The Email Forward Has Convinced Me. Too Bad I Don’t Live In California

Rusty - September 15, 2008

So I’m trying to figure out how to tell friends and family that my wife and I don’t want to receive any more email forwards of a political nature (or dumb joke nature for that matter). It’s not that I don’t agree with some of the conservative principles of which they espouse, rather it’s the tone and tenor in which they are usually expressed in said emails. But in the meantime, there was one that has been passed on to me by two different people (and I’m sure many of you) that bugs me because it makes a bunch of claims without a single shred of evidence to back them up. That lack of evidence notwithstanding, legal ramifications and their impact on the Church are the only hesitations I have on the Prop 8 matter (I don’t really care if Joe and Beau get married).

So read the following forward and then I have some questions:

Dear friends and family,
My friend had Sacrament this past Sunday focus on Amendment 8 in California [...] This is an excerpt from her letter about their Sacrament meeting: ‘One of the Sacrament speakers is an LDS judge in the area and his statistics were mind blowing.

For example, in Boston, MA (where gay marriages are now legal,) the Catholic Charities have closed their doors because the state has required them to allow adoptions to same sex couples, and they refused. They are a large and worthwhile charity with great power in the state and they were overruled. A Methodist church has lost their tax exempt status because the minister refused to perform a marriage of a same sex couple (they were not of his congregation). A physician who refused to do fertility treatments on a same sex couple because of religious reasons was sued, lost and the state is requiring him to treat everyone as equals. Our schools will be required to teach, starting in kindergarten, that marriages make up many different combinations. The consequences are horrible.

Directly tied into ALL of this is our right to continue to go to the Temple. If Gay Marriage is supported by the government, then those who are same-sex married, who are ‘LDS’ and legally recognized as married by the government, can sue to be married in the temple. It is my opinion that the church will not bend on this issue, and our rights to go to the temple will be in jeopardy.

AND goodbye to those religious tax-deductions. Tithing, fast offerings, etc. We will lose our tax-exemption status if the government legally forces the church to support same-sex marriage.’

These effects are far-reaching! I hope no one is upset by this email, I would not want to offend anyone, but I believe this issue is not a political issue at all, but a moral issue that affects all of society.? The Proclamation on the family clearly gives a warning voice on this matter.

I pray that this issue on the ballots will overturn the gay marriages occurring right now in that state, and help prevent other states from adopting this stance. I believe that it is important to support and defend traditional marriage, home and family. Another friend says that her relatives in Sweden are even watching what goes on in California. The whole world is watching to see what happens.

Now, my instinct is that the claims are garbage. I mean, come on, we’ve been keeping people out of the temple for 150 years (for living in what we define as sin), how could the law force us to let “sinners” in now? And the writer makes absolutely no attempt to explain how our tax-exempt status has anything to do with same-sex marriage, except that by putting them in the same sentence we might think there is a link. (I also love the “I don’t mean to offend, but this is moral, not political.” Hon, it would be less offensive if it were just politics). Oh, and your friend in Sweden is watching what is going on (because you are talking about it with her). Yeah, you’re right, the WHOLE WORLD is watching.

Anyway, what exactly are the legal ramifications if this doesn’t pass (or does pass, I don’t remember if the Church is voting yes or no)…if gays are still allowed to marry. Is there any kind of legal threat to the way the Church does things? And could THAT be the primary reason the Church is doing this? How much does this legal stuff factor into your opinion on the matter or is it all about how much destruction to our society Steve and Cleve are inflicting?

NOTE: The delete button is hot for this post. No denigrating LDS Church leadership or each other. (but you can pick on email forwards all you want.)

72 Comments »

  1. Kaimi has a good legal analysis of these kinds of claims up on youtube. Just google kaimi proposition 8 to find it.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — September 15, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  2. The “consequences” listed in the second paragraph, though not accurately described, were not the result of same-sex marriage being legal in those states. They were the result of laws protecting gays and lesbian from discrimination.

    If Proposition 8 is not passed, marriage equality for gays and lesbians will more likely become a reality in other states. In my opinion, widespread same-sex marriage will more quickly and easily lead to non-discrimination measures where none currently exist.

    The issue really has to do with non-discrimination legislation. Repealing SSM in California will only slow down the progression of equality for gays and lesbians. Ultimately, we will continue to see more non-discrimination laws enacted throughout the United States that include protections for gays and lesbians. All the constitutional amendments defining marriage will not change the growing consensus that we should not discriminate against gay people.

    Comment by Steven B — September 15, 2008 @ 9:08 am

  3. First, FYI, the Church is advocating to vote ‘Yes’ on Prop 8.

    Second, as a California Mormon my concerns are not about any threats directly towards the Church, despite the horror stories such as the ones you’ve mentioned. My concerns are targeted more towards the enforced inclusion of SSM when covering the subject of families in California elementary schools. The potential enforcement of presenting “My Two Mommies” and “My Two Daddies” as normal and acceptable could, IMO, contribute to the already eroding state of the family. Unfortunately, kaimi’s video said nothing about that to allay my fears.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  4. Actually– my bad– your post did mention teaching in schools as one of the horror stories; I was still thinking of the adoption/tax break/kaimi video scenarios.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  5. None of these consequences would follow directly…these are slippery slope arguments. I happen to agree that this particular slope is indeed quite slippery.

    But I’m not sure why prop 8 is the right response. The right response is essentially libertarian, attempting to protect the right of individuals to maintain their own values, whatever they may be. Prop 8 seems almost to go in the other direction (or at least it will be perceived that way). I don’t think we can win the cultural battle…the libertarian live-and-let-live position is much more defensible.

    Comment by ed johnson — September 15, 2008 @ 10:40 am

  6. Whatever curriculum is taught in public elementary schools, it hardly matters whether Proposition 8 is passed or not, because same-sex families are a legal reality in California. I doubt whether they are described by the terms “marriage,” “domestic partnership” or “civil union,” will really make any difference.

