosexual couples would also choose civil unions without a religious marriage. It seems to be the easiest way to make everyone happy and to eliminate discrimination while preserving the rights of religions to practice according to their beliefs.

  42. i generally agree with your solution to the problem, hawkgrrrl. except i wouldn’t even attempt to assign the term “marriage.” every one enters into a civil union. they then choose whether they want to have that civil union sanctified by a particular religion (or bike club or whatever). the religion may refer to that sanctification ceremony as marriage or as something else, as they see fit. and individual couples can call themselves married–regardless of whether they simply had a civil ceremony or if they had a civil ceremony followed by a religious one–if they think that’s the best word to describe the relationship they have.

    as a student of language and literature, the fight over a word baffles me. because words are far too slippery to control. there’s certainly no way we could ever police who calls themselves married and whether they actually had the requisite religious ceremony to earn the title. i just don’t understand the motive for trying to limit that term.

  43. Amelia, make no mistake, this fight over the word, “marriage,” exists primarily because it’s no longer acceptable in most of society to openly rail against “those g**damn wicked faggots.” Since most civilized people haven’t much patience with zealous rants aka Westboro Baptist Church, the strategists decided to pretend its all about the meaning of a word, rather than a condemnation of people. It’s so much easier for people to quiet their own natural retiscence to discriminate that way, so they can jump on the holy bandwagon. They don’t want to be seen as hating people, but it’s okay to rail against an idea, right?

  44. You can’t unring the bell. This is about civil rights- and one group of people being denied a right given to law-obiding others- and that is illegal in this country.

    As far as arguements about quotas with HOA, adoption agencies and the like- I call hogwash. There are no such quotas for interacial couples or any other designation. Once upon a time, it was against the law for a black to marry a white- and that is incomprehensible to most people these days- yet it was true. This is the same thing, and will likely be looked at in the same light. Don’t let fear cloud the vision.

    The equitable solution is to have a civil union for all couples, then allowing churches to have ecclisiastical authority to confer their own Marriage upon couples who meet their membership requirements. Already, to be a card-carrying member of the LDS church, you have to abide by it’s membership rules. No difference here, and the church’s (or any other church’s) autonomy need not suffer.

    This will come to pass. It may not be this year, it may not be in California this time, but this is what eventually will happen.

    (card-carrying, active, has gay family, adult convert, native Californian, living in WA state)

  45. working mother (#46) said, “I am still waiting for a single example of real world reverse discrimination based on legalization of SSM in other countries.

    Me too. That said, I’m sure a single example exists. But seriously, who cares? Discrimination is human nature. Unfortunately. But why should gays be held to a higher anti-discrimination standard than heteros?

    We should fight against discrimination regardless of its source, but to deny people the equal right to marry “because it might lead to discrimination” is just silly silly silly.

  46. Another thing… as long as I have this pesky bee in my bonnet… this splitting hairs over the word “marriage” (to be reserved only for religious heteros) vs “civil unions” (okay, fine, we’ll let gays use that term, and heathen heteros who don’t marry in a church) just seems so, I don’t know, “lame”, I guess would be the word that comes to mind.

    I’m picturing society down the road… I meet a nice heterosexual couple wearing wedding rings. I ask them, “So when did you guys get married?” The wife smiles politely, if a little stiffly, and replies, “Oh no, we’re not Married, we’re Civil Unioned.” Whatever. Very Starbelly Sneetches-ish.

    It feels like we’re saying, with a sigh, “Okay, fine, we’ll let them get married…” but holding something back at the last minute, “…but they can’t use the word ‘Marriage’! That’s where we draw the line in the sand.”

    Reminds me of 1978 when Blacks finally got the Priesthood, but someone had to add that embarrassing little caveat… “BUT… we strongly recommend whites don’t marry blacks.” Or something like that. Someone please feel free to supply the real quote, either from the press release or from church news. That also had a we’ll-give-in-but-hold-something-back-at-the-last-minute feeling, which dampens an otherwise glorious revelation and moment in Mormon History.

  47. Matt- I agree about holding back the word- and it shouldn’t be done. I think in Europe, where couples get legally hitched first, the couples who bypass the church ceremony (and there are lots of them!) still rightfully claim they are married.

