Judge Robert Shelby: 2013 Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year

The Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year award honors the non-Mormon who had the greatest impact on Mormonism, for good or ill, during the year. (See that other blog for Mormon of the Year.) The previous winners are John Turner, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, Judge Vaughn Walker, Stephen Colbert, and Mike Huckabee. There’s no need for nominations and voting this year. This happened:

Page 28 of the opinion:

“The alleged right to same-sex marriage that the State claims the Plaintiffs are seeking is simply the same right that is currently enjoyed by heterosexual individuals: the right to make a public commitment to form an exclusive relationship and create a family with a partner with whom the person shares an intimate and sustaining emotional bond. This right is deeply rooted in the nation’s history and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty because it protects an individual’s ability to make deeply personal choices about love and family free from government interference. And, as discussed above, this right is enjoyed by all individuals. If the right to same-sex marriage were a new right, then it should make new protections and benefits available to all citizens. But heterosexual individuals are as likely to exercise their purported right to same-sex marriage as gay men and lesbians are to exercise their purported right to opposite-sex marriage. Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriage are therefore simply manifestations of one right—the right to marry—applied to people with different sexual identities.

While it was assumed until recently that a person could only share an intimate emotional bond and develop a family with a person of the opposite sex, the realization that this assumption is false does not change the underlying right. It merely changes the result when the court applies that right to the facts before it. Applying that right to these Plaintiffs, the court finds that the Constitution protects their right to marry a person of the same sex to the same degree that the Constitution protects the right of heterosexual individuals to marry a person of the opposite sex. “

Page 29:

“Here, it is not the Constitution that has changed, but the knowledge of what it means to be gay or lesbian. The court cannot ignore the fact that the Plaintiffs are able to develop a committed, intimate relationship with a person of the same sex but not with a person of the opposite sex. The court, and the State, must adapt to this changed understanding.”

Page 44:

The State has presented no evidence that the number of opposite-sex couples choosing to marry each other is likely to be affected in any way by the ability of same-sex couples to marry. Indeed, it defies reason to conclude that allowing same-sex couples to marry will diminish the example that married opposite-sex couples set for their unmarried counterparts. Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples model the formation of committed, exclusive relationships, and both establish families based on mutual love and support. If there is any connection between same-sex marriage and responsible procreation, the relationship is likely to be the opposite of what the State suggests. Because Amendment 3 does not currently permit same-sex couples to engage in sexual activity within a marriage, the State reinforces a norm that sexual activity may take place outside the marriage relationship. As a result, any relationship between Amendment 3 and the State’s interest in responsible procreation “is so attenuated as to render the distinction arbitrary or irrational.” City of Cleburne,473 U.S. at 446; see also Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921, 972 (N.D. Cal. 2010)(“Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriage.”). Accordingly, the court finds no rational connection between Amendment 3 and the state’s interest in encouraging its citizens to engage in responsible procreation.


  1. fyi: The Utah Pride Center has posted that the Davis County Clerk’s office will be open tomorrow (Saturday) morning for marriages in that county.

  2. This is an extremely activist decision. The legal, social and cultural repercussions are going to ripple for decades if this decision stands… even if it does not stand. And not issuing a stay to allow time for additional proceedings and preparation only adds fuel to the fire. Many Utahns feel that this was shoved down their throats. There are enormous concerns about religious liberties, the tax-exempt status of the Church, school curriculum, family law, etc. There will be reactions. I pray calmer heads on both sides prevail.

  3. This is a fairly amazing development, both in Utah and at the federal level. And to think Justice Scalia’s dissent this past summer over the demise of DOMA helped make it possible. I’m not an attorney, but I wonder what this ruling means in light of the recent decriminalization of plural marriage. Am I correct in thinking the state is forbidden from issuing certain polygamous marriage licenses, while Utah churches face no such restrictions, and at the same time the state is now obligated to issue gay marriage licenses, but that churches can refuse to participate in these ceremonies? Does this inconsistency mean the two groups are not receiving equal protection in their pursuit of marriage licenses, since the earlier ruling ensures the right of association, while today’s ruling only applies to couples? Or is it wrong to make these comparisons, because civil and religious marriages in Utah, as of today, are now separate and unequal?

  4. I especially love the symmetry: “heterosexual individuals are as likely to exercise their purported right to same-sex marriage as gay men and lesbians are to exercise their purported right to opposite-sex marriage.”

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservatives assert that I as a gay man have always had the right to marry…a woman.

  5. Old Man, I encourage you to read the whole decision (linked in the post) before calling it “activist.” You will see again and again how the judge cites precedent and shows how this decision is forced by precedent.

  6. I think the parts quoted above are correct (that the reasoning behind the law was fundamentally flawed) and that it’s going to be hard to make logical arguments against them – and I don’t like laws that are based on faulty logic, no matter how I feel about whatever issue is being addressed. If a law should be in place, there should be solid legal arguments for them.

    Does anyone have any idea what the primary arguments are likely to be in any appeal that is made?

  7. A Non-E Mous says:

    Cynthia, the idea that the decision was “forced by precedent” is a pretty big stretch. Certainly, Windsor raises the possibility that all state restrictions on same-sex marriage have to be invalidated. But there’s no lawyer on the planet who would say it “forces” the issue. As far as rhetoric goes, Judge Shelby’s opinion is alright. As far as legal reasoning goes, he doesn’t do a particularly good job dealing with the difficult questions.

  8. Antonio Parr says:


    Or debate, I suppose …

  9. Antonio Parr says:

    Missing quote:


  10. Antonio Parr says:

    ~There’s no need for nominations and voting this year.~

    A stupor of type. Must be a sign.

  11. meekmildmagnificent says:

    Cynthia: This is clearly an judicial activist opinion — and a strikingly strident one at that. The Court finds not only that there is no rational basis, but that the State demeans the rights of others by not performing same sex marriage. Not only does the opinion not allow for the State to deny adoptions by gays, or even giving licenses to people who have a moral objection to promoting gay marriages, it does not allow for a religious exception. The rationale, that gay marriage is required by the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses virtually guarantees that any entity that will not agree to perform gay marriages cannot be authorized by the State to perform marriages. To allow a religious organization to perform marriages where it forecloses such marriage to gays is now held to demean the Constitutional rights of others. It is the most far-reaching opinion ever penned on gay marriage by an activist Obama appointee.

    Every person of faith ought to be very concerned about this development. Laws regarding polygamy that are clearly grounded in the economic burden of having more than one wife and the extent of State support are ignored by another Federal judge in Utah. Marriage now means any relationship of any sort between consenting adults of any number and any sex. In other words, it is virtually meaningless.

    Oh, and yes Cynthia, not only did I read the entire opinion, I also read the cases from states that refuse licenses to people and businesses who refuse to accommodate gay marriage that use the very same rationale as now used by this activist judge.

    The arrogance of this judge to not be aware that his position will be appealed and to agree either by motion or sua sponte to stay his decision is breath-taking. The position of Sim Gill and the mayor of SLC to rush to do marriages within 1 hour after the decision is also startling. In my view, they ought to be removed from office for their activist approach to such issues that have a single Federal judge overturning the Constitution of a State.

  12. It is the right of every person who disagrees with a legal decision to deem the judge in question an “activist”. That doesn’t make that person correct.

  13. Forget the court decision! This is clearly an activist blog post. I demand a stay on the temple recommend of every BCC blogger until they can be properly excommunicated.

  14. It’s true we just decreed this with no vote of the people. Activist blog!

  15. “Not only does the opinion not allow for the State to deny adoptions by gays, or even giving licenses to people who have a moral objection to promoting gay marriages, it does not allow for a religious exception.”

    I didn’t realize the judge was a legislator. My bad.

  16. I tend to like activist judges, especially when they are required to stop unnecessary pain and suffering of the minority forced upon them by a majority who will take a generation or two to (hat tip Elder Uchtdorf) Stop It! You know those darn activist judges in Loving v Virgina, forcing us to let black people marry white people because they are people. In 1967! I mean we the majority would have got around to it…..eventually. You know the founding fathers created a judicial branch for a reason. With checks and balances and everything! Thank heavens they did. Judge Shelby, fitting winner of the Boggs-Doniphan! A Doniphan if there is even one less suicide in Utah due to this decision today.

  17. Deep breath, fellow religious heterosexuals. Our marriages and religious liberties will weather this storm. Promise.

  18. So not Judge Waddoups for decriminalizing polygamy?

  19. Judge Waddoups is a Mormon.

  20. Casey: I doubt that religious rights would weather well given such a decision; although I am quite certain that the strident scope of this decision will not be followed on appeal. If it is followed, the tax exempt status of the Church will be lost and denial of right to perform state recognized marriages (like in Europe) may well follow.

  21. Cynthia L.,

    I DID read the decision. I am not “anti-gay,” but good decisions carefully resolve issues, this judge tore a large hole in Utah’s law and then did not stay it so the appeals process could be involved or a rational process of implementation/adjustment could be developed. And I see no precedent which “forced” this decision. This single decision knocked down state regulations on adoption, transformed family law, failed to resolve the conflicts with religion in a very religious state, and opened a can of worms by arguing that gay-marriage is a right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. This judge reached far and this decision is far-reaching.

  22. It seems to me that “judicial activism” is more likely when the legislative branch fails. Anyone with half of brain and any imagination would see that gay marriage is an inevitability across the United States, especially given the rising tide of public opinion. Digging in one’s heels and refusing to initiate legislative debate has been remarkably foolish and has forced the kind of judicial imposition we saw yesterday. A wise legislator in Utah would have argued that, like it or not, gay marriage is coming, therefore how can we best shape the law to protect religious freedom?

    In the United Kingdom, for example, the gay marriage law has been an age in the making. The political parties declared their support in 2009/10, the government then initiated a period of consultation; the Bill passed in 2013 and will become law in 2014. This four-year process has secured robust religious freedom protections. For example:

    No religion can be compelled to marry same-sex couples; the Bill has amended the Equality Act to prevent discrimination claims being brought against religious organisations; and the Government, not any religion or religious minister, will be the defendant in any case brought by the European Court of Human Rights.

    Critics of gay marriage in the UK are not under any obligation to be happy about this Bill, and indeed will still find reasons to oppose it, which is their right, but they are being provided with a better law through this process than through abrupt decisions from the courts. In a way, yesterday’s decision in Utah, or at least the way it came about, is regrettable, but you leave the courts little choice.

