09 November 2008

Proposition 8 and Same-Sex Marriage

Why are people so anxious to go to war?

So much harm has been done on both sides because of a failure to understand what Prop 8 is really about. I am so deeply saddened by the events of the last few days. In my honest opinion, Prop 8 never should have been proposed – and the CA Supreme Court’s In Re Marriage Cases decision shouldn’t have been what it was. Both were rash and reactionary. I don’t blame anybody for being angry about the passing of Prop 8, but I am sad that the LDS church has been targeted as a scapegoat toward which all the fury of the last days has been launched.

There are two intertwining pictures (moral and legal) of the situation that we need to see separately before we can see the whole scene clearly.

The moral picture:

The unfortunate truth is that, on a moral level, the LDS worldview is an affront to the queer worldview, and vice versa. There doesn’t seem to be any getting around this. We would all like to downplay this and instead emphasize the love that we have for all people regardless of their sexuality, but when you get down to brass tacks, the LDS doctrine of eternal marriage is so foundational, so central that there is no chance of changing it without entirely distorting the entire LDS worldview. This doctrine is that marriage is a covenant between God, man, and woman. All three elements must be there for it to work. This covenant, if the couple is faithful to it, will extend their relationship past death and into the next life, for eternity. And just as we are the spiritual children of God, this couple will spend the rest of eternity creating spiritual offspring and working to lift them and bring them joy. But creating offspring requires a man and a woman. Where do gay people fit into this picture? They have been given a particularly difficult test, and must fight against their natural attractions, hope and work for change, and trust in God. It isn’t a sin to be attracted to the same sex—but it is a sin to act upon this attraction. According to the LDS worldview, what doesn’t sound fair in this life will always be weighed in the balance by God.

The queer worldview obviously doesn’t recognize any reason to not pursue romantic relationships with those of the same sex. There is no reason to think that gay attraction is different than straight attraction, speaking in terms of intensity, richness, and power to motivate. The love two gay people have for each other is equally life-defining, and their commitments are just as meaningful. These are plain facts, and most thoughtful LDS folks recognize this. But to ask the LDS church (or any other church) to accept these facts as an argument that they should allow gays to be married within their temples and chapels would be nothing less than asking them to render their entire belief system meaningless.

I’ve focused on the LDS as an example (since the LDS church seems to be the primary target of demonstrations lately), but much of what has been said about the LDS can be said about many other Christian religions, even if they don’t share the doctrine of eternal marriage. There are many worldviews, most of them religious, that are simply incommensurable with the queer worldview.

These are the foundations of the so-called “culture war” in its present incarnation. Above all, it is a battle for a certain moral status. Nobody wants to have their most precious beliefs and practices labeled as immoral. If a gay lifestyle is moral, then it is immoral for religions to exclude them on the basis of what makes their lifestyle qualify as gay. On the other hand, if such exclusion is moral, it is because a gay lifestyle is immoral.

This leads to embarrassing and inflammatory exchanges. A common one that I see goes as follows: A Christian strikes a simile between homosexuality and, say, pedophilia. This is the worst possible thing to say to someone who is gay. The Christian is clumsily trying to make the point that, according to the Christian view, a gay lifestyle is a kind of sexual sin. Meanwhile, the gay person has just been compared to a pedophile, and can’t help but perceive the Christian as immorally intolerant.

On the other hand, here is another common exchange: A gay person mocks the Christian for the outdated, unenlightened, and dangerous belief that correct standards of moral conduct come from a God. The assumption—sometimes explicitly stated--is that the Christian cannot think independently. Meanwhile, the Christian can’t help but find confirmation that the moral pathway the gay person has chosen is a result of self-absorption; a result of being distanced from God. As these sorts of exchanges become more common (and they are, thanks to the ubiquity and the anonymity of the internet), the framing of the issue becomes solidified and the opposing views become mutually reinforcing.

Now, some gay people will be fine with the Christian position. They will see their orientation as just one more effect of mortality; as something that can and must be resisted; as something that can change through the power of God. On the other hand, some Christians (gay and straight) will be fine with the queer position. They will see no reason for gays to change, and no reason for the church to exclude gays from religious ceremonies and practices. I feel like we need to listen closely to these people who are managing to live in both worlds. They may have something to teach us about how to defang a discourse that is becoming increasingly militant.

