Roundup: Prop 8 – Some Things Change, But Most Stay the Same


Proposition 8 has been declared unconstitutional, and that means the fight over same-sex marriage continues. While some use the controversy to broaden their horizons and grow from the experience, others will dig their heels in and refuse to budge. First, out of California, a story of a little bit of growth, from Religious Dispatches:

On the morning of Sunday, September 19, about ninety members of the Oakland, California stake (diocese) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with Elder Marlin K. Jensen, the Church’s historian and a prominent member of the General Authorities, the ranking hierarchy of Mormon leaders.

Stake President Dean Criddle had invited Jensen to the special meeting, advising him that many Mormon families in the area continued to feel hurt by the Church’s deep involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign. He hoped that Elder Jensen would be willing to hear their stories. Elder Jensen agreed.

During the one-hour meeting, thirteen gay and straight Mormons came to the microphone. Many expressed their love for the faith, as well as the profound pain caused by LDS Church actions towards gays and lesbians. Gay Mormons recalled years of prayer and fasting, attempted heterosexual marriages promising to “cure” them, and Church-prescribed aversion therapy. Gay and straight Mormons spoke of how their families and neighborhoods had been divided by the Yes on 8 campaign. And some expressed their anger over the Church’s leading role in a political campaign that gave California and the Mormon community a “license to hate” homosexuals.

There was sobbing. There were tears. Elder Jensen also shed tears as he listened and took notes to share with other General Authorities back in Salt Lake City. At the conclusion of the hour, he apologized for the pain he was witnessing.

According to attendee Carol Lynn Pearson, a Mormon author and long-time advocate of LGBT concerns, Elder Jensen said, “To the full extent of my capacity, I say that I am sorry . . . I know that many very good people have been deeply hurt, and I know that the Lord expects better of us.”

An apology. An apology from a General Authority. A rare thing—no, an exceedingly rare thing—in an institutional LDS culture that prefers to leave its historical missteps and mysteries quietly behind. It was not, to be sure, an apology for Proposition 8 itself. It was not a renunciation of Mormon doctrine on homosexuality. But it was a significant acknowledgment of the experience of gay Mormons and their allies, an instance of dialogue between Church leadership and membership. It was, in short, a reason for hope.

Meanwhile, ten states have filed amicus briefs in support of keeping the ban on marriage equality in California. From LA Weekly:

Yesterday, we mentioned how 10 terrified states — Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming — recently filed an amicus brief that supported Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban that’s been deemed unconstitutional in federal court and is now working its way through the appeals process.

Well, that legal maneuver shouldn’t be all that surprising if you take a look at those states’ “Equality Scorecard” rankings, which are provided by eQualityGiving.org, an online gay rights group. Out of a top rating of 6, none of those states score higher than a measly 2.5.

It’s no wonder that so many gay folks get the hell out of those states and move to California. Besides the sunny weather, this state has job protections, a hate crime law, and domestic partnerships that may soon give way to legal same-sex marriage. As one friend, who moved to West Hollywood from Michigan, recently told us: “I came here to be gay!”

Another amicus brief filed in support of the marriage ban came from a gaggle of right-wing organizations – many of them with “family” in their names. One has to question why they use that term, when they only want to advocate on behalf of one very specific type of family.

Thirty-one social conservative groups have joined the fight to keep California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

The groups have united against an August ruling that declared the ban unconstitutional and is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by its sponsor, ProtectMarriage.com, a coalition of social conservative groups that includes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the California Catholic Conference and various evangelical churches.

In the amicus brief filed Thursday, the groups argue that “initiatives promote the will of the people better than government solely by the elite.”

“The people may be wrong, as they often are,” the brief says. “The courts, too, may be wrong, as they often are. But this we know: Twice in eight years the people of California declared they want to keep marriage as it has been for time immemorial.”

Signing onto the brief are the Liberty Institute, Association of Maryland Families, California Family Council, Center for Arizona Policy, Citizens for Community Values, Cornerstone Action, Cornerstone Family Council, Delaware Family Policy Council, Family Action Council of Tennessee, the Family Foundation, the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, Family Policy Institute of Washington, Florida Family Policy Council, Georgia Family Council, Illinois Family Institute, Independence Law Center, Iowa Family Policy Center, Louisiana Family Forum Action, Massachusetts Family Institute, Michigan Family Forum, Minnesota Family Council, Missouri Family Policy Council, Montana Family Foundation, New Jersey Family First, New Jersey Family Policy Council, North Carolina Family Policy Council, Oklahoma Family Policy Council, Oregon Family Council, Palmetto Family Council, Pennsylvania Family Institute, Wisconsin Family Action and WyWatch Family Action.

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