    More likely, the curriculum will be influenced by the recent murder of Lawrence King by his class-mate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Efforts to teach tolerance in public schools are partly to create a safe environment for all children and to prepare students for the reality of the world in which they live.

    Comment by Steven B — September 15, 2008 @ 10:56 am

  7. This is just one of many issues facing the public school system where they are forced to cater to the lowest common demonator. I think Steven B makes a good point when he talks about schools reacting a way that creates a “tolerant” and “safe” environment for all students. No one wants children to be hurt, either because of their parent sexual orientation or their own, any more than we would want them to be hurt over their families religious prefrence. We can all agree that we want children to be safe.

    The sad fact is that since public schools teach the public, meaning everyone more or less, there are a great many things that they have to do and teach that LDS and Christian families don’t like to have taught to their children. It’s the very reason why home school and private school are becoming a more and more popular choice.

    Comment by Kate — September 15, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  8. On a slighty different note, I agree with Ed Johnson that the answer here is probably more libertarian than anything. IMO, the government needs to quit defining marriage, period. The government ought to be overseeing the keeping of contracts between it’s citizens, be they Mo and Larry, or Curly and Jane.

    Civil “marriage” is a contract between people old enough to consent and it shouldn’t matter if they’re men, or women, or any combination thereof. The term “marriage” is really religious in nature and the government needs to allow churches to define what they consider marriage or sin. That is the real purpose of the separation of church and state.

    Just one little nasty comment, I think the real reason the church is so heck-bent on preventing gay marriage is because plural marriage being made legal won’t be far behind. And where will the church be then?

    Comment by Kate — September 15, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  9. I agree that sometimes the rhetoric can get a little out of hand with this issue, but this email includes concerns that the Church wrote about. Most of the letter is not so off base if you think the Church’s letter (approved by the First Presidency, as reported by public affairs) is somewhere in the ball park.

    Kate, the challenge with the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage is that that option is simply not on the table right now. We have to work within the bounds of what IS.

    I also don’t think marriage is only a religious institution. I think society has pretty much always had a vested interest in marriage as its foundation, even when the institution was only religious. But again, that isn’t what is on the table so at some level, I think it’s rather a moot point to discuss at this point.

    Comment by m&m — September 15, 2008 @ 11:34 am

  10. m&m-
    Your point is well taken. I realize we have to deal with reality and not our own ideas of what “should have been” or we’ll never have a reasonable discussion. My appologies to everyone for getting off track.
    I still hold with the idea that the church has a stake in this because of plural marriage. I believe that, more than any other thing, is behind their political activism on this issue.

    Comment by Kate — September 15, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  11. A problem I have with the attempted civil/religious split is: Aren’t non-religious people allowed to care about marriage and oppose normalization of homosexual relations?

    Comment by John Mansfield — September 15, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

  12. Steve

    More likely, the curriculum will be influenced by the recent murder of Lawrence King by his class-mate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.

    Two misfit kids have an unfortunate encounter and you think this is justification to teach SS marriage in schools? Do you think if the shooter learned about SSM in kindergarten he would have spared Lawrence after the kid asked him to be his valentine in front of his friends? He was a time bomb waiting to go off already, and was humiliated in front of his peers– something pretty huge (even for a well-balanced kid) when you’re 14. Using this as a gay hate crime banner (at the least) and an opportunity to wedge SSM in the curriculum is over-reaching.

    There are plenty of ways to teach tolerance in schools (the documentary “Eye of the Storm” was shown to my generation). Legalizing SS marriage removes the last bastion of defense for parents who don’t want such a union taught as an example of marriage in their children’s classrooms. The potential enforcement of such teaching essentially removes the power from the majority of parents to accommodate the few (forcing the majority to then UN-teach it at home).

    Whether these are my own melodramatic fears or a dark possibility, this is an issue that throws me into support for Prop 8.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

  13. David,

    Whether you realize it or not, you are blaming the victim and suggesting that misfits don’t matter nor should we try to make schools safe for such.

    Regardless, the fear, being promulgated by the email, that schools will teach that same-sex relationships are legal and acceptable in society is being used as a “talking point” to help pass Proposition 8. I think this is a real fear of church leaders and members. But honestly, I don’t think passing Prop 8 will make any difference whatsoever. Prop 8 is all about whether the legal unions of same-sex couples can be called marriage or something else. Either way, schools are still likely to teach that “Heather has two Mommies.”

    Comment by Steven B — September 15, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  14. Clearly the email is intended to spread fear. Fear is what fuels proposition 8 and the Church’s support of it. Don’t believe me? Read the Church’s recent statement, “The Divine Institution of Marriage.” It lists out everything our leaders fear will happen to the Church if gay marriage continues in California.

    Three to four years from now we will all see that nothing about our daily lives has changed despite gay marriage, and the fear will go away. Latter-day Saints will still go to the temple. Their kids will still come home from school learning about how to tolerate and be nice to all kids, even the ones who are gay or have two mommies(not a change). Tithing will still be tax deductible. Life will go on, fear will diminish, and then– Then gay Mormons, like myself, will be able to grow up in an environment where they aren’t so afraid of what is inside of them that they envision taking their own life.

    Twenty years from now, we will see a change. Youth suicide rates will have gone down.

    Comment by Peter — September 15, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  15. One of the major (yet oft-overlooked) factors in the gay marriage debate is the issue of protected classes, a fundamental component of anti-discrimination law. It is on this basis that same-sex couples have (successfully) sued to have certain services rendered them, despite the protest (even on religious grounds) of the other party.

    The claims in the email are not false; I’ve documented several of them here. There is a strong argument to be made for the Proposition 8 (and overall same-sex marriage) issue being not the denial of rights to a class of citizens, but the suppression of freedom of religion (both at the present time, and with regard to future actions).

