03 November 2008

Prop 8 - Email With A Staunch Opponent

An email conversation about an image many find puzzling:

(Late October)


I'm not seeing it. How do "Yes on Prop 8" and "Equality for All" live together without kicking the crap out of each other?


I don't know if I have a lot to say on the subject except that on one side, you have people viewing marriage as a basic civil right that all people should have equal access to regardless of orientation and on the other, you have people viewing marriage as a morality issue and an issue of rights for children to have a fair shot at being raised by a man and a woman. Never mind the arguments on either side. Never mind the damage done to marriage by heterosexuals. That's irrelevant, in a way. Politics are not always relative. Sometimes, one issue becomes a "stand", and this is obviously one of those.

I know Jim fairly well (for example), and while [...] I do believe that he loves his fellow [queer] folk and respects their rights to choose their relationships without harrassment, he also believes the mere term "marriage" is one reserved for heterosexual relationships of a certain legal and institutional nature.

In short, yeah, it seems conflicting, but I just hope people can get past the knee-jerk gut reaction thing and recognize that there are broader ways of thinking of things than "us against them".


Actually that's exactly what I want: for people to think. When they do, I'm not sure how they can reasonably explain those two coexisting. [...] When people want to pretend it's reasonable it gets frustrating. Of course ultimately it's people that matter, so I'm not eager to alienate by pointing out the flaws in their position, but at the same time: it's people that matter, and real people (as well as the church itself) are being profoundly affected by what other people are doing without thinking.


It is reasonable, Ben, but only if you're coming at it from a certain angle: e.g. you believe children's right to have a mother and father is more important than adults' right to call their relationship a "marriage" OR if you really believe religions will lose tax exempt status or be prohibited from preaching their beliefs if same-sex marriage becomes a civil rights issue...

I don't have a problem with people who honestly believe defining marriage as being between a man and a woman is necessary and right if they honestly believe it's the right thing to do. I don't think it makes them hateful, demeaning, or petty, and I think the gay community needs to strap on a pair and stop crying about that.

Where I really have trouble is with people who say, "Well I have major problems with the proposition and don't support it, but when the prophet asks you to do something, it's not your place to question that or debate it--you just do it and trust you will be blessed for your obedience." It frightens me a little how many people have that mentality because I don't know where that kind of "faith" stops or how much they're willing to hurt others to affirm their own "faithfulness".

I also think many proponents of prop 8 are acting out of fear and a misguided notion that legislating morality is what we've always done and that's just what democracy and majority rule is all about. It conjures disgusting visions of a "conform or get out" mentality seen in what I consider to be terrifying examples of Islamist rule in the Middle East, and the libertarian in me comes out fighting.

Nevertheless, no matter which way the vote goes, I have confidence in the people to make it fair and to come to an agreement. I think the alarmist pro-8 propaganda is mostly blatantly manipulative and unfounded, yet for those who honestly believe the prop is necessary, I don't automatically ascribe terrible motives. [...]

So all I meant, I guess, is that I hope people can realize that there are fair-minded people who don't feel compelled to be boxed by one camp or another but are doing what they believe to be right and refuse to be beholden to the exclusive agendas of one side or the other. Y'know? :-)



Let me say at the outset, I am SOOOO with you on the "just because the Prophet said so" argument (read Moroni 10:3-5). That's when we truly deserve "cult" status...

The argument about kids being guaranteed both a mother and father is completely moot. There are already families out there with one mommy no daddy, two mommies, two daddies, etc. without even being married at all. So while you may object to that morally, it has absolutely nothing to do with what Prop 8 would or would not accomplish.

On the point of tax-exempt status and temple marriage: All you have to do is point to the huge number of straight Mormon couples who don't even qualify for temple marriage and legally you're bulletproof. There are civil weddings and church weddings. Just because you're straight and the govt. gives you a marriage license it doesn't mean you can force a Baptist minister or a catholic bishop or a Mormon temple president to bless your union with their particular religious ceremony. Many people from any number of religions, on moral grounds are not granted church weddings. No one's ever lost tax exempt status on those grounds. The specific case Pro 8 cites was an issue of public land use (owned by a church but made public as a park).

We may believe that you have to marry a woman to get to heaven. We may also believe you have to have a Mormon baptism to get to heaven. Does that mean we should next pass Prop 9 legally disallowing any other definition of 'religion' other than Mormon? Sounds like “someone else's” plan. Plus, why now? When gay marriage was becoming law in Canada the church didn't bother to yawn. And somehow Canada, Canadian church members and all, has managed to dodge the apocalypse in all the years since.

