Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why it got to me.

Yesterday's announcement by the LDS church that members should "do all they can" to make sure our families are kept from equal rights in the California constitution upset me more than I've been upset by such in a long time. I stayed up late last night upset (Utah does need a MSDS; I wonder how much shorter my life will be for such stress :-), or maybe :-\).

I'm used to groups attacking us with that false shallow veneer of concern for my children. I'm used to them doing it with no veneer. I'm used to the LDS church doing it. True, I was hoping, based on rumor, that there would be more just treatment outside the church, or at least political hands off our families with the new leadership, and I'm sad that's not the case. Also substantially, we are about to get married there in California, after 16 years as a couple and 13 married. We've waited a long time. To have that giddy joy of feeling like you're so close and then have it mixed with what feels like a punch in the gut from an organization you once trusted and that strongly influences the minds of much of your family, well, the punch in the gut stings all the more, even if you were once used to it.

Mainly, it was the fact that we just got back from Rob's family reunion. We just spent a wonderful weekend with my in-laws in Park City. I love his family and I know the feeling is mutual, and they have come to know we belong together. They've told Rob, that they don't understand how, but through prayer they've no problem with us as a couple, even if that is contrary to what church leadership is teaching, and I'm fine with that truce.

But now we get home and find the leaders of the LDS church (the church of my in-laws and much of my family) are asking them to do all they can to legally diminish my family, to hurt us, their son, me, and their grandchildren. Their leaders are asking that of Rob's siblings too. The cousins our boys were laughing and playing with all weekend, they are also now being asked to "do all you can" to annul our upcoming legal union, to in effect harm our whole family. They are being told to view our children as somehow defective or deficient.

I hope I never learn of any of them donating financially or physically to that cause, though I know the church they give money to already has and will. They, many of our loved ones, are already funding this. It's sick, undermining to families (and demonstratively, in the real world, not merely mystically), and it is why this upset me as much as it did. I was feeling good about the people in the LDS church in my life, now I have to watch and see once again where they go from here.

It's just tough not being in your culture's predominant faith. I'm sure it always has been hard, and far worse than we have it today, from the gentile killed by Moses for collecting sticks on the sabbath to the youth from another tribe headed up the side of a volcano to "appease" a force of nature. You're told you have to be hurt or hurt another. Why? For the good of everyone else, of course. You're not selfish, right? You want the tribe to have a good crop, you don't want your city to be destroyed, or, in this case, you want to do right by some proposed supernatural fertility law. But when a person is unwilling to do such harm on faith, even when it feels good, they have a problem. What's worse for them is that faith has never meant to be verifiable anyway; it has done a lot of work over centuries to not be verifiable outside our all too potent tools of self assurance. There are centuries of effective tools of confidence in place, social proofs and so on. There are even many failsafes: "Your faith in Allah is wanning? Well you must be under the temptation of a demon then. That proves demons exist and thus faith in Allah is true." But there is no real test by which two people can surrender in equal deference to evidence.

In the end, the guy at the side of the volcano arguing that "Hey, the last ten virgins you threw in had no effect on our crop yield" isn't going to stop those with the strongest faith. That only means you need more virgins. Heck, he'd be lucky to not end up being a little extra bit of "appeasement" in the more brutal days of humanity. At least things are far from that bad. But the situation is sadly similar for the guy who doesn't hold the faith of those around him, when that faith asks that one neighbor harm another.

Nevertheless, here's to hoping my in-laws aren't or don't become as ardent of followers as to attack the family with which they just spent a wonderful weekend. I just have to hope they can somehow keep their faith and just treatment of our family too.

46 comments:

Mr. Fob said...

They, many of our loved ones, are already funding this.

This is what really bothers me. I know a lot of Mormons who support same-sex marriage, but the tithing they pay every month is now being used to fund the church's anti-family political causes. That's not right.

JB said...

Maybe Mormonism should allow for voting. Oh, wait, it does! But it doesn't mean anything because nobody takes it seriously!

JB said...

Yeah, maybe Mormonism would do better as a Republic than as a Monarchy. After all, that's what Mormons teach is the ultimate great form of governing outside of the monarchy of their god, because no human can be perfect. Maybe it's time for a Mormon revolution?

JB said...

I'm being totally serious, by the way, I think they should at least look into it. It wouldn't necessarily mean ousting the guys in power, it would mean that the church would get a say in what they're funding. Maybe the state should make a rule about that. . . that would be awesome! If you pay into something you need to have a say in where that money goes.

Paul said...

I know there's not a lot I can do, one side or the other, about the California marriage amendment -- I'm a long way away.

However, I do wish you, Rob and the boys a great day at your upcoming wedding. I support you 100%.

Janci said...

This is the side of the argument that Mormon people like to ignore--that there are good, loving people in healthy family relationships which happen to include same-sex partners. Regardless of whether or not they agree, I hope that people treat you and your husband and your children with respect. And congrats on your upcoming marriage.

(That seems strange to me, as you are already married, to congratulate you on your marriage. Your remarriage, perhaps? But that's not quite right either. It's such a shame that we don't have words that are actually appropriate to this kind of occasion.)

Scot said...

Mr.Fob: I hear ya. I really now don't want to know who in my family is tithing.

jb "Maybe Mormonism should allow for voting."

All those in favor, talk to your bishop...

If only JB... I fear most all religions need the firm, assuring hand of authoritarianism too much.

Paul I support you 100%.

Thank you, Paul.

and thank you Janci

"That seems strange to me, as you are already married, to congratulate you on your marriage."

Eh, I know... Hey, you could still send us a toaster or something ;-).

santorio said...

the tithing issue is intresting. i suspect that tithing receipts are up in california.

leaving in a common property state, my wife and i have veto over large expenditures. she vetoed tithing for the reasons ben cited.

but i continued with generous donations to fast offering, humanitarian, and perpetual education funds.

she's not happy with that either...

the issue remains unresolved

-L- said...

I'm too tired or too angry or too irrational to post in response to this right now, I suppose. But I'll try anyway.

It's just a shame to see all the hurt and hate that comes from genuine disagreement. My faith becomes akin to throwing unending innocents into a volcano. My (our) concern for doing the right thing becomes "anti-family". Authoritarianism (interceding to restrict faith?) becomes attractive, as long as the authorities are on the right side of the question.

I understand your pain and frustration. I feel it, and what you've said has a strong impact.

At the same time, has anyone suggested your family situation should be interrupted or changed? Has anyone suggested taking kids away from gay parents? Is it really so morally different for one party to criticize the motives of the other than vice versa?

Scot said...

Santorio, I think I'd like your wife.

"the issue remains unresolved"

In a marriage, sometimes those can be the best issues ;-).

L--it's just like the old days. You always provoke the longest responses with the least amount of text :-).

L: "My faith becomes akin to throwing unending innocents into a volcano."

Me, emphasis added: "...and far worse than we have it today"

What is the same are the perspectives. When dealing with any faith to which you don't belong, it doesn't matter what you say or the actuality of what happens after the action in question is taken to those with the strongest testimonies; it never has, even in the extreme cases, even when it was the LDS being persecuted by other faiths.

"My (our) concern for doing the right thing becomes "anti-family". "

Yes, by definition. Again, this is nothing new, sadly. People have acted against families for faith very often in our history. I understand that you and maybe even some of my family think it's right to constitutionally hobble my family. That's the tragic part. It'd be easier in ways if there weren't good intentions.

But this push by the LDS church is anti-family (maybe not anti-the-families-we-agree-with), by the plain definition of the words; it is a motion against my family, one that will directly hurt us and many other families. No one is aiming to harm heterosexual families, but many are out to be sure many parents and children will not have legal rights and responsibilities. How is this not anti-family?

