It’s not Mitt Romney’s loss. His candidacy was enough to add a crescendo to the “Mormon moment” of the last few years, a moment Otterson rightly says is not so much a moment but part of a long arc of increasing recognition and acceptance. A Romney presidency would of course have been an incredible milestone, but a milestone on a marathon that neither began nor will end with Romney.
No, in the long view, I think there is another election result from last night that will have more pervasive and significant impact on Mormonism going forward. Yesterday, voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington voted in favor of marriage equality.
Prior to yesterday, the anti-gay-marriage side had a long and essentially flawless record at the ballot box. Marriage equality’s only victories came through the courts, and a few friendly legislatures. In dozens of initiative votes, even (and most famously) in left-coast-liberal California, gay marriage was a loser any time voters had a direct say. National Organization for Marriage was pitching a perfect game.
Last night that tide turned in spectacular fashion: not a would-be perfect game spoiled by a single hit, but a grand slam clean sweep by gay rights advocates in 4 out of 4 races.
Let me be clear: the church was totally absent from the campaigns in all cases. In fact, we likely hurt and disappointed many erstwhile allies in the process. So you’ll notice I’m not calling a defeat of Mormons. But it is certainly a defeat for Mormons, or, at least, a certain kind of Mormonism that seems to have reached its peak with our Prop 8 involvement.
As the country enters what looks like it will be a permanent and dramatic realignment on this issue, how will the church approach the issue or adapt over time? What does this mean for us?