Why this? Why now?

I am now going to ask what appears to me to be a reasonable question. It comes from the deeply ambiguous feelings I have regarding the whole Prop 8 thing in California and similar legislation.

I am pretty fundamentally supportive of the expansion of equal civil rights to all committed, long-term relationships. I believe that allowing for civil gay marriage will likely result in the strengthening of marriage as an institution in America overall. If I was in California, I would be strongly tempted to vote against Prop 8.

But, since I believe our leaders to be inspired (in addition to occasionally being political dinosaurs), I have nagging doubts. The strongest of which centers around the following question: Why, of all the political and social shifts that have occurred in America since the turn of the last century, should this be the only shift that doesn’t fall prey to the law of unintended consequences?

I don’t know if a fear of the unknown is sufficient reason to oppose extending marriage rights to gay couples; I rather doubt it is. But the certainty with which people (myself included) assure doubters that nothing fundamental will change worries me. How do we know this?

There is an argument to be made that it would be worthwhile to wait until the first generation of children born in societies where gay marriage is acceptable have grown. This, too, may seem dinosaurific, but compared to how long it took us to extend rights to African-Americans (in comparison to Europe) waiting 10-15 years is no time. With a shift in understanding as potentially massive as this, caution may not be unwarranted.

Obviously we could, and people have, concocted worst-case scenarios (People will wed their cats! Human/feline hybrids will abound thanks to cloning!), but these are usually thrust forward in cloud of hyperbolic paranoia. What about the effects that aren’t immediately catastrophic (or grotesque)? My request of those who oppose the amendment and of those who support it is that you take a moment and look for realistic, potential, negative consequences. I am curious as to what we could be getting ourselves into.

For the sake of balance, I will offer some realistic, potential, positive consequences. Open harassment of homosexuals for their homosexuality will become less socially acceptable. Gay couples will be able to legally marry and enjoy the benefits thereof. Gay couples will be able to adopt children who otherwise might have to remain in the foster system indefinitely.

ps. I don’t want comments about the personal righteousness of homosexuals or those people who are for or against Prop 8. I don’t think we can avoid a critique of the church’s involvement, but, if it is necessary, don’t be negative. This thread is not the thread in which to hash out your problems with the Primary teacher who yelled at you or other some such.

Comments

  1. Nice post John. Good points. Some minor quibbles with some of your assumptions:

    1. This, too, may seem dinosaurific, but compared to how long it took us to extend rights to African-Amecans (in comparison to Europe) waiting 10-15 years is no time.

    In CA, I’m sure you know registered domestic partners enjoy all the benefits and rights CA law can confer on married couples of the opposite gender. So, it’s not at all the same as extending rights to African-Americans. There was a time African-Americans were property, couldn’t vote, couldn’t attend the same schools, business establishments, etc., etc., etc. None of that is comparable to what has been and is currently going on with domestic partnerships in CA. In fact, CA has been one of the more progressive states in codifying domestic partnership laws.

    2. For the sake of balance, I will offer some realistic, potential, positive consequences. Open harassment of homosexuals for their homosexuality will become less socially acceptable. Gay couples will be able to legally marry and enjoy the benefits thereof. Gay couples will be able to adopt children who otherwise might have to remain in the foster system indefinitely.

    Similar to my comments above. Also, I’m not sure even domestic partnership laws or judicially mandated genderless marriage guarantees societal acceptance. The DP laws may be a step in the right direction; but, acceptance is something again all together different.

    One of my major concerns is the impact the newly (and judicially) created suspect class of sexual orientation in addition to the new fundamental right of same sex marriage will have on future litigation. I foresee problems in grade schools, and we have already seen that here in CA. And, there is a history of it in MA. See here and here.

    Armed with these new judicial rights and constitutional suspect class protections my concern is for more protracted and radical litigated claims by the same sex “civil rights” movement. Litigation that based on MA experience after legalizing genderless marriage is not at all positive.

  2. Guy,
    I suppose that part of the question revolves around how deeply we want to embed sexual preferences (or orientations) as a part of the whole person. As an example, until fairly recently, homosexual sex acts between consenting adults could be considered illegal. I don’t know that it is a direct correlation to what African-Americans have undergone, but it does make the person’s sincere expression of self a means of discrimination in a manner that is similar.

    Also, I agree that legislation is not going to alter perception. However, it does provide some guidelines for what can be said outloud and what must be said sotto voice and that could be a step in the right direction.

    Regarding the two links: I don’t have problem with children going to the wedding of their teacher (children generally love their teachers and want to see them happy). That said, if it was a political stunt, that irritates me.

    Regarding the other, I wish I knew what reading a book “promoting homosexual romance” meant. As it stands, I’ve got a lot of he-said, she-said there and I don’t really know what happened.

    Are you saying that homosexuals will demand that teachers read one story “promoting homosexual romance” for every 9 other books they read? Or something similar?

  3. As one who does not share your confidence in the divine guidance of the church’s PS&R’s, I DO share your question. Why here? Why now? Why not Canada? Why not Massachusetts?