"Authoritarianism (interceding to restrict faith?) becomes attractive, as long as the authorities are on the right side of the question."

For now, we have equal rights regardless of our sex in the Ca constitution. It is authoritarian to try to change that, to choose and define your neighbor's family for him. It is not authoritarian to let each man and faith decided for themselves. If it is your faith that you must try to constitutionally demote my family and you feel it's authoritarian to try to stop you, I don't know what else to say to that except a schoolyard you hit us first :-), and I have to defend my home.

"has anyone suggested your family situation should be interrupted or changed?"

Yes. It happens almost every legislative session here.

"Has anyone suggested taking kids away from gay parents?"

Yes, and quoting LDS scripture too.

Still, even if the official church position isn't that, they're just telling people our children are entitled to different families, so? The harm they are advocating is not as harmful as stealing children from their homes, and so we shouldn't complain?

"Is it really so morally different for one party to criticize the motives of the other than vice versa?"

We are talking about one group aiming to harm another man's family in very real and tangible ways. I'd consider myself pretty morally low if I was hoping to do half that to any of my family or neighbors, but I am not. I do, of course, believe the motivations on the other side are to do good. But again, even in the extreme cases, Moses killed that gentile for gathering stick for good motivations, and human sacrifices have been made to save crops and thousands from starvation. If only we were talking about motives, not actions.

Mr. Fob said...

L, perhaps you can explain when you're less tired and angry and irrational what exactly you mean by authoritarianism. No one is stopping you from practicing your religion. If your faith tells you to advocate for constitutional amendments that single out and hurt certain kinds of families, then yes, I will point out that it's unethical, but I'm not going to make it illegal for you to do so.

If you're referring, as you did on Northern Lights, to the fact that California judges have deemed unconstitutional an act Californians voted in ten years ago, then I'm sorry but that's not authoritarianism either. That's the system of checks and balances by which our country (which by the way is not a democracy and never was intended to be) works. If we'd waited for state populaces to vote for equal civil rights for all regardless of color, we'd probably still have segregated schools and buses in the South, among other atrocities.

You can still have faith in your religion and support your leaders without stretching logic beyond its capacity to defend everything they say, no matter how unethical. Despite what much of the membership believes by default, LDS doctrine has never claimed the infallibility of its leaders.

Mr. Fob said...

On the tithing issue: Foxy and I have separate bank accounts and separate incomes. Tithing was not the motivation for this decision, but a nice side effect is that she can pay a full tithing and it doesn't affect me or my income. I'm not suggesting you do this, santorio, but it works well for us.

-L- said...

"Yes, by definition. Again, this is nothing new, sadly. People have acted against families for faith very often in our history."

The current LDS church actions are "anti-family" by rhetoric, not by definition. Are those who are pro-choice also pro-murder by definition? Are those who are pro-life better called anti-choice? It is precisely because of the importance of family that the LDS church holds the position that it does. That protecting gay families is still important should not suggest that gay marriage is the only acceptable way to do so. The dichotomy is much more dramatic and lends itself to the claims of harm of high magnitude, but I don't think it's accurate.

"If it is your faith that you must try to constitutionally demote my family and you feel it's authoritarian to try to stop you, I don't know what else to say to that except a schoolyard you hit us first :-), and I have to defend my home."

Fair enough. But I'm going to have to quote you now whenever anyone suggests that gay people in no way threaten anyone's religious freedoms. You are, after all, the smartest and most articulate married gay scientist ex-Mormon from Utah I know, and your words will carry some weight.

Mr. Fob, I was referring to Scot's comment above about authoritarianism, in case that wasn't clear from my other comment. "I fear most all religions need the firm, assuring hand of authoritarianism too much."

"Yes, and quoting LDS scripture too."

I suppose it was a foolish question the way I put it. But has the LDS church, the antagonist in this drama, done that? Have they promoted legislation to take children from their parents? I have a hard time believing it.

"We are talking about one group aiming to harm another man's family in very real and tangible ways."

And they're saying the exact same thing about you and other gays who want to marry. I know you don't believe it's an accurate claim. That's the point. It's so easy to say, "Yeah, but I'm right and they're wrong, so I will treat them differently than I want to be treated." And, yes, you believe the LDS church is harming you in a way that they wouldn't want to be harmed, but I'm talking about the implied disparagement that comes with disagreement, that feeds self-righteous indignation, that has festered as anti-gay sentiment within the church and now is taking on a scarily similar and parallel intolerance and moral superiority in those who oppose the church. In short, an intolerance that you're generally really good at avoiding (and for that I have always thought you are exceptional). I'm just asking that we try to have the conversation without demonizing those with whom we disagree.

Mr. Fob said...

Mr. Fob, I was referring to Scot's comment above about authoritarianism, in case that wasn't clear from my other comment. "I fear most all religions need the firm, assuring hand of authoritarianism too much."

I see the reference but I don't see the connection. You implied that someone was advocating "interceding to restrict faith." Scot referred only to the fact that many religions rely on authoritarianism.

Yes, being pro-choice is by definition being pro-murder if you accept that a fetus is equal to a human life, but it is within a specific context where other factors (the mother's reproductive rights and control of her own body) are legitimately threatened. I don't say those other factors by default justify abortion--I don't want to get into that argument here--but in that case there is a complexity that LDS church leaders would like you to believe exists in this case but simply isn't there. The LDS church's political stance regarding gay marriage is by definition anti-family in a context where there is no objectively defineable threat. You demonstrate objectively how Scot's family's legal rights threaten either your family or his own sons (as the church claims they do), and then we'll talk about how my rhetoric unjustifiably demonizes the LDS church.

MoHoHawaii said...

-L- says:

You are, after all, the smartest and most articulate married gay scientist ex-Mormon from Utah I know. . . . (emphasis mine)

Married? By what definition? The LDS Church is fighting tooth and nail to make sure that Scot isn't and will never be married to Rob. -L-, Scot has not been invited to the lavish banquet you enjoy every day. Your calling Scot 'married' is insensitivity bordering on cruelty.

As if this whole discussion is divorced from reality. As if victory by the Church's political machine in California would not strip Scot and Rob of something very real.

Have you no sense of decency?

Mr. Fob said...

I'll defend L on this one point. By Scot's definition (i.e. "I'm a father, a husband..."), he's married. In my opinion, to not refer to him as such would be disrespectful.

That said, I'm not sure how you can defend the LDS church's actions against gay marriage to someone in Scot's situation who you consider a friend without being divorced from reality.

-L- said...

"but in that case there is a complexity that LDS church leaders would like you to believe exists in this case but simply isn't there."

You're wrong. And you know that there's complexity there when faith and a view of the afterlife comes into the mix. And you know that it can't be objectively demonstrated. So, sure according to your requirements you have every right to be [insensitive bordering on cruelty?] inflammatory by insulting the motivation and intentions of people who, in my opinion, you ought to understand a lot better. If one comes to the issue from a paradigm of religious faith (one you oppose) they can then just as readily claim every right to call your view evil and misguided and one that will bring forth the calamities that have been foretold for a nation that refuses to respect God's laws and that refuses to honor the sanctity of families.

So. That you choose to use "anti-family" to demonstrate your ardent opposition to the position the church has taken is fine... and puts you right in the group of folks who call abortionists murderers. Either way, those who use the term believe that it's true and the recipient of the label deserves no dignity. If that's where you are comfortable, that's your gig. I'm not comfortable with it for myself and I think there's a better way.

