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Prop 8: Many Surprised to See LDS Church Stand and Re-Affirm Position

As a Mormon, and a careful observer of my faith  as an organization, I've watched The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints carefully navigate the gauntlet of public scrutiny, accusations, and what feels like a final judgement, over these last few years -- and in particular, starting in 2008 with Romney's first presidential run and the process of passing Proposition 8; which from many has not been kind. In fact, many believed, and some from within, that because of the public whooping they've received, our leaders had learned their lesson; and that going forward they would no longer engage in the public debate when it came to the issue of gay marriage.



As well, in conversation with some members, I have heard it suggested, numerous times, that the Church probably had no idea the kind of backlash they would receive for getting involved with Prop 8; from both members and the public. Anyway, my point is, that since then, the LDS Church, granted, has been relatively quiet on the topic of same-sex marriage. Though what they have emphasized, extensively, is religious freedom. A very important focus. I think.

Also of note, and adding to the confusion, for some (again, this same surprised group) is the launch of the new mormonsandgays.com website. Apparently it is felt to be disingenuous to try to learn to love people better, while simultaneously not condone certain behaviors and/or actions. Which to me, as a parent, is not a difficult concept to grasp; as that is precisely the attribute that I had to acquire as the mother of teenagers -- then on to adult children who turned from values, completely.

So what upset the apple cart? Well, just last week it was reported that lawyers for the LDS Church prepared two briefs on behalf of a number of religious organizations to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging them to uphold Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act . Both were signed by not only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also the Southern Baptist Convention, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and the National Evangelical Association, among others.

Christian News reports that, "the United States Supreme Court has received over two dozen briefs from legal organizations nationwide expressing their support for Biblical marriage." They also said, "attorneys nationwide have been busy working on friend of the court briefs — also known as amicus briefs, to ensure their voice is heard among America’s highest justices." 

(I've only looked over the 37 page Prop 8 brief, but still plan to read it completely. From what I can tell, it is  a very well thought out and researched submission, and one that will be well worth the time to study and dissect. I imagine the content of which I will likely bring up, some, here.)

Within a matter of only days, as soon as word got out to those who strongly oppose Prop 8, their immediate reaction was to turn on the recent efforts of the LDS Church to reach out to the homosexual community as merely a buffer to camouflage Mormon homophobia, as noted above, being disingenuous, thus meaningless; e.g. this little gem from AMERICAblog:


There they go again. After claiming they were toning down the hate after single-handedly getting Prop 8 passed in California in 2008, and ripping the right of marriage away from millions of gays in California, the militant Mormons are back with a vengeance.
Hate took a holiday. It’s back now. 

This excerpt is only one among many, but you get the idea.

I posted a link about the briefs on my Facebook wall a few days before it hit the mainstream media, that quickly drew the attention of a few friends, one in particular who is a former Mormon, who lives in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal. This is basically how it went down... 

I had finished a brief exchange with another friend, who is preparing to be baptized, and I had commented that it is an interesting time to be coming into the Church. I had touched lightly on the dynamic that some people find difficult to reconcile: which is that at the same time Mormons strongly defend traditional marriage, we also claim to have no ill feelings toward homosexuals. (This issue is actually addressed in the Prop 8 brief.)

My Canadian friend later jumped in, and challenged my ability to on one hand take a position that feels hurtful to people, while on the other hand not want to be seen as hurtful and/or expect others to understand this seeming contradiction. Meaning, he challenged my desire to have it both ways. He pointed out that I am anti-gay marriage and was basically saying that I should just admit it. Fair enough. But also conceded that he knows I am not vindictive, hateful or malicious. Thank you. I appreciate that. He then went on to confirm that he knew these things about me, because my convictions stem from my faith and not from any animosity.

He also felt it important that I understand the principle of how intentions operate: meaning, I have no control over how people perceive my actions, regardless of my goodwill. Therefore, it is better to not choose to do anything which could potentially be misconstrued by another person as hurtful. This is the philosophy that he believes we all should live by. (Of course this is my interpretation of what he wrote.)

After reading his comment, reading many other articles currently popping up online, and after a fairly long reprieve from blogging about Prop 8, I knew that now was the appropriate time to step back into the conversation, and give at least a general response to my friend's thoughts, and to share a few others that I feel are pertinent to the overall place we are at, right now, as we head toward the federal hearings next month. After all, I've been given a pretty good cue; and mind you, as I share my thoughts about these things, I own them as my personal opinions and feelings.

First, I want to address the double-edged sword that my Canadian friend raises: the inability to have it both ways and to control how others perceive my intentions.

That's something that I've given a considerable amount of thought to over these last few years as there have been and will be ongoing criticism toward those of the Mormon faith, and others, who have taken on this cause to stand for traditional marriage. I've had to conclude, that it's important to trust that those of a fair mind, and who are willing to take the time to either get to know me, and engage in conversation, or those who choose to be offended because another person opposes their opinion, are themselves making a choice, of which they are responsible. My peace, or clear conscience, comes from knowing that what I stand for is right in my mind, heart and spirit. The other factor that makes this work for me, is a respect for those whom I don't agree with and find difficult to understand at times -- and an equal expectation that I have, that others should offer me the same in return.

There is also the sensitivity factor, in general, with the homosexual community, which is challenging to navigate without causing offense. I am ever mindful when approaching these issues on my blog, to be as careful as possible -- but unfortunately because we are all still learning how to best communicate with one another, it is still a learning process for all of us. I continue to have a sincere desire to better understand my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and will continue to, awkwardly, try to do my best, with as little damage as possible.

Which brings me to a second point: the foundation of my position.

It seems to really ruffle the feathers of those who advocate the more liberal social issues of the day when people whose opinions are rooted in faith-based values speak out, or worse, unite their efforts with others to oppose them; simply because they lack respect for such convictions.

However, the truth of the matter is, that not one of us has the right to place a value judgement on the worth or weight of others' opinions; regardless of its origin. The fact is, that when one steps into the voting booth to cast a vote, or speak their mind in the public square, that act has equal value to the person who has the I.Q. of an Albert Einstein. As you may have already figured, I am a strong advocate for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

In regard to gay marriage, I have very passionate feelings about the rights of children, which is why I am more inclined than some, perhaps, to put myself out there on this topic. Without going into detail, my parents' divorced when I was 10. My relationship with my father was never the same after; although we continue to try. There were years at a time that I did not hear from him or see him. My mother was emotionally absent much of my growing up years; she herself adopted. I was greatly affected by these experiences and have seen how that also infiltrated the next generation and so forth. I was not raised in an active LDS home. After graduating high school, I did become active and met my husband. My personal motto: Every Generation Better

Upon coming to understand the Doctrine of the Family, I fully embraced it, and wanted those blessings for my own children, and now feel compelled to use my voice to stand up and speak for the natural birthright of every child, given by loving Heavenly Parents'. So my passion of knowing what is right emotionally, spiritually and physically, for children, comes from personal experience; confirmed by faith. That, is powerful combination.

The most frustrating element in the Prop 8 Case: beginning with the initial overturn of Prop 8, is the lack of outrage by the public, when millions of Americans had their "right" to vote deemed as meaningless by a handful of individuals. Instead, those who opposed the vote in question saw it as an advantage for their cause, rather than its true identity: a threat to future freedom -- and rejoiced in it.

Many people either don't know the full history behind Proposition 8, or they choose to forget, but its history goes back to 2000 when California voters passed Proposition 22, which was the first time the voice of the people made clear, by means of an initiative, that in the state of California: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." However, in 2008 it was struck down by the state Supreme Court. So, in 2008 Prop 8 was brought before the voters, same words, but this time it would amend the Constitution; and once again it passed.

Did we (California) have a constitutional right to do so? I firmly believe that we did. In other words, my frustration about this entire case is that it has become twisted into a single issue, centered only on gay marriage, when the greater issue has to do with that which should alarm every American; and to me that is the greatest travesty of this entire fiasco! If Proposition 8 is not upheld, millions of Americans who exercised their right to vote in a legal election will have been disenfranchised by a few activist judges.

And so, as they say, "It is what it is." "We are, where we are." "What will be, will be." And, "We'll deal with the outcome...  Whatever that happens to be?"

I realize that that is not the most optimistic perspective. And one might suggest, not a winning attitude. Perhaps you might be wondering how I think the court will rule? My answer: I don't know. I hope that Prop 8 will be upheld in California. This is so important, but NOT only to defend traditional marriage; as most emphasize, as important as that is, as a moral issue, but for the reason that I've explained; both of them.

If Prop 8 is not upheld, of course that would be a disappointment, but not a shock. I'm sure most conservative Californians are going into this with eyes wide-open, knowing that we're being snubbed by the those who feel socially more evolved, who see us as being on the wrong side of history; some, our own members.

In fact, I was listening to a public interview  just yesterday, quite shocking actually. Mitch Mayne, a self-proclaimed gay ambassador for the Church, was asked how he felt about the LDS involvement in Prop 8, and curtly replied, "I think the Mormon Church deserved the black-eye that they got" and they moved on... and my mouth dropped. Honestly, the entire interview was, to me, odd.

I just sat there in stunned mode for quite a while, and thought to myself...   Does this guy know that the Church just sent those briefs to the United States Supreme Court Justices ---and that by doing so our leaders are in effect saying, at least in my opinion, we still stand behind our initial decision to support Proposition 8; no regrets, no backing down, no change in policy, same doctrines. And then I came back to reality.