    Now, I understand that the UK is not the US and certainly not Utah, but I think the basic point still stands: gay marriage was coming whether you wanted it or not, so why did you not get out ahead and ensure some kind of accommodation? Moral indignation may feel good, but it tends to hurt you in the end.

  23. A more succinct way of saying the same:

    Marriage conservatives need to embark on a journey of Realpolitik here: the argument against SSM is lost, so now is the time to enact legislation that attempts to properly safeguard religious freedom. A refusal to engage is to have this generational shift imposed upon them.

  24. I’m more concerned with how this came about rather than the fact that it came about at all. It’ll be interesting to see if gay couples will try to force association in this state, as well.

  25. meekmildmagnificent says:

    RJH: Apparently you did not read the opinion striking down the legislative attempt to define marriage and religious freedoms known as DOMA. I believe the Utah District Court judge misread the DOMA opinion; but the legislative approach has been largely co-opted by the courts.

  26. Antonio Parr says:


    As a fellow lawyer, I know what it is like to win and i know what it is like to lose a position that I am propounding. In my many years of practicing law, I don’t believe that I have ever attributed a losing moment to judicial activism. (Of course, I usually think that the judge who ruled against me was wrong, but that is an offshoot of the inevitable pride that plagues creation . . . )

    In the Utah case, the judge included dicta that would appear to suggest that he believes that his moral vision is superior to the moral vision of the majority of people in Utah, and that is the part of his decision that undoubtedly stings the most for the people of Utah who went to the polls to assert how they wished marriage to be defined in their State.

    Mercifully, there is an appellate process which will almost certainly make its way to Dianna Ross and the Supremes, and when that happens, the final word will be the law of the land, and the notion of one single judge trumping the will of millions will be diluted.

    Sadly, the Supreme Court increasingly resembles a political force rather than the impartial presence initially conceived by the Founding Fathers (just look at the vote count for the Bush/Gore election case!), and the losing side in the inevitable Supreme Court opinion on the Constitutionality of traditional State marriage laws will not be incorrect if they respond to their loss with a cry of “judicial activism”.


    You are probably correct about the need for the Church and its members to start focusing on religious freedom issues, which is what happened in Hawaii. There are two main areas of focus: One is for a religious body to have the right to define marriage as it sees fit, and to be protected from being forced to recognize/perform/celebrate marriages that run contrary to their particular theological vision. That is fairly safe in the short term (although one gets the sense that the most strident supporters of gay rights will not rest until it becomes illegal for any organization or person to say that homosexual acts and homosexual unions are in any way less than heterosexual acts and heterosexual unions.).

    The second is the right of sole proprietors and small businesses to refuse to cater to marriage ceremonies/receptions that offend their religious beliefs, i.e., individuals who bake wedding cakes, photographers, etc. While prohibitions on discrimination have their place when it comes to businesses with a strong enough economic engine (e.g., 15 employees is the threshold for most federal anti-discrimination laws) to be be a meaningful part of commerce, laws that force sole proprietors to act against their religious conscience seems to impose a cruel choice between integrity to one’s beliefs and poverty. I don’t see much protection on the horizon for these individuals.

  27. mmm,
    I am fully aware that there has been a legislative attempt to define marriage, but once the tide in favour of SSM began rising, opponents should have seen this coming and done something about it. In Britain, the Conservatives, against the party’s instincts, did this and have crafted a law which, if marriage conservatives are thinking straight, will be seen as far more preferable than if Labour had written it. I realise that idealists want to fight to the bitter end, but you get exactly that, a bitter end.

    My feeling is that the spectre of churches being forced to perform gay marriages is unfounded but I realise I am no prophet so won’t argue the point. As for business discrimination, the UK Supreme Court’s recent decision against a Christian couple who refused to allow a gay couple to stay in their their Bed and Breakfast suggests you may be right — there won’t be “much protection on the horizon for these individuals.” Of course, I believe that that is as it should be: same-sex (or mixed race, or unmarried) couples should not be subjected to discrimination when accessing services. In this case, there was a clash of rights. I believe the Supreme Court made the right decision.

  28. Antonio Parr says:

    Ronan: We will have to agree to disagree on that point. It is one thing to impose such restrictions on businesses with a meaningful infrastructer (e.g,, business that have “x” number of employees), it is another thing altogether to tell the Christian couple that they have to open their bed and breakfast to sexual activities that run contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs, or to tell a Christian photographer that they are required to cheerfully encourage a newly married same sex couple to kiss for the camera when they believe that such expressions violate God’s law. The government is in effect forcing these individuals to condone and facilitiate activities that, as a result of their religious beliefs, they don’t support, and is a dangerous attack upon the religious liberties of these individuals.

  29. Antonio Parr says:

    (Note: I am distinguishing between services provided by established businesses with employees and the services provided by sole proprietors. I can’t speak for the UK, but in the USA there is a recognition that sole proprietors and very small businesses are exempt from most employment laws, if only because the cost of defending against even one employment lawsuit is enough to send a sole proprietor/small business into financial ruin, independent of the merits of the lawsuit against him/her/it.) What are your thoughts on this?

    Ronan — what of the sole proprietor wedding photographer who is opposed to same sex marriage? Would you have them be required as a matter of law to not only take the photographs of a same sex marriage, but also to appear as if they are as cheerfully supportive of the same sex union as they are to traditional marriages? Would you require them to encourage the bride/bride or groom/groom to “kiss for the camera” if that is what they do for traditional marriages? Etc.

  30. Meekmild, I’m no lawyer and won’t attempt to dissect the ruling’s finer points, but I will say that tax exempt =/ free exercise of religion even were that status to be revoked (which strikes me as highly unlikely on its face anyway), and that the church does, in fact, get by in Europe these days, so I can’t take your alarmism too seriously with those arguments!

  31. I don’t know enough about the law regarding sole proprietors to say much, nor indeed can I really speak to any meaningful differences between the US and UK on this matter, so I will admit to whistling somewhat in the dark here.

    Nevertheless, *if* the law was to require sole proprietors to conform to the same law as established businesses on this matter, I would be fine with it. If the law has to decide between the offended religious beliefs of a person or the rights of a homosexual not to be refused services, then I hope it decides in favour of the latter. I agree that such a decision would impact the rights of some religious people, but (following the UK Supreme Court’s reasoning) the injustice and blatant bigotry that have been piled on homosexuals for generations means that their case has greater merit:

    “[W]e should not under-estimate the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world. It is no doubt for that reason that Strasbourg [ECHR] requires ‘very weighty reasons’ to justify discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. It is for that reason that we should be slow to accept that prohibiting hotel-keepers from discriminating against homosexuals is a disproportionate limitation on their right to manifest their religion.”

    There simply is not a concomitant degree of persecution levelled against anti-gay marriage Christians. Yes, it’s upsetting to have one’s religious beliefs deemed discriminatory, but this is not the equivalent of the kind of nastiness faced by homosexuals. I don’t know of many Christians hoteliers who have been driven to suicide over such discrimination, but we well know the history of gays in our society . . .

    Anyway, you are right to be worried. Rulings like this will effect marriage conservatives in difficult ways. I return to my original point, though: it would have been less jarring if marriage conservatives had engaged in Realpolitik. They still should. I am sure right now most are expending their energy bemoaning the ruling or deciding on how it should be overturned. We all know it won’t succeed in the long run, however, so what good does it do other than fuel a pointless righteous indignation?

  32. Casey,
    Regarding Europe, I know the Church is happy when its right to religious freedom is honoured by the courts even when the majority view is that it is a cult. Hooray for the judicial protection of minorities!

  33. meekmildmagnificent says:

    Casey: As the famous dictum goes, the right to tax is the right to control and banish. BTW if you think Christianity is doing just fine in the UK then I would not want to be your patient. Christianity in general is on life support and barely holding on — though I for one believe it is in a coma throughout northern Europe. The collapse of Christianity in Europe in general and the UK in particular is nothing if not alarming to people of faith.

    RJH: I don’t disagree with you that a legislative approach which carefully protects religious conscience would be far preferable to the kind of judicial fiat and arrogance that we see in the Utah judge’s opinion. However, I agree with Antonio that the right of religious conscience has already been eviscerated on this issue in liberal state rulings and has not fared well in the UK. There is a real coercion applied by the state here to force compliance with views that violate religious conscience and rights that the courts have become blind to recognizing. Anyone who thinks that the “choice” between violating one’s religious conscious and forfeiting a livelihood because the state mandates that one facilitates gay marriages or forfeits a business license is not a coercion is blind in my view. In any event, I am not disagreeing with you; just pointing out that the courts have arrogantly co-opted such solutions.

  34. RJH: I should add that I find your disregard for religious conscience in favor of forcing those who disagree to comply or lose their jobs to be appalling. Really, there is not another photographer who can take the pictures and that will lead to suicide? Give me a break.

  35. Everyone against gay marriage should simply take a deep breath and try and relax. The apocalypse will not come. It’s only a small percentage of the population that is gay anyway and I don’t think traditional marriage will suffer as a result of the ruling. About 50% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce and gay marriages will probably have the same divorce rate in a few years. So calm down church guy and go back to critically looking at your foundational doctrines because they are crumbling before your eyes.

  36. Antonio Parr says:


    There is great wisdom in limiting discrimination laws to business entities that have the infrastructure to defend against discrimination claims. One meritless lawsuit is the end of most sole proprietors.

  37. It is understandable that many conservative defenders of “the faith” are disappointed with this and other similar decisions, with many more coming down the pike soon. The desire to make “marriage” a union of one man and one woman has strong and traditional foundations. “What is this world coming to,” most think.

    Here is the problem. “Separation between Church and State.” Where marriage once was sanctioned, preformed and overseen only by the Church, now it is licensed by and often preformed by non-religious State entities or even private entities. And where so, those entities cannot treat differently one couple from another. So unless and not until the States give up licensing and performing marriages, turning the whole kit and caboodle over to others, can Churches become re-empowered but now only over their own congregations. Government gives special rights and privileges to married couples. So the next step is to stop that practice or make sure it is extended to all types of couples. Having the State give privileges to domestic partnerships which the state licenses is the first step forward. The agency, governmental, church, or private, that preforms the service can call domestic partnerships what ever they may.