    On a strictly personal level, this could not have come at a worse time (because after all, this is all about me). My participation at church was already at an all-time low; the institution’s intense involvement with this makes even continued membership feel like a psychic burden.

    I wish they would have just stayed out of it. There’s precedent for that.

  4. I think you raise a very important point. Personally, I support incentives for all long-term relationships, but neither side of the issue knows with certainty what the consequences will be, and yet both sides seem to assume that they do.

    I think it could make sense (though I am really not that informed) to evaluate what happens at the state level when individual states changes their marriage laws. Could that data provide us with important clues to what larger changes would look like? Even if we had the data, could we come to a consensus on how to interpret it?

  5. I was just about to post the same comment Ann made. Why California when the issue was ignored in Massachusetts and Canada?

  6. Nick Literski says:

    In CA, I’m sure you know registered domestic partners enjoy all the benefits and rights CA law can confer on married couples of the opposite gender. …In fact, CA has been one of the more progressive states in codifying domestic partnership laws.

    All of which means that there is no reason to have a different name for formal, legally-recognized, committed relationships, based on the biological sex of the partners involved. Many opponents of marriage equality have stated that they are not opposed to civil unions or domestic partnerships, but only object to the word, “marriage,” being applied to these partnerships. The only rational explanation for that view is that these individuals feel that a recognized partnership between two persons of the same sex is inherently inferior to a recognized partnership between two persons of the opposite sex. These individuals have concluded that same-sex couples are unworthy of the respected, honored title of “marriage.” If Prop 8 supporters didn’t believe this, they wouldn’t be talking about “protecting the sanctity of marriage” by excluding same-sex couples from having that term of legal recognition applied to their unions.

  7. NorthboundZax says:

    John, I think a good case could also be made that voting “no on 8″ is actually a vote for strengthening marriage. It is silly to think that deeming gay-marriage illegal will restrict homosexuals from pairing up. However, If we refuse to acknowledge any lasting commitment they have to each other, we are in effect endorsing a lack of commitment within society. I suspect this will have (and has had) a far greater negative impact on the sanctity of marriage than legalizing SSM will ever have.

    The fact that much of the “inspired” language from the brethren has been lifted from Evangelical talking points, can give us a good hint on whether the church’s current position is truly inspired or simply once again being a political dinosaur.

  8. To better inform this discussion, I looked up same-sex marriage in Wikipedia to see if I could find a list of the places where same-sex marriage and/or civil unions have been tried. It’s a pretty long list.

    It is certainly true that we’ll have a better idea in 20 years what the consequences of same-sex marriage are (since it’s going to be happening in a whole lot of places whether the church likes it or not).

    On the other hand, quite a bit is known already. Civil unions have been around in Denmark since 1989, and there has been some research on what happened there, as well as in the other places.

    Here are some quick excerpts from the Wikipedia article concerning what kinds of marriage/partnerships are available where:

    **********************************

    Marriage, as defined by the civil law, is currently available to same-sex couples in six countries. The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001. Same-sex marriages are also legal in Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Spain, along with three states in the United States, Massachusetts and recently California (for status in California see California Proposition 8 (2008)) and Connecticut[14].

    ************************

    The states of Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire offer civil unions. Also, California and Oregon have domestic partnership laws that grant all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Maine, Washington, Maryland, and the District of Columbia grant certain limited benefits through domestic partnerships, and Hawaii has reciprocal beneficiary laws.

    ******************************

    The first same-sex union in modern history with government recognition was obtained in Denmark in 1989.

    Civil unions, civil partnership, domestic partnership, unregistered partnership/unregistered co-habitation or registered partnerships offer varying amounts of the benefits of marriage and are available in: Andorra, Australia (except Commonwealth law), Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary (unregistered co-habitation since 1996; registered partnership from 2009), Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. They are also available in some parts of Argentina, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Mexico (Federal District and Coahuila), the U.S. states of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).

    In the United Kingdom, civil partnerships have identical legal status to a marriage, and partners gain all the same benefits and associated legal rights; ranging from tax exemptions and joint property rights, to next-of-kin status and shared parenting responsibilities. Partnership ceremonies are performed by a marriage registrar in exactly the same manner as a secular civil marriage. Civil unions in New Zealand are identical to British civil partnerships in their association with equivalent spousal rights and responsibilities to fully-fledged opposite-sex marriage.

    *****************************

    A registered partnership in Scandinavia is nearly equal to marriage, including legal adoption rights in Sweden and, since June, in Iceland as well. These partnership laws are short laws that state that wherever the word “marriage” appears in the country’s law will now also be construed to mean “registered partnership” and wherever the word “spouse” appears will now also be construed to mean “registered partner” – thereby transferring the body of marriage laws onto same-sex couples in registered partnerships.

  9. Along the lines of critiquing the Church’s position I’ve been wondering lately about the lack of opposition to civil unions/domestic partnerships. It’s as though the Church is okay with those arrangements. Elder Bednar (if I’m not mistaken), in the recent video, even brought up the point that in CA gays already have essentially all of the rights of marriage—but he didn’t say that was a bad thing. (Is the Church’s position “separate but equal”?)

