I just thought I'd share a few informal thoughts on California's Proposition 8. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), it may be interesting for some of you to hear at least one member's perspective of this legislation.
It is important first to realize a few givens for members of the church:
First, we have a prophet and other leaders who not only lead the church, but like the prophets of old, receive revelation and inspiration on important issues. Our faith is a faith that is tried and true. For me, my church leaders have a 100% track record of success. Whenever I've followed their teachings, I have been happy. Whenever I have disregarded their teachings, I have suffered. So for me there is an implicit and inherent trust that comes with anything they say. I would not call this "blind faith". I call it a good track record. If I had stock market holdings this sure, I'd be a billionaire and I would not hesitate to put my money in their business.
That said, I begin with a personal view of the situation and then return to key positions of the church as church leaders have communicated with me--or at least as I have obtained information from church leaders through various sources, including the church website and its press release areas. My personal view is that our country is a fair place with equal opportunity for all. I feel that the most important thing about this issue is that couples of any sort who are committed to each other be able to have partnership rights equal to those found within marriage. I also feel that Proposition 8 does not address those rights as much as it addresses how "marriage" is defined. However, before this becomes a simple semantic issue, let me press on.
One major assumption in the church is that God created the heavens and the earth. We existed before the world was created. Indeed, God created our world so we could live on it and gain experiences that would enable us to be more like Him. With the world He created came various laws, all of which existed before the world was created and are now applied to this earth as we live our mortal lives here. God also created marriage, and we in the church are clearly told what God expects of us. To return to live with Him again, we should do all in our power to live in the marriage covenant that He created as good fathers and mothers.
In seeking to redefine marriage, then, to Mormons, it is as if humans are trying to redefine something very sacred that God Himself created, defined, and purposed. Our faith in the both scripture and living prophets inform us that we should do all in our power to keep the sacred things of God sacred.
I personally do not see this as a moral issue--at least I do not consider those who are/were against Proposition 8 to be immoral for that choice. I only see a threat to something that is perceived by us to be sacred and not only God-given, but God created and ordained.
Additionally, we have been taught as members of the church that the family is the fundamental unit of society. If the family crumbles, society will crumble with it. Indeed, in those places where we see families breaking down is exactly where many of our deepest societal problems exist. We feel that redefining marriage undermines the family's strength and position in society, therefore weakening it.
That said, the church's recent press release on the subject states:
"It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage Â— a union between a man and a woman.
Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong.Â The ChurchÂ’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.Â Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples 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 traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches."
On another personal note on a slightly different but related issue, I must say that I'm very proud of my oldest daughter. She was elected president of her school's Gay/Straight Alliance earlier this year. To me, she is a loving, tolerant person who sees as I do that people are defined in many ways and not just if they are gay or straight. I think of my own gay friends as managers, good sportsmen, great musicians, funny, charming, honest, introspective and many other things long before I think of them as being gay. I'm probably not even aware of the gayness of some of my friends. I really don't care. I'm really not sure how gayness seems to trump everything in people's minds.
One final note: More than 40 states in the United States have now voted to protect traditional marriage, either directly or through their elected representatives.
In 1995, church leaders published The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I encourage you to read it. It is very informative of where our assumptions lie with this issue. For an amazingly informative and in-depth discussion of the church's position on this matter, please see its artice "The Divine Institution of Marriage". It's rather lengthy, but it is well worth the read.
I'm sure that this issue is not dead, and I hope that all positions can come together in a civil manner to discuss how parity can fully exist in our amazing country.