As for "authoritarianism," I interpreted Scot's comment to mean that religions are in need of regulation... or something like that. If I'm wrong, I'm more delighted than anyone.

Thank you for answering Moho Hawaii's comment. Scot has always referred to himself as married and if he would like me to refer to him differently, I'm more than happy to oblige.

Scot said...

"The current LDS church actions are "anti-family" by rhetoric, not by definition. Are those who are pro-choice also pro-murder by definition? Are those who are pro-life better called anti-choice?"

What Mr. Fob said.

I think I addressed this topic even in a post long ago. In reality pro-choice is pro-choice-for-women-to-have-abortions but I guess that fits poorly on a bumper sticker.

That is what I'm getting at, though, the rhetoric is on the "pro-family" side. No one is proposing harm to heterosexual families; the "pro-family" crowd isn't generally advocating help for struggling families, right? their goal is to take something helpful away from families, or keep it away where they don't have it. They are, accurately, advocating legally harming certain families, no? That is, by definition, anti-family, or at least anti-certain-families.

"But I'm going to have to quote you now whenever anyone suggests that gay people in no way threaten anyone's religious freedoms."

Are you saying by speaking out against this amendment that I'm limiting your freedom to limit my freedom? If so how far out would you extrapolate that? Were the abolitionists trampling on religious freedom?

Either way, it's kind of ironic that I wrote this a couple days ago.

I'm all for people believing whatever faith makes them happy, but sure, quote me, my religious tolerance ends where a person's faith asks them to do harm to another. Believe them all you want, have whatever doctrine you want, but you're actions on another individual are not free just because you keep a particular faiths.

I wonder then, where does your religious tolerance end? There are some harsh beliefs out there, some once aimed at the LDS.

"But has the LDS church, the antagonist in this drama, done that? "

No, no one said they officially did, right? The LDS church has not proposed its "all children deserve a mom and a dad" bill... yet. [you can still tell my attempts at irony can't you ;-)? That would be the end of the anti-gay rights movement, the first child taken from their home, and I'm sure that's near clear to both sides]

But L, it was a BYU lawyer, Wardle, who drafted the adoption legislation that made it so children cannot be adopted into two parent gay-headed homes, only now to singles (gay or no) and married couples. It also made it so children may be taken from at least one gay parent in Utah, with no legal consequences. This was not a ballot initiative, so no need for a public statement. But you know, they are constantly telling their members our children "deserve" or are "entitled to" different parents, and they almost always mix their marriage law directives to their followers with a fear of letting children end up in our homes. I know I've insulted our legislature's intelligence in the past, but they don't need many more hints from their church than that.

"And, yes, you believe the LDS church is harming you in a way that they wouldn't want to be harmed"

You don't? You don't think the harm I've explained is real harm? or that, if real, they'd not mind it done to the marriages of LDS couples?

L, I can appreciate being level headed and cool about this, but there is a limit beyond which a man is letting his family be harmed and insulted merely for the sake of being calm. This is not a symmetrical situation. I'm all for man-woman marriages; I'm all for giving them marriage rights and responsibilities, for their good and the good of their children. I'm all for the church believing what it wants and conducting unions however they see fit; if the church was being forced to marry gay couples, you could hold me to a promise to protest, act and vote on the side of the church.

Where it is symmetrical, though, is that I expect same respect for my family's rights in return.

Scot said...

"I interpreted Scot's comment to mean that religions are in need of regulation"

Ah no.

I meant liberal religious where people can do stuff like vote on doctrine don't do well in the marketplace. Most religions benefit by presenting a firm, unchanging base for adherents.

Scot said...

"Scot has always referred to himself as married and if he would like me to refer to him differently, I'm more than happy to oblige."

I've missed your way with words :-).

(To be clear, I posted my last long post before I saw L's last.)

MoHoHawaii said...

Scot,

I just sent a donation to Equality for All (http://www.equalityforall.com) to help offset the efforts of the LDS Church in California to nullify your family. (Okay, it wasn't just on your behalf, but I was thinking of you when I did it.)

This issue is something I feel very strongly about.

I'm sorry if support of marriage equality is seen by any as showing disrespect to the LDS Church. I mean the Church no disrespect, but I reserve the right to judge the merits of any given policy issue for myself.

Good luck to you, and may equality prevail in November.

P.S. I encourage all who read this, and who care about Scot, Rob and the kids, to contribute what they can so that Scot and Rob, once married, may stay married. Donations may be made at http://www.equalityforall.com.

-L- said...

Well, I suppose I should have just restrained myself from interrupting the previously scheduled dialog.

Whether something is anti-family depends on how you view its effects. That you and FOB see it a particular way doesn't bother me, really, nor does the way you discuss it and explain it (despite that I think your characterizations are caricatures... and I think you could know that if you wanted to). I just don't like the anti-family label thrown out like a bumper-sticker. It's inflammatory and loaded and obnoxious and fuels the flames of divisiveness and impasse. If that's what you think is necessary for your goals (and maybe it is, the way political things go), I suppose I understand. I don't respect it though.

Who is doing who harm or where help is intended is also in dispute here, so coming down on one side, I don't expect you to see anything virtuous in the other. But it's there nonetheless. That's my whole point. One that I now realize probably won't be understood here.

Preventing someone from adopting children and taking children away are two different things. My point that the church isn't harming YOUR family has been ignored (and is probably irrelevant anyway since this is a larger issue). You taking up the fight is admirable nonetheless.

Yes, you have quite a case to be as strong-worded and aggressive as you like in your way of approaching the issue. I know some LDS folks who feel the same way (the symmetry is in the integrity of the intent, not in whose marriage is threatened). As you keep fighting from your respective corners, I'll stay out of the way until I think I can do some good. That's apparently not here.

Mr. Fob said...

L, the problem is that we're talking about different things here. You're talking about motivations and we're talking about actions and their consequences. I don't doubt that the leaders of the LDS church are full of good intentions, but their actions are anti-family. I've never said that the church is anti-family, only that their political causes and the legislation they're fighting for are. As Scot has pointed out, the anti-family consequences of the LDS church's actions are a matter of fact, not rhetoric. If you have a problem with the term, then encourage the leaders of your church not to push anti-family legislation.

Meanwhile, I'll just be here applauding the integrity of the intent of the next Branch Davidian-like cult I see sprout up, because, you know, so long as people believe they're doing the right thing, the consequences of their actions don't matter.

Mr. Fob said...

A couple more thoughts now that I'm done with work:

Yes, "anti-family" is loaded, but no more so than "pro-family," which is how the church labels its own efforts. The only difference is that one of the two terms matches the consequences of their actions in a way that can be measured objectively. I use it specifically because the church throws around this pro-family rhetoric so readily and people eat it up without thinking through what on Earth makes these stupid constitutional amendments pro-family. Whose family is benefiting from all this time and money? Nobody's.

You know very well, L, that neither Scot nor I am one to attack the church just because we have a bone to pick. We have both pointed out the good we see in the church on several occasions. You accuse us of not wanting to see things the way you do, but has it occurred to you that we don't see things your way because you're not seeing things rationally? You're no less prone to bias when it comes to the LDS church than we are.

Really, step back and look at this situation. Who's the one in danger here--the church or families like Scot's? You coming here and crying foul because we've called the church's political efforts anti-family is something akin to walking in on David and Goliath and telling David it's not nice to throw stones.

-L- said...

"L, the problem is that we're talking about different things here. You're talking about motivations and we're talking about actions and their consequences."

