Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reflections on Prop 8

I came home last night from five days of vacation (without computer or internet access - unplugged I was!) to watch the votes for Prop 8 unfold. I went to bed before the results were announced. I awoke to find that the predictions that it would pass by a slim margin were correct.

But I couldn't have predicted how I would feel.

There was no sense of celebration in my heart, no feeling of victory or vindication. I am grateful, yes. I am relieved the vote is over...just anticipating that day was hard!

But this isn't like a sports game, where I feel like running around the house screaming, "We won!" I know this issue has caused deep pain and confusion for many, and that very fact has made taking a stand on this issue very difficult. And it makes the fact that it passed difficult, too. I have no desire to rub this in anyone's face. My feelings are deep and complex.

I feel sobered by all that has happened. Even after a vacation, I feel drained. I feel sad that this issue has been (and continues to be) so divisive. Even as I took a stand on this issue because of my concerns about the future, I still have many concerns about what the future will hold, at many levels.

The statement by the Church that was issued today reflected many of my feelings, thoughts, and concerns.

Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.

I had this realization hit me hard a few weeks ago. This is not the end of this issue. I have a feeling we've only just begun.

Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life...stirs fervent and deep feelings.

Indeed. There is both an intensity of emotion and a lot of pain -- on both sides -- that exists because of this issue. As such, there is much required of all of us as we move forward:

We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information....

As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.

There is a call there for unity, for forgiveness, for love and charity and understanding and suspending judgment. My heart is heavy with the feeling that this has to some degree caused a rift of sorts in the Church and in our nation. There are things we can and must do to help heal that rift -- even as we will continue to have varied and strong opinions on this topic.

I am reminded of Pres. Eyring's talk about unity from this last Conference. I just skimmed it and found this:

Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer.

One way I have seen it done is to search for anything on which we agree. To be that peacemaker, you need to have the simple faith that as children of God, with all our differences, it is likely that in a strong position we take, there will be elements of truth. The great peacemaker, the restorer of unity, is the one who finds a way to help people see the truth they share. That truth they share is always greater and more important to them than their differences. You can help yourself and others to see that common ground if you ask for help from God and then act. He will answer your prayer to help restore peace, as He has mine.

What an invitation, what a reminder, at a time like this.

Back to today's statement from the Church:

Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.

This is so important to understand. Neither the Church nor individuals who supported prop 8 should be accused of hateful motives.

I do not mean to ignore the real fact that prop 8 has felt personal to many. I also know that among supporters on a broad scale, there were some whose motives were not good. But the Church does not condone such behavior! And neither do I.

I know tears have been shed because prop 8 passed. Tears have been shed by those who supported it, too. This has been hard for all of us.

I believe in many ways, the future will give all of us some significant -- and likely difficult -- opportunities to really consider and practice what it means to be Christlike -- to be sensitive to the pain of those with whom we disagree, and to learn to love, accept, and forgive those who have made choices that have hurt us.

I believe there is pain for people on both sides of this issue that needs the healing power that only the Savior and following His teachings can provide. At some point, we must allow each other to believe what we believe, but strive (again as was said today) "to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society."

A sobering charge indeed.


Cheryl said...

I love this. Not only because I love what the Church said in their News Release (they always say it better than any of us could), but because although I felt relief that Prop 8 passed, I was also kind of left feeling kind of...hollow.
It made me wonder how the Nephites felt after having defeated the Lamanites; they had defended their liberty, religion, and their families to the death. But did they run around shouting from the rooftops? Were they glad for the carnage? I'm sure they were grateful they were victorious, but I doubt they were glad they had to do it. It never feels good to wage any kind of war. I sometimes wish it wasn't needed --I'm sad in my heart that it IS needed. That doesn't mean I will ever stop fighting for what is right, I'm just sobered that it's not accompanied by a feeling of pure elation, and the only thing that makes sense to me is it's because I have so much love for those that were hurt by all of this. My family is divided on this issue, and I have no desire to gloat or be happy in the face of their pain.
How could I?

Good post, m&m.

Anonymous said...

Yes, my feelings were similar. I expected relief and elation but instead just wondered, "What kind of repercussions will this have? What next?" I LOVED the church statement.

m_and_m said...

I have pondered those chapters many, many times in the past while. Phrases that have stuck out to me are things like when it was said that the Nephites were "compelled reluctantly" to fight for their rights, religion, liberties, etc. I felt that way as I got involved with this. I didn't WANT to be doing this, for lots of reasons.

Another phrase, repeated many times, was that the Nephites did not glory in, in their case, bloodshed. This has not been a war of blood and swords, but one of words and ideas. And yet the pain is still real, the 'casualities' there. We do not glory in this. I ache for people who have felt pain because of prop 8 to understand this.

Part of what makes me so tired is that I am certain we will have another 'battle' like this in the future. And I know what I will do. And it hurts to think about because I know how hard it will be, again, to take a stand that I know will cause pain for people.

