Open Letter to Protesters of LDS Support of Prop 8

Dear Protesters,
It has been a frustrating week. You’re angry, maybe even irate. I understand. The courts recognized marriage as a right for same sex couples, and that right was lost in a close battle in the ballot box. Though Mormons make up a small amount of the total votes in favor of Prop 8, you hold them responsible for much of the fund-raising, canvassing, and phone-banking for the Yes on 8 campaign. Mormons seem like the easiest and most obvious targets for your anger. You have chosen to protest outside of Mormon temples and meetinghouses to express your anger, including petty vandalism, and to produce inflammatory commercials. I suggest that you seriously reconsider this doomed-to-failure strategy as accomplishing exactly the opposite goals that you intend.

It has been a long haul since Stonewall. Protests and marches have been a critical part of the gay liberation movement’s success. Though the courts have been an integral aspect of the movement’s strategy, public demonstrations remain a key element in consciousness raising and public relations. The problem in this instance is that protests only confirm the fears of the Yes on 8 vote.

I think that a major political miscalculation has been made by the No on 8 folks. While some, perhaps even a great deal, of the Yes on 8 vote can be reduced to homophobia or bigotry, the biggest reason for many religious groups’ opposition to same-sex marriage is the fear that they will eventually be forced to perform same-sex marriages in the future. This is quite likely an absurd fear, one not grounded in sound legal reasoning, but it is a sincerely-held concern. In this view, to vote in favor of same sex marriage is to vote against the future viability of religious freedom. Your job is to convince a majority of voters that this is not the case.

The problem with protesting Mormon places of worship is that it only substantiates these fears that homosexuals are out to destroy religious freedom. When you picket Mormon temples where marriages are performed, block the entrances, and yell at them as they prepare to worship, it seems to confirm the assumption that you are trying to tear down religious marriages and interfere with the free-exercise of religion. When you make inflammatory commercials, it raises the defensiveness of Mormons who have been vilified in American political life since their beginning. These actions are worse than ineffective in convincing the electorate to support gay marriage; they are actually extremely destructive to your cause. For years to come opponents of gay marriage will be able to point to the harassment of Mormons that has occurred over the last few weeks as definitive evidence that gay people oppose religion, seek to impose their marriages on religious institutions, and will choose to vilify religious people. This is a public relations disaster for you. Instead of being able to be the persecuted minority, you have begun to appear as the rabid haters of religion that many fear you to be.

I do not know who is organizing these protests, but I strongly urge any who will listen to stop and reconsider a cooperative approach that will ease the fears of religious people and institutions that same-sex marriage will infringe on religious liberty instead of enacting it.


[Added: This post is has some good coverage on the issue]
[Added: Some good news]

130 Replies to “Open Letter to Protesters of LDS Support of Prop 8”

  1. Also, why aren’t the more outraged at the black community? At least you can expect what most Mormons would vote. But the numbers are pretty staggering from African Americans who voted for Obama and Yes on 8.

    Oh, because that would be considered racism.

  2. Good letter. Good luck. Visitors to my blog had said exactly the opposite – that this has been a poorly managed PR disaster for the church. A visit to the LA temple yesterday was greeted again with a few dozen protesters, but they were gone when we came out – probably too hot. There is another protest scheduled for the Oakland temple today. Your logic is sound that this course be avoided, but the emotions are too high at this point for logic to prevail. We’ll watch and see. Will this all blow over soon? It doesn’t look like it.

  3. TT:

    I think that your open letter touches on a much-debated question about the efficacy of non-violent protest (note that I’m not arguing that the L.A. protests were entirely non-violent, any property damage and assault that occurred is entirely unacceptable). Your letter brought to mind another letter, from which I will include an excerpt:

    You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

    I understand that there are problems with the analogy, but I think it’s productive to talk about those points of dissimilarity to try to flesh out why protest is an effective tool in some situations and is not in others. I’m of the opinion that it is definitely more productive in some situations to be well-behaved, and that it is counterproductive in others. What makes this the former situation and not the latter?

  4. TT, thank you for this post. I agree with you that there are better ways for gays to obtain the rights they desire. I understand their frustration and their lack of faith that people will respond to a more cooperative approach as their efforts to do so have recently failed.

    I hope they will realize, however, that Mormons are not out to get them but are instead attempting to protect what is sacred to them.

  5. You may not know who’s organizing the protests, but we know who organized the Yes on 8 campaign.

    I agree with you that the success of that campaign was due largely to planting and exploiting absurd fears.

    Mormon money effectively changed the subject and painted my friends as threats to my children.

    If, after buying this victory, you now suddenly realize that you’ve bought more than you bargained for, that’s nobody’s problem but your own.

    You sealed the deal with the despicable campaign that your side decided they had to run in order to win.

    You won.


  6. what an ironic post. Look, according to numbers mormons gave 4 out of every 5 dollars given to prop 8 in some places as much as 98% ( You can’t be 80% of the financial support and then say “Hey look, you’re just unjustly picking on me!” That’s not right, nor is it honest.

    Further it is generally accepted even by the Prop 8 proponents that the prop would’ve failed without the mormon church.

    As to its effectiveness. A few things. The prop will pass it’s inevitable. 61% of those 18-29 were against it. Wait a few more years until more of the younger generation comes up and even the “OMG teh gays are coming for your children!” commercials will not scare enough people to vote against it. Further many people expected the prop to pass based on their faith in people’s open mindedness. They’ve now seen the machine they’re up against, you can bet they wont be so trusting, they’ll go the extra mile. Lastly they know that they will never get hardcore mormons to vote for them. Why coddle them? In their minds the mormons stole their right to get married as without the mormons it would not have passed not by a long shot. Essentially the mormon church funded a message that said, “buy yourself a walk-in closet there’ll be enough room for you and your partner in there.”

    I said from the beginning that the church’s involvement in prop 8 would bring bad things. You reap what you sow. The church took meticulous steps to treat a group of people differently under the constitution and deny them the ability to marry the one they love. Do you expect no backlash for this? Now the church is going to sit there and say “Don’t pick on me!” Oh, that’s rich. Very rich.

  7. ax, you might try reading TT’s post with an intent to comprehend it rather than assuming you know what it says before you start. It’s a serious analysis of the protestors’ strategy, not a whine about getting unfairly picked on.

  8. A great letter, TT. I agree with you. Even with the very best that the Mormons could possibly muster, the Prop passed by a very small margin. It can be undone in a few years, but it will be necessary to assuage the (irrational) fears of Yes on 8 voters to do so, and these protests are sending exactly the wrong signal.

  9. TT, I don’t agree with your desire to legalize gay marriage, but I do agree that these protests will be ineffective and will, as you say, only confirm Mormons’ worst fears. Catholics and evangelicals (much greater numbers than Mormons) are also likely to see these protests and wonder about their future religious freedoms.

  10. First of all, while I agree with the original post, I think that in terms of public relations the church’s actions were as counterproductive as the temple protesters’ actions are. I’m not making any judgment here on whether the church was right or wrong, just that if good PR was the goal the move wasn’t an effective one. (I strongly suspect that the goals didn’t have anything to do with PR.)

    To comment on what several people here have said, I’m all for trying to find common ground, to find a compromise, something that will be acceptable (even if not ideal) for everyone. So I appreciate many of the sentiments that have been expressed here.

    But what middle ground, what compromise, is there?

    In my opinion, the California situation before the state Supreme Court decision was the compromise. So that would mean that the current legal situation in California is the middle ground, the compromise.

    In the traditional sense of the term, no legal rights were taken away by last week’s vote. Same-sex couples still can get all the legal benefits and obligations of marriage — except for one, and that’s applying the word “marriage” to it. California had (and now that Prop 8 passed, has) one of the strongest civil-commitment laws in the country. Same-sex couples who form a civil union were and are legally entitled to do everything a two-sex married couple can do — buy property with an automatic right of survivorship, be responsible for end-of-life decisions of the partner, be the presumptive parents of any children that are born, pay taxes jointly and so on and so on. For all practical purposes, they are married — they just can’t apply the term “marriage” to the union in a legal sense.

    In my mind, that’s what can best be described as a compromise between the extremes of not allowing any sort of same-sex unions at all and of making such unions legally identical to marriage. If anything, it’s the opponents of public acceptance of homosexuality who are doing the most compromising, not those engaging in the protests.

    So if this middle ground isn’t acceptable, what would be?

  11. I had pretty much the same reaction to the decision to protest at Church properties– outdated strategy and counter-productive. And the call to boycott “Utah” is just silly.

    Whining, protesting, boycotting, playing the victim, demanding unearned public sanction (meaning that they haven’t yet convinced more than half of the voters in California of the correctness of their position) won’t get the job done. They are only doing a great job of looking like scary people.

  12. The problem with protesting Mormon places of worship is that it only substantiates these fears that homosexuals are out to destroy religious freedom. When you picket Mormon temples where marriages are performed, block the entrances, and yell at them as they prepare to worship, it seems to confirm the assumption that you are trying to tear down religious marriages and interfere with the free-exercise of religion.

    I had thought that was the result they wanted to create, and it has, somewhat, deflated a number of people who otherwise opposed Prop 8 within the LDS Church.