I picked a few examples from the dialog that I think show why misunderstanding is reinforced and dissent is facilitated. As for the actions and their consequences, that genuine harm is done on only one side is potentially untrue and definitely an oversimplification. Potentially untrue because I really don't know what sorts of objective harm you're talking about that could never be addressed in any way other than gay marriage. I still have not been convinced that a society without gay marriage has related harms that can not be addressed otherwise. Whether it's the best way is a far less melodramatic discussion than it being the sole hope to avoid impending doom.

Basically, I reject your view as the only one grounded in reality. Maybe you can convince me. I admit I haven't been keeping up on all your recent discussions.

"The only difference is that one of the two terms matches the consequences of their actions in a way that can be measured objectively."

Boiling the issue down to gay marriage versus NOT gay marriage (and no other qualifiers) is a convenient way to view the consequences. It's also, clearly, a little politically obfuscating. Regardless of my ambivalence about gay marriage, I have keen interest in addressing all the social issues around it in one way or another.

I also still see the issue as potentially including the lending of credibility to the morality of homosexual related issues, something potentially removed from the real social consequences that haven't been specified here. This may be a worthy cause in and of itself, but it doesn't have the status of "objectively right".

"so long as people believe they're doing the right thing, the consequences of their actions don't matter"

:-) You know I never said so, and I'm trying not to be irritated.

"You accuse us of not wanting to see things the way you do, but has it occurred to you that we don't see things your way because you're not seeing things rationally?"

I try not to blow my own horn, but I think this occurs to me with a regularity and consistency that is seldom matched by anyone, present company included.

"is something akin to walking in on David and Goliath and telling David it's not nice to throw stones."

When you're totally convinced of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, dialog about what's nice becomes far less important. I agree. I just don't think we've rounded that corner the way you folks do. When all the folks on Davids side talk amongst themselves and all the folks on Goliath's side do the same, the little guy in the middle trying to be a diplomat will get the first stones from both sides, I suppose. [Laughing at my own ridiculousness. By the say, didn't Scot being "the smartest and most articulate married gay scientist ex-Mormon from Utah I know" come off as amusing at least a little? I know I'm pathetic when my attempt to lighten things promotes only outrage.]

-L- said...

And...

Scot, I'm sufficiently relieved from my previous tiredness, anger, and irrationality on this serene morning to remember to offer my warm congratulations on your plans for a California marriage. I do wish you and yours the best and I'm sorry I only came around to stomp my feet and raise a ruckus. I hope your joy increases throughout it all.

Scot said...

(Doh... lol)

"Well, I suppose I should have just restrained myself from interrupting the previously scheduled dialog."

Yeah, you're being ran out of here because you began a debate. ;)

"Whether something is anti-family depends on how you view its effects.

How do you see it, not if it bothers you?

You:"And, yes, you believe the LDS church is harming you in a way that they wouldn't want to be harmed"

ME: "You don't? You don't think the harm I've explained is real harm? or that, if real, they'd not mind it done to the marriages of LDS couples?"

Let me also ask, do you think these movements aiming to take away or keep rights and responsibilities from my family are, at least, anti-scot's-family by definition?

And look, pro-choice, yes, should be something like pro-abortion-access and pro-life should be anti-abortion-access. I am pro-marriage-equality-for-same-sex-couples, and the other side is anti-marr... But that second one is directly anti-same-sex-headed-families, also.

Still, you don't have to worry. I'm not printing up "anti-family" bumper stickers... for now.

L:"I don't expect you to see anything virtuous in the other."

Geewiz man, we might be having two entirely different conversations.

"Preventing someone from adopting children and taking children away are two different things."

I don't think you got the effect of that law. The state of utah, fueled by the church's proclamations of what our children "deserve", made it so one child in a gay-headed family has as much legal right to the relationship with, and obligation of one of their parents, the person there raising, parenting, and loving them, as they do to any stranger in the world. That is unless their parents are married. True, I made sure both Rob and I are legal parents by going out of state, BUT the law we used is untested in court here in utah. On top of that some legislators are always looking for new ways to follow the church's proclamation during the amendment 3 debate that NO recognition should be given to gay couples (cival unions or otherwise). They are trying to annul our rights as a family here, even as parents, and, even when they don't hit us, we have to watch what happens to other parents and children here when things go bad.

You really think such law and precedence doesn't harm my family here?

"the church isn't harming YOUR family"

Not ignored. But how is that true? They directly petitioned for the laws and constitutional amendments in Utah that annul my marriage each time the we land back down in our home town. They have spoken out against even civil unions, any recognition of our home. If I got a marriage license in CA, I could at least move us to there (and, sadly, leave behind the grandparents and cousins). Maybe we could stay here and could move if I saw death coming (such as a cancer) in order to assure the financial wellbeing of my family. But they're working on deleting that option for us as well.

"Scot, I'm sufficiently relieved from my previous tiredness, anger, and irrationality on this serene morning to remember to offer my warm congratulations on your plans for a California marriage. I do wish you and yours the best and I'm sorry I only came around to stomp my feet and raise a ruckus. I hope your joy increases throughout it all."

Oh no you don't! Get back here mister; we're not done (do you still like it when I call you mister?).

And... Thank you, and right back at you and yours.

Scot said...

and look at me, how rude.

Thank you very much MoHoHawaii. It means a lot. Yes, everyone, you could consider such a gift our toaster oven of a wedding present, if you didn't make it to our first. I'm just say'n.

MoHoHawaii said...

-L- writes: . . . my warm congratulations on your plans for a California marriage.

Maybe I'm a crank or worse, a troll. I'm trying not to be, but I am experiencing some real cognitive dissonance here. L, either you support this marriage or you don't. From what I understand, you don't want this marriage to exist in any legal sense and you don't want the children of this union to receive the social benefits that your own children enjoy. (Doing so would legitimize sin.) Exactly how then is your expression of congratulations anything other than a taunt?

Something along the lines of: "Enjoy your delicious dinner, but by the way I'm working hard to replace your steak with sawdust! Best wishes!"

I'm not trying to be combative here. If you want to fight against someone's marriage because of your principles, then fine. Principled debate is an honorable thing. I just don't see how you can congratulate someone on what you want to take from them.

Mr. Fob said...

I still have not been convinced that a society without gay marriage has related harms that can not be addressed otherwise.

You know, L, I've thought about it long and hard, and I'm just not convinced that legal marriage is the best thing for you and your wife. There are too many people who think your marriage is morally wrong, spiritually offensive, and otherwise icky. So I'm thinking of dissolving your marriage and denying your legal connection to your children. Don't worry--you can still live together and one or other of you will still be your children's legal parent, just not both. Oh, and maybe we'll come up with something that's sort of like marriage and has some of the legal benefits, but we certainly don't want anyone thinking your union is state-approved. I realize that there's no basis for arguments against your marriage other than religious beliefs that you don't share, but really this is what's best for everyone.

Best of luck.

Jér said...

I had a big long comment I was going to put here, but I ended up posting it to my blog instead. So I'll just remark how much the authoritarian mindset informs everything in Mormonism. It's not just that Mormons are obedient, but that they are taught to value obedience above almost all else, and to "do all [they] can" to encourage (force) those around them to obey as well. This isn't unique to Mormonism; as Bob Altemeyer explains in his excellent online book, "The Authoritarians," authoritarianism is endemic to the modern religious movement in America, and it has been a deciding factor in the last few elections.

I'm not completely over my natural authoritarian impulses, unfortunately, but at least my philosophy has become much less controlling and punitive even if my behavior has lagged somewhat behind. I just wish the Mormon church and the "pro-family" groups were willing to stick to educational campaigns, as offensive as they are to those of us who know better, and leave legislating personal behavior alone.

