Posts Tagged ‘Mormon’

California’s Proposition 8, from a Mormon

November 5, 2008

Proposition 8, aka the Hate Ammendment, has passed in California.

This is of interest to me for three major reasons:

  1. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a “Mormon”. I joined as a convert in 1995. The Church strongly advised its members to advocate for Prop 8, in multiple statements and broadcast video events, directly from the Elders of the Church. While this is not “revelation”, it is guidance and counsel, which should be heeded by all.
  2. I am also a man who understands that homosexuality is not a choice, and that in all secular legal respects homosexuals are a minority group in which membership is neither voluntary nor desirable. I can not in good conscience see the fundamental rights of a group of people be stripped for no reason other than that they were born a certain way.
  3. The “Yes on 8” campaign sought to win this campaign through lies, mischaracterizations, and fear-mongering. I can not in good conscience support such underhanded tactics, even were they in the name of a righteous cause.

Since the amendment passed, the LDS Church issued a press statement, stating in part: “After extensive debate between those of different persuasions, voters have chosen to amend the California State Constitution to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

There was no extensive debate here. There was blatant demagoguery and manipulation of base emotions. I saw children – children – out on street corners marching with Yes on 8 signs. Did they know what they were marching for? Or were they being used as fill-in props to back up one of the more flagrant lies of the campaign (that kindergartners would be taught about homosexuality if 8 didn’t pass)? My own kids were given numerous “Yes on 8” screeds in their Halloween candy bags as they went around the neighborhoods. Do these people expect my kids to be voting?

For a campaign which preached itself as being “for the children”, there was a striking willingness to use and abuse children to gain visibility.

This was not an informational campaign. Millions of dollars – much of it cheerfully given by well-intentioned and obedient Saints – went into overpowering the voices of the fact checkers and playing on emotions. I am thoroughly disgusted by the level to which the Yes on 8 proponents stooped in order to stack the deck in their favor.

I have serious trouble squaring my deeply held beliefs over the right for all people to seek happiness and live contented lives, with the “testimonies” of so many of my fellow Saints saying that those rights should be taken away. Frankly, I am seriously questioning my faith in this Church and its teachings. I can see no way to square a belief in the Church and its leadership with the hatred it fostered and pain it has just unleashed upon the 18,000 forcibly annulled marriages and countless other children of God who were just told they have no reason to expect the same rights as their “straight” brethren.

I do not blame my fellow Saints. Perhaps were my testimony strong enough I too would have decided it was better to follow the advice of the Elders even though it was obviously hurting a minority group. I blame the Elders who promoted this hatred, and the culture of obedience which caused so many to heed their call. I know these are but men, as am I. I know that men make mistakes in judgement. The Church Elders have made poor judgment calls in the past in the absence of direct revelation, primarily on racial and miscegenation issues, and so this would not be unprecedented. So many of my fellow Saints claim they felt the confirmation of the Holy Spirit here, though; that is supposed to be the distinguisher of God’s word from men’s ideas. If I am right, and this was not Heavenly Father’s work, then this draws serious question to the ability of men to really distinguish the movements of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps it is I who is wrong. Perhaps all homosexuals who do not deny their biological imperatives are meant to be excluded from secular society as well as blessings of the Church. I have considered this, and I have prayed for guidance in this, but I can not see it as God’s will. I fear that, if the Elders are right in their guidance and conclusions, then my soul must be lost, for I can not gain a testimony based on excluding large swathes of Heavenly Father’s children from the joys of this world. I will continue to pray for guidance on this, but so far none is apparent.

I hope and pray that a few years down the road we will be able to reconsider this decision and remove this hateful exclusionary passage from our Constitution. The trend in California is noticeably in the direction of tolerance over hatred, given that this measure passed with significantly less of a majority than the previous non-amendment version had eight years ago. Unfortunately countless souls will suffer in the meantime. I pray that they will be strong. We WILL overcome.

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