The legal picture:

I’m no legal expert, but I’ve tried to study and understand the layout of the legal issues surrounding Prop 8. This is my limited understanding of it. Skip to the end if you just want my analysis of it.

· 1999. CA State Legislature enacts legislation that creates a statewide domestic partnership registry. Domestic partners are defined as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring” (Family Code 297). There are numerous requirements for registration: age, living situation and expenses, must be same-sex or over 62 yrs old, unrelated by blood, not married or part of a domestic partnership, etc. This legislation grants to same-sex domestic partnerships most of the legal rights and protections enjoyed by civil marriages. Some substantive rights (state health benefits for partners and hospital visitation rights, for example) remain only the rights of civil marriages.

· March 7, 2000. The electorate passes Prop 22, which adds a bit of language to the California Constitution’s Family Code (section 308.5): “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Since 1992, Family Code section 300 (and prior to that, the Civil Code section 4100) has stated: “Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).”

· 2001, 2002. Legislature slightly expands the rights of domestic partnerships.

· 2003. Comprehensive domestic partnership legislation with the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, the provisions of which “shall be construed liberally in order to secure to eligible couples who register as domestic partners the full range of legal rights, protections and benefits, as well as all of the responsibilities, obligations, and duties to each other, to their children, to third parties and to the state, as the laws of California extend to and impose upon spouses.” (Italics added.) (Stats. 2003, ch. 421, § 15.) . In short, the only difference between a marriage and a domestic partnership is the name by which it is called. (There was a lingering discrepancy in the way taxes were filed, but legislation eradicated this with an amendment in 2006. Later, nine other legal differences—not necessarily in terms of imbalanced rights—were enumerated by the CA Supreme Court in In Re Marriage Cases (2008, pp. 42-43). These were largely seen as technicalities by both sides of the debate.)

· 2004. In Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco, the CA Supreme Court decides that SF public officials acted unlawfully by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was appealed. The Court of Appeals upheld the decision. This decision was challenged, bringing the case to the CA Supreme Court.

· 2008. In In Re Marriage Cases, the CA Supreme Court (in a 4-3 decision) rules that marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens by the privacy, free speech, and due process clauses of the California Constitution. To justify sidestepping the current definition of marriage (as defined in the Family Code), two steps were necessary: (1) they established precedent with Perez v. Sharp, in which the CA SC ruled that the failure to recognize interracial marriages was a breach of the constitutional right “to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice” (at the time, the CA Constitution stated that marriages of a white person “with negroes or mulattoes are declared to be illegal and void”), and (2) homosexuals seeking same-sex marriage were found to meet the requirements for quasi-suspect classification, which allowed the court to apply the strict scrutiny standard. This standard is applied when a category of people are deemed to be discriminated against by existing legislation. Dissenting opinions questioned not the moral trajectory of the decision, but the judiciary propriety of it.

· 2008. Proposition 8 is passed by a 52% to 48% majority. It amends the state constitution with the following language: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

The most basic summary of the situation I can muster is this: the California Supreme Court entered the fray of the culture war by granting same-sex couples the right to marry because of the validation and sense of approval that it would bring to the union of same-sex couples. Proposition 8 is largely (but not entirely) a response by the other side of the culture war to deny that affirmation. It is also a response to what many perceive as judicial activism on the part of the CA Supreme Court.

Now, my personal view: In light of the fact that the most recent research has shown that children raised by same-sex couples show no deficits in any of the relevant categories by which society measures the success, value, and contribution of one of its members (http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/parents.html); in light of my opinion that, in the vast majority of cases, sexual orientation is not something that is consciously chosen; in light of my expectation that, while scientific research isn’t presently conclusive with regards to the hormonal or neuro-anatomical foundations of homosexuality, it will be in the near future; in light of my conviction that the moral and religious beliefs of one group—even if it is the majority—should not dictate the rights and freedoms of another group (so long as those rights and freedoms do not impinge upon the rights and freedoms of anybody else, and I don’t see why they need to in this case); and in light of my conviction that the historical and cultural values associated with marriage can only make spouses better people, I support the right of same-sex couples to be married.