    Which makes me think this fight is about what the Church is allowed to say/do about marriage moving forward (the whole “tyranny of tolerance” thing).

  10. Nice research. So why aren’t we hearing about the outcomes in these places?

  11. For the record, I feel that it would make far more sense to decouple the civil from the spiritual benefits of marriage in these discussions. I think a lot of our confusion comes from the fact that we conflate legal rights and cultural assumptions about marriage. I personally like the idea of everyone having civil unions and leaving it to religion to define marriage.

  12. Nick Literski says:

    I think you raise a very important point. Personally, I support incentives for all long-term relationships, but neither side of the issue knows with certainty what the consequences will be, and yet both sides seem to assume that they do.

    You’re right that none of us has a crystal ball, Natalie. Whether Proposition 8 passes or fails, there will likely be both positive and negative consequences. That said, your comment brought some familiar words to my mind:

    “Do what is right, let the consequence follow. Battle for freedom in spirit and might;”

    For those persons of faith, who fear that a defeat of Proposition 8 would somehow destroy their families or their religion, the hymn continues:

    “And with stout hearts look ye forth ’till tomorrow. God will protect you, then do what is right!”

    The question then, is what is right, and by implication, what engenders freedom. Some of us will differ in our answers to that question, or in how to determine those answers. Ultimately, each of us needs to be true to our own conscience, and be able to say in the end that we truly did what we believed to be right.

  13. Nick,

    I made it clear that you were not to impugn the righteousness of people with whom you disagree. This is your only warning.

  14. NorthboundZax,
    While I find much of the rhetoric the church is borrowing disheartening, I can’t (and won’t) shake the feeling they intend well. Please keep your comments focused on my initial question.

    Paula and Ann,
    I think that Prop 8 has a slight chance of passing in CA, while similar legislation had no chance in MA. I think that’s the reasoning.

    Natalie and Timer,
    I appreciate your insights so far. I’m particularly interested in the information available from Denmark, because gay marriage has been around for so long there.

  15. The fact that the church has not pressed its case in Massachusetts with the same zeal, or Canada, or Denmark, or The Netherlands, or Spain, or Scandanavia, really bothers me. Why California? Is it because California has the most members, that it has a strong presence there?

    If we are to take a stand on a moral issue, should we not be taking that stand EVERYWHERE?

  16. Nick Literski says:

    Sorry, John. It wasn’t my intention to impugn anyone’s righteousness. I was trying to address the reasoning which seemed evident from known statements, while recognizing that for some people, that reasoning was righteous. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough in keeping my comments to the reasoning, rather than individuals.

  17. I don’t want my children to “date” until 16 because I want them to have some maturity to handle certain situations/scenarios.
    After gay marriage is completely accepted, I predict that when my 14 year old children are hanging out with their same gender friend, it is more likely that they will find themselves in situations that are more like “dating” where sexual activity might happen.
    Please don’t give the argument that if you raise your children right they won’t get into trouble and will turn down opportunities for sexual activity. Raising your children right means keeping them out of dangerous situations. Which means you don’t let your 13, 14, and hopefully 15 year old date. You have always been able to assume that if it isn’t a boy-girl party, just a same gender party, there won’t be any hanky panky going on.
    Also, the fact that my children weren’t “born gay” doesn’t matter. Brittany Spears and Madonna weren’t born gay and they kissed.
    Of course their activity has an additional layer of something to worry about. Lesbian activity as a performance to sexually please men. Just the kind of world I want my children raised in.

  18. Dan,
    I don’t know. I hadn’t thought of it prior to today. But I think we can rule out the sort of vast conspiracy that requires CAPITAL LETTERS!

    JKS,
    Why would your scenario be more likely to happen in a world without Prop 8?

  19. Call me cynical but I think the whole reason why the California instead of MA and so many other places is the prize. If you can stop gay marriage in CALIFORNIA you can stop it everywhere and use the momentum to carry onto other places.

    If I wanted to squash people’s rights, that’s exactly the way I’d do it. Don’t waste time on small prizes here and there. Wait until there’s a big/high profile enough place to do it then fight like crazy in that place.

    Then after it’s won, go back to the smaller prizes and say, “See? California said no. Who are you to disagree?”

  20. Ummm…I could be wrong here…but didn’t Canada just rule that SSM was legal? What could the Church do about it? As for MA –wasn’t it the same scenario? Like I said, I could be wrong.

    As far as other countries, it’s not quite the same legislative-wise. Isn’t voting a bit different? What about campaigning?
    I know I’m making assumptions, but you have to know that the Church was greatly opposed to SSM in California back in 2000, too. This isn’t a one-time thing. And I want to agree with ronito, except turn it 180 degrees: “See? California said YES to SSM! Who are you to disagree?”