  13. I suggest the following for a better middle ground

    1) to improve civil union rights, not just in California but everywhere

    2) to call both heterosexual and homosexual unions – domestic partnerships or civil unions. to require everyone to go to the courthouse for legal rights. to let the legal and religious ceremonies stand completely independent from each other – such that you go to the courthouse and then to the temple, church, the beach, where-ever (like what is done in some European and Latin American countries).

    I think to repair PR, the church would need to be as actively involved in supporting those measures. To stand behind the words in their letter, that they support civil rights.

    Because I can understand the anger (am angry myself) that the church was so actively involved in the prop 8 campaign. It wasn’t just a letter that people were encouraged to think about and govern themselves – there was the general broadcast, talks, lessons, the prop-8-omonies (essentially campaigning over the pulpit), a call to give money and time, the feeling that people were ostracized if they didn’t contribute, that their faith and temple-standing was challenged, etc. You can’t negate these contributions.

    It is true in terms of votes, Mormons didn’t win the initiative but they did influence it. And it is hard for me to believe that our support of the measure was inspired – unless it is a step towards the middle ground, although it seems like there would have been better approaches. And while the current PR nightmare is horrific, I actually think the division in the church will have greater impact in the long-term.

    For now, I just wish the protests targeted all contributors equally (although I have heard other churches and groups are beginning to be targeted). That there would be some negotiation and that we could reach a quick resolution.

  14. Good points! I agree that the protesters’ actions, while no doubt letting off steam in the moment, may well be entirely counterproductive in the long run. Especially since the Church is loath to give any appearance of capitulating to political pressure, they’re almost bound to ossify in their resistance.

    But I also wonder whether the way the Church framed the issue in its campaign hasn’t contributed to the problem. The bulk of the Church’s stated objections to gay marriage centered not on gay marriage per se, but on the potential compromise of its own liberties: tax exemption, freedom to “shield” children from knowledge of gays, etc., with complete disregard for the specific language of the proposition. The Church’s message was, in essence, it’s either us or them: society can’t accommodate both of our needs. (As a side note, I still want to believe this is a false assumption.) But if church-goers picked up on this dichotomy, gay-rights activists were no less quick to see it. And, understandably, they’re voting for “them,” which in this framework can only be against “us.” It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  15. TT-

    Very well-put letter. The No on 8 people are merely confirming all the harmful prejudices some religious people have about gays and lesbians.

    However, I don’t know if I would agree with you about religious people’s fears that they will have to perform gay marriages. This is certainly the ONLY fear that religious people have. I would argue that many fear that homosexual marriage will lead to the dissolution of marriage itself. This is, I think, the primary reason for prop 8’s support by LDS church headquarters. I must admit, given the evidence that comes out of some European countries where gay marriage has been legal for some time, I myself am not entirely unconvinced.

    Another fear is that gay couples are not as good at parenting as homosexual couples. Again, this is not an grounless suspicion given the Proclamation to the Family’s statement that all children have the right to a father and a mother. Of course there is no empirical evidence to support this, but this is nevertheless a fear that will have to be at least somewhat addressed by the gay community in a way that does not seem like an attack on religious people or like an assertion that opponents of gay marriage are ignoramuses.

    Should it be the gay community’s job to educate others that gays are not deviant, unresponsible, oversexed maniacs eager to assault their religious sensibilities and convert them to homosexuality? Of course not. Common sense should be able to dop this itself. Nevertheless, violent protests, vandalism, name-calling, boycotts, etc. do not help the image homosexual activists have among many religious people.

  16. So, johdh, the “religious” people get to freely slander gays — everything you just admitted — and you expect the people so demonized won’t take offense? Really?

  17. Gordon B. Hinckley is surely rolling over in his grave. In 9 months Thomas Monson has unraveled years of work President Hinckley has done toward improving the church’s image and its position in society. Monson has made the church a laughing stock. Way to go, Tom.

  18. TT: Well thought out letter. Until those who were No on 8 recognize that the campaign for it wasn’t irrational, wasn’t based on fear but on well-founded legal principles and concerns, the result will continue to be the same.

    Kevin Barney: My old friend. My position pro 8 is neither irrational nor based on fear-mongering. I it demeaning and not a little condescending of you to assert that somehow all pro 8 support was irrational and relied on appeals to fear (as if the No on 8 somehow had a corner on rationality). Further, I find it interesting that 53% victory margin has been termed a “mandate” for Obama but somehow the same percentage for Prop 8 for you is merely a “small margin.” You ought to be a journalist. We were on different sides on this one. I trust that won’t affect our friendship.

    Finally, I believe that you and others overestimate the impact of the Church on African American and Hispanic voters. It wasn’t the conservative Republicans that pushed this one over, but these minorities who share a concern about the family and the well-being of marriage.

  19. So, johdh, the “religious” people get to freely slander gays — everything you just admitted — and you expect the people so demonized won’t take offense? Really?

    Not at all, but the way they choose to voice their objections will dramatically affect their success.

  20. “Until those who were No on 8 recognize that the campaign for it wasn’t irrational, wasn’t based on fear but on well-founded legal principles and concerns, the result will continue to be the same.”

    That might be a while. Much of the rhetoric was driven by fear. Both sides has been dirtied by this.


    Do not be a jerk.


    Once again, you have proven yourself to be the most brilliant commentator on this issue. I honor your wisdom and genius.

  21. I think there’s a basic misunderstanding here of what the California protests are trying to accomplish. The No on 8 people aren’t trying to convince Mormons (or the Religious Right in general) of anything. That’s hopeless from the start.

    I think the LA protest had two purposes, 1) to express anger and sadness over the outcome and 2) to politically marginalize Mormons among moderate Californians by painting us as bigoted hate-mongering outsiders who use our wealth to buy elections and impose our religious values on the people of California.

    So 1) is, obviously, mission accomplished. As for 2), I suppose that remains to be seen, but I am by no means convinced that protests are necessarily counterproductive.

  22. I don’t know, TT. Do you have any experience with movements? What is your background in activism?

    Advice is a dangerous business.

    If Martin Luther King or Mohandas Gandhi had listened to advice like yours then India would still be part of the empire and Jim Crow would be alive and well.

    When 2% of the population raise 80% of the money to take away your rights, you confront your abusers. Otherwise, you will never be able to assert your humanity.

    Don’t believe me. Read the works of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Saul Alinsky, César Chávez, or Mohandas Gandhi.

  23. Hellmut: I have read a great deal of what you have written on this issue and it remains empty rhetoric. Could you identify a single right, protection or privilege that was taken from gay people by passing Prop 8 except the “right” to call their union a “marriage”? I would like to see anything from you to support the absurd statement that 2% of the people raised 80% of the money. I’d like to see the rights you think were taken away and that don’t already and still exist under California’s broad domestic unions statutes.

    Are you so arrogant as to think you are the only to have read such works as you name? Do you really believe that you are so morally superior that you just waive the magic want of civil rights and miss the fact that there are very substantial differences like — oh, lets see — biology and the fact that gay relationships don’t generate children? That is why the New York Supreme Court — a liberal court if ever there was one — found that the differences between heterosexual marriage and gay are based on biology rather than invidious discrimination.

    You call the members of the Church “abusers,” and I believe such antics are mere bigoted name calling with no substance. I’m waiting for your response to any right, privilege or protection that was taken away. I’ll wait to hear back from you.

  24. Just a quick note to Hellmut and Nate W.:
    I think that the difference between these particular kinds of protests and those of the satyagraha or civil rights movements are that the latter tried to focus on their actual goals. I take it that the goals of most gay liberation activists are not to actually tax religious institutions or interfere with the free exercise of religion. If they are, then the religious groups like the Mormons have every right to try to self-protect and it proves that their fears were justified. But I suspect that this is not the case. This is no Salt March. This is no bus boycott. This is no Stonewall. By all means, protest! But, protest smart.

  25. Great post TT.

    The other thing to consider is that much of Mormonism’s self-image is constituted out of persecution. We’ve been in a short period of roughly two decades where we’ve faced little persecution and felt like we’d assimilated into American culture. I think there have been three events this year that shattered that. The first was the way Romney was treated by the east coast intellectual elites, the Evangelicals, and the mainstream media. The second was far too many confusing us and the FLDS or making snipes at the LDS over the FLDS events. The final was the treatment and attempt at marginalization over Prop-8. (I mean seriously – is the LDS view for better or worse really that different from most conservative faiths?)

    These attempts at marginalization and persecution simply play into the LDS self image. At best they might shock the young and recent converts. But while it may alienate some the majority it will simply reinforce their self-identity. There is a strong martyr complex among Mormons, bourn out of all the tales of persecution especially from the 19th century.

    As to the 80% figure, despite ABC reportedly reporting this figure I’m pretty skeptical. (The local ABC affiliate here isn’t exactly a blinding source of news) I’d like to see an objective basis for this figure.

  26. The way I see it is that the No on 8 movement put up signs in West Hollywood, Silverlake, Santa Monica…the places they least needed to reach. Preaching to the choir will not win any more votes.

    I saw the Yes on 8 people everywhere standing on corners getting their message out in many communities around Los Angeles.

    The No on 8 leaders lost this battle by being lazy. They should have been in Churches all over the State making their case.

    To me, Voting Yes on 8 was the greatest showing of weakness of faith I’ve ever seen. If gay people getting married poses a danger to your faith or your sanctity of marriage, then you really need to work on either your faith, your marriage or both and stay out of other peoples lives.