Many members of the church will disagree with me, and may even think that I’m displaying a lack of trust in the direction of the Prophet. I certainly don’t see it that way. The reasons for which the Prophet and Apostles urged Californians to vote ‘yes’ on Prop 8 have not, in my view, been articulated as having originated from a desire to exclude gays and lesbians from any sort of state-offered right or validation. The doctrine of the church is clear on this point: we should not seek to impose our moral or religious views on other groups by legislative means. Since this is largely what Prop 8 is about, I can only assume that the motivation to vote ‘yes’ rather originates from an effort to protect the interests of the Church.

At any rate, I can envision a situation where secular society affirms the value and validity of same-sex marriages, while the rights and privileges of religious institutions are untouched—most importantly in this case, the privilege of making moral distinctions based on sexual conduct.

This is why I voted “Yes” on Proposition 8. Let me explain. I sincerely want marriage to be extended to same-sex couples, but not like this. There are plausible arguments that if Prop 8 hadn’t passed, a number of churches and religious institutions would have been forced to drop any distinction between a same-sex marriage and a heterosexual marriage. There is no fear that this would, say, force churches to marry same-sex couples. However, there is a fear that, for example, the adoption agency run by LDS Family Services would lose its state licensing and would be forced to shut down (something like this happened to a Catholic agency in Massachusetts). Many religious schools may have lost tax-exemption. There are other fears, but it this category of side-effects that seems most likely and most unacceptable to me. And then there is the original In Re Marriage Cases decision. Much of the reasoning was sound, but I tend to agree with the dissenting opinions: the court overextended its reach and engaged in judicial activism.

I fully expect same-sex marriage to happen in the next 10 years. It will happen. I hope it can be done with an eye towards protecting religious freedoms. I hope it can be done through the legislative branch, not the judicial branch. The culture war has boiled over and become a legal battle. These differences in moral judgment won’t go away soon, and we need to be expertly careful in how we go about securing the rights of all people to hold and express these moral judgments. In the meantime, I hope we can all agree that this is just a sad situation, and that we should all work to understand each other a little more, and be angry with each other a little less.


Kristi said...

This is probably one of the best pieces I've seen on this issue! Well done.

Nathan said...

Danny boy, great post. Progress has always been painful, but it has been so rewarding. History is our greatest teacher.

I will say that voting yes was dead wrong, and counter to your own arguments. Keep in mind that Brown v. Board was also interpreted as judicial activism. Part of the point of our judicial system is to prevent the tyranny of a majority faction through constitutional and case law. I believe this new ammendment is the 21st centuries version of Jim Crow's law... except instead of statutes, we're ammending/revising? our Constitution!

The reality is: the Mormon church has a history of secular intolerance on a number of issues. But I suppose so has many organized groups. Fair to single out? Absolutely. 40% of the Yes campaign was funded by Mormon members. Considering the percentage of Mormons in state, this is a prime example of politics from the pulpit. This is not the function of a legit church. It is a very organized organization--I'll give you that.

They played the fear tactics as best they could, and they succeeded. Although money and advertisements can shape perceptions during voting season, you can not change a movement nor deny the energy that is happening right now in our great state. This may have been the best (long-term) result for our homosexual community, and the worst (long-term) result for the Mormon church. Unfortunately, the more I read about the church's involvement on this, the more disgusted I become.

Thank you for sharing how you see the issue... I certainly have a LOT of respect for most of your viewpoints, especially considering your unique position. You're a true intellect.


Sean Hetherington said...

Hi Dan,

I think you should ask your openly gay brother to write an essay about his experience growing up in the Mormon church in terms of homophobia. It would be a nice supplement to the argument of why GLBT's are targeting protests at LDS. This is not just about the money that was raised for the campaign, but about how a church which had instituted electro-shock "reversal" therapy affected struggling teens--and how the churches unflinching discrimination was strong enough to encourage parents of a gay son to donate $1000 in oppostition to his equality. When we chant "shame on you" what we really mean is "You have hurt us for so long, and you don't care, and you continue to do so--and we are finally fighting back." Our protests and posters calling the hypocrisy to LDS' history of child abuse, sexism and racism are nothing compared to the painful tactics practiced on us by this corporate non-profit and I desperately wish someone would acknowledge that. If PETA can protest inhumane practices on living things, we should absolutely do the same.

daniel said...

Hi Sean,
It has been too long! Unfortunate that we’re re-connecting under these circumstances. Thanks for your response. I value your input and I’ll try to respond to the points you brought up.