    This is a very slippery slope.

    Comment by Connor — September 15, 2008 @ 4:06 pm

  16. Kate,
    I think your position is fairly common, so I don’t think you need to apologize for sharing it. I just point out that in a sense, it distracts from the reality of what we are dealing with. We don’t have the option of taking it off the table right now, so it just seems like it doesn’t do much good to go there at this point.

    Also, I really don’t think we have to guess or speculate as to why the Church is involved, because it has outlined pretty clearly why it is, and what the concerns are. I think it’s important to take what has been said at face value. Maybe the polygamy thing is in the back of their minds (I don’t see how it couldn’t) but I think the leaders are actually more concerned about marriage as an institution defined by God, about the effect this could have on our religious rights, about the effect it could have on the rising generation(s), and about the effect it could have on society and our future in general.

    Comment by m&m — September 15, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

  17. Then gay Mormons, like myself, will be able to grow up in an environment where they aren’t so afraid of what is inside of them that they envision taking their own life.

    Peter, my heart goes out to you. I know I can only imagine how difficult it is to be a gay Mormon. I am one who cares deeply about this, and aches for our culture to be in a place where gay members can share their struggles and feel love and safety and support.

    And yet, comments like your make it even harder for people like me to be able to reach out. It feels as though you say that I have to reject the prophets’ position, warnings, and action to show that I care. I cannot do this. I believe they are prophets and warn us and care about this for a reason, and I cannot dismiss what they have said as needless fear, or agree with the implication that this issue really doesn’t matter and that if gay marriage becomes legal that nothing negative will result.

    BUT — and this is a really important but! — I really believe that our leaders care so very deeply about gays in the Church. I believe we can acknowledge and support prophetic warnings and guidance and their position on this and still within that framework seek for ways to help gays in the Church feel love and hope and power to face their challenges. But we can’t change the doctrine about marriage nor the responsibility we have to do what we can to protect marriage as an institution. Please don’t misunderstand that as not caring about individuals, because that isn’t true.

    I will say it again. I, for one, am a member who cares DEEPLY about this and about reaching out. But please don’t ask me to turn my back on the leaders in order to prove my concern. That simply isn’t fair to ask of members who believe the prophets are right on this. Prop. 8 is not about rejection or lack of concern for gays. It is about protecting the institution of marriage, which is of utmost importance. We can care about gays without supporting the notion of gay marriage.

    I know our culture has a long way to go with not being afraid of homosexuality in general. If you lived in Utah County, you would have heard Elder Marlin Jensen talking about this, about caring about and being sensitive to those who feel ‘different’ in our culture. I think you can take hope in knowing that the leaders know how hard your situation is and they care deeply. And that there are members who, even as they support Prop 8, also care deeply.

    Comment by m&m — September 15, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  18. Connor, here’s an internet acronym for you to learn and use: IANAL.

    Comment by Steve Evans — September 15, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  19. Again, the gay community is adamant that they be afforded legal protection (so-called “equality”) for their personal decision. This is tantamount to choosing to drink grape juice and suing all the manufacturers of my clothing for creating a product that stains when coming in contact with my beverage of choice.

    Connor, I clicked over to your blog to read the post you linked to in your comment. I’m sure you have no idea how offensive your post is, but the analogy you draw here between grape juice stains and homosexual behavior really takes the cake. Nice.

    Comment by ECS — September 15, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  20. I’m not sure I get the deep fear about SSM being called normal in schools or anywhere else. Just because something is common don’t mean my kids will do it. Pre-marital sex has been common for, well, forever. But we Mormons preach against it and a surprising number of us avoid it. Same with consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, etc. Just because those things are obviously normal in society doesn’t mean my kids are going to partake.

    Is someone worried that an accepting attitude about gay marriage is going to turn their child gay or something? Seriously, I don’t get it… Can someone help me out with that one?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  21. Doh! Make that “…doesn’t mean my…”

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

  22. Geoff,

    I’m not sure I get the deep fear about SSM being called normal in schools or anywhere else. Just because something is common don’t mean my kids will do it. Pre-marital sex has been common for, well, forever.

    They also don’t teach that pre-marital sex is okay and normal in elementary school (one point for effort). And, yeah, our kids are pretty well educated about the coffee, tea, alcohol, sex before marriage stuff, etc., but that’s not the case for society in general. And it’s not that parents are worried about their kids becoming gay (point taken away for ham-handed obtuseness), but because such teaching would inadvertently support the cheapening of the sacred nature of marriage– it would change its definition into something at odds with the Lord’s plan. Maybe not to our kids, but certainly to the society in which they live.

    Is someone worried that an accepting attitude about gay marriage is going to turn their child gay or something?

    or something…

    Let me put it another way: If the prophet is deeply concerned about this and calls it “an issue of moral imperative,” maybe nitpicking isn’t the right response.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  23. On the school stuff:
    When my kids get equal time to learn about divorce and re-marriage, adoption and generational parenting, then they can learn about gay marriage in schools. As it stands now, there are no special lessons on “Timmy lives with Grandma now.”

    Who cares?

    On the religious stuff:
    I have to agree with both m&m and David T. The mistake most people make is that one cannot love a gay person and still vote against gay marriage. But there are many of us that do.

    Comment by cheryl — September 15, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

  24. David T: And, yeah, our kids are pretty well educated about the coffee, tea, alcohol, sex before marriage stuff, etc., but that’s not the case for society in general.