  21. John #2

    I suppose that part of the question revolves around how deeply we want to embed sexual preferences (or orientations) as a part of the whole person. As an example, until fairly recently, homosexual sex acts between consenting adults could be considered illegal. I don’t know that it is a direct correlation to what African-Americans have undergone, but it does make the person’s sincere expression of self a means of discrimination in a manner that is similar.

    I think that is a wholly different question, based on a clearly distinct fact pattern, and even resulting legal consequences. The U.S. Supreme Court Case to which you refer (which I’m sure you already know) is Lawrence v Texas. All the court did there was strike down a criminal law making certain types of sexual conduct between members of the same sex a crime. It used a rational basis constitutional analysis, and had of course nothing to do with the definition of marriage.

    My concern is how readily people are willing to equate the civil rights movement of the 50′s and 60′s with the so called gay rights movement of the last few decades. What CA’s supreme court has done, over the objection of a clear majority of voters (which is in fact a very big deal) is to re-write, wholesale, CA constitutional law. Specifically they:

    1. Re-defined marriage from a man/woman institution since the inception of California’s judicial system;

    2. They did this by creating a new fundamental right to same sex marriage;

    3. Creating a new constitutionally protected suspect class based on “sexual orientation” setting it on a par with gender, race, religion and the like.

    Regarding the two links: I don’t have problem with children going to the wedding of their teacher (children generally love their teachers and want to see them happy). That said, if it was a political stunt, that irritates me.

    It was a political stunt. Quoting from the San Francisco Chronicle article:

    But there was a question of justifying the field trip academically. Jaroflow decided she could.

    “It really is what we call a teachable moment,” Jaroflow said, noting the historic significance of same-sex marriage and related civil rights issues. “I think I’m well within the parameters.” . . .

    The two said they have participated in the campaign against Proposition 8 and planned to travel around San Francisco on Friday afternoon in a motorized trolley car with “Just Married” and “Vote No on 8″ banners.

    Clearly the school administrators wanted to use this as a “teaching moment.” And, the two involved in the ceremony used it as a political stunt to travel around San Francisco on a motorized trolley with their Just Married and Vote No on 8 banners.

    Are you saying that homosexuals will demand that teachers read one story “promoting homosexual romance” for every 9 other books they read? Or something similar?

    I’m saying with the newly created legal protections dictated from the bench by the CA supreme court, in direct violation of the separation of powers (and the will of a clear majority of voters) in CA that the gay rights movement is armed with further litigation weaponry in its legal arsenal. My fear is that CA is headed exactly where MA has recently been.

    1. Gay marriage will be taught as the norm, and equal to man/woman marriage.

    2. Parental objections to opt their kids out of such teaching will likely fall to further litigation assaults.

    Why? Because in CA whereas last April, sexual orientation was not a suspect constitutional protected class of individuals is now such a protected class. There are certain immutable traits in other constitutionally accepted protected class, i.e. race, gender, religion. It becomes much more problematic with sexual orientation.

    Furthermore, now in CA genderless marriage or “gay marriage” is a Fundamental Right. Something it was not prior to May. What are fundamental rights? They are:

    Only rights that are “objectively, ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,’ such that ‘neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed’ ” are recognized as fundamental. See Washington v Glucksberg 521 U.S. (1997) at 720-21.

    With these new constitutional classifications and protections, I foresee similar assaults on current CA law, including parental notification. We are headed down the same road that MA trod not so long ago.

    That is a collision course with the religious beliefs of millions of CA residents. This is not going to have a good ending if Prop. 8 fails, in my view. And, there is objective legal evidence to support this analysis.

  22. John:

    I think my last comment may be trapped in your spam filter–it had some links in it.

  23. Nick Literski says:

    Court decisions upheld marriage equality in 8 of Canada’s 10 provinces, beginning in 2003. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 2005, legislating marriage equality throughout the country.

  24. ronito,
    I don’t believe the church is looking to “squash rights.” Please desist from that line of reasoning and stick to the question asked.

  25. Guy,

    Again, I think the relevance of the civil rights movement has to do with how closely we attach our sexual desires with our notion of self. The law struck down in Lawrence v. Texas seems unjust because homosexuals were just being homosexuals and that itself was criminalized. I think that there may be some legitimate parallels there.

    I think it is unfortunate that those children were used as a stunt. If I was a parent with a child at that school, I think that I would have a legitimate reason for complaint.

    You seem to see this sort of stunt behavior extending into the future. Do you find this likely if Prop 8 fails?

    Setting that aside, I suppose my question is what are the unintended consequences of seeing homosexual behavior and marriages as “normal”? I understand that this is what gay-rights advocates are pushing for; I am trying to understand how that might be a bad thing.

  26. NorthboundZax says:

    Well, sorry, I guess. I didn’t see my comments as out of bounds when they seem to be very much in line with the last several paragraphs of the OP.

    In any case, I don’t disagree that the brethren intend well. Just that the heavy usage of language lifted from Evangelical talking points gives a fairly good indication of whether that ‘good intent’ is coming from truly inspired sources or from dinosaurific political positions that in 30 years we may all wish to forget. Personally, I see any real answer to why here? why now? not too difficult to answer unless we insist on the position that ‘Yes on 8′ is truly prophetic/apostolic inspiration rather than … anything else.

