The fight for marriage gets ugly


A surreal feeling came over me as I watched the live helicopter shots. Facing east, the beautiful angel Moroni was lit by golden spotlights in the night sky. Beyond that the US and California flags fluttered lightly in the warm California breeze, also lit, always flying. How many times I have walked past that flagpole to and from the front door of the Los Angeles temple. Tonight, it was closed.

In the background of the shot was a crowd of angry people, climbing on the fence of the outer perimeter of the temple, waving flags and shouting slogans in front of the news cameras. Why were they so upset and what were they doing in front of the Temple? There were hundreds of them and they had just marched from West Hollywood, trying up traffic for many miles around.

Two days ago, the people of the state of California voted, for the second time in eight years, to affirm that marriage shall only be between a man and a woman. The contest was long and hard fought on both sides. It was also the most expensive political campaign ever fought outside of someone running for office. Immediately, the opposition filed three lawsuits protesting the win.

Taking it to the streets

One of the angry protestors was now in front of the camera, being interviewed, or rather, spewing out angry words. “We’re here in front of the Mormon temple because the Mormons have taken away our right to marry. They bought this election and took away our civil rights. We’re not going to stand for it. The people will rise up in revolt. Justice will prevail. Stop the hate!”

She continued, “Their leader, Thomas S. Monson, sent a letter to all the Mormon congregations in California, directing them to send in their money and to do everything in their power to take away our right to marry. He can’t do that. This is a free country. This is an inalienable right. We’re going to march on every temple until the Mormons understand that they can’t do this.”

One protester carried a sign reading, “You have two wives. I want one husband.” As they had marched earlier down Santa Monica Boulevard, they chanted, “Mormons hate. Gays are great. No on 8. Stop the hate.” The rainbow banner, symbol of Gay pride, waved wildly. Some of the marchers jumped on top of cars, some were arrested. Some passer-bys threw eggs at the crowd.

Blog comments from unhappy gays

These people are not happy. They have been leaving comments on several of my blog essays dealing with the issue claiming that the General Authorities are liars when they claim that they do not oppose civil unions. They say the church paid millions for deceptive ads in support of proposition 8. They promise that we are just starting to see bad press that will only get worse.

“Get ready,” wrote one visitor. “We’re going after your MONEY. Starting with the University named after a polygamist.” He continued, “Seriously, we’ll be contacting every company recruiting there to ensure that they aren’t recruiting at BYU specifically to exclude Gay people.” Other visitors left the same comments, almost word for word. Did they plan a concerted attack?

Another wrote, “California is full of Gay ex-Mormons with universally hideous stories of their upbringing. Electroshock torture is one. Prop 8, a Mormon Amendment designed to abuse Gays, is simply a continuation of hatred of Gays by Mormons. Don’t whine as you get about 2 percent of the hatred you’ve spewed back at us. When Gays enjoy full civil rights, then we can talk.”

The civil dialog is gone

I have written at least a dozen essays on the subject of same-sex marriage over the last few months. It is my little contribution to the ongoing dialog about this difficult and emotional subject. Other than writing in my blog, I didn’t do much to promote proposition 8. Oh sure, I walked the precincts once and sent some money into the Yes on 8 campaign, but that’s about it.

It was my hope that by presenting essays that I believed were well thought out and by engaging others in intelligent and civil dialog, I could perhaps persuade a few people to understand our point of view. No matter how many times I wrote that we do not hate and that we are not out to take away civil rights, those who left comments refuted my claims and called me naïve or worse.

I suspect that my essays did little good other than to infuriate those who are opposed to the firm position of the church on this issue. No matter how many times I tried to make the point that we are blessed when we follow the prophet, I was told that I was blindly obedient to old men who are bigoted and racist. Since when did gays become a race? Oh, they were referring to blacks.

Equality is now redefined

One of my fellow bloggers, Dan from Arizona, where proposition 102 also won, reminded me of this quote from President Packer, “Some work through political, social, and legal channels to redefine morality and marriage into something unrestrained, unnatural, and forbidden. But they never can change the design which has governed human life and happiness from the beginning.”

“We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them. The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield.” He then talks about three abused words, tolerance, diversity and choice.

Well, there’s a new word that Elder Packer needs to add to his list: equality. To me, marriage is not a right, it is a privilege, defined and granted by God but recognized by society. It is a reward and a distinction to qualify for and be married. In our society, we recognize and reward marriage as being only between a man and a woman. But that’s not equality, we are now being told.