    So does that mean that you fear is that non-Mormon kids will become gay as a result of SSM being treated as normal?

    but because such teaching would inadvertently support the cheapening of the sacred nature of marriage

    What on earth does this even mean? My marriage (or its nature) is not cheapened by any teaching anywhere in the universe. It is intrinsically valuable. Do you think your marriage would be cheapened if you lived in a state where SSM was legal?

    or something…

    Ok, what is that “something” you are personally worried about then? I am wondering if you are unwilling to articulate it or just unable.

    the prophet is deeply concerned about this and calls it “an issue of moral imperative,”

    Finally. An explanation that makes sense. Why not just stick with the “I know not save the Lord commanded me” reason? All of your other explanations come off as vapid and baseless to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  25. Nice hack job on my comments, Geoff. You belong in politics.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

  26. “Aside from the very serious consequence of undermining and diluting the sacred nature of marriage between a man and a woman, there are many practical implications in the sphere of public policy that will be of deep concern to parents and society as a whole. These are critical to understanding the seriousness of the overall issue of same-sex marriage.” The Divine Institution of Marriage

    What on earth does this even mean? My marriage (or its nature) is not cheapened by any teaching anywhere in the universe.

    So now I suppose you’re going to tell me that cheapening is entirely different from diluting and undermining.

    Comment by David T. — September 15, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  27. Just because you can quote a sentence from a press release does not mean the sentence or concept makes sense David T. Seriously, I don’t believe for a second that any political action could remotely cheapen or dilute or undermine the sacred nature of my marriage. Can you or anyone else explain how the ever changing winds of politics would cheapen or undermine or dilute my marriage?

    PS — Please show me how I hacked your comments. I don’t want to do that in the future and I didn’t think I did that this time.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

  28. David T., what the hell with this (one point for effort), (point taken away for ham-handed obtuseness) crap? Do you talk like that to people in real life? If you treat your fellow Mormons this way I’d hate to see how you treat your real enemies. I’m not even really opposed to Prop 8, but your defense of it is repulsive.

    Comment by Steve Evans — September 15, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

  29. Here is an email that I received. What do you think? Is it bigoted?

    Dear friends and family,
    My friend had Sacrament this past Sunday focus on Amendment 8 in California [...] This is an excerpt from her letter about their Sacrament meeting: ‘One of the Sacrament speakers is an LDS judge in the area and his statistics were mind blowing.

    For example, in Boston, MA (where blacks are now legal,) the Catholic Charities have closed their doors because the state has required them to allow adoptions to black couples, and they refused. They are a large and worthwhile charity with great power in the state and they were overruled. A Methodist church has lost their tax exempt status because the minister refused to perform a marriage of a black couple (they were not of his congregation). A physician who refused to do fertility treatments on a black couple because of religious reasons was sued, lost and the state is requiring him to treat everyone as equals. Our schools will be required to teach, starting in kindergarten, that marriages make up many different combinations. The consequences are horrible.

    Directly tied into ALL of this is our right to continue to go to the Temple. If black is supported by the government, then those who are black married, who are ‘LDS’ and legally recognized as married by the government, can sue to be married in the temple. It is my opinion that the church will not bend on this issue, and our rights to go to the temple will be in jeopardy.

    AND goodbye to those religious tax-deductions. Tithing, fast offerings, etc. We will lose our tax-exemption status if the government legally forces the church to support black marriage.’

    These effects are far-reaching! I hope no one is upset by this email, I would not want to offend anyone, but I believe this issue is not a political issue at all, but a moral issue that affects all of society.? The Proclamation on the family clearly gives a warning voice on this matter.

    I pray that this issue on the ballots will overturn the blacks occurring right now in that state, and help prevent other states from adopting this stance. I believe that it is important to support and defend traditional marriage, home and family. Another friend says that her relatives in Sweden are even watching what goes on in California. The whole world is watching to see what happens.

    Comment by japanguy — September 15, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  30. Our schools will be required to teach, starting in kindergarten, that marriages make up many different combinations.

    On August 8, in his ruling concerning Proposition 8 ballot language Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley said, “As petitioners have established, current state law does not require school districts to teach anything about marriage or same-sex marriage at any grade level. Moreover, for those school districts that choose to include instruction about marriage as part of a health education curriculum, Education Code [section] 51240 requires that they allow parents to excuse their children from any such instruction conflicting with the parents’ religious or moral convictions.”

    Comment by Steven B — September 15, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  31. It is legally incorrect to suggest that if Prop 8 doesn’t pass, the church will be forced to marry gay people in the temple under the Cal Supreme Court’s decision in In Re Marriage Cases. It is dishonest for anyone who has actually read the case to say this. People who make this claim fall into one of two categories: uninformed or dishonest.

    The Cal decision explicitly states:

    “No religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)”

    That’s directly out of the court’s opinion.

    In addition, it’s legally incorrect and probably dishonest to suggest that Prop 8 will affect fertility treatments, physicians, or any of the like.

    Business establishments in California — including doctors, adoption agencies, and so on — are already prohibited from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. This is not a court-imposed rule, it’s part of the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The Unruh Act states:

    “Cal. Civ. Code. 51(b): All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no
    matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical
    condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal
    accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of
    every kind whatsoever.
    Cal. Civ. Code 51.5(a): No business establishment of any kind whatsoever shall discriminate
    against, boycott or blacklist, or refuse to buy from, contract with, sell to, or trade with any
    person in this state on account of any characteristic listed or defined in subdivision (b) or (e) of
    Section 51, or of the person’s partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers,
    superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers, or customers, because the
    person is perceived to have one or more of those characteristics, or because the person is
    associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics.”

    -

    The idea that Prop 8 would in effect overturn the Unruh Act is garbage. Some Prop 8 supporters admit as much. The Protectmarriage.com website’s FAQ states:

    “Will Proposition 8 take away any rights for gay and lesbian domestic partners?
    No. Proposition 8 is about preserving marriage; it’s not an attack on the gay lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits from gays or lesbians in domestic partnerships. Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code §297.5.) There are no exceptions. Proposition 8 will not change this.”

