Posts Tagged ‘Gay Marriage’
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
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
We went walking the precincts again today in support of proposition 8. The turnout was pretty good. We probably had two or three times the number of people show up today as we did two weeks ago. As can be expected on a Saturday morning in Camarillo, nobody was home in about half the houses we visited. They were probably out at a soccer game with their family.
Of those we spoke with, about half had not heard of the proposition and did not seem to mind learning a little about it. That’s all we’re trying to do at this point – inform voters about the proposed state constitutional amendment. The other half who had heard about it were in favor and said they would probably vote yes or were “open” and had not yet decided.
I personally did not encounter anyone on the streets that I visited who was opposed to the amendment. Again, I think that’s a reflection of the demographics of this sleepy little town, a bedroom community with a lot of small high tech businesses. The mixture of registered voters was equally Republican and Democrat with a few “other” in the mix.
Poll numbers don’t seem right
I noted that the most recent poll numbers from the Public Policy Institute of California don’t reflect my experience in walking the precincts. They cite only 40% as being in favor of the amendment and 52% opposed. Although the Public Policy Institute is located in San Francisco, they claim that the survey was conducted statewide, by telephone, between August 12th and 19th.
The wording of the proposed amendment was recently changed by the State Attorney General to read that a yes vote means that you are eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry. I don’t see it that way. When we walk the precincts we present the yes vote as being in favor of restoring the traditional definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
In 2000, 61% of the people in California voted that marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman. The ruling was overturned earlier this year by four judges. To me, the right of same sex couples to marry was not granted by the people of the state, but by four judges. So if the amendment is defeated this time, we will then know the will of the majority of the people.
Only Mormons walking the precincts
I keep reading that others in the coalition are supposed to be joining us as we go walking door to door but from what I have seen, it is only the Mormons who are actively participating in this part of the campaign. I guess that’s because we have a lot of experience in going door to door. But the turnout today included a lot of couples and individuals who had never been missionaries.
When I returned home from the morning’s activities my son was visiting and saw the materials I had been handing out. He said, “So you’ve been out trying to take away the rights of the gays?” Trying to set the record straight I said, “No, just trying to let the people know about the issue so they can vote on it. We want to restore the legal definition of marriage in California.”
He didn’t buy it. He said, “Why do you Mormons hate the gays?” I restrained my desire to defend what we are doing and let it slide while the conversation went to other subjects. As he was leaving I asked, “Do people think that Mormons hate gays?” He replied, “You guys have a big problem in this area and have had for a long time.” That gave me something to think about.
Perception is reality
Now our son knows that his parents don’t hate gays. Carol and I have both worked with people who identify themselves as homosexual. We don’t shun them. We don’t avoid them. And we are grateful that he is accepting of gay people as well. His point was that the LDS church in general has a problem in being perceived as less than accepting of gays and their lifestyle.
He is right. This is a problem. It is especially a problem with young people his age. From what I can tell, the majority of people in our society under thirty are not opposed to the gay lifestyle or same-sex marriage. As I thought about my experience in walking the precincts today, I realized that most everyone I spoke with was older than thirty and most were in support of proposition 8.
So the fact that it is mainly members of the LDS Church that are out knocking on doors telling our neighbors to vote yes on proposition 8 could be perceived in the way he described. It is not true, or at least I have never seen it in my own experience in the church. I have read accounts of LDS parents rejecting their children who are gay but I hope those are few and far between.
Do Mormons hate gays?
At President Hinckley’s funeral the Westboro Baptist church came and picketed with signs that read, “Mormons love gays,” and worse. If you know anything about the people of the Westboro Baptist church of Kansas you know they feel that everybody in America loves gays. They are especially active in claiming that dead American soldiers in Iraq are a result of this love.
“When asked what President Hinckley had done that enabled homosexuals, one woman said it was because the leader of the LDS Church preached that God loves all his children, including the gay ones. That’s it? God loves all his children, and that makes us a gay church? She emphatically nodded an increasingly smaller head.” That quote is from Robert Kirby, beloved LDS humorist.
Here’s what President Hinckley said: “Our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. It is expected that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct.”
God-given rules of conduct
And there is the point of my essay today. We do not hate gays. I affirm what President Hinckley taught. We love them as sons and daughters of God. It is the part about rules of conduct that many young people seem to miss. It has been my experience that most young people don’t like rules of conduct. It just seems to go against their basic principles to have such rules.
I’m not sure why some do not believe that God has a right to set the rules for our conduct in this life. Perhaps it’s because they do not believe in God, or at least say that they don’t. Rules of conduct are important to me. I have written previously that I believe in government and that we can and should legislate morality. Of course, whose idea of morality do we legislate?
To me, that’s the real problem that we face in our society today. In our conversation today my son pointed out that there were so many other things to spend our energy on besides this gay marriage thing. I disagree. I think this is one of the most important issues facing our state, our nation and our world today. Following God-given rules of conduct will bring great blessings.
