Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stepping up to the Prop 8 table

I’m about to get a little political on you. I don’t get political around here very often because politics are personal and totally opinion based. I have my opinions and you have yours and that’s ok. I may think you’re an idiot for believing what you do, but hey, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

So, yesterday I posted about parents that were keeping their kids out of school to make a point to the California Teachers Union. The California Teachers Union gave $1 million to the No on Prop 8 campaign.

For those of you who aren’t from California, because if you are from California you would have to be living in a cave to not know that Prop 8 was, it is a proposition to amend the state constitution to make marriage legal only between a man and a woman.

My church has taken a very strong stance on Prop 8 and has asked member to vote for it and campaign for it and to do everything in their power to get this Proposition passed. I get that. It goes against what my church teaches and believes, but this proposition is an issue that I have struggled with a great deal. I had a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when they read the letter in church asking for people to vote for this measure. My church has never specifically asked me to vote for one thing or another and I like it that way. I personally don’t care if gay people get married or not. I have gay friends that are in significant long term relationships and I don’t see how what they do in the privacy of their own home affects me. I also truly question whether homosexuality is a choice verses something that people are born with, and if it is something they are born with then why shouldn’t they have the right to marry the person that they love. Yes, the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but it also teaches that we shouldn’t judge other people. That’s where I sit on the issue. I try to love everyone no matter what and if it is wrong then Heavenly Father will deal with it, not me. I didn’t want to be put in the middle. During the multiple times when this has been discussed in church I hated the fact that I live in California at this time because I didn’t want to have to make that choice. My church and the Prophet have asked me to do one thing, but I feel for gay couples and their desire to be able to get married, so I was initially just not going to vote on the issue so I didn’t have to choose between my head and my heart. Now I’m back to being undecided.

As I said before, I don’t care what people do in the privacy of their own homes, but when it starts to affect me, like telling me what my children have to learn in school or by churches tax exempt status or the ability of religious adoption agencies to exclude gay couples because of the religion’s beliefs, that’s when I start to have a problem with it. And by the way, Ari already has read books in school about gay couples. When we first moved here and she was in 2nd grade we picked her up from school and she started telling us about some story they were reading. DH and I looked at each other and used it as a wonderful teaching opportunity that our religion doesn’t believe that Heavenly Father meant for men to marry men or women to marry women, but that we do need to treat everyone nicely and not judge them. So again, I don’t have a problem with her hearing things like that at school because it opens up teaching opportunities at home, but I would like the option to opt her out if I see fit, and a warning before hand so I know what I should be discussing with her.

The No on 8 campaign says that it won’t change churches tax status or what is taught in schools or anything like that, and of course the way it is written it doesn’t. But in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal it has opened the door for things such as this father who got arrested for trying to opt his first grader out of learning about gay marriage in class. Parents have the right to teach their children what they want or to opt them out of lessons that they don’t agree with, plain and simple and I don’t like the fact that legalizing same sex marriage could make that happen. I also have an issue with the fact that Catholic Charities of Boston had to either place children in same sex households or close their doors, so they closed their doors. If first parents choose to place their children with same sex couples, that is their choice, but a religious agency shouldn’t be forced to do so just because gay couples are allowed to marry. It is because of reasons like this that I’m now leaning toward voting for Prop 8.

My point in sharing all of this relates back to my question of yesterday and the California Teachers Union. So we saw on the news Monday night that there was a state-wide call for parents who were for Prop 8 to keep their kids out of school to oppose the $1million donation. As I said, I’m not totally for or against Prop 8, but I’m really annoyed that the Teachers Union is donating money to a cause that has nothing to do with education. So DH and I talked about it and decided it might be the right thing to do to take a stand. We talked to Ari about all of it and let her make the choice as to whether or not she wanted to stay home from school yesterday and the reason for it. She initially wanted to go to school because she said she would be “bored” at home so she headed off. A couple minutes later she called DH and said she had thought about it and decided she felt like it was the right decision to stay home. I was proud of her for making that hard decision. DH even ended up having a good conversation about it with the principle of her school. I got a call 7 minutes into the school day asking about Ari’s absence (talk about being on top of things) because we hadn’t called yet, and I explained the reason for the absence. Well, she didn’t understand so the Principal called back to find out exactly why Ari wasn’t going to be in school that day and DH told him why we were doing what we did. He hadn’t heard of the donation or the protest (we live in a VERY liberal community) but was supportive of our decision as parents.