  27. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 10

    There isn’t much to report, Natalie. Countries that have accepted gay marriage or its equivalent don’t seem to exhibit any changes at all a decade or two later. There is some data available on gay marriage and divorce rates in those countries, but not much else. The Yes On 8 people don’t like the information that comes out of countries that have gay marriage, that’s for sure!

    For example, there’s no indication that gay marriage in Canada has done anything except make life easier for gay families. It rapidly became a non-issue there. I anticipate that will happen in the U.S. eventually as well.

    People who are interested in Prop 8 would do well to learn about the history of the whole Gay Liberation Movement. SSM is a small piece of a much larger story. Anybody in here besides me old enough to remember sodomy laws? Anita Bryant?

    About 20 years ago I taught an undergrad course entitled “Looking At Gay and Lesbian Life” at U. of M. in Ann Arbor. (Your tax dollars at work! :) ) At the time homosexuality was still illegal in half about half the states. Yes, sexually active gays were technically criminals. If someone had told me the debate we’d be having in 2008, I would not have believed them.

    So it makes sense to me that conservative voices in society are making gay marriage in CA a last-stand battle. They may well win. But it won’t really matter. Passing Prop 8 won’t roll back twenty years of social change.

  28. There are some effects of SSM allowance in foreign countries (including the Netherlands and Spain) cited in this article, which are all fully footnoted:

    http://www.familywatchinternational.org/fwi/policy_brief_manwomanmarriage.pdf

    I personally find the above article very compelling–and I have a close family member who is gay. It is not that I do not want him to have loving lasting relationships in his life (although I have yet to see him stick with a partner for more than 3 years); but I do feel the impact on parenting and education issues is paramount.

  29. Rebecca,
    I would be interested in studies that show that homosexuality is clearly not influenced by genetic or other unconscious factors; for that matter, I think the world would be as this is a point that is highly disputed. Further, comparisons of the various negative factors discussed in that pdf with countries that have legalized same sex marriage would be helpful so that I could judge the helpfulness of their assurance that there is very little difference. It may be well footnoted, but only in a very biased manner. I didn’t find it helpful at all.

  30. Rebecca, that article has glaring factual errors in the first few paragraphs–both the information about the Parker/Wirthlin lawsuit and about Catholic Charities’ decision to discontinue providing adoption services are incomplete and misleading. Given how badly they botched the simple presentation of data from close to home,I’m not inclined to trust their extrapolative analysis about the Netherlands or Spain.

  31. I was just about to post the same comment Ann made. Why California when the issue was ignored in Massachusetts and Canada?

    I think it’s because the Church thinks that “what goes in California, influences the nation” or some such. Whereas, what goes in Canada and Massachusetts is routinely ignored.

    Personally, I have my issues with the whole Prop 8 thing, but it’s pretty hard to go against the leaders of the Church, in my opinion.

  32. I found this interesting tidbit in a 1974 Ensign last night, from their “I have a Question” series. Some of it already seems outdated, but it raises good arguments for the legalization of SSM:

    Homosexuals and lesbians seldom are happy people. Theirs is a relationship that is unnatural, one not bound by fidelity, trust, or loyalty, and one totally lacking in the meaningful family relationships that marriage offers. Homosexuality often espouses emotional problems because of the constant insecurity inherent in a relationship neither sanctioned by nor protected by the law.

    Because there is no legal bond, homosexuality too often encourages, or at least permits, promiscuity.

    To say that “no one gets hurt” is presumptive. Homosexuals are hurt by the unacceptability of the relationship, not only by society, but also by themselves. This is evidenced by their almost universal desire that their children (if they have any) not follow the same pattern.

  33. I feel a need to once again emphasize that the purpose of this thread is to look for unintended consequences if Prop 8 fails to pass. I’m looking for reasonable, unintended consequences. Please keep the focus there.

  34. Why not Canada? Because same sex “marriage” there was imposed by judicial fiat, not by the vote of a legislature.

    In Massachusetts, there was an attempt in the legislature to adopt a constitutional amendment, but I don’t recall that it ever went to the voters for the required approval. If the church did any lobbying of the legislature, it was done quietly.

    So, one answer to Why California? is its robust referendum/initiative system–Prop 8 is a chance for the whole state to vote on the matter, not just 7 or 9 lifetime appointees to a court.

    The law struck down in Lawrence v. Texas seems unjust because homosexuals were just being homosexuals and that itself was criminalized.

    Baloney. The law that was struck down in Lawrence criminalized behavior, not status. Just as I cannot be jailed for my covetousness, but only if coveting leads me to steal or to defraud, nobody could have been prosecuted under the Texas statute for tendencies or orientation.

  35. John #25:

    Again, I think the relevance of the civil rights movement has to do with how closely we attach our sexual desires with our notion of self.