Marriage between a man and a woman, from the LDS perspective, is an eternal doctrine, which is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined other religious organizations, throughout the United States, to voice concerns to the U.S. Supreme Court on this important issue, urging them to uphold Prop 8 and DOMA. From the brief:


A desire to maintain the only definition of marriage that there has previously ever been, which is only between a man and a woman, has never been a desire to hurt, exclude, or take away another person's perceived rights. That the definition of marriage could be redefined would have been inconceivable only a few short years ago. Yet today, those who desire to preserve traditional marriage are considered religious zealots and openly referred to as bigots.

I honestly feel that it's fair to concede that the LDS Church has made great strides in reaching out to the homosexual community, that are genuine, and that they, and their members will continue to do so. The Church has remained firm on its doctrines and policies concerning homosexual behavior, giving no indication of changing. So, to those who are surprised, upset, or perhaps feeling angry because you feel the Church has lulled gays into believing things were going to change, doctrinally, and then BAM, Prop 8 is back, here we go again!  Please don't be.

Meaning, don't be shocked or surprised. At least you shouldn't be. And if you are, then please make sure it's not because you feel you've been duped because of a switch in messaging from the Church -- because that's just not the case. Not from the Church. Maybe from those who don't represent the Church, who may have been speculating about potential changes, but not from the LDS Church. So please check your sources, before you decide who you're upset with. Okay?

Oh, and in the future, you might want to get a new, more credible, source for information about the LDS Church.

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

MormonsandGays.com

Mormon Newsroom:

Same-Sex Attraction

New Church Website on Same-Sex Attraction Offers Love, Understanding and Hope

67 comments :

  1. This was a very well thought out posting. However, I disagree on a couple of points. One, the church's involvement in Prop 8. The Church should not get involved in politics. Two, gay marriage is not a matter of morality, it's a matter of justice. As long as a church is not forced to marry two people against their wishes, they should keep their nose out of it. Basically endorsing a "Biblical" view of marriage in public policy is unconstitutional. Finally, any time you portray one group of people as different. As not deserving of the same treatment as others, whether being allowed to be married, or being allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, it's not just unfair. It contributes to hate and bullying. I'm not saying the Church endorses hate or bullying. But, portraying them as such does so on an implicit level. Homosexuals in the Catholic Church, for example, have a higher incidence of suicide.

    Somewhere in the Book of Mormon, it says contention is of the devil. Also, we should treat each other as if Christ was there. Would he approve things like this behavior?

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    1. Now Kristen, you know I only published your comment because you said something nice about my post, right?

      Of course you are free to disagree, however I don't agree with your reason. Perhaps when it comes to individual candidates, but I when it comes to moral issues, (your second point) this is precisely where churches have been a positive influence on our society and something that is built into our constitution; religious freedom. To express an opinion is far from forcing anything -- that is a stretch.

      You are right to point out that the Church does not endorse hate, bullying or discrimination of any kind; including they do not consider maintaining the definition of marriage as God has ordained as discrimination.

      If you read the brief that was submitted, they are urging the court to allow individual states to make their own decisions about marriage, while at the same time they are expressing what they believe and feel is best. Again, no force just opinion.

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    2. Well writen article. Thanks for sharing.

      I think you are wrong when you say the church does not endorse discrimination. Any tim eyou say one group of humans shouldn't have the same rights as anothere group that is discrimination.

      "including they do not consider maintaining the definition of marriage as God has ordained as discrimination"

      I think this is where we confuse what freedom of religon means. In this statement you are putting your beliefs above another's in the civic (government) forum which is an infringement of their freedom. If we truely believe in freedom than we save our beliefs for those who want to hear them and do not impose them on others, especially by law.

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    3. If it were that simple, we could simply reverse such logic and return your serve placing the burden right back on you with the same argument. I'm sorry, I simply don't feel that such a claim is sufficient reason to give you more of a "right" than I to exercise the same privilege to vote as a citizen in the same country. To do so, would be placing your freedom of conviction/conscience above mine and somehow you don't see a problem with that because you see freedom of religion/conscience as different somehow?

      And no, the LDS Church does not feel that their desire to maintain marriage between a man and a woman is intended to be discrimination. I know this for sure, because I feel the very same way.

      Likewise, because you don't agree with my position I don't plan to label you anti-Mormon or one who discriminates against those who are religion -- unless you do? Do you?

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    4. Jenn RJ: Your comment says that you are concerned about people's civic freedoms. You said, "In this statement you are putting your beliefs above another's in the civic (government) forum which is an infringement of their freedom."

      Californians voted on this issue. More than once. Why aren't you concerned that judges & others are infringing on the voter's freedoms? The majority of voters just happen to feel different about this issue than you do.

      Also, I agree that same sex couples should be able to have the same legal rights as married couples. I believe they already can have the same legal rights as married couples by entering in civil unions / domestic partnerships. If you don't like those names, come up with a new one. People come up with new words all the time. Why do you feel you need to change the definition of a specific word to feel validated & accepted?

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    5. Kirsten Crippen: You said, "gay marriage is not a matter of morality, it's a matter of justice. As long as a church is not forced to marry two people against their wishes, they should keep their nose out of it. Basically endorsing a "Biblical" view of marriage in public policy is unconstitutional."

      If it is a matter of justice, why is there an issue? Same sex couples can have Civil Unions / Domestic Partnerships & enjoy civil rights that married couples do.

      You may not know this, but a law recognizing same-sex marriage that went into effect in 2010 in Washington D.C. has already FORCED Catholic adoption services to go against their religious beliefs or close. The law requires that religious organizations serving the general public must provide services to homosexuals regardless of their religious beliefs. The same thing has happened in Massachusetts, England, Wales, and other areas as well. So, according to your comment, churches have a valid reason for opposing gay marriage.

      Regarding the constitution & religion: The constitution only says that the government cannot impose a religion on the people. (For example, if the President said we all had to be Catholic, or Jewish--as the colonists had experienced in the countries they moved away from.) The constitution supports freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. Everyone is allowed to believe in what they choose. I believe that gays and lesbians should be able to live they lifestyle they choose. They don't need to change the definition of a word to do that.

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  2. Thank you for your logical explanation. It is bothersome to me that some in the church believe that doctrine will "evolve" so we can be in step with the world. As the world moves on we will be more out of step with them than ever before. Who's on the Lord's Side Who? The great sifting has begun. I rejoiced in 1995 when The Family: A Proclamation to the World was read in RS. What a blessing it has been to know the truth and be able to teach it clearly to our children. Keep up the good work.

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    1. I think this experience, hopefully, will be a good example for all of us; that we can trust the Lord and those He has sent to lead us. The world is a very loud and and sometimes very convincing place. We've heard it many times, that even the very elect will be deceived. Oh how important it is to keep our eye on the prophet and remain steadfast. I, too, love the Proclamation!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. : )

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    2. It would help if we stopped talking about the Biblical definition, as that then divides from non-believers, and distracts from the fact that gays have always been free to marry and have done so when they wished to combine kingdoms, treasuries, or just develop a family containing the basic elements of society. Marriage is what it is. A gay union is not a marriage. When a gay man marries a woman, and works to build that basic unit of society, even he is being disrespected when two men decide that what they have is the same thing. It is its own thing, and out of respect for themseves, the same sex unions should get their own name. Again, NO ONE has ever stopped gays from marrying.

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  3. I wonder to some degree what Brigham Young would think about the federal government imposing a one-man one-woman policy on his state at a time when marriage wasn't defined the same way it is today.

    I think Kirsten has hit the nail on the head. This is about equal protection under the law. Just because somebody chooses an immoral lifestyle (in our opinion) doesn't mean we can or should legislate their God given right to agency away from them.

    Of course, I tend to be of the belief that we ought to be advocating a removal of government entirely from the whole business of marriage. Why should we need the permission of the state to get married anyway, why do we need them to define it for us? I think the church is riding a fine line by involving itself in this way.

    Certainly, we should advocate and persuade others to adhere to moral principles, but we should never use force, even if that force comes in the distant and socially acceptable form of legislation and government enforcement.

    I do think your Canadian friend presents a valid point. We attempt to paint this rose-colored picture about our love and good intentions for individuals of homosexual orientation, but then attempt to deny them the same luxuries we ourselves enjoy because of government sanction and a "moral high ground."

    It will certainly be interesting to watch this all unfold. I appreciate your perspective and thoughts!

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    1. Ha! I think we both know the answer to that question.

      Laws are enacted by societies to create order because of individual agency. If it weren't for agency we wouldn't need laws to govern individuals; it would be a free for all as you suggest. The government got involved with creating marriages because it decided it was to its advantage to create unions between the male/female relationship that would bind the father and mother of 'their' children together as a 'family' for very important reason that benefited society. It is much more than just a loving relationship between two people.

      I was happy to respond to my Canadian friend, which is exactly why I have taken the time to do so. But not for the reasons that you state. I don't consider myself on any particular "high ground" because of a different opinion or belief system.

      And yes, it will indeed be interesting. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Wow I must say I am shocked at some of these posts,the church not be involved on issues of morality,then what should they be involved in, Marriage was ordained of God the same God that condemns Homosexual behavior. I look at this the same way we have been taught all our lives hate the sin but love the sinner.We know that the family is central to our Heavenly Fathers plan and that means children being born into a home with a Father and Mother. I can understand people not of faith not understanding this core principle but surprises me when people of faith especially those brought up in the Mormon faith not understanding this :(

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    1. We all reasons these things very differently, depending on our individual perspectives, education, experience, testimony, etc. and so it is to be expected that there will be a wide spectrum, even within the Church, of how people feel about, in particular, social issues. With that said, it is a puzzle when the divide is so wide.