    Many of us will not like taking these steps. But now we have given up the choice. I wonder how soon it will be before our polygamy advocates get involved in all of this. Merry Christmas, Utah Legislature. You surely will be having a very interesting and challenging New Year!

  38. James: Tell that to the people at Elane Photography who lost their business and their livelihood because they will not facilitate a gay marriage. There is real and palpable harm here. See Here: http://www.openmarket.org/2013/08/23/new-mexico-court-go-into-business-lose-your-first-amendment-rights/

  39. 1. I wouldn’t write off Christianity in Europe just yet. We’ll be fine. Or, if we’re not fine, it won’t have much to do with gay marriage.

    2. I am sorry to be so appalling, but am at least I’m honest enough to admit that rulings such as the UK Supreme Court’s *are* coercive. All rulings that go against my wishes are coercive. It’s just that in this case, I believe the rights of homosexuals to access services are greater than the rights of religious people to deny the same, because the actual social costs have been and are greater for homosexuals. That is just a fact.

    I don’t find any of this a matter for celebration, incidentally. It really is a difficult issue.

  40. AP,

    Then people of your view should expend their energy trying to further secure exemptions for such people in the US. The other fight is over.

  41. RJH: I understand your concern regarding social consequences for gays. I share the concern. But the new tolerance for gays has turned into the old intolerance and government coercion. See here: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/gay-persecution-of-christians-the-latest-evidence I for one find it really hard to believe that gays cannot find another place to obtain the same services and are simply trying to force their beliefs on others.

  42. Meekmild, you’re probably right about Christianity’s decline in Europe, and I am likewise troubled by it at some level. I still fail to see what that has to do with religious freedom there–though again, I claim no expertise, I suspect the secularization of Europe has more than tax policies at its core.

  43. When all you have is the oppressed Chrisitian photographer meme…you must know your argument is dead or dying. Was the white restuarant owner the rallying cry as Jim Crow crumbled?

  44. Chris: Like I said, liberal disregard for rights of religious conscious is appalling.

  45. “Discrimination” is the major principle here. Will the State be allowed to discriminate between heterosexual couples and same sex couples? If the State gives special rights and privileges to heterosexual couples, then the laws allowing it to do so are liable to get struck down.

    When we say we believe in the right to worship as we choose and that we allow all others to do the same, that must include all others. And worshiping includes not only the right to worship but also to not worship. I am very proud of the fact that the Brethren took the position they did against that Florida minister who proposed burning Korans. Ours was the only faith that appears to have done so. The Brethren characterized the act of burning the Koran as burning sacred scripture. We all need to be thankful that this stand was taken.

    Now let’s see what position the Brethren take on this law suit. Will they allow all others to practice as they choose regarding what is and what is not an appropriate union between couples? I would hope that they do!

  46. mmm,

    Look, I don’t know who you are or where you live, but as a member of a protected religious minority in the UK, I am so happy that the law can coerce people to serve me when they don’t want to. One silly little anecdote: in 1998 I tried to secure space on the campus of my UK university for a Mormon student meeting. The university chaplain refused as he thought Mormonism a cult, and besides, didn’t we have our own chapel? Thankfully, my appeal to the university authorities on the basis of religious freedom law was successful and ended up overriding the chaplain’s right to be an arse. Thank God for coercion. You see, I know what it’s like to be gay in Utah, without being gay or from Utah.

  47. “the church does, in fact, get by in Europe these days”

    This is an important point that I am sure will continue to be lost on many of the Mothership’s crew, preoccupied as they are with the daily grind in apparently the only jurisdiction in which such rulings have eternal implications.

  48. Blake, i do not disregard it. You have failed to show that those rights are being trampled. The examples you are giving do not convince anyone. They mostly make you look desperate. Carry on, popular sentiment and the law has turned against you. It sucks, so feel free to say whatever you want about me. I hope it makes you feel better.

  49. RJH: Come on, you are better than this kind of apples and oranges reasoning. What if the University had forced the chaplain to provides services at your meeting or lose his job rather than merely make a space for it somewhere? Who would be the arse then?

  50. mmm,

    RJH has a valid point, several valid points.

    When I was practicing law, I found a rather devoted group of clients among the LBGT community. There were a few LGBT attorneys whose perspective on things was a bit narrow minded and myopic. I helped them see the light. And yes, LGBT couples do separate and go their own ways, perhaps more than do straight couples who often have children to consider. From what I observed [a rather small sample to be sure] LBGT couples tend to have more than their share of co-habitation issues. Often one must assume or ascent to the domineering position while the other takes the subservient position. Doesn’t this sound familiar? All in all, this is much to do about next to nothing. So do not loose any sleep over it.

    In my opinion, Paul was gay. And in my opinion, many of the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ were gay, too. We humans just did not talk much about that topic back then. Many Roman soldiers were gay and in battle paired up with their loved one, watching one another’s backs. Then when Constantine “saw” his cross in the sky on the even of re-entering Rome to take it over, he was converting to the faith of his men to get out ahead of his gay troops whose ancestor legionnaires were forgiven for “not knowing that they” did.

    No one chooses to be same sex attracted. Read the opinion. Coming out into society is always difficult. Listen to your LGBT acquaintances. We have treated polygamists horribly in recent years. Will we be treating LGBTs similarly?

  51. “The collapse of Christianity in Europe in general and the UK in particular is nothing if not alarming to people of faith.”

    Christianity in Europe has long been the purview of a select group of denominations. To the extent that its decline is simply the collapse of ossified structures that for centuries have stifled religious freedom for religious minorities, then it is probably a cause for rejoicing, for Mormons anyway, who otherwise would not enjoy a seat at the table.

  52. Peter: You will have to let me know what you mean by “getting by” – is the church growing in the UK and Europe or is it dwindling in numbers and retention rates? Is the number of missions growing or contracting? I really hope it is doing well and growing and flourishing; but alas I think that by “getting along” you mean it just hasn’t been abolished yet.

  53. It has now been pointed out to me who mmm actually is; consequently, I shall expend no more energy worrying about his future in this Brave New Gay Friendly America. He’ll be fine.

    I’m going to change tack somewhat and make this prediction: most conservative Christian churches will be conducting gay marriages before they are ever coerced to do so. I’ll put £10 on that. Any takers?

  54. Ronan’s first comment is the best thing I have yet read on this subject.

  55. I’ve never understood blaming the failure of straight marriage and society on homosexuals. “An enemy within” and all that.

  56. Also, many of “our” political allies would celebrate if laws eliminated gay marriages AND Mormon temple sealings. Just saying.

  57. Antonio Parr says:


    If by ~other fight~ you mean the legalization of gay marriage, then you are likely correct.

    Another fight looms: the attack on religious liberty. Hopefully we can enlist your formidable talents in that cause when things become dire, as they most assuredly will.

  58. “…Another fight looms: the attack on religious liberty. Hopefully we can enlist your formidable talents in that cause when things become dire, as they most assuredly will.”

    Are we talking about real attacks, like Christians being imprisoned in China and Iran? Or are we talking about our sacred right to not take pictures as gay weddings?

    The distinction between human rights violations and American Mormon (and others) paranoia is useful. Unless we are not really worried about religious liberty and instead we are just having a huge tantrum for not getting our way. I know that pretending that the ACA mandate is like forced abortion in China is fun, but it is actually a sign of being self-absorbed and morally depraved.

    The same court handed down a free exercise ruling last week. Seems like maybe a time to celebration the expansion of liberty.

  59. It’s interesting to me how often we get indignant about a battle others are causing when, in reality, those “others” are merely responding to the constant barrage of haymakers we have been throwing at them.

    “We” have misunderstood homosexuality, badly, for a long time – and we have enacted laws that have caused real and deep pain based on those misconceptions. We have unleashed a barrage of blows to head and gut, including more than a few low blows, and now we blame those we have abused for fighting back – and, largely, in most cases of real people, for nothing more than the ability to live the way we live, seeking the same joy and happiness we seek.

    **No matter how we view sexual issues, homosexuals didn’t start this fight.** We did – and we did it first by tying their hands behind their backs and swinging away. Given that reality, I understand if SOME of them start punching back. Impressively, most don’t.

    Most homosexuals aren’t attacking heterosexuals in any way. Most of them are doing nothing more than trying to make sure the blows we have rained down on them all their lives stop. If news laws can be crafted that serve both groups, I will celebrate; if not, due largely to one side refusing to stop the historical attacks (verbal and legislative), I will support laws that stop the attacks and treat all as equal adults under the law.

  60. “You will have to let me know what you mean by ‘getting by’…alas I think that by “getting along” you mean it just hasn’t been abolished yet.”

    What do you mean “yet”? The trajectory in Europe is just the opposite–towards greater recognition of and freedom for religious minorities.

    “is the church growing in the UK and Europe or is it dwindling in numbers and retention rates? Is the number of missions growing or contracting?”

    I have no doubt that you know the answer, so I ask you–are the church’s fortunes in Europe tied to the growing prevalence of nontraditional families? If so, why isn’t the church throwing its institutional weight behind initiatives to plug the dike like it does in the US?

  61. Like I said earlier, those against same sex marriage should calm down as the sky is not falling. The law will never force a religion to allow same sex marriages within its sacred buildings because that will run head on into the excessive entanglement with religion language and would be shot down by the u.s. supreme court. So, don’t get yourselves all worked up. All this ruling does is say that homosexuals can get married (and divorced) like the rest of us. Big deal. It doesn’t say that meekmildmagnificent has to have homosexuals over for dinner any time soon … and serving homosexuals at restaurants and hotels as well as photography studios is not a bad thing. Last time I checked money is still valuable and forcing a photography studio to serve two lesbians at a commitment ceremony isn’t the worst thing in the world. Maybe, just maybe serving the couple shows how one loves the sinner and still abhors the sin? Or should be go back to jim crow because somebody gets the willies?

  62. Our Gentile of the Year, Judge Shelby, specifically addressed the religious freedom point in his opinion (page 49):

    If anything, the recognition of same-sex marriage expands religious freedom because some churches that have congregations in Utah desire to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies but are currently unable to do so… By recognizing the right to marry a partner of the same sex, the State allows these groups the freedom to practice their religious beliefs without mandating that other groups must adopt similar practices.