All this rambling to say, we live in interesting times and I think it’s good for Ari to learn to stand for what she believes while she is still young.


Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I think you've made a lot of good points here. I can tell that this issue has really been pulling at your heart and mind. Way to go on stepping up to the plate and making a decision...I know it's not easy to do.

the wrath of khandrea said...

this was well-written.

i've decided to keep my opinions to myself on this because i so hate confrontation. since i don't live in the state, i don't have firsthand experience to draw from, and have not solidified my views enough to make an arguement worth throwing out.
i will say that you have made some excellent points, and i can understand where you are coming from.

B.G. Christensen said...

I appreciate that you are approaching the issue thoughtfully and that you respect gay couples' desire to be married, even if you are still undecided on how to vote. If you haven't already seen it, I suggest you read this document written by a BYU law professor that refutes many of the claims made by the pro-8 campaign, including the connection made to Catholic Charities in Boston. Adoption is entirely separate from marriage law--in California gay couples have had the right to adopt for years with no impact on agencies like LDS Family Services--and no private religious agency will be forced to place children in any home they don't want to. In the case of Catholic Charities, they were receiving government funding and chose to discontinue their adoption services preemptively in protest of gay marriage, lest their government-funded status put them in a situation where they had to do something they didn't want to.

There have certainly been extreme cases where gay (and other) activists have gone too far in protecting their rights, to the point of infringing on the rights of others. Sadly, this will always happen, regardless of whether Prop 8 passes or not. As you said, the single phrase Prop 8 adds to the California state constitution does nothing to affect schools or religious organizations either way. I hope that in your sincere efforts to protect your own family and church's rights, you don't infringe on the rights of thousands of couples who are no more responsible than you are for the few extreme cases you've mentioned.

Cheryl said...

Desi, I would have done the same thing.

It doesn't matter how often No on 8 supporters claim "nothing will happen." It already has in MA, it's going to happen in Connecticut, and if Prop 8 fails, it will happen in CA. This isn't a scare tactic or false info. It's the truth. And anyone who thinks SSM is considered a "sin" through religion will be awarded the forever name of "bigot." A Canadian Priest has already been sued because of preaching against homosexual fornication.

I have friends and family members that are gay and I love them. I do. But that doesn't mean I can support SSM. It's like asking me to deny my God in the name of political correctness. I just can't do it.

B.G. Christensen said...

I recognize the difficulty of your situation, Cheryl, but no one is asking you to deny your God or even to support same-sex marriages. We're just asking you to leave them alone. The government has no more place telling same-sex couples their relationships are not right than it has telling you your religion is not right.

Cheryl said...

But see, there's the rub. They *were* left "alone." SSM has never existed, and SSM supporters are the ones trying to change government policy and law. Prop 22 passed 8 years ago in response to the backlash that gays felt they had the equal right to be married. Marriage isn't even a "right" and has NEVER been equal. So, when you ask "just leave them alone" I have to say "*they* didn't leave it alone." What are we supposed to do? Just agree? Why? I just don't get it, how those wanting traditional marriage are so...irrational...?

Personally, I don't care if my friend wants to be with his boyfriend. But what I do have a problem with is when they want to make it legal and on the same level as all other moral law in our country's history. And then teach it to children that it's LAWFUL and MORAL and NORMAL. People are already being denied religious and educational rights (as parents) because SSM was made legal.

Countries like Sweden and Denmark have had studies done (the only long-term SSM studies that could be done because they have had SSM the longest) and the findings are staggering. Out of wedlock births? Nearly 65%. Divorce has actually gone down, but that's because NOBODY IS GETTING MARRIED anymore. What's the point? It's a joke now.

France did an extensive study into the pros and cons of SSM and decided that SSM would not be legal in their country; most of it had to do with the fact that all children were entitled to a mother and a father, and there was mention of a unit of society that propels society forward biologically as well as socially.

I understand that gay marriage would make my gay friends and family really happy. They would be able to spend their life with a partner and feel validated. I think that's the biggest word right there --validation. They want their relationship to be recognized by everyone. But see --if they get what they want (marriage), then what will happen when religious institutions REFUSE to validate those marriages? Refuse to recognize them, even if the Law says they have to? Something will have to give, you know. And if the law says SSM is legal, than Religion is going to get the shaft, which really stinks because Freedom of Religion was the entire reason people came to this land.