I imagine the Nephites in hand-to-hand combat with people whom I am sure they knew. It must have hurt them to do what they did. And yet, they felt compelled to take a stand.

Hard stuff, then and now.

m_and_m said...

Thanks for your comment. It's such a difficult time, isn't it? It would have been difficult no matter what happened, but again, I realize that its passing has been VERY difficult for many.

m_and_m said...

Another emotion swirling within is that of immense gratitude for those who put so much into this. Again, it's mixed with the sadness, but I cannot deny what I felt about how important this was, and I was amazed at what many people I know were willing to do.

Compelled, reluctantly, but compelled.

Doug Towers said...

I am very pleased for this result as I know that had it gone the other way it would have reflected on many countries.

As you say the problem still exists of little to no understanding of homosexuality or lesbianism. But creating problems in family structures just because of ignorance doesn't seem a good answer.

In spite of all the claims of it being natural and being born that way I have found that a person chooses their sexual response.

Not having been brought up in the church I was ill informed relative to sex. Upon accepting the truth I had to make enormous change.

I made it!

I have no desire toward lust whatsoever now. So no physical attraction is compulsory or born with.

A person may have some distortions in their heads. But it can be removed by time, prayer and re-programming the thoughts.

BookwormMama said...

I am so devastated by this. I did not vote on the Prop 8 issue, I don't live in California. I wish I could have. But my dear friends and some family members in California and their families will and are personally and deeply affected by this... that someone else would use their religion to define by the law what my friends' and families' marital relationship gets to be is beyond understandable to me. I continue to stand by my argument that the Church is so so wrong here on so many levels... especially since this very thing happened to so many families in the Church so many years ago when others used their religion to define what marriage was by enacting laws like so that LDS members' polygamous families had to be broken up and fathers had to denounce their own children and had to leave their wives as if they never knew them to escape going to prison. Did we not learn from our own history? Did we forget and so we are instead rewriting history to do the same thing that was done to us?
This is so so so wrong on so many levels. My heart is breaking over this and it is my deep hope that it is not over... that this issue will be on the ballot again soon. How very sad that the majority gets to decide what the status of the minorities' relationship gets to be. I hope those who supported this can sleep at night, knowing that they are breaking up families. I will pray for our Supreme Court Judges to be more understanding than the voters and to interpret the law much more judiciously than those who voted for this unconstitutional measure.
As much as I love you M&M and appreciate your friendship, I know we both disagree on this issue, but I am glad that you and many of those who supported this are not celebrating or happy about this. They really shouldn't be. But it isn't enough.
I can't even comment on the Church's statement. To be the cause of so much hate and to support something so heartbreaking and to break up families and to attempt to define other people's relationships based on specific religious beliefs is just wrong! The world is not LDS or all Christian and to attempt to put into law religious beliefs and hold others to that definition is just wrong! That is NOT what God wants us to do. I have prayed about this myself and never have felt so strongly how wrong this whole thing has been. I am very torn that the Church that I love can play such a huge part in something so awful to me. I am just sick about this whole thing and I can't believe I have to face my dear friends and family in California... knowing that my church was a huge cause of their hurt and heartache and shattering of their family dreams.

m_and_m said...

Doug, thanks for stopping by...haven't seen you in a while! I, too, am grateful this passed.

I'm sorry for your pain. I feel it is important for me to clarify that I'm not lacking in celebration because I think this was a mistake; I believe that as hard as it is to understand, it is right.

m_and_m said...

But you know what, Steph? At some point, we have to just allow each other the space to think what we do and try to move forward from this. It will be hard for all of us because of how intense the feelings are for all of us.

And that is what sobers me so much. Are we up to the task? Can we respect each other? The Church? The prophets? Can we forgive those who have attacked and hurt us, either way? Can we really learn to live peaceably and seek for common ground when this tears at our souls and hearts and beliefs?

April J. said...

Cheryl linked to this blog post and I am glad I have read it. It is exactly what is in my heart and as I read it tears began to flow, knowing I am not alone or "bad" because of the sadness I feel. In a local paper it had a "celebration" photo for Prop 8 and it again made me sad that people can celebrate as others are suffering.

Bradley Ross said...

Thanks for this post. You've expressed my view so much more eloquently than I could have done. You always find such amazing quotes.

One question: How long should you fight, and how much should you sacrifice in time and resources for a cause that you believe will not ultimately triumph? I suspect that this issue will be back, and that next time the Church position will not prevail. If that is true, would it be better to leave this fight behind and preserve our strength and capital for other battles? I don't know the answer and I have conflicted feelings. But it is a question I ponder.

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

I don't know any LDS who are gloating over the passage of Prop 8 or similar state consitutional amendments passed in Arizona and Florida. I guess there must be pro-Prop 8 people who show hatred and anger; but so far the only people I've seen expressing those two strong emotions are the ones on the other side of the issue.

Many of them seem to be terribly angry--at the LDS Church, and at anyone who thinks the term "marriage" should be reserved for heterosexual unions.

Your beautiful post proposes ways we can try to heal rifts and find points of unity even as we respect others' rights to differing opinions.