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  5. Kirsten,

    I respect your ability and freedom to express your views, but I'm now going to pick apart your statements.

    The notion that the Church "shouldn't" get involved in politics is based on faulty reasoning. Churches, like people, also have Constitutional rights to express their policy views and endeavors. If expressing an unpopular viewpoint gets the Church into trouble, then our country is in deep doo-doo. So much for religious liberty.

    I'm confused about the statement "gay marriage is not a matter of morality, it's a matter of justice". Do you then believe that "justice" is not based on a moral principle? Plato, Aristotle, John Rawls, etc., would disagree. At any rate, to suggest that morality is not involved in this debate means that you haven't been paying attention to the issues at stake, which involve morality to a high degree. If morality isn't at the heart of this debate, then there is no such thing as "morality". Also you said: "As long as a church is not forced to marry two people against their wishes, they should keep their nose out of it." However, what you fail to recognize is that the inevitable consequence of gay marriage is that churches will be forced to recognize them as legitimate. That's the logical, natural proceeding and I guarantee that will be the next big push if gay marriage is found constitutional by the Supreme Court. In other words, churches will, in fact, be pressured into gay marriage which violates the First Amendment.

    Finally, your third point: "any time you portray one group of people as different. As not deserving of the same treatment as others, whether being allowed to be married, or being allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, it's not just unfair. It contributes to hate and bullying." Your statement means that you think everyone should be treated the same, right? However, when has society ever treated everyone the "same"? We do not treat prison inmates the "same" as people who keep the law. We do not treat judges in court the same as we treat other people. (The examples could be endlessly replicated). Your statement distorts what "fairness" really means in a pluralistic, merit-based society. Extreme egalitarianism is a prescription for cultural disaster.

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    1. I'd like to respond to this comment from a legal perspective.

      1) Equal marriage is legal in 11 countries around the world. Religious organizations, including the LDS church, have been compelled to participate in sanctioning those marriages in exactly zero places. Why do you think it will be any different here? Religions can and do discriminate who they marry. The LDS church won't marry you unless you hold a temple recommend. Is that discrimination? Technically. Is it justified? Yes. Because religions are not the government.

      2) In constitutional law, there exists a principle of formal versus substantive equality.

      Formal equality assumes that equality is achieved if the law treats all persons alike -- the same. However, when individuals or groups are not identically situated (for example a black woman versus a white man), the formal equality model tends to perpetuate discrimination and inequality, because it cannot address real inequality in circumstances.

      In fact, by treating different individuals as equals despite unequal access to power and resources, formal equality creates an illusion of equality while allowing real economic, legal, political and social disparities to grow.

      Achieving substantive equality requires that the effects of laws, policies, and practices, be examined to determine whether they are discriminatory.

      Substantive equality, by contrast, requires that the roots of inequality be identified, the goal of equality of opportunity be established, and that a legal mechanism be established that will achieve this goal in a principled way.

      So, no, in fact, in the USA, we often ask that people not be treated "the same." We ask that they be treated in whatever way will help ensure that the results of that treatment will be as equal for everyone as possible. We are all different, and therefore we all have unique needs. The goal is to ensure that we all end up with similar opportunities, and therefore, we accept that we have to treat different people differently to bring about an equal opportunity of result.

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    2. Wow. Getting a strong Ralph Hancock vibe from this. Especially the Rawls reference.

      I'm with you on the first point entirely. This idea that churches should have no say in politics is on my list of things LBJ did that I wish he hadn't. There is a long distance between churches weighing in on political issues (even candidates) and established religion.

      The second point is one where we have conflicting narratives. The standard liberal narrative is that SSM is a matter of justice, equality, fairness, etc., because gay people should be able to marry the people they love (presumably with all of the restrictions straight people have that can keep them from marrying their close relatives, people already married, underage people, etc.) (although, if someone wants to run this tangent with me, should SSM be exempt from consanguinity restrictions since there is no possibility of procreation resulting?). I think this narrative is steeped in a bit too much romanticism (note that I find the record of love-marriage for straight people to be less-than-impressive as well), and could use a bit of a shot of reality, but nobody cares what I think about that. I think this is the explanation which will be pasted on this when the winners write the history, as they always do. And that history will be incomplete, and, possibly misleading, as it always is.

      As to the third point, people are different, and are treated differently, and that will never stop being true. Equality of treatment or opportunity, without regard to things people can't help but be, is a goal, but a rather fuzzy one, and it's never going to be entirely clear whether it has been reached or not. Subjectively, it's hard to distinguish when one has been treated unfairly from when one has been denied something one wants. They feel the same, for the most part. Until we can reach some widely-accepted stipulations of what things like equality and fairness are and aren't, this conversation is going to remain frustrating. I think it will happen when we can use the word "discriminate" without it being reflexively seen as describing something bad. There is bad discrimination, and there is good discrimination. The problem is that people who think discrimination is always bad don't think that good discrimination is discrimination.

      And, yes. Egalitarianism is good. Extreme egalitarianism is bad.

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  6. You think of everything!! I think you did a great job on this article, but there's one thing I can't seem to understand and that's the separation of Government and religion. I for one am a proud Mormon, born and raised among a very long line of family history and I am proud to carry on what I consider a tradition and legacy but with that said, I think the problem with Mitt Romney's campaign lies in one of the first statements you made, "Apparently it is felt to be disingenuous to try to learn to love people better, while simultaneously not condone certain behaviors and/or actions." While I myself do not support Gay Marriage due to my own personal beliefs which I feel is okay, but that's for me and my faith alone. Not the nation as a whole. While we have every right not to condone such behavior within our church as it goes against our scriptures and doctrine, I don't see where it is our right to try to take someone elses's rights away and that's the freedom to marry whom ever you may please, but I also don't think it's just, "Us Mormons," entirely who are responsible for such bills not getting passed. Christianity is a big deal.. and most of our politicians whether or not they are fully living up to that label, consider themselves to be, "Christians." I think ultimately that's why Gay Marriage is only legal in a few states.. as of now.. That's because not too many political groups are in support of that, no doubt based on their religious views and personal beliefs. I think in reality, they just don't want to approve it... but here's another way of looking at it, we are all brothers and sisters, and it is our moral and religious obligation to love one another, while at the same time learning to respect other religions and others in general. While we may not condone this behavior in our church, when it comes to politics, we have to learn to separate our personal lives from business in other words.. especially when you are representing a nation as a whole. I think had, Mitt Romney stated his personal beliefs while assuring the American people that their rights would not be taken away and had he agreed to supporting Gay Marriage, I think he would have made it all the way... but WOW!!! This was an excellent article and I could not agree more... It is also within my opinion that while it's okay to keep and maintain your moral high ground, as far as your personal life goes, whereas everyone else is concerned, Moral high ground has no place in Politics! Thank you and I'm sorry this is so windy.. and a bit disorganized as well. But thank you for sharing and allowing me to comment! Such a pleasure!

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    1. Hi Crystal,

      Actually, I really appreciate your "windy" and "disorganized" comment. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and allowing me to try and understand where you're coming from and respond.

      As I've already said, in my post, I feel good about the rights that both individuals and churches have to exercise freedom of religion, but even more than that, I honestly believe that we have a moral responsibility to do so. From an LDS perspective, I think we could even make connections to things like the YW theme, and even the baptismal covenant, etc. If we were to do that, is there a boundary of how far those covenants could be applied? I'm pretty sure they are all-inclusive. Or in thinking about the YW theme: "all things and in all places"?

      A question that I'm often asked to consider, in relation to these matters, as if by asking it I might do something different, is "What do I think the Savior would do? I find this question quite revealing, because it tells me a lot about how that person genuinely thinks so differently about what I'm doing and our individual intentions. It's a good reminder to me of how different people really do think and how sincere our very different thoughts can be.

      I point this out, because each one of us are both passionate about what we personally feel comfortable doing and living. Which is why I'm so very grateful to have the guidance and example of living prophets. It has been a unique experience to be a member of the Church during both the passing of Prop 22 and Prop 8. The call to action by the First Presidency in 2008 has been an experience that has tested many members, myself included. Those who have answered the call have had to exercise a great deal of faith, throughout this entire journey. To anyone who believes that it has been easy, at any point, I'm here to tell you that it has not. Or that it is comfortable..it isn't. My experience has taught me, that there is a peace that comes as I've followed their lead.

      Again, it has nothing to do with a "moral high ground", or a better than others attitude. I don't think our LDS leaders think that way either. For me, I do feel a moral responsibility to use my influence in society toward those things that are as good as possible.

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    2. Kathryn, you have an abundance of patience. I don't, I tend to cut to the chase sometimes. I just don't understand an LDS perspective that excludes so many factors. This country was set aside and establish by the hand of God to have a land of promise..of freedom of,not from, religion. I don't recall anything that has said we should put aside the cause of our Founding Fathers and our Heavnly Father to cater to the whims of Sodom and Gomorah. Since when have we been expected to say wrong is right? Never. Clearly people will be offended as they have been for a few thousand years, when someone brings to society, the incorrect ways of Heavenly Father's Children's lifestyle.

