Sunday, November 09, 2008

Backlash Building Against the Mormon Church

This week's historic election will turn things around for the United States of America, there is hope in the air, a change is gonna come and quickly. But besides all the jubilation over the election of a fresh and intelligent new President, there were several civil rights losses, and we have to wonder about the several anti-marriage bills that passed with majorities around the country. The most important one is Proposition 8 in California, which restricts the definition of marriage in that state to the union between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage had been recognized in California due to a court ruling, and this was placed on the ballot to give voters a chance to overturn the ruling. Campaigns for and against the proposition were the highest funded non-Presidential campaigns ever, it was a big fight.

The major force behind California's anti-marriage campaign, contributing as much as eighty percent of the money, was the Mormon Church. Cribbed from Wikipedia: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) publicly supported the proposition and encouraged their membership to donate money and volunteer time. The First Presidency of the church announced its support for Proposition 8 in a letter read in every congregation. Latter-day Saints provided a significant source for financial donations in support of the proposition, both inside and outside the State of California. About 45% of out-of-state contributions to came from Utah, over three times more than any other state.

I come from the Southwest, I grew up with Mormons. My best friend in grade school was a Mormon kid, nephew of Mo and Stu Udall, and the best man at our wedding was my best friend, a Mormon from Idaho. Growing up in Phoenix we lived next door to a Mormon family, well if you live out there, there are whole towns of them. Generally the Mormon people are hard-working and honest, down to earth people, and I don't have anything against them personally.

Mormons live very strictly, but they do have that one quirk, the polygamy thing. Well, and the underwear. And a couple other things. They will tell you they do not practice polygamy any more or support it, but in fact if you talk with a Mormon guy you are quite likely to find that he wouldn't mind having another wife or two, which is something that doesn't ordinarily occur to the rest of us. The mainstream Mormons don't do it mainly because it's against the law, but out in the desert and even in the suburbs of some Southwestern cities there are fundamentalists and renegades who go ahead and take multiple wives anyway.

So it seems strange to me that they, of all people, would want to tell other people who they can and can't marry. Wouldn't it work like this? -- Gay people get the right to marry, straight people see that it's not a bad thing, they get used to it, the ice is broken, Mormons take the next obvious step and get the monogamy clause stricken -- they take the "one" out of "one man and one woman." You'd think they'd go that way with it, support marriage equality so they can get their turn. To me there is something missing, I don't see the logic for them to undermine marriage for gay and lesbian people.

According to Box Turtle Bulletin:
By some estimates, more than $20 million of Mormon money went to fund the $36 million California campaign, while an additional estimated $3-7 million funded Arizona’s $8 million campaign.

Online records show our own Montgomery County's Rose Marie Briggs, who was the leader of a local Mormon group that fought the MCPS sex-ed curriculum, donated $100 to, the California anti-marriage group. So that's how it works, Mormons all over the country contributed money to ensure that some Americans can not marry the one they love.

Writing in The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan says:
Gay people have every right to regard the Mormon church hierarchy as a mortal enemy. If they knock on my door any time soon, they will get an earful.

Big protests are being held outside Mormon temples across the country. From today's New York Times:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Protesters marched around the headquarters of the Mormon church Friday night, criticizing the church’s support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California.

“Separate church and state,” the crowd chanted as it marched, some waving rainbow flags or carrying signs with messages like “Mormons: Once persecuted, now persecutors.”

An estimate from Salt Lake City police, who blocked downtown city streets for the march, put the number of participants at more than 2,000. Mormon Church Draws Protest Over Marriage Act

From the LA Times:
More than a thousand gay-rights activists gathered Thursday afternoon outside the Mormon temple in Westwood to protest the role Mormons played in passing Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

It was the latest in an escalating campaign directed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its role in marshaling millions of dollars in contributions from its members for the successful campaign to take away same-sex marriage rights. Prop. 8 protesters target Mormon temple in Westwood

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog and others are calling for a boycott of the entire state of Utah.

