12 November 2008

Prop 8 - Do The Mormons Have It Coming To Them?

Note: These comments began as a response to a clever, satirical essay a friend wrote about "Prop 9" which would endeavor to outlaw temple marriage (a sort of "this is how it feels" example that I thought was fairly effective, faulty analogies aside) and turned into an essay of its own, so I posted it here instead.

Many Prop 8 supporters seem to have supported the prop not on a solid legal or logical foundation but on fear and some God-given feeling of moral superiority they feel justified in forcing. A tyrannical attitude of "majority rule" isn't my idea of what this nation is about or what our values are, and it frightens me to see so many people shrugging and essentially saying their beliefs are correct, so that's all the conviction they need. Makes me shudder a little to think of where that could go. And it has incited the outrage of many people who feel, correctly or not, that their rights have been robbed of them by overzealous religious bigots eager to force everyone to comply with their own particular moral code at the expense of liberty, an act Prop 8 supporters would obviously decry and fight with all the righteous indignation in the world if such efforts were targeted against their own freedoms and ability to worship as they believe. ...or is that exactly what they felt was happening as well?

Some of my friends don't seem to understand when I try to explain how dangerous it is to insist that "majority rule" means forcing the supposed minority to comply with your superior moral code, but they don't seem to understand, or they don't care because they are justified by the gay agenda's attempts to force gay studies into their young children's schools or to ready the wrecking balls for churches preaching against newly ascribed "civil rights" (I'm not sure I agree whether Prop 8 even changes that possibility), or maybe they understand something I don't.

I'm glad some people with whom I've spoken would NOT have supported Prop 8 had they believed it was limiting the rights of citizens. I know I know, the right to marry is a right in and of itself, but in their view, they're simply clarifying what "marry" has always meant and insisting gay people have equal opportunity to marry as everyone else, they just often choose not to because they don't want to be with someone of the opposite sex, so they opt for a same-sex union with all the same rights and a different label. Whether or not you agree with that reasoning (perhaps you believe "marriage" is and always has been a civil contract or distinct type of relationship and not a heterosexual institution), I think it helps take some of the fear and hatred out of the debate to realize the debate really is fundamentally about what the word "marriage" really means, since it's never been fully defined in law.

I'm going to take a moment to speak to my friends who oppose the amendment in an effort to temper their outrage a touch, as I've spent time trying to temper the rhetoric and clarify the logic of friends who support it. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the amendment, I've talked with some who support Prop 8 for seemingly legally sound and logical reasons, yet most staunch opponents seem unwilling to stop shouting angrily and put down the "bigot" signs to try to understand their perspective and debate it at that level. It's easier to scream "hate-mongers!"

Many of my brothers and sisters in the homosexual community and their supporters are (understandably) hurt and outraged by what has happened. I just hope the community will, in its desire to continue the "fight", take the high road and practice their persistent resistance respectfully, nonviolently, with dignity, with calm confidence. That will help show how much of an "enemy" you really are to your opponents and to civilization. Some Prop 8 supporters are only more sure they were right to vote "yes" after seeing the hatred and aggression from the apparently tyrannical gay community, trying to usurp the voters to angrily force their agenda on everyone else. Are they correct in feeling so justified? Maybe that remains to be seen, depending on how the community continues their battle.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, patience, brothers and sisters on both sides. I guarantee you both sides feel morally superior in different ways, and there's not likely going to be much change on that front. So try to focus on the real, legal issues and set aside the fear and the hatred. I know this may make me sound like a terrible hippie pacifist if you're convinced there's a war at hand and it is foolish to lay down and be bulldozed by the tyrannical opposition. But I also know both communities fairly well, and I know their capacity to listen and reason and coexist peacefully with their fellow men and women. I know both sides' tendency to blindly force their opinions on others, but I also know both sides' remarkable capacity to love. So at the risk of sounding like a pansy who just "doesn't get it", lay down your weapons and talk, for heaven's sake.

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