    (This is at http://protectmarriage.com/resources)

    Despite this more careful language at this part of the PM website, individual members continue to circulate reports that are filled with legal inaccuracies. (One of the most common around here is the “Six Consequences if Prop 8 fails” document, which is full of legal errors and misleading statements.)

    Similarly, Massachusetts / Catholic Charities is another red herring. The gay marriage case had nothing to do with the state investigation, which started in 2000, 4 years prior to the Goodridge case. The state investigation was based on an antidiscrimination law similar to California’s (and laws in other states as well).

    The New Jersey tax case is also a red herring — see my youtube for discussion. And remember, New Jersey is not a gay marriage state.

    These e-mails may be well-intentioned, but they tend to confuse the issue of antidiscrimination laws and marriage laws. The two are not the same. Prop 8 affects only marriage — it will not affect antidiscrimination laws, and it’s very misleading to imply that it will.

    Comment by Kaimi — September 15, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  32. I should note that there are legitimate potential critiques of the antidiscrimination laws that I mention. There are tensions between antidiscrimination laws and other rights such as expression or association, and I personally don’t think there are easy answers in resolving these tensions. I do think that antidiscrimination laws are sometimes overused or used poorly, and that there are legitimate critiques that can be made of many current laws. I recognize that this is very much a live issue.

    Whatever one thinks of antidiscrimination laws, though, it’s wrong and misleading to suggest that Prop 8 would affect them at all — and it’s equally misleading to cite to a host of antidiscrimination law cases and call it “consequences if Prop 8 fails” or the like.

    Repeat after me:

    Prop 8 will not change California antidiscrimination laws.
    Prop 8 will not change California antidiscrimination laws.
    Prop 8 will not change California antidiscrimination laws.

    Got it?

    Comment by Kaimi — September 15, 2008 @ 10:32 pm

  33. Kaimi, you are of course right that Prop 8 will not directly affect anti-discrimination laws.

    But do you really think there is nothing at all to these slippery slope arguments? I would think that legal equality in marriage would make it somewhat easier for well-meaning judges to find new protections for gay couples in the law. We’ve certainly seen similar things happen before.

    Comment by ed johnson — September 15, 2008 @ 11:21 pm

  34. as a non American- am I the only person who is horrified at the thoguht of a Sacrament Meeting being devoted entirely to a political issue?

    Comment by Anne — September 16, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  35. A problem I have with the attempted civil/religious split is: Aren’t non-religious people allowed to care about marriage

    Of course, they are. They do care about marriage. That’s why so many non-religious people support non-discrimination in marriage: because they recognize marriage as an important (secular) institution.

    and oppose normalization of homosexual relations?

    There’s the rub. Non-religious people could oppose “normalization of homosexual relations,” yet for the most part they don’t. Because, frankly, there’s no non-religious justification for this type of discrimination.

    Comment by chanson — September 16, 2008 @ 3:22 am

  36. Kaimi,
    Thanks for your input. Maybe I should put your comments into an email and send it to everyone on that same list and see how many times it gets forwarded. Ha!

    Anne,
    But don’t you remember from the email? The writer said it’s not political, it’s moral…therefore it MUST be moral, therefore it’s okay to devote a Sacrament Meeting to it. Remember, if you say something then it MUST be true.

    Comment by Rusty — September 16, 2008 @ 5:24 am

  37. Geoff & Steve Evans,

    I’m not even going to try to defend my statements from last night. My approach was entirely inappropriate and I can see that, without the benefit of inflection, tone and actually knowing each other, it came off mean and ugly. Please accept my apology and I will keep my dramatics in check in the future.

    Comment by David T. — September 16, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  38. I think we are being a bit disingenuous if we claim that we are just seeking to maintain the status quo in regards to the definition of marriage. According to this article (scroll down to the last two bullet points in the document), which I found by reading the fount of all wisdom, Meridian magizine, we are going to aggressively try to roll back civil unions and domestic partnerships, too.

    That article was written by the guy who is in charge of the church’s prop. 8 effort in CA. Can we blame gay people if they don’t trust us, or have a hard time believing us? Or should I just quit putting so much trust in Meridian mag?

    Comment by Mark IV — September 16, 2008 @ 7:17 am

  39. Rusty, can you please close that tag? Muchas gracias.

    Comment by Mark IV — September 16, 2008 @ 7:18 am

  40. [...] 8 much because it troubles me and I live far from California. But I was surprised when I read this forwarded e-mail and some of the ensuing conversation. This particular thread makes clear that some people are very concerned that, if the amendment [...]

    Pingback by Mormon Mentality - Thoughts and Asides by Peculiar People » We are Family — September 16, 2008 @ 7:41 am

  41. Mark,

    As far as I can tell, there’s a split among Prop 8 folks — but yes, many of them (perhaps the majority) have suggested that Prop 8 is a first step in a plan to roll back other rights of gays, specifically domestic partnerships and civil unions.

    Interestingly, the church’s recent statement on marriage seems to allow room for civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, prior statements by some church leaders, as well as the protectmarriage website, were opposed to civil unions. (See http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2008/08/what-about-domestic-partnerships/ )

    Comment by Kaimi — September 16, 2008 @ 7:51 am

  42. Kaimi, yes, I noticed that the church’s official statement is at odds, to some degree, with the people running the show, even the LDS ones. Which all makes me wonder just how much the church is in charge of our effort, or if this is a case of the tail wagging the dog.

    Comment by Mark IV — September 16, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  43. David T, I am neither Geoff nor Steve, but as an (erstwhile) lurker in this thread who was upset by the tone of some of your comments (esp. #12), I really appreciate your apology. Sincere thanks — SB2.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — September 16, 2008 @ 8:35 am

  44. David T., I love ya baby. Thanks.

    Comment by Steve Evans — September 16, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  45. If a religious institution (or an educational institution sponsored by one) can lose its tax exemption because of policies of racial separation (Bob Jones, anyone?), why should we expect that religious institutions who do not accept the normalization, in fact the state sanctioning, of same sex relationships will not face that same threat in the new enlightened era into which we are moving?