Do you remember when Dennis Rodman said something dumb about Mormons, and afterwards we found out he thought that was just a word for people who live in Utah? That seemed pretty bad, not knowing the difference between a state and a religion. But actually, more than half of Utah's population is Mormon, so you can see how he made that mistake, not that it ... never mind. Brigham Young brought the people there after they were persecuted everywhere else for their polygamist practices, and the LDS church is a major force in that state.

The annual Sundance Film Festival is held at Sundance, Utah, near Provo. It's a big tourist draw -- I know it doesn't matter, but I had dinner at Sundance a couple of years ago when I gave a talk at Brigham Young University. There is a push growing now to either boycott the film festival or get Robert Redford to move it to another state. This might actually get kind of interesting, you never know but I suspect this has the possibility of becoming a successful campaign. Utah would miss the tourist money from the film festival, and I think a lot of movie people are sympathetic to the gay and lesbian point of view, so there will be pressure from within the film community, too.

There are other legal challenges to Proposition 8, as well.

This is a strange situation. I tend to respect other people's beliefs, even if I don't understand them. You look back at the origins of the Book of Mormon, and you shake your head. You just have to say to yourself, all right, some people believe that Joseph Smith, helped by the angel Moroni, found some golden plates buried in rural New York, written in an otherwise unknown language, he translated them using a magical method and then gave them back to the angel, and that is the foundation of the church. Listen -- that is not for me, all right? I am a psychologist but there are lots of things about the human mind that I don't understand, and we have just touched on one. You have to believe this story on faith, and then the rest of your life follows from what was written in those now-lost golden plates.

I hate to criticize somebody's religious beliefs, and there are about eleven million people who believe all this, but the Mormon church has stepped outside the zone of religion. As I understand it, they are legally allowed, within the IRS code, to get involved with nonpartisan politics, without losing their tax-exempt status (though you can sign a petition to revoke that status HERE). They have the right to promote a position on marriage equality, just as the Catholic church can have a position on abortion, and they can try to get their members to send money and get involved in prohibiting particular marriages. People may have strange beliefs, and you don't have to agree with them to accept them, but at some point you have to face the fact that they're taking their bizarre beliefs and inflicting their illogical conclusions on the rest of us.

The Washington Post had a story about this, containing this quote from a Mormon press release:
"While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process," the statement said.

You see in this statement that the church wants to invoke the unaccountability of religion, they want their "sacred places" to remain inviolate, while at the same time making overt political gestures in the real world, the sociophysical world that the rest of us live in. Whatever they want to do in their sacred places, I am good with that, I don't have to understand it but I wouldn't criticize it. But the law about marriage extends beyond the Mormon population, this affects everybody. The Mormons have been persecuted for their marriage practices, why in the world would they want to persecute others?

Mark Morford wrote eloquently in the San Francisco Chronicle:
... when you put it that way, the ugly fight for Prop. 8 makes perfect sense. After all, hetero marriage is all organized religion really has left, their last vestige of power and control. Everything else they fought so hard to inject into the national agenda -- intelligent design, God's war against Muslims, the end of reproductive choice, more prayer in schools, abstinence education, et al -- not only failed, but failed spectacularly. No wonder they're clinging to this rigid, outdated idea of marriage so violently.

The Presidential election will have a gigantic effect on everything else, and I have no doubt that these kinds of laws will be reversed in short time. The American people really don't mind if Adam and Steve set up a home and family, there were some hard-fought campaigns and the final word is that the pro-marriage forces may not have taken their message seriously enough, they made some assumptions about people that didn't turn out to be correct. The fact is, you have to fight these fights mano a mano, you can't expect people to make the right decisions when they're inundated with bad information, you've got to get out there and fight the battle constantly. We have been amazed over these past few years to see how the other side will lie and distort things just to win, because winning is all that matters to them, and to beat them you have to be relentless. In the long run, the tide has turned, Americans are sick and tired of the pettiness, the rudeness, the unfairness and the ignorance, but you can't sit still and expect people to behave well, you have to keep an eye on it every minute and fight to keep the facts in public view.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the Mormon Church provided some of the money to get a message out to people. There aren't anywhere near enough Mormons in California to pass it though. Judeo-Christian morality resonates broadly. The gay community in California is plenty well-funded.