Switch said...

I got you a "toaster" through Equality for All. May it help provide you and yours with delicious, golden-browned and legally recognized crispiness for years to come.

Using law to force obedience upon others runs contrary to the church's own "plan of salvation". Agency to chose one's own eternal destination is the sole reason given for our existence on this planet to begin with. I hope for their own sake, that the church leaders back out of this "chain them to the Iron Rod" mentality soon.

Mormons, your Satan is giggling at you.

-L- said...

"How do you see it, not if it bothers you?"

I probably should have already pointed out that this conversation hasn't been about how I see things per se, but rather how I imagine the church sees them and how you see them (or the collective "you" of pro-gay marriage folks). I could be all wrong about what the church thinks anyway, but there are ways to see it that don't involve it being a veneer or anti-family or whatever. But I'm happy to tell you what I think too: both positions intend to be pro family in different ways. Which approach would be more successful I really don't pretend to know.

I know analogies are seldom acceptable whenever the topic is controversial, but I'll attempt one anyway. Here's a thought on how the church's position--regulating others--could be pro family. It's like taxing tobacco use might increase freedom. The smoker believes that real harm will come if the price is raised to $8 a pack because he'll no longer be able to afford food to put on the table. Fat Americans are lobbying for the tax even while they are able to enjoy their trans fatty acids without any financial penalty whatsoever. The financial damage done is real, and the smoker experiences the harm. The smoker's freedoms are effectively restricted.

How can the fatso lobby claim that their position is pro-freedom? By noting that tobacco use puts a burden on society that limits tobacco users' freedoms as well as second hand tobacco users' freedoms as well as everyone else's freedoms through its economic and healthcare impact. They make the argument, but the early studies don't prove their claims. Despite the data being against them, the lard-butts remain convinced that smokers really are taking more than their fair share of society's resources and that everyone else is paying for it, and they continue to lobby accordingly.

So who are the real freedom lovers here? Clearly the tobacco users only want to be left alone to choose for themselves and are therefore freedom loving. And although the fat meddlers are charged with being freedom haters, they see themselves as increasing the freedom of all parts of society to be free of tobacco's influence, including the tobacco users if they so choose. The tobacco users can still smoke, of course, but they will no longer have the incentive of the rest of society subsidizing it. The tobacco users drive a hard hitting publicity campaign that emphasizes the hypothetical and unsupported nature of the increased freedoms claimed by the fat lobby. This campaign includes accelerating insults and character attacks suggesting that the fatsos ought to pay attention to their own health problems. The language becomes increasingly angry and hostile.

Yeah, yeah, there are a lot of problems with this analogy. But if it were to have been a real situation, we would look back now and say 1) although it seemed ridiculous for the fatties to go after a single other segment of the population instead of cleaning up their own act, addressing one public health crisis does not shut the door on addressing others later or concurrently. 2) Although the fatties didn't have the evidence at the time, the subsequent data has become overwhelmingly on their side, and the public health impact of increased tobacco taxes has saved hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lives, all while changing the balance of freedom in a way that could be labeled as anti-freedom or pro-freedom. 3) All the angriness and bitterness really do is polarize people, close off dialog, and make things unpleasant.

You can nit-pick and criticize the analogy on all counts, but I can probably shore it up to keep on demonstrating what I'm trying to say here despite its imperfections. The church, I think, sees the data about the effects of same sex led families to be inadequate to demonstrate the sorts of effects they fear. The effect in particular I think they fear is the erosion of the concept of an ideal family situation in which the children are the actual offspring of the parents without necessitating all sorts of intervention by third parties and with biological (and spiritual?) kinship influencing their relationships. There are others as well, and I believe the church holds the view that not recognizing certain family situations as equal to others will have actual favorable consequences for society (not just "because God says so").

"I am pro-marriage-equality-for-same-sex-couples"

The church is anti-marriage-reinvention-for-same-sex-couples and maybe anti-redefine-family-as-a-group-of-mutually-supportive-and-committed-lovers. The word "entitlement" is an odd one for the church to have used, but I think they want to emphasize the inviolable order of two adults making a child with their bodies and then being biologically imprinted with a kinship, and that that sort of thing ought to be the incentivized ideal even while it can't be universally obtained. I'm just guessing because they haven't said exactly that. But failing this hypothesis, I can come up with another, because I know the character of the folks involved and their motivations and intentions aren't bad.

As far as the harm threatened to your family, it's certainly real and scary. I knew that even before Fob's sarcastic comment (shocker that I might have thought about it before, I know). But in some ways it's a real concern in the same way I think the church's concern is real about the harms threatened to other families through the recognition of same-sex couple led families. That is, they are both hypothetical. You have your legal rights with your kids, your happy times building sandboxes and defending them from coyotes. You have a beautiful family that is not in any actual immediate danger, despite a lot of policy turmoil. There are real and scary potential threats (and I've got them in my family too, although of a different nature), but you've been managing and living your life. And I can't comment on the church trying to destroy your family in Utah through defeating any legal relationships between children and gay parents validated in other states because I know nothing about it. That certainly is concerning. I think something ought to be done about it, but I don't think a legitimate need in that area alone justifies gay marriage as the only solution.

In a different conversation with a different crowd I would take the exact opposite position and suggest that the harms you've experienced and may experience are unacceptable and that society has a lot of work to do. In fact, I've been involved recently in public advocacy that amounts to exactly this (testifying before big crowds of mostly conservatives, in fact, in the defense of GLBT concerns). The reason I pointed out your family is relatively unthreatened is because there is a little bit of tendency for doom and gloom on the topic. A mentality of a single focus where the end justifies all the means.

As is often the case, these conversations tend to snowball to the point where it takes me several days to get around to writing an answer, and even then it feels completely too short and inadequate to convey what I'm saying. But I suppose that's life. At the end of it all, I do believe you have every right to speak as you have with strong words in advocacy for your family, and I don't see that there was any egregiously offensive rhetoric, despite that I initially felt that way. What can I say? I was tired! At the same time, I do believe people get in the habit of rehearsing all their grievances against the church's point of view in a way that completely closes their mind to comprehending the actual reality of the church's view in the least. That makes sarcasm so much more justified feeling.

As for congratulating Scot on the upcoming wedding, of course I can do that genuinely and sincerely! Just like I can tell my patients to quit smoking through jiggling jowls as I wave a flabby finger and nearly suffocate from the pressure of my 15 chins on my airway. Just like I can wish my Jewish friends a happy Hanukah. Just like I can lobby for a particular law while my best friend who is a lawyer is lobbying for exactly the opposite. I want nothing but happiness for everyone here, but especially Scot, who is one of the most decent people I've ever met online. And since his gay marriage is legal, why not celebrate it? ;-) And although I won't be making any cash donations to groups I don't agree with, I'll substitute by buying a toaster wherever Scot's registered.

Regrettably, I don't think I'll be able to comment much in the future. Things have been very busy for me and the pressure is on. You can "come back here, Mister" me all you like, and I will try my best to comply with your stern admonition, but if I don't respond right away, you'll know why.

Mr. Fob said...

I probably should have already pointed out that this conversation hasn't been about how I see things per se

I can't speak for anyone else, but I have been aware that this is your position. I have several problems with your claim to neutrality. In the first place, you clearly aren't. You are a tithe-paying member of the church, so whether or not you pretend to know which of the pro-family-intended efforts will be more successful, you are at least financially supporting the church's attempts. You also have a very clear bias toward not criticizing the leaders of your church. One cannot claim to be a neutral diplomat between two warring factions while starting out said diplomacy with the phrase "I'm too tired or too angry or too irrational to post in response to this right now." Obviously this issue brings up a strong emotional reaction in you, as well it should.