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    3. Suzanne,

      Patience is not a choice I'm afraid, it is a requirement that agency, which God gave to each of us, requires, in fact demands and insists; even forces upon us all. It is the one element of agency that many find difficult to reconcile. We all clamor for the use of our own, while at the same time someone is screaming somewhere because of how they feel our the of our agency affects them; its force. In other words, whether we like it or not, it comes our way, eventually, to be reconciled... say hi to Crystal, or Chase, or mortality for that matter!

      Which is not to say that we, who believe that God determines moral law, are to set those things aside and give in to those who clamor for that which is contrary. In fact, I think you know the answer to that question. From my perspective, I think the leaders of the LDS Church have set the standard, which is to stand for the principles of the gospel, in the public square, and do everything we can to make our voices heard to ensure that correct principles and morals are maintained in the governing our governments, while at the same time recognizing the agency of those around us and the limit of the systems that we are required to work within.

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  7. I probably shouldn't engage in this. But let me just tell you how I feel. I believe that "all men are created equal." You ask when has society treated people as the same? Isn't that why this country is inspired? African Americans, Asian Americans, Women, etc, they were all treated as inferior. I agree that there are many in today's society that are upset by this. I am not one of those.

    As to your second paragraph, I won't even respond.

    And to the first, I agree that people have constitutional rights. Churches do not. You seem to think that religious liberty is the right for churches to be free to do what they want. No. Religious freedom is to let PEOPLE worship as they want. And, if they want to get involved in politics, churches can say bye-bye to their non-profit tax exempt status.

    I am firm believer in the separation of church and state. If it were not for religious freedom, our church would not have been established.

    Finally, any time religious beliefs (of any faith) are used to discriminate and persecute any group of people, I am against that.

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    1. "You ask when has society treated people as the same? Isn't that why this country is inspired?"

      Why do we treat judges differently than pedophiles?

      My point in asking the question is to illustrate that we never treat people the "same". And it's to illustrate that it's not "discrimination" to have a marriage standard that remains between a man and a woman.

      The Supreme Court has ruled that churches DO have constitutional rights. They have made dozens of such rulings in the history of the United States.

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  8. Dear Kathryn,

    Part I:

    As your "Canadian friend", I first thank you for taking the time to address my comments on your original Facebook post. It means a lot to me. You understand me well, and I want to take the time to respond to you now.

    I do first just want to make clear that I do not believe that we should never stand up for something on the basis that doing so might offend someone else regardless of our good intentions. I do not refrain from speaking out in favour of equality because I believe that it is the right thing to do. I own that choice and though I try to be respectful towards those who disagree, I stand by it. That is why I, like you, have peace of mind and can sleep at night.

    The question I think worth asking then is if we both believe equally that we are doing is right sincerely and respectfully, why the difference in opinion? I have lived on both sides of this issue. And from experience, I know that being called a “bigot” or a “religious zealot” or associated with hate groups does not feel nice. Nor does being called a “fag” or an “apostate” or associated with pedophiles. I have felt every word of what you wrote here today. I have practically found myself distraught over how misunderstood I felt my beliefs as a Mormon were. I felt as though I were being discriminated against myself by people who were too blind in their own agenda to see the irony. I have also felt what it feels like to be told you don't have the right to get married. I know what it feels like to be told that I am incapable of being a good father, because the love I have for my husband – a love that I understand to be every bit as pure and wholesome as the love I was taught in Primary – is suddenly sinful because I am only capable of feeling it towards another man. I know what it feels like to feel that I am misunderstood by everyone around me, even God, because my church too told me that it spoke for God and it told me too that what I felt was wrong - that I was the one who misunderstood myself.

    From those experiences of opposing perspectives, I was forced to stop and decide what was right. And, like anyone, I have.

    I know that my beliefs might offend some LDS people. I know that their beliefs might offend some gay people. However, I have experienced both and am persuaded that the pain, heartache, and hurt of gay people does not justify allowing people who don't support them to continue to deny them the same rights and benefits they continue to claim for themselves. I am not convinced that the risks to religions and to “the traditional family” in the future are worse than the very realities that gay people face now. You are so concerned with threats to “future” freedoms. Yet do you not readily admit your willingness to continue to deny freedom to an entire group of your country now on the basis that your “future” freedoms might be at stake?

    How can this argument not, at least unwittingly, claim some sort of moral high ground? You cannot say that you do not claim a moral high-ground, and then claim to know the “true identity” of the issue: “a threat to future freedom – and they rejoiced in it.” As if they were snickering sinisterly knowing their true evil intentions, or else they were too ignorant to even recognize what they were “really” doing.

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    1. Hello Chase,

      And thank you, my "Canadian friend" (born in Colorado) for taking the time, and then some, to respond. I suppose it is to be expected, that when one gives a graduate of law school a platform to express himself, he is going to take full advantage!

      My first encounter with you, was in observing you standing up for what you believe, and impressively so. At the time, I didn't know who you were, or anything about you, but I saw enough to know that it didn't matter and that I wanted to know you better. So I friended you on Facebook, which is something I don't do very often. I remember our first little chat and you kind of warning me of our differences. As I recall, it was a very warm exchange; and a genuine desire on both our parts to understand each other. I continue to have those same feelings toward you, regardless of those differences, still.

      "The question I think worth asking then is if we both believe equally that we are doing right sincerely and respectfully, why the difference in opinion?"

      I'm not sure that anyone has the perfect answer for that, because life is much too complex. But let's do a simple exercise Chase, at least between you and I, considering the fact that you were once a member of the Church, right? So, assuming you accept this as a reasonable foundation upon which to respond, then I submit that the answer reveals itself in each of us finding ourselves on opposite sides of the road, taken at the split in the fork.

      What you've shared here, the pain you've felt and the names that people have called you, makes me sad. I am still at a loss of understanding as to how anyone can have such hateful and mean thoughts and/or feelings toward another human being. I'm also sorry to hear that you have had negative experiences in the Church that may have caused you to feel that you are loved less by God. I know that's not true. I don't understand homosexual love, so I can't possibly begin to understand what your experience is like, or the difficult choices that you have made in your life. I also want you to know, at least from my personal perspective, that I don't think because someone is gay or lesbian, that has anything to do with their ability to be a good parent. My issue only has to do with the right of the child to have a mother and a father. I'm sure you would be a spectacular dad.

      Let me clarify my comments about "rights", "future freedoms", etc., as I feel you may have lumped them together somewhat and misconstrued what I was saying.

      When I spoke of "future freedom" I was speaking about everyone, all Americans -- including gay Americans --and the importance and sacred privilege we have to use our voice to vote. It had zero to do with gay marriage. I feel that those in favor of gay marriage are so focused on that one cause (somewhat understandably) that they are willing to ignore the bigger picture: overall freedom. I said nothing about "evil intentions" or "snickering" -- those are your words. The use of the word "rejoice" was very appropriate, because the atmosphere, at the time, was celebratory, when in reality, in my opinion, it was a great concern. That is a legitimate feeling and not intended as mockery in the least.

      Once again, I sincerely submit, that a position, or desire to maintain traditional marriage does not come from a place or feeling of a "moral high ground" nor a desire to take away the rights of others. Rather, it is a desire to preserve.

















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  9. Part II:

    But you still say that you do not consider yourself on a moral high-ground. I appreciate that you have no such intention. You seem to suggest that because we each believe in our hearts that we believe is right that we are able to both have piece of mind -- play on a level-playing field if you will. Except we do not play in a level playing field under the law, and you're effectively trying to maintain that unequal status quo while asking that our beliefs be treated equally. Only when we are truly equal can we treat other equally.

    Therefore, I do not accept that it is necessary to deny rights to one group rights to preserve the rights of another group. Why? Because the two can, and in many places do already, coexist. There is no rational basis to find otherwise, in my mind, nor apparently in every jurisdiction in the world that has been tasked to consider the same question.

    So, all of that, said, know that I am grateful to you Kathryn. For your willingness to be respectful, to listen, and to seek understanding. I have to be truthful in saying that your views often hurt me very personally, in ways that I think are difficult to understand or in any way empathize with given the legal, social, and spiritual rights, privileges, and blessings you believe I am unworthy of because of who I am and how I live my life. It is because I know that pain that I make an effort to ensure I never cause another person to feel the same at my hand. This is not a testament of my unwillingness to stand up for causes because it might offend some, but rather a testament of my beliefs: to treat others the way I want to be treated, without qualification, without explanation. I stand up for the personal liberty of every single human being equally, as long as the exercise of those rights does not infringe another. That is where the limits must be. Compromise may sometimes be required, but we must first be truly equal before trying to reach it.

    I understand that you may feel similarly, despite our differences. I think you must, given your sincerity as a decent human being. We disagree on our standard of examination. You rely primarily on your faith as understood through your religious beliefs, and I rely primarily on my belief as understood through my own. My religion, whatever form it may take, embodies the most simple rule I was taught as a young boy in Primary: love one another.

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    1. Granted, Chase, but you personally are currently living in a country that has legalized gay marriage and are now considered married in Canada. And so you and I, from your perspective, would be considerered, by law, "equal". Correct?

      So, when everyone can equally marry anyone they want, what else will this new, broad definition of marraige equality extend to, other than just suddenly marriage?

      There is one, more than just rational reason to support and continue to have governments encourage natural marriage: procreation. I realize that this is not what you want to hear, as this is ignored by your comment, when you say there is no rational basis to consider it, which frankly, is deeply hurtful to a mother who feels such a connection to her children and knows how very needed she is in thier lives.