    I don’t support either the horridly written screed of an email that Rusty quoted. And in my view Bob Jones’s policies are wrong. But the precedent is there: a church which has doctrines/practices that violate civil rights statutes is at risk of losing its tax exempt status.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 16, 2008 @ 8:50 am

  46. Re #42 – I think that many LDS would be troubled if they were to find out about the agendas and backgrounds of the non-LDS folks directing the Yes on 8 campaign.

    A freelance journalist in SoCal has been doing a bang up job recently in shining a little daylight on the boards of directors at the 501(c) outfits that are managing the contributions.

    http://justinmclachlan.com/08/51/cfc-finally-releases-a-list-of-its-board-of-directors/

    And Orange County’s OC Register “Watchdog” just published a scathing article:

    http://taxdollars.freedomblogging.com/2008/09/16/charity-spends-more-on-overhead-than-on-protecting-judeo-christian-values/

    Based on the IRS filings I’ve been reviewing (admittedly a miniscule aspect of the campaign), the operation comes off looking sloppy. Win or lose, it’d seem to me that the directors owe their donors the courtesy of filing all proper paperwork, paying all necessary taxes, and keeping appropriately detailed accounts of expenditures. They haven’t and I’m afraid they are going to become a source of embarrassment.

    Comment by Chino Blanco — September 16, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  47. Mark B.,

    _Bob Jones University v. United States_, 461 U.S. 574 (1983), holds that, in order to qualify for a 501(c)(3) charitable exemption, an organization “must serve a public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy” and “must . . . be in harmony with the public interest, and the institution’s purpose must not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred.”

    That’s a pretty high bar, and I think it’s highly, highly unlikely that (1) the IRS would bring an action against the church for violating that standard, and (2) a court would uphold the IRS if it did.

    But it’s true that it’s _possible_ (though quite unlikely, I’d say) that the church’s refusal to accept SSM could in the future affect its tax status.

    Comment by Kaimi — September 16, 2008 @ 9:19 am

  48. We’ve had some firesides talking about Prop 8, and they focused on children of the next generation. Basically that, everything that happens now with prop 8 is going to change things for our child’s lives, and we should have a say in those things. Things like, my child’s sex education class will now cover alternate life styles, or what will be more generally taught in other classes too. It’s all been very interesting to ponder.

    Having grown up in theater, doing ballet for 4 years, being a flight attendant and living in San Fran, I’ve had countless gay and lesbian friends, many of which are amazingly loving, kind, and generous people who would make excellent parents. Last fall I struggled hard with “How do I love them, but be against their way of life?” After a long discussion with my father, we both came to the realization that I have to focus on the sin. That it really is no different than a liar, or adulterers, or an alcoholic. That I would still have love for them, even though they just have this sin, just as I have my own sins. So for me, with Prop 8, it’s just been about the world trying to justify more sins, and that I’d have voted for prohibition all the same, really.

    Comment by Bryce — September 16, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  49. Considering chanson‘s rebuttal (#35) that there are no non-religious reasons to oppose abolition of gender within marriage, I will observe that win or lose, most of those who vote for Prop. 8 will not have attended a religious service in years.

    Comment by John Mansfield — September 16, 2008 @ 10:08 am

  50. Bryce,

    California’s Education Code already requires “alternate lifestyle education” and passage of Prop 8 will not remove that from the code:

    “Sec. 51933. of the California Education Code specifically addresses Comprehensive Sexual Health Education and HIV/AIDS Prevention. This section says school districts may provide age-appropriate instruction, K-12th grade. If districts elect to offer such courses, they have to meet several criteria, including:

    [1] Instruction and materials shall be age appropriate.

    [2] All factual information presented shall be medically accurate and objective.

    [4] Instruction and materials shall be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and pupils with disabilities.

    [6] Instruction and materials shall encourage a pupil to communicate with his or her parents or guardians about human sexuality.

    [7] Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships.”

    “Committed relationships” includes existing same-sex domestic partnerships, which have existed for years in California and will continue to exist with or without Prop 8.

    School districts are required to include parents in curriculum development for health and “sex ed” classes. If you haven’t already become familiar with your districts’ programs, go find out what they are and comment accordingly.

    Comment by Hera — September 16, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  51. Kaimi, why do you think it’s unlikely that the church could lose a Bob Jones type case over this issue? It probably wouldn’t happen right away, but I can see it happening in a few years. Who would have predicted 20 years ago that state courts would be ruling that the state constitution required same sex marriage?

    Also, note that advocates of SSM routinely draw comparisons between racial discrimination and discrimination against gays. Anti-gay discrimination is not that far from being “against public policy.”

    Is there some reason I’m not seeing why you think this would be unlikely? (I’m not a lawyer.)

    Comment by ed johnson — September 16, 2008 @ 10:22 am

  52. Chino Blanco (#46),

    Thanks for the interesting information. Based on that evidence, I think you are correct, this is a sloppy operation and the people behind it are some shady characters.

    If prop. 8 passes, I imagine all will be forgotten. If it fails, I think there will be lots of fingerpointing and second-guessing. And it will be entirely reasonable for people who have sacrificed financially (even incurring debt in some cases) to feel that they have been cheated and misused. I doubt that many donors realize that that only 25% of their donation goes to the core mission and that over 50% goes to management fees, i.e. car and boat payments for the people in charge.

    Comment by Mark IV — September 16, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  53. I second Steve and SB2′s admiration for David T’s comment #37.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 16, 2008 @ 11:19 am

  54. Proverbs 6:16-19a:

    16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

    17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

    18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

    19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    When it’s all said and done, the courts are going to rule what they rule, churches are going to stand by what they teach and history fifty years from now (if the Lord tarries) will look back on this very differently than we see it looking forward. I guess that’s just a wordy way of saying, “What ever will be, will be.”

