Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Note to the LDS Church

The LDS church has put out more info on their hope to limit marriage to heterosexually headed families, Here. Thanks for pointing me to it MoHoHawaii (or maybe I should be mad at you; I've not yet decided). I'll jump right in.

"The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."

That's not advocating for equal rights and it's smartly worded so they can wiggle out of any one of them, but there's a big step for them there. I'll give them much credit for that.

Only four years ago, during the Amendment 3 debate (an amendment which took away marriage and any other "substantially equivalent" rights), they had a chance to speak up for these rights and say exactly this. They only spoke up for denying marriage and added:

"any other sexual relations, including between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family."

The message sent was clear, they knew what their followers heard and they were just fine with letting the enforcement of denying all those other rights stand. I am grateful they have made this step towards "Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people".

"The Divine Institution of Marriage"

There's not much to say about the supernatural points, save that we all have different knowledge about the supernatural and it should not be used to impose law on others and limit the rights of those to practice their faith, or lack thereof. We may as well argue about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

In that section though, I would find it interesting to know how they choose their research. Out of all the research on families out there, much of it on children of same-sex parents, they have 4 (!) references, and make the logically fallacious comparisons to single mothers, quoting from what seem to be the weakest and most biased sections of any research, the discussion. This is a total misrepresentation of what's out there and I'd love to know how such was defended (or if it needed to be).

"Tolerance, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom"

"Those who favor homosexual marriage contend that “tolerance” demands that they be given the same right to marry as heterosexual couples."

This is a case of you just not listening, or putting up straw men.

Search my blog, or for "tolerance." This isn't about "tolerance" or your love; this is about men and women trying to protect their families from your real world attacks. I get that when you feel you are God's representatives, it can color your vision. There are many other Gods with representatives on this earth though. I'm sure you're fine people, but you are strangers. I don't care how you feel about me, if you can tolerate me, if you "condone" my family, or how good you feel in still loving me despite my "sin". This whole "gay marriage is all about getting my approval" angle is really weird. I do care, though, about how you concretely affect my children and my husband, and the many other families I know you are advocating harm towards with your political actions.

Aside: Isn't quoting Jesus a bit problematic when you're tying to mobilize a huge group against equal treatment of our families? You think same-sex relations are evil, right? Even assuming you're right, yes, Jesus did say "go and sin no more"; he also said "resist not evil." I don't agree with Him here either, but trying to put Jesus' seal of approval on a huge political action campaign against a large group of people who just want equal treatment from their government, well, even if that could possibly be a posed as a fight against evil, it strains the imagination. WWJD, indeed.

"We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage. "

I'm glad you can, really. But surely you can see that, while it means something, it's not much to know a stranger out to legally diminish my family feels love. There are historical accounts of the love felt for the sinner when they were being tortured and burned to death for "sodomy". Simply, your love doesn't mean much when your actions might annul my marriage. I really want to know if you can you see that. (as if anyone is listening :-))

As for religious freedom, I'm right with you. But your beef is with anti-discrimination laws, not marriage. No one, for example, is forcing the catholics to marry divorced couples. If a church isn't taking public money, they should even be able to discriminate against mixed race marriages, and I don't want the government in religion any more than you do. But look, you pulled this pendulum, over the decades, strongly towards your end and hurt a lot of gay people in the past, and I get that you may be afraid if you let go it may swing too far in the other direction. I want it to stop where I have my family with equal treatment and you have your religious freedom, no more and no less. We could work together to that end, instead of trying to pull each other off our footing.

"Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions."

So? Let them suggest; you know people suggest all sorts of crazy things. I can't hold it against you that people suggest the Levitical death penalty be put in place for homosexuals, right? Again, this is not about marriage, but anti-discrimination laws.

"Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished."

What I don't get is this. Two churches perform a wedding, and the government looks into the sexual anatomy of those involved and decides to recognize only one church's union but not another's. You don't see that as religious discrimination? Is it because you think they aren't "true" churches? What if the government did that to your weddings? You are free to perform your weddings how you like. No church synagogue or mosque has been forced into same-sex unions. It is fear mongering to suggest otherwise.

"How Would Same-Sex Marriage Affect Society?"

"“It won’t affect you, so why should you care?’ is the common refrain."

Really, it is?

"The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally."

FULL STOP. Why no reference here? Why no data? It seems very suspicious, as though you know what's there and didn't want to share anything but innuendo. Look at the data right from their censuses and try to tell us this again. I have to hope you aren't simply counting on the average person not looking further into this, because that above statement is fiction, to put it kindly, and if you honestly are studying the issue, carefully, as you say, you should know that.

"there are many practical implications in the sphere of public policy that will be of deep concern to parents and society as a whole. "

I'm all ears, to read about what my concerns as a parent should be.

"When a man and a woman marry with the intention of forming a new family, their success in that endeavor depends on their willingness to renounce the single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment and to sacrifice their time and means to the nurturing and rearing of their children."