Anonymous said...

Hi Desi,
I linked to your site from Cheryl's site. I too really struggled with this whole thing came out. It was with tears in my eyes and nothing other than a knowledge that my prophet has asked me to do this that I knocked on that first door. I have since come to an understanding of the importance of this issue. First of all, same-sex couples have ALL the rights of a heterosexual couple under a civil union (right of survivorship, hospital visitation rights, etc...) they are now just asking it to be called marriage. I really don't care if same-sex couples have a union either, just don't call it marriage. That's where it starts to infringe on the rights of parents and religions. Don't be fooled into thinking that what has happened in other states won't affect us. Court decisions are always made using legal precedence. That means once it happens one place, they use that decision in every decision that is made elsewhere in the future regarding the same issue. Just remember that voting yes on proposition 8 does not remove any rights from same sex couples, other than for it to be called marriage. Good luck in your decision!

B.G. Christensen said...

I'm struggling with what to say here because the half-truths spread by the Prop 8 campaign frustrate me, but at the same time I recognize that most people involved in this have good intentions. I don't know you, Cheryl, or you, Lisa, at all, but I get the feeling that both of you are already decided enough that there wouldn't be much point to me trying to convince you to question your position. I don't know you very well, Desi, but if you've been following my blog for the past little bit then you already know what I have to say about Prop 8 and I've no intention of bullying you into agreeing with me.

(And maybe I should have stopped there, but as you can see, I didn't.)

I can't say I see the parallel between me asking you (and the government) to leave same-sex couples alone, Cheryl, and you asking us to leave Prop 22 alone. On the one hand we have living breathing people, couples who love each other and their children every bit as much as you love your family, and on the other we have a statute that discriminates against them. Like I said, I don't know you, but I trust you can see the difference between people and propositions. :)

I can see that you have genuine fears of your religious rights being put at risk. I'm not sure I see enough evidence that those fears are based in a real threat, but your fears are valid nonetheless. I suppose I wish that churches, of all organizations, who are trying to teach people to be more Christlike, would take a more Christlike approach to handling those fears than launching a preemptive strike against gay couples. Why not approach civil rights and LGBT organizations and say, "Hey, we disagree with your life choices but we also recognize that agency is an important part of our doctrine and we'd like to find a way to ensure that you have the right to live as you see best while ensuring that our religious rights are protected"? Why not add wording to the constitution that specifically protects the religious rights you're worried about losing, rather than denying others' marriage rights, which you don't even know will prevent the problem you're trying to prevent? I'm not a faithful person myself, but I recognize the good faith can do. What I see here, though, is not a movement based on faith but one based in fear.

One of the things I loved about Gordon B. Hinckley was his great optimism and faith in the basic goodness of the human race. When people expected him to get up in General Conference and decry the sins of the world, he got up and talked about beautiful acts of kindness he saw everywhere around him. I'm sad to see that optimism entirely absent from the Prop 8 campaign. In its place is a pessimism and mistrust of The World, an assumption that the gays are out to get us and if we don't protect our rights by taking away theirs, it'll be too late.

Lisa, I sincerely hope that the fact that your prophet asked you to do this was not the only factor you considered. Brigham Young warned against exactly that kind of thinking:

“What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (JD 9:150)

Desi, you say that you disagree with the CTA's decision to donate to the No on 8 campaign. Would you feel the same way if, instead of gay couples, it were mixed-race couples whose marriages were being threatened? Or would you recognize that such a proposition would send a message to biracial children that the unions that formed them are less than those of their friends' parents, and that teachers are rightfully standing up for the minority children in their care? The children of same-sex parents deserve to know that, at least in the eyes of the government, their families are just as valid as their friends' families.

When considering the difference between a marriage and a civil union, ask yourself how you would feel if it were your marriage being taken away? Would you care that the government said that you must be kept separate from the rest of society, so long as you have equal rights? Would you happily accept your civil union? I don't believe in Jesus Christ as a physical reality, but I do believe in the Christian ideal of charity. I believe in the Golden Rule. As you consider how important your marriage and your rights are to you, please do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Cheryl said...