  27. @ Blake and GFE

    Calling them two different things, civil unions and marriage makes them SEPARATE (as you say).

    Since when is separate equal?

  28. The reaction by the opponents of 8 could certainly have been worse. Here is a segment from the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which shows the reaction to the light sentence awarded Dan White for the murder of George Moscone and Harvey White. In contrast, the aftermath of the Prop 8 vote has been pretty tame so far. Yes there have been a few isolated incidents of vandalism, and certainly widespread accusation and condemnation of the Mormon church’s role in the campaign, but for the most part, the protests express a general, continued determination to fight for equality and civil rights. With protests possibly as large as 25,000 strong, and more scheduled to take place nationwide, the message is, “This conversation is not over.”

  29. TT, insofar as the current protests are responses of a multitude of people, I am not sure if one can attribute intent to the protests.

    Most protesters probably share a sense of grievance against the LDS Church for raising the money that sustained the Yes campaign. Many protesters want to express their anger against their aggressors.

    There might also be a sense of tit for tat. It is important to extract a price for abuse. Otherwise, you will get abused over and over again.

    In that sense, the current protests are very much like Stonewall.

  30. “These attempts at marginalization and persecution simply play into the LDS self image. At best they might shock the young and recent converts. But while it may alienate some the majority it will simply reinforce their self-identity. There is a strong martyr complex among Mormons, bourn out of all the tales of persecution especially from the 19th century.”

    And… so what? Civil rights protesters in the ’60s weren’t out to change the minds of the guys with the police dogs and fire hoses, they were out to change what people thought about those guys and the cause those guys supported. The California protesters aren’t out to change Mormon minds. At this point, they couldn’t care less what Mormons think of them. They’re out to change people’s minds about Mormons and the cause Mormons support.

  31. Goodness gracious, Blake. I seem to have struck a raw nerve. I am not sure why you are so angry but it is not an indication of a deliberative mindset.

    In my experience as a community organizer and political scientist, TT’s advice happens to be wrong. You have to stand up to your abusers. Otherwise, you will be bullied over and over again.

    Of course, I might be wrong myself, which is why I invoked the authority of prominent organizers and philosophers whose approach contradicts TT’s claims.

    Thanks to the LDS Church, gays can no longer get married in California. Organized by our ecclesiastical leaders, Mormons spend over $22 million to eliminate marriage equality. The total is projected to be twice that amount if we could identify the religion of every donor.

    For documentation of my fund raising claims, check out the Mormons for 8 website, which contains detailed evidence. Be sure to read the analysis in the various blog entries.

    Clearly, the Mormon contributors thought denying marriage to gays was meaningful despite the availability of civil unions. In that regard, Mormon supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 appear to agree.

    May be, I am leaping to conclusions but my impression was that you consider it important that gays not be allowed to marry. My apologies if that is wrong.

    If I am correct about your preferences, it seems to me, that you too agree with the protesters that marriage is important.

    With respect to civil unions, Blake, the brethren oppose these as well, especially, if civil union is just like marriage. Since the state of California affords these protections to our gay children and neighbors against the express will of the brethren, the LDS Church cannot claim credit for the positive rights of gays.

    Therefore civil unions cannot absolve the LDS Church from responsibility for actions against gays.

    I agree with you that the state does have an interest in parenting. I would go a step further and observe that parents shoulder a burden that prevents them from competing on an even playing field in the market place. That may have policy implications with respect to the support that government and society shall extend to families with children.

    The fact that gays do not have children with each other poses no threat to anyone else. Therefore, it cannot justify the use of the coercive powers of the state to deny gays marriage equality or expose them to any other form of discrimination.

    By the way, there are thousands of gay parents who are doing a fine job. To date, every peer reviewed study on gender and parenting demonstrates that children raised by gays are well adjusted.

    I am afraid that your opinions do not withstand empirical inquiry. You fail to identify any detriment to the public that stems from marriage equality.

    Therefore, you cannot justify the resort to state coercion for the purpose of excluding of human beings who do not share your religion.

    Since the LDS Church and its members contributed more money than any other coalition member, supporters of marriage equality have identified the proper target for protest. If we use our churches in political campaigns then our infrastructure has been turned into political space.

    That was not the protesters’ choice. It was the Brethren’s choice when they agitated against marriage equality from the pulpit and when general authorities used membership data to raise campaign funds.

    I do not agree with you that we have the freedom to limit other people’s liberty. Your approach renders the concept of freedom absurd. Liberty cannot endure without the obligation to respect other people’s freedom even when we disagree with their behavior.

    Be that as it may, when you organize to voice your opinions then it is only natural that your opponents will counter mobilize.

    If you don’t want Mormon places of worship to be the target of protests then do not turn places of worship into sites of political action. As it is, we have no leg to stand on when we decry the intrusion of politics into our worship places.

    TT, of course, advances a different argument. He appeals to the self-interest of the protesters. He argues that the protesters would be better off if they did not hold rallies at Mormon buildings.

    In my opinion, TT’s analysis is incorrect because it violates Frederick Douglass’s dictum: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has. It never will.”

    If the protesters did not target the LDS Church than they would fail to confront their most effective abuser. May be, there is a smarter, more efficient, and more elegant way to deal with the Mormon abuse.

    Whatever it is, the protesters must direct a demand at the Mormon leadership if they are to have any prospect of success.

  32. Hellmut: Am I angry with you? Yeah, I believe that you’re promoting a position of intimidation and calling names like “abuser” when it is nothing but mindless rhetoric about loss of rights and abuse by the Church that is fictional. You make charges with nothing but trumped up indignation to back it up in my view. Here’s why:

    I offered a simple challenge to your charges of abuse and taking away rights: Identify a single privilege or protection that was somehow taken away by passing Proposition 8. Identity a single freedom that was truncated other than just not calling a ceremony a marriage. Your response confirms that you can’t and that there are no rights truncated and no substantive privileges or protections affected — end of story.

    You speak about “limits on freedom” and yet you cannot identify a single freedom that has been limited.

    No, it is your concept of “freedom” that is absurd because it is not merely empty of any content when it comes to what you claim was truncated, but your entire argument is that my voice and the voice of the church ought to be disenfranchised. Your arguments are empty of content but your rhetoric is inflammatory and aimed at silencing my voice. Yeah, I guess that kind of demagoguery make me miffed at you because it is deceptive and irresponsible — and it leads to people attacking temples and defacing them.

    I am not from California, but I certainly back Proposition 8 because I recognize the simple fact that has been enshrined in American jurisprudence since its foundation: the State has an interest in fostering heterosexual marriage because such marriages generate children. The State has an interest in protecting children as well. However, gay partners don’t generate children with each other.

    To the extent a gay person generates children through relations with the opposite sex (indicating he or she was not solely gay) the state has an interest in protecting those children — but not the gay relationship per se.

    I support civil unions to the extent necessary to stabilize gay relationships which much are more often promiscuous than hetero relationships (tho we have enough promiscuity to go around regardless of orientation). I support whatever can be done to mitigate the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that we all pay to treat. I support civil unions to the extent necessary to protect children from prior hetero relations. I don’t support gay unions for the sake of protecting that union per se because the state has no interest in it.

    However, if a civil union is just a marriage, as you appear to now concede, then your rhetoric is empty and rather mindless ranting. What is your gripe about taking away rights and ending liberties when nothing of substance has been taken or ended? (A fact that you implicitly acknowledge by failing to identify a single substantive privilege or protection?

    I’m not sure that all of the protesters have your same goal to silence opponents into not participating in this very important democratic issue, but your approach is militant and unacceptable. You can adopt Douglass’s dictum if you choose, but I certainly believe that such a scorched earth policy will leave you and those who adopt your approach with nothing of value. . . and it will galvanize those of us who see through your charges that have no content.

    There may be an abuser here, but it isn’t the Mormon church. It is rather folks like you who rant about rights being stripped when they aren’t and accusing as abusers those who disagree with you on a political issue.

  33. “However, if a civil union is just a marriage, as you appear to now concede, then your rhetoric is empty and rather mindless ranting.”

    If a civil union is just a marriage, why not call it a marriage?

    Besides, no one is stopping the Mormons from calling their kind of marriage “Super-duper extra-special children-helping no-gays-allowed holy marriage”.

  34. Morsecode: I suggest that your point may be well taken — let the Church call its marriages something like, oh, let’s see, “celestial marriage.” Oh, wait, it does! We didn’t even need your religious put-down to get there.

    If a civil union is protected to protect the union only civilly, then let’s call all civil ceremonies “civil ceremonies” since that is all that a civil government can really do.

    I’ve long advocated getting the state out of the marriage business because marriage is a religious rite and the state is mimicking those rites by performing look-alike civil ceremonies. Come to think of it, that creates an Establishment Clause issue as well.

    So let’s call civil unions “contracts for convenience” and let’s call what religions do “marriage” and let’s call what Mormons do “temple or celestial marriage.” But let’s also recognize that the state doesn’t have the same interests in protecting and promoting gay relationships that it has in promoting and protecting heterosexual relations which are essential to the perpetuation of society.

  35. I am not from California, but I certainly back Proposition 8

    As a Californian, I’m curious–did your support of Proposition 8 manifest itself in anything besides (oddly strident) postings on the internet? What role should non-residents play in the political process of other states?