  63. “when things become dire, as they most assuredly will”

    Antonio, in order to understand what you are trying to imply here, I need to ask whether you believe that you are being persecuted if someone wishes you “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

  64. Dr_Doctorstein says:

    Can someone please help me understand the “religious liberty” objection? I understand the Church’s objection to gay marriage, but I just don’t see how baking a cake for a gay couple or photographing their wedding violates any LDS principle, since as far as I know there is no LDS principle that says “Thou shalt not do business with people who violate our doctrines.” (A good thing there isn’t!) Nor is it the case that providing a business service for an activity implies an endorsement of that activity. What makes baking a cake for a gay couple so different from selling doughnuts to divorcees? And another thing: the 12th Article of Faith says, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” If the law comes to require businesses to accommodate gay couples, then isn’t the LDS business owner bound to honor that law? Doesn’t this business owner “believe in” honoring that law? Far from being a violation of religious conscience, accommodating gay couples would seem to be an expression of religious conscience.

  65. Others are saying this better than I can, so I will leave the argument alone except to say that I think I WAS trying to articulate an argument in favour of religious freedom.

    Once the fight against SSM had been lost in the UK (in terms of public opinion, circa 2010/11), the Conservatives decided to support it while at the same time ensuring a robust “triple lock” to preserve religious freedom: 1) No religion can be compelled to marry same-sex couples; 2) the Bill has amended the Equality Act to prevent discrimination claims being brought against religious organisations; and 3) the Government, not any religion or religious minister, will be the defendant in any case brought by the European Court of Human Rights.

    The English law allows homosexuals to marry (homosexual rights win) and allows religions not to marry them (religious freedom win). I wouldn’t call them “formidable talents,” but the above succinctly summarises my (and my party’s) strategy for defending religious freedom in the UK. I heartily endorse it . . .but I’m afraid that my American conservative cousins will not go for it. Alas.

  66. I would say, to add to the comments above, that we need to put this into perspective. The religious freedom we are talking about is really not the same as the religious freedom people crave in some parts of the world.

    And will no-one take my wager?!

  67. And finally: I resent the implication that I don’t care about religious freedom. I benefit from religious freedom as a Mormon (a derided minority) in Britain more than most of you can appreciate. So, please, enough of that nonsense.

  68. Antonio Parr says:

    Ronan –

    My point was that, for some, part of religious freedom is the right of a sole proprietor to earn a living without being forced to literally celebrate something that they find sinful. In the case of the New Mexico photographer, she must choose between unemployment or feigned delight over gay marriage. Tough choice.

    As to resentment, there should be none. You are one of the truly great minds and souls of Mormonism. You have my unfeigned affection and admiration.

    As to homosexuals, the command is clear: love them as ourselves. That is easy. Some of the dearest people in my life are gay, and I could not imagine my life without them.

    As to marriage: heterosexuality is the breeding ground of humanity, and I believe that heterosexual marriages have rightfully held a unique role in society. No expression of homosexual sexuality will ever produce a child. Ever. In that sense, heterosexual marriages and homosexual unions/marriages are not “equal”.

    But, as is typically the case, Ronan is correct: the battle with respect to gay marriage is over. Time to ensure that churches and individual believers retain the right to live and believe as they chose, and the right to express those beliefs without compromise.

  69. doctordoctorstein2013 says:

    Mr. Parr, I have to say I don’t understand how someone’s photographing a wedding equates to “being forced to literally celebrate something that they find sinful.” If you’re doing it for money, you’re not “celebrating,” literally or otherwise.

  70. Antonio Parr says:

    Doctor –

    We obviously are not attending the same weddings. The photographers at all of the ones that I have attended all act as if there is nowhere else on earth that they would rather be than celebrating with the handsome groom and beautiful bride.

  71. Who wants an unhappy photographer taking pictures at their wedding? Seriously–it’s not as if you’ll have to make do with snapshots from your friends’ phones. Go ask someone who would be happy to be there.

    And calling a photographer a “place of public accommodation” is ludicrous. But there’s enough twisting of words into unrecognizable parodies of themselves in this entire field that this is a relatively minor transgression of the canons of sensible language.

  72. Antonio Parr says:

    Question – for those of you who are delighted with the recent developments with respect to the legalization of gay marriage:

    What do you do with the LDS teaching that sexual acts between people of the same gender are sinful?

    Do you see the celebration of same sex marriage as a show of support for the sexual expression that will accompany those unions?

    And should the LDS Church’s teaching with respect to pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, same gender sex, etc., be in any way binding upon Latter-Day Saints in deed or in word?

    These are not trolling questions, but issues that I ponder when discussing this topic.

  73. People who want to pooh-pooh the threats to religious freedom that redefining marriage might cause (note that I said “might”) seem always to throw out the “gay weddings in the temple” canard (or its relatives), as if all churches do is hold worship services in a vacuum. But churches engage in a whole range of services, and interact with the “world” in hundreds of ways, any one of which could be the place where their refusal to recognize gay “marriage” ends up limiting their freedom. Employment law is one area (although Amos v. Corp. of the Presiding Bishop provides cover for the time being). Church’s activities in social services have already run into this issue in other states–notably in the curtailment of adoption services rather than placing children with same-sex couples.

  74. Many people do their job every day, year in and year out without celebrating anything about it at all. Tons of us. Your sales pitch isn’t working because it’s just not always true that doing a job means loving it enthusiastically. But the bigger issue was already remarked upon upthread, that if all you’ve got is a photographer being censured over refusing to serve a lesbian couple, your point is weak.

    I went back and reread some of Ronan’s comments at SC Taysom’s suggestion, and truly, his thoughts are so sensible and reality based while remaining faithful to the gospel, it’s frustrating to see commenters ignoring them. The world (and especially your world) isn’t going to be ruined by this issue, but is would be wise to take a look at what could be done to prevent unforseen consequences. Which is the work of the legislature, when they have the statesmanship to do it. I can hardly wait until the day of reckoning in AZ.

    FWIW I would’ve voted for Judge Shelby if y’all had offered voting, you activists.

  75. Antonio Parr says:

    Your use of “sales pitch” is pejorative and unnecessary.

    The woman lost her livelihood because of her religious beliefs. That should be a cause of concern for any believer.

  76. Antonio, to answer your questions:
    i. I am not delighted, so much as satisfied. If I had someone close to me who was impacted, I might be delighted for their sake.

    1. “What do you do with the LDS teaching that sexual acts between people of the same gender are sinful?” I follow it explicitly in my own behavior, and try not to judge others. It’s fairly easy because sexual behavior is generally all private.

    2. “Do you see the celebration of same sex marriage as a show of support for the sexual expression that will accompany those unions?” Not necessarily. When I have celebrated the weddings of same sex couples, I consider it a show of support for them as individuals. Regarding their sexuality, I try to give them all due privacy and not butt into that. (see 1 above)

    3. “And should the LDS Church’s teaching with respect to pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, same gender sex, etc., be in any way binding upon Latter-Day Saints in deed or in word?” I thought it already was binding upon each individual regarding their own behavior. I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but if your’e trying to say that we have a church-given responsibility to crusade against other’s sins, I can plainly say that I firmly disagree.

    And now I must get back to elfing and airport-chauffeuring and leave you legal aces to hash through these problems.

  77. Antonio Parr says:

    Good luck to a fellow elf and chauffeur. Merry Christmas.

  78. Antonio,

    Our Article of Faith says that we claim the privilege to live our religion and allow others to do the same – that, in fact, we claim that others have the privilege of doing so as a direct result of God-given agency, since that is the underlying reason for our insistence on it ourselves. That was our central argument over a century ago when we fought so hard against the anti-polygamy laws of the time. Others said we couldn’t do what they saw as sexually abominable; we said we had that right. Mormons of the late 1800’s were the homosexuals of last week – only we lost the fight they are winning.

    Prior to this decision, Mormons (and others) had the privilege of worshiping according to the dictates of our own consciences in Utah; other religious people, congregations and denominations did not.

    I believe it is impossible to make a coherent argument against either of the statements above.

    Thus, my answer to your questions is that I believe more people now have the privilege of worshiping according to the dictates of their consciences. Until there is a law that proposes infringement on my own rights with regard to whom I can marry, I refuse to get apoplectic about others being made equal to me under the law.

  79. Antonio Parr says:

    Ray –

    How do you propose to protect the right of the New Mexico photographer to worship God according to the dictates of her conscience? Does her unemployment make you apoplectic?

  80. Antonio Parr says:

    And what if our 80,000+ missionaries who, through gentle persuasion, seek to have people embrace a certain lifestyle? A waste of time? A lack of respect for others’ beliefs?

    It is no sin to express opinions about the role that marriage should play in society.

  81. 1) They are different issues. I want people (including legislators) to deal with them separately.

    2) You’ve read my comments for years. I served a mission, have a son who served a mission, and have a daughter serving now. You should know the answer to those questions when asked of me. If you don’t see the difference between those questions and marriage rights relative to the Article of Faith I mentioned, there is no point in continuing – since that means our fundamental paradigms simply are radically different.

  82. Antonio, totally serious/curious question: what do wedding photographers do if they are asked to photograph a wedding they disagree with for other reasons (couple was living together prior to marriage, second marriage, bride is visibly pregnant, or whatever it might be)? I imagine it happens? If not why not?

    What about an LDS wedding photographer working a wedding where alcohol is served and used for the toast. Is taking a bunch of photos very much glamorizing and celebrating the champagne (close-ups of the custom engraved champagne flutes, telling the couple to “take another sip for the camera!”) is that going to be some kind of major tragedy of conscience for an LDS person?

    There was a wedding in my family that few to none of us approved of, but you know what most of us attended and did our best to celebrate. The thinking was you can’t control someone else’s decisions that’s what the person had decided to do (leave their spouse of decades and marry someone else), and at that point our only option was to be a jerk or to make the best of it as much as we could going forward. It’s not exactly the same, because we were invested in a relationship with that person, whereas a wedding photographer isn’t previously invested in a random customer.

    I’m just trying to think through the emotions of that photographer and while that’s hard, I don’t think it’s a straightforward case of impossible to reconcile.