“I think you should ask your openly gay brother to write an essay about his experience growing up in the Mormon church in terms of homophobia. It would be a nice supplement to the argument of why GLBT's are targeting protests at LDS.”

If he wants to write it, I’ll be happy to hear it and post it. I’m sure I’d learn from his perspective.

“This is not just about the money that was raised for the campaign, but about how a church which had instituted electro-shock "reversal" therapy affected struggling teens--and how the churches unflinching discrimination was strong enough to encourage parents of a gay son to donate $1000 in oppostition to his equality.”

Regarding the McBride aversion therapy experiments: in no way do I want to try and defend what was done during these experiments. I find them disturbing and inhumane. I am with you in condemning them. However, there are many experiments performed at BYU, and it is crucial that we don’t make the mistake of assuming that the Board of Trustees (The LDS First Presidency and Twelve Apostles) condones every one of these experiments. The experiment had to pass ethics by an autonomous board of psychologists, just like every other psychological experiment. If you want to question the ethics of these psychologists, be my guest. But the buck stops with them. The church funds BYU, but BYU isn’t the church. To this day, there is tension between the academic and spiritual goals of BYU. Also, it is important to note that the participants in the study were aware of the nature of the experiment, could have withdrawn at any time, and continued their participation over the course of 22 sessions. In short, it is false to say that the “church […] instituted electro-shock ‘reversal’ therapy.” It was one experiment, not an institution. And it was a researcher who didn’t have any sort of directive or approval from the church. Still, I agree that the experiment was horrific.

Sean, I think you fundamentally misunderstand what my parents did. Before I go out on that limb, however, I want to know why you think donating to the “Yes on 8” campaign was necessarily donating “in opposition to [my brother’s] equality.” It may seem obvious to you, but please just humor me.

There is no doubt that the LGBT community has been the recipient of horrible oppression and discrimination. I honestly lament that situation. I know many of my LDS brothers and sisters do, too. But let me make one thing clear: the history of child abuse, sexism, racism, and discrimination against alternative lifestyles in LDS society is precisely the history of child abuse, sexism, racism, and discrimination against alternative lifestyles in society as a whole. The LDS church may claim to be divinely inspired, but it doesn’t claim to swing free from social/cultural influences. The LDS church doesn’t claim to possess all of the truth at any given time – It claims that truth comes “line upon line, precept by precept.” The LDS church doesn’t claim that prophets are infallible. They are human, and are therefore prone to the same psychological biases that affect you and me. As Nate pointed out, change can be slow. If you're convinced that the church will alter its doctrine, I'd suggest that attacking the church will only entrench, divide, and make things even slower.

daniel said...

Sorry, Nate said, "Change can be painful." Not "Change can be slow." Insert the former.

Krista Pederson said...

I'm happy to me more clear on your opinion that I misunderstood the other night. I am also happy to see that you have taken a lot of time to think through recent events and eloquently verbalize your thoughts. I appreciated you bringing to attention the understandable defensiveness everyone is feeling. For reasons other than yours, I would have also voted yes on that proposal but as you suggested, I can't help but wonder if there are more options than the ones presented on the ballot. Since I'm not American, I will leave that in your capable hands and continue just eating smarties, eh.

daniel said...

Thanks for your comments! I have my reasons for wanting to play both sides here. Just worry about the arguments, not who they’re coming from (although on a personal level I do appreciate your acknowledgment of my dilemma).

There are flaws with the following thought-experiment, but I’ll give it here because I think it might illustrate how the LDS feel about the situation (this is partly borrowed from an analogy I found at http://www.libertypages.com/cgw/2008/11/05/mormons-and-the-election/#more-823):

Imagine that the State, early on, recognizes the benefits of the Jewish notion of “Kosher”. It adopts the distinction for its own interests, and begins formalizing, with legislation, the different types of foods that could be labeled as Kosher. The state grants certain rights and protections to those who agree to the responsibilities of living a kosher lifestyle. Kosher becomes a universal legal concept. One day, a group of people who are biologically unable to live without eating pork feel that they are being discriminated against because they cannot participate in the state-recognized institution of Kosher. So the state, with sweeping reform, creates a new distinction called “Vosher,” which is identical to “Kosher” in every legal respect except that it can be granted to people who are unable to live without pork. Seeing this as “separate but equal”, the pork-dependent folks push the State to expand the definition of Kosher instead. Vosher, to them, is merely a second-rate version of Kosher. The State agrees and redefines Kosher such that pork products are now Kosher. Even though other peoples’ eating of pork and calling it Kosher doesn’t affect the rights of Jews, I doubt anybody would be surprised if they were a little upset about it, and fought to preserve as much of Kosher’s original meaning as possible.