  36. “I support civil unions to the extent necessary to stabilize gay relationships which much are more often promiscuous than hetero relationships (tho we have enough promiscuity to go around regardless of orientation). I support whatever can be done to mitigate the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that we all pay to treat.”

    This is the kind of anti-gay rhetoric that I miss. The kind that does not treat them as people or fellow citizens but as sexual deviants to be feared or social problems to be controlled. Too bad Jerry Fallwell is not here to lead the way.

  37. My thoughts on the issue, this thread has left me thinking, but my thoughts are not directly in response to the points already made, just thoughts that have popped up reading it.

    It seems to me no one has taken anything from SS Unions. The search to have the title “Marriage” on their union is a search for one thing: society’s acceptance of their union. It has nothing to do with rights, as they already have the same rights as Married folks with Civil Union laws. Again, the only issue is whether Society will place the title “Marriage” on their union. Society spoke, they voted “no, we do not, as a society, want that title on SSU.” Any description of what happened past that is complete hyperbole.

    Note this as well – The Church marched into this, now we are complaining because we are getting criticized. Put on your big boy pants, suck it up, and just ignore the protests and criticisms. IMHO, the activists have every right to protest at Churches, (no right to vandalize of other law breaking)toughen up. We come from Pioneer stock.. Quit crying at the least sign of discomfort. In this case it is social discomfort, not physical discomfort as our cultural forefathers endured.

    One more point, this may well be a positive for the Church in the long run, as there are many folks out there looking to return to traditional values, and perhaps our unyielding stand on this may well prompt them to check us out.

  38. Peter LLC: Why don’t you ask those who donated about 23% of the total donations to No on 8 who were not from California what the role of out-of-stater’s should be? I believe an out-of-stater’s job role on an issue that could come back to trump any other state’s laws through the Full Faith and Credit Clause to be one of persuasion.

    Chris H.: Facts are facts. The evidence supports gay promiscuity being much more frequent that heterosexual promiscuibty and also supports an epidemic of STDs. So it isn’t rhetoric but the real world. I don’t like it any more than you do, but our laws ought to respond to reality rather than a world that doesn’t exist.

  39. Interesting debate, but some of the responses stir a question I have seen a lot of in gay rights advocates. Gay rights advocates have the right to pursue having their values reflected in the laws of the land… that is true. However, when other groups like the Mormons, LDS, Christians, etc… seek to have their values reflected in the laws of the land, gay rights people say that is discriminatory and then villify those who oppose them. Religous people do not lose their right to pursue legislation just because they go to church.

  40. Chris H.: Your question is absurd. How does anything I have said lead you to your inane question in #48? Since it has been unconstitutional for at least 15 years since Lawrence v. Texas to criminalize gay sex among adults.

  41. Blake, no it is not an absurd question. Nevermind, everything you have said on this issue leads me to believe that you use the facts (selectively) and “reality” in a way that is scary (to marginalize the other).

  42. Chris H,

    I tend to agree that your question in #49 was an absurd one to ask Blake. Did you not read Blake’s #43? I further think your comment #45 was uncalled for entirely.

  43. Okay, maybe #49 was uncalled for. Though, I would be intererested in an answer.

    My comment #45 was dead on. I stand by it. I was actively involved in anti-gay activism when I was a right-winger in my early days. I recognize their shady tactics and Blake uses them better than anyone I have seen. These are arguments that are no longer accepted as valid in the social sciences or decent society in general. However, since Blake is so respected for his work in theology, we seem to give him extra deference on these issues.

    No one knows me personally, so it is easy to dismiss me. Since many of you go to conferences with Blake, you have to use kid gloves. I get it. No problem.

  44. I have a question, if gay marriage was established, could a church be sued for refusing to perform a gay marriage? Could it be considered discriminatory? I just want to get some facts before I comment….


  45. symspeak: No. There are countervailing First Amendment rights that preclude the government from forcing any religion to perform rites, including marriage.

    Nate W. Whoops. Good catch.

  46. Honestly, I am very torn by this subject. I have always been a believer in “live and let live” and as a follower of Christ I believe my only job here on this earth is to love, not to judge so if gay people want to get married, who am I to say no? I just want to make sure my rights won’t be infringed on either.

  47. Sym — Blake is correct. No church can be forced to marry anyone it doesn’t want to. If a church doesn’t want to marry people of color or non-Christians or people with blue eyes, whatever, it doesn’t have to.

    The only place where a legal question might come up would be if a church normally rented wedding facilities to all comers and then decided to discriminate in some way. (I’m talking about where the weddings would be performed by outside parties, not the church minister, and where the church isn’t implicitly giving its endorsement to the marriage.) Under public-accommodation laws, it would be conceivable that a church might be forced to have a nondiscrimination policy in terms of whom it rents facilities to.

    EMM asked:

    Calling them two different things, civil unions and marriage makes them SEPARATE (as you say).Since when is separate equal?

    In this case it’s a semantic issue. I remember when I used to work in a cannery and we’d put frozen corn in a Safeway bag for a while, and then later in the day we’d put the exact same type of corn in a Green Giant bag. Different or equal product? It depends on what you think is important. Many people are willing to pay more for the same thing in a different package; for others the package is inconsequential.

    And by the way, I have argued neither for nor against Prop 8. I just think it’s important for people to realize what was and wasn’t voted upon. It had nothing to do with substantive rights in the traditional sense, only the label given.

    Is that label in this case important? I honestly don’t know. But obviously folks on both sides are willing to spend millions of dollars in the belief that it is.

  48. symspeakyourmind, as Blake says, current jurisprudence would prevent it in the short term.

    But there’s no reason that the current jurisprudence can’t or won’t change in the long run. There’s no guarantee that future judges will respect the original intent or plain meaning of the applicable statutes, constitutional provisions, and case law.

    If there is a cultural sea change, judicial mores will eventually follow the trend. Generally, of course, no one can predict what cultural norms will be in fifty years. But when a prophet of God issues a warning, I think that counts for something.

  49. Very well said, and you are right. I voted against prop 8, but this protesting begins to make people re-consider their votes.

  50. Blake– seriously? you are going to start invoking promiscuity & std arguments now?!? listen honey, I’d tread carefully before you go down that road, for if you insist on dividing persons up by the sexuality and trying to adduce some grand conclusion about virtue and vice from # of partners and std rates, then it is *my* people who are going come out looking rosiest. Lesbians have far lower std rates than heterosexuals. Maybe its because were so freakin’ virtuous. Or maybe it’s because, things like HIV are, you know, a virus and the biology of it just works a certain way…
    chris H– keep at ’em. I’m making hard copies of all these conversations for posterity [you people WILL be remembered, right along with George Wallace] & while Blake has shown up repeatedly in my stacks of papers, this is the first time I’ve seen someone push his buttons enough to expose that he’s the sort who would resort to the tired old ‘promiscuity’ business.

  51. actual: Any data to back up your assertions? In any event, note that I limited it to gays — which I don’t take to be lesbians but males. Further, I believe that biology and physiology have a lot to do with STDs.

    Again, facts are facts. I guess I’m “just the sort” that notices facts and states them carefully when they’re relevant. Note also that I had the courage to use my real name.

  52. Blake, while a church may not be sued and found civilly liable for refusing to perform gay marriage, there may be other sanctions the state could bring to bear against a church whose practices besides marriage ceremonies violate what the courts determine are fundamental civil-rights.

    For instance, the Honor Code and housing practices at BYU could be a minefield if marriage were redefined to the extent that gay-rights activists wish. See, Bob Jones University v. U. S., 461 U.S. 574 (1983), 8-1 decision upholding IRS revocation of tax-exempt status of two schools whose practices were racially discriminatory. The Court held that “not all burdens on religion are unconstitutional.”

  53. Bull: I agree with you. In addition, any meeting place that is made available for public use or rent could also be required to open doors to homosexual weddings and functions.

    Actual: after reading your ill-considered responses to Kaimi and others at BCC I thought it might be useful to point out that your knee jerk reaction is also unjustified here. I am saying that promiscuity is a reason for the State to get involved in stabilizing relationships by offering domestic partnerships — it is not argument against state involvement in homosexual relationships.

  54. Bull Moose,
    Except that why would gay marriage be required to invoke Bob Jones to take away BYU’s exempt status? I agree that, if there is any church entity liable to lose tax-exempt status, it is the various BYUs, but I’m not sure how much the definition of “marriage” would bring to the table if the IRS decided to challenge BYU’s honor code policies.

  55. Blake,

    Facts are facts? Would you like to cite a reliable source for those facts. You saying they are fact over and over, does not convince me.

  56. Sam B., I’m not sure I understand what you are suggesting. That BYU’s Honor Code currently violates Bob Jones v. U.S.? I’d like to hear more of your thoughts about that.

    My thinking is that if you read the Bob Jones opinion, you’ll see that the Court focused not only on discriminatory admissions, but also discipline for interracial dating and marriage by expelling the “partners.”

    I don’t think that it’s a stretch to propose that if the same status that the Court extended to race as a protected class is extended to sexual orientation, that BYU’s Honor Code policy against “Homosexual conduct” indicating that “[a]ny level of sexual or similar misconduct at BYU is significant and may lead to a separation from the university” could be a target of the IRS in the same way Bob Jones University was.