  83. Antonio Parr says:

    Cynthia: The answer may be that the wedding photographer only photographs weddings that she feels really, really good about from a religious/moral point of view. Or it could be that she is like most of us and is inconsistent in her approach to moral/spiritual issues. Either way, she should be able to decline to photograph a wedding ceremony that she believes to be displeasing to God, whether it is because of alcohol being served or because the couple lived together before marriage or because the couple is of the same gender.

    I would likely form a different conclusion if the photographer was a part of the ABC photo corporation, with 20 employees, etc.

  84. Photography, including wedding photography, has a large expressive element. It is not the same as serving someone a meal or letting them stay in a hotel room.

    If you are a professional writer, should you be forced to accept a customer who wants you hire you to write an op-ed favoring gay marriage?

    I find it very ironic that now, when for the first time in our history a gay couple will have no trouble finding a photographer for their gay wedding, we suddenly find it necessary to force the rare unwilling photographer to participate against her objections.

  85. Antonio Parr says:

    These issues are so controversial and people have such strongly held convictions and feelings about them that it is almost impossible to address them by way of the internet. I don’t have much, if anything, to add on the topic. Certainly, I encourage us all to embrace our gay brothers and sisters with love unfeigned; to spend time with them, laugh with them, learn from them. Love our neighbor as ourselves.

    This does not mean to me that society’s historical promotion of the traditional institution of marriage has been a bigoted mess. We all, every one of us, are a byproduct of a sexual union between a man and a woman, and the potentiality that men and women bring to a committed relationship is unique. The survival of humanity is dependent upon men and women procreating, and same sex unions cannot offer this same potential or promise. Add a touch of concern about groups like the LDS Church or Catholic Charities being forced to disregard a preference for newborns to be adopted into homes with a father and a mother, and the LDS teachings of the importance of having both a father and mother in the lives of children, then I watch with no small sorrow the withdrawal of special recognition given by society to the unique role that male/female marriage unions bring to society. Add further things like the developing transgender protection laws that allow people to use whatever rest rooms or locker rooms they “self-identify” with — even if that self-identification is inconsistent with their genitalia and even if that self-identification is momentary and/or not necessarily authentic — thus resulting in, as was the case recently in Washington, of young girls going into the girl’s locker room only to find a naked man walking around (who was there because he claimed to self-identify as a woman) — and I find myself wondering and worrying about the moral climate that we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.

    I know that I am in the decided minority when it comes to these positions on BCC, and I know that disagreeing on BCC with the majority point of view opens the minority to a sometimes less-than-friendly reception. However, I write from time to time because (a) there are often engaging posts on BCC; and (b) I have the hope that a respectfully communicated point of view — even one that differs from your own — might be worthy of consideration.

    Best wishes to all for joy in your journey.

  86. This endless wedding photographer thing resonates for me, but also seems like a misplaced conflation of two issues. It’s one thing to say that law should not require or compel a private individual or entity to support something they oppose on religious grounds. It’s another to say that a state politically dominated by religious conservatives should be able to outlaw gay marriage. If the former is important then we should advocate for that. If gay marriage is not in the interest of society, then we should oppose it based on gay marriage itself. It’s mixed up to ban gay marriage because we don’t think the photographer should fear losing her employment if her religious views lead her to oppose someone’s marriage.

  87. Good point, AaronM. They’re not the same issue and one doesn’t have to determine the other. That was a great point RJH brought up earlier about how marriage is being legalized in the UK but with very strong and active religious protections.

  88. I would just like to point out something (which should be common knowledge by now, but seems to continually be forgotten): The photographer in the New Mexico case was:

    1. Not being asked to photograph a wedding, but rather, a “commitment ceremony,” because,
    2. Marriage between same-sex couples was not at that time legal in New Mexico (it just became so this past week, I believe, and has yet to be implemented), and,
    3. She was not accused of discrimination because of the nature of the event she refused to photograph, but because services which she advertises to the general public were *refused* to a member of that general public on the basis of the sexual orientation of the person requesting to contract those services.
    4. New Mexico *does* and *did* at that time have a non-discrimination statute protecting people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations (such as business services advertised to the general public) on the basis of sexual orientation. Which means that a gay person can no more refuse services to a heterosexual on the basis of the heterosexual’s sexual orientation than a heterosexual person can refuse services to a gay person on the basis of the gay person’s sexual orientation.

    I am a musician. I play for weddings all the time. I don’t always like the weddings I play for. I don’t always like the people getting married. I don’t always like the churches in which I am asked to play (some of them would gladly spit on me if they knew I was gay). I don’t have to be cheery or throw rice at the bride, or toast the happy couple. All I have to do is show up on time with the necessary equipment, play my cello well, collect my check and leave. Same is true for the photographer. I see wedding photographers all the time. They aren’t dancing and partying. They are behaving like professionals — serious, moving about to capture the important shots, interacting with the wedding party and guests in a manner which would befit any contractor — professional, polite, but not cheering and waving pom-poms. There is nothing in the job description of a wedding photographer which says they must “endorse” the couple being married, or “put on a show of delight” for them. I’ve never seen that happen, even at the cheeriest of weddings. So I call baloney on that one.

    As for churches being “forced” to marry gay people or lose their tax exempt status, or lose their ability to solemnize other civil marriages for the state: Please name me one single church in this country which has *ever* lost its tax-exempt status or its ability to solemnize civil marriages because it refused to marry an interracial couple. Before you waste too much time on google, I’ll save you the trouble. It hasn’t happened. Churches can and *do* refuse both to solemnize civil marriages for interracial couples and to provide religious blessings of marriage for civil couples, with impunity. No church can be forced by the government to even allow a person it doesn’t want to attend Sunday services, let alone to grant a sacrament, ordinance or blessing to any individual or couple it does not deem worth to receive that sacrament, ordinance or blessing.

    Please name me a single instance where a Roman Catholic church has been forced to marry a previously divorced couple, or a non-Catholic couple. Please name for me one instance where a Roman Catholic church has been forced to ordain or employ a woman priest. Please name for me one instance where the LDS church was forced to seal a black couple in the temple or to marry an interracial couple either in the temple or in a chapel (before it decided to do so on its own, which is, of course, *not* being forced).

    Do you honestly believe that the puny protections in place in less than half of the 50 states (with *no* antidiscrimination protections in place at the federal level *at all* at this point) would somehow result in a church being compelled to do something for a gay couple which it has *never* been compelled to do for a heterosexual couple, even when it was discriminating on the basis of the *race* or *interaccial* status of the couple? Antidiscrimination protections based on race are far more robust and have been around for decades longer than the minimal handful of state-level protections which exist for sexual orientation, and yet no church is ever forced to marry a couple it disapproves of based upon their race. White churches can and still do refuse to marry black couples. Some conservative southern and midwestern churches can and still do refuse to marry interracial couples. And yet you see us gays as so incredibly powerful that, with the force of our minds, we will compel churches to marry us and temples to offer us sealings?

    I don’t think anyone could really be gullible enough to believe that.

  89. RJH & Babaroni,
    There ARE pressures on British churches mounting.

  90. Old Man, so someone filed a lawsuit. It happens all the time about every imaginable issue. When a law is passed validating the lawsuit, then we can talk.

  91. Old Man, I’m not talking about the UK. British law is significantly different from USA law with regards to matters such as separation of church and state (remember, they *have* a “State Church,” which, while not by any means as oppressive or invasive as it was a few hundred years ago, still creates quite a blurred boundary — the Queen is also the Defender of the Faith, for instance).

    Just because special measures might be necessary in UK to prevent encroachment upon the rights of churches, or someone might file a lawsuit, or what have you, says absolutely *nothing* about the protections afforded to churches here in the USA by our Establishment and Free Exercise clauses in the 1st Amendment.

  92. It seems to me the problem for the Church arises shortly when the obedient gay member who has remained single and celibate, and holds a temple recommend, chooses now to marry. In the temple it defines chastity as only having sexual relations with someone to whom you are legally and lawfully married. They are now legally and lawfully married.
    It would be a brave Bishop who would try to take away their recommends.
    What happens when they want to be sealed. What are they doing that prevents them from being approved?

  93. Geoff, I agree that is the central issue – but it’s one that needs to be handled as an internal issue. It’s not right to rely on the state to resolve an internal church issue.

  94. Geoff alcohol is legal yet a practicing alcoholic is not given full fellowship in the church same with a practicing homosexual they are not given full fellowship in the church even though gay marriage might be legal

  95. StanleyDavis says:

    What I’m curious about is how the conversation has shifted from what the real issue is. Equal protection under the 14th Amendment is really a red herring. The core issue is the historical definition of marriage. It is not whether civil rights and protections should be based on sexual orientation.

    I have a hunch that if all civil rights, protections, benefits, etc. were extended to same sex civil unions, but not called marriage, it would not be enough for many. Many, many people want the same status accorded to their gay relationship that has been accorded to historical marriages, and are willing to change the definition of marriage to do so. Indeed, the court did not extend the coverage of the 14th amendment; it redefined the concept of marriage to fit a new political correctness. By such legal arguments, any consenting adults wishing to form such relationships in any form should be allowed, thereby diluting the definition of marriage into meaninglessness. By using judicial fiat to force societal acceptance, marriage equality has not been accomplished by elevating gay and lesbian unions to the status accorded historical marriage; rather equality has been accomplished by obliterating the traditional meaning of marriage to the point that it fits a much more common denominator.

    At this point, we should simply remove marriage from the public sphere of policy and make it a solely religious ordinance.

  96. Stanley, don’t judge too harshly the ingratitude of us gays unreceptive to your marriage-lite offer, In the immortal words of that uncommon prostitute who too declined the very generous offer extended to her by her would-be savior:

    I would pretend I was a princess… trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me. But never in all the time… that I had this dream did the knight say to me, “Come on, baby, I’ll put you up in a great condo.”

  97. Antonio Parr says:


    re: “Marriage lite”: With genuine respect, homosexual marriages are, in a sense, “marriage lite”, because of the inability of homosexuals to procreate. Heterosexual marriage has received, and, in my opinion, deserves, special recognition/protection because it is the sexual union of heterosexuals that is the breeding ground of humanity. Society rightfully encourages men and women to marry in order to promote procreation and to promote a stable environment in which children can be reared.

    This does not mean that homosexuals love each other any less than heterosexuals love each other, or are any less committed to giving the balance of their lives to their partner. But it does mean that homosexual unions will never result in procreation, and, as such, there is a qualitative difference between a heterosexual and homosexual marriage.