    So let us remember one thing: We’re all brothers and sisters in Him, and no matter which side is right or which side is wrong, the Devil wins when he gets us to fight amongst our selves over it. Somehow we have to manage to have reasoned, civil, even spirited, differences of opinion that allow us to love one another all the more after it’s over.

    So Kudos to David T for setting a great example in that direction.

    Comment by Kate — September 16, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  55. Also, note that advocates of SSM routinely draw comparisons between racial discrimination and discrimination against gays. Anti-gay discrimination is not that far from being “against public policy.”

    Womens rights advocates draw that line all the time, too. And the church hasn’t ever lost its tax exemption for failing to ordain women, has it?

    Comment by Kaimi — September 16, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  56. By the way, Kaimi, thanks for taking the time to look up Bob Jones. I just winged it.

    Frankly, I’m not much comforted by protestations that the slope isn’t that slippery, or that it’s not steep, or that non-ordination of women hasn’t caused a problem.

    People, even those who thought the decision praiseworthy, scoffed at Justice Scalia for his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. Gay marriage? No chance!

    Yeah. Right.

    And a common community conscience that forbade interracial dating/sexual relationships/marriage has in under 50 years done a complete about face. (I know that much of the ban on sexual relationships was hypocritical (See, Ex. 1, Thos. Jefferson) and one-way–God have mercy on your soul if you were a black man accused of being with a white woman (See, Ex. 2, To Kill a Mockingbird).) So what’s to stop the common community conscience from moving on homosexual relationships in 50 years to a point where the “intolerance” of not recognizing or celebrating them is deemed to be “so at odds . . .”

    We’ve gone from sodomy being a criminal offense before Lawrence to being a cause for celebration. In five years.

    Of course, on your point in #55, we should remember that the 27th Amendment states a rule about compensation for members of Congress, and not something about sex-based discrimination.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 16, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

  57. Mark B., I agree that the slippery slope argument cannot be dismissed entirely. There are bound to be some unforseen eventualities either way, though.

    I also think that we Mormons are on a slippery slope no matter what. If we are concerned about the free exercise of our religion, I think we have as much to fear from some of our partners in the prop. 8 effort as we do from the future application of anti-discrimination laws. The pastor in Canada whose radio broadcast was threatened because he preached against “non-biblical” marriage, and whose case is used to rally support for prop. 8, is very open about also wanting to place restrictions on “Muslims, Mormons, and other non-Christians”. He thinks we are threats to society at large, just like he thinks gay people are threats. If prop. 8 succeeds, I find it hard to believe that he and others like him will suddenly decide that Mormons are A-OK after all.

    Comment by Mark Brown — September 16, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  58. For an example of the kind of pressure put on LDS folks here in California, see this:
    http://protectmarriagepoway.com/
    To see how well it’s working, see:
    http://www.mormonsfor8.com

    For a different opinion on Prop 8, see http://www.mormonsformarriage.com

    Comment by mimosa — September 16, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

  59. John Mansfield,

    “Considering chanson’s rebuttal (#35) that there are no non-religious reasons to oppose abolition of gender within marriage, I will observe that win or lose, most of those who vote for Prop. 8 will not have attended a religious service in years.”

    I am not following the logic of your statement here. Could you spell it out for me?

    Comment by John C. — September 16, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

  60. John C., the Pew study puts California church attendance at weekly, 33%; sometime during the year, 33%; seldom, 33%; and unreported, 1%. (Oddly clean numbers.) There has been a bit of a debate with one researcher claiming based on attendance counts that such surveys reflect to a degree what people think they should have done instead of what they actually did; if a parent stayed home with a sick child, she might report to a surveyor that she attended that week because that’s what she usually does, and a self-reporter’s sense of what she “usually” does can stretch a bit from reality.

    At any rate 1/3 of Californians (or less) go to church weekly, 1/3 go sometime during the year, and 1/3 never go. Many church attenders will vote against Prop. 8. Three-fifths of voters approved Prop. 22, and we may suppose that half or so will vote for Prop. 8. That leaves a lot of votes against homosexual marriage cast by people voting for some reason other than religion.

    My comment that you quoted (“most [...] will not have attended a religious service in years”) probably stretches things a bit too far, though.

    Comment by John Mansfield — September 17, 2008 @ 5:50 am

  61. If gays get married, it is the end of society. You all know that. But you just sit here and feel so good about your tolerance levels. Well, my tolerance level has done been reached. I’m not coming back here to so-called “nine-moons.com’ again! I’m going over to FMH. Over there, they talk about important things, like poopy diapers.

    And that’s final.

    Comment by sam — September 17, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  62. re: m&m #17 (“I really believe that our leaders care so very deeply about gays in the Church”): we would all like to believe this, but having church leaders say they care deeply about gays doesn’t mask the reality that they are offering only one option for gays in the church: a life of celibacy and limited participation in priesthood callings. And while they talk a good talk (and I for one feel that Elder Jensen’s talk to Utah Valley members is the best I’ve heard in years), it’s up to members to walk the walk. And it’s going to take years, if not decades, for the average member to accept a celibate gay man as an equal (as you point out). I do think that you’re being too optimistic about how many church leaders actually care for the welfare of our gay brothers and sisters (“the leaders know how hard your situation is and they care deeply”). A few fit this generalization, but not all. The lawyers (Oaks and Wickman in particular) pushed forward the latest round of accepting rhetoric because they knew what kind of a battle the church faces, and wanted to get these “supportive” position statements into the public record before all the crap hit the fan. At the ward and stake level, gays are still at the mercy of their local leaders. Some leaders are accepting and loving, others are disgusted and harsh in their treatment of gays.