President Monson is not acting alone. He's not the "one man" Brigham Young was referring to. If you attended the broadcast on Prop 8, you would have seen 3 other Elders. I know Pres. Monson is not some dictator who just made this up. He had to have the consent of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles as well. You say you love President Hinckley because he only spoke about love? If you remember correctly, President Hinckley was behind the support on Prop 22, as well, you know. Was he just one man, too? Was he wrong, too?

I don't know what you are talking about when it comes to the absense of optimism with Prop 8. I think if you see a lack of optimisim it's because so many Mormons have decided the Prophet is a loony and they won't follow him. They have also decided that somehow the Doctrine of Marriage must be flawed. And when you have LDS members fighting against Prop 8, it does take away some of the Prop 8 supporter's optimism. How could it not? It's made us all very sad.

Btw, here's a link as to what has happened in MA since SSM has become legal. Read it and then tell me all of our fears are unfounded and that schools and religions won't be affected. Read it and then tell me that those opposing Prop 8 won't be labled bigots:

And STOP comparing this to the civil rights movement! That is the one thing that really makes me frustrated. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter recently said:
"My father didn't take a bullet for this" referring to gay rights. When have gays had to drink from separate drinking fountains? When have they had to ride at the back of the bus? I'm not talking figuratively. I'm talking LITERALLY! When have gays had to shake off years of slavery? To compare gay rights to civil rights is to slap the faces of every man and woman who had to endure those years.
Not fair.

Last thought:
Every choice has a consequence under the law of heaven, right? Every choice. What SSM supporters are trying to create is an unnatural consequence to a choice. They are trying to debunk the system and create a "safe place" where sin (yes! I called it a sin! Am I a bigot now?) will be lauded as non-sin. Where the consequence for homosexual relations will no longer be socially, politically, morally, or lawfully sinful. This is the goal. I'm not saying "being gay" is necessarily a choice. But engaging in gay sex is a choice. And the consequence...? If I was making choices that went against the laws of the land or the laws of the Gospel, I'd try to figure out a way to change the consequences, too. Since it won't happen religiously, the laws of the land would be my first choice, too...

Okay, obviously, my comments come off as sounding all angry. Truth be told, I'm actually a very pleasant person. And Mr. fob, you're a super nice guy. I have a feeling I would like you in real life. Thank you for the conversation. :)

B.G. Christensen said...

You do sound very angry, Cheryl, but I trust you when you say you're a pleasant person. I have come across very angry about this myself, in other conversations. And you're right--I am a super nice guy. :)

I think you misunderstood my references to Pres. Hinckley and to the Brigham Young quote. I don't mean to compare Hinckley and Monson. I'm well aware that Hinckley said many things about homosexuality and gay marriage that I find very disturbing, but that doesn't change the fact that I always enjoyed his optimistic view of other people. I know that Pres. Monson is a good person, too, as are the rest of the current leadership of the church, but I'm not particularly happy with what they've been doing lately. I can't speak to Monson's personal lack or abundance of optimism--only to that evidenced by arguments such as the one you presented earlier in this conversation.

I can understand why you think it is sad that many Mormons have made a different choice than you have, but I hope you recognize that they love God and their prophet every bit as much as you do. How I interpret Brigham's words don't really matter because I'm no longer a Mormon, but I know that many Mormons who oppose Prop 8 interpret his words and those of many other leaders of the church to mean that, yes, the prophet and the apostles are fallible, and yes, it is possible to pray and receive a different answer from the one they are telling you is right--even when all fifteen of them agree. Else why have personal revelation?

I'm sorry that people call you a bigot for believing homosexual behavior is a sin. I can see that you're not a bigot, but unfortunately far too many people take beliefs similar to yours and use them to justify hateful behavior and attitudes. From the point of view of those who have been hurt by these attacks, it can be difficult to see the distinction between the belief and the hate. Although I have used the word "bigot" more often and more recently than I care to admit--usually when I'm angry--I'm finding that it's not a very helpful word in bridging the gap between people of different beliefs.