What should give TTF pause is the commercial that got the best reaction from the public. A young girl comes home from school and tells her mother, "Guess what? The teacher told me today that I could grow up and marry a princess!"

Even in a state like California, the message still resonates. American parents don't want homosexuality presented to their children as normal.

Maybe there's a "backlash" coming to surprise you.

November 09, 2008 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Google is your friend. There are more Mormons in California than any other state outside of Utah. Do you ever get any facts right? I recognize that this website is called Teach the Facts, but I'm getting a little tired of the teaching, Wyatt.

Yes, Mormons are a small portion of the Californian population, but the Mormon Church was the main financial backer of Proposition 8.


November 09, 2008 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't quite know what you're talking about. I agree with your facts but they don't contradict anything I said.

You aren't Robert, are you?

He's got a tumbling kaleidoscope in his mind too.

70% of blacks in California voted against Proposition 8. They aren't Mormons. Neither are the Roman Catholics or Orthodox Jews or Focus on the Family or Rick Warren, who all supported Proposition 8.

November 09, 2008 9:06 PM  
Blogger Working Surname said...

And Rick Warren and orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Roman Catholics and African-Americans are not all there is to America, either.

The African-American community will now engage with our new President on the issue of black homophobia. Obama already entered the lion's den and confronted the black church. They will not be able much longer to avert their eyes from their own oppressive ways, not after this past week's liberation.

November 09, 2008 9:14 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Anonymous noted:

“What should give TTF pause is the commercial that got the best reaction from the public. A young girl comes home from school and tells her mother, "Guess what? The teacher told me today that I could grow up and marry a princess!”

Indeed, this should give all of America a wake up call. Why? Because Proposition 8 had absolutely NOTHING about teachers educating students about gay marriage in it. In fact the entirety of proposition 8 is below:

This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.

This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Title

This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”

SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution to read:
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

The very last sentence above is what is in italics in the printed document. You can verify it for yourself here:

So what the Mormon Church has done is support a campaign of outright lies to promote their agenda and take away civil rights that had been granted to the citizens of California. This sets a frightening precedent in a country that used to be known as “the land of the free.”

I have known a number of Mormons in my life, my brother is the head of his Mormon household of 6 people, and at one point I dated a Mormon (for 6 years) that was the oldest of 11 kids. I have 2 copies of the Book of Mormon in my collection given to me with very loving and personal notes included. I provided a home for my brother to live in after he came back from the first Iraq war until he went on his (Mormon) mission to Japan. At that point I took care of his finances (paying the church from money he had saved) while he was overseas.

I disagree with much of the Mormon philosophy, but I had never witnessed any inclination towards lying such as that during the Prop 8 campaign. I think now, with protests outside many of their churches, they are seeing a lot more gay people than they ever wanted to acknowledge existed. I doubt they ever imagined a reaction to their efforts like this. I can imagine it is causing them some degree of discomfort. I think it is well deserved.



November 09, 2008 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Indeed, this should give all of America a wake up call. Why? Because Proposition 8 had absolutely NOTHING about teachers educating students about gay marriage in it."

But, it does, Cynthia. If you change the definition of a word, teachers will have to teach that definition.

Again, America will tolerate homosexuality but they will not affirm it as normal.

That's the facts.

"The African-American community will now engage with our new President on the issue of black homophobia."

Or vice the versa. Unless Obama was lying in the campaign, he does not favor redefining marriage to cater to the gay agenda.

Sounds like Obama's chosen his side.

He's with 70% of blacks in California and the millions of other voters of every race in virtually every state where it's been put to a vote. Americans have decided we respect marriage and don't want to redefine it.