But what if only one side is interested in this endeavor? After surfing the Bloggernacle since the election, it seems that the only "healing" many SSM advocates will accept is that the LDS Church change its position and happily endorse SSM.

You said in your comment, "Can we forgive those who have attacked and hurt us, either way?" Of course we can--if we choose to do so. Posts like yours are trying to begin this process.

But at least so far, I see the attempts to understand, empathize, and forgive only going one way. I continue to see blog posts and comments that misrepresent the LDS Church position. I see continued false comparisons between the SSM issue and the temporary practice of polygamy and/or the temporary denial of the Priesthood to those of African descent. Church leaders are maligned and accused of lying. Members who supported Prop 8 are vilified as bigoted, unkind, cruel, and hateful--as though their primary purpose in supporting Prop 8 was to cause pain and suffering.

You are surely correct in assuming that this issue is not going away any time soon. If we want to mitigate further pain and suffering, I sincerely hope that ALL of us (not just supporters of Prop 8) will seize, as you put it, "opportunities to really consider and practice what it means to be Christlike -- to be sensitive to the pain of those with whom we disagree, and to learn to love, accept, and forgive those who have made choices that have hurt us."

m_and_m said...

Bradley, roann, thanks for your comments.

Bradley, I'll give you my opinion on your question:

"[W]ould it be better to leave this fight behind and preserve our strength and capital for other battles? I don't know the answer and I have conflicted feelings. But it is a question I ponder."

To me, this is why we have prophets. Why it was so important to do this now in CA, and not in Canada, or in Mass or Conn., I am not sure. I suspect it's because 'as goes CA, so goes the rest of the nation.' I also think it did something for the members who supported this to rally and become converted to the rightness of doing so.

I don't know what the future holds, but I feel it's imperative to cling to the prophets' words and counsel, because ultimately, they are the only ones who can actually see the future, or have the warnings and guidance of where and how to best spend our time, energy, and other resources.

roann, I agree with you wholeheartedly, and what you have described is part of what weighs on me so much. There is so much vitriol being spewed about the Church and about those who supported prop 8. I do understand that is from a place of pain, but at some point, seething in anger will only make the pain worse, for everyone. Regardless, we must forgive all of this -- think Elder Hales truly timely, powerful talk on Christian courage -- but at some point, I hope those who opposed prop 8 can come to understand that part of their pain is of their own making. To choose anger and resentment and false accusation will only keep wounds fresh, and can risk actually *creating* problems that don't exist.

SilverRain said...

(Tongue only somewhat in cheek) what we need is a martyr.

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

I agree that we need to forgive, to seek to manifest "Christian courage," and that "it's imperative to cling to the prophets' words and counsel."

The ideas in Elder Wirthlin's talk in the last October General Conference, "Come What May, and Love It," can be a source of strength in these difficult times. In the second to last paragraph he said:

I know why there must be opposition in all things. Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it.

As I am reading all the Conference talks in the November Ensign, I am struck by how so many of them speak to the variety of trials and challenges we members are facing throughout the world.

Some people tend to think Church leaders are narrowly focused just on this country, but that is far from the case. Truly the Lord continues to inspire his servants to give all His children the guidance we need to find peace and hope in these latter days.

Perhaps one of the main reasons why our leaders feel compelled to speak out on particular issues is articulated in A Proclamation to the World,". . .we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

They are urging us to follow a certain course of action because they want us to avoid certain consequences.

They are speaking out of love and concern for all, not hatred for a few.

m_and_m said...

SilverRain, I'm not sure I follow...?? (Dense I am sometimes!)


I agree wholeheartedly. I felt such power and inspiration in their words. And I love what you said: "They are speaking out of love and concern for all, not hatred for a few."


What is so hard is when people will insist that it is completely the opposite. In the end, I can hope that patience and love can help them see otherwise, but I fear that sometimes people will insist on creating problems that don't exist, and it's sad for all.

But so common in human relationships, no? -- we so often will REact out of pain instead of really listening to the Spirit. I know I do that all too I'm certainly not suggesting that I have this all figured out! :)

m_and_m said...

BTW, april j, I am sorry I neglected to acknowledge your comment and thank you for it!

Jennifer B. said...

You captured my sentiments as well. This has been an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and yet strengthening experience. Thank you for articulating what so many must be feeling. I deeply appreciate the way that you stand for truth humbly and with love.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through the friend of a friend and I truly enjoyed this post and the comments.
I live in California and was called 3 months ago as our Stake Director of Public Affairs. I was excited thinking about the humanitarian projects I could shout to the world about. The Stake President reiterated a number of times that my focus would be Prop 8 until the election was over. I shared with him that fact that I have a gay son (my husbands son from a previous marriage).
This last three months as a Zip Code supervisor have been a gift to me. It gave me the opportunity to talk more openly with my son and to begin to understand how you can be clear about your beliefs and still demonstrate love and support to your loved one who has chosen this life style.
Today I was thinking about the Savior and how he spent time with those that needed him most. He didn't say to them--guys I like you so much and I want you to understand who I am so I will deny the truth or look for ways to make it palatable so you will feel my full acceptance.
Last night. ironically in the midst of this chaos, I helped throw a birthday party for my son's partner because frankly I love him and want him to feel that.
I am so grateful to have had this test because it helped me to understand that love can coexist with conviction.
I have a few posts about Prop 8 on my site if you are interested.