    (Notwithstanding my deeply held beliefs regarding the definition of marriage and the ideal of children being raised by both a mother and a father, I recognize that homosexuals have suffered some deep wounds in our culture, and my great hope is that your life will be one in which you are treated with kindness and dignity and genuine friendship.)

  98. A heterosexual couple living together has more creative capacity than any “married” homosexual couple ever will. That heterosexual couple can have children without complex social or medical interventions, marry in the temple, and gain exaltation. A good heterosexual marriage/family is a blessing to the participants, provides the best environment for children, assists the entire community on the short-term, long-term and throughout eternity.

    I am well aware that homosexual attraction is not a choice. I have witnessed that in the lives of my friends and students, and they are people of integrity. Some think that Gays/Lesbians marriage will help the situations of LGBT people. But I have seen no real evidence that marriage “equity” will end or moderate the very high rates of suicide, substance abuse, physical abuse, HIV/AIDS and mental health issues within the LGBT community. Marriage is not the medicine for their situation. Repentance, moral living and hope in Christ are the answers.

    We are on the wrong path if our goal is to demonstrate love for every person. We have now created a new social institution which solidifies behaviors and attitudes which lead people (especially young children) away from Christ and away from exaltation. We have now created an institution which essentially “damns” the participants, both in this life and the life to come. There is nothing to cheer about in the events of the last few days.

  99. All sterile heterosexual couples take note: Apparently, you have marriage lite. Sorry, but them’s the facts.

    Legally, if an argument isn’t applied evenly to every situation it describes, it’s not a valid argument. Gay couples can’t adopt because children deserve a mom and a dad? Prove commitment to that standard by removing children from single parents. Gays can’t marry because they can’t procreate? Prove commitment to that standard by not allowing sterile heterosexual couples to marry – or couples where one spouse has had a catastrophic injury. Gays can’t marry because your religion forbids it and religious freedom is sacred? Prove commitment to that standard by allowing religions that do not forbid it to perform them.

    Old Man, your argument is a theological one. You are saying we should create laws based on our theology. Serious question:

    If the people in a state in the Deep South voted to outlaw Mormon temple sealings, because they defined the LDS Church as “an institution which essentially damns the participants, both in this life and the life to come” and they see any marriages the LDS Church performs as abominable, would you support that vote and the subsequent legislation – or would you fight it as an imposition of their theology onto your civil rights?

  100. Old Man, I haven’t read all the comments but rather jumped to the bottom and read yours. It was a breath of fresh air. All of the celebration over this decision, especially what I’ve seen from members, has left my heart aching. Where is the faith in the prophets? Where is the testimony? And even in society at large, I feel sorrow that even our judges seem incapable of holding true to the prized secular virtue of reason when that is their appointment, rather in favor of justifying and bowing to the emotional whims of popular culture.

    I see now that the moral decline of society that will culminate in the destruction of the world will not come through anarchy, sorrow, and force of evil as I once supposed, but willful rejection of principles of righteousness by the population at large that will be met with the roaring of cheers, applause, and celebration over supposed advancements and moral victories of man. That breaks my heart.

  101. If this breaks your heart, you are morally depraved and you should spend more time with dying childen and the homeless… or read about the victims of genocide or drone strikes.

  102. I am morally depraved for believing the prophets?

    All the things you listed are also constantly on my mind, and I’m not sure why you seem to assume I don’t spend time considering these important topics as well. Even so, one travesty does not make another less of one. And I see the unwitting misunderstanding of evil, and calling it good, with the rejection of the prophets that will lead to the destruction of the world, to be a travesty. I believe if you knew me, you would not be so callous in your reaction.

  103. If you think those things are even close to as serious or heartbreaking a problem as gay marriage, then no, I don’t believe those things are constantly on your mind or the subject of your serious consideration.

  104. You are depraved for ranking this as a moral travesty in light of real moral horror. No, I dont know you. Let us keep it that way.

  105. Antonio Parr says:

    Ray –

    FYI – babies are made when Mommies and Daddies have sex together. Since this is one of the consequences of sexual activity between heterosexual couples, society has given unique recognition to committed relationships between men and women.

    The recognition of the value that these relationships bring to society and the concomitant desire to give special protections/societal incentives to heterosexual unions has a rational basis, and is not a sign of hatred and/or abject bigotry.

  106. If your not even so much as willing to get to know me, how can I take you seriously? Do you make it a habit of making personal attacks based on little data, and then refusing to get to know the person you attack? Regardless of your view, this kind of behavior will never lead to progression, understanding, or love. But feel free to assume whatever you want about me if it makes you feel better, it doesn’t make it true.

  107. SteveF, Merry Christmas! I apologize for making the thread about you.

  108. Antonio,

    What I said is that if someone attaches special privilege to childbearing, and if someone says only those unions that have the possibility of resulting in the birth of children ought to be worthy of being termed legitimate marriage, that person has to exclude someone who is sterile from the right/privilege of getting married. Unless someone is willing to be consistent and apply an argument fully to everyone described by that argument, that person really doesn’t believe the argument – and, in our system, laws can’t be written to exclude some people who fit a description while including others who also fit that same description.

    If a law is justified by an argument, that argument has to be applied to all whom it fits.

    Also, again, serious question:

    Can anyone who opposes gay marriage on religious grounds support the scenario I described in my last comment?

  109. Ray, could you clarify what your asking? I have a minute now, and I wouldn’t mind taking a stab at it.

  110. Thanks Chris, Merry Christmas to you too!

  111. Steve, I’m saying that I can’t accept as the legal justification for a law any argument that depends on my theology when it conflicts with others’ theologies. I can believe what I believe, but, in a religiously plural society, when a belief moves into the arena of law, there has to be more than something that primarily is a theological reason. If I am willing to legislate based on my theological beliefs, I have to be willing to allow others the same privilege, let them legislate how or what they may.

    Also, this ruling is at the state level. With that in mind, I asked the following question, with a few parenthetical additions:

    “If the people in a state in the Deep South (perhaps driven by the Southern Baptist Convention, for the sake of specificity) voted to outlaw Mormon temple sealings, because they defined the LDS Church as “an institution which essentially damns the participants, both in this life and the life to come” and they see any marriages the LDS Church performs as abominable (which many do), would you support that vote and the subsequent (state-level) legislation – or would you fight it as an imposition of their theology onto your civil rights?”

  112. Interesting perspective. At the fundamental level, law is based on an agreed upon system of morality. And since we are a country that believes in freedom of religion, I feel like a person’s religion or theology is an acceptable, and even to be highly regarded place from which individuals may draw conclusions about societal morality. At best, if we believe in God, we can say that people are drawing from a source that potentially accords with objective morality, or at worst, are drawing from a system of morality that is just as arbitrary as any other source given that objective morality is not demonstrable through the reasoning of man alone. So I definitely feel religion/theology is an acceptable source to draw from in cast a vote(s) to decide on the collectively accepted morality in a given society, and I allow others the same privilege as you say.

    In the specific scenario you outline, I feel this is quite different from the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage in several ways. The first difference, just as a quick aside, is that I feel in this country we privilege religious freedom, and therefore may give exceptions to religious belief that may not be given to belief that is not religiously-based. So right away I would say trying to ban religious ceremony that does not infringe on others’ rights would be a violation of the accepted principle of freedom of religion.

    However, comparing these two scenarios, I actually don’t think religious belief merits any additional exceptions over beliefs surrounding homosexual relations. Although I find homosexual sex to be immoral, the act and relationship in my mind does not infringe on others’ rights to me, so I am for the decriminalization of homosexual sex/relationships. As far as I am aware, if this decriminalization is not already encoded in law in every state, it is enforced in this way.

    So the biggest difference, and why your comparison fails for me, is because you’re talking about the gov’t criminalizing one thing, and the gov’t actively recognizing and giving benefits to another. A more apt comparison in my mind (although still not a great one) would be asking Deep South voters to have the gov’t add to the current law and actively endorse LDS sealings specifically by giving them additional benefits (above and beyond just being recognized as one way to perform a civil marriage), despite that Deep South voters find this ceremony morally objectionable (in this hypothetical scenario).

    But the comparison is still lacking because you’re trying to compare who is performing a marriage on the one hand with who is receiving the marriage and benefits in the other. So I guess this is where I’m struggling to see where you’re really coming from in making this comparison.

  113. Ray stated above… “Old Man, your argument is a theological one. You are saying we should create laws based on our theology…”

    What I am saying that we press for laws that create the world we wish to live in. Laws based on our best thinking and morality. I do not pretend to exorcise religion from my thinking and morality. I don’t think any covenant-keeping Latter-day Saint can do so. Temple covenants to “consecrate” all efforts to “establish Zion” make it difficult for endowed Latter-day Saints to do so. We may differ in opinion, but not in the ultimate goal.

    But with SSM, we have CREATED an institution of “marriage” that is inherently different from traditional marriage, all in an effort to make everything “equal.” But should equality be an absolute? If so, what new combinations are waiting in the wings? I’ll leave further discussion of what sort of legal precedent this is to legal minds.

    We can call SSM marriage “equal” to traditional marriage, worthy of all the protections and benefits society has offered to those in traditional marriage, but where is the discussion and information that leads one to that conclusion? OVER TIME society has concluded that traditional marriage benefits society in a variety of ways, and so these protections have been implemented OVER CENTURIES. SSM’s MAY benefit society, but other than making GLBT’s feel better in the moment, what else is there?

    Regarding your Deep South hypothetical: Quite simply, such a law would violate the First Amendment if it sought to end the religious practice of LDS temple sealings. And if it sought to differentiate between man-woman marriages of one faith over another, we are probably talking a violation of the Establishment clause.

    Ray, now let me offer you a hypothetical: It appears to me, after reading Judge Shelby’s decision, that SSM marriage is being attached to civil rights decisions. You even think so… So If ALL businesses are forced to not discriminate against SSM, then should ALL business owners be forced to cater to SSM’s? Should the Lion House, owned by the LDS Church, be forced to have SSM weddings side-by-side with traditional temple wedding receptions?
    Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are on the line. Which side are you on?