People are just repeating history. When it was first proposed that women should be given the right to vote and own property, people were horrified, saying it flew in the face of God's laws. Opponents argued that if women were treated equally they would see no reason to marry, marriage would be ruined and society's very fabric would dissolve. Those women who had married, they feared, would divorce their husbands and leave their children, armed with this newly granted independence.

The fact is, since women have been granted "people" status, divorce rates have increased over time: maybe as a direct result and maybe for many other reasons. So like pretty much every other choice, there's a potential upside and a potential downside. I'd say that acknowledging women as people was probably worth it, ultimately.

In their precedent-poisoned, clinging-to-tradition minds, many people also believed that "separate but equal" was totally reasonable: blacks get to go to school and whites get to go to school. Everybody's equal, right? But when you say blacks have to stay out of your white schools, use only their own black drinking fountains, sit in their own black section of the bus regardless of whether there were no empty seats there but plenty in the white section (not to mention the discrepancies between the quality of schools, facilities, etc.) there is an implication that blacks are somehow inferior. Many people in white society were just so used to taking it for granted that blacks were inferior that they couldn’t even recognize any flaw in thinking you could completely set-aside an entire segment of God’s family. Ultimately the courts recognized that "separate is inherently not equal."

When interracial couples were finally allowed to legally wed, there were no special lessons in school about marital options. They didn't teach kids that 'one day you can grow up and marry a black man.' Just because something is legal, it doesn't automatically become part of the curriculum. Teachers teach all sorts of things already which not everyone agrees with. And if a kid is straight it's not likely he's gonna go out and marry someone of his same sex, just because his 7th grade teacher once said it's legally an option.

So maybe the biggest point I'm making: People often say "Hindsight is 20/20." But to take advantage of that vision, you still have to be willing to open your eyes and turn around.

We have so many lessons from history which answer the fears of Prop 8 advocates, the question is whether you seek truth or prefer the safety of just doing as you're told.


Ha, can I just post your comments on my blog, along with a conversation I had with [another friend]? :-)

I don't buy most of the arguments made by the pro-Prop 8 campaign, as I said, so in most of your points, you're preaching to the choir. The point that's left dangling is that IF gay marriage IS a civil right, then enemies of churches who oppose it then COULD (if they so chose) raise hell for the churches. But I have to ask: are those who are pushing the passage of Prop 8 preemptively saying, "It's them or us, its their protection or ours, so we're going to make sure it's ours"? If so, they are in a morally precarious position, if you ask me.

And I think the schools and relationships are going to forge on ahead with or without some constitutional amendment. And I agree that people are sensationalizing the aftermath of NOT stomping out gay marriages with this prop. People actually sound a bit foolish to me, but hey, the wicked see wisdom as foolishness, so the "faithful" can discount me on those grounds if they so desire.

I disagree that the effect gay marriage will have on marriage in general is a moot point. _IF_ gay marriage is morally indefensible and just another perversion of the sacred institution of marriage, then saying, "Well we've already perverted it 50 other ways, let's just add one more" is no kind of argument. But since most people who support gay marriage DON'T believe it's detrimental, that's a point they don't consider relevant, much like you stated that it's a moot point.

I got an e-mail today from a girl who apparently reads my blog who expressed a desire for me to write something about prop 8... Maybe I will, but I'm just so worn out by it all, y'know? Bleh.


yeah I know, it's exhausting. Prop 8 claims to want to protect future families, but Prop 8 is tearing apart real families today. Consider how people now think about and address their "brothers and sisters" (whether blood relatives, friends or strangers) on the other side of the issue vs. before the battle began. Anyway, yeah, you can post if you want, but maybe attribute it to 'a friend' since not everyone can be counted on like you can, not to firebomb my house if they disagree. ;)

Thanks for your listening to what I have to say, and still being friendly. ;)

Addendum (2008-11-04) - A commentor pointed out that she feels there's a difference between voting intelligently in support of the prophet because she trusts his perspective and understanding and inspiration as opposed to just doing it because someone said so. I acknowledge a distinction between just stupidly saying "he said so" and saying "I may not understand all the reasons now, but I feel the need to support the church in this and have studied it out and choose to vote with the church's recommendation even though I am not sure which way I'd vote otherwise". I've made that point, myself.

Of course, keep in mind that that's easy to say for people who are wishy washy or already support it. It's a different animal when you oppose it and feel you are being asked to defy all reason and conscience. I hate that such people are met with accusations of faithlessness and apostasy and statements that they should relinquish their temple recommend. I'm disgusted to see people pointing fingers of disdain, from either side, when they don't understand how someone can possibly either "discriminate" or "hate" by supporting the prop or "mock the prophets" and "embrace wickedness" by opposing it.

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