BookwormMama said...

But you know what, Steph? At some point, we have to just allow each other the space to think what we do and try to move forward from this. It will be hard for all of us because of how intense the feelings are for all of us.

-I respect your right to disagree and I know that we will and that's fine with me. However, and I don't mean this to be rude or flippant but this is the first thought that came to my mind... this above sentence is easy to say when you are the one whose family is not being ripped apart or whose rights are being taken away, whose marriage may no longer be considered valid, whose parents may no longer be married. I wonder if the situation was reversed and it was YOUR marriage that was being voted on, if you would be ok with it just being called a civil union and not an actual marriage? I don't know. I think it's easy to say let's heal this and let's be friends, but actions speak louder than words. I find it strange that the Church is speaking out against all these people protesting. There is nothing wrong with protesting! I am grateful for my right to protest and have free speech! We have a free country, we have the right to assemble and the right to free speech, just as the Church had the right to speak out against gay marriage. Those who support gay marriage are understandably upset, as you would be if it was your marriage that was in question. That does not excuse violence in any way shape or form from ANY side whatsoever, but I do not believe that there will be healing, forgiveness, etc on either side until those who want to define for others what the word marriage should be is no longer an issue. Why don't we go out and legislate a proposition requiring everyone to be mormon? We have a separation of church and state for a reason.
Mormons are not the ones being persecuted here but it's easy to see how they can try to take the victim role if they don't like the consequences of supporting Prop 8. If the condequences of supporting Prop 8 {protests, etc} were not considered to be acceptable behavior then the Church should never have supported the Prop in the first place. Again I am not condoning violent behavior on either side... I am however supportive of peaceful protests, etc. Many LDS are freaking out about people protesting peacefully. I say, grow up already. I doubt if it were my marriage in question that I would take it sitting down either... I would be protesting too!

m_and_m said...

this above sentence is easy to say when you are the one whose family is not being ripped apart

Steph, while I recognize this is hard for those who support gay marriage, or those gays who did get married, don't make this into drama that isn't true. Their families are not being ripped apart. Rights are not being stripped. They still have all the rights CA can offer a marriage. I have heard that they may not even lose their marriages, and this amendment will only move forward (Don't know what the status is on that).

If we are going to talk about what is going on, let's keep it real, ok?

Again, I understand the emotional impact. I understand the social frustration of not having the same name as marriage. I actually sympathize with how hard that must be, even though people don't want to believe that is possible. :)

But that's not the same thing as tearing families apart, or in this case, even taking their rights away. And honestly, if people really are concerned about the children, why were they not concerned when they were brought into that situation BEFORE marriage was even a consideration in CA? That is not an argument I will buy. Sorry. The parents brought the children into that problem, not the people who voted.

Remember also that it's not like the vote in CA was unique. One judge swung a vote to try to recreate marriage -- against what people had voted on, now twice.

As to the Church and protests...of course free speech is wonderful. But bullying and name-calling and vandalism and screaming in people's faces and slandering is inappropriate. The Church is an easy target, but people need to remember that it was certainly not acting alone in the coalition. Coalition leaders and other church leaders and even gay rights folks have acknowledged that some of the backlash has been inappropriate.

Also, please note that separation of church and state does not mean that people cannot vote their consciences that may be influenced by their religious beliefs. Gay marriage has been ruled against in nearly every state in the nation, and that is not holding up one church over another, which is what the separation of church and state is about -- not having a state-sponsored church.

As a final note, I am not against peaceful protest. And I don't believe the Church is, either. But people have got to stop making it a gays vs. Mormons issue. The *majority* of our nation is against gay marriage, Steph. You may disagree with that reality, but at least acknowledge it. And Mormons are anything but the majority in this nation. A LOT of people have voiced their opinion on this. 30 states now have constitutional amendments. Over a dozen other states have other measures. You will note that many of the coalition leaders are also coming to our defense, saying the Church has been unfairly singled out.

I say protest all you want, but keep focused on the facts while you do. This isn't about hate. This isn't just about the Mormons. This isn't about imposing religion on people. This is about letting the political process take its course. A handful of judges thought that they could change something that the people have said should not be changed. This isn't as simple as saying that somehow CA voters did something so extreme, so radical. They did what nearly every state has already done. It was the judges who did something radical, and the people protested.

That, my friend, is what it means to be in our country. We let the process take its course. It has taken its course time and time and time again in this nation on this issue. And now those who protest will need to figure out what, if anything, they can do in response. Honestly, I think protests at this point do very little, because it's the state's constitution they have to address for now, not the voters. But hey, like I said, I am not against protest if that is how people want to spend their time, as long as it's not in-your-face, hateful, angry action.

m_and_m said...