    More specifically, the Honor Code targets “[h]omosexual behavior and/or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

  57. no Blake, I understood perfectly well. The point is not for what you are adducing “promiscuity” as a reason; the point is that your having adduced that as a reason shows something about your own character and presumptions; just as if I said “of course mormons should be allowed to vote; otherwise they’ll go all Jonestown on us” the fact that it is right that mormons should be allowed along with everyone else to vote wouldn’t be nearly so revealing as (on this hypothetical) the presumptions about mormons that I’m using to justify the conclusion about voting rights. You are revealing more about yourself than you think by adducing “promiscuity” in this context. [among other things, you are revealing that lesbians are invisible to you]

  58. as for using my real name– yeah, well, your people (mormon and/or right wing) have done a thorough job of making sure that most states, including the one in which I live, don’t have laws that protect against employment discrimination. Easy to be ‘courageous’ when you are already protected by such laws.

  59. Dear TT, did it ever occur to you that the reason Mormons are being targeted was that they funded over 70% of this proposition that went from 17 points behind in the polls to winning by 2 points? You own this mess now. Anyone who thinks that this is “anti-religious” sentiment, and not anti-Mormon-funding H8 sentiment is either hopeless dim, or simply hasn’t been paying attention. This letter was read in every single ward in California and it only got worse and more strident after this.
    That would be like a Catholic Bishop showing up at your doorstep and calmly proclaiming that they were there to tear up your marriage license or remove your children … nothing personal … just acting on the whim of the majority that we were able to get after spending at least 30 million dollars..

    Once Mormons understand that that is exactly what the did by funding prop H8, then you may be on the path to truly being part of the American Tapestry. Otherwise, I hear Iran and Saudi Arabia have great theocracies going, might want to check them out.

    The Pro-8 groups lied and blackmailed to get that slim majority. They lied when they said gay marriage would be taught in schools. There are laws on the books that prevent that. They lied when they said churches would lose their tax exempt status (The actual court ruling allowing gay marriage states that no church or representative of any church shall be compelled to perform any marriage that is against their own beliefs). This is already patently obvious. Roman Catholics, Buddhists, and Jews, etc can’t get married in a Mormon temple no matter how bad they want to without changing their religion. California law gives all parents the right to opt out when ever family, sexuality, or religion are taught in schools. It also protects any person from civil suits based on race, gender, national origin, religion, or sexuality. The blackmail letter that went out had has Mark Jansson’s, the Mormon representative on the Yes on 8 board’s signature on it.

    There is no single organizer of these protests, they generally are spontaneous groups of people who have felt so wronged and trampled upon that they finally kicked themselves out of their stupored slumber and sent them into the streets. You won’t stop seeing them until Prop H8 is repealed. For that, I am grateful

  60. Bull Moose,
    I’m suggesting pretty much what you say in comment 70 (I couldn’t remember if Bob Jones involved interracial dating or not, but was pretty sure it did). That is, under the precedent of Bob Jones, I don’t see what difference gay marriage would make if the IRS wanted to revoke BYU’s tax-exempt status. Without actually reading the Honor Code (or doing anything else that resembles research), I seem to remember that gay dating would probably not be approved. Ergo, you’ve got some similarities.

    That’s not to say I think BYU’s tax exemption should be revoked, or that I think there’s any chance at all that the IRS will target BYU in the near future. I am saying that Bob Jones wouldn’t cover the church qua church without a huge stretch.

    On point, though, I’m saying that I don’t think the existence or not of gay marriage would affect the IRS’s chance of success if it were to attempt to revoke BYU’s tax-exempt status; I think the no-gay-dating rule (if it exists) would probably get you there. (It’s worth noting that, even if my analysis were wrong, gay marriage is recognized in MA and CT, so CA’s ultimate decision wouldn’t have too much impact in any event.)

    I’m not saying anything at all normative; I do think that BYU would be suceptible to the IRS challenge, although I don’t think the challenge would be brought, if at all, in the foreseeable future.

  61. actualthoughanonlesbian,
    My people have done a good job of making sure there’s no employment discrimination protection for gays and lesbians? Where? I don’t recall the LDS church being involved in any such thing (I could be wrong, although I doubt it).

    Or is my people the extreme Christian Right? Because they’re not, frankly, my people. My people are Upper West Siders who largely voted for Obama (both in and out of the Church). Lumping me in with them is as absurd as my determining that gays are all bad people because of the asshole gay man who lived upstairs from me a couple years ago (which would require me somehow to ignore the wonderful couple in my current building who love my daughters and are always great to run into, as well as any number of others I know).

  62. Actual: Perhaps you could look at your own caricatures of what I said and look at the ad hominem you engage in before suggesting some neanderthal view on my part. I asked for data — predictably you gave none. I suggest that our laws ought to deal with reality — you apparently have a hard time with that. As Sam points out, your own words reveal far more bias and lumping together on your part than anything I have suggested.

  63. Sam B– answer to your question about the LDS is, minimally, I know the LDS was involved in such efforts in Utah, not so very long ago. [this stuff is easily google-able]

    but also, I was addressing Blake, who essentially accused me of being coward & claimed great courage for himself in 64 and has made his allegiance with the far right quite clear here as elsewhere. Frankly, I don’t recognize or remember your pseudonym well enough to make an assessment as to who are your people.

  64. Blake– YOU were the one who first made statistical assertions, and have thus far adduced no evidence for it. If I thought for a second that your views were the least bit sensitive to the evidence, I’d go find the links (which, ifyou actually really want to see them are readily available through the CDC ). But having watched you go back and forth with even insiders like ECS, I have no reason to think spending my time that way would in any way influence you.
    But I’ll tell you what– you offer links to non-right-wing; non-religious; and definitely non-lds sources that support the statistical generalizations with which YOU began, and I’ll go find those links about the low std rates among lesbians.

  65. Unlike Actual, I am not demanding that you live up to the demands of public reason. I just want something to back up the smears.

  66. Chris: If you’ll identify a smear I could respond, but I’m not aware of any. But let’s see, this ought to do it:

    • A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with five hundred or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners.[29]
    • In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101-500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than 1000 lifetime sexual partners.[30]
    • A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than 100 sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than 1,000 sexual partners.[31]
    • In his study of male homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, M. Pollak found that “few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.”[32]
    29. A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See alsoA. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).
    30. Paul Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.
    31. “Sex Survey Results,” Genre (October 1996), quoted in “Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners,” Lambda Report, January 1998, p. 20.
    32. M. Pollak, “Male Homosexuality,” in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.

    PROMISCUITY – A 1991 study of homosexual men in New York City revealed that the average number of lifetime sexual partners was 308. (Meyer-Balburg H. Exner, T.,Lorenz G., Gruen, R., Gorman, J, Ehrhardt, A (1991) Sexual Risk Behavior, Sexual Functioning and HIV-Disease Progression in Gay Men Journal of Sex Research. 28, 1: 3-27.)

    Clinicians Mattison and McWhirter studied 156 long-term homosexual relationships, but found that not one couple was able to maintain sexual fidelity for more than five years. Most maintained a monogamous relationship for less than one year. Homosexual theorists respond by redefining promiscuity as normal and healthy for homosexual men. (The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Schmidt, 1995)

    A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43% of white male homosexuals had sex with five hundred or more partners, with 28% having 1,000 or more sex partners. (A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981)
    Promiscuity among Homosexual Couples. Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage.
    • In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison report that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years:
    Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.[33]
    Most understood sexual relations outside the relationship to be the norm, and viewed adopting monogamous standards as an act of oppression.
    • In Male and Female Homosexuality, M. Saghir and E. Robins found that the average male homosexual live-in relationship lasts between two and three years.[34]
    • In their Journal of Sex Research study of the sexual practices of older homosexual men, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime.[35]
    33. David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 253.
    34. M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L. A. Peplau and H. Amaro, “Understanding Lesbian Relationships,” in Homosexuality: Social, Psychological, and Biological Issues, ed. J. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).
    35. Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile,” p. 354.
    • A nationally representative survey of 884 men and 1,288 women published in Journal of Sex Research found that 77 percent of married men and 88 percent of married women had remained faithful to their marriage vows.[37]
    • In The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, E. O. Laumann et al. conducted a national survey that found that 75 percent of husbands and 85 percent of wives never had sexual relations outside of marriage.[38]
    • A telephone survey conducted for Parade magazine of 1,049 adults selected to represent the demographic characteristics of the United States found that 81 percent of married men and 85 percent of married women reported that they had never violated their marriage vows.[39]
    While the rate of fidelity within marriage cited by these studies remains far from ideal, there is a magnum order of difference between the negligible lifetime fidelity rate cited for homosexuals and the 75 to 90 percent cited for married couples. This indicates that even “committed” homosexual relationships display a fundamental incapacity for the faithfulness and commitment that is axiomatic to the institution of marriage.
    36. Robert T. Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston:Little, Brown and Company, 1994).
    37. Michael W. Wiederman, “Extramarital Sex: Prevalence and Correlates in a National Survey,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 170.
    38. E. O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994 ), p. 217.
    39. M. Clements, “Sex in America Today: A New National Survey Reveals How our Attitudes are Changing,” Parade, August 7, 1994, pp. 4-6.