      When my children were small, and on occassion I would travel with my husband, and would be away from them for days at a time, I would fervently pray for my safe return. I knew that my children desperately needed their mother. As good as my husband was with them, they needed their mother. And when he was gone, I prayed for his safe return to us as well.

      Chase, I'm not telling you this to hurt you, or anyone else. I'm sharing this with you, because it is truth. Every child, by birthright, given by God, inherent from conception, is intended to be raised by their mother and father who conceived them. That is the ideal. That is what a responsible and moral society should be required to encourage and support for every child. That is the "right"of every unborn child who comes into this world, and I don't believe that we as adults have the right to strip that away.

      Let me reemphasize, personally, I think you would be a great dad, but ideally I think society has a responsibility to support that which encourages a mother and father for every child whenever possible. Therefore, I feel that society should continue to support the type of relationship that naturally produce children and provides a mother and a father: natural/traditional marriage.

      Let me say, Chase, that I appreciate your willingness to extend such kindness, considering my awkwardness in my communication skills, trusting my intent is not to be hurtful, but hurting you nonetheless. I don't know what to say, other than thank you, my ever patient, Canadian friend.

      Note: I'll get to your last comment sometime tomorrow. Not sure when; probably late.

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    2. "So, when everyone can equally marry anyone they want, what else will this new, broad definition of marriage equality extend to, other than just suddenly marriage?" It extends to all rights married couples enjoy, and nothing further. I've heard claims that it will lead to the legalization of polygamy and other "alternative" forms of marriage, but each of those issues would have to go before the courts on its own merits, which are different than the present instance and would require independent scrutiny.

      As for procreation: heterosexual couples do not require proof of procreation to marry. Should we not allow infertile, elderly, or couples who don't want children to wed? Or are you suggesting that we preserve this definition for the heterosexual couples who can have and do want children?

      The amicus brief the LDS church filed includes: "Admittedly, there is an active debate within the social sciences over whether some of these common sense judgments are empirically sound. But “nothing in the Constitution requires California to accept as truth the most advanced and sophisticated [scientific] opinion.”

      Seemingly innocent enough, in legal speak, this is a HUGE concession, but they also knew that failing to make it at all would be even worse. So they attempt to gloss over it matter-of-factly, and they've done as good of a job as you could, yet the effect is as close to saying, "please ignore all evidence and facts that contradict what we're saying in order to rule in our favour" as it gets.

      Why? The overwhelming research on same-sex parents shows that those children fare just as well as their opposite-sex coupled counterparts. The largest impediment they face is discrimination by those who disapprove of same-sex relationships. This evidence has stood up to peer review far better than the evidence suggesting children of opposite-sex couples are better off. So either it's a conspiracy theory - the last refuge and straw to grasp at - or reality suggests your position isn't accurate.

      In a perfect world, every opposite-sex couple would raise the child they conceive. That isn't the reality, however, and never will be. We can either try to make laws to imagine a reality that we know will never be and do it anyway "on principle", or we can try to address reality. So long as millions of children are left unadopted, for example, the question remains: since being raised by their parents isn't an option, and since heterosexual couples aren't able to adopt them all, are those children better off in an orphanage or with two fathers, two mothers, or a single parent to love them?

      It rubs on me the wrong way to read what you've wrote, but I also realize that what anyone has to say about my parenting abilities is immaterial. I've met children of same-sex couples, I spent my life around children of opposite-sex couples, I've done my homework, and I am confident that my children will, like all children, instinctively understand love, care, and protection. Just as any adopted parent faces a difficult conversation when a child asks, "Who are my biological parents?" it will be a difficult conversation when my child asks, "Why don't I have a mommy?" And you explain it: "Because some kids have a mommy and a daddy, and some kids have two mommies, and some kids have two daddies, and some have one mommy or one daddy, or a step-mommy and daddy,. etc. but what is the same is that all of them love their children, and we love you." It was hard to realize that I couldn't have it the easy way - a wife, our own kids, done - but life isn't fair, and that's not something that is possible for me. I can either give up on something I've wanted my whole life - a family - or I can do my best to be the best I can be and work through the added challenges. And I believe I can, just as many others, do just that.

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    3. Chase,

      I suppose I didn't put my question across very well. My apology. When I ask about the "equality" of one who is gay, that they feel that they receive when they finally are able to get married, what does this suddenly change for them, or in them, that causes them to feel equal to say, someone like me?

      I ask this, with no disrespect intended whatsoever, only to understand -- because I genuinely don't feel as though I'm keeping something from a gay person, wanting to maintain traditional marriage, nor do I feel suddenly equal to say, you, because I know you're married to a man. I hope that makes sense.

      Procreation: As I've already begun a blog post on this very topic and what I have to say in response deserves and requires much more than a comment. When I have posted it I will return and post the link as a reply to your comment here. Although that will probably be at least two weeks as I am leaving for a trip in a few days. But you can imagine I have a few things to say and disagree with your response. The "overwhelming research" that you claim I would like to see some links if you have them, because the ones that I have collected for my post are not overwhelming at all and do not provided what you claim as substantial evidence.

      I will say, Chase, you are a good graduate of law. You have made many claims and requested from those who have commented here to prove themselves, while giving no proof of your claims. Laying the burden of proof on your opponents is always a good move if your goal is to win. ; )

      However, my goal is to do what is best for children. I still believe with all of my heart that children always do 'best' when they are parented the way nature provides. It almost seems foolish that we should be debating that which is inherent. And yet, I will be the first one to say I totally understand every man and womans' desire to be a parent. I see no evil in that pure, God-given, beautiful desire.

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    4. Kathryn,

      The issue isn’t about feeling equal to you or you feeling equal to me – it is about receiving equal protection under the law. Those who believe that this is not an equal protection issue now have their task spelled out for them to convince the Supreme Court of the same, as do those who argue that it is an equal protection issue. What either of us feels relative to another person pales in comparison to how we feel about ourselves under the law. And to that end, my question to you, the question the court will be asking Prop 8 supporters that suggest their own freedoms are being threatened, is how will your freedoms be threatened, and if they are, why does it justify continuing to deny another group legal rights and cultural validation that we can already point to as being missing (because I don’t imagine that you would disagree that I am currently being denied rights, privileges, and societal recognition, at least at the government level)?

      At the heart of this, the issue that both sides will have to address is why the term “marriage” is relevant. Those in favour will have to prove to the court that the societal and cultural connotations associated with the word go beyond simply legal benefits. Those against will have to demonstrate how the term “marriage” can be denied to same-sex couples without offending the Constitution.

      It will come down to facts, evidence, and reason. All three will be necessary to succeed. Beliefs and faith are sufficient in religious organizations and I do not discount their unique worth. However, in the United States civil court system, you need more than beliefs and faith. Therefore, while they may rely on faith and belief, those in favour of Prop 8 will also have to provide sufficient evidence and facts to satisfy the court. This is because the court does not privilege one religion or religious belief over any other and thus it must rely on something else to justify its decision.

      The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the only way to evaluate this question while taking the Constitution into account is in the judicial branch of government. Up until now, in all of the US states that have considered the question and in every foreign jurisdiction, the courts have been unable to find a justification to deny same-sex couples the rights and government’s validation associated with marriage. The reason for this has not been because those against equal marriage have been found to be hateful bigots, but because they have been unable to provide sufficient evidence to justify their position in the civil sphere.

      I would argue that what I have just written is all objective fact. In the discussions we have, it is so easy to lose sight of the crux of how this issue must be decided. We can digress into religious, philosophical, or other areas, and we can even disagree on how we think the law should be applied, but we cannot disagree on the objective legal standard for how the decision will be reached. Up until now, those against equal marriage have yet to meet that standard. I do not mean to take the burden of proof off myself; rather, I would point to every single court decision thus far finding that denying same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. I ask those against equal marriage who continue to argue that their position is justifiable to provide a factual basis for their opinion of a quality acceptable to the civil court system because thus far, they have been unable.

      If they remain unable, then they must content themselves to leave their religious beliefs and religious understanding of “God’s laws” to their religions, just as any other organization or religion must.

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    5. In my opinion, what are equality laws and equal protection all about if they do not also translate down to the level of personal interactions. So you may pass off my personal questioning to you, but I do think it matters. The fruits of our actions should brings us together and not divide us.

      Prior to Prop 8, California passed Prop 22, which was overturned by the state supreme court. Californians' then went back to the polls to amend their constitution by changing only 14 word; the same 14 words found in Prop 22. I'm sure you are aware of this history.

      In CA gays had, do have access to civil unions, and unlike other states in the U.S.pretty much grant nearly every protection afforded married couples, other than the status of the word "marriage" which is reserved for those who "procreate" naturally. As well, Californians are happy to continue to fight to ensure that civil unions provide what is necessary for homosexual unions to have what they require to be equally protected under the law as are married couples.

      However, we submit that there is a natural difference in the relationships that is not discriminatory, nor religious, but inherent. Prop 8 is one state's desire to maintain for itself the right to define marriage for its population, now twice.

      That some voters have religious beliefs coupled with the inherent, obvious biology of marriage should not be offensive nor disregarded by those who oppose Prop 8, nor do I believe ignored by the courts. It is also a foundation of the brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, and based on that fact, Chase, I'm going to have to think that it may have more weight than you are purporting here, and the liberal California courts have given it.