And lusciouschaos, thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate you sharing your personal experiences and feelings, particularly given the difficult situation you have been in.

Yours is not the first story I have heard like that. Thank you for showing how it is possible to love gays and still take a stand on this issue.

RedSpiral said...

Being a legally married, monogomous, queer, heathen woman I really appreciate all of the thoughtfulness that everyone demonstrates but I will be honest and say that the extension of the olive branch has a sour note to it when ya'll are standing in the position of power.

"I'm so sorry we won. Can we be friends?" Well, I'm sorry that this is so hard on you. Take your sadness and sorrow and fear for the future and multiply it exponentially and you'll be standing in the shoes of those queer folk with whom you share a church, neighborhood, community, and country.

To you it's a matter of CA standing by the law and I understand that. Whether you agree or not this whole thing has become a symbol, the focus of a rallying cry of people in our country who choose to no longer stand by and be marginalized by the religious/conservative side.

What is it costing you for everyone to have a right to marriage? How does this diminish you, your relationships? How does it in any way reflect upon you? This whole movement sleeps easily at night knowing that simple word separates them from the deviance and 'sin' of those who it excludes.

Of COURSE it's about hate! Of course it's about exclusion! To try to sell it as anything other than that is a testimony to the self-delusion of those behind it.

I have a feeling that the proponents of "equal rights for us but not you" are in for quite a shock in the aftermath of these measures passing. Hold on to your garments, the wave of change is coming!

m_and_m said...


I understand how it can feel like prop 8 is exclusionary.

But bear in mind that in a sense, marriage as an institution always has been exclusionary; it is not something that was just offered to anyone who wanted it. Siblings can't marry. People can't marry those under a certain age. You can only marry one person. etc. etc.

There have always been 'requirements' expected of those who entered into the institution. What we differ on is what those requirements should be.

You should know that I don't see marriage as a civil right (nor do most of the states in the nation), so there is a fundamental difference there.

Like I said in my previous comment, I can understand why those feelings of exclusion may be there. I actually do sympathize with that notion, but that won't change how I feel about the issue for reasons that I feel DO potentially affect me. You may not agree with my concerns, but at least you could acknowledge they exist rather than dismiss them as hateful or unfounded or 'delusional.' People can actually be rational, caring human beings and have concerns about gay marriage. Just as people can be rational, caring people and support gay marriage.

To me, this is what can help with dialogue on this issue. We can disagree (and we won't be able to change each others' minds). But we can acknowledge the concerns. I really do recognize yours, believe it or not. Were I in your shoes, I would probably feel the same way.

I do kindly ask you to please not translate my position into being one of hate, though. You don't know me or my heart, and it's wrong to lump all pro-prop 8 people together into a label like that.

I don't disagree with you, however, that this issue as it has played out in CA has become symbolic in many ways, for all of us.

But I do believe it's possible to 'be friends' with those who disagree with us on the issue. This issue is one that will test us as individuals, communities, and as a nation, imo.

m_and_m said...

Maybe I should even add that I don't expect that all people who disagree will 'be friends.' I don't even expect someone who disagrees with me to fully accept an olive leaf. I understand some measure of reluctance to forge a relationship with someone who differs on something that stirs such deep emotions as this issue.

But I do hope that we can find ways to respect one another as we differ. It's all too easy to jump to labeling or blaming or self-defensive mechanisms (we all do this sometimes, don't we?) -- and this whole issue, imo, gives us opportunities to dig deep in our souls for some willingness to give the benefit of the doubt even as there is such stark disagreement that exists.

RedSpiral said...

I *genuinely* look at this from the side of the conservatives and I really do not understand it. I honestly don't. I don't get what it costs you to allow (because let's face it, ya'll have the power to decide for everyone, as evidenced by the passing of this ridiculous measure) people who love each other to be married.

Is it not your own church that once had a more open mind about marriage? How can you (Mormons) stand now and say, "We are going to ignore our history and our own persecution and tell everyone else what they are allowed to do." It's as if you forget your own painful past, and it confuses me greatly.

I am hurt when you say it "can feel" like it's exclusionary. Have you put yourself in the shoes of the other side- to be in a many year relationship, to have possibly raised children, built a home with someone you deeply love, faced social persecution and even risk of death for being who you are, and then have a group dictate to you that you are not allowed to have the same rights as everyone else? I am sorry, I try with an open heart to understand how anyone can look themselves in the mirror and think that's okay, or to pray to Christ whose message was one of INCLUSION and find on your heart that this is the right direction.

I don't expect you to answer for everyone. I know that there is this fallacy that being gay is a 'choice', as if we get a menu sometime in our lives and get to choose our orientation. That notion is even more insulting and I've found it to be the basis of the conservative platform - without that belief, society must acknowledge that we are all equals and it's too convenient not to do so.

I am curious about your statement that marriage is not a civil right, can you share more about that?

