Saturday, August 15, 2009

AP: Mormon fight against gay marriage has damaged the church

An article today via the Associated Press is expressing the idea that the Mormon church's fight against gay marriage, particularly its role in the successful passage of Proposition 8 in California last year, has extremely damaged the church by putting it at odds with many of its own members:

Last year at the urging of church leaders, Mormons donated tens of millions of dollars to the "Yes on 8" campaign and were among the most vigorous volunteers. The institutional church gave nearly $190,000 to the campaign — contributions now being investigated by California's Fair Political Practices Commission.

After the vote, many gay rights advocates turned their anger toward the church in protests and marches outside temples that singled out Mormons as the key culprits in restricting the rights of gay couples.

That constituted a setback for the faith, argued Jan Shipps, a professor of religious history and a Mormon expert from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

. . . Church representatives don't discuss public relations strategies or challenges publicly, but at a semiannual conference in April, church President Thomas S. Monson seemed to be clearly feeling a post-Prop. 8 sting.

In an era of "shifting moral footings," Monson said, "those who attempt to safeguard those footings are often ridiculed, picketed and persecuted."

That argument doesn't wash for Linda Stay, whose ancestors were early Mormon converts. Stay said she was doubly transformed by Prop. 8. She and her husband, Steve, finally quit the church — along with 18 other family members and a few close friends — and became gay right activists.

The St. George woman's family, which includes two gay children, will play a central role in a documentary film, "8: The Mormon Proposition" currently in production. Stay's son, Tyler Barrick, married his boyfriend in San Francisco on June 17, 2008, the first day gay marriage was legal in California.

The entire article is here and is an excellent read.

Personally, I can't say that I feel sorry the Mormon church. Ethically and legally, it had every right to interject itself into the Proposition 8 battle.

It's obvious that the church didn't think that it would have to deal with a backlash. But with all things you do, there are consequences. And when you move to take rights away from people (especially solely on the grounds of your religious beliefs), you really should expect a backlash.

In short, the Mormon church is getting what it deserves.

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From the Archives: Message to the religious right

My most popular post of all time was written in the aftermath of California passing the anti-gay Proposition 8:

I keep hearing all of this nonsense about us lgbts attacking people, about us using intimidation and violence to oppress people, about us somehow being ugly aggressors.

Newt Gingrich (who wrote the book on deceptive messaging during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives) actually accused us of being "secular fascists."

Gingrich's attack on us seem to be the prevailing theme with those on the other side of the Proposition 8 argument.

And I think there needs to be some historical perspective on this matter.

True, Proposition 8 has galvanized our community. We have become a bit more politically engaged in our anger. That is a good thing.

However, any display of violence on either side of the argument should never be tolerated.

Nor should letting the religious right frame the moment.

I have a few questions to people like Newt Gingrich, Bill O’Reilly, Chuck Norris, Gary Bauer, Peter LaBarbera and the rest who are trying to push this "gay intimidation" image.

Where were you in the late 1970s when Anita Bryant accused us of trying to “recruit” children?

Where were you in 1983 when Paul Cameron accused gay men of stuffing gerbils up our rectums and castrating children? Or afterwards when he went from state to state pushing his phony research papers all designed to make us the boogiemen of American society?

Where were you when Jerry Falwell exploited the AIDS crisis to generate more money for the Moral Majority? Or when those dying of AIDS were cast out of their communities and excommunicated from their churches?

Where were you when Colorado passed that law in 1992 that basically said cities in the state had absolutely no right to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination?

Where were you when over the course of 20 years all of those phony “pro-family” groups told lies in front of federal and congressional state houses in attempts to beat back pro-gay laws or spread discredited research that gave “upstanding, moral” families the perfect excuse to put their gay sons and daughters out on the cold streets?

Where were you when organizations like Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition, and Focus on the Family unconsciously gave reasoning for groups of roaming thugs to bash our heads in, chase us out in heavy traffic, beat us to bloody pulps with nail embedded boards, and hang us from fences on dark and lonely roads?

How is it that you can dare call us aggressive when for over 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make America hate and fear us?

How it is that you can dare infer that we don't have a right to get just a tad angry when for over 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make us hate and fear ourselves?

Every lie, every indignity, every attempt to dehumanize the lgbt community has brought us to this point. The Proposition 8 vote was the last straw in a chain of indignities that stretch as long as Jacob's ladder.

This ain’t just about marriage. Nor is this a single moment in time.

We are not the aggressors. We are learning to fight back.

When I was coming out, it wasn’t the fact that I was gay that bothered me more than the knowledge that so many had already written my life for me; told me who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t like, and even where I was going after I died.

Worst of all, they had the nerve to tell me that I had absolutely no rights to the words "values," "family," "tradition," or "honor."

And you know what the saddest thing about this is? I was not alone. Hundreds of thousands of lgbts went through the same experience. It was our "rite of passage."

So while I may not have a media spin machine behind me and therefore very few will give a damn about what I say, while I may not be a member of a religious think tank who is presently working to use this moment to again dehumanize lgbts, and while I may not be considered as a "leading gay talking head," I am an American, a human being, and a child of God.

Therefore, I will never forget what has brought me to this point of outrage.

And I will do my best to make sure that this country never forgets either.

Lastly, I will do my best to make sure that YOU never forget.

As an added bonus, click on to the original post and read the 100+ comments of agreements, disagreements, and downright insults this post garnered.

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