And yes, I've read the page you linked to, and I'm sure you won't be surprised that I'm not convinced. :) So your kids might be taught in school that same-sex marriage is normal. They also might be taught that drinking coffee is normal, or that masturbating is normal. If you disagree with these teachings, it's your job to teach them your beliefs, just as Desi has done with her daughter. I grew up in Hawaii believing that in the eyes of everyone around me same-sex relationships were perfectly acceptable. In a high school health class a visiting gay man asked the class who believed he deserved the right to marry his partner. I raised my hand because I could see that in a secular society he shouldn't be required to live according to my religious beliefs. This didn't change the fact that I was a believing Mormon, convinced by my church's teachings against homosexual behavior enough to suppress my own same-sex attraction, go to BYU, serve a mission, and marry a woman. I made those decisions not because of what I was taught in school but because of what I was taught at home and at church. Even since leaving the church, I've chosen to stay with my wife despite the fact that many in the world view this as a denial of my true nature, a betrayal of the gay rights cause, and a danger to her and our children. We're still together because that's what we've decided is best for us, because we're not mindless puppets who do whatever society at large tells us to do. I imagine your children aren't mindless puppets either, who will come home from school after reading a picture book about a gay prince and decide to be gay. The world is always going to teach your children things that contradict with what you teach them--your job is just to teach them what you consider correct principles, and then trust them to govern themselves.

B.G. Christensen said...

By the way, Cheryl, I apologize for not responding to every one of your points. I don't mean to ignore anything you've said, but I work from home and if I were to give your comments the time in responding to them that they deserve, I'd never get any actual work done. :)

I did want to respond to one other point, though, about the civil rights movement. I'm sorry that the comparison offends you and Mrs. King, but it's a valid comparison, nonetheless--not of degree, but of kind. In both cases discrimination is made based on an arbitrary feature that is not chosen (the race of an individual or the sexual anatomy of a couple who wish to get married). In both cases, religion has been used to defend discriminatory legislation. The biggest connection between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement that I see is in the rhetoric used to oppose them. Fifty years ago the LDS church opposed civil rights and mixed-race marriages for the exact same reasons that they give for opposing same-sex marriages now. Their fears of losing religious freedom then did not come to fruition--unless you consider the revelation on the priesthood a negative effect of the civil rights movement, which you can't if you accept it as a revelation from God.

The fact that gays have not suffered the extent of discrimination as blacks is not due to the fact that there has been any greater understanding of them or any less hate, but because we have spent most of our history hiding, passing as straights in a straight world. Our ability to blend in has certainly been a blessing in this regard, but it's also been a curse, as it makes it all that much easier for people to pretend we don't exist.

Tina said...

This is one of the times I am so glad we don't live in California. This is a big election and there are so many different ways to view it. I am much in line with you, Desi, as to the opinions you have. Yet, I also know there are very few times when a prophet has stepped in with such fervor. I would personally have an issue with the teachers union donating IF I was a teacher voting the opposite way and had paid my dues. Once again, I am so glad it's not me voting on this!

Cheryl said...

Mr. fob- are FoxyJ's husband! Holy cow! I'm glad I finally linked on your name; I'm surprised I didn't do it sooner. I have blogged alongside your wife for years now (never crossing paths, although we've commented on several of the same blogs). Small world!

You have made some good points. I respectfully disagree when it comes to following the Prophet, though. I know we're supposed to study it out in our minds and make decisions based on prayer and not following anyone blindly. But following a Prophet when he calls us to action doesn't mean we're blind followers. Like Desi, many people were conflicted on this. But choosing to follow a Prophet in the face of uncertainty (what will happen if SSM becomes legal and lawful in our country?) does not mean we're blind (or puppets).

Fwiw, my MIL has been a huge advocate for gay rights since 1999. She was good friends with Stuart Matis and was absolutely devestated by his death in 2000. Since then she and my 2 SIL's have stood boldly for gay rights (although not gay themselves). One of my SIL's is still active LDS and Prop 8 has been really hard for her. Ironically (and wonderfully) my husband and I have been able to stand on polar opposites politically and morally when it comes to many of these issues with his family because there is so much love between us.

So, yes. I do believe there can be love and understanding between those that disagree. We are lucky we can even have discussions like this! America rocks.