    I don’t see how sexual desires, which can and do wildly fluctuate from person to person, compare with the immutable characteristics of race, the true civil rights movement. If we go down that slippery slope there’s a whole bunch of sexual desires out there in this world–are they all deserving of mandated constitutional protection? Are we essentially defined as individuals, primarily based on our sexual desires? And, the criminal statutes involved in Lawrence did not criminalize “desires” they criminalized activity–not specifically targeting homosexuals. In other words it is possible that two persons of the same gender might be guilty of violating these criminal statutes without necessarily being homosexuals.

    You seem to see this sort of stunt behavior extending into the future. Do you find this likely if Prop 8 fails?

    I think its only the beginning–particularly if MA is any indication. Why? Because of the legal rationale I explained above. The CA supreme court has now elevated sexual orientation to the same legal status as race, gender, and religion. It will now be just as illegal to make distinctions based on “sexual orientation” as it is to make them on race.

    what are the unintended consequences of seeing homosexual behavior and marriages as “normal”? I understand that this is what gay-rights advocates are pushing for; I am trying to understand how that might be a bad thing.

    I don’t pretend to know what they all might be; however, we can all see some of MA results. The Parker saga is simply unbelievable. No family should have to have their children forcibly indoctrinated by the state that genderless marriage and the homosexual lifestyle is normal, accepted, and equal to man/woman marriage and traditional family concepts. This is particularly true for those families who hold deeply felt religious views about those subjects. Those religious views used to be afforded constitutional protections under state and federal constitutional theory.

    In our own faith we have been taught that man/woman marriage, procreation, and family are not only the basic building block of temporal society: they are fundamental concepts, doctrines and beliefs of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I for one, find in unacceptable for the state to forcibly teach otherwise to school children. That to me is a pretty big deal.

  36. Guy and Mark,
    I’m tired and I’ll respond in the morning.

    Everyone,
    Play nice. If you don’t, I’ll close the thread and erase all the comments. So you know.

  37. As far as church involvement, Massachusetts is a different story altogether. One day same-sex marriage did not exist, the next day it did. The decision to grant the right to marry was made by seven people. Over the years there have been several initiatives to bring the question to the ballot, or to bring a vote on a Constitutional amendment; all have failed. I know some members of the LDS church were involved in these initiatives, but I imagine that the Church never asked for member involvement simply because there has never been any way to fight the court decision in any consequential way. Nobody ever printed lawn signs. (Which frankly is probably a matter of great relief to most members here.)

    I can honestly say that I generally don’t really care how my neighbors choose to live, and the world hasn’t come to an end because of same-sex marriage. That being said, there have definitely been some cultural shifts that if I am honest, I wish hadn’t happened. My children now learn about same-sex marriage as part of their Kindergarten curriculum. I know members who (seeing this as developmentally inappropriate) have approached their principals, asking only to be given advance warning of this discussion so they can chat with their kids a day or two before it comes up in class. All of these requests were denied. Parents were told that because the curriculum was in support of a state mandated right, the school would not knowingly aid parents wanting to “filter” this conversation. A group fought for, and gained some rights. I didn’t oppose this, because “Who am I to get in the way of someone’s happiness?” and I personally didn’t see it as a threat to me and mine, but maybe it will be. I have definitely lost some parental standing.

    In this particular instance it would go deeply against my grain to put up a lawn sign or go out to ask others for support. But I am willing to allow for the fact that there might be long-term cultural consequences that I can’t see. That long-term vision is beyond my pay grade, and so in theory I give that job to the guy I call a Prophet. I am just enough of a coward to admit that I am terribly relieved that for the time being he hasn’t asked anything directly of me.

  38. The Parker Saga seemed ridiculous to me.
    I may be wrong, but here is my understanding and opinion on that story/movie.
    It was a book that was sent home (not read in class) with the child that focused on TOLERANCE and DIVERSITY.
    One one page it showed a drawing of a same sex couple making dinner with a line like, “Some children come from a home with two daddies.” That’s not indoctrinating, that is reality! Some people are black and some are white. Some are rich and some are poor.
    I think we would raise better children if we made them aware of the differences around them so they could be loving to everyone.
    So, I don’t see that as a negative consequence of Prop 8 failing (or Prop 102 here in AZ, which has been under-publicized, but from the polls may actually pass)

  39. John, you ask about unintended consequences of the failure of Prop 8 and the widespread acceptance of gay marriage in our society. I am going to do my best to address that from the perspective of Mormon history and what I believe is the perspective of the Church leadership – relative to the Church itself and not the society at large. Please pardon the length, but I can’t make it short and address your question fully.

    Many people ask how the Church leadership can oppose gay marriage when we practiced polygamy in our past. I think that experience greatly influences their view of the possible future consequences of gay marriage. Here’s why:

    1) In the 1800′s the Church took a stand that was opposed to the prevailing sexual morals of the American society in which it existed. It was almost destroyed for it – literally. Its leaders were prosecuted and jailed, those that weren’t driven into exile. Its property, including its temples, were confiscated or threatened with confiscation. It literally faced obliteration.