Great, you've given one way in which man-women marriages are just like man-man marriages. Of course, you don't mean to insinuate otherwise, and demean our families, right? Gosh I hate PC language.

"Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment."

Sadly, you are either not listening to us, or misrepresenting us, and in a piece meant to "reduce misunderstanding".

"By definition, all same-sex unions are infertile, and two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring."

So? If you think raising, loving, and nurturing children who aren't similar to you in their genetic code is some sort of weakness, I guess we truly do differ in our moral codes.

" It is true that some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children"

Some? In Utah, of cohabitating same-sex couples, we're talk about 40% and that number has certainly grown since the 2000 census. Only 49% of all marriages are currently raising children. Let me put that in other terms; Utah, with our anti-adoption for gay couples and anti-marriage equality laws is 3rd in the nations when it comes to the percentage of cohabitating same-sex couples raising children. You are trying to minimize and misrepresent our families. You are, ironically, treating the fact that we have children and will keep becoming parents in greater numbers as a minor consideration here.

"Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation."

Then you should be advocating legal marriage for the parents in our families too.

"By contrast, the legalization of same-sex marriage likely will erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children."

At least you admit you don't know. You do know, though, you start out talking all nice, and then you go and insult the moral character of a man's child. Do you think we're somehow a wildly different sort of humans than you? That we wouldn't notice? You didn't mean it like that? Are you going to retreat and go back to "there's just something missing, neither good nor bad"? Spin it as carefully as you like but you can't both be the good guy and the bad guy here; these children and their parents hear you loud and clear, even if you're counting on others to make excuses for and ignore such tangled messages.

As to your other concerns about our children. Much, and I mean a lot, of research has shown no difference in their "gender development". You found some research to quote above; why not here? And what do you mean by "social identity"? Do you mean they may correctly identify they are children of same-sex parents, just as other children correctly identify they are children of LDS parents? Such words, not defined, come off in the imaginations of your followers as all sorts of crazy things; they teach their children such things and those children go to school with my children. Do you see that? When you're vague most followers fill in the voids in a way that most demeans our children.

Oddly, I both hope you know and don't know that.

"As just one example of how children will be adversely affected, the establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably require mandatory changes in school curricula."

You mean not only may gay people have equal treatment, but their children in our schools may be given consideration too? Come on. My kids' class read and Tango Makes Three (without us asking) last year as one of many books. Yes, right here in Utah. It was one book in hundreds, and such inclusion has nothing to do with legal marriage and everything to do with humane treatment of all children, and creating an environment where all children can feel comfortable enough to learn reading writing and arithmetic without bigotry getting in the way. Is the LDS church against that? What, in schools are they actually against? You have to be specific. True, if you're not, there's less room to change doctrine when you need to, but your followers will often assume the worst otherwise.

People, even gay couples, will simply have children regardless of the government's okay. Those children should be able to talk about their family at school too. There is only one way to make them and your growing problem here disappear, but if you want to know what an actual society's erosion and collapse looks like, you just try to take our children from their homes.

" Finally, throughout history the family has served as an essential bulwark of individual liberty."

Well... Eh, the irony and de-family-ing of our families just gets too thick towards the end there to go on.

Anyway, the sad part is I'm sure the author of this felt, deep in the cockles of their heart, they were showing "love, kindness and humanity toward all people." They felt such white-on-white warmth even when insulting other's children, and cherry picking and misrepresenting the research, of which they choose a very tiny amount (though enough to fool the casual reader that science was on their side).

I know I went off half-cocked here and may regret pressing publish in an hour or two. But, eh, I've got to go and want to stop feeling distracted by this, I'll feel better doing something too :-).

At least they are moving their position a step towards civil unions. It's just frustrating. Frustrating and sad.


Tom said...

Keep the fight going, brother!

If it helps you to spread the word about the real impact of denying marriage equality, I will share with you a true story:

I had an uncle-in-law, a descendant of handcart pioneers, who was a gay man. He lived with his partner for more than 35 years. They were a loving, committed couple. They worked hard, they paid taxes, they did lots of volunteer work. They treated their nieces and nephews very well and were “favorite uncles.”

They also did all they could legally to formalize their relationship, but of course they could not marry.

When my uncle-in-law died of lung cancer, his surviving partner did not receive Social Security survivor benefits — as they would have if they had been married.

In addition, the surviving partner had to pay a hefty inheritance tax on the 50% share of their house my uncle-in-law had bequeathed to him. Legally married spouses are exempt from this tax.

Finally, the property tax basis on the house rose dramatically — again, something that wouldn’t have happened if they had been able to marry.

These three things combined made it impossible for his surviving partner to be able to afford to stay in the home they had shared for more than three decades.

Many will hear that story and say, "they knew going in their relationship meant they wouldn't have the benefits of marriage."

But many will hear it and be reminded that this battle is about real consequences for real people.

Thanks for speaking out.