  67. It kills me how people cite (generally erroneous reports) of male promiscuity while arguing against gay marriage. Marriage has been proven to decrease promiscuity, debase STD’s and decrease AIDS. Fighting against gay marriage is fighting for an increase in HIV/AIDS. That cost’s you money in terms in higher health care premiums. Gay couples in stable relationships, recognized by the law, have much lower incidences of STDs (including HIV), as well as lower high risk behaviors like Motorcycle riding, extreme sports, and all kinds of other things likely to get you killed or sent to the ER.

    i.e. Gay marriage prevents death from all kinds of causes just like straight marriage does. Why would anyone fight against that, unless they want gay men to die.

  68. James, Blake was saying he affirmed the idea of the state encouraging stable monogamous relationships. You must be citing “other people”.

    I support civil unions to the extent necessary to stabilize gay relationships which much are more often promiscuous than hetero relationships (tho we have enough promiscuity to go around regardless of orientation). I support whatever can be done to mitigate the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that we all pay to treat.

  69. more later Blake (have work to do & not the advantage of cut & paste), but you can start to begin with on page 146 of The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, which summarizing the available literature says that “most lesbians have fewer sexual partners than other sexually active women” and (a few paragraphs later)”std risks are lower for lesbians”.
    Late tonight or tomorrow (when I come up for air from work), I’ll provide citations to the studies on the basis of which the Kinsey Institute made these remarks, as well as some other more recent ones. But start there.
    BTW: Chris H, I believe the “classic study” to which Blake refers in his cut and paste job is the old 1970 one. I don’t have the time to look it up at the moment, but if you do, that’d limit the work I’ll need to do later. [If it is the old 1970 one, you’ll find extensive discussion of the controversy surrounding it]

  70. I will do an more detailed analysis of those sources Tuesday afternoon. Time for FHE. At least one is the Lambda Report is an anti-gay newspaper. I should know I worked with its editor for a while.

  71. Actual: We can talk later about the unreliability of the Kinsey Report and its reporting techniques and methodology. I don’t find it persuasive in the least — just as you suggested.

  72. Wow. Lots of comments. I can’t keep up. So a few comments in reverse order:

    Chris (86) could you clarify what you see as the problem? The factuality of Blake’s claim about promiscuity or the idea that the state shouldn’t encourage the minimization of promiscuity? It seems to me that the state does have a compelling interest in reducing sex with multiple partners regardless of whether hetero or homosexual due to the problem of sexual diseases. I do agree though that the connotation when Blake makes those comments is quite unfortunate. It seems to me that there has been little effort by the state to encourage stable relationships and that some portray male homosexual relationships as promiscuous as a way of promoting negative stereotypes. Yet to the degree there is a higher rate of sexual unions it seems reasonable to believe this is due to (a) poor social acceptance of homosexuality (b) social effects on mental health (c) not seeing examples of stable relationships. It seems to me that homosexual activists are on strong ground advocating marriage here rather than unions simply because a union doesn’t carry the psychological connotation that a civil union does.

    Put an other way, if Blake’s argument is to be taken seriously then it would be a stronger argument for marriage rather than civil unions. It seems like Blake is trying to have it both ways and it simply doesn’t work.

    Not that I advocate a pure utilitarian ethics for State decisions the way Blake appears to. (i.e. I don’t think special rights for married people ought be given simply because it reduces promiscuity – speaking as once disgruntled single person who paid higher taxes from my married friends)

    Blake (81) I think there is compelling evidence that stable “monogamous” couples who are unmarried have similar problems. So, as I indicated above, this seems a compelling argument for marriage if one is looking at it on purely utilitarian grounds. I’d note that none of the statistics you quote look at the issue in terms of married gay couples. Now it’s understandable why. Even if you were to study people in states or in Europe where it is legal one could always come back and say it hasn’t been long enough to create the social changes necessary to make gay couples have a similar effect as hetero couples.

    Point being that you’re making an odd argument here. I think that the utilitarian argument is almost entirely favoring the gay marriage position.

    The bigger problem I have is with the State getting involved in what is ultimately a religious act (marriage) based on some utilitarian view of social engineering. That really frightens me. I know the reason it arose is due to the very different views of Church/State separation in the 19th century. But I wish we were enlightened enough to get rid of it now. Would we want to charge money for baptisms depending upon the group being baptized so as to produce some desired social change? Of course not. So why do some view marriage differently.

    Bull Moose (65) that’s an interesting question regarding using chapels for gay marriages. I don’t know what counts as “public.” I believe meeting halls are almost always only used for members. So I’m skeptical this is a legitimate worry. I’d want to see a more explicit argument here. In any case the obvious answer is for churches to not simply rent out there buildings in a non-religious way. I don’t see this as a problem.

  73. Clark: I don’t get where you’re coming from since I don’t disagree with anything you say. In fact, I’ve made similar arguments here and elsewhere.

  74. Blake, if you don’t disagree with what I say then why on earth did you say half the stuff you said? That is what is the relevance of promiscuity at all if you agree with me? My whole point is that if one invokes an utilitarian perspective then almost immediately gay marriage becomes very compelling. If that’s so and you are arguing against gay marriage then why bring up promiscuity which to me is beside the point?

  75. Wow. This will teach me to leave a thread unattended for a day. Let’s all agree that supposed homosexual promiscuity is neither relevant to the question of same-sex marriage, nor is it relevant to the topic of this post, and drop it. Let us also remember that “statistics” should not justify stereotypes and that there is no such thing as a “fact” without an interpretation.
    I seriously like to have my posts reflect a higher level of discussion and civility, so I’d like to ask all parties here to chill.

    James 73- if you sincerely think that these protests are a winning strategy, no one is going to stop you. I agree that no one should whine about them. The suggestion that I am offering is that this is a losing strategy which will not only further alienate an obviously powerful opponent (with whom not just the majority of Califonians agreed, but the vast majority of Americans), but undermines the most important message that same-sex marriage supporters want to send: that SSM is not incompatible with religious freedom. I think that you need to win this argument to win public opinion and that protesters are shooting themselves in the foot by proving that gays will come protesting at your churches unless you accept gay marriage. You’re going to have to win a significant percentage of the religious vote and this doesn’t seem to be a wise way of accomplishing that goal. I suggest a more productive campaign of working with churches, including the LDS church, to make sure that all of their concerns about religious liberty are met. You won’t win many who just don’t see SSM as moral, but you will definitely win those who only oppose SSM on the basis that they perceive it as a threat to religious freedom. Make your own bed.

  76. I could not agree less, TT. The religious fears about SSM amout to 1) lies, or 2)the supposition that some unknown thing will happen in the future.

    Let’s think about this clearly. Mormons right now can limit who gets married in the temple based on exactly the standards that Mormon set. Catholics can prevent divorced couples from having a Catholic wedding. Religious groups can freely discriminate in hiring in their religious institutions and jobs pertaining to such, in spite of the fact that the 14th amendment exists. Why is adding another group to those that get 14th amendment status going to change the equation? Answer, it isn’t.

    Besides, the point of the protests is not to change Mormon minds. It is to convince non-mormons (98% of the population of California) that they were decieved by a weird cult. In that, they may succeed.

  77. There are no valid religious liberty arguments. Look around. What are you really afraid of? When Mormons held off on granting Blacks the priesthood and, as a correlary, entry into temples, for roughly 10 years after the civil-rights movement the priesthood what happened? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Mormons religious liberty was not hindered. (It’s called 1st amendment rights, if you’re curious.) Not at all. However, non-religious institutions, such as College basketball teams, refused to play with them.

    Projecting into the future, waaaaaaay into the future, we can assume similar probs for Mormons in the future–that is, no Governmental problems, but others, non-governmentally, may choose not to associate with them.

  78. djinn,
    Actually, we agree on the likelihood of there being a legal conflict that would harm churches in a world of SSM. I wouldn’t call them “lies” because they are sincerely held beliefs that are not outside the realm of possibility, just extremely improbable. They are not intentional deception, though I don’t think they are legitimate concerns.
    Where we disagree is whether the strategy of stigmatizing Mormons is an effective path to winning public opinion. All you’re doing is proving the perception the very “lies” you suggest aren’t true are actually coming true before our eyes. The next time around Mormons won’t have to rely on hypothetical threats to religious liberty. Now they have real ones.

  79. Djinn:

    Worries and concerns, even if unfounded, are still obstacles that the gay rights folks have to deal with. This is a battle where perception matters a lot more than truth.

  80. Djinn, while I understand what you are saying I think the “some unknown thing will happen in the future” is a bit broad and often a valid concern. Consider the question of whether allowing SSM would lead to polygamy being legalized. Is that a lie or “some unknown thing” happening? Yet it seems a reasonable concern and indeed the typical arguments made by SSM proponents seem to fit polygamy.

    I don’t think the analogy of blacks and the priesthood holds. That’s because in this case there is an actual general rite being pushed. It would be an interesting question what would happen if colleges refused to play sports with BYU unless the LDS Church allowed religious gay marriages. I think that would cause a huge schism in the country since many religious people would be pretty offended by such acts. I think that many gay activists just don’t quite get how central to religious conservativism marriage essentialism is. (i.e. that it is one man and one woman) I can understand disagreeing but pretty much it’s universal to all faiths.

    Now if what you say is true and there is a parallel to civil rights (which I don’t think there is since there is a strong case for Blacks and the priesthood and interracial marriage in the historic record which there simply isn’t for gay marriage) then the logical implication is that all conservative religions should fight now to avoid the slippery slope so that gay marriage doesn’t become so mainstream such that other forms of pressure are brought on religions to force them to change their religion.