      Lastly:

      "The overwhelming research on same-sex parents shows that those children fare just as well as their opposite-sex coupled counterparts. The largest impediment they face is discrimination by those who disapprove of same-sex relationships. This evidence has stood up to peer review far better than the evidence suggesting children of opposite-sex couples are better off. So either it's a conspiracy theory - the last refuge and straw to grasp at - or reality suggests your position isn't accurate."

      I am going to lay the burden of proof back on you; at least here. Please provide evidence to the "overwhelming research" that you refer to in this paragraph, so that my readers may study it out for themselves. If you would post links. Thanks.

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  10. Part III:

    Finally, I just want to make a few comments about a few specifics peripheral points you hit on as an aside to my main comment:

    The right to vote. We as citizens in the USA have the right to vote on whatever we like. We also have the Constitution, which says that if we vote for a law that is unconstitutional, the law must be struck down. That is what has happened here. I don't have a problem with Californians voting to define marriage; I do have a problem if Californians think that their definition is immune from the Constitution. And that is the question now before the Supreme Court.

    By way of analogy, if Californians passed a law that Mormons were to be excluded from public-sector employment, what would you do? Quietly accept the "will of the people?" Or would you go to the courts and say, "Your Honor, trying to deny members of my religion the right to work in the public sector simply because of my religion is clearly unconstitutional." In those cases, we applaud the judiciary for not being afraid to stand up for what is right even if the masses are wrong. When we don't like the outcome, we condemn the “activist judges” overturning the will of the people. Back in the 60s, we certainly “disenfranchised” millions of Americans over civil and intermarriage rights. Was it worth it? Was it right? For a long time, a lot of people answered both of those questions in the negative. How do we account for the discrepancy? Cognitive dissonance.

    Secondly, the concept of marriage. Marriage originated on the basis of property and control. Marriage’s primary purpose originally was to bind women to men, and thus guarantee that a man’s children were truly his biological heirs. Through marriage, a woman became a man’s property. This is hardly romantic, but it is nonetheless true. Children were important insofar as men wanted to ensure they had at least one male heir.

    Thirdly, as for the Mormon church's position, I certainly have not misconstrued its recent attempts to create some sort of middle-ground to be anything other than that. I find it interesting that the Mormon church itself leaves open the possibility for change in its own doctrine (even the Proclamation), but unless, until, and even then, I am only taking their actions at face value.

    Finally, as we well know, change happens in an instant.

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    1. "We also have the Consitution, which says that if we vote for a law that is unconstitutional, the law must be struck down. That is what has happened here."

      I strongly disagree. Prop 8 does not take away rights; a false assumption of its intended purpose and/or the intended purpose of those who passed it. Prop 8 preserves traditional marriage. The right to vote on Prop 8 was, in my opinion, appropriately exercised in this case.

      The "analogy" you've submitted, in my opinion, does not stand up well, as a comparison, next to a desire to preserve traditional marriage in the case of Prop 8. I have never accepted same-sex marriage as an equal right's issue. Granted, homosexuals have been bullied and hurt in many ways, which is not right -- but to compare themselves to those of the civil right's movement is way off the mark. That history is beyond abominable. Personally, I find it extremely offensive to those who have suffered such horrific discrimination -- to make even a remote comparison; even shameful.

      Concept of Marriage: Marriage is ordained of God, its origin recorded in Genesis of the Bible. From the "Beginning" God, who created them, and married them, commanded Adam and Eve, setting the pattern, as mother and father, the natural parents', to have children; a family. This pattern set in motion the peopling of the earth. Thankfully, in this country women and children are not seen as property, but the traditional marriage union was recognized by states as an asset to the community and one to be encouraged and maintained as a benefit to society, therefore have, at times, been given various relief/credit.

      I think it is a wise position not to second guess what position the LDS Church will take on matters of policy. However, when it comes to matters of morality, where eternal doctrines are involved, such as the doctrine of marriage, the Lord is ever firm on these matters and can be trusted, by His children, to know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever...

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  11. It never ceases to amaze me, that people want soothsayers to tell them that what ever they want and choose to do, is pefectly fine. Prophets all the way back and including the apostles refused to be soothsayers and paid the price of persecution to death even... simple because they spoke the truth. So many even good Christians are tangled in the nets of political correctness, trying not to offend.

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    1. Suzanne,

      Let me ask you, have you ever watched Elder Holland, an Apostle and Living Prophet of the Lord, interact, face-to-face, with those not of our faith, and answer and discuss these sensitives issues? Or any of our other apostles/prophets? I use Elder Holland because we do have actual video, or for sure a recording of exacting one such encounter. It is marvelous to hear how he does this. I want you to know, that he does not do it as you suggest. It is how I would imagine the Savior would do so, if in His presence; tender and lovingly.

      When the brethren issue statements, they are done with boldness and clarity, as they should be. However, when we deal with individuals in and sincerely try to communicate, it requires heart. It requires trying not to offend. If we can manage that delicate balance, on occasion we reach understanding -- which may not be unity, but is sometime more important as it allows us to coexist in love and harmony. Above all, to me, that is worth the effort to not offend my brothers and sisters.

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  12. "Marriage originated on the basis of property and control."

    That is certainly one theory of the origin of marriage. We LDS believe that marriage is ordained of God, so obviously there is a huge chasm between your theory of the origins of marriage and our belief.

    However, even if we assume that your theory is indeed correct, that marriage originated on the basis of property, does that mean that we redefine it despite all the sociological evidence showing that children who are born and raised to married fathers and mothers fare better in life? The evidence has mounted for decades that this is so. So even if we accept your premise that marriage originated in property, that does not mean that we get to change it now, willy-nilly, to suit our social justice whims. Particularly when the sociologists and psychologists have amassed data showing that the boys and girls that prosper in life are the ones that have mothers AND fathers in a loving marriage relationship.

    I'm sorry that your take is different. I assume that you will just dismiss my comments out of hand because it doesn't agree with your politics.

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    1. It's not a theory -- it is historical fact. Fact which predates the 1830 restoration. Fact which predates Christ.

      Regardless: "all the sociological evidence showing that children who are born and raised to married fathers and mothers fare better in life" -- Two serious questions? 1) Where is this evidence? 2) Would you PLEASE send it to the Prop-8 defenders IMMEDIATELY? They're going to the Supreme Court next month and they NEED it!

      Sociologists and psychologists have amassed data showing that children of two-parent households far better than children in one-parent households, but they also found that the gender of the parents or guardians did not change the results.

      I don't dismiss your comments because they don't agree with my politics. I dismiss your comments because they are inconsistent with facts and evidence, and as a lawyer, I also know that this is the standard by which the court will decide what to accept and what to dismiss. Let me remind you that I've been in your shoes and shared your politics. If it is easier for you to assume it's because I've simply "lost the spirit" and "fallen away" rather than admit the scary possibility that maybe there was something genuine and objective to my outlook on life, that is fine with me. But rest assured that I sincerely take the time to read and consider what you have to say before I put it in context with my own knowledge and experience.

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    2. Gentlemen, I'll continue to allow this discussion, but only if you can refrain from personal attacks. Carry on...

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  13. I think you've hit the nail on the head with the larger issue of disenfranchising voters. That is the real issue, and the forgotten one was well. If I remember correctly, Ken Starr used this in his arguements before the CA-Supreme Court and the 9th Circut.

    AS for Mormons being hateful because they have a differnt view of things ... I am so tired of this. I am not a hateful person because I disagree with anyone. I have beliefs and values that are important to me, and I have a right to stand up and fight for those things. I have a gay brother, whom I love very much. We disagree on gay marriage and gay adoption and many other things, but I don't hate him.

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    1. You're right, he did.

      I think that argument makes it easier to pass off many other things, if our cause can be deflected as hate. It is an unfair strategy, sadly effective.

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    2. I'm reminded of 2 Nephi 1:26 "And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you. Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities." In the margin I wrote in addition to anger also bigotry, racism, sexism, phobias. Kathryn your speaking the truth brings out the worst in some people and they accuse you of hatred. Isn't it nice to know you're on the Lord's side? Keep up the good work.

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  14. An article I wrote at the beginning of 2012, that summed up some of my feelings concerning Proposition 8, may also be of interest to some of your readers. Marriage is Ordained of God. http://heidisommerfeldstevenson.blogspot.com/2012/06/marriage-is-ordained-of-god_09.html

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  15. Anyone has a right to believe and practice for themselves however they choose, the problem comes when we attempt to impose our morals and values on others.

    The 11th Article of Faith states, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

    It does not state:

    "We claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and will force all men to do the same."

    If we say we want to "Do unto others as we would do unto ourselves", then would we want someone to forbid us from practicing our religion? Would we want them to forbid us to build temples or do missionary work?

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    1. We do believe that others are free to believe and live as they wish.

      That doesn't mean that they can change the definition of a word. It doesn't mean that they can force others to go against their religious beliefs (as Catholic adoption services have faced.) You asked, "would we want someone to forbid us from practicing our religion?" It is already happening to Catholics--where do you think it will stop?

      Protecting traditional marriage doesn't stop a same-sex couple from uniting in a civil union / domestic partnership. They are still free to live as they choose and even enjoy legal benefits.

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  16. Kathryn,
    Thank you for your tireless stand for right. I always appreciate your eloquence and I always feel enlightened by your ability to verbalize you thoughts and values.

    Thank you, thank you.
    Robin

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    1. How very kind of you to take the time to reach out and say so. Most appreciated.

      Thank you!