    2) The Church fractured internally over polygamy, both in Joseph Smith’s day and in Wilford Woodruff’s day – first leaving behind those who would not practice it then losing those who refused to stop practicing it. Both internally and from external pressure, the Church would have collapsed over polygamy except for the Manifesto.

    3) Something to consider that almost always is overlooked in discussions like this:

    The Second Manifesto was given in 1904. President Hinckley was born in 1910. Elder Worthlin was born in 1919. Elder Perry was born in 1922. Pres. Monson was born in 1927. The very real effects of the Manifesto were still fresh and raw during their adolescence. I believe every one of them accepts the Manifesto as true revelation, but I also believe every one of them does not want to have what happened then happen now – and I believe every one of them can see clearly that there is NOTHING in Mormon history that would lead us to trust the government’s assurance that all will be well in the future and we won’t be pressured to conform once again to the new morals of the society in which we live. Iow, if we were threatened by the government – backed by the will of “the people” – with utter destruction for not accepting the morals of “the people” relative to lolygamy, how can our leaders now have any confidence that this won’t happen again if we reach the point where “the people” view homosexual activity differently than we do?

    Given that history, I don’t fault them for their concerns.

    4) Most of the Church didn’t mind polygamy being discontinued, since most of the Church was monogamous anyway. When the Manifesto was announced, it took a while to stop the actual practice (thus, the Second Manifesto in 1904), but the majority of the members weren’t crying bitterly or complaining vehemently. It was even more so with the Priesthood ban. By the time Pres. Kimball received the revelation lifting the ban, the church membership was largely glad and supportive. Iow, that pruning of “the incorrect traditions of their fathers” was MUCH smoother than the cessation of polygamy – specifically because the Church membership and leadership was much more ready to receive it. I don’t think the membership is anywhere close to ready for a similar revelation concerning gay marriage, and I believe the leadership is well aware of that.

  40. Let me throw out a couple reasons:

    1. Logistical obstacles to baptism. Unmarried heterosexual couples can marry. Married homosexual couples would have to divorce. It’s already going to be hard enough to repent and turn away from the practice, do we want to add additional obstacles to make it worse?

    But the main one in my opinion:

    2. SSM will increase the view that homosexual relationships are appropriate, this in turn will increase the number of individuals that will engage in homosexual activity. To avoid getting into an argument about whether sexuality is static or not instead just think of the situation of bi-sexuals and their likely behavior in a society where homosexuality is shunned versus where it is celebrated.

    The prophets and apostles are doing what they have called to do, warning their society about dangers that should be avoided.

  41. “…I don’t believe the church is looking to “squash rights.” ”

    Squash may not be the right word, but the church is backing a proposition that would eliminate an existing right.

  42. The Parkers are rabble-rousers who were either itching for a fight, or are pawns being used by political forces.

    And by the way, if you don’t like the public school curriculum, you can always send your precious little snowflakes to private school, or home school them.

  43. Spedale’s study of civil unions in Denmark is the landmark for tracking the consequences of policy. Bottom line: no measurable negative effect. Probably no effect at all. In fact, according to OECD stats, heterosexual marriage is slightly up in Denmark and divorce is down since extending union rights to homosexuals.

    The Dutch case–where marriage rates have fallen dramatically since the extension of rights–is not comparable because the extension there included a new civil union right to heterosexual partnerships (an alternative to marriage) in addition to rights for homosexual partnerships. That is, more heterosexual couples have chosen a less binding contract than state-sanctioned marriage.

  44. I apologize in advance for a jackish-thread. I’m writing a family letter on this issue. I’ve read at BCC previously that a church official went on the record stating that a member in good standing could be justified in not supporting Prop 8.

    Does anyone have a reference for that statement?

    Greatly appreciated!

  45. Precious little snowflakes? What the?

    My taxes pay for public school. I have every right to send my kid there and I should never be forced to take them out over issues of MORALITY.

    And the only reason it is an existing right, Pouchg, is because FOUR people decided it should be, even though 61% of Californians had already decided it wasn’t a right (not to mention 25+ other states).

    Look, the Church may have many reasons as to why they have decided to plunge head-long into Prop 8 in CA, and I’m sure there are myriads of “conspiracy theories” (none of which, I might add, hold much water), but the bottom line is that a Seer and Prophet has told us it’s important. For those who believe he is a Prophet and Seer, will knowing all the details make any difference? And if so, how grounded was that belief in the first place?

  46. *ahem*
    After my angry comment (#45), I want to point out some things (and apologize for my anger):

    For some people (who are believing LDS), the challenge is polygamy. For others, it could be the word of wisdom, maybe the BoM, modern revelation (as in now, not 100 years ago), and for some it is gay marriage. We all have our struggles and our doubts that we have to work through, and I realize that for some, it could very well be the Church’s involvement in Prop 8. This could be what even prompted this post. I apologize for making it sound like every LDS person must have no problem following the Prophet against SSM and still be a good LDS person, because I know for some, this is a major struggle; a major trial. I also know it’s not true. But –but! I do know, that erring on the side of following the Prophet is always wise. I know this from personal experience, as well as from scriptural (and modern reveletory) accounts.