    Put an other way, just as Blake’s argument seems to actually lead to the other side’s conclusions so to do yours.

    Beyond that Djinn, I think the points TT and Nate raise are well made. Even if some of the concerns of religious believers are, as you suggest, ill founded, the best strategy for gay activists is to engage these ideas and show they are unfounded. Instead the strategy of far too many this week has been to play into the fears of the religious. Which, as TT noted in his original post isn’t exactly a winning strategy.

  81. Blacks couldn’t get married in the temple. The analogy is exact. I think the “fears” of the religious is just hatred of Gays — hence all the talk that it’s a “moral” argument, (i.e., gay sex = a very very very bad thing=they’re going to hell (if you’re evangelical), they’re, uh, immoral and bad and horrible as long as they actually have sex, if you’re mormon) is just a feint, and I don’t think any amount of conciliation will help, actually. C’mon — “Gays are out to get your children” was basically the argument that won the day in California. Not only a lie, but a damn lie.

    This is the purpose of the court system, to prevent the “tyranny of the majority,” in the famouos words of Alexis de Toqueville. It’s going to be settled by the court system, as have, as far as I can tell, just as every single issue of civil rights in this country has been.

    Plus, as Scalia, of all people, noted in a footnote in Lawrence v. Texas (the case that made gay sex a constitutional right) once gay sex is legal, so is gay marriage. There’s no getting around it under the 14th amendment. The problem with all of Blake’s arguments is that, well there are many problems, but the main one is that under “strict scrutiny,” the law, currently in CA, the answers he’s giving aren’t even asked. And as far as I can tell, “strict scrutiny” is the correct standard. As four (and maybe five) of the justices of the Supreme Court understand.

  82. Djinn, the reasoning for the two policies is completely different. But let me ask you – do you think gays should get married in the temple?

    The point I’m making is that if you see the two scenarios as the same then those who don’t ought look at your argument as entailing that SSM is a much graver threat than they thought. I’m not trying to convince you whether they are different. I’m merely pointing out that if you make that argument then logically those who think there is a difference ought be more worried not less about SSM.

  83. Djinn,

    I agree with your view of the role of the court (so, does Sandra Day O’Connor).

    I do think that you might be reading too much into Scalia’s comment. I think that he was making a slippery slope argument against the majority in Lawrence.

    It will be fun to see when this issue arrives before the US Supreme Court. I do not think that it will be for a few more years and it will likely start with cases about full faith and credit.

  84. Regarding “lies” I’d have to see examples since I confess I didn’t follow the prop-8 battle at all. So I’m largely ignorant of the ads used. Politics being politics I think both sides probably exaggerated a lot. I do think that for many religious people worries about what would be taught in schools about homosexual marriages is a big worry. I’m not at all convinced this law has much to do with that but the arguments are basically a slippery slope issue. Some find the slope more slippery than others. But I’m certainly not saying there weren’t misleading ads. (I found the anti-prop-8 ads I saw – especially the anti-Mormon one – fairly misleading as well)

    As for Blake’s arguments I agree they are unconvincing. (At least the ones made here – I’ve not followed his arguments elsewhere on the issue)

  85. Djinn,
    I’m sorry if you’ve lost faith in cooperation with moderate Christians including the LDS. Unfortunately, I think it is your only option.
    Given that teaching about gay marriage in schools, including the reading of _King and King_ specifically featured in the commercial is based on an actual episode in MA, and that gay-rights groups have filed amicus briefs arguing that this material should be taught, I’m not sure that it qualifies as either a “lie” or a “damned lie.” I agree that the fear is overblown, that teaching about same-sex couples is really independent of SSM, and I agree that there are compromises that can be made for those who don’t want this material taught to their children. The No on 8 campaign failed to convince enough CA voters that this isn’t a problem they should worry about.

    Again, I am not sure that marching on churches best conveys the message that gays are not out to attack religious freedom and that they don’t want to impose their values on the rest of society. If you reinscribe the “us vs. them” strategy of the Yes on 8 campaign of gays vs. religion, I believe you’re going to become an increasingly smaller “us” against an increasingly larger “them.”

  86. Djinn: I believe that you have no data to support your claim that the argument that “gays are out to get your children” was the argument that won the day. That children (at some grade level) will be taught that a gay lifestyle is normative seems to follow from legalizing gay marriage. But I agree with TT, the concern is overblown and the real issue is the nature of marriage per se.

    Clark: I admit that I don’t even know what your argument are supposed to be after having read them several times. Could you be any more vague?

  87. Parents can opt their children out of sex education in California. They can opt them out of frickin’ Spelling. So, Parents can keep their children from explicit discussions of, well, the sex education part. What they cannot keep their children from is the recognition that their kids are going to school with other children that have gay parents. That’s all that was taught in MA. Why is that so scary to you? It’s actually the truth. Some people do have two mothers or two fathers? Why should this get your panties in such a bunch?

  88. The commercials by the pro-8 people were all about children and the scary gays. Suck it up. Under the 14th amendment, gay marriage is normative.

    Look, marriage is really two things. The actual benefits we get from the government which are completely outside the bounds of religion, as they are given freely to all, be they mass-murderer, child abuser or saint, as long as their partner has an opposite set of genitals,

    and the Religious aspect, which is bestowed by the particular religious ceremony, completely separate from the governmental rights bestowed. Tax law is not religious. Get it?

  89. As to clarkgobles argument, of course, unless the Mormon church decides otherwise, gays should not be allowed to be married in the temple. But there are plenty of protections currently in place to prevent that from happening. Think about who currently gets married in the temple. The Mormon church gets to decide. It is extra-judicial. The Government never said that the Mormon Church had to let black people have temple marriages for that interim period between the civil rights movement, where race was recognized as a protected class subject to strict scrutiny, and when the Mormon church decided it was A-OK. What makes you think this is any different. Whe have an example of a class, under strict scrutiny, the very highest standard, blacks, not allowed to be married in the Mormon Church. Same for Gays. Relax.

    Catholics don’t have to marry divorced people. Churches get huuuuuge leeway. This is not going to change.

  90. Blake, you know me. I can always be more vague. (grin)

    I was referring to your comments in (41) where you said the following:

    I support civil unions to the extent necessary to stabilize gay relationships which much are more often promiscuous than hetero relationships (tho we have enough promiscuity to go around regardless of orientation). I support whatever can be done to mitigate the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that we all pay to treat. I support civil unions to the extent necessary to protect children from prior hetero relations. I don’t support gay unions for the sake of protecting that union per se because the state has no interest in it.

    This was after saying:

    …I recognize the simple fact that has been enshrined in American jurisprudence since its foundation: the State has an interest in fostering heterosexual marriage because such marriages generate children.

    Both arguments appear to justify government action for both marriage and civil unions in terms of utility. That is they are utilitarian arguments. My point is that if you take the utilitarian approach to justifying the law then marriage, not civil unions, appear to be the best solution for gays. That’s because the psychological effect of a marriage on sexuality is most likely greater than a civil union. The reason I think this? For one monogamous unmarried couples are less likely to be long term stable and faithful than those that are truly married. The symbolism has an effect.

    Now if one rejects utilitarianism as a guide for deciding marriage law then both the above arguments you made lose their validity.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  91. Djinn (109) note that I wasn’t making the legal case of whether gays should marry but the normative case. You mentioned the analogy as blacks and the priesthood. While I don’t think there is an analogy you do. You noted there that the problem wasn’t legal pressure but societal pressure. My point is that if religious people (and not just Mormons) believe you then there is a slipper slope argument. That is if gays have marriage recognized there will thereafter be social pressure to have gays marrying in the temple. Logically, for those who believe there isn’t a parallel, that means that one must act now to prevent normalization in the future which would lead to societal pressure on religion.

    Note that I’m not making this argument simply because I don’t think there is a parallel between the blacks issue and the gay issue. I’m merely pointing out that if one buys into this argument yet doesn’t accept gay marriage then one should logically oppose it in all forms now to avoid social normalization so as to avoid future religious persecution. That’s all.

    Once again I’ll repeat that I don’t think this correct. I’m merely pointing out the logical consequences of your argument.

  92. Djinn, I recognize there are both civil and religious aspects to marriage. What I’m advocating is separating the two. The example I gave earlier is apt. We’d be quite appalled if the state gave tax breaks to people getting baptized. Why? Because it is clear mixing of Church and State. Indeed, given European history, it was the basis for there being a Church and State separation. My point is that with marriage it’s merely a different religious rite that’s being promoted. That is the civil aspects come about because of the privileging of a religious behavior. It’s blurred simply because this was all taken for granted as being important back in the days when Protestantism was taken for granted in America.

    Now that we have a large plurality of religions and the controversy because of that plurality (i.e. traditional conservative views of marriage are no longer universal) then one ought get the State out of the religious business. It should never have been in the business but since everyone for the most part agreed on marriage and religion it was allowed (minus fringe groups in the 19th century like Mormons who were persecuted precisely for not falling into the Protestant view of marriage).

  93. Is there societal pressure to give smokers the right to marry in the temple? I don’t think so, yet smoking is legal. Is there societal pressure to give coffee drinkers the right to marry in the temple? I don’t think so, yet coffee drinking is not only legal, but close to universal, outside of Mormonism. Is there societal pressure to change the temple recommend rules? Is this even a point?