  114. I find it morally schizophrenic to believe in a principle of morality applies that universally–that something like homosexuality has negative (mortal and/or eternal) consequences to individuals–and yet to publicly endorse that very behavior. I don’t understand how this can be done while remaining true to oneself, and I don’t understand how an individual who believes this–who actively participates in promoting that which they know will damage others–can feel that they will be justified before God? We are to be a light to the world, not bask in it while hiding it from others in order to be politically correct, and most definitely not to actually endorse, promote, and lift up that which is directly contrary to the light. No, I don’t think society can expect that people’s individual morals should somehow be tucked away or disregarded when fulfilling the duty of citizenship of adding one’s voice and opinion when deciding upon the collective morality that society will abide by. By expecting this, we would be asking individuals to betray their true conscience, and to me this is not a viable foundation for society. Rather I want all voices heard, and all true beliefs professed, and with various forms of understanding will necessarily come opposing beliefs from time to time, and this is okay. In this way we at least start with a foundation of integrity and full disclosure, and then we vote.

    On a separate note, even aside from this view that personal theology is a valid, rational, and important source for individuals to draw from when seeking to form a collectively accepted morality… even if I put my own theology away, from a secular perspective I still feel that in the case of same-sex marriage the most rational legislation would be not to legalize/create specific government recognized same-sex marriage treated exactly the same as traditional marriage, but rather to institute civil unions that provide many of the legal benefits of sharing assets, etc. (and wouldn’t necessarily be solely limited to romantic partnerships, or even 2 individuals) yet could be legislated separately from standard marriage between one man and one woman. In this way known qualitative or biological differences (or even differences that are most plausible given current knowledge) can be taken into account and legislated for, and economic incentives can be properly aligned with known benefits/value to society. And note that this would not preclude same-sex couples from considering themselves married, or performing any type of private marriage ceremony.

    I do not find it to be very rational that two people who love each other, and make a lifelong commitment to one another are then for some reason entitled to have their relationship officially recognized by the government and given monetary benefits as some sort of celebration/recognition. How is this a civil right? If this is what gov’t recognition of marriage was about, my opinion would be that gov’t should get out of the marriage business altogether, cut out the current monetary benefits, and civil unions should be the only option available to everyone. But I don’t believe this is what gov’t marriage is actually about.

  115. *I find it morally schizophrenic to believe in a principle of morality that applies…

  116. Thanks for the further clarification, Steve and OM. Obviously, we disagree about this. \

    Merry Christmas.

  117. Merry Christmas to you too, Ray! I’d love hearing more about your thoughts anytime. I feel like the more open dialogue kept in the right spirit, the better. And I feel you do a pretty good job at that. All the best!

  118. The social importance of marriage arises from the fact that, when a heterosexual couple has sex, the result is often a child. And if you care about any of the problems in the world, you care about the environment in which that child is raised. There is tremendous social importance to encouraging parents to form a life-long family relationships that almost always result from heterosexual sexual relationships.

    This is not true for homosexual relationships. I think the problem with gay marriage is it refocuses marriage on “not kids” (rhetorically, it has to).

    You can say homosexual “marriages” are the same as their heterosexual counterparts but, in a more accurate way, not really. You’re not going to see McDonald’s playplaces opening up in the Castro district anytime soon.

  119. David Elliott says:

    Laura, the following link to a research brief from UCLA might interest you:

    Click to access LGBT-Parenting.pdf

  120. And Laura, 1100 Fillmore Street is only 10 blocks from Castro and Oat. Recall when Proposition 8 was litigated, the opponents failed to show how LGBT marriages threatened straight marriages or caused any harm whatsoever to the children that are adopted. The focus on marriage is commitment. And often that commitment shifts to caring for children, whether adopted or otherwise created.

  121. Dale, again, while proving harm would definitely resolve what should be done here, it is not the real issue. Rather the question is whether same-sex unions offer benefits to children, to couples, and to society at large on par with and the same way heterosexual unions do. See my response to you here . Otherwise, why should the government be obligated to give the exact same economic/monetary incentives to same-sex unions if they are not providing the very same value to society as heterosexual unions? Or, for example, if reasonable doubt exists that same-sex parents taken in whole may not offer all the advantages of both a mother and father in raising children (and there is plenty of reasonable doubt to go around given basic evolutionary theory and the substantial amount (both in size and quality) of research on mothers/fathers/and heterosexual marriage), why should adoption agencies be legally required to give them equal preference?

  122. David Elliott says:

    SteveF, please google “effectiveness of same-sex parents” and get back to us.

  123. Antonio Parr says:


    Studies regarding the impact of same sex parenting upon the sexual orientation of children raised in a same sex family are highly politicized, and results appear to track the biases of the researchers conducting the study. That being said, some studies suggest that children raised in a same sex household are less likely to self-identify as “heterosexual” than children raised in a heterosexual household, especially in the case of girls being raised by lesbian partners. See http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/new-study-on-homosexual-parents-tops-all-previous-research .

    This does not mean that children in same-sex households aren’t raised to be kind and wise and honest and hardworking and contributers to society. There are heterosexual heroes and gay heroes when it comes to parenting. There are also heterosexual schmucks and gay schmucks when it comes to parenting. That being said, if the natural orientation of newborns is overwhelmingly heterosexual, it is perplexing that society would decline to adopt a public policy that gives at least some weighted preference to heterosexuality as a qualifying factor when it comes to placing newborn bapies with the long waiting list of stable, qualified couples wishing to adopt. For example, if Couple “A” — Bill and Sue — are on a waiting list with the ABC Adoption Council and Couple “B” — Tim and Tom — are also on that same waiting list, and both have been married for the same period of time, both are in the same socio-economic class, both come from comparably strong family backgrounds, it is hard to argue against a newborn girl being placed for adoption being given to Bill and Sue, since (a) the little girl would have the benefit of a mother (which she is likely herself to someday be) and (b) she can observe the dynamics of a heterosexual union/household, which, again, she is statistically likely to someday have. Similarly, if there is a newborn boy up for adoption, it is hard to argue against that newbord boy being placed with Bill and Sue, since (a) the little boy would have the benefit of a mother (who is a women, i.e., the kind of partner that the boy is likely to someday have) and (b) he can observe the dynamics of a heterosexual union/household, which, statistically, is most likely to be the kind of household that he will someday have.

    The answer might be different if Bill and Sue where not financially or emotionally stable and Tim and Tom were. However, if all things are otherwise equal, it seems axiomatic that the best interests of the child would be to place him/her with a stable mother and father, rather than with two stable fathers or two stable mothers.

    (I know that there are children in foster care and other difficult circumstances who are not being adopted by heterosexual couples, and who undoubtedly would benefit tremendously from being embraced and raised in love by a same sex couple who has the interest and means to adopt these children and provide them with a stable environment. It is hard to argue against such adoptions, and I have no interest in doing so. However, to completely throw out the door the positive impact that a heterosexual parent can have on an adopted heterosexual baby seems to elevate political correctness over the best interests of the child, which seems to be a harsh dynamic from the child’s point of view.)

  124. Dismissing studies as highly politicized and then linking to a study by the Family Research Council…you have go to be kidding me. Time to just skip Antonio’s comments.

  125. Problem is, Chris, that after your comments aimed at SteveF the other day, anyone who doesn’t see things exactly the way you do is simply skipping yours.

  126. Antonio Parr says:

    Chris: I recognized that the FRC council study was politicized, which is why I provided the caveat before providing the link to the study. (FYI – the fact that something is politicized doesn’t make it worthless, and this study, like studies that reach different conclusions, are worthy of consideration.)

    As to simply skipping my comments, you are free to do so, although the hypothetical that I provided seems to be worthy of discussion. What do you think of the newborn girl or boy being placed for adoption, where the 2 candidate couples are equal in every respect except that one couple is heterosexual and the other homosexual? Would you see any advantage of any kind to a child being raised by opposite sex heterosexual parents?

  127. Mark B., I am just honored that somebody as righteous as you would take the time to dismiss me. Really, I am touched. Oh…and I stand by everything I said.

  128. Steve Evans says:

    Chris, take a break.


    The Management.

  129. Antonio Parr:

    With genuine respect, homosexual marriages are, in a sense, “marriage lite”, because of the inability of homosexuals to procreate.

    Durnit! I wish someone had told me this before I procreated two kids! I guess they must be figments of my imagination, but, if so, they are the noisiest, messiest imaginary figments I’ve ever seen… Expensive, too.

  130. Antonio Parr says:

    A poorly constructed sentence on my part, to be sure. What I meant, of course, is that sexual intimacy between members of the same sex will never result in procreation, whereas sexual intimacy between members of the opposite sex frequently results in procreation.

    Best wishes to you and your children.

  131. Antonio Parr says:

    P.S. Although not asked by Management to “take a break” on this topic, I will. I know that the majority of BCC’ers are quite pleased with the recent ruling in Utah. I have an opposite reaction, and I have attempted a dialogue in order to (a) better understand the point of view of those who have reached a conclusion that differs from my own; and (b) try to articulate a different perspective in a way that is non-dogmatic and respectful. I probably failed, but not for want of trying. Time for me to “lane my hand upon my mouth.” Job 40:4.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  132. Antonio,

    Happy Holidays. :)

  133. Many thanks for your best wishes, Antonio, but I would also just like to point out that the means by which my wife and I conceived our children are *identical* to the means by which thousands of heterosexual couples conceive their children every year. So I’m still unclear why the method of conception would be a factor in determining who is or is not eligible to receive the benefits and protections of civil marriage for themselves, their spouse and their children.

  134. What do you think of the newborn girl or boy being placed for adoption, where the 2 candidate couples are equal in every respect except that one couple is heterosexual and the other homosexual? Would you see any advantage of any kind to a child being raised by opposite sex heterosexual parents?

    Since no two individuals, let alone two couples, are ever absolutely identical in every respect except their physical sex, I find this exercise rather contrived, to say the least.

    That said, I would not consider that the physical appearance of a person’s genitalia has a great deal to do with his or her ability to parent well. I’d be far more interested in the reasons they wished to become parents, whether they had the emotional and financial resources needed to care for the child, the types of intellectual, artistic, academic, athletic and other skills and talents they could bring to the table, and whether it appeared that they could and would be loving, nurturing, and committed to the child’s best interests. I would also be interested in the stability and health of their relationship as a couple.