  48. in response to matt (53):

    there’s the quote C.L. Hanson writes about regarding advice from spencer w. kimball that people not enter interracial marriages. but this particular quote comes from a 1976 devotional which was published in 1977. i have no doubt, however, that the advice lived on well beyond the 1978 revelation.

    that quote is here:

  49. Oh no, we’re not Married, we’re Civil Unioned

    I prefer the term “civilly unionized”. And “violently unionized” could be the new euphemism for shotgun wedding. 🙂

  50. Thanks amelia (#55), but that’s not it. My memory is foggy, but it seems there was some kind of news release or article that announced or discussed the Blacks/Priesthood revelation, and someone (I’d guess Mark E. Petersen) insisted on including a statement to the effect that the church still recommended that blacks and whites not intermarry.

    Whether or not that was practical advice in 1978 is debatable — I’d say “not” — but either way, it didn’t need to be there.

    Dwelling on past negatives is a buzz kill. Why beat a dead horse? But as a lens to view our current problems, I believe it can be beneficial and important.

    So yeah, if someone can illuminate my foggy memory, and/or point to the source, I’d be interested for the sake of accuracy.

  51. I think the United States should adopt the practice of most European countries which follow the Napoleonic Code: the state recognizes as LEGAL only civil unions. Such civil unions would be required for legal recognition, including but not limited to inheritance rights, property settlements, employment benefits, etc. Any religious or traditional ceremony would be up to the parties.

  52. Matt, re the “intermarriage discouraged” statement, it was published in the June 17, 1978 Church News. I was a tween at the time who (later) for years thereafter thought I was sinning to date outside my race (even though there were no other Black Mormons near my age where I lived)…

    I remember reading that statement when it came out and even then thought it was a we’ll-give-in-but-hold-something-back moment.

    The Bretheren just don’t like to admit they’re ever wrong.

  53. Thanks AAe-M. These weak justifications for prejudice and hold-something-back ideas re gay marriage will look just as unbelievable to our children and grand-children’s generations as the justifications for prejudice against Blacks do to us today.

    Again, not to kick a dead horse, but his quote re Blacks sounds similar to many I’ve read re gay marriage here and elsewhere:

    “I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it.” — Apostle Mark E. Peterson, August 27, 1954

  54. Matt Thurston – of course, that goes to the heart of the matter – is homosexuality a sin (as many religions including LDS state) or an inherent characteristic like having blue eyes (as many homosexuals and some studies state)? Obviously skin color is not a matter of choice, certainly not in this lifetime, although some early leader statements tried to explain the stance by stating that it had been their choice in the pre-existence. If homosexuality is inherent, than prejudice against it is morally wrong. But if it is not inherent and is immoral, then justification for sin is morally wrong. The state can’t judge morality, IMO.

  55. Matt,

    Perhaps that was said and inter-racial marriage was discouraged. There were other reasons for discouraging it at that time other than just prejudice of the church leaders as you claim. I’ve known several inter-racial couples who suffered a great deal at the hands of society (not in the Church) for their choice of who they loved and married.

    But, holy cow man, that WAS 30 years ago. Why can’t you just drop it and move on? And your Mark E. Peterson statement, over 50 years old! What’s the point? We all still feel the same way? I doubt it.

  56. Jeff – hear, hear! The church has retracted those statements and that stance so long ago. I’m no spring chicken, and I am too young to remember before OD-2 with much clarity.

  57. The church has retracted those statements and that stance so long ago.

    Well, this year’s Aaronic Priesthood manual (can someone verify that this is the one indeed being used this year?) is still discouraging interracial marriage:

    “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).

    The quotation is pre-1978, but it is still quoted in a current manual.

  58. Jonathan Blake – Well, I can certainly affirm that I never heard those quotes in YW. Apparently they aren’t in the YW manual or if they are, my teachers chose to ignore them. The only recent “marriage advice” statements I’ve heard say the bit about economic, social and educational background commonalities, which is probably true. I always assumed that’s because so many elders married locals they met on their missions and then found the cultural boundaries made married life difficult for one or both of them, resulting in divorce and unhappiness. I always assumed even that was just advice – take it or leave it, and use your own prayerful judgment.