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  17. In my mind's eye, there are two very pressing issues around Prep 8 and the current case before the Supreme Court. First, let me say that in the end, how to define marriage is a choice of public policy. The traditional definition of marriage is rooted in the need for individuals who have children to provide the rearing that will afford those children the most possibilities in life. The policy choice has generally been that a stable union of a man and a woman provides the highest likelihood of success for those children. To encourage such stable unions, the institution of marriage provides incentives and sets specific responsibilities. The new definition of marriage (two adults, gender-blind) no longer places the children at the heart of the institution. Rather, the proposed institution is about validating the romantic choices of consenting adults. So, by promoting the validation of romantic choices as the main reason for marriage, in a couple of generations the entire country would miss the link between marriage and the rearing of the next generation. So in the end, the way i see it, it's about promoting an institution that is geared toward children vs. promotion an institution that is geared toward adults.

    The second question that all of this raises in my mind is to what extent can a group of judges, no matter how small or large, override the democratic choice of the people of a state? The answer, here, has to do with whether the will of the people violates a constitutional principle. The principle it allegedly violates is Equal Protection. I personally do not believe equal protection is violated here. Now, mind you, Equal Protection doesn't mean everyone has to be treated exactly the same (if that were the case, under equal protection six-year-olds should be able to do anything an adult can do). There can be differential treatment as long as there is some rational basis for so doing. Thus, if there is a rational basis for holding that marriage should be the union between a man and a woman, there is no violation of Equal Protection. My first paragraph explains, i believe, what the rational basis is for choosing, as a matter of public policy, to allow the traditional definition of marriage to hold.

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    1. Gabriel, as to letting the judiciary override the democratic choice of the people of a state: it's called the Constitution.

      That is the only reason the Constitution exists. To ensure that no laws are enacted that offend the basic principles of our nation.

      If the country votes to ban all Mormons from public schools and they say, do you have a problem with a judges, no matter how small or large the group, who say, "Wait a minute - this law is clearly against the Constitution and must be struck down." I suspect you'd applaud the judges, even though they overrode the will of the people. When you don't like their decision to override the will of the people, however, you are concerned.

      Beyond that, let's let the court decide whether there is a violation of equal protection.

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    2. Thank you, Gabriel. I do believe I hear a bit of Elder Oak's in your comments, of which I heartily agree. Well done.

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    4. Chase Barlet-Nault, i kindly ask you to re-read my post. You will notice i never said judges couldn't override the will of the people. You will notice upon re reading that i mention that judges can override the will of the people if the will of the people violates a constitutional principle, and i specifically mention Equal Protection as the principle that is allegedly being violated by the traditional understanding of marriage. On this much we certainly agree. Where we apparently do not agree is whether there is a violation of Equal Protection. I believe there is no violation because there is a rational basis for not redefining marriage. I imagine this is what the Supreme Court decision will come down to. We'll see soon enough what they decide...

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    5. Gabriel,

      It appears as though Chase's removal of his post is his way of acknowledging that he concedes that you are correct. Although I'm not quite sure why he couldn't just leave his comment up and simply apologize for his error. I do still have the comment if you would like me to repost it. You let me know what you would like me to do?

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    6. Please do not infer a concession where none is made explicity. I am a direct communicator. I deleted my question only because I saw that Kathryn had addressed the question in another post on the blog. It had nothing to do with these comments.

      Gabriel, you are correct, however - and I apologize for misunderstanding your original question. We agree more than we disagree. We agree that the judiciary can strike down laws that are unconstitutional. We disagree on whether this particular law is constitutional. We agree that this will be the question before the Supreme Court.

      I understand why those who believe the law is constitutional beleive it to be so, but I want to understand why and how they think that their argument is unique such that it can break the trend up until now that has seen every similar law struck down. Perhaps we'll have to just wait and see.

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  18. I would not personally say that I live on moral high ground at all times or in all circumstances. In fact, I believe that we are all sinners. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ definitely offers us safe footing on morally higher ground than what the world has to offer. Also, as Latter-day Saints, we believe in prophets, who speak for God and who act as lighthouses to direct us away from the storm of the seas to higher ground.

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    1. Yes, Heidi, but not everyone is a Latter-day Saint. And those people are as strong and devout in their beliefs and convictions as Latter-day Saints are. Do we want them to decide for us what we can and cannot do? After all, they KNOW that what they are doing is right as much as we KNOW that what we are doing is right...

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    2. Chase, you might find it interesting to read some other great legal minds who answer your specific comment, it's a Q&A with Elder Lance Wickman (distinguished attorney) and Elder Dallin H. Oaks (who I assume you have heard of due to his distinguished career on the Utah Supreme Court):

      http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction

      PUBLIC AFFAIRS: What of those who might say, “Okay. Latter-day Saints are entitled to believe whatever they like. If you don’t believe in same-gender marriages, then it’s fine for you. But why try to regulate the behavior of other people who have nothing to do with your faith, especially when some nations in Europe have legally sanctioned that kind of marriage? Why not just say, ‘We don’t agree with it doctrinally for our own people’ and leave it at that. Why fight to get a Constitutional amendment [in the United States], for example?

      ELDER WICKMAN: We’re not trying to regulate people, but this notion that ‘what happens in your house doesn’t affect what happens in my house’ on the subject of the institution of marriage may be the ultimate sophistry of those advocating same-gender marriage.

      Some people promote the idea that there can be two marriages, co-existing side by side, one heterosexual and one homosexual, without any adverse consequences. The hard reality is that, as an institution, marriage like all other institutions can only have one definition without changing the very character of the institution. Hence there can be no coexistence of two marriages. Either there is marriage as it is now defined and as defined by the Lord, or there is what could thus be described as genderless marriage. The latter is abhorrent to God, who, as we’ve been discussing, Himself described what marriage is — between a man and a woman.

      A redefinition of that institution, therefore, redefines it for everyone — not just those who are seeking to have a so-called same gender marriage. It also ignores the definition that the Lord Himself has given.

      ELDER OAKS: There’s another point that can be made on this. Let’s not forget that for thousands of years the institution of marriage has been between a man and a woman. Until quite recently, in a limited number of countries, there has been no such thing as a marriage between persons of the same gender. Suddenly we are faced with the claim that thousands of years of human experience should be set aside because we should not discriminate in relation to the institution of marriage. When that claim is made, the burden of proving that this step will not undo the wisdom and stability of millennia of experience lies on those who would make the change. Yet the question is asked and the matter is put forward as if those who believe in marriage between a man and a woman have the burden of proving that it should not be extended to some other set of conditions.

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    3. Excellent resource, Angela. Thank you for sharing it. I know Chase will also appreciate it as well, being that he is also a former Mormon and a graduate of law school; law being a thing he has in common with Elder Oaks.

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    4. Angela, both sides have an equally challenging task ahead of them. At the heart of this, the issue that both sides will have to address is why the term “marriage” is relevant. Those in favour will have to prove to the court that the societal and cultural connotations associated with the word go beyond simply legal benefits. Those against will have to demonstrate how the term “marriage” can be denied to same-sex couples without offending the Constitution.

      It will come down to facts, evidence, and reason. All three will be necessary to succeed. Beliefs and faith are sufficient in religious organizations and I do not discount their unique worth. However, in the United States civil court system, you need more than beliefs and faith. Therefore, while they may rely on faith and belief, those in favour of Prop 8 will also have to provide sufficient evidence and facts to satisfy the court. This is because the court does not privilege one religion or religious belief over any other and thus it must rely on something else to justify its decision.

      The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the only way to evaluate this question while taking the Constitution into account is in the judicial branch of government. Up until now, in all of the US states that have considered the question and in every foreign jurisdiction, the courts have been unable to find a justification to deny same-sex couples the rights and government’s validation associated with marriage. The reason for this has not been because those against equal marriage have been found to be hateful bigots, but because they have been unable to provide sufficient evidence to justify their position in the civil sphere.

      I would argue that what I have just written is all objective fact. In the discussions we have, it is so easy to lose sight of the crux of how this issue must be decided. We can digress into religious, philosophical, or other areas, and we can even disagree on how we think the law should be applied, but we cannot disagree on the objective legal standard for how the decision will be reached. Up until now, those against equal marriage have yet to meet that standard. I do not mean to take the burden of proof off myself; rather, I would point to every single court decision thus far finding that denying same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. I ask those against equal marriage who continue to argue that their position is justifiable to provide a factual basis for their opinion of a quality acceptable to the civil court system because thus far, they have been unable.

      If they remain unable, then they must content themselves to leave their religious beliefs and religious understanding of “God’s laws” to their religions, just as any other organization or religion must.

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  19. Kathryn, thank you for so clearly and consistently explaining this issue. I absolutely love your ability to put your faith into action by blogging about the doctrine of the family. Thanking you and standing by you 100%.

    After watching and re-watching President Uchtdorf's recent CES fireside on truth, I find it particularly meaningful to define and determine truth in this heated debate:

    "The “truths” we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as our individual characters. All too often these “truths” are based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence, and at times they serve very selfish motives.

    Part of the reason for poor judgment comes from the tendency of mankind to blur the line between belief and truth. We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth or reject it—because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong.

    When the opinions or “truths” of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or complement what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed, mentally challenged, or even intentionally trying to deceive.

    We can say west is north and north is west all day long and even believe it with all our heart, but if, for example, we want to fly from Quito, Ecuador, to New York City in the United States, there is only one direction that will lead us there, and that is north—west just won’t do.

    Of course, this is just a simple aviation analogy. However, there is indeed such a thing as absolute truth—unassailable, unchangeable truth." End quote.