Eleanor's Papa said...

I wish that the Brethren, as with the shifting positions on polygamy and racism, would just say that they're only doing what God told them to.

Instead we get this legalistic mess that relies on faulty logic and half-baked science. Pathetic.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I just looked at the article on the church's website. Of their 19 "references", 5 are from the Bible, and 3 are from speeches church leaders have given. They refrence from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to support their case, and then the EU Parliament Resolution on homophobia when asserting that gay marriage would mean a lessening of religious freedom. The exact quote is,

"Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU.[19] Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished."

How does "guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples" thusly cause "substantial conflicts with religious freedom"?

Just by making a totally illogical assertion doesn't make it true.

Time and time again, I am flabbergasted by the incredible illogicality and nonsensical public statements made by the church, especially on this issue. Their argument has got more holes in it than not, and they refuse to ever accept any sort of criticism at all. It is just mind-boggling how incredibly stupid and ridiculous their arguments are, and how they (presumably) expect people to be swayed by their argument to oppose gay marriage, when they can't even really pretend to have a real argument.

When you say things like "Europe has outlawed discrimination against gays" and then say "that proves that if you allow gay marriage here, religious freedom will be compromised", then I have to assume that you are a few teacups shy of a full china cabinet.

I also love how they say, "Is it really wise for society to pursue such a radical experiment without taking into account its long-term consequences for children?"

You know, just like it was unwise to allow blacks to vote, or to marry white people, or to drink from our water fountains, or ride at the back of our buses. We ought to have waited longer to make sure that there would be no long-term consequences for children before performing radical social experiments like letting black and white children attend the same schools.

Of course, it did take until 1978 before the church (God) officially renounced it's racist policies, so why should this time be any different?

I don't know, maybe because we're supposed to learn from our past mistakes, because, that's like what this "mortal probation" is for, to learn and grow and be better, more Christlike individuals, more loving and compassionate and non-judgemental.

Who knew.

Mr. Fob said...

Sadly, I don't think the leaders of the LDS church read your blog. If only...

MohoInTx said...

I actually loved the Church's article. Although I do not agree with everything, I am now more able to see where they are coming from.

This was literally my favorite part of their article:
The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.

I think that's all they need... and they need a statement like this EVERY time something about this subject is made. I do respect where they stand... but not having a statement like that in the past is what bothered me most.

Scot said...

Thank you tom. If only your uncle's story was rare.

E.P: That would be much easier on relations. I do remember reading in books of marriage history appeals to research around the time of the fight for interracial marriages that similarly attacked the character of the children that come from such families. It would be interesting to know how it was viewed or used by the LDS newsroom then.

Scot said...

Craig, thanks for looking at those references, interesting.

"I also love how they say, "Is it really wise for society to pursue such a radical experiment without taking into account its long-term consequences for children?""

At least it's only a question ;-)

Ben: "Sadly, I don't think the leaders of the LDS church read your blog. If only..."

I joked about this in there too, but yesterday I got nearly the most hits in this blog's history, and a good number of them were from the LDS church for the first time. They're on to us!

MoHoinTX "I actually loved the Church's article. Although I do not agree with everything, I am now more able to see where they are coming from."

Yeah. I know I was too harsh, and I tried to say what I appreciated. The frustration is in the mixed signals:

"The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women."

"any kind of hostility"

It would be hostile to LDS men and women and children to try to make LDS marriages illegal. But it's not to my family? It would be hostile to suggest (to my vast group of followers :-)) the LDS "erode" the "moral character" of their children. It would be hostile to misrepresent the data to make those claims seem secularly reasonable.

I understand that I'm in a particularly rare place to feel threatened here, but to say we should not be hostile in any way and then to go on to list the ways we can act hostile and call it something else, doesn't change the harm my family feels; it only changes the way other feel about their actions. It lets them feel good and loving about harming my home. This is the historical dark side of love, even the LDS have experienced when they faced much persecution, and it can be frustrating, even when I should probably just say thank you and forget it :-).

Anonymous said...

so the question is, did the authors intentionally provide misleading information and faulty logic (i guess along the lines of "it's better than one man must perish"/the ends justifies the means) or are they just not that smart?

MoHoHawaii said...


I think the press release being discussed here is not sincere. It's a category of speech known in political circles as "talking points." Talking points are not intended to constitute a coherent, or even factual, argument. Instead, they are "sticky" ideas that are easy to repeat and believe. Politicians (especially the right) use them all the time.

I usually try to stay away from the most cynical view of things, but in this case I think there's a fair amount of evidence that we're witnessing PR and not a contribution to an honest discussion.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I think it is combination of the two.

I have been amazed at how silly and stupid some of the things the church's PR dept puts out lately. I think that the church just doesn't realise how crazy their policies seem to those not under their sway. Also, I think that the church just really doesn't care about the individual, despite their claims. They care about keepig the masses in line, doctrinally, no matter whom it hurts.