Above all my problem with your claim to neutrality is that you have no right to be neutral. For the past decade the issue of same-sex marriage has been at the forefront of American politics and you would be lying if you said it was not on your mind to some degree or another for much of that time. You have had more than enough time to make up your mind--and I'm not even taking into account your religion's claim to personal revelation, which should guide you if you don't trust your own ability to logic it out. There are a good number of people who place a lot of weight on your words, particularly when it comes to issues involving homosexuality and the church, which puts you in a position to do a lot of good for whichever side you decide is good. If Northern Lights can be used as a platform to campaign for Mitt Romney, it can certainly be used to campaign for or against gay marriage. Your neutrality, meanwhile, accomplishes nothing. You are neither hot nor cold and so I'll spit you out--so to speak.

both positions intend to be pro family in different ways

I'll say this again just in case you missed it last time: No one has said anything about the LDS church's intentions. But good intentions do not excuse bad actions.

They make the argument, but the early studies don't prove their claims.

Then they damn well better wait until later studies prove their claims before they start taking away people's rights. It is not acceptable to limit a human being's rights based simply on fear that giving him or her those rights might potentially harm someone. I knew that even before I saw Minority Report.

If the LDS church were advocating for a constitutional amendment making it illegal for people of color to get married, would you defend them? What if it were the Catholic church? Jehovah's Witnesses?

The church, I think, sees the data about the effects of same sex led families to be inadequate to demonstrate the sorts of effects they fear.

The church has said nothing to indicate that they pay any attention to data. I think you're projecting how you would like to believe the church is approaching this because you are by nature a rational person. The church has claimed neither scientific data nor even revelation to support their political efforts. They just present their case as if it's obviously what should be done.

The church is anti-marriage-reinvention-for-same-sex-couples and maybe anti-redefine-family-as-a-group-of-mutually-supportive-and...

It's funny, then, that it's the church who is advocating a constitutional change in the definition of marriage. The rest of us are fine with the way it's currently defined and has been for the past two hundred years.

As far as the harm threatened to your family, it's certainly real and scary. I knew that even before Fob's sarcastic comment (shocker that I might have thought about it before, I know).

Had you also thought about the fact that it's pompous and ridiculously rude of you to tell Scot that you're not convinced that he should be allowed to marry his husband, because neither you nor your church nor anyone but the parties involved have the right to make that decision? Because that was my point.

But in some ways it's a real concern in the same way I think the church's concern is real about the harms threatened to other families through the recognition of same-sex couple led families. That is, they are both hypothetical.

So, um, do you by chance read this blog much. Hypothetical? What planet are you living on? Scot and Rob have had to jump through ridiculous hoops in order to gain the rights they have, and still those don't equal the rights you or I have. And Scot and Rob are not at all representative of other same-sex-headed families. In many--if not most--cases, only one parent is the legal guardian, while the other is officially no more than a friend of the family. We are not talking about hypotheticals here, at least not on this side of the issue.

In a different conversation with a different crowd I would take the exact opposite position

I find this disturbing. It makes it seem that you are arguing just for the sake of arguing, as if this were all a big rhetorical exercise without real-world consequences. Which, granted, maybe it is for you. But there are other people who are not so fortunate.

I do believe people get in the habit of rehearsing all their grievances against the church's point of view in a way that completely closes their mind to comprehending the actual reality of the church's view in the least

I comprehend the church's view more than completely. The fact that I disagree with it doesn't mean I don't understand it. The more I understand it, the more unethical I realize it is.

Scot said...

Wow Switch, Thank You!

You'll let me know when you get hitched and I can return the favor.

And man! It's been a while since I've had over 30 comments... I'll come back to this later on.

Scot said...

I'll try not to repeat too much of Mr. Fob.

"this conversation hasn't been about how I see things per se"

Well, you were expressing your level of comfort with the idea of harm, and, besides, you can't blame a man for being curious (bi-curious in the church is another matter).

"both positions intend to be pro family in different ways. "

Only if you define my family as not family. As far as I can tell, the LDS are not intending to be pro-Scot-and-Rob-raising-children. They are anti that kind of family.

I'll agree both sides intend to do good, though.

"I know analogies are seldom acceptable whenever the topic is controversial, but I'll attempt one anyway."

I can appreciate the desire to use them. Heck, I overuse them. But this one simply doesn't fit.

The church has nothing against people marrying Rob. It has a problem with a person with my anatomy marrying Rob. There is no one saying, in this case, men can smoke but women cannot.

"By noting that tobacco use puts a burden on society that limits tobacco users' freedoms as well as second hand tobacco users' freedoms as well as everyone else's freedoms through its economic and healthcare impact. They make the argument, but the early studies don't prove their claims."

My libertarian streak aside...

What Ben said and it's worse. The studies and plain common sense of how marriage law helps couples and their children show that, in this analogy, smoking benefits the smoker, those in his family, and maybe even those he doesn't even know in society a great deal in many areas (here here here and here). It's more like saying that you want a high tax on one group for the consumption of life extending anti-oxidants so that you can subsidize another group's consumption of the same. Simply, marriage is not harmful :-).

"The church is anti-marriage-reinvention-for-same-sex-couples and maybe anti-redefine-family-as-a-group-of-mutually-supportive-and-committed-lovers."

No, this is another euphemism. Marriage is reinvented and redefined all the time (e.g here). The LDS are not against that.

In many ways they are the group now out to most radically redefine marriage away from what it has become (here). If a group wants to make it all hinge on sex, and not focus on the sacrifice, love, dedication, commitment, and even parenthood; then I think that group is out to radically redefine marriage as we know it.

"they want to emphasize the inviolable order of two adults making a child with their bodies and then being biologically imprinted with a kinship, and that that sort of thing ought to be the incentivized ideal even while it can't be universally obtained."

And you believe they want to incentivise this for gay people too? You think the LDS church are encouraging gay men to marry women here?

'Cause I'll tell ya, no gay rights activists think it's a good idea for a straight man to marry another man. Even if they're hot.

Look "emphasize the inviolable order of two adults making a child with their bodies and then being biologically imprinted with a kinship" means very little in real terms. I mean, if the church really believes "biologically imprinted with a kinship" is what's important between parent and child, I fear they are missing a whole other and much more miraculous truth of parenthood. No one is arguing about where babies come from (well, not yet with the way science is progressing in this arena ;-)). Everyone agrees, most of the time, the best parents for a child are the biological parents. But to follow the rule for the exceptions will hurt many people and their children. The ideal family argument makes for good talking points for politicians, but is simply hollow (here, gosh I love having that site up, even in part :-)).

"That is, they are both hypothetical. "

I'll have a hard time keeping that in mind the next time I pay our taxes, social security, or health insurance. I'll tell that to my kids the next time a government recreational facility tell us, right in front of them, that we have to pay more to enter because we're not a family. I hope someone tells Rob that if I get killed in a car crash and he's not treated as my family (e.g. recent news item). Even when the threat isn't carried out, it's not nothing, like in the fact that zoning laws say that we should be evicted from our home yet no one is enforcing that law. That stress on my mind of knowing, legally, we could be evicted from our property without marriage papers is real. This isn't hypothetical, and just because they let me keep our children, doesn't mean the ways in which they harm us in other ways are hypothetical.

If, say, some group wanted a law (one which I'd vigorously oppose) that forbid gay men from marrying women (you know the drill--because such couples aren't "idea", right?), you'd only by hypothetically harmed?