Your comparison with Brown v. Board is, I think, flawed. The rights being denied to blacks were not rights that were somehow tied to the religious definition of some practice that the state had co-opted because it recognized (1) the benefits and (2) the possible abuses thereof. Given the history of the concept of marriage and the largely semantic nature of the issue, I’m still rather convinced that this particular instance of judicial activism was inappropriate. On a pre-emptive side note, the CA Perez v Sharp decision to recognize interracial marriages was not a response to some religious definition of marriage, but a response to racial discrimination in general.

The problem is the state having its hand in marriage in the first place. We simply can’t complain about the LDS church’s actions as a violation of the separation of church and state when the state’s regulation of what was essentially a religious rite was what initially entangled the state with the church on this issue. A religious rite has become a state-regulated right. The ideal “middle ground” would be to get rid of marriage as a legal distinction and replace it with civil unions for everybody, hetero or not. Then, if religious folks want the same benefits, rights, and affirmations that come with the civil union, they can go down to the courthouse and sign papers like everyone else. But then they’re free to also be married in their churches, according to the understanding of marriage that has been preserved within their traditions and beliefs for centuries.

That, I think, is partly where the LDS church is coming from.

Also, while I agree that the Yes on 8 campaign wasn’t always entirely accurate, it also isn’t entirely accurate to suggest that the LDS church is somehow responsible for the tactics employed by the Yes on 8 campaign simply because the church endorsed the proposition. I voted for and I endorse Barack Obama. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of his campaign tactics and all of his platform points. Does that make sense?

daniel said...

"Mowwage. Mowwage is what bwings us togeva today."

Funny, but dead wrong.

Kylee said...

wow daniel! thanks for your insights and your replies! This whole prop 8 and Arizona's prop 102 has been quite the journey for me....to say the least.

I appreciate what you wrote and how well thought out it was. I sad that there is so much pain in this issue.

Love ya and tell that wife of yours I miss her dearly!

Nathan said...

Ok, here's my response!

Kosher analogy:

1) How the state could recognize the public benefit of labeling a food "Kosher" confuses me. There is nothing that makes "Kosher" food more beneficial as far as I know. I'll concede and just say that the state lacked science to make decisions, and instead relied on religious leaders for guidance on health during the time this law was enacted. However, not really applicable now.

2) The state should have never been involved in labeling a food "Kosher." Otherwise, the state must be prepared to label food for all religious requirements such as Muslims, Scientologists, Branch Davidians, etc, etc. Essentially that's impossible.

3) You're obviously suggesting that if one labels a food product, and that label coincides with someone's belief, that they are granted a right. No. They are simply given information to exercise their right of food selection. I would definitely make the point that giving only one group this information (from the government) is not separating church and state, as we are using public resources to label a food for a specific religious rite. Not fair. A food product can not be given rights. That is entirely different from labeling a partnership between humans, which once partnered, are given specific rights.

4) The suggestion to merge the two systems would probably not be presented by the Vosher folks. What they would suggest is that an entirely new rating system be created call "Vosher" so they could have the same benefit of knowledgeable food selection as the Kosher folks. As would the Bosher, Losher, and Dosher folks eventually. What a mess. You didn't "get me" here though Dan. If you truly wanted to give the same rights in a "civil marriage" as a "civil union" then why even separate the two? In the Kosher/Vosher case, there is actually a reason to do it---some humans can't live without Pork. Can you think of a reason to separate the definition of a man+woman marriage partnership from a man+man parternship that would make sense practically? I.e. one set of rights from another? Let me know, maybe you'll have a valid point here.

5) I understand why people are upset. It's based on fear, and change. I'm suggesting that people think outside their own morales (not needs or rights) for once, take their religious beliefs out of the picture (because obviously not everyone believes the same thing) and make their decisions on civil-rationality. Basically, put your religion aside. If you can't, the issues are irreconcilable. This is the danger of religion. This is why we fear the religion of Islam. It is inherently violent... we must not mistake "tolerance" for weakness. E.g. If the theocratic Islamic nations had the power to destroy the infidels... I believe they certainly would. The Koran tells them to do so---very clearly.