    If all factors were equal except the respective sexes/genitalia of the prospective adoptive couples, it would, IMO, make more sense for them to draw straws or flip a coin, rather than decide arbitrarily that the heterosexual couple should get the child simply because they were heterosexual. That seems completely nonsensical to me. It would be very much like saying, “All other factors being equal, the white couple should get the child rather than the black couple,” or, “The tall couple rather than the short couple.” Neither height, nor skin color, nor genitalia, nor sexual orientation is a determining factor in whether or not someone will be a good parent.

  135. But their genitalia have a helluva lot to do with whether the couple is able to reproduce, which fact seems to have escaped the attention of a large number of writers on this blog.

  136. No, Mark, that hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice. Not. One. Person. Has. Missed. That.

    It’s been addressed in multiple comments, on both sides of the issue. In fact, it’s been pointed out that “reproductively working” genitalia has never been an issue when it comes to whether heterosexual people have been allowed to marry or adopt. It isn’t and hasn’t been a requirement for them. If it’s not a legal criteria for some, it shouldn’t be a legal criteria for others. Equality under the law ought to mean something.

  137. Despite your liberal use of periods in that first line, I beg to differ. See Lorian’s statement at 12:24 p.m. Somehow, she “procreated” two real children in her same-sex relationship.

    I agree that equality under the law means something. But calling unequal things equal is not a productive way to begin the discussion of what “equality” means.

  138. Yes, Mark, she did – the exact same way many heterosexual, married women have done so. She has a spouse with whom she can not have children through good old-fashioned sexual intercourse, so she had children in an alternative way that is legal for heterosexual counterparts. In that regard, her situation was equal to that of her heterosexual counterparts.

    Again, if we really believe in equality under the law, if a legal restriction is going to apply to some people in a particular situation (no marriage or adoption if your genitalia won’t allow you to reproduce “naturally”), it has to be applied to all people in that same situation. If you are unable to mandate that criteria in all applicable relationships (and, obviously, you don’t mandate it in this case for all), you need to find a different criteria you are willing to apply universally.

  139. That should have read, “If you really believe in equality under the law, if you are unable . . .”

  140. Well, the universal criterion for millenia has been “if you want to have a marriage, start with a man and a woman.” That’s universal, applies equally to all, and is based not just on history and custom and tradition but also on biology.

    Those who would re-define marriage to include some other sort of relationship claim to be reaching for equality–but what they seek is to have a different relationship (a same-sex union) treated the same as a marriage. To treat different things equally is not equality under the law.

  141. What Ray said. There is no “Procreative Test” for couples asking to civilly marry. Couples who wish to marry, but who are either unwilling or unable to reproduce — are beyond menopause, have had their reproductive organs removed, have been rendered sterile through surgery, illness or other process, or who simply do not wish to have children and plan to use birth control for the duration of their lives, are not prevented from doing so. There is no question on marriage license forms asking whether either or both members of the couple is fertile or intends to reproduce.

    If we are to forbid same-sex couples from marrying on the basis of the fact that their sexual acts will not lead to reproduction, then we must place a requirement upon all heterosexual couples that if their coupling has not resulted in a pregnancy, or better yet, a live birth, within a given period of time — say, three years, max? — their marriage will be automatically annulled by the state on grounds of non-procreation.

  142. Mark B. said:

    Well, the universal criterion for millenia has been “if you want to have a marriage, start with a man and a woman.” That’s universal, applies equally to all, and is based not just on history and custom and tradition but also on biology.

    Mark, repeatedly insisting that the earth is flat, or that early humans rode around on dinosaurs, does not make it so. Marriages between people of the same sex have existing in many cultures, notably many Native American tribes. Many cultures have honored individuals of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. If you intend to give a history lesson as a means of demonstrating the validity of your point, at least make sure you do your research first, and that your version of history is correct. In this case, it is not.

  143. Mark B, Even the church has implicitly conceded that the definition of the word “marriage” has changed. Check out the press release responding to the SCOTUS decisions a while back. Let’s look at each use of the word “marriage” and see what its definition is:

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the United States Supreme Court on cases involving marriage:

    The cases were about same-sex marriage, so this use of the word “marriage” includes both same and opposite sex marriage.

    Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman

    Why didn’t they just say “the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening marriage”? Clearly the concern is that the word mariage now means all marriages, so to specify only opposite marriage they need to add words specifying that.

    The meaning of the word has changed. It has. Even the church uses the word with the new meaning now. They may not AGREE with the new meaning, and I am certainly not arguing that they do. But the meaning has inarguably changed.

  144. That’s simple, Cynthia. The same people who wonder whether “no sex except with your spouse to whom you are lawfully wedded” now means that same-sex couples which some state has pronounced married are complying with the law of chastity would take an unmodified “marriage” in the church statement to mean that it believes in strengthening same-sex unions. So the church has to add qualifying language to “marriage” to make it clear in an increasingly confused world.

    Even the scriptures say that God has given revelations “unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language.”

    As to your point, babaroni, what evidence is there that such Native American couples were considered “married” and such “marriages” were considered the same as the marriages consisting of a union of a man and a woman? I’d guess that the actual evidence from the ancient pre-literate civilizations is pretty thin.

  145. “So the church has to add qualifying language to “marriage” to make it clear”

    Exactly. The meaning of the word has changed. So appealing to “that’s the definition! you can’t change it!” doesn’t work anymore. Not that it was ever a particularly strong argument anyway, precisely because definitions do change.

  146. “…precisely because definitions do change.”

    Exactly. The definition of marriage has been changed by those who advocate in favor of same-sex marriage–although “change” probably doesn’t capture the radical re-purposing of the word. (And your glib “Not that it was ever a particularly strong argument anyway” ignores thousands of years of the world’s history–with some limited and relatively inconsequential aberrations, which, so far as I know, never changed the underlying laws of human reproduction. Somehow I find those thousands of years of history, and the laws of biology, more convincing than the last 20 years of argument on the subject.)

    But, changing the definition of marriage and then insisting that equal treatment under the law requires that any pairing of human beings be admitted to that institution is a bit like playing with a stacked deck.

  147. “what evidence is there that such Native American couples were considered “married” and such “marriages” were considered the same as the marriages consisting of a union of a man and a woman? I’d guess that the actual evidence from the ancient pre-literate civilizations is pretty thin.”

    Nope. I’m a former history teacher, and the evidence is extensive and conclusive – and it’s not just from “ancient, pre-literate civilizations” – or even just non-Christians. Seriously, this is a line of argument you probably ought to drop. The definition absolutely has not been universal, and it hasn’t been only among stupid heathens who couldn’t read and write well enough to think about it properly.

  148. One more thing, Mark:

    In more than a few cases, including among some Native American tribes, formal homosexual relationships actually were privileged above heterosexual marriages, with those unions being seen as a holy calling. Obviously, that was not universal, but it wasn’t rare.

    It’s easy to do enough simple research to understand the basic existence of sanctioned, ceremonial, homosexual marriage throughout history.

  149. You don’t need to assume that I intended “pre-literate” to mean stupid–but that interpretation is the least favorable you could have given to my statement. Thanks.

    If the society were in fact non-literate, that would have a substantial effect on the type of evidence that is available regarding that society. And it would very likely leave us ignorant of the words that they used to describe those different types of relationships. That was the only point I was making in using the term “pre-literate.”

    As a historian, you would also know that the conclusions drawn from evidence varies substantially depending upon the viewpoint of the historian. And the variation often increases in inverse proportion to the extent of the evidence.

    If you disagree with that argument, I’m happy to hear your reasons. But there more than enough slurs tossed around in discussions of this subject (see, e.g,, the roundly praised “Governor Grinch” post) that I would hope we could avoid it here.

  150. And your point in your latest comment underscores what I have been suggesting: if a same-sex union is privileged above marriages, is a “holy calling”–sounds sort of analogous to the non-sex non-unions required of the clergy in a well-known Christian church–then we can infer that the societies which had such unions believed that they were different from opposite sex marriages–not the same thing after all.

  151. No, the unions were not “non-sexual.” Do some research before you dig this hole any deeper, Mark B. As a Mormon, you of all people should be aware of the amount of scholarly research available on Native American tribal cultures.

  152. I apologize, Mark, sincerely, for that misreading. Fwiw, I also did not like the Grinch post, so I understand and agree with you that my mistake in that response was a mistake.

    As to the issue of the holy calling aspect of some cultures, it was just that – part of some cultures. It was not part of many others that had sanctioned, ceremonial gay marriage. I used it only to point out that homosexual marriages have been seen the same way as heterosexual marriages in some cultures – and the difference in some others has been positive, not negative. That’s all.

    Also, just to say it for the record, none of this conversation has dealt with how I view marriage and the attending discussion in a political vacuum. Every bit of it deals with how I see it in the current political and legislative climate of our time and in relation to our own Mormon history with marriage. If we were talking about it in a political vacuum, this conversation would be very different.

    It’s Christmas time still. We can disagree about this and still see each other as brothers in Christ, I believe. Good night.

  153. Thanks, Ray. Good night.

    Try reading my comment again, babaroni. If it is still unclear to you, I will consider a rewrite in the morning. But I don’t know why being a Mormon should make me more responsible for keeping up to date on the study of Native American cultures. I haven’t any dog in the fight about which Native American tribes, if any, might be descended from Book of Mormon peoples. If the ancient Aztecs (or Olmecs or whoever) really did sacrifice virgins to their gods on those Central American pyramids, I am not particularly interested in discovering the killers included descendants of Lehi.

  154. Mark, I’m not suggesting that you should be personally aware of all research involving First Nations people; just that the majority of LDS members, in my experience anyway, are at least aware of the extensive amount of study that has taken place and continues to take place regarding Native people and their customs and historical societies in this country and throughout the Americas. It’s been considered a pretty crucial part of the religion for nearly 200 years, now, and to suggest that it would be impossible to know how Native Americans thought about and treated people in same-sex relationships because there just isn’t enough historical evidence, seems…unusually unaware? I mean, if I, as a non-Mormon, am aware of the ongoing scholarly research into native cultures and history conducted by Mormon scholars, I guess I would just assume that most Mormons would be aware of this, as well. Perhaps I assume too much?

  155. I’m going to be mostly offline for a few days, so I’m turning off comments. Merry Christmas to ALL! And a happy and prosperous New Year.

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