For the record I think you are very eloquent and I do believe you believe you are coming from a loving place. I believe your intentions are good, I just choke on the repercussions of them. You're asking for people to join you at the table in the spirit of healing and openness but you're standing in the position of power and like I said before, it sounds more like "I'm so sorry we took away your rights, can we sit at the table together and heal over this?" It's the totally wrong, wrong, wrong question.

m_and_m said...

Thanks for your response. I think I can understand some of your questions. I, of course, cannot speak for the Church officially, but I will share some of my thoughts, fwiw.

I don't get what it costs you to allow...people who love each other to be married.

I'm going to share my personal concerns, with the request that you at least acknowledge that the concerns exist, even if you don't agree. Fair enough? (In other words, please don't call me a liar or fearmongerer. These are concerns that many people share, and while I realize they may not be immediate results of gay marriage, to me they are not inconceivable in the future.)

-- I am concerned about the potential threats to rights of those who may have religious or other beliefs or opinions supporting traditional marriage as the ideal. This is not to say that I support intolerance of or unkindness to gays. In no uncertain terms, I believe that gays are no different from anyone else in that they deserve common decency, respect, compassion, and kindness. But it is not hard to imagine the effort to protect the rights of gays clashing with the free speech and/or religious rights of those who believe gay marriage is wrong, or who feel for other reasons that traditional marriage should continue as the foundation of our society. This kind of intolerance for those who support traditional marriage is already very evident in this debate about Proposition 8 and in the aftermath. Tolerance must go both ways, and I am concerned that we will see less and less tolerance for those who support traditional marriage if gay marriage becomes legal in a widespread way.

-I am concerned about public school curriculum issues. There is an attitude that 'if it's legal, we can teach whatever we want' and that could end up clashing with the beliefs of millions of people.

-I am concerned about judges having too much power to overturn the voice of the people. If prop 8 had passed, for example, I would have been concerned about people then insisting that the 29 other constitutional amendments (plus the dozen+ other measures that have passed in other states) be somehow repealed. I see this as potentially very, very messy politically and legally. And I believe ultimately, on something as fundamental as marriage, it ought not be decided upon by one judge's swing vote in three states. (Even judges have not agreed on this -- in each of the three states where judges ruled in favor of gay marriage, the vote was 4-3.)

-Having experienced first-hand the personal confusion and doubt that can come in the process of sexual and identity development, I am concerned about equalizing gay marriage and heterosexual marriage. As a young teen, I found out my uncle was gay, and because I didn't like boys at the time and connected more with those of the same sex, I wondered if I was gay.

I don't dispute that some really are born that way, but most aren't, and the more society normalizes something that really is still in the minority, the more confusion there could be. Most children will grow up to be heterosexual. I believe it's important to not create more confusion for that process.

I realize this begs the question of how to help those who really are born with homosexual attractions. I believe this is an important thing to consider, but I don't believe making gay marriage on par with heterosexual marriage is the answer.

-I am concerned about changing the definition of something that has been the foundation of society for millennia. Even with its exceptions, where divorce or other less-than-ideal things occur, traditional marriage has proven over time to be a foundational institution for societies and in the lives of children. The failings of marriage are not because of the institution, but because of individuals, and those problems would exist with gay marriage as well.

-I am concerned that making gay marriage legal is a social experience of significant proportion, with too many unknowns. Some would argue 'then let's try it and see what happens.' I believe that we shouldn't be experimenting with our future and our society in this way. Such an experiment challenges the wisdom and experience of millenia. My concern is not just for the immediate future, but for generations to come.

-My last point, but not my least, is that I am concerned about the impact that legalizing gay marriage could have on children. I’m not questioning the reality that gays could and do provide loving homes for children. However, I believe that policy and law at this level should consider what is, in general, best for children now and in the future. It is my belief that children deserve, wherever possible, to be raised by a mom and a dad (if possible, by their own mom and dad). I believe that we can support those in other family situations without making their situations equal to traditional marriage.

I believe also that legalizing gay marriage could create a confusing environment for children, where roles like husband, wife, dad, mom, male, female, etc. could end up being altered. For example, I have already seen men called ‘Mum’ and “like a bride” in videos that obviously support gay marriage. I think this all could be very messy, and not just in terms of semantics, but in terms of what these things have truly meant for millennia in the fabric of society and family life. I think these roles and definitions are important as children grow and develop personally, socially, sexually, and in other ways.
And it probably goes without saying that for some, these words and roles have tremendous religious significance for many Americans. Again, parental (and/or religious) and societal teachings could clash -- where it matters most – in the raising of our children and grandchildren.

So thre are some of my thoughts and concerns.

m_and_m said...

I am hurt when you say it "can feel" like it's exclusionary. Have you put yourself in the shoes of the other side- to be in a many year relationship, to have possibly raised children, built a home with someone you deeply love, faced social persecution and even risk of death for being who you are, and then have a group dictate to you that you are not allowed to have the same rights as everyone else?