You have to watch where you point that thing. What's the saying? If you tear down ideals of equal treatment to chase after your devil, what will you do when the devil turns around to face you?

"testifying before big crowds of mostly conservatives, in fact, in the defense of GLBT concerns"

thank you then. I'll find myself sometimes trying to calm my brothers down as well, but they don't give me big crowds...

And sure, sure, these conversations do snowball. I understand. Our snowball just doesn't seem to roll anywhere, does it? And yet it grows :-)

Scot said...

Please, if you're following this comments feed, ignore impostors who say exactly what I say, the jerks.

-L- said...

Fob, well, I had a pretty strong feeling the analogy wasn't going to fly, but I thought it might be worth a shot. It wasn't intended to look at the issue in terms of discrimination, because that's not how the church sees the issue. I realize you can't see it any other way, so I'll stop trying to force you.

I have every right to have neutrality, strive for neutrality, and claim neutrality when I think I've achieved it. Your "clearly you're not" doesn't amount to anything in my estimation. You really ought to know me better before telling me about myself. I think I see this issue very well from both sides, regardless of how I personally feel. I think you fail to do the same despite the certainty you've expressed multiple times. I don't know that you're spewing me out or yelling at me accomplishes much.

Yeah, it didn't take long since writing about "hypothetical" harm until I realized that was wrong. Or, at least, a poor way of putting it. Is it harm that I'm going to have to pay 40% of my income in federal income tax in a few years while other people don't pay any taxes at all? Yeah, I suppose so. But, harms ought to be assessed in a way that doesn't tend to hyperbole, and that was more of what I was aiming to express.

Regarding the studies looking at gay marriages, I can't get to the isocrat site. It's blocked on my computer. I don't know why, but I suspect that says something about the neutrality (or lack thereof) of the content source. Feel free to give me journal references since I can access those online directly.

Fob, you apparently will only discuss the issue in terms of rights and witholding rights and entitlements--all things that are just philosophically not absolute. You can't or won't discuss it in a way that acknowledges there could be any merit or rational basis for any view but your own, and so I won't try to discuss it with you any further. That my efforts are taken to be pompous and ridiculously rude seems to suggest We'll just irritate each other even more if we keep going.

I do not argue for the sake of arguing. I discuss things to try to soften hatred by encouraging some empathy by explaining an alternate point of view to those who come down so cleanly on one side of a complicated issue. It's something I've tried to do for a long time and in a lot of different situations (not just online), and I don't intend to stop even if you find it disturbing. As you clearly aren't being softened in the least but have become increasingly hostile to me, I won't try to discuss it with you any more. I just sometimes can't help myself when I see a string of comments where everyone is patting each other on the back, completely missing the nuance of the issue. But, then, that's where many people are most comfortable, on both sides, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Scot said...

I'm not just saying this to you, L, because I know I do it too. It's a quality of our culture, but I'm always struck by how great people with a LDS background are at insults. I'd say we're the best at it. It's almost artful.

"I don't know why, but I suspect that says something about the neutrality (or lack thereof) of the content source."

It's probably 'cause of all the swear words, pornography, and bomb-making instructions posted there.

No way. You have a filter that somehow judges web sites on neutrality? Even those that aren't really up and running? How does that work? I'm not joking as above, you've sparked my curiosity. It lets you into lds.org, right? What about nature.com? They are certainly not neutral on, say, teaching creationism.

"Feel free to give me journal references since I can access those online directly."

There are hundreds of references (300 to be exact as of now). You are adverse to using or won't use a computer without a wall? No worries, the site only gets ip addresses if there is a comment or post or something.

-L- said...

It's blocked on this computer because the default settings for the web filter haven't been changed and "alternative lifestyle/sexuality" is one of the categories that can be blocked. I'm sure I can manage to get it unblocked some time. I can't view the site at work, regardless.

I do believe, in general, that science ought to inform all of our policy on medicine and public health. Social science, though, I'm pretty skeptical of, I have to admit. And when it's a controversial topic... well, let's just say I'm not expecting anything there to be an astounding revelation that reframes my current understanding.

And if I've insulted you in a crafty way, I apologize. I don't know if it's the LDS thing as much as the blog thing, but I've noticed something similar. People can be really clever about how they are hurtful. Sorry if I've been like that (but not sure where or how).

Scot said...

""alternative lifestyle/sexuality" is one of the categories that can be blocked."

Good, it's not measuring my neutrality ;-).

"I don't know if it's the LDS thing"

As far as I can tell it's cultural, not religious. When I lived in California, the jabs weren't nearly as good as they are in town.

"Social science, though"

Sure, all research should be treated with skepticism and the further from physics it seems more scrutiny is needed. Fortunately there are other forms of data to back you up, like census data and congressional budget reports.

I had to cut my last reply off for breakfast. One more thing:

"But, harms ought to be assessed in a way that doesn't tend to hyperbole, and that was more of what I was aiming to express."

You've selected one example of many "40% of my income in federal income tax in a few years", but I'm not sure what that's aimed at. The death tax? 'Cause I pay tax every 3 months, and our two health insurance policies every 6.

Any what counts as hyperbole here? I've explained the real ways this harms many families, right now, not to mention how it costs society in both financial and familial terms. I mean, we're not the ones claiming eternal punishment for our opponents in some predicted afterlife, or the collapse of civilization. Talk about hyperbole :-).

I wonder now, how much harm done to your family by diminishing the legal rights and responsibilities between gay men and women would be considered acceptable to you?

-L- said...

The tax example was to suggest that policy that favors one group over another or that puts some particular expectation on one group over another might be described as discrimination and harm in a context that seems completely acceptable. Again, I can't visit the isocrat website, so I'll have to defer discussion of those references for later.

Mr. Fob said...

I apologize for being unnecessarily antagonistic, L. Scot's comment about insults applies just as accurately to me as to you. I think my emotional investment in this issue is clear--an institution I dedicated about twenty-five years of my life to is taking action to harm people I care about and who are, but for having made different decisions than I did, very much like me. It's very difficult to remove my emotions from the discussion when someone I otherwise love and respect is not only defending the institution (which I would have no problem with) but defending their hurtful actions.

No, I won't discuss this situation in terms other than the rights that are being withheld, because to do so would be to ignore the fact that there are real people with real rights that are being threatened. For me to pretend that we aren't talking about legitimate rights here, just for the sake of sympathizing with the opposition's view, would be immoral. That is what I find so appalling about you saying "I still have not been convinced that a society without gay marriage has related harms that can not be addressed otherwise." You're looking at it bassackwards. You don't start out by giving people unequal rights and then deciding which rights you need to reluctantly give the disadvantaged people in order to address the problems. You should start out by giving everyone equal rights, and then asking what problems exist in that society and how they can be addressed. The question you should be asking is "What harms exist in a society with marriage equality that cannot be addressed except by denying certain couples the right to marry?" Remember, it is not marriage equality activists who are trying to amend state and national constitutions.

I find your continued insistence that I am unable to see both sides of the argument offensive. You seem to be trying to set yourself up as the lone sane man in a room full of raving lunatics who are too stupid to see beyond their own noses, and that's simply not the case. I spent years trying to reconcile the church's position with basic principles of equality, freedom, and self-government, so I am well aware of the kind of logic that goes into justifying that side of the argument. What I haven't ever been able to understand is how one can support anti-gay-marriage legislation without ignoring the basic rights of the people such legislation affects, and you have said nothing to convince me that you are able to do so. I do give you credit, though, for at least trying--most people, including the leaders of the LDS church as far as I can tell, haven't done that much. Still, though, your arguments thus far boil down to "The leaders of the LDS church are good people" (a statement with which I don't disagree, but really means nothing as far as this discussion goes) and "We might possibly find out, a hundred years from now, that they were right all along, so we should do what they say now." I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced. Understanding the merits of two sides of an argument is indeed a virtue, but a greater virtue is being able to weigh the merits of either side and conclude that one is more soundly grounded in logic and reason.

