Eight years ago, 61 percent of California voters passed Proposition 22, the “California Defense of Marriage Act.” The proposition read very simply: “Only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California.” No doubt many Californians thought that because the people had spoken, the issue was over. But this was not to be the case. On May 15, 2008 four members (George, Werdegar, Moreno, and Kennard) of the seven-member California Supreme Court voted to overturn Proposition 22, thus reversing an earlier decision in 2004 that put a stop to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s defiant order to issue marriage certificates to nearly 4,000 same-sex couples.
Justice Marvin R. Baxter felt the majority opinion striking down Proposition 22 was a “profound error,” stating that
“nothing in our Constitution, express or implicit, compels the majority’s startling conclusion that the age-old understanding of marriage — an understanding recently confirmed by an initiative law — is no longer valid. California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow.”
Proposition 22’s demise prompted the development of Proposition 8, an initiative that Californians will vote on November 4th. Prop 8 will change California’s Constitution and will again provide that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
On its official website, “The [LDS] Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates,” yet it is no secret that Mormons have been officially encouraged to “support the proposed constitutional amendment” via a June 20, 2008 letter from the First Presidency. It appears that if this measure passes, Mormons are already poised to take the credit. An LDS instruction sheet posted on wikileaks.com stated,
“Elders Ballard, Christopherson & Clayton met last week with leaders of the Coalition for 2 hours. The brethren emphasized that there wasn’t much participation from non-LDS people. The work depends on us.”
No doubt several other religious groups will take issue with that conclusion. An Associated Press article stated that
“evangelical Christian groups such as Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, the leaders of Roman Catholic, Mormon, Southern Baptist, Orthodox Jewish and Seventh-Day Adventist congregations have endorsed the measure and urged the faithful to give. The Knights of Columbus have given nearly $1.3 million, making the Catholic fraternal organization the largest single contributor to Yes on 8” (Lisa Leff, “Calif. religious leaders push for gay marriage ban”).
While I personally support the right of the LDS Church as an institution to express its convictions and encourage its members to do the same, I couldn’t help but shake my head when I read this sentence on its web site:
“However, speaking out against practices with which the Church disagrees on moral grounds – including same-sex marriage – does not constitute abuse or the frequently misused term ‘hate speech.’”
Did you catch the hypocrisy? We at MRM have often defended our outspoken disagreement of Mormonism on the same grounds, yet the LDS Church and many of its members often resort to accusations of “persecution,” “bigotry,” and “hate speech,” when its positions are criticized.
If Proposition 8 passes it will have virtually no affect on same-sex couples since, as mentioned above, such unions already share the same rights as others. If it fails you can be sure it will open the door to all sorts of social and legal problems. For one, same sex marriage will also give homosexuality the status of “normal,” a message that will be used in the classroom to indoctrinate children, regardless of the moral positions held by the parent (Assurances to the contrary are only meant to appease those who suffer from EGS – Extreme Gullibility Syndrome). This naturally leads to infringements on the freedom of speech. Homosexuality is an ideology and as such, should be open to criticism and scrutiny like every other ideology. No ideology (including political or religious) should ever be exempt from public discussion and debate. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see criticism of this lifestyle eventually being categorized as a hate crime.
Finally, if Prop 8 fails, the sexual moral high ground will have been lost, making it very difficult to prevent the legalization of plural marriage. If that is the case, it will be interesting to see how the LDS Church reacts. After all, one of the major reasons the LDS Church excommunicates polygamists is because it violates current American law (Articles of Faith, 12). I can’t recall church leaders ever pointing to the standard works as a source for this type of discipline. Should the barrier of legality be removed, what excuse will the LDS Church have? They can continue to deconstruct the original intent of D&C 132, but the fact is the context refers to plural marriage, not simply marriage for time and eternity.
No doubt many Mormons will argue that section 132 can only be “reactivated” by revelation since they assume it was deactivated by revelation via The Manifesto of 1890. I don’t buy it. I am aware that President Wilford Woodruff later claimed that The Manifesto was a result of revelation, but until the LDS Church produces the exact wording of said revelation, assuming this was anything more than a promise to abide by United States law is nothing more than whistling in the dark. If the manifesto was meant to once and for all prohibit plural marriage, why did Mormons continue to practice it in Canada and Mexico with the blessing of church leadership? The defeat of Prop 8 could lead to all sorts of embarrassment for the LDS Church. Perhaps this too is a major reason why it is fighting so hard to see Prop 8 succeed.