Move on, people.

November 09, 2008 9:39 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Anonymous argued:

“Indeed, this should give all of America a wake up call. Why? Because Proposition 8 had absolutely NOTHING about teachers educating students about gay marriage in it."

But, it does, Cynthia. If you change the definition of a word, teachers will have to teach that definition.”

Maybe it’s be cause I’m so old, (over 40 now) but I don’t recall ever having to be taught what a marriage was – even in my Catholic high school (I graduated 3rd in my class). I didn’t have to be taught at school how to drink from a water fountain or wipe my butt either – these were things my PARENTS taught me. That’s why the teacher’s union put up so much money to fight the lies from the church groups – it’s not the teachers teaching kids about marriage. (See )

(The California Teacher’s Association website.)

“On the Education Accusation

Proposition 8 will not affect teaching in our schools. That’s a lie crafted to scare people into voting for Proposition 8 and stripping Californians of rights they already have. Not one word in Prop. 8 mentions education, and no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it, and the Yes on 8 campaign knows they are purposely trying to deceive the public. A California Superior Court Judge has already ruled that this claim by Prop. 8 proponents is “false and misleading.”

It seems the teachers didn’t appreciate being used as an unwitting pawn in the churches’ propaganda campaign.

In cast you missed it the first time, here it is again: “no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it…”

You might also want to read again how the judge called the claim by Prop. 8 proponents “false and misleading.”

As Anon noted:

“That’s the facts.”

Anon also said:

“Again, America will tolerate homosexuality but they will not affirm it as normal.”

If you read Prop 8 again, very slowly if necessary, there is NOTHING about affirming homosexuality as normal.

That’s the facts.

Please try to stick to them.

Anon requested:

“Move on, people.”

Sorry. No can do.



November 09, 2008 10:15 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

I objurgate the woeful anonymi,
who shove and groan like doleful hippopotami.

Their malformed lies and specious logic are quite ineffectual
when confronted with the truth from a transsexual intellectual.

November 10, 2008 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

truth is that most people don't think we should change the definition of marriage

it's been put to a vote repeatedly across the land in red states and blue and even our most liberal president-elect agrees:

marriage is a union between a guy and a gal

November 10, 2008 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And well into the 1960s, most states had laws banning marriage between individuals of different races. Those laws were pretty "popular," too -- I suspect miscegenation laws would pass in many states today. The Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia struck down those laws. I suppose you think that was a bad thing.

There's no difference between anti-miscegenation laws and anti-gay marriage laws. None. It's simply an attempt by frightened and beleaguered religious groups to continue to be gate-keepers over who can marry and who can't. In less than a generation, these anti-gay marriage amendments will be a vestige of history, which is why Mormons and other bigots were so keen on pushing for these laws NOW. The vote against Prop. 8 among those under 30 was about 70-30 against, and that's the future, my bigoted moronic non-friend. The sad part is that gays of THIS generation must suffer so that bigots can have one last hurrah before they are relegated to the dustbin. Enjoy it while it lasts, dim bulb, because it ain't gonna last much longer.

November 10, 2008 8:04 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Anonymous said:

“truth is that most people don't think we should change the definition of marriage… marriage is a union between a guy and a gal”

A number of people do indeed think that. There are some inherent problems with that definition though.

What are intersexed people supposed to do? What about people with Klinelter Syndrome or Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. These people don’t fall neatly into the category of “man” or “woman” because of genetics and / or ambiguous genitalia. The designation on their birth certificate as to “male” or “female” may not match the way that person lives their life.

Depending on how it is interpreted, California law now either prohibits these people from getting married altogether, or forces them to marry someone of the “opposite” gender based on…. what? their birth certificate? What their genitals look like? Some genetic marker? What some judge decides?

The International Olympic Committee gave up on genetic testing for athletes years ago – they were finding all sorts of women who couldn’t pass the test – not because they were cheating or lying, but because human nature simply isn’t as simple as some people would like it to be.