If your goal truly is to soften hatred and encourage empathy, you really should rethink your approach. Between starting out angry, accusing us of using hateful rhetoric, and condescendingly claiming that we are incapable of seeing nuances, I'm not sure how you expected to achieve anything but a heated argument. I am quite capable of seeing nuances. I'm able to see that a group of good people who honestly believe they are doing something good for families are pushing for legislation that will only hurt families. I'm able to see that this guy who insults me and uses backwards logic in order to defend those people is still a good person, capable of all kinds of rational thought, witty humor, and general goodness. I trust you can do the same.

-L- said...

I can understand that it is difficult to keep emotions under wraps when it's such a deeply meaningful topic to all of us. What I would have liked, honestly, is to have the discussion in a way that would allow for differences of opinion that aren't labeled as morally deficient, but I also realize that that moral status is the whole crux of the passion.

I understand your view of rights and the importance of only limiting rights when there is a compelling public need. I understand the harms. I get it. I get it. I totally get that. Everyone on this thread does. Which is why I'm trying to explain the issue from a different point of view--one that I intend no insult in saying I don't think you understand. Incidentally, you really have no cause to be offended by my saying so when you read back through and realize you've been saying the same thing to me, along with several other far more overtly mean things. I don't think this sort of misunderstanding is due to stupidity, but I do think it has a great deal with having stopped courteously listening to what other people might have to say.

How society structures its systems of incentives and penalties doesn't have a right and wrong answer for many things. It's easy to declare with finality that they all should be the same for everyone, but they never have been. Hence, the tax example. Is it fair that a rich person must pay 40% of their income or is that a violation of equality? Is it fair that a soldier who can die for his country can't drink alcohol on his time off or is that a ridiculous inconsistency in our view of maturity? When I say that the harms of not having access to gay marriage can be addressed in other ways, that's a similar prospect [I believe there should be inequality in taxes and that underage soldiers shouldn't drink, by the way.] I don't expect you to see the issue that way, I'm only hoping folks will acknowledge that reasonable good people can, and stop with the comparisons to murdering virgins or having a "veneer" of concern for children. The maligning tone of the original post and comments was the only reason I commented, not that I'm trying to persuade everyone not to believe in the side of the issue they do. That's the nuance I'm talking about--not just that the leaders of the church are good people in general, not that anyone but members ought to trust their views on the social impact of gay marriage, or even that there is a right side of the issue. The nuance comes when the hate creeps in with self-justified indignation. I love you and Scot (despite that this thread has been really hard on me) and your position doesn't bother me at all. Just the little hints and wisps of growing hatred.

I haven't intended to insult you by saying that you don't see "nuances," just making an anthropological observation about the dialog here being largely representative of the same stubborn impasse born out elsewhere. [Ha. For what that's worth!] But I'm pretty disappointed that I haven't managed to store up the good will and tolerance from our previous conversations that I thought I had. Bassackwards, insensitive bordering on cruelty, angry, accusing, insulting, no sense of decency, irrational [although elsewhere I was granted status as rational by nature], pompous, ridiculously rude, and... I'm sure I could find more if I looked... is how I'm described. Oh, and subtlely insulting too. :-)

If you still think I don't understand and that I'm a big mean jerk for saying that you don't understand, or that my approach has been angry rather than diplomatic, my apologies. I certainly do see you as a friend, and hilarious, and very committed to a good cause (as you trusted I could).

I am now officially grounded from this thread by my wife. :-)

Scot said...

You mean jerk. You just made me reread the whole thing. :-)

For the record, I was only hot under the collar the first day--the LDS church retroactively putting that wedge into our great weekend with family absolutely got to me where it counts--but I didn't feel angry after that. I should have not used that hate font.

"moral status is the whole crux of the passion."

It's the crux of the arguments, not only passion.

Is it moral to keep from your neighbor's family rights and responsibilities your family enjoys because of the sexual anatomy of one of their members? I say no; they say yes.

Is it moral for two men to couple up? They say no (and I agree... unless the men in question are gay men; then I say yes).

"I understand the harms. I get it. I get it. I totally get that. Everyone on this thread does."

Rereading this again; it didn't seem so for a good number of comments, though, and that's what took us on that 'hypothetical' path.

"I don't think this sort of misunderstanding is due to stupidity, but I do think it has a great deal with having stopped courteously listening to what other people might have to say."

I may still be discourteously listening, but where did you present the church's case, their evidence in the above?

You suggested my marriage is like smoking, but that the evidence for harm cannot be found. I don't think that's the church's case, though. I think it's a variant on the ideal family argument, which I have listened to many times and have addressed in great detail with much referenced evidence. If you present a case, I will read it. I've read all sorts of them, from the ideal family argument to the "gays shouldn't be married because plumbing fitting come in male and female forms" argument.

"It's easy to declare with finality that they all should be the same for everyone, but they never have been."

But who declared that?

"Hence, the tax example. Is it fair that a rich person must pay 40% of their income or is that a violation of equality? Is it fair that a soldier who can die for his country can't drink alcohol on his time off or is that a ridiculous inconsistency in our view of maturity?"

This is a rout I've seen many times, but it misses the point. We all agree that, say, we shouldn't treat a man who murders with the same rights as a man who does not. No one is for absolute equal treatment of every human; that is a silly caricatured of any rights movement.

The question that would be analogous would be: is it fair to make a woman pay 40% when men making the same income are paying 20%? Is it fair for race? These are inborn individual characteristics. If a woman replaced one of us, we would have all these new rights. Is that sort of sex discrimination okay? We of course discriminate on age because minors are not mentally able to make many decisions for themselves. But do all human adults have the same rights to, say, try to get into that 40% tax bracket or married, regardless of their characteristics such as sex or race. Should we prejudge the worth of families and their rights based on their genitals or their character?

"and stop with the comparisons to murdering virgins or having a "veneer" of concern for children. "

L, again, this was meant to express my frustration with the impossibility of argument with faith. Reread it. I was saying even when the stakes are much higher there's little hope for arguing religious faith. I feel powerless against it, as many have in history, and I was expressing that frustration on my blog, but, as I wrote, "At least things are far from that bad."

As for the second part, the veneer. What would you think if I told you, because your children deserve better than to be raised in a mixed-orientation marriage, with all it's demonstratable difficulties, that we were going to take away your legal rights as a married couple. You know, for the children. Does that make sense to you? Does that look like I have more than a veneer of concern for your children. I stick by saying that I think, for most who use it, the expressed concern for my children is just a tool used to make people feel good about themselves for hurting our family.

"Oh, and subtlely insulting too. :-)"

You reread it, mister, and tell me you didn't get in some great ones. :-)

Tone doesn't translate here. If you could see my face and hear my tone I'm sure you'd know there are no hard feelings. Just sad. There's just no getting around the fact that your church has doctrine to promote and I've a family to defend.

"I am now officially grounded from this thread by my wife. :-)"

What if I write her a note and promise to be nice? Would she know I was being insincere ;-).

MoHoHawaii said...

L,

I think the Church's press release on gay marriage said it well:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes that same-sex marriage can be an emotional and divisive issue.

I'm with the Church on this one. (Don't faint. :-) )

I wish you well.