Posted by: randommisfires | November 3, 2008

Gay Marriage and Civil Rights

For those of you asking how it was possible for me to come to a decision that is not in line with my religion, my family, or my conservative roots,  I invite you to read this post:

http://www.bidstrup.com/marriage.htm

In reading through a lot of garbage on both sides- lots of hate and ugliness- this was particularly impactful.

Why This Is A Serious Civil Rights Issue

When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters of civil justice, which often can be quite serious – and can have life-damaging, even life-threatening consequences.

One of these is the fact that in most states, we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may have been estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and can and frequently do, totally ignore our wishes regarding the treatment of our partners. If a hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in most states. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility — with results consciously intended to be as inimical to the interests of the patient as possible! Is this fair?

Upon death, in many cases, even very carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner’s hospital bed or grave. As survivors, estranged families can, in nearly all states, even sieze a real estate property that a gay couple may have been buying together for many years, quickly sell it at the largest possible loss, and stick the surviving partner with all the remaining mortgage obligations on a property that partner no longer owns, leaving him out on the street, penniless. There are hundreds of examples of this, even in many cases where the gay couple had been extremely careful to do everything right under current law, in a determined effort to protect their rights. Is this fair?

If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. In court cases, a partner’s testimony can be simply ruled irrelevant as heresay by a hostile judge, having no more weight in law than the testimony of a complete stranger. If a partner is jailed or imprisoned, visitation rights by the partner can, in most cases, can be denied on the whim of a hostile family and the cooperation of a homophobic judge, unrestrained by any law or precedent. Conjugal visits, a well-established right of heterosexual married couples in some settings, are simply not available to gay couples. Is this fair?

These are far from being just theoretical issues; they happen with surprising frequency. Almost any older gay couple can tell you numerous horror stories of friends and acquaintences who have been victimized in such ways. One couple I know uses the following line in the “sig” lines on their email: “…partners and lovers for 40 years, yet still strangers before the law.” Why, as a supposedly advanced society, should we continue to tolerate this kind of injustice?

These are all civil rights issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with the ecclesiastical origins of marriage; they are matters that have become enshrined in state laws by legislation or court precedent over the years in many ways that exclude us from the rights that legally married couples enjoy and even consider their constitutional right. This is why we say it is very much a serious civil rights issue; it has nothing to do with who performs the ceremony, whether it is performed in a church or courthouse or the local country club, or whether an announcement about it is accepted for publication in the local newspaper.

The entire article is enlightening without being rancourous or strident, much as I found the website the Mormon church endorses,  http://www.protectmarriage.com/ to be less strident and homophobic than many of the others.

There are consequences on both sides of the issue.  There is hate on both sides of the issue.  There is unhappiness in heterosexual marriages and in homosexual marriages.  None of that is up for debate.  My opinion is not up for debate.  I choose to follow my heart and embrace gay marriage.  I hold no ill will nor do I think less of anyone who chooses to vote yes on 8.  I just came to my own conclusion, based on research, that domestic partnerships and civil unions don’t actually provide equal rights under the law.

If anyone would like further information and clarification on my stance, feel free to ask.

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Responses

  1. *claps*

  2. I think it’s interesting to see how we as a church have completely diverged from our position from about 1850 to 1900. Part of the organizing doctrine of the Republican political party in 1856 was as follows:

    “Resolved, That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the Territories of the United States for their government, and that in the exercise of this power it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism, slavery and polygamy.”

    The reference to polygamy as a “twin relic” to slavery makes a clear distinction of the moral perception of the Mormon practice during its time.

    B.H. Roberts summarized the official Mormon perspective on this and other attacks in John Taylor’s biography. In describing Taylor’s rebuttal to the vast opposition groups attacking polygamy, he said

    “even if Mormon polygamy was as bad as they ( Eastern U.S. press and political parties attacking Mormonism ) represented it to be, there were evils infinitely worse rotting and festering in their very midst, and which they sought in vain to ignore, as they met them at every street corner, flaunted in their public highways, and were disgustingly placarded on their walls; while the victims thereof filled their poor houses, shrieked out their madness in their asylums, lay slowly rotting in their hospitals or sought relief in self-destruction. He referred to these things to show up the hypocrisy of a generation that could live in the midst of such social corruption, without an effort to check its ravages; and at the same time pretend to be horrified at supposed social evils existing in distant Utah. “

    It’s not a stretch to draw comparisons of the 19th century view of polygamy by political parties and newspapers and today’s current attacks on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Both were considered to be threats to “traditional marriage” and a “sinful plague” that if not dealt with properly, would lead to the downfall of society.

    Granted, I don’t think any of the early church leaders who endorsed polygamy (to say nothing of the polyandry quagmire) would have approved of homosexuality and same-sex marriages. However, the principal as perceived by those inside and outside of the conflict are similar. Recognition and social treatment of a minority group, which is identified as “non-traditional” and “immoral” in especially religious demographics, is at risk and actively attacked, despite the supposed constitutional principals set aside to protect those minority groups.