Now let’s throw another wrench into the works. Suppose a post-op trans-woman lives in a state that doesn’t allow her to change her birth certificate to female, and state law says marriage is between a “man and a woman.” Well, one could argue that because her birth certificate says she’s a male, she should marry a female. This may be entirely fine with her (or not, but let’s assume for the moment it is). If this post-op transwoman finds the woman of her dreams, legally it seems these two people, who are both anatomically female are allowed to get married by virtue of the birth certificate defining her as a male.

In another state, where a transwoman IS allowed to change her birth certificate, the same post-op transwoman would be allowed to marry a male.

Defining marriage as a union “between a man and a woman” didn’t necessary fix the problem. It just moved where the problem definition is. Now the question is who fits the definition of “man” and “woman.” For a lot of people this isn’t a problem. But for those of us who don’t neatly fit into one of those categories, it is.

Frankly, I don’t need the state to tell me whether I’m a man or a woman, and I don’t think we want states deciding that.

Have a nice day,


November 10, 2008 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

even our most liberal president-elect agrees:

marriage is a union between a guy and a gal

Have you ever read Obama's position on LGBT issues Anon? Of course you haven't. FYI here are the parts of Obama's support for the LGBT community that relate to this year's votes.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples equal legal rights and privileges as married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples. “We are better than this. And we certainly owe the American people more than this. I know that this amendment will fail, and when it does, I hope we can start discussing issues and offering proposals that will actually improve the lives of most Americans.” (Barack Obama on the Senate floor regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment, June 5, 2006)

...Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

This is America -- it's only a matter of time until we do the right thing and give full equal rights to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

November 10, 2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" you said: "A young girl comes home from school and tells her mother, "Guess what? The teacher told me today that I could grow up and marry a princess!"
On the other hand, if that is a message that you would rather your child not hear, you have the authority and power to counter it with your own family's sense of what is right and wrong. After all, isn't that one of the prime responsibilities of parents? MOLD your children in your own image...isn't that what it's all about?
Your job, as a parent, is to listen to your children (perhaps for once in your life) and engage them in conversation in which you impress upon them your own brand of morality. If you do your job, what they hear in school is secondary to what they have been "taught" by their parents at home. On the other hand, perhaps you fear an educational system that encourages students to think for themselves, and therefore you believe that you can mold the system to reflect your own particular narrow-minded views of the world.
However, you do NOT have the right to impose your own particular parochial life views on other parents or children by attempting to control the school curriculum to reflect your own particular set of beliefs. Democracy rules in a democracy.
Parents have failed in this mission to teach their children...and I suspect you know it and resent it. That's why you spend so much of your apparently limitless time chasing phantom "sexual and social deviant" phantoms and blaming everybody else on earth for your own failures.

November 10, 2008 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

The tumbling kalaidescope of my mind has settled on this notion:

LGBT people and our allies will not 'move on', because there is a genuine 'gay agenda': simply, full equality and safety.

Marriage has been the salient issue the past few years. To me, it is neither the most important nor the most achievable.

The U.S. military's discriminatory policies, and the penalties of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, matter most to me, and most seriously affect the lgbt people closest to me personally.

In my own life, employment non-discrimination policies and anti-harassment training for school staff and students matter most.

Marriage will come in time, but there are other concerns also.

I feel kind of honored when the anonymoid gratuitously insults me even when I haven't said anything. It's like when CRW and PFOX put pages on their websites saying rude things about me. Means I must be doing something right.

November 10, 2008 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Was it Jon Stewart who said that "it makes sense for the Mormon Church to support "traditional marriage" -after all,for them ,marriage is between one man and 6 women."

November 10, 2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I feel kind of honored when the anonymoid gratuitously insults me."

Well, you should.

You earned it.

November 10, 2008 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Thank you, but man by his actions can not earn such indulgence. Only by your grace do I receive gratuitous insults.

November 11, 2008 10:17 AM  

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