Okay. Here are few points I want to clarify from your comments (which are so articulate. Which intimidates me, if I'm honest. It's hard to discuss these things with highly educated people because no matter what I say, I always come off sounding uneducated and ignorant!):

SSM in school. True point--my kids my hear that coffee drinking is okay in school. But only by example; teachers don't pass out story books and paraphenalia about how lawful coffee-drinking is, do they? It's not part of the cirriculum (how does one spell cirriculum?). If SSM is law, and then taught in schools, how am I supposed to say to my kids: "Hey, you know what? We love our gay friends, but the law says they can get married and we don't believe in it. Oh, and the high school teacher who says it's okay to figure out if you're gay (like the one in MA)? Please don't go around kissing girls just to see if you're a lesbian, all right? Oh, and the idea that two men can marry and it's moral? That's wrong, too."
How can that not be confusing to a child? To be told by everyone that it's the law, moral, normal, etc. but we don't obey or agree with that law? Isn't there an article of Faith about this? Obeying the laws of the land?
Let's look at abortion. I don't agree with it; I'll teach my kids this, too. But it's the law. Fine. Other people do it. But here's the thing: They don't teach abortion in schools to Kindergartners. And they shouldn't! I don't want my 5 year old hearing about sexual relations anyway! Holy cow! They don't teach 5 year old's about traditional marriage to begin with, but because gay marriage is new we suddenly have to start teaching it to our kids?! This baffles the mind. Who thought of this? Why the indocrination of kids so young and impressionable? No on 8 supporters claim that there is no agenda to indoctrinate: So Why Is It Happening?

Like I said, something is going to have to give between Religion and Gay Marriage. Because neither will be able to stand while the other one is there. The dividing line is getting wider and wider and there's no stopping it. I can't imagine how hard this would be for LDS gays (or for you, although you seem to have made your choice; one I admire very, very much), but I just know, deep deep down that no matter how hard it gets, gay marriage will not bring about goodness or happiness that everyone thinks it will. It's going to tear this country apart. I know SSM supporters think this is stupid thinking, but look what it's already done! People have to make a choice now. It's not a matter of "do what you want, I don't care." We have to actually choose between SSM and traditional marriage. We have to choose between what we believe is moral and what the world is telling us is moral. And for LDS gays to suddenly be up at arms for the LDS church to be against SSM is strange to me because LDS gays know that marriage and family is central to the Plan of Salvation and is taught nearly every week in Church. How could this come as a surprise to them? The Church has never hidden what it teaches. Ever.

And you are right. Suffering in silence stinks. But it doesn't change the fact that gays were never slaves or never got to vote.

Okay, I feel like I have taken over your blog post Desi, and I apologize! It wasn't my intent to get all of my frustrations out on your post. I hope you don't mind! Maybe I should just do my own darn post... :)

Cheryl said...

Oh, and P.S.

B.G. Christensen said...

I'd apologize to Desi for going on like this on her blog, but that's what happens when you post about a controversial political issue. :)

Yup, I am FoxyJ's husband. I'd say it's a small world, but I only know Desi because she knows Foxy through the Bloggernacle, so it's not that much of a coincidence, I think, that you know her too. Still, it's nice to have a connection.

I don't think following the prophet automatically makes anyone a blind follower or a puppet. I believe that following him without ever stopping to consider for yourself if what he says is right can be potentially dangerous, even within the context of LDS doctrine, because to do so is to "put your trust in the arm of flesh." LDS doctrine is very clear on the fact that prophets are fallible human beings who can make mistakes just like the rest of us. If you follow the prophet because you have prayerfully studied the issue yourself and concluded this is the right thing to do, I may still disagree with your conclusion but I will never call you a puppet.

America does indeed rock.

I don't take pleasure in intimidating people, but I am flattered. You don't sound uneducated or ignorant--though it may just be that I'm too busy worrying about coming across uneducated or ignorant myself to notice. :)

If SSM is law, and then taught in schools, how am I supposed to say to my kids: "Hey, you know what? We love our gay friends, but the law says they can get married and we don't believe in it. Oh, and the high school teacher who says it's okay to figure out if you're gay (like the one in MA)? Please don't go around kissing girls just to see if you're a lesbian, all right? Oh, and the idea that two men can marry and it's moral? That's wrong, too."

That seems to me like a pretty reasonable way to say it. Mormon children are reminded so often that they are a peculiar people, that they are to live in the world but not be of the world, that I don't believe legal same-sex marriage would really be any more confusing. So long as you're not teaching your children to throw rocks at gay people, you're safely within the boundaries of the laws of the land.