    Some would argue that the founding fathers never intended for certain rights, privileges, or recognitions to be granted given the traditional “Judeo-Christian” culture that contributed to the rise of the new republic. It’s also doubtful that Mormon polygamy, as existed during the 19th century, would have been an acceptable practice by the founding fathers, yet it didn’t stop Mormon apologists and leaders from using the same principals of minority protections as justification for polygamy’s existence and continuance. Likewise, while I’m sure same-sex marriage would have been abhorrent to most founding fathers; their intention wasn’t to account for every permutation of morality and civil rights doctrine. Besides, they did cave on the whole slavery issue didn’t they?

    The bottom line is, it’s not difficult to see why some consider the institutional Mormon Church opposition to same-sex marriage – hypocritical. Remember, Mormon doctrine requires that we maintain the legitimacy of our past polygamy (D&C 121), otherwise, we have a roughly 100 year gap of broken priesthood authority (Joseph Smith to Heber J Grant, who was the last polygamous Prophet), which means the church would need to be restored to its proper authority – again. Since we obviously don’t take that line, we cannot just discard polygamy as an expired social experiment. Likewise, while the morality of same-sex marriage is easily perceived as unacceptable in Mormon doctrine, there is an uncomfortable parallel between polygamy’s broad un-acceptance yesterday and today’s treatment of same-sex marriage by those who espouse the Mormon experience.

    So, set the morality issue aside. Set the “traditional marriage” argument aside. Set the fear of government forcing us all to be happy lovers of gay marriage aside. Do we really have any room to tell anyone how they define their marriage relationship? Or should I say that my great-great grandparents got what they deserved while they rotted in jail for refusing to disavow the non-traditional form of marriage that they perceived to be a necessary ingredient to their happiness (and by the way, was completely defined by them and not the rest of “traditional” society)?

    I’m not telling anyone to vote no on prop 8. Logic, conscience and lasting principals should be your guide. However, I would encourage you to at least learn your own history.

  3. One note… inheritance laws have never been a matter of civil rights. It used to be that one spouse wouldn’t automatically inherit the other spouse’s belongings upon their death, until the estate had gone through probate. That continued to be true even after trust laws allowed probate to be avoided, if the couple didn’t create a family trust. I personally know someone who lost a significant portion of her and her husband’s net worth after her husband died, and the majority went to either tax or lawyers. So my point is, that inheritance laws and all other *privileges* that are associated with marriage can be revised as the people feel is needed or warranted, without redefining marriage. It’s also important to note that same-sex marriage isn’t the only way that marriage can be altered. Using the same arguments that we are now hearing to promote same-sex marriage, anyone who would like to enter into any type of a union that isn’t currently included in the definition of marriage could claim discrimination due to exclusion. At some point, we need to say “It is what it is, and each person can either choose to participate or not.” Otherwise, marriage will eventually become anything and everything.

  4. If I were a Californian, I’d vote YES on 8. We have a similar one in Florida. I will vote NO on 2 (Florida Marriage Protection Amendment).

    The legal terms of marriage are pretty hosed in my opinion anyway, and my observation on what’s really going on here is that civil rights is a part of it with the real issue being religious groups trying to push past the separation of church and state (you can see this in many issues over the last decade, where Bush – and now Palin – isn’t helping the problem). By trying to bridge that separation, they are infringing on my rights to freedom of religion (by pushing their religion’s morals on me) and my inalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness (not me, per se, as I’m not homosexual, but by extension).

    No offense against any religion – there’s just a separation between church and state for a reason, and many religious groups are working to blur that line that the founders put in place.

  5. Kevin, you would actually want to vote No then, providing you could vote in CA. Yes amends the constitution to provide that marriage is only between a man and a woman and takes away the ability homosexuals currently have to get married.

    Which of course, is the same way I’m voting, which is what makes me extremely unpopular in my ultra-conservative religion which leads the Yes fight with the most money raised and the most volunteer hours.

    Hence, my unpopularity, even with some of my friends

  6. Separation of church and state is not a part of our constitution. It has been inserted, so to speak, into our laws by Supreme Court judges who used an extra-constitutional phrase found in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to justify their interpretation of the First Ammendment. It has only become a part of our political rhetoric in the last half of the 20th Century. For anyone interested in its origins, here’s an interesting article:

    http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2006&month=10

    Every person has a right to stand for what they believe is right, whether their beliefs are influenced by their religion or not. A person who believes that marriage should be between and man and woman is no more forcing their view on other people than proponents of same sex marriage are forcing their views, by voting one way or another. Marriage is the fundamental institution of the family, which forms the foundation of our society. The definition of marriage affects everyone, and therefore everyone should have a voice in determining what it is. Okay– I’ve written enough. 🙂 We each must make our own choices; I’m simply defending my right to make my choice without being called bigoted, discriminatory, unjust, uncompassionate, or whatever, or by having my vote excluded from consideration simply becuase my views are influenced by religious conviction.