    Truth: Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony and to be reared by a mother and a father. A man and a woman create children. That is truth. No matter how some in society try to change or redefine it. Just as President Uchdorf said, there is absolute truth, regardless of how some in society try to blur or redefine it.

    Thanks again Kathryn!

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    1. Thank you. And Yes, Angela. I love that analogy. It is so fitting.

      The truth of marriage is absolute! The evidence of its truth is inherent in its natural union. Its beauty is in who is created when they create and so on, naturally, without manipulation, only by the unseen Hand in the miracle of life that continues on into the next generation. By covenant, this process is made holy, with power to bring its offspring back into the Presence of God!

      It's truly a beautiful thing.

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  20. One last comment: I know I am stating the obvious, but there is simply an impasse on this issue. No two sides will be able to achieve full agreement in this legal and moral issue. We could go back and forth for weeks and months (or years!) on blogs, Facebook pages, and the comment sections in the news, and so forth until we are exhausted. A never ending ping pong match, if you will. Yet when all is said and done, we will end up at the same place where we began: Our deeply and firmly held belief systems.

    Those who stand on the side of doctrine and God's view on the matter of marriage and family will not be dissuaded. Arguments, whether legal or otherwise crafted, will never change what we know to be absolute truth. Like millions of others, I really do believe and know that marriage is ordained and created by God, is only between a man and a woman, and children are created by a mother and a father--to be raised by a mother and a father. No amount of rationalizing, opinion pieces, articles, comments on Facebook or court rulings or changes in our legal system will persuade me (and so many others) to believe otherwise. At the same time, members of our Church and other like-minded individuals can and must be able to disagree without being unkind. But we must never be timid, meek or ashamed of our convictions.

    Striking at the core of the issue is one thing: What is truth? What is true? Who is right? It's exactly what Joseph Smith asked when there were so many conflicting ideas and differing opinions on truth in his day. He asked this historic question to the ultimate provider of truth: God. The answer cut right to the center of all the dialogue and arguments, and from that moment on, he was not dissuaded. I think all of us, sooner than later, need to find out truth on the issues like gay marriage and gain a firm and unshakable testimony of the doctrine of the family. The pattern is the same as it was with Joseph Smith's experience. Absolute truth does indeed exist ... beyond popular opinion or cleverly crafted questions and statements. (It is what we also call "discernment").


    In the meantime, we will all continue to along in our own spheres of influence around the world and defend those things that we hold sacred (even if it may be difficult, uncomfortable or unpopular at times), just as Kathryn is so courageously doing.


    .



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  21. Very well said. I think people seeing hate from the LDS community are only seeing it from a few. I don't think the vast majority of the membership of the church feels any anger or prejudice towards the gay community.

    I have many friends within the church who know if my same-gender attraction and they support and love me. I have not felt discriminated against. But I have been openly persecuted by those NOT of my faith because they believe that I should just get a boyfriend and be able to get married and that I am being untrue to myself. It astounds me. So I have to accept you and your brand of being gay, but you won't accept mine?

    In the end, I think the reason people see it as such an attack is the fact that we believe that we need to change to become like God and the rest of the world does not. So many people I know say "God made me this way, so he must love me this way". Well, he made us, but we are imperfect. We have to perfect ourselves to become like him. Bettering yourself is a good thing. And I see my lifestyle of living a celibate life as bettering myself. I am not oppressed. I make the choice of my own free will. And I believe it brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.

    I think the gay community will always be mad at the church for its stance. All I can say is that we have to continue to fight the hate with love. Accept gay people. Be their friends. You can love someone and be kind to them and still not agree with them. I have been supported and upheld by my straight friends in the Church and I just wish the rest of the world knew of that love.

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  22. "to me that is the greatest travesty of this entire fiasco! If Proposition 8 is not upheld, millions of Americans who exercised their right to vote in a legal election will have been disenfranchised by a few activist judges"

    This is always the speech of the losing side when a court decides something. I have felt this is not a wise position to take because there is little doubt what the future holds in balloting measures for gay marriage. 30 to 50 years from now as generations die off, same sex marriage will be approved by large majority of people. The LDS church thought little of the morality of the majority when it continued to practice polygamy years after it became illegal. Believe as you will, I just wouldn't use the majority as a valid reason to be against gay marriage.

    "The Church has remained firm on its doctrines and policies concerning homosexual behavior, giving no indication of changing....

    ...Meaning, don't be shocked or surprised. At least you shouldn't be. And if you are, then please make sure it's not because you feel you've been duped because of a switch in messaging from the Church -- because that's just not the case. Not from the Church. So please check your sources, before you decide who you're upset with."

    What is interesting is reading church-published pamphlets in the late 1960s and early 1970s written by Spencer Kimball and endorsed by the church. Those who feel the church is unbending in policies and beliefs as to gays will find these particularly homophobic articles very interesting. They can be found online by a quick Google. Kimball bore his testimony many times in these pamphlets, letting every reader know the truthfulness of his writings. Time has not only shown how wrong his positions were but how the church can error in big ways in instructing members on important issues.

    "Think for yourself what would these persons do for you should you suddenly fall victim to an incurable disease. Suppose your body shriveled; suppose you could no longer satisfy sexually; suppose you could no longer be used. How long would the alleged friendship and this distorted so-called love last?

    Suppose you lost your reason. Would vicious men still want you? To whom would you flee? Where would you find your real friends? When you are old and wrinkled and undesirable and nauseating, will any man who has defiled you pick you up and nurse you and provide for you?...Will your sin-mates meet those situations?" (From New Horizons for Homosexuals, 1971)

    Kimball's characterization of the nature of homosexuals, which is clearly horrific, was demonstrably agreed to by the church since the church itself copyrighted this material. I doubt Kimball referred to Camille as "...wrinkled and nauseating..." but somehow this is a suitable description of gays. Many policies and attitudes of the church have changed over the years. Even in the vaunted Oaks-Wickman interview, Elder Oaks suggests that people should not publicly introduce their gay sons and partners to friends because to do so would imply an acceptance of their choices. Can you imagine thinking so little of your son as to not introduce him to your friends? Yet, that was his suggestion. In the post-prop 8 world, such advice is unthinkable but somehow before that public relations nightmare, it was ok.

    Many policies and attitudes of the church have changed over the years. In the pamphlet I cited, Kimball said the belief that gays are "born this way" was a blasphemous lie. The mormonsandgays.org website teaches otherwise. Source-checking is indeed important.

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    1. 1. I stand by my position regardless of what the future holds -- even if that future perhaps would hold gay marriage for the entire U.S. -- because citizens exercised their right to vote state-by-state. That's how important this right is and how much we all need to honor that privilege for all Americans.

      2. On the matter of doctrine: the Church has not changed on any matters of doctrine in any of the examples that you cite; only on policy. On matters of policy, I was referring to policies regarding homosexuality only since the initial Prop 8 campaign began -- there have been no policy changes. The launch of the new mormonsandgays.org website is not considered policy oriented.

      In other words: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not bound by policies and will often change policy according to the needs/understanding/culture of the Church at any given time, as I understand how it works. On the other hand, the doctrine of the Church is eternal, remaining steadfast, and is subject to be added upon through continuing revelation.

      3. Personally, I think the LDS Church is very gracious in the decision to back away from not taking a position on whether or not homosexuals are "born this way" or not, and honoring individuals who feel that it is not a choice, while still there is no conclusive evidence to verify either. Bottom line: the verdict is still out, even though popular opinion and general thinking is that, homosexuality is not a choice. I think this shows a great desire to embrace the individual and help them to come unto Christ, and not worry so much about what is wrong, but rather what is right.

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  23. Very interesting to read the different perspectives! Thanks for providing the platform for this discussion. I hope that in future you will continue to allow comments from those who are critical and/or don't agree.

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  24. Kathryn,
    Thank you so much for providing a place for a civil dialogue on these contentious issues. You provide a very rare format of debate and discussion that has clarified many issues in my mind. Thank you for your defense of marriage and children and faith.
    AuntSue

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  25. I have to admit that I have not read every word of the above dialogue, but have read much of it. I am a Catholic, with a deep interest in the Mormon church and so I was wondering where the Mormons are at today with regards to gay marriage (and that's how I found your blog). I appreciate that one can feel loving towards a person or group of people, but can still disapprove of their actions. However, this is my strong belief about where the government should stand: I cherish my church and its beliefs so much that I want it absolutely safe from government intervention. Therefore, I don't want my government to legislate based upon whatever prevailing religious beliefs exist... I don't want the Supreme Court to adjudicate based upon its religious beliefs. I want my government to be ABSOLUTELY NEUTRAL with regards to how it passes laws--and I feel this way because I want my church to have sole authority in its own internal decisions (such as not marrying gay couples). So, for me, as a matter of civil liberties and rights, I believe gay couples should be allowed to "marry" civilly. This allows them certain benefits and rights that all of our citizens deserve. They should be able to go to any justice of the peace of church that is willing to marry a gay couple. And, for me, I want my church to have absolute autonomy to operate in accordance with its beliefs... in this case, to be compassionate towards gays but not marry them. Marriage is a religious institution, and in my Church, it is a Sacrament reserved for one man and one woman... let the churches make their own judgements with regards to marrying gays--let the goverment stay neutral and adjudicate in accordance with our constitution. btw, I probably wont get back to this blog, so if anyone wants to respond, please let me know by email at lrmilas@gmail.com.

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