Get it straight

Letter to the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Last Sunday, my Southern California LDS ward had a special Sunday School taught by a member of our stake presidency who said that last June's statement by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding California's Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriages, was a "call to arms." We have been counseled that, except for tithing, Prop. 8 is the most important cause we can give our money to. We've been asked to meet on Saturdays to canvass neighborhoods and call registered voters.

The church claims that the doctrinal justification for this intense grass-roots initiative is the 1995 "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. Indeed, the proclamation solemnly proclaims that only marriage "between a man and a woman is ordained of God." Yet, a work of LDS scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants, allows for marriage between a man and several women.

LDS Church President Thomas Monson and the other church leaders need to cease lecturing the world on the definition of marriage until they can get their own definition straight. Anything less is hypocrisy and bigotry.


Yet another (earlier) Salt Lake Tribune letter to the editor:

In the 19th century, mainline American Protestant culture opposed and outlawed the Mormon practice of plural marriage because it judged it immoral, unnatural, deviant and unchristian. The Mormon response was basically: You don't have to accept or practice or like polygamy; we're only asking you to allow us to live our lives as we see best. Mormons were pleading for what we now call American pluralism - diversity. The majority wouldn't listen.

Today, it's the Mormons who call another minority immoral, unnatural, deviant and unchristian. That they won't give gays wanting to marry the same public space they once begged for is certainly ironic and perhaps hypocritical. The oppressed have become the oppressors, dealing out the same self-righteous sureness they once condemned.

From their history as an oppressed group, Mormons could have learned empathy for other minorities, for the stranger in the strange land. Instead, they learned to compel and coerce when they have the political power. It's OK that they haven't learned humility and tolerance, but it means they're just like everyone else. They're not the exception they profess to be. They're just another political special interest group.



Thursday Jones said...

The trouble I've always had with this is that "marriage" has come to have two components. One component component comes from religion, the other component is secular. Gays have rightly complained that they do not have the same secular rights as traditional married couples. The arguments against allowing gay couples to marry is always the religious argument. These groups are not even talking about the same things. Religious groups have no right to limit secular freedoms for gays nor would they realistically try to. Gay groups have no right to question religious doctrine (nor would any sensible homosexual want to). Gay groups need to stop calling it "marriage" and thus opening the door to the religious argument. Or, is the gay position an argument for the same kind of religious recognition as traditional married couples? If so, this would be almost impossible to achieve.

Chino Blanco said...

Thursday -

The problem is that, speaking realistically, Prop 8 in California is precisely all about religious groups limiting secular freedom.

I understand (and even agree with) your point about how sloppy the language is in all of this. I say "marriage" and my parents think of a solemn ceremony in a Mormon Temple somewhere. I say the same word to my gay friends, and they imagine a trip to the county clerk to pick up their marriage license and (maybe) a ceremony somewhere (but certainly not one that'd be held in a private venue belonging to Mormons, Catholics or Biblical literalists).

If all that doesn't answer your last question already, just to be clear, my reply would be a definite "No."

Under the US Constitution - and considering our long history of aggressive protection of religious freedom - there is absolutely no friggin' way that any American couple (gay, straight or otherwise) is gonna barge into a US church and expect a religious marriage to be performed in the interests of satisfying demands for "equality" ... ain't gonna happen. Wrong country and a sure recipe for starting a backlash that would roll back every victory gay Americans have won during the past 30 years. Gay Americans are still Americans and they understand all that. Most of them, like the rest of us, just want to be left in peace to raise families (or not) and aren't looking to rock the boat.

That said, as a friend, you better understand where I'm coming from in all this. I come from the civil libertarian wing of the Democratic party. On issues of civil rights, I tend to side with conservatives like Ward Connerly who have come out and said:

"For anyone to say that this is an issue for people who are gay and that this isn't about civil rights is sadly mistaken. If you really believe in freedom and limited government, to be intellectually consistent and honest you have to oppose efforts of the majority to impose their will on people."

Hell, I should be a Republican, but they're lost in the wilderness, so here I am, trying to persuade them to butt out and focus on more important issues. Until then, they deserve to lose and Prop 8 deserves to go down in flames.

How's the family? Mine can't wait for this stupid election to be over.

Thursday Jones said...

The argument would benefit greatly with a pause to define some terms.

So am I correct that this issue is about civil union? That is, the legal rights provided by traditional marriage? The religious groups are attempting to stop this? If so, that is pure bigotry.

Take a breath, there's a long way to in this election.

May I recommend you check out BBC for a nice view of the election? The Economist also has some interesting things to say (both British, I know). It's interesting though. What the Europeans can't seem to get their heads around is the battle that you are fighting right now - the battle against religious bullies not from the Islamic world but right in the USA. Foreigners just can't get their heads around the political power that these groups have.

Any idea on how their political influence can be weakened?

My family is well. Between ex-presidents in Taiwan and presidents-to-be in the US, we are being well entertained.

Chino Blanco said...

Re the goings-on of our little island ... can you believe the shitstorm that Chen has brought on himself and the DPP? Emma said we're living in the Philippines now, and that about sums it up for me. Not to diss any Filipino friends, but I always figured any Taiwanese president would be smart enough to avoid such total humiliation.

I get the Economist delivered. As you suggest, it keeps one on an even keel and fairly well inoculated against losing one's head over the whole Obama-McCain contest.

That said, I'm kind of in a pitched battle with the religious bullies you allude to in your comment.

You wouldn't know from my humble blog, but I've broken a couple of stories during this cycle that I've been gratified to see make their way into the print media. Nothing big, just the result of spending time researching the opposition and laying bare their plans for Proposition 8.

Do you catch The Daily Show (Jon Stewart) where you're at? If so, try to catch tonight's show. I'm curious if he's gonna ask Newt Gingrich about Proposition 8. I have a hunch he might.

Thursday Jones said...

This has to be one of the most roundabout ways to communicate, but it's the best back and forth I've had with you for a while so I'm going to go with it.

I tape the Daily Show every day but don't get to watch it every day. I'll try to keep the one tonight until I can watch it.

Tina's mom and dad are here and we plan to drive out the mountains tonight and spend a long weekend out there.

I have a new iPhone and by far the best part of it is all the podcasts that I update every day. I listen to BBC news on my commute and then have all kinds of local and international news and commentary (including the Economist and the Atlantic, my two magazines that I usually fail to complete before the next one arrives). There are podcasts on almost any topic and I love it.

That is amazing that you managed to break some news on your blog. The easiest way to defeat people who don't have truth and love on their side is to drag their ideas out into the light. Just like vampires, it kills them every time.

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    News and views on NOM, marriage equality and the Mormon church from a former LDS missionary. This site is not affiliated with The National Organization for Marriage or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. © Copyright 2009 by Chino Blanco. All Rights Reserved.

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