    Is there social pressure to force Catholics to wed divorced couples? Do they? No.

    I don’t understand why you think the slippery slope ends up with people you don’t like and don’t want in the temple.

    I agree with you totally about civil unions. Let’s do it like they do in Europe. And make it available for gay couples, too. But that seems further away than the current problem — we allow religions to marry people, but they have always been able to choose whom they will and will not marry. The problem with gay marriage is not that any given religion will be expected to do it, but that ***someone*** will.

    Your argument is that after having spent roughly 22 million dollars and probably more forwarded mails to make people believe scary gays are going to invade their sacred places, it’s now objectively true? Cool.

  94. Once again Djinn, note that I wasn’t making the argument since I think the argument is false. I was just bringing out the implications of the argument you were making. If you don’t think the argument holds now then that’s fine. I certainly agree.

  95. djinn,
    While I agree that even with legalized gay marriage, the chances that the Church would be required to perform gay marriage in the temple approaches zero, arguing smoker or coffee-drinker is not a good analogy. Smoker is clearly not a protected class, nor is coffee-drinker. Gay may be in some places, and presumably will become so widely in the near future. The ability to deny services to a protected class is much more circumscribed than the ability to deny services to a smoker.

    Which, I repeat, is not to say that churches would be required to perform gay marriage–I really really really doubt they would–only that the jump from “we can deny smokers” to “we can deny gays” is a big jump.

  96. djinn,
    I think that what you might be missing here is that this post is about the methods of conveying of the validity of your arguments, rather that the substance of them. I believe that you are right that gay marriage will not adversely affect churches. Is protesting at churches the best way to convince people of this truth?

  97. The whole discussion about whether or not churches might be compelled to marry someone counter to their teachings is a smoke screen that seems to be used more by the proponents of SSM to ridicule the concerns of their opponents. The issue that should be of concern to people that believe that homosexual acts are sin is future persecution by a society that has rejected the concept of sin in favor of some ideal of ‘tolerance’.

    Before anyone suggests that persecution of that nature does not happen in liberal western democracies need only look to the example of Canada. Human Rights Commissions in Canadian provinces, under the color of law, are persecuting and prosecuting religious leaders and private citizens for expressing their beliefs about marriage and sexual sin.Examples of cases over the last several years can be found at In the United States, we are already seeing attempts to drive people with conservative religious and moral views out of professions. Physicians being are being sued for refusing to perform procedures when the specific circumstances are morally objectionable to them. Pharmacists are being sued for refusing to sell drugs that they find morally objectionable. Academia, I think is next. The increasingly socially and politically liberal composition of the academy creates a hostile work environment for social and religious conservatives and will eventually result in the exclusion or dismissal of faculty that do not toe the party line. From there, other professions that are becoming dominated by ‘progressive’ thinkers will inevitably follow suit.

  98. Djinn, it’s funny you keep citing Scalia’s dissent to Lawrence as mandating gay marriage. The actual opinion stated that

    It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.

    Your insistence on taking up a yard when given an inch is exactly the kind of behavior that made people vote for Prop 8 in the first place.

  99. I misremembered, sorry, the portion of Reynolds vs. Texas in Scalia’s dissenting opinion is in the body of the case, viz.

    “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,” ante, at 6; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,” ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.”

  100. I didn’t intend to insist, I merely meant to note that Scalia, in Lawrence v. Texas, forsaw the next step. Viz. it “dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.” He’s right.

  101. TrevorM, this was the response I left on the blog that posted that video… was disturbing to watch…really….

    “Wow, I find this shocking…..but then again, maybe not…..I am a Christian but I have always felt it was my job to love, not to judge. I know I may get flamed by other Christians here but I feel if someone wants to make the choice to marry, they should have that right. I don’t believe in FORCING my Christian beliefs on anyone. In the same respect, I don’t want anyone FORCING their (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Scientology, etc) beliefs on me. Allowing gays to get married isn’t going to effect me or my children in any way. We are now living in a society where we need to educate our children on what homosexuality is. We aren’t in the 50’s anymore folks. It is out there. And I teach my children to treat EVERYONE with respect and to give Christian love, no matter what….because THAT is what Jesus taught…..he didn’t HATE on the tax collector or the prostitute! He LOVED them and that is what I am doing.

    Now, to comment on the video above, obviously there are some very raw feelings here but this is not promoting “the cause”. It is very shameful the treatment they gave that lady. It would be good to take a moment and put themselves in her shoes. If they were promoting their opposing views at a rally they wouldn’t want to treated like they treated that old woman. Unfortunately, there are small minded people out there that are watching you…..they now can justify their small minded thinking (ie. “look at that RABID gay man!” or “the gays are going crazy!” etc) based on what they saw because let’s face it, that one man in particular DID look rabid! When you are representing a “cause” it’s important to present yourself in a certain manner! Going nuts and being rude ISN’T going to HELP YOU! Don’t people realize that???”


  102. Protests incite social change, i.e. civil rights movement. To argue that the protests only incite more fear and therefore are damaging to the gay rights campaign ignores the benefit of protests for increasing visibility of the issues, especially the issue of a rich church spending a lot of money politically to limit the civil rights of an entire group because of religious belief. The job of the LGBT community is not, as the author of this article suggests, to persuade bigoted religious zealots to accept LGBT lifestyle by pandering and silence and somehow win a majority vote allowing their equal treatment. Rather, it is to increase LGBT visibility and insist on the protection of law by court involvement. No doubt racist whites argued that black protests only confirmed their racist fears. Ridiculous. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  103. I agree Sarah R. but wouldn’t you agree that what we saw in the video clip posted wasn’t just a “protest”. It went well beyond that. You are correct saying protests will bring about change, but what we saw in that clip was harassment, intimidation (did you see the SIZE of that guy?) and a violation of HER rights to protest as well. The issue that I have with it is it’s ok for those people to protest but it wasn’t ok for HER to protest. It’s a double standard. It is saying “Listen to ME because this is what I want but don’t DARE disagree or I am going to physically intimidate you, get in your face and scream, prevent you from speaking YOUR opinion to the media and destroy your cross/sign/banner/whatever.” THAT is the thing that rubs me the wrong way…..Frankly, that woman had a good reason to be afraid, very afraid…..Hell, I was frightened for her…


  104. Sarah,
    Courts don’t evaluate protests; they evaluate legal arguments, and despite the pending legal actions against Prop 8, the courts have no authority to overturn a constitutional amendment.
    I think that your characterization of all people who voted Yes on 8 as “bigoted religious zealots” is a perfect example of the problem here, as is the threat to “be very afraid.” All you need is to persuade 2.6% of the CA electorate to amend the constitution again. I’m afraid that that number will become increasingly elusive unless No on 8 supporters try to gain public sympathy with winning arguments instead of trying to get religious/charitable institutions taxed.
    I agree that there is a sizeable group of people that you won’t be able to persuade, but those aren’t the people I have suggested that you try to persuade. I am not sure that this kind of polarizing language and threats are effective protest strategies.
    I have never suggested that protests are not useful. In fact, I identified them as a “critical part of the gay liberation movement” in the original post. I have never even suggested that protests of Prop 8 were unwarranted. (It is important to note as a matter of fact that not all protests can be universally considered ‘good’ just because they are protests). Rather, I have argued that protesting at churches is counterproductive since it alienates precisely those that you need to persuade by threatening institutions that you don’t really intend to change anyway. All that you do is push moderates away by radicalizing the public image of gay marriage.

  105. I don’t think the protests are meant to change the hearts and minds of the members of the churches being protested. I think the purpose it to marginalize the churches and their members.

  106. My sources don’t say the Church (er, sorry, members of the church) gave 80% of the money.

    They gave 40%

    Still, that’s a majority of the money – and that is what the people are protesting. We bankrolled it. It is plausible to say that without our efforts, this proposition likely would have failed.

    It was preached over the pulpit, individuals were encouraged specifically to give to the cause, etc. We were the giants behind the effort. If those who donated and worked tirelessly believe in it, then those same people need to stand up instead of saying “hey, go after the black people, the Catholics, the Evangelicals.” You expressed your right to your opinion, and these people are expressing theirs in kind – to the ones with the greatest influence.

    That doesn’t mean we should take the insults and the violence in any degree. That is absolutely counter-productive and needed to stop yesterday. I’ve a friend who is a very active member of Affirmation who attends these protests, and he’s been calling for more civil, peaceful protests regarding the religious community.

    But if we truly believe these people are “good” people and we love them, then we owe them the respect of hearing them out, letting them be angry at us for a spell.

    All of that said: This was a refreshing post to read, and I’m glad I ran into it. I don’t think anyone’s thought of this angle, this particular reason to steer clear of the temples and churches.

    But here’s the thing: even if it didn’t threaten religious freedom (in their eyes), it would still threaten the “sanctity” of marriage, change the very definition. That’s the core problem for much of the LDS. The supposed attack on religious freedom was just a convenient little side note.

    The gay community is not out to get us. They’re angry because we, the religious community, seem to be out to get them. They don’t feel as if they’ve been heard. I tend to agree. But that doesn’t downplay the childishness of some of the protests. That needs to stop, needs to be fixed. That can only happen with communication and a bit of understanding on both ends.

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