I agree that 5-year-olds should not be taught about sexual relations, and I think most gay activists--particularly those who are parents themselves--would agree with you. Age-appropriate books such as Heather Has Two Mommies, though, have absolutely nothing to do with sexual relations. It's no different than reading a book about a kid being raised by her grandma, or one being raised by a mom and a stepdad--all it teaches kids is that there are a lot of different kinds of families. They'll learn that anyway by looking at the families of the kids around them. Prop 8 won't stop that. If you make it about sex by explaining why your religion disapproves of those relationships, then it's you who's overstepping the bounds of age appropriateness. What's the harm of teaching your children that people of all gender combinations can love each other? When it's time to talk about sex, then you can talk about what kind of sexual relationships are appropriate and which ones aren't.

If materials being presented go beyond what a child is likely to understand about her own parents' relationship--that they love each other and their children--then yes, absolutely, that's inappropriate. I'm not clear on the details of the case you linked to, but it sounds to me like some lines were crossed that shouldn't have been. But Prop 8 does nothing to stop that from happening, either. You've provided several examples of abuses of discrimination law in places where same-sex marriage is legal, but have you looked into places where it isn't? Do Utah's marriage laws make it immune from discrimination lawsuits unrelated to marriage?

It's important to remember that LGBT people are not a unified front with a central leadership--which has made this battle with the LDS Church particularly difficult, because the church does have a singular agenda. Surely there are people who wish to indoctrinate your children, but most people just want to be left alone, as you do. If a teacher who happened to be a Jehovah's Witness abused his position by teaching your children his religion, would you react by annulling the marriages of every JW in the state? Would you propose an amendment to the state constitution that declared their religion a cult, so as to ensure that they don't have equal legal footing with your religion? No, you'd address the problem--the teacher or teachers who are overstepping their bounds. Yes, I'm aware that's an incredibly difficult battle in the case of homosexuality because the state is going to be very careful not to err on the side of discriminating against gay people, but I promise you, Prop 8 will do absolutely nothing to solve that problem.

Like I said, something is going to have to give between Religion and Gay Marriage. Because neither will be able to stand while the other one is there.

I disagree. Yes, there is a tension between the rights of two opposing groups, but America is built on managing that tension, working to find a balance--not by knocking one over so the other one can stand. I don't believe that balance is achieved by telling one group that their families are less valid in the eyes of the government than everyone else's are. It's also incorrect to cast this as a battle between "religion" and gay marriage. Many, many religions fully recognize and embrace gay marriage. After leaving the LDS church I briefly attended the United Church of Christ, where I listened to sermons from an openly gay minister. A couple weeks ago I attended a No on 8 rally at a Jewish synagogue. The Universal Unitarians have been supporting gay rights since long before it was the PC thing to do. If Prop 8 passes it will make the same-sex ceremonies performed by those churches legally invalid, which is the absolute worst threat that LDS temple sealing ceremonies face if it isn't passed (and not a particularly likely outcome, as it has yet to happen elsewhere).

I realize that you don't see it this way, but it's not same-sex marriage that's forcing people to make a choice. It's Prop 8 and before that Prop 22 that have put people in the position of choosing between same-sex marriage and "traditional" marriage. Those of us who oppose these propositions don't see the two as mutually exclusive--we want everyone to enjoy marriage.

Phew. Longest. Comment. Ever. I think I might have said everything I have to say now. It's been a pleasure, Cheryl. Thank you for keeping this civil.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog today. I am an adoptive mom myself and am someone who feels strongly about traditional values when it comes to family. I appreciated your heartfelt thoughts on the prop 8, a proposition and I also share some of your feelings on both sides. However, I felt inclined to mention that a gay couple from California sued a website,, (a website that for a fee adoptive families can post their adoptive profiles and help first parents find family for their children) because they did not meet the requirements set by the parent company. No legal marriage license. The gay couple won and the state of CA told the company to change their policy and accept any couple or they were not allowed to offer their services to any CA residents. chose to stop offering their services to CA residents hoping to adopt.
I have heard about Catholic Charities in Boston and that concerns me. Learning about also concerns me. I think teaching about marriage, like teaching about religion should be left to the parents and the resources they choose. Keep the state, school and government out of it.

Kristin said...

I like the way you dug into the issue. Your views really did a great job of explaining how I've felt and the struggle I've had explaining it. I also have several friends who are homosexual and they are some of the best, kindest and most Christian people I know. I don't believe in same-sex marriage, but I hate to take a stand against people I care about. I'm also concerned with how everything, including what you teach in your own home, is getting legislated. I'm glad I didn't have to vote on it.