    Rusty’s post is about the legal issues of our anti-gay marriage initiative. It’s fairly obvious that the church leaders have prepared for this day by putting out their public statements and an official publication describing how we love gays, only we just don’t want them to marry or have sexual relationships. Having established this philosophy, the church is apparently better protected against claims of inappropriate meddling in politics. They had to support their “moral reasoning” so they could continue to claim that it’s a moral issue.

    Comment by no-man — September 17, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

  63. @ no-man: what a delightfully cynical painting of Church leadership as conniving soothsayers.

    I think I’ll stick to my firm belief that they’re average people called to do an extraordinary task by a loving Heavenly Father.

    That said, I do have two comments of a contrary nature:

    First, if it’s true that all the talk from the pulpit is just posturing, then they’re in for quite a surprise, because folks are listening. I’m an out gay man who is loved, appreciated, and accepted — though not necessarily understood — in my ward and stake. The whole “fake it ’til you make it” mantra cuts both ways.

    Second, you mention “limited participation in priesthood callings”, but I’m not entirely certain what you mean. I have an inkling, mind you … but if you’re talking about the old canard that unmarried men can’t be a bishop, then you may want to revisit that. Granted, I’ll not likely be called to be Stake President as an out gay man… but who aspires to that, any way?

    Everyone has “limited participation in priesthood callings” in this church. Men aspiring to callings are rarely rewarded and women (outside the temple) are severely curtailed. We all work to magnify the callings we have. And there’s plenty of work to do in the Kingdom. I won’t be unemployed any time soon.

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 19, 2008 @ 9:15 am

  64. Oh, c’mon Silus, I didn’t paint them as conniving soothsayers. They’re pragmatic, first of all, and their job is to protect the institution. I’m trying to point out that, although there is much good in what they say, they are first of all acting as legal guardians. Why else would they pick Elders Oaks and Wickman to be voices in the LDS Newsroom “interview”? A former attorney/judge and one of the church’s current legal counsels just happened to get together to chat about gay members?

    I’m happy to know you are loved and accepted in your ward and stake. You are lucky, in contrast to many others who are treated with less respect. My point is that the rhetoric from general authorities tells us to all be accepting and loving of gays who are active in the church, but the bottom line is that people have bias, even bigotry, to overcome. We as a people still need to figure out how gays will become part of Mormon culture now that they have a clearly defined place in official policies.

    “Limited participation in priesthood callings” does refer to bishops and other high-profile callings. It also refers to working with young men, scouting callings, and primary callings. Unless something has changed recently, anyone who is known to be gay cannot hold a calling with youth or children (I’m basing this on my experience in a bishopric in the late 90s). (And while we’re at it, what’s the deal with annotating the membership records of people who have had homosexual relations, even if they have repented? it’s another example of the special treatment of gays that further separates them from the rest of us. Serial adulterers don’t get a membership annotation, if they’re straight.) Even though the rhetoric says that single gay men are in the same boat as single women, I’m quite sure you’ll never see the male equivalent of Sheri Dew, at the general church leadership levels.

    Again, I just want to know how the average church member is going to make the shift from disgust to acceptance of celibate, faithful gays. That’s a big leap that can’t be managed just because an apostle says to treat them better.

    Comment by no-man — September 19, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  65. no-man,

    I just want to know how the average church member is going to make the shift from disgust to acceptance of celibate, faithful gays.

    That’s a pretty low view of church members. I’d say we’ll make the shift the same way other Americans have made the shift: by getting to know our gay brothers and sisters. I know my viewpoint changed—way way back in high school—when a couple old friends (including one I’d known since probably kindergarten) came out of the closet. Sure, there’s a little cognative dissonance, and then you realize that he’s the same guy he was before.

    I suspect that harsh rhetoric toward a group of people is a lot easier before you know members of that group.

    Comment by Sam B. — September 19, 2008 @ 9:56 am

  66. There’s a post at mormonsformarriage.com that answers some of the misinformation being forwarded in emails lately.
    http://mormonsformarriage.com/?p=35

    Comment by Paula — September 19, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  67. … I have a sudden urge to watch Hairspray

    Comment by Andrew — September 19, 2008 @ 11:31 pm

  68. [...] The Email Forward Has Convinced Me. Too Bad I Don’t Live In California. Nine Moons – September 15, 2008 [...]

    Pingback by Northern Lights » Blog Archive » Bloggernacle Blitz — September 25, 2008 @ 4:04 am

  69. So I didn’t read all the comments, and maybe this has already been addressed, but the claims in the letter are from an NPR article that the church has posted on lds.org (click on newsroom and then “The Divine Institution of Marriage” then look to the left, the article is called “When Gay Rights and Religious Liberties Clash”..) it’s an interesting collection of cases that have come up in recent years addressing this very issue.

    I just wanted to make it clear that it’s not just some made up mumbo jumbo meant to scare us all.. these are actual cases, and when it comes down to it, gay rights usually wins over religious rights.

    And that does scare me.

    Comment by Brooke — October 8, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  70. gay rights usually wins over religious rights.

    How terrifying.

    You know, something about this sounds familiar, and I just realized what it is: Back in the 70s, when the issue was ERA, the opponents of it were saying that passage of the ERA would result in the mandatory imposition of unisex bathrooms. I found that argument less than compelling then, and I feel the same way about this one now.

    Comment by MCQ — October 8, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  71. MCQ,

    Hey, I’ve done unisex bathrooms in West Hollywood. Eh!

    Comment by David T. — October 9, 2008 @ 8:14 am

  72. [...] Over the course of the evening, the brethren addressed the points made in Rusty’s email (see The Email Forward Has Convinced Me. Too Bad I Don’t Live in California) and unequivocally cited them as real potential dangers should the proposition fail (they also [...]

    Pingback by Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Love Is a Battlefield » Love Is a Battlefield — October 9, 2008 @ 11:43 am

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI