Friday, November 7, 2008

Response to "Church Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Votes"

Church Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Votes

Since Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot in June of this year, the citizens of California have considered the arguments for and against same-sex marriage. After extensive debate between those of different persuasions, voters have chosen to amend the California State Constitution to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Voters in Arizona and Florida took the same course and amended their constitutions to establish that marriage will continue to be between a man and a woman.

Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life — family, identity, intimacy and equality — stirs fervent and deep feelings.

Some have asked why we in the LGBT community are fighting for same-sex marriage and/or why we are fighting so hard. This is part of the reason why. It is not a selfish grab; it is about the deep issues of our lives -- "family, identity, intimacy, and equality" -- being recognized and protected.

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

No, it won't. If anything the issue has been heightened. The flood of vitriol in just the past few days tells me the situation, for many, has escalated beyond a "debate." Many seem ready to have a new wave of Stonewall Riots.

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.

This is where I begin to take some real issue with the Church's comments. For people asking for parties to be "well informed" and not subject each other to "erroneous information" the Church seems to like using erroneous information to argue their position. I have already posted links to an analysis on Six Consequences... if Proposition 8 Fails (gained through I also take issue with the many studies they reference to support their view on marriage. Often they are misused taking inference from them that is in no way related to the issue (e.g., studies on the effect on children raised by both biological parents vs. only one biological parent do not give any information, directly or indirectly, on the effect of children raised by a same-sex couple).

It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage--a union between a man and a woman.

The words "sacred" and "divine" are inherently religious. This argument makes it clear the issue with the Church is trying to make civil structure reflect their religious ideology. Although I understand their concern, desire, and zeal to do this, I must take issue with the level of force they are showing. I strongly feel the Church is overstepping its bounds by trying to legislate deep doctrinal beliefs.

Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong.

Perhaps this is a little flippant: the very definition of bigotry is what has been going on. The fact of Church involvement and their own arguments as to why they are involved (see previous paragraph) are bigoted. They are stubbornly fighting against any recognition beyond what they believe: the "sacred" and "divine" union between a man and a woman.

The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.

Obviously, some of the members of the Church and others have missed this. I know this comment has been made many times over the past few years, however, I consistently hear LDS members say they only recently realized it was said. Still, some others seem to think "hostility" only means outright battery. They do not consider emotional, financial, and social harm any problem. In fact, some have said it is the very thing the Church and God want them to do.

Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.

First, I will reiterate my stance on supporting the constitutional rights of churches in this country and what happens in the civil arena should not infringe on those rights. Where is the line when basic rights for same-sex couples begin to "infringe" on the "integrity" of the "traditional family"? This seems so vaguely defined that the Church can have the latitude to protest against anything that even seems similar to allowing marriage rights. Back in 2004 when an amendment was on the ballot in Utah and other states to define marriage between a man and a woman, the Church gave an obtuse endorsement of those amendments via a First Presidency Statement:
Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.
Either the Church has taken a turn in the past four years in regard to allowing civil rights to same-sex couples, or this current statement is disingenuous.

Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.

Let me reiterate, I do not object to churches making their beliefs and views known publicly regarding politics. I do not object to churches asking the members of their congregations to be civilly involved. What I take issue with is the pouring of literally millions of dollars, disseminating erroneous information, and pressuring--not just asking, pressuring--their members into donating millions as well, to name a few unethical practices, for the purpose of pushing doctrinally based legislation through the system.

Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. 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.

I wonder if this is more of a required statement to cover the Church from being accused of forcing their members to vote a certain way. Whatever it is, it seems deeply contradictory to all the work the Church has done over the past months. (Flippant moment: "If this doesn't pass, society will suffer an apocalyptic colapse. But, whatever, vote how you want.") As for Church members being understanding and accepting, I hope certain people can stop calling others "apostate" or "against God's will" for not supporting Proposition 8 or similar measures.

Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy.

I am not sure what to make of this exactly. It seems odd how it is not the Church speaking of itself as an organization but speaking for the individual members collectively. I find it somewhat assumptive and bothersome to have the institution speaking for individuals.

The Church expresses deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the many Latter-day Saints and others who supported the coalitions in efforts regarding these amendments.

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