  7. Oops, you’re right. Misunderstood. Should have read the issue.

    RE: Separation of church in state

    Actually, it’s in the constitution. No, there is no explicit phrase, which is the argument commonly used to refute separation of church and state, but there are two phrases that demonstrate the founders’ intention:

    1. “no religious Test shall ever be required as Qualification to any office or public Trust under the United States.” (real interesting, considering how much Muslim slander has been thrown around this election)

    2. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    The second one ensures that religious beliefs are removed from attempted government control, which is why the government can’t tell us or our churches what to believe or to teach.

    It also ensures that the government does not get involved with enforcing, mandating, or promoting particular religious doctrines. This is what happens when the government “establishes” a church, which happened in Europe and caused so many problems, so the founders wanted to prevent that from happening here.

    With that phrase the Constitution guarantees the principle of the separation of church and state by implication, because separating church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist (both ways).

  8. I am an observer and not a participant in this vote. However, I am deeply saddened and troubled by the acrimony that seems to have spread because of it.
    Liss, I haven’t had the feedback from people in your area having experienced what you and Rebi have experienced. So, while it is disappointing behavior to have to deal with, I believe there is perspective to be maintained here that people in our religion, by and large, are not out spreading prejudice and hate. It would be wise for us not to give the small percentage of naysayers to our opinions more merit than they deserve. Don’t we teach our children in these situations to hold their heads up, defend their opinions, and see the opportunity to either educate others or do some self inventory on their original argument? The judgments of others are not always bad things.

    It is clear from the comments on these posts that many people in our religion agree with you. It is also clear that some disagree with you but have no desire to ridicule you or ostracize you or your family. Quite the opposite seems to be true. You are surrounded by much love, and you know that mine is first and foremost.

    I, personally, am grateful for Pres. Eyring’s talk “Our Hearts Knit as One” from this last General Conference and I believe they serve us well in this situation. (That whole talk is worth a second look.) He says that “we see increased conflict between peoples in the world around us. Those divisions and differences could infect us”. Not affect, but infect. I hope this will not be the case here.
    His counsel is to pray for unity in our families, listen to revelation, embrace humility, and to strive to be peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer.
    “The children of God have more in common than they have differences.”
    I hope that all of us can renew our desire to be patient with others as we express our different opinions. We can welcome the opinion of others and still find love in our hearts for them.

    I support you in your right to vote however you choose.

  9. This was sent to me over email. It was not meant to remain anonymous, but I have removed names because it was originally written as a letter between 2 private parties.

    AM shared this letter. It is from his gay Mormon roommate in SF, to a Mormon friend from home that was campaigning for Prop 8….
    It has some great quotes and arguments in defense of keeping discrimination and hate out of our constitution(s) and churches for that matter….

    No on Prop 8
    Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 7:16am
    My roommate so eloquently wrote this letter in defense of his stance on gay marriage. I have copied and pasted for your consideration.
    Very well done K!

    This is the letter I wrote to my friend, K H, a devout Mormon mother and concerned California citizen regarding Proposition 8. It all started when she joined a group on Facebook supporting Proposition 8 and I sent her a note to let her know that her actions would affect someone she knew.

    She responded and after carefully researching, I prepared this response:

    K,

    Thank you for your response and for being willing to have a discussion about the issues surrounding Prop 8. I have taken some time to really dig into the facts, which is why my response is so late in coming.

    You asked, “Do you believe that the judicial branch of our government should be able to subvert the will of the people based on personal or ideological reasons?”

    In order to answer that question, a discussion of the purpose of the judicial branch is in order. If we take a good look at how our democracy is set up, we will see that while the job of the legislative branch is to create law, the judicial branch is there to interpret the law and make sure everyone is being treating fairly under the law. Judges have nothing to do with the “will of the people”, which is exactly why they are appointed, not elected – their job is to make sure that the constitution is being upheld and to protect the civil rights of the people – that there is “liberty and justice for ALL” (not just the majority). If the judicial system hadn’t stepped in in the South, there would still be slavery, for instance. So yes, the judicial branch should not only be able, but is obligated to overturn laws that are unconstitutional no matter if the will of the people is for it or against.

    Furthermore, the ballot initiative was not overturned based on personal or ideological reasons. Where did you get that information? The law says, “A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property…or denied equal protection of the laws…” (Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution, Article I Section 7[a]) and the Supreme Court found that allowing opposite-sex people to marry but denying same-sex people to marry violates the constitutional right of gay people of equal protection under the law. That reason is not personal or ideological – it’s a constitutional one.