Summary and conclusion
No, Mormons do not hate gays. You may argue otherwise and many of you have as I have written about this subject in the past. I expect I will hear from you again with contrary points of view. You may be right. Some Mormons probably do hate gays. That’s unfortunate. I’m a Mormon and I don’t hate gays, or at least I don’t think I do. I try not to hate anybody.
Hate is not becoming of a Christian. Hate does not come from God. It comes from the devil. We have been accused of acting for the devil because we are involved in advocating proposition 8. I do not feel that way. I am following the counsel of a prophet to give this proposition my best effort. My time and my money are precious to me but I give them to follow a prophet.
I believe I will be blessed for following a prophet. I don’t always know how. Was it difficult for me to go walking in my neighborhood today talking to people about proposition 8? Yes, it was. Will I be blessed for my efforts? Yes, I know I will be. Please don’t accuse Mormons of hating gays. That’s not true. We focus on teaching doctrine and behavior that will bring happiness to all people.
In the priesthood session of the October 1999 General Conference, President Hinckley answered the question, “Why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?” I was amazed as I re-read his answer this morning how appropriately it fits again as we approach another vote on this same issue here in California in 2008.
“…we deal only with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature or which directly affect the welfare of the Church. We have opposed gambling and liquor and will continue to do so. We regard it as not only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of society.
We are not alone in this effort
“Much of our effort, a very great deal of it, is in association with others whose interests are similar. We have worked with Jewish groups, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and those of no particular religious affiliation, in coalitions formed to advocate positions on vital moral issues.
“Such is currently the case in California, where Latter-day Saints are working as part of a coalition to safeguard traditional marriage from forces in our society which are attempting to redefine that sacred institution.
Marriage is ordained of God
“God-sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman has been the basis of civilization for thousands of years. There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God. Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality.
“Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out.
We do not hate gays
“Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group.
“As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.
Give of our time and means
“I commend those of our membership who have voluntarily joined with other like-minded people to defend the sanctity of traditional marriage. As part of a coalition that embraces those of other faiths, you are giving substantially of your means. The money being raised in California has been donated to the coalition by individual members of the Church.
“You are contributing your time and talents in a cause that in some quarters may not be politically correct but which nevertheless lies at the heart of the Lord’s eternal plan for His children, just as those of many other churches are doing. This is a united effort…I have tried to explain why we do some of the things that we do. I hope I have been helpful.”
Source: Why we do some of the things we do, Ensign Nov 1999
Yesterday, in some wards in our stake here in California, a letter from the First Presidency was read. In the letter, it was requested that we do all that we can to support the proposed constitutional amendment on preserving traditional marriage here in California. In particular, we were asked to donate of our means and time to assure the passage of the ballot measure.
My wife reports that the letter was read in our home ward, while the bishop of the ward in which I serve had not yet received it. I have read reports that the letter was read in other states beside California, along with commentary that members in those states should support the efforts here. As far as I can determine, nobody got up and walked out in protest like some had suggested.
This invitation is to members of the church to become active in what some describe as a political issue. The church has made it clear over the years that this is a moral issue. That is why back in 2000 we were asked to place signs on our lawns in support of proposition 22. Carol and I walked the precincts with many others in our stake to distribute information to our neighbors.
A moral and a social issue
When the First Presidency of the church asks the members to do something, it deserves careful attention. Why is the legal definition of marriage in the State of California a moral issue? Those who are against it argue that it would not change our society at all. As a church, we disagree. We believe that marriage is ordained of God. No society has ever tried to redefine it until now.
There is great material available on the subject that explains why this is both a moral issue and a social issue deserving the participation of the church. It can best be found in the Amicus brief that the Church filed with the State of California awhile back. If you open the PDF of the link in the previous sentence, skip down to page 27 for the beginning of the argument.
I believe that we owe it to our testimonies and our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to consider carefully what the prophet of the Lord is asking us to do and to respond accordingly. I know there are many members of the church who have family members or friends who identify themselves as gay. This issue is not about that. It is about preserving traditional marriage.
The position of the Church
From the brief: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian denomination with approximately 800,000 members in California. Marriage and the family are central to the Church’s doctrine and beliefs. The Church teaches that marriage between man and woman is ordained of God and that the traditional family is the foundation of society.”
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” Source – The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
“The Church believes that marriage and family supply the crucial relationships through which parents and children learn to live basic moral norms and acquire public and private virtue. The Church opposes changing the traditional male-female definition of marriage because of the harm such a change will cause to marriage and the family.”
The argument of the church
[The church has] “a powerful interest in the institution of marriage. We are deeply concerned about the happiness and welfare of our members, especially our member children. Through millions of hours of counseling and ministry, we have seen at close range the enormous benefits that traditional male-female marriage imparts. We have also witnessed the substantial adverse consequences for children that often flow from alternative household arrangements.”
“Since no same-sex marriage can produce children from both spouses, the close cultural linkage between the institution of marriage and the begetting and raising of children will be weakened. Whatever the choices of individual couples, children will no longer be central to the social meaning and purpose of marriage. What plaintiffs advocate is in fact an enormous change in California’s most important social institution.”
