Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lessons Learned: Fear, Tyranny and a Reason to Hope

I had hoped that my post election day entry would be one of triumph and celebration. But alas, we lost. And even though I am excited about Obama's victory, it feels a bit hollow to me. It is so ironic that on the same day we elected our first black president, many states in our country also voted to eliminate the civil rights of gay people, effectively relegating them to the "back of the bus". Obama's election was a huge step forward. But as a nation, we have taken two steps back.

These last couple of weeks have been quite interesting, and I've learned a great deal. On the personal side, I've learned that it feels good to take a stand and speak out. I've learned that there are many people--both in and out of religion--who think like I do. And I've learned that there are many who think I'm on Satan's payroll. I've also learned that you cannot argue with people who believe God is on their side. God is the trump card and logic doesn't stand a chance.

But perhaps the most important thing I've learned is the truth behind FDR's statement: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." As I reflect on how Prop 8 went from being significantly behind in the polls only a couple of months ago to a win on Tuesday, it's clear that it was due to a well orchestrated campaign to propagate fear (that and quite a bit of money). Bertrand Russell said, “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” The strategist behind Prop 8's ad campaign obviously understood this all too well. I keep thinking about the civil rights movement in the 60s and the fear-inducing rhetoric that its opponents spewed forth. A local Memphis paper reported that MLK's famous "I Am A Man" march brought "unleashed animalistic destruction" from "Africa's bush country" to Memphis. It seems crazy 50 years later, but consider what an organization called the Traditional Values Coalition states on their website: that the real agenda behind same-sex marriage is to find "a way of destroying the concept of marriage altogether-and of introducing polygamy and polyamory (group sex) as 'families'". It's no wonder people are so afraid...that even scares me!! I feel confident that had Prop 8 been defeated, in five years we would have looked back and seen how unsubstantiated these fears were. Field trips to same-sex weddings would not have become mandatory; churches would not have been forced to marry gay people; and (addressing what is probably the biggest fear) kids would not start "turning" gay in record numbers. While there may be valid reasons to resist social change, I just don't believe fear is one of them.

Another lesson I've learned is that, at least in the state of California, it is possible for the "tyranny of the majority" to go unchecked. Because Prop 8 was put on the ballot as an amendment to the constitution, the state supreme court cannot overturn it. John Stuart Mill's famous essay on liberty talks about the "tyranny of the majority" and the threat that it poses to our freedom:

"Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them."

I would ask then, what is protecting us from the tyranny of the current "prevailing opinion and feeling" that gay people are not entitled to the same rights as the rest of us? I thought it was the CA Supreme Court. I am confounded by the fact that our constitution was amended with only 52% of the vote. Just because the majority thinks something is right, doesn't make it so, and there are countless examples in history to prove it. Hitler's tyrannical regime is the first to come to mind. He was elected by the majority...and then he went on to kill six million jews with their support. Californians may not be killing gays, but they are stripping away their constitutional rights and destroying their families. If this isn't tyranny, I don't know what is.

And finally, there is a reason to hope. Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” There is evidence the dawn is coming. I find it hopeful that in only eight years, we gained so much ground, seeing opposition to the proposition rise from 38% to 48%. But the thing that gives me the most hope is the generation of middle and high school kids who are just a few short years away from being able to vote. On Tuesday, we were working the polling place at University High, a large, diverse school in West LA. When school let out for the day, we were quickly enveloped by a swarm of teenagers, begging us for stickers and signs. Studies have shown that these "generation nexters" feel that homosexuality is a way of life and should be accepted by society. In other words, fighting to keep two gay people from marrying each other is not going to be on their list of priorities. I have heard people refer to this generation as nothing more than entitled, self-serving, thrill-seekers who thrive on praise and instant gratification. That may be true. But they also don't see the world as black and white, gay or straight. Entitled? Maybe. Enlightened? Absolutely!

When I created this blog, I knew I was sticking my neck out by circulating it among my many conservative, Christian friends. I tried to dissent respectfully to those in favor of Prop 8 without bashing religion. But I wanted to leave no doubt that I was clearly on the side of social justice and equality for all. Hopefully, I succeeded on both counts.

I love this quote by Martin Niemoeller, a prominent, German, anti-nazi theologian: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

In 2008, when they came for the gays, this straight girl spoke out. And she won't be shutting up any time soon...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Prop 8...Protecting Families?

Thank goodness for Barbara Young, wife of former NFL quarterback Steve Young. She recently came out in opposition to Prop 8 saying, "We believe ALL families matter and we do not believe in discrimination, therefore, our family will vote against Prop 8."

I agree. All families do matter. I have been troubled throughout this debate by the argument from opponents of same-sex marriage that this is all about protecting children and preserving the traditional family structure. Several of my friends have cited a report that came out of France. Apparently, they rejected same-sex marriage on the basis that “the best interests of children must prevail over adult freedoms…even including the lifestyle choices of parents.” The report goes on to say, "It is essential that the male-female nature of marriage be preserved. This corresponds to a biological reality that same-sex couples are naturally infertile, and to an imperative, that of helping the child develop his/her identity as necessarily coming from the union of a man and a woman.” Here's what else the report recommended: denying homosexuals the right to adopt or to have physician-assisted fertility treatments such as artificial insemination or IVF. Fortunately, the French lawmakers rejected those conditions.

For the sake of this argument, let's suppose that it truly is better for a child to be raised by two heterosexual parents (although there are plenty of studies to the contrary). So, how is eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry going to decrease the number of children being raised by homosexual parents? IT ISN'T!! Same-sex couples will continue to adopt, and undergo artificial insemination and IVF in order to have their own families. But taking away the right of same-sex couples to legally marry does relegate those families to second-class status. Is this in the best interest of THOSE children? I don't think so. In an LA Times Op/Ed, Jonathan Rauch wrote, "For children, no other arrangement matches the security and stability afforded by married parents, because no other arrangement confers comparable status and social support. If they could cast ballots, how many of the more than 50,000 children being raised in California's same-sex households would vote to deprive themselves of married parents?"

Now back to the French. Even though I think their report was off base, at least it had teeth. I mean, if you really believe that children have a right to be raised in a home with two married, heterosexual parents, then you'd better also make sure that homosexuals don't adopt or procreate. I'd even take it a step must outlaw procreation or adoption by single, straight parents or heterosexual couples who are living together outside of the bonds of wedlock. And if straight parents divorce? Well, their children should be immediately reassigned to another family whose parents are still married.

Do you really want it written into the constitution what defines a family? I guess to those in favor of Prop 8, the answer is "yes" because it supports their view of what a family should be. But it's a very slippery slope. There are many who would say that with global warming and overpopulation putting the existence of our planet in jeopardy, limiting the number of children a couple can have is essential for our survival as a species. There could come a day when people want to define a family as no more than two children. If Prop 8 passes and we set a precedent that it's okay to take away fundamental rights, you'll have no room to complain when you find yourself on the other end.

Lola Van Wagenen, a Mormon historian, wrote in a recent LA Times Op/Ed, "Our polygamous ancestors were accused of being incapable of providing loving homes for their children. Who knows better than we do that this was untrue? Who can deny that our "nontraditional" ancestors left a heritage of hardworking, high-achieving progeny. And yet the fallacy that "nontraditional" marriages erode and destroy family values is one of the main attacks being used against gay and lesbian couples by LDS proponents of Proposition 8."

Prop 8 is "one size fits all" legislation that elevates the traditional family above the many other types of families that exist today. This is 2008. Children do not need to be "protected" from loving, same-sex parents. What they need to be protected from is a general populous that finds