    You said you are a believer in “constitutional originalism”. What exactly do you mean by that? That the way the constitution was originally written and the content thereof should be taken literally with no amendments? According to that position, you would be saying you believe that non-white people and women should never have been allowed to vote (see the 15th and 19th amendments) since they were not considered “men” at the time the Constitution was written. The founding fathers in their wisdom left the wording open and flexible to allow for unforeseeable and inevitable change. Different times call for different measures, and it’s up to the courts to interpret the law and make sure the law is being applied fairly and equally and not used in such a way to deprive rights of minorities by the majority. Your saying that you believe that the words captured on the Constitution “should be adhered to in a strict manner” kind of reminds me of the fundamentalist Christians that believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, the ones that have such a hard time swallowing Mormonism with their “extra” scriptures and continuing revelation…

    You mentioned the ballot initiative of 2000 where the will of the people by a 61% majority voiced that marriage should be defined to exclude gay people. Let me first note, that it was a 61% majority of people who voted, and not a 61% majority of all people over voting age in the state.
    However, I would like to point out that the majority is not always right. At different points in history, the majority thought slavery should be legal, that women should not be able to vote, and that laws preventing interracial marriages were necessary for social order. (You’ve heard the term “mulatto” which refers to a child that is half black, half white? It means “mule” which being an offspring of a horse and a donkey is infertile. The common belief was that blacks should not marry whites because their children would be infertile and an abomination, like a mule. This belief was even circulated among the early Mormon pioneers. I can give you references of that if you’re interested… It wasn’t until 1967 that those interracial marriage laws were declared unconstitutional in the United States, overturning interracial marriage bans dating from 1883.) Depending on the majority for moral truth is a very shaky argument.

    You also talk about constituent representation, as if judges have absolutely no authority since they are not a “direct representation of the people”. Again, judges do not answer to the majority. They answer to justice and ensuring everyone’s rights are being protected. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the California Supreme Court is mostly Republican appointed and is known to be quite conservative and cautious – voting more conservatively on criminal issues and moderately on civil matters. They are not so-called “radical judges”. In fact, Chief Justice Ronald M. George was very first appointed to be a judge by Ronald Reagan in 1972 and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican governor Pete Wilson in 1991.

    The founding fathers knew that at times, the majority would try to oppress the minority. James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper 51: “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.” Judges don’t grant rights, the Constitution guarantees them.

    You said you found it “remarkable” that I “included a poem that infers that rights and eventually people will be taken away with passage of this proposition”.

    (First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for me, and there was no one left
    to speak up for me.)

    Does the poem infer that rights will be taken away? It sure does – the right to equal treatment under the law, the right for everyone to marry the person they choose. People taken away? Well, I don’t think large trucks will come to haul off all the gays if Prop 8 passes, but more importantly it encourages a culture of discrimination and hate.

    Have you heard of Matthew Shepard? On October 7, 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming, Matthew was murdered – robbed, pistol whipped (fracturing his skull), tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die for being gay. So yes, people have been “taken away”. Have you ever walked down the street at night and let go of your husband’s hand and pretended to be “just friends” cause you thought you might get beat up or assaulted? I have. An ex-boyfriend of mine (distant relative of Thomas S. Monson, in fact) was gay-bashed after leaving a gay bar. A group of boys punched him in the face twice before he got away. This happened in Salt Lake City. In 2006 in the United States there were 1,472 victims of hate crimes who were targeted based on sexual orientation (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2006/victims.html). When the law says “straight people can get married but gay people cannot” one of the things that says is, “Gay people are second-class citizens. They don’t deserve the same rights.” It’s easy to justify all kinds of violence against a group you believe doesn’t deserve the same rights.

    This is what Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote in the majority opinion concerning the May 15, 2008 In re Marriage Cases, the decision that said gay people have the right to marry: “[B]ecause of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise – now emphatically rejected by this state – that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.”

    The point of the poem is that when you see someone being discriminated against, especially when you yourself (as a Mormon, for example) are part of a minority group, I believe you have a moral obligation to say something about it. Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”. I’d also like to share a famous quote which you’ve probably heard before that says, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

    So in the spirit of those verses and being raised Mormon, although I don’t agree with the Church’s views on homosexuality, I just became the 1,932nd member of the Facebook group “Mormons are Christians” because I believe in standing up for others who are being wrongly persecuted. I remember school kids in College Station saying that the reason we went to Seminary every morning was to saw off the horns and cut of the tails we grew during the night. I fight discrimination such as this because like the 11th Article of Faith says, we should all be free to believe and live our lives according to the “dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege”.

    Now, here’s a hypothetical situation: What if the majority of Christians in America decided that they needed to “define Christianity” once and for all because all these other “fringe religions”, like Mormons, claiming to be Christians were undermining the institution of Christianity. Also imagine that by being recognized as Christian came with certain legal benefits, rights, and privileges – for argument’s sake, let’s say there are 1,138 of them (which is the number of federal statutory provisions you automatically get when you get married. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States). A ballot initiative passes by a majority vote to say that “Mormons are not Christians” in the state of California as part of the ‘Defense of Christianity Act’ (DOCA). And then, a few years later, the California Supreme Court intervenes on your behalf and says, “This is not constitutional. Mormons do believe in Christ and have the same rights as traditional Christians. You cannot discriminate against this group simply because your definition of Christianity differs from the Mormons.” And the next fall, a proposition is put on the ballot to amend the constitution to permanently revoke those rights from Mormons. I’m saying, as a minority, a gay person, I would stand up for your rights and would not vote for such a proposition, but it doesn’t sound like you would stand up for mine.