Summary and conclusion

As I watched the protesters being interviewed, I was struck by how angry they looked and how contorted their faces became as they shouted. They were through being nice, they said. You are now going to see the people rise up in revolt, they claimed. The time for talking and dialog is over and they are going to take what they want. The talk all seemed so full of hate and anger.

Many of my fellow bloggers have noted that the anger and hate seems to be coming from those who lost their battle. I am not the only one being visited by these people who leave comments claiming that we are now their enemies because we hurt them by taking away their rights. I am sorry that they feel this way but I wish they would not single out the Mormons in this matter.

We are not the only ones who fought to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. We are not the ones who began the initiative and we are not the only ones who contributed money to the campaign. The people have voted. The majority expressed their opinion and made their views known. If we accept the rule of law, marriage in California is only between a man and a woman.

Photo credit: ABC7 Los Angeles

Additional links:

1. KSL story and video
2. AP News – thousands protest
3. LA Times – includes video
4. KABC – LA – Video of protests
5. Get Religion – the evolving story
6. Photo essay at TJ Sullivan
7. Video links at Connor’s blog
8. Meridian – In the face of hatred

18 Responses

  1. I remember a few decades ago when I was a teenager, a certain anti-Mormon movie called the Godmakers. The movie contained half-truths and outright lies about my religion. It’s intent was to drive people away from the church. I wish I could cite a source, but it was so long ago, that I’m just going on memory for this one. Anyway, the movie had the exact opposite effect. Wherever the movie was shown, baptisms increased. I think that many people saw the movie and had LDS friends. The movie didn’t correlate well with the people they knew. Many started asking sincere questions about the church and subsequently gained testimonies of their own about its truthfulness. As it turns out, publicity helps the church, both good publicity and bad. There are those whose hatred and resentment of our church will now grow. However, others will see these actions for what they are, and will come unto Christ. In the immortal words of Bruce R. McConkie, The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place. What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on. Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on. Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on. Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!

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  2. Thanks for bringing me up to date on these issues. I was aware a protest was brewing, but I was unaware of the extent.Hard times are ahead.Somehow I am grateful to be teaching chapter 21 in the priesthood manual this Sunday. It all seems so relevant.

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  3. #2: You’re right in that this controversy is just a blip in the eternal scheme of things, for good or for ill.That said, we really can’t complain if people are angry with us. You can’t call for legislation that affects other people negatively and expect them to throw their arms around you. Whatever your opinion on Prop 8, I think it’s disingenuous for us Mormons to cry persecution here.

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  4. You mormons can have your Bigoted laws and chaos OR you we can have equality and you can enjoy civility.We will do to you what you have done to us. This is going to get really ugly. And you deserve all of it.

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  5. Don’t minimize the Mormon involvement in this thing. You guys provided all the money, you guys provide all the volunteers for this.This isn’t going away.

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  6. Anonymous:Even the Mormonsfor8 website with their wild guesses as to who was and wasn’t a Mormon on the list of contributors only came up with about $15 million out of the $40 million donated. It is obvious that Mormons did not provide all the money.I’ll agree with you that it appears that it was mainly Mormons who did the precinct walking and phone calling but that’s just because we’re so good at responding to requests for our involvement when a prophet asks. That is fairly amazing!

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  7. Good for you for sharing your views and taking the heat for it.I’m reminded of the fight to stop passage of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970′s. This is the same sort of battle. The prophets spoke, the amendment was defeated, and we took flack for it. As in this case, we were not attacking anyone, although that’s how we were characterized. We were simply defending our own rights. As happened after the defeat of the ERA, the reasonable rights for which people advocate will come. As happened with women’s rights, changes will not come with one sweep of a potentially dangerous amendment, but with incremental changes won case by case.True democracy requires civility and compromise. It’s messy and laborious, but necessary all the same.

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  8. Why the GLBT are targeting the wrong people with their anger over the loss of Proposition 8:”According to exit polls, whites opposed the amendment 53-47. But blacks supported it 70-30, and Latinos supported it 51-49. The polls have blacks at 10 percent of the electorate for this issue, with Latinos at 19 percent and whites at 63 percent. (Asians, at six percent, opposed the proposition 53-47.)”Source: The CornerI agree, this will backfire on them and only create sympathy from Catholics and Evangelicals who supported the measure. Good will come out of this, in spite of the angry rhetoric and protests.