Brown vs Board:

For us to not take into consideration that the acceptance of Black persecution over the last 200 years in this country was not related to a religious doctrine is totally absurd. To not believe that Plessy v Ferguson, which boiled out of the depths of slavery was not centered around racism instituted by religion is absurd. Do I need to start pulling quotes out of the Bible, and the Book of Mormon regarding the people of Cannes to make my point? Yes, I realize that Mormonism when founded (in the mid 1800s) was essentially anti-slavery---but you also have to consider the era... slavery was already actively being challenged at that time. BUT, ok... fine, let's pretend that religion and racism are totally unrelated for a minute then.

For one, the comparison for Brown v Board to the California Supreme Courts does not need to be centered on religion to make my point. It's centered on basic human rights, and that "Separate but Equal" is inherently unequal. Civil-marriages and Civil-unions are inherently unequal, because if they were equal, then why would we have a different meaning altogether? Go back to my point #4 above. I also need to take into consideration that the most prominent Mormon politician (good ol' Mitt) is against BOTH civil unions AND gay marriage. Scary. I'm not sure I get your point. I'm not attempting to make an apples to apples comparison that B v B is the same as the latest CA supreme court decision. What I'm saying, is the fundamental principles regarding the decision are almost identical, AND although disputed heavily during the time, history has proven our society is much more healthy. For one, white racist americans can no longer use black rights as a wedge in politics. Go Obama! Judicial activism is a term used when the “majority” disagrees. To suggest that when judicial decisions go against the majority “mob rule” that our democracy isn’t working, points to the lack of understanding of how our system works. Our founding principles were created to protect the basic freedoms of ALL (wo)men. I will agree that public opinion (ignorance) sometimes needs to catch up to these principles.

The "Middle Ground"

I agree that the state should have never recognized the religious version of a marriage. However, practically speaking, today, they don't. Since when do you need to be married by a Rabi, or Priest to be legally recognized as married? We already severed the ties of religion and civil-marriages when we allowed secular judges to "sanctify" the legality of the partnership of marriage. Whatever the "middle ground" is, it should NEVER, EVER specify one group from another unless they can make a rationale (non-religious based) reason for doing so. It is dangerous territory to tread in.

Here's the real question: What is everyone so scared of? There is nothing that will change for those who want to recognize their own versions of whatever union they want. What rights will Christians loose? Watch that Keith Olbermann’s commentary I posted on facebook... he sums it up nicely.

The church is just trying to side-step the fact that ALL of their motivation behind this is strictly religious. The campaign did not focus on that fact, instead focused on fear and lies, since they had no civil rationale. It was deceptive, and quite honestly was hateful against the gay community. Just ask any gay person you care about how they feel about “gayness” being labeled as anti-family, or anti-children. That’s really messed up if you ask me.

Nathan said...

one more thing re:

"...it also isn’t entirely accurate to suggest that the LDS church is somehow responsible for the tactics employed by the Yes on 8 campaign simply because the church endorsed the proposition"

Follow the money. The mormon church can not launder it's money through BYU and campaigns and then try to claim indemnity. That type of rational is used by corporate criminals, and lawyers. I've got only one word: creepy.

sean wood said...

dear sean h.,
Since you have already thrown me under the bus(so to speak), i guess i should say something--rather than sit on the sidelines and continue to feel misunderstood and misrepresented.

If you would like to know how i feel about growing up gay in the mormon church, you have resources to contact me to understand this point of view. I am happy to share with you. Also, I don't feel the need to go on the defensive with my brother about my experience, especially in a public forum. My relationship with him is much more important and private. Your call for me to share my life story is inappropriate and not fare, to say the least. My beliefs, and experiences are not my brothers, my parents, or my sisters. So, just as i try to bring understanding to my family about how we can find a crossroads between our differences, i would hope that you would make an effort to actually know who i am, considering your request for a supplemental essay on my life.

Char said...