I actually have tried to put myself in others' shoes in this way. But I do think it's important to realize and acknowledge that in CA, gays already have rights through domestic partnerships.

I thought I would share this link, explaining why France has decided against gay marriage, but instead providing rights through partnerships. I think this is a good explanation of why marriage itself as an institution should remain heterosexual.

m_and_m said...

I try with an open heart to understand how anyone can look themselves in the mirror and think that's okay, or to pray to Christ whose message was one of INCLUSION and find on your heart that this is the right direction.

(I'm breaking up my responses because the comments get too long!)

Christ's message was not fully of inclusion. He taught some pretty firm standards. He was always loving, always kind, always willing to reach out, but He did (and, we believe, does) have standards of behavior. He didn't say 'come unto me and you can do whatever you want.' He gave commandments and told people to repent and change their lives to conform with His teachings.

This is the Christ we believe in. Love and tolerance and compassion are not the same thing as acceptance of behavior that is taught to be wrong.

m_and_m said...

How can you (Mormons) stand now and say, "We are going to ignore our history and our own persecution and tell everyone else what they are allowed to do." It's as if you forget your own painful past, and it confuses me greatly.

I can understand this confusion, but you have to understand that this isn't about ignoring history. And it's also not about Mormons telling everyone else what to do. Remember that the majority of states in the nation and the majority of nations in the world agree with the notion that gay marriage should not be legalized. This isn't a Mormon issue, and it's important that it not be reduced as such. This is much, much broader than just what the Mormons think.

And while I can't speak officially for the Church, I believe to equate having an opinion on this issue with persecution is really unfair. We are not driving people out of our states. We are not trying to cast people aside. But we do believe that it's important to keep marriage as it has always been. That is not the same thing as persecuting gays...even though I realize that some may feel that way, that is not the intent of most of us who take the position we do.

I have mentioned I have a gay uncle. I have gay friends, and friends with gay children, and a gay neighbor. And I seek to reach out and love these people. I don't cast them out of my life. I don't criticize their lives. There is a difference in my mind between persecution and what people who support traditional marriage are doing. Yes, there are those exceptions where people are mean and unkind. But please don't lump us all together, because that is not the motive that many of us have. There must be room for different beliefs and opinions on things like this, or else it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak, for those who are concerned about the minority seeking to control and silence the majority.

BookwormMama said...

I don't think there is any danger of the minority seeking to control the majority. That's logically impossible. The problem I am seeing is the majority controlling the rights of the minority, as it has been done over and over again in our history. With blacks, women, etc. The Supreme Court Judge is to interpret law and to make a judgment as to whether something is constitutional or not, in order to protect the minority from their rights being trampled on. After looking at the issue, I believe that is what the Supreme Court Judge in the case in California. The majority can vote to make women second class citizens. Would that make it constiatutional to do that? Not if the Supreme Court Judge ruled it as such, in order to protect women from that ruling. It seems to me that this is a case of the very very slim majority trying to control the rights of the minority, and that minority could be anyone- black, white, foreigner, woman, man, gay, straight, child, aduilt, etc.
Just because many other states did not allow gay marriage to be legalized either does not make it right. It just means that everyone else is doing it too.
Lots of states in the United States were practicing slavery before the Civil War. That didn't make it right either but lots of them were doing it. That to me is the same argument.

m_and_m said...

Steph, I understand that this is how you see it.

And it's where we will have to just agree to disagree. :)

Like I said before, I don't see marriage as a civil right.

(I realized just now I didn't explain why that is. I liked this from Guy Murray, a lawyer from CA. His comment can be found on this thread, comment #9. )

[T]he vast majority of state appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have rejected the notion that there is any such fundamental right as gay marriage. In short [the judicial system in general has ruled that gay marriage] is not a civil right....
[A]n extremely small but vocal minority has had very limited success in...court systems which imposed gay marriage on the vast majority of its own citizens, creating new fundamental rights, when none previously existed, [emphasis mine there] and which are rejected by most appellate courts which have actually litigated this issue.

...[The votes in 2000 and on prop 8] defined marriage as it has been defined in California for the past 158 years, and how the vast majority of the world’s civilizations have defined [and I would add continue to define it] it for millennia.... There are legitimate societal interests in affording heterosexual unions the stature of marriage, which do not exist for homosexual unions. And, in California, all unions, hetro or homosexual are afforded all the same rights California law can bestow.

I want to add that in my view, marriage has *never* been a civil right, a fundamental right. That notion just doesn't gel with me. It has always had restrictions and requirements and limitations -- it isn't just offered to someone because he/she is a citizen, like the right to vote is, for example. I would argue that we want it to stay that way. Opening marriage up to be a fundamental right rather than an institution with limitations to me seems like it can open up a can of worms. Where do you draw the line?

Anyway, there are some of my thoughts on that. One last thing that Guy said that I thought was worth including here is that if marriage really is a civil right, that would imply that "48 states and the entire federal government are depriving gays/lesbians a fundamental right. That proposition makes reason stare."