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  9. Great post. This is truly just the beginning as the world’s view of what is right continues to depart from what our Heavenly Father has decreed.On a similar note read the inspired words from Eler Neal Maxwell. He said these words at a BYU Fireside and then later published it in the Ensign. Keep in mind that Elder Maxwell was speaking almost 30 years ago.”Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions.”This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. “Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened….Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, ‘summer is nigh.’ Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat.”Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb 1979, 69–73Indeed, the summer IS nigh. Let us not be afraid of a little “heat” in defense of the right.

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  10. Yes, individual members did and said some truly terrible things, but not one statement by the Church itself was hate-inspired or hate-encouraging. It’s interesting to see people act exactly like the caricatures they created.

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  11. Yes we are angry. This was very personal to us. This wasn’t some bond issue or candidate being elected to office. This was an issue that stripped away an established right in the California constitution as defined by the Supreme Court. So excuse us if we’re taking it kind of personal. Yes, others than the mormons supported prop 8. But it has been documented that the vast majority of funds came from mormons at the instigation of your church. You were also the most visible element in the fight. You are a natural target of our displeasure. We’re not advocating violence against the mormon church, but we will use our right as American citizens (at least that hasn’t been taken away yet) to protest and protest and protest some more. And for those of you who keep talking about “the will of the people,” when was the last time a civil rights issue was put to a vote? Blacks started to achieve some success only after the courts got involved. And there were plenty of people screaming about “activist judges” back then too. It’s actually kind of sad that a people who started out as outcasts does not want us to have the same rights they now enjoy.

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  12. You deserve. Completely and fully. I hope Utah withers under a boycott. Mormons are bigoted. Never apologized for discriminating against blacks or torturing gays. And by the way, you have no rational defense of your religion. It’s clear you’ve been brainwashed. Just like every little kid who’s told to “bear testimony” until they have a testimony. FLAT OUT BRAINWASHING. And funny coming from a guy who abuses his family and suggests that violence is okay against gays as published in For Young Men Only: Boyd Bigot Packer.

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  13. Tim,I have watched the vitriol rise. To the degree that the amendment touched people personally, I understand that some are angry. It is a natural reaction to an emotional release such as this.Picking on Mormons is safe from their point of view, because we have never had many defenders, with the shining exceptions like Doniphan duly recognized. I have looked at Church history with D&C 100:15 in mind: "all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church."I don't know how the Lord will turn the anger to our good, but a stronger Church will emerge from the turbulence.Meanwhile it is important that we practice what we preach. In other words, love thy neighbor – even if they vote differently.

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  14. SF Husky bear,Thanks you for the visit. It is good to read comments from those who express themselves well. I am glad to read that you are not advocating violence against the members of the LDS faith. It will be interesting to see how the California Supreme court rules on the lawsuits. It may very well be that the vote is nullified once again. Imagine how that would play out. We will have donated all our money and put ourselves on the line for nothing. Well, I remain convinced that no matter what, we will be blessed for responding to the request of the First Presidency to get involved.

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  15. I wrote on my own blog about my thoughts on reviling late last night. It applies to some (a minority) on both sides. That is important to remember – that the protesters at the temple were not representative of the entire group who opposed Prop 8, any more than Mormon bigots are representative of Mormons in general. If this is to be resolved without hate and anger, we need to be the example. We can’t expect it of others, if we refuse to live it ourselves.

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  16. Kalvin,Nice of you to visit my blog again. I read about the proposed boycott of Utah tourist and other revenue generating establishments. Like me, most California Mormons have family there. I wonder how they will react. Will they become angry at the California Mormons for what we have done. I hope not. I’m sure you know that some of the money also came from Utah citizens.You raise an interesting point for consideration – about bearing testimony until you have one. I have long pondered that very process and look forward to writing more about it in a future essay. I appreciate your comments about not having a rational defense of our faith and religion. I would like to explore that idea more. Would you care to elaborate? I’m interested.

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  17. Velska and Papa D,I appreciate comments from you and so many of my other fellow bloggers who visit and write. I do not always respond to all the comments but read and appreciate them all. I agree that this is the opportunity to practice what we preach. I too can appreciate the anger from those who have been personally affected by the outcome of this vote. I also understand that there are varying degrees of resentment and disappointment just as there was differing degrees of involvement from LDS people.

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  18. I have a question about this:Had they won, would have they thought natural of members of the church being angry at them and doing the same as they are doing?Nope, we would have been wrong bigots. They are just more angry because they lost a battle that they brought up. True that the church brought this election, but why?As I have said before, here in Europe many homosexuals are opposed to gay marriage! Get a life and get some help to find out the real reason for your anger.

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