    But my apologies for my last comment. It was uncalled for.

  47. JohnC Perhaps I should’ve used the word liberating? Word choice aside, the question is answered. If I were to do it, this is exactly the way I would go about it.

  48. I’m not really part of the gang here, but thought I would throw my two cents in. I have similar feelings to John C. I would like to support Proposition 8 at least mentally (since I don’t live in California), but I’m wary of unintended consequences.

    In my mind, the church operates by the bell curve principle in its approaches to society. There are norms that they see as being requisite for the majority of people if there is to be a healthy society. One of the factors that makes a healthy society is a focus on reproducing and raising the future generation.

    They realize that there are some folks who will not fall into the middle part of the curve, but want to maximize the number of people who do. Historically, the church has sought to maximize this middle part of the curve by shunning the extremities of the curve in a harsh way, which I believe they have decided today was not very effective. I personally hope that the church will reach a point where exceptions to the rule (like monogamous homosexual couples) are allowed to exist and thrive in the church environment. They would be valued equally, but seen simply as different, as exceptions to the rule.

    Now back to the topic of the post: I believe that one of the most likely unintended consequences that the church wants to avoid is a leveling out of the bell curve through school programs that will inevitably follow SSM. The problem is not that the programs will teach tolerance, but that gay activists will inevitably insist that the programs emphasize that students should explore their feelings and figure out what sexual orientation they have and that both are fine.

    As a result of this education, during adolescence, increased sexual exploration and the emotional ramifications of such are more likely to occur. Although there are some gay people who really do appear to be “born that way” or very predisposed to homosexuality, there are others who are fence sitters on the spectrum between gay and straight. During adolescence, it is highly possible that people who could feasibly contribute to the nation’s gene pool and future generation could end up on the other team. It doesn’t make that person a bad person, but it does cause the bell curve to gradually level out and the emphasis on sexual exploration also increases society’s focus on sex as recreation rather than as something special with special powers. It is fine to have valid exceptions to the rule, but the exceptions cannot become the rule or society suffers.

    That was my long two cents. Thanks for reading if you managed to get this far. Let me know what you think.

  49. Peter LLC says:

    11:

    I personally like the idea of everyone having civil unions and leaving it to religion to define marriage.

    Me too. After being married by the state you are free to follow up with the ceremony of your choosing, whether it’s a temple marriage or a bonfire on the beach. LDS in civil union countries still value temple marriage as the divine order of things, Catholics still insist on getting married in the church and so on, so I doubt there is much to be said about such a scheme weakening the institution.

  50. Peter LLC says:

    21:

    What CA’s supreme court has done, over the objection of a clear majority of voters (which is in fact a very big deal) is to re-write, wholesale, CA constitutional law.

    This is not a big deal but to be expected given California’s brand of direct democracy that allows any Californian to put measures on the ballot to change state law and amend the constitution without any legal review of any kind.

  51. Are we forgetting revelation here? If the First Presidency feels this is the time and place to take a stand, perhaps the consequences of this particular vote will have a much greater impact than any of us can foresee. I don’t live in Cali and am glad that I don’t have to make this decision. I personally do not feel threatened by SSM and would have a very difficult time choosing between my heart and my belief in the Prophet.

  52. Anonymous #48,

    I appreciated your perspective. Please, come back often. Feel free to choose a more attractive handle.

  53. Thanks to all for their comments so far and for keeping this often contentious topic civil.

    Jennifer,
    I think you describe a common LDS experience and I appreciate your sharing it with us.

    Ray,
    That is a good point. I also think about President McKay’s wrestle with the Lord over the priesthood ban and his insistence that it would take a revelation from God to change its status. Interesting.

    Aluwid,
    I don’t know that practicing homosexuals are, generally speaking, going to be terribly interested in converting no matter what their marital status. I have also, on occasion, considered the possibility that we are competing for the bi-sexuals, but that seems a little creepy and cynical to me. The churches stance seems deeper than that to me.

    gsb,
    Thanks for the information. Is there someplace where this could be looked at? Also, do these studies confirm the assertion from Rebecca’s pdf that there was no significant change in negative behaviors “associated” with homosexuality?

    cheryl and ronito,
    It’s all good.

    Anonymous,
    Good points. I wouldn’t mind diversity training, but encouraging someone to explore their sexuality is not something I consider public schools should be doing, especially without parental consent. Is it possible that failure of Prop 8 could result, over time, in mandatory sex ed of a more exploratory nature?

    Thanks to everyone, again.

  54. Re: #48 – I do think it is a legitimate concern to wonder if bi-sexuality will increase dramatically in a society in which homosexual activity is seen as an accepted norm. Bi-sexuality, every bit as much as homosexuality, is not in line with the Law of Chastity as taught in the Church – and I can see very easily the argument that the only way to “determine if you really are striaght, gay or bi-sexual” is to try each activity and make your decision based on your own experience. That approach has obvious and expansive potential dangers.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,700 other followers