To me, that demonstrates how a minority IS trying to rule the majority on this, trying to establish something as a civil right that has never been such.

But therein lies the battle on this issue. If people think it's a fundamental civil right, of course they will continue to fight for it, and I can understand why they would. But that's a fundamental difference in my mind; it would appear that the majority of people believe that marriage is not a civil right. That's a big hurdle to cross.

RedSpiral said...

I am still struggling to understand. Your point of view seems so simple and accessible to you and I... I just honestly don't understand. I've chewed on this since I posted and saw your replies, I keep mulling, to use your word, and I just don't understand.

Whether the churches who grouped together to reach out from the pulpit, to rally their members, to donate money in incredible numbers even realize it or not, (and I acknowledge that ya'll really honestly just might not realize it), it comes across to the other side of this issue as hate. No one acknowledges the comparison between denying gay rights and denying women rights, or denying the rights of blacks.

How can this be good for this country - at a time when everyone is so deeply divided, driving the wedge even further does nothing but harm. This proposal has drawn incredibly negative attention to the intentions of those who most heavily promoted it and the light does not cast a rosy glow. I am really sad about that, I am sad that we're hurting even more now.

BookwormMama said...

For a long time, the majority of people in this country believed that black people were property and did not deserve any rights to be considered human beings. The majority was wrong.
For a long time, the majority of people in this country believed that women should not have a right to vote. The majority was wrong.
For a long time, the majority of people in this country believed that blacks were not equal with whites and should be segregated from whites. The majority was wrong.
The argument that the majority believes it/votes it, etc so it must be so is false... because as history has shown, the majority is not always right.
Although you don't see this as a civil rights issue, I am sure many other people believed the same thing when blacks wanted to be integrated into white schools, or when women wanted the right to vote, or when blacks wanted to be free instead of slaves. To me it is the same thing.
Thank you for being so respectful and diplomatic about this. Other blogs have been downright hateful on both sides.
I do agree that we will have to stop here and agree to disagree.

m_and_m said...

redspiral and Steph,

I really can understand why and how it feels like it's all so similar to blacks and women voting. And at some point, there will likely be nothing that I say that a) would change your mind or b) that may even help you understand mine.

But to sum up, there are two things influencing me on this issue.

1. For a long time, it was faith, and simply that. I believe in inspired prophets, and I followed their counsel to be involved in prop 22 in 2000. I didn't really understand why it would matter *that much* but I trusted them that it did.

2. After pondering this for literally years, and having dozens and dozens of discussions (some with gays themselves) and most recently really seeing some potential problems, from a rights point of view it boils down to this -- I think 'gay rights' and the rights of others are on a collision course. I do not believe that granting gays the rights of marriage will just be about their rights. I believe it could very likely affect many others' rights, if not immediately, then down the road.

Frankly, it seems impossible that gay marriage could be legal and co-exist without clash with the rights of those who believe (For religious or other reasons) that traditional marriage is preferred. I just don't see how something could be made completely legal and equal and yet still have it be acceptable, either socially or even legally, to express one's personal views about this issue.

I cannot in good conscience support something that I think will end up being a pendulum swing that will then threaten others' rights instead. All the more so when gays in CA already have rights under the law! If rights really are the concern, they are already taken care of in CA!

But obviously, there is more to this than that. Gays want social acceptance and validation by having gay marriage on par with trad. marriage. And that in my mind simply must demand that religious and other beliefs be somehow squelched. How else could they really be equal? Honestly. I don't think they can be unless we remove ANY viewpoint that they really aren't.

These things cannot coexist in my mind. They just can't.

So it's not that I don't care about rights. It's not that I don't care about gays and how hard it must be to feel -- and be treated -- differently in different ways. It's that I see that there is a huge problem that, imo, most gay marriage advocates don't seem to acknowledge -- that rights of others need to be considered in the big picture as well. To be honest, it feels to me that we have an impasse here. And so I have to go with what I feel is best for society, and I believe that keeping marriage heterosexual is best. There are other ways, imo, that we can consider and protect gays rights (again, see CA's already-existing laws) without potentially threatening the rights of others in the process.

Legislation, imo, should not just think of immediate supposed 'benefits' or only of minorities (!!!) but consider longer-term effects on the whole of society. Rare is the comment from anyone on the gay marriage advocacy side who will take a step back and do this. And I think making decisions in such a way is foolish at best, dangerous at worst.

m_and_m said...

Here is another viewpoint on the civil right question. I like how my friend put it.

"But to withhold special benefits is not to violate someone's civil rights. Our laws and policies routinely "discriminate" (or "differentiate") between people. We give special benefits to homeowners, to operators of low-emission vehicles, to people who make charitable contributions, to people who carpool, etc. The intent of these special benefits is to promote behaviors that are in the best interests of society. To use special benefits to encourage favorable behaviors is not to violate the civil rights of those whose behaviors are not equally incentivized. Encouraging some practices over others is not the same as depriving people of equal protection under the law."