    The point of the poem is that if you see discrimination and injustice and think it has nothing to do with you because you are not part of the targeted group, you are wrong. It has everything to do with you. If you don’t defend freedom for everyone, you are jeopardizing your own and if you turn a blind eye to injustice, don’t be too shocked if someone comes to take away yours when you encouraged it. That was the point I was trying to get across.

    You claimed that the only people that have been jailed or imprisoned are those who support Proposition 8. I did research into this and would like to point out a few things.

    You speak of tolerance. Whites in the 60’s were “tolerant” of blacks – they just wanted them to sit in the back of the bus and drink from different water fountains and go to different schools. “Separate but equal”, right? I’m curious – if you teach your children tolerance for gay people as you say you do, why would you object to schools teaching the same thing? That was the issue in Massachusetts that you referred to. And the concerned parent wasn’t hauled off as you say for his beliefs or because he didn’t want his kid learning that gays could marry – he was arrested for trespassing when he was asked to leave the school grounds and he refused until his request to remove his child from learning tolerance was granted. It’s like if you invited someone to your house, they become belligerent, you ask them to leave, they refuse, and you call the police. When the person won’t leave after being asked, they are trespassing. There are more civil avenues to object than trespassing, but he wanted to make a statement I’m sure and paint himself as a martyr. And apparently it worked. (By the way, did you know that since Massachusetts allowed gay marriage, the divorce rate in that state has gone DOWN?)

    You stated that “being legally and lawfully married is a license to begin a family” and “if you and your boyfriend are allowed to get married, the government will treat you as a family unit, possibly giving you adoption rights, etc.” Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but we already have adoption rights. There are 100,000 married gay couples in California. 25,000 of those have families with children – taking their kids to soccer games, going to work, paying their taxes, cooking dinner for their families, and cleaning their houses just like everyone else. Denying gay couples the right to marry hurts those families, which are just as real as yours or any other whether they are recognized or not. So who is hurting and weakening the institution of marriage and family? The ones who want to get married and support their own families, or the ones who want to prevent them from receiving the blessings that fall under the right to marry?

    You also said, “I fundamentally believe that all children have the right to be born and raised in a family with a mother and father, and that is something, no matter how much love you and your boyfriend share, will never be able to give a child.”

    True, I will never be able to give a child a mother. But I am perfectly able to give a child love, guidance, support, stability – and provide for his or her physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental needs (as a matter of fact, my boyfriend is an educational consultant. He works all day tutoring children with learning disabilities so they can function in school and in life). I don’t need to be a woman (or straight, for that matter) to have those qualities. Take a look at all of the kids that come out of unwanted pregnancies which often lead to unwanted marriages and unwanted, dysfunctional families. When gay couples choose to have children, it really is a choice. There are no “accidents”. As far as gender roles go, I learned very little of sensitivity and nurturing from my mother. In the home, I learned it from my dad. All of the “feminine qualities” which are touted to be so necessary for children to learn from their mothers I learned from Kay, my friend Amy’s mom. The most important thing is for children to be raised in a loving environment with responsible parents that love and are committed to each other and to the family they are creating, that teach their children to be themselves and be morally responsible, contributing members of society.

    I understand you wanting to control what you teach your kids. The claim that gay marriage MUST be taught in schools in California if Prop 8 doesn’t pass is false. Hilary McLean, spokeswoman for California’s superintendent of schools, Jack O’Connell, said “There’s nothing in the Education Code that requires schools to teach about marriage.” In schools that do provide instruction about marriage, locally elected school boards determine the content, she said.

    Besides, your children are going to learn a lot more than you want them to at school from other kids anyway, regardless of the curriculum. Your best defense of your childrens’ moral fiber is open communication and preparing your children to deal with all kinds of concepts and ideas that don’t fall in line with your beliefs, not trying to legislate and spic-and-span every bit of information you find offensive from schools in the first place. The same holds true for the television and the internet. Like I remember learning in church from the teachings of Joseph Smith, “teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves.”

    You asked me to educate you about “what other rights/privileges are you seeking other than those already allowed under civil unions.” First of all, California doesn’t have civil unions – it has domestic partnerships, which on a state level pretty much offers the same rights as married people, but not necessarily the same status. I mean, if civil unions or domestic partnerships are so great, why don’t you want one?

    If your husband ends up in the emergency room, heaven forbid, and you rush to the hospital to see him and the nurse says, “Only immediate family!” all you have to say is “I’m his WIFE!” If you could only say, “I’m his partner”, the nurse doesn’t know what that means. And how would you feel if you had to pull out a domestic partnership certificate all the time to prove you have a legal relationship to your spouse? People understand the words “married”, “husband”, “wife”. They don’t question it. Gay couples, on the other hand, must justify their validity on a regular basis.