  59. Jonathan – I would not have interpreted that as having “discouraged” interracial marriage anymore than I would have thought they were telling rich people not to marry poor people. Or that someone with a college degree should not arry someone without one. It’s advice as the Hawk says above. I think common sense will tell you that in some cultures, inter-racial marriage can be challenging and that needs to be taken into account. After all, we are a WW Church, not just a US Church.

    I think you are reaching on this one.

  60. At what point are we to move past the barriers of race, class, or education? When should a people get about the business of being ‘one people.’

  61. Jeff,

    It seems that the word “discourage” has different connotations for each of us. For me, the word means something like recommend against, dissuade from. You seem to define it as forbid. The church is at the very least recommending that certain couples exercise caution when getting married because of their dissimilar background. In this case, it is at least recommending that interracial couples not marry.

    If you’ll allow me to parse SWK’s quote a little:

    We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background …

    Conversely, he doesn’t recommend that people of dissimilar racial backgrounds marry.

    … and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred) …

    It follows that some of those aspects are an absolute necessity. Given the date of the quote, if I had to guess, I would think SWK meant that marrying within your racial background is of absolute necessity. It’s pretty clear to me that the church has a history of discouraging interracial marriage, and this quote is part of that history.

    The question is why is the church still using this quote in its official materials if it has put that history behind it?

  62. Jonathan,

    I guess you wish to read it as a commandment or some evil design on behalf of the leaders of the Church and Pres. Kimball in particular. I just don’t see it that way and I doubt that it was as ominous as you want it to be.

    Anymore than the ecomonic or education portion of the quote, which you ignore.

  63. Jeff,

    You’re misreading the tone of my comments. I just want to point out where the church is still discouraging (i.e. recommending against) interracial marriage. I don’t want to portray this as particularly ominous or evil. Allow me to quote myself from another thread:

    To be fair, I think these factors should be taken into consideration when deciding to get married. Marriage is hard enough without having such socioeconomic differences. In this case, race is mostly a placeholder for different cultures. An interracial couple still faces external bigotry in many communities, but if I had to guess, the big difficulty is usually in the cultural differences that those different races imply.

    However, I obviously don’t think it’s wrong to marry someone significantly different than yourself, it’s just riskier. Marriages would be more stable if people didn’t believe that love could conquer all.

    You can draw your own conclusions from the fact that the SWK quote is included in official church material. Are you denying that this quote discourages (i.e. dissuades from) interracial marriage? Or denying that it is included in current official church materials?

  64. Hmmm, how far we have come – I vaguely remember JS teaching that the Lamanite would be made white by elders of zion intermarrying with Lamanite maidens, no?

    Also, if we go to only civil unions, could we call divorce civil dissolutions, you know just to take away the stigma of the word divorce?

  65. Jeff,

    I wouldn’t be so quick to deny the church discourages interracial marriage. The fact that the Aaronic priesthood manual makes reference to race and marriage is not made in a vacuum. Look at the date: 1979, right after O.D. #2. I will have to rely on D.M. Quinn for a reference to the headline in the Church News announcing the O.D. #2 that “Church discourages interracial marriage.” The Senior member of the 12 was the editor. The teachings of the church before and during the prohibition on Priesthood holders of African decent is now re-iterated in a current priesthood manual, I don’t think this is an accident.

    On another note, I like the idea of calling a marriage a civil union, if only to remind couples to always be civil.

  66. Jonathan,

    OK, it appears we are more in agreement than disagreement. I would hope that quote would be removed from the manual at the next revision. I, for one, would never tell my AP YM that quote.

    Green Man, there are more races than just the African race, so it must apply more universally than your one-trick pony. But it’s old news anyway.

  67. The big issue with inter-racial marriages in the Church has always been the BYU Hawaii melting pot and the marriages and conflicts there. That is the core of the experiences that are referred to and that shaped the advice. At the campus there is a lot of harmony and acceptance, but when people go home they find a great deal of stress and pain. Africans (either Arab or other) are not a part of the equation there.

    It has been a concern since the late 50s or so.

    Try re-reading everything through that set of lens.

  68. This is kind of interesting. Yesterday in Priesthood a member of our Bishopric said the area presidency had asked our Stake to go to each of the Wards and take an anonymous poll about the California Marriage Initiative. They wanted to gage the feelings of the local membership. They assume the First Presidency asked the Area Authorities to do this poll. Each ward was asked to create this informal poll their own way, it was not provided. So they passed out a slip of paper that asked, “What are your feelings about the Marriage Initiative?”, and then you checked marked next to these options, Strongly Support, Support, Somewhat Support, Do not Support. We then folded it and placed it into a paper bag.