We've never met before but I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your Prop 8 post. Perhaps you're just tired of thinking, writing and talking about this issue but here's my two cents.
I haven't yet heard a convincing argument as to why gay marriage should not be legalized...and I'm Mormon...and I would have voted yes. There is nothing I can say to rationalize my position or to have it make sense to any one. This contradiction between reason and action is something I find greatly uncomfortable because I see myself as a fairly rational human being. However rational I like to think I am, my viewpoint is influenced heavily by my religion and religion is not always rational. It's not something you believe in because the arguments are convincing but because of a feeling in your heart. A feeling as real as the feelings of a gay person who longs for love and commitment in a marriage relationship. I think there's a lot of dialogue that is perhaps ignorant, untrue, hurtful and sloppy because people are desperate to attach reasons to how they feel about the issue. It's scary to say "I don't know why I think this is right, I just feel that it is." regardless of which side you're on.

Russell said...

Wow, Dan. I missed reading this when it was being written and discussed but I think you may have hit the nail on the head--civil unions for everyone and if you want some other religious designation for your living arrangements, get one.

I'm stuck on the argument that people need to separate their religiosity from their civic activity. I envision a group of like minded people to want to live in a community where the morals and ideals they value in life are upheld by the community at large. Obviously we have plenty of examples of cases where something like that was enforced by a community to the detriment of the minority, so we can not argue that it is appropriate, but what is the solution for a person or a group of people who do not want to be surrounded by things they find morally irreconcilable to their religious belief system?

Eliminating religion flies in the face of the whole reason for our country's existence--many of the original settlers came here specifically for the freedom to express their religion, so telling the whole group of us that religion and religious morals can not play any role in legislative action seems as wrong as telling some one that they may use religion as an excuse to infringe on others' rights.

I guess the question really is, how do you reconcile irreconcilable differences.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

You don't know me... or do you?! I appreciate your kindness and sensitivity in aproaching this topic. It speaks to hearts that feel. Still, your positions are often flawed, as are those of your supporters. I have a unique perspective as a man who has waded deeply into the waters of homosexuality, and yet has been raised with an LDS upbringing. Certainly no one would choose such inclinations and temptations, nor would they choose to be so "different". That is a given. Thank you for understanding that. Still, was I born this way or was I nurtured in a home with a weak father figure, or was it the boy scout troup in all of their folly? A silly argument. How can I express my life to you in a small paragraph that would make any sense to you. I am amused and gratified that you try to understand it - and the life of your brother. Still, you cannot know. While others will laugh at me or hate me or worse, I will tell you that I was born a perfect son of God - one with many flaws inherent in my make up - just like every other boy. I think that I was not given same sex attraction at birth by God, but that I was given a spirit that certainly had the proclivity to develope such an attraction. Why me? Really, don't we all have some such proclivities in our make up. Our opportunities to develop and grow in various directions are many. So it was with me. Having listened in my youth to LDS doctrine and still feeling a pull toward boys my age was more than difficult. It was my thorn in my flesh! Don't we all have something like that?! The world and my enemies try to argue that I was created to be gay. They want to define me by my most base temptations and desires. They want to pigeon-hole me so that I cannot even think to be other than what my passions tell me to be. They continue to tell me that this is normal and right. They lie. I know. I've been everywhere in their lifestyle. I've bought their lie and lived in their pigeon hole. I've left it now and been so amused at the hatred directed toward me from them, and the sympathy of people like you for them even though you don't understand the battle. I will tell you what I know. God loves all of his children, including those who are stuck in the gay lifestyle. Gay people do have real relationships where love and kindness are exhibited. Still, their lifestyle is a sad copy of true marriage. Society may validate it in 10 years as you say, and I believe that they surely will. Still, all it will do is make it seem more normal for poor boys who should fight against their same sex attractions just as they should fight against the desire to do anything that will not bring to them true happiness. We who have experienced both lifestyles know. We are the only ones who know. Don't think that supporting us is in our same sex attraction is kind. The kindest thing you can do is oppose any mainstreaming of the gay lifestyle while supporting and loving those of us still in it. Hold a light high so that we might see and perhaps emerge some day from the dark place we find ourselves in. Help us to find the reason I am sure we were given this difficult temptation, for there is only one place to go where it can be lifted from us and our very natures changed - and that is to Jesus Christ. My thorn in the flesh is an invitation to know Him. As such, it is all worth it!

daniel said...

Dear Friend,
Thanks for your perspective on this. In spite of my apparent failure to understand your situation, I will continue to strive for that understanding.