    When you can’t get married, people don’t take your relationship as seriously. For example, I had a partner of three years, David. We loved each other very much. We would have gotten married if we were able but we couldn’t; we lived in Utah. So we bought a house together in Salt Lake City, we had joint checking accounts. We had two dogs. We built a life and considered each other spouses, but without being recognized as married, members of my family would say, “Are you still with that one guy?”, “What does ‘partner’ mean anyway?” and my mom would only refer to him as my “roommate”. When we divorced last summer what I got from family members and friends was, “Well, it wasn’t like you were married or anything”, and “You don’t have to give him any money when the house sells do you?”

    You said that no one denies that I have real feelings for my partner and that you realize how I “feel”, but you put it in quotes. Why did you put it in quotes? How would you like someone saying: Kristin, I’m sure you “love” your family. It’s offensive when you say you know how I “feel” and put it in quotes, like they are not real feelings. It’s not possible for you to really know how I feel, is it? You’ve never had anyone challenge the validity of your feelings or relationships, have you? Or say that your temple marriage was not a “real” marriage and shouldn’t be recognized by the law? We all deserve dignity and respect.

    Personally, I don’t think the government should recognize marriage AT ALL. Marriage should be left to churches and religions. And then everyone could have domestic partnerships if they wanted, offering the same rights privileges across the board for everyone. But if the government is going to ALLOW marriage for any 2 people, they should allow it for EVERYONE. That’s my issue with Proposition 8. If you are only going to offer marriage selectively, you shouldn’t be offering it at all. However, I agree with you, that marriage is good for society. Therefore, marriage should be accessible to gay people as well as straight people. Doesn’t mean you have to believe it’s right. Just like I don’t have to believe being Muslim or Baptist is right. I get to believe according to my own conscience. That’s the great thing about living in this country.

    You said in your response to me that it was not about sexual preference, but that statement is disingenuous. It’s all about sexual preference. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if I wanted to marry a woman. You also can’t say, “I have no interest in taking away your rights as a couple” and then vote for a proposition that eliminates my right to marry. What you are really saying is, “You never had that right and should never have it because it’s morally wrong and against God’s will” – it’s the religious “right” imposing your beliefs on everyone else, whether it violates my civil rights or not. “Marriage should be defined this one way for everyone, cause my religion says so.” So who’s pressing for the dictatorship now? Sinclair Lewis warned in 1935 that “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

    I found it very interesting that you said you tried to take all emotion out of your thought process and advised me to do the same, yet you are talking about the fate of your children and their salvation here. How can you not be emotional about your children and family and what you believe to be right? I think you have every right to be emotional, but I thank you for not making it a personal attack. You see, there is no way for me not to be emotional either – this is my civil rights you are talking about. This is about my life, my loved ones, my liberty, and my pursuit of happiness – something absolutely to be defended.

    Proposition 8 does not protect marriage – it is trying to protect the status quo. I believe that if I were to get married, it would strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it. Marriage is a good thing. It encourages responsibility, accountability, and unconditional love. Those are good fruits, and the scriptures say a lot about judging something by its fruits. Wouldn’t you say that marriage is a much better alternative than meaningless flings and one-night stands?

    You asked about my reasoning for opposing Proposition 8? It’s simply because I believe in “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Your Friend,

    K W

  10. Jenne-
    I do think my kids have learned a lot of really great lessons out of this. But, I still get frustrated that by their choice, they kept quiet, not because they were ashamed of their view point (certainly concerned about the fall out) but also because they didn’t want to be contentious at the church functions and programs where it was being discussed. And when one of the very few people who knew about it told everyone- while my children were not present- those youth proceeded to tell my kids to keep their mouths shut- which they had- and that they were annoying and stupid and that they should never share their opinions when they know that everyone else feels differently.

    I think you probably haven’t heard as much about it because the others you associate with here are for prop 8, and it is acceptable in that circle to say things that diminish gay people, whether they are actually hateful or not. Such as this one that came through this morning:
    “We need to realize that more and more people are being forced to come to grips with the homosexual lifestyle as close friends and family members are joining the trend.”

    I certainly have heard it from members of every ward and several stakes in our area. It is pervasive, but so insidious I’m not sure people even realize how much homophobia there is under the surface.

  11. Alex said: “A person who believes that marriage should be between and man and woman is no more forcing their view on other people than proponents of same sex marriage are forcing their views, by voting one way or another.”

    There is in fact a fundamental difference. One vote removes peoples right to choose to marry, the other vote retains EVERYONE’S ability to choose.

  12. But the definition of marriage affects *everyone*, in spite of what many proponents of same-sex marriage claim. For that reason, everyone should have a voice in determining what marriage is. And changing marriage to include same-sex unions would not “retain everyone’s ability to choose.” It still would still exclude all unions that are not between two people. A lady in one foreign country who “married” her dog illustrates my point, as well as the people who live in remote areas and practice polygamy. As I also mentioned, at some point, we have to define what an institution is, and allow each person to either participate or not. Marriage doesn’t have include anything and everything, just to satisfy every varying opinion of what it should be.