    Just thought I’d pass that on.

  69. Today in Sacrament meeting 8/24/08 we spent 15 minutes listening to a special envoy from the stake about the anti-gay proposition. We were reminded that less than 25% of members were contributing and that the whole church in California should be donating time and tons of money. We are to go door to door, get on the phone and get the troops ready. This stake official actually compared it to War and called for the troops to prepare as the nephites did. This attempt at comparing the anti-gay dream Monson had to Capt’ Moroni is hilarious.

    What a huge shame that the church is mixing politics and religion. What are they thinking? All that will happen is we will discriminate against people and the church will look bad. We have very unusual sexual practices in our past, and in our present with D&C 132, so we should not be telling others what is morally acceptable.

    I hate to say it, but Monson’s wrong on this issue. Admittedly I’m a homophob just like the prophet, but we should keep in mind that our job is to respect others, love one another and not make them feel bad, discriminate or hate them.

    Geez I wish I could publicly talk about this in church, but honestly I feel I’d be ex’d. Those at church just say “you mean the prophet’s wrong?”. Yes that’s what I mean. I’d encourage you to not give you your money and time to this cause. It too will pass.

  70. Dissent is one thing, Marc. Misusing the term “homophobe” to apply it to anyone, much less a Prophet, is quite another. You can make your general point very well without resorting to that kind of name-calling and mis-representation.

  71. I remember 10 years ago or so, as a Laurel in YW’s, a lesson where the teacher specifically, taught us that we should avoid interracial marriage because “it would make life more difficult to have a partner from such a different background”.

    I brushed it off, since I had multiple cousins in interracial marriages, and they were fine.

    I have a hard time believing that would still be in any lesson manuals today.

    Along the lines of what Adam said- if we can accept that the racist things BY said were based on the views commonly held during his life, it doesn’t mean he was a prophet, it just means he was also human. As we all are. I think that is why it is so important to seek for personal revelation.

    Also, I think just because we disagree over a political issue with the prophet, doesn’t mean he isn’t a prophet. He is, and we should support him. The trick is to balancing supporting him, and doing what we believe is right. It’s not an emotionally comfortable thing to deal with, but difficult things help us grow, which is why we are here, right?

  72. Oz’s comment is very interesting. Does anyone think this means that church leadership is trying to determine if they are out of step with the CA membership on this issue?

  73. (This comment is off-topic, but the blog on suicide created Augut 14th was closed. Please forgive.)

    I am a nondescript (not homosexual) member of the church. On August 14th, I attempted suicide. I think isolation was my undoing. We do a lot of talking TO and ABOUT people – often out of obligation instead of sincere interest – when it’s the talking WITH that is perhaps more helpful. I can’t honestly blame anyone for my decision, but I’m rather confident that if I had found an outlet for sharing my distress, I would have made a more healthy choice. May the teacher learn.

  74. ThinkingRandom, I think you have become aware of something very important from the pain you have gone through. I think people often think that their feelings are wrong. Instead, I believe feelings are important pieces of information about what someone is going through and information about the world around them.

    In the church, it is easy to equate a feeling with a status of worthiness. In reality, I believe feelings are signals. It’s very difficult to figure out what signal the feeling is sending to you, but with bravery, honesty and dialogue, it can be done.

    It is helpful to find someone you trust to talk to about difficult feelings and thoughts. That person should be able to separate feelings from actions and be sincerely interested in your experiences and how they have affected you.

    Sometimes church leaders are able to do this, but sometimes they are not. It is often very difficult that bishops, parents and other people we look to for help and support are flawed human beings, just like us, and sometimes fall short of what we need.

    If you turn to someone for help and guidance and they tell you that your feelings are wrong, harmful, unworthy or a sign that you are not righteous enough, I would recommend that you find someone else that you trust to talk to. Our feelings can lead us to DO things that are wrong, harmful and unrighteous, but we are much less likely to act out our feelings if they can be discussed and examined in an accepting and thoughtful manner.

    I wish more people understood this. Instead, we are often too uncomfortable with difficult feelings to deal with things in a more helpful and healthy manner.

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