“California’s definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is entitled to profound judicial respect. Even in jurisdictions around the world known for being highly solicitous of gays and lesbians, the democratic judgment of nearly all such jurisdictions remains that marriage should be reserved exclusively to male-female couples, with the legitimate needs of homosexuals being addressed through other protections and institutions. Judicial deference to the people’s democratic judgment on this issue is appropriate.”
Summary and conclusion
In other words, we do not believe it is appropriate that the judges have overturned the vote of the people of the State of California in 2000 in which 61% of the voters upheld traditional marriage. The opponents of traditional marriage are wondering if the people will turn out in the same numbers to support this amendment. We expressed our voice then. We can do it again.
This proposed constitutional amendment deserves our support as a church and as a people. I am impressed that the First Presidency has been consistent over the years on our position in this matter. Carol and I fully support the Prophet in this moral issue and pledge to do our part in contributing our time and means to advocate the passage of the proposed amendment.
Some have accused members of the LDS Church of being brainwashed in a culture of obedience. Nothing could be further from the truth. We use common sense, good judgment and the intellectual capacity with which God has blessed us to determine for ourselves that the prophets are right on this issue. We stand with the Lord and the prophet in defining traditional marriage.
For more information:
2. Alliance Defense Fund
3. Family Leader network
4. Campaign for Children and Families
5. Family Research Council
6. Alliance for Marriage
7. Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
8. World Congress of Families
I love Sheri Dew and I mean that in a most professional and respectful way. She is absolutely one of my favorite living authors. I love her style, her stories, her humor, her depth of understanding of the gospel and her deferential respect for the priesthood of God. I do not know her personally and have not met her, but feel as if I know her through her writing and public speaking. Carol has shaken her hand and introduced herself at one of those book sales they have at Deseret Book for the sisters during the Saturday night priesthood session of General Conference. Of course I don’t expect Sheri to remember her as she has met so many thousands of people over the years. I just can’t understand why anyone would suggest that Sheri Dew is arrogant or ignorant as some bloggers have commented. She is neither.
Like I have said in a previous post about another public figure who was misunderstood, Sheri Dew doesn’t need me to defend her. But she is a highly visable and prominent LDS author who as the CEO of Deseret Book heads up the publishing arm of the Mormon church. Actually, the church has a separate publishing division but Deseret Book is the commercial side of the house. Carol and I have read several of her previous books together, “If Life Were Easy it Wouldn’t be Hard,” “No Doubt About it“, and “No One Can Take Your Place.” We are currently reading her newest book, “God Wants a Powerful People.” We also enjoyed reading the biography of President Hinckley, “Go Forward With Faith,” which she wrote and another of President Benson which she also authored. It takes an amazing talent to write as well as she does but I know it also takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Sometimes the only way to get something written is to get up very very early, pray for inspiration and then start writing. You have to actually do the work to get the results.
Sheri was embroiled in a little bit of controversy a few years ago when she spoke at an event sponsored by the Family Action Council International, a conservative religious coalition in 2004. Some took offense at her words. The fact is, they twisted and mis-represented what she said just like those who attacked Rush Limbaugh did when they claimed that he called members of the armed forces who oppose the war “phony soldiers.” This is a common tactic of those who oppose people who are doing good – to twist their words. Sheri quoted a statement made in 1941 by journalist Dorothy Thomas, who said each person in the world would be forced to choose sides either for or against Adolf Hitler. She then paraphrased Thomas to apply the principle to immorality.
“Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen,” Sheri said. “Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family as God has defined it or against it. Every living human being will either have opposed the onslaught against the family or supported it. For if we make no choice, that in itself is a choice. If we do not act in behalf of the family, that itself is an act in opposition of the family.” Sheri, I want you to know that Carol and I are opposed to gay marriage which is an onslaught against the family. We support the declaration of God through the prophet that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.
Gay-rights groups allege that Sheri compared gay marriage to Hitler. She later responded and clarified that her point had nothing to do with Hitler. “I wasn’t comparing anybody to Hitler,” she said. “Hitler is irrelevant to the point I was trying to make.” The principle she was trying to stress is that too many people stand by and do or say nothing when they see things they don’t like or with which they don’t agree. Sheri later expressed remorse that some people told her they were hurt by her comments in 2004. Sheri has taken a stand against gay marriage, but no more so than any other member of the church following a living prophet has done or will do. She just became a target because she is such a high profile member of the church.
Read Sheri Dew’s books. Try to meet her in person. You will love her as we do because she is valiant in her testimony of Jesus. She is not afraid to stand up with courage and speak against that which is wrong. God bless you Sheri Dew. Now just so you know what President Hinckley has said about gay marriage and same-gender attraction, here are his words: “We love them as sons and daughters of God…If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church.” He also said, “Our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.”
This issue will continue to come up because the world does not accept the words of a living prophet.