  13. Kevin– Thanks for what you added about separation of church and state. Just to add to that conversation, here are a couple of excerpts from the article I pointed out, for those who may not have a chance to read it:

    “The judiciary’s reliance on an extra-constitutional metaphor as a substitute for the text of the First Amendment almost inevitably distorts constitutional principles governing church-state relationships. Although the “wall of separation” may felicitously express some aspects of First Amendment law, it seriously misrepresents or obscures others, and has become a source of much mischief in modern church-state jurisprudence. It has reconceptualized-indeed, misconceptualized-First Amendment principles in at least two important ways.

    “First, Jefferson’s trope emphasizes separation between church and state—unlike the First Amendment, which speaks in terms of the non-establishment and free exercise of religion. (Although these terms are often conflated today, in the lexicon of 1802, the expansive concept of “separation” was distinct from the narrow institutional concept of “non-establishment.”) Jefferson’s Baptist correspondents, who agitated for disestablishment but not for separation, were apparently discomfited by the figurative phrase and, perhaps, even sought to suppress the president’s letter. They, like many Americans, feared that the erection of such a wall would separate religious influences from public life and policy. Few evangelical dissenters (including the Baptists) challenged the widespread assumption of the age that republican government and civic virtue were dependent on a moral people and that religion supported and nurtured morality.

    “Second, a wall is a bilateral barrier that inhibits the activities of both the civil government and religion-unlike the First Amendment, which imposes restrictions on civil government only. In short, a wall not only prevents the civil state from intruding on the religious domain but also prohibits religion from influencing the conduct of civil government. The various First Amendment guarantees, however, were entirely a check or restraint on civil government, specifically on Congress. The free press guarantee, for example, was not written to protect the civil state from the press, but to protect a free and independent press from control by the national government. Similarly, the religion provisions were added to the Constitution to protect religion and religious institutions from corrupting interference by the national government, not to protect the civil state from the influence of, or overreaching by, religion. As a bilateral barrier, however, the wall unavoidably restricts religion’s ability to influence public life, thereby exceeding the limitations imposed by the First Amendment.”

  14. Alex: Marriage should always be between consenting *human* adults of sound mind.

    I cannot entertain for one iota of a second that people marrying animals is anywhere near a fitting analogy for a gay marriage scenario…

  15. M – hey there! I am VERY interested in this subject and have done some reading to educate myself on what I believe, not necessarily what someone else would want me to believe. And, in doing so, I believe that at least in California (I haven’t read anything on the other states) that the “domestic partnership” law would cover all of the issues above that were mentioned such as medical decisions, death/wills, being arrested/testifying/conjugal visits.
    So…I have looked into what domestic partnerships include and this is what I found:

    297. (a) Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of
    mutual caring.
    (b) A domestic partnership shall be established in California when both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State pursuant to this division, and, at the time of
    filing, all of the following requirements are met:
    (1) Both persons have a common residence.
    (2) Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of another domestic partnership with someone else that has not been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
    (3) The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in this state.
    (4) Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
    (5) Either of the following:
    (A) Both persons are members of the same sex.
    (B) One or both of the persons meet the eligibility criteria under Title II of the Social Security Act as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section
    402(a) for old-age insurance benefits or Title XVI of the Social Security Act as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section 1381 for aged individuals. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, persons of opposite sexes may not constitute a domestic partnership unless one or both of the persons are over the age of 62.
    (6) Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership.
    (c) “Have a common residence” means that both domestic partners share the same residence. It is not necessary that the legal right
    to possess the common residence be in both of their names. Two people have a common residence even if one or both have additional
    residences. Domestic partners do not cease to have a common residence if one leaves the common residence but intends to return.

    297.5. (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
    derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.
    (b) Former registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
    derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon former spouses.
    (c) A surviving registered domestic partner, following the death of the other partner, shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities,
    obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common
    law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon a widow or a widower.
    (d) The rights and obligations of registered domestic partners with respect to a child of either of them shall be the same as those of spouses. The rights and obligations of former or surviving
    registered domestic partners with respect to a child of either of them shall be the same as those of former or surviving spouses.
    (e) To the extent that provisions of California law adopt, refer to, or rely upon, provisions of federal law in a way that otherwise would cause registered domestic partners to be treated differently than spouses, registered domestic partners shall be treated by California law as if federal law recognized a domestic partnership in
    the same manner as California law.
    (f) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights regarding nondiscrimination as those provided to spouses.
    (g) No public agency in this state may discriminate against any person or couple on the ground that the person is a registered domestic partner rather than a spouse or that the couple are registered domestic partners rather than spouses, except that nothing in this section applies to modify eligibility for long-term care
    plans pursuant to Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 21660) of Part 3 of Division 5 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
    (h) This act does not preclude any state or local agency from exercising its regulatory authority to implement statutes providing rights to, or imposing responsibilities upon, domestic partners.
    (i) This section does not amend or modify any provision of the California Constitution or any provision of any statute that was adopted by initiative.
    (j) Where necessary to implement the rights of registered domestic partners under this act, gender-specific terms referring to spouses
    shall be construed to include domestic partners.
    (k) (1) For purposes of the statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, and any other provision or source of law governing the rights, protections, and benefits, and the responsibilities, obligations, and duties of registered
    domestic partners in this state, as effectuated by this section, with respect to community property, mutual responsibility for debts to third parties, the right in particular circumstances of either
    partner to seek financial support from the other following the dissolution of the partnership, and other rights and duties as between the partners concerning ownership of property, any reference
    to the date of a marriage shall be deemed to refer to the date of registration of a domestic partnership with the state.
    (2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), for domestic partnerships registered with the state before January 1, 2005, an agreement between the domestic partners that the partners intend to be governed by the requirements set forth in Sections 100 to 1620, inclusive, and which complies with those sections, except for the agreement’s effective date, shall be enforceable as provided by Sections 1600 to 1620, inclusive, if that agreement was fully executed and in force as of June 30, 2005.

    So…….
    If I read this correctly they would have the same rights as “spouses” based on domestic partnership. And, if I understand this correctly they have to fill out the appropriate paperwork to be recognized as a domestic partnership just as I, when I went to get a marriage license, had to fill out paperwork.

    What do you think?

  16. I read through that too, in the course of all of this and it does show that California has made an effort to provide an extent of rights to same-sex partners. However, there are still situations where bias and discrimination are able to fester because of the nature of the paperwork.

    In a workplace, a gay person would have to provide their domestic partnership paperwork in order to apply for benefits for a partner, or in some situations, even to have them listed as an emergency contact. That “outting” of their homosexuality is a direct result of a “separate but equal” status. They might feel that they have to choose between common knowledge of their sexual orientation or the protection of a partner.

    In addition, any time legal matters are at issue, a homosexual in a domestic partnership must pull out the document and present it in order to be granted their rights. When is the last time you were required to present your marriage license to prove you were allowed to make legal decisions for a spouse? We would but offended at the thought, especially if it were an urgent matter, and everything had to be halted while paperwork was produced and vetted.

    Hostile families will use any means they can to discredit the agreement, and many have been successful. A marriage license or some other document that is exactly the same for hetero or homosexual couples, i.e. a Civil Union from the state, would make these relationships equal and not separate.

    I have also seen this phrase several times:
    “California’s Domestic Partnership law (AB205) went into effect on January 1, 2005, and includes almost every California law, regulation, court rule or court decision that confers rights or responsibilities on married spouses.” and . . .there are 1,138 federal rights and protections that are given only to legally married spouses. Accordingly, the federal government will not respect your domestic partnership because domestic partnership is not marriage. This is one of the reasons that domestic partnership is not equal to marriage and does not provide adequate protection for our families .
    It’s not a federal issue that we’re debating this year, but it is clear that equality has not been met.

    I probably should do more research and figure out what pieces aren’t in there, but I haven’t managed to make it that far yet.

    And again, “separate but equal” in retrospect was a disaster for our black residents. We can look at history and see how it continued to breed hostility to them long after they were freed as slaves. Why would we want to place that same burden on another segment of our population?

    At any rate, the vote is in and the Yes side has prevailed, so I will watch and see where it goes. I personally was disappointed, but I don’t begrudge my friends and neighbors the victory they worked hard to accomplish. It’s politics.

  17. I respect you for standing up for what you believe. I’ve learned a lot because of this issue. Thanks for the answer back!

  18. Hi Tiff- I wasn’t equating gay marriage with those other examples. My point is that the same arguments that are being used to say that denying gay marriage is a violation of rights, would also mean that we would be denying the “rights” of people who want to participate in group marriages, or marriages to close family members, or whatever else is currently excluded from legal marriage. And as we all know, the so-called “right” for same-sex couples to marry was only created a few months ago by four individuals. Neither the Constitution of California nor the U.S. Constitution grants a person the right to marry a person of the same sex. I think we sometimes get the idea that it is our “right” to do whatever we want to do in a free society. But even in a free society, there will be laws and norms, which should be determined by the general consensus of the people. The vast majority of people in this country feel that marriage should be between a man and a woman. If enough people feel it should be changed, then it will be, for better or worse. But in any case, it isn’t a violation of rights if marriage is not changed to become what some people would like it to be.

  19. Hello Alex, denying people the same rights as other people based on their race, religion or sexual orientation is just plain wrong in my opinion. I really hope with all my heart that this law does not come to pass.

    I have so much more I could say, but I really don’t think this is the place for it. Have a good day.

  20. Hi,
    Loved these two posts. My boyfriend is one of those people who thinks that the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I am all for allowing gay marriage. Humans beings should have access to all human rights, regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation, I think. Needless to say he and I have heated “discussions”. Unfortunately we live in Barbados where we we do not yet even have a bill that we can vote on. As it stands, if you are gay, you are legally a criminal. Now that is criminal!

    I thought your post was well written and clear headed. I will pray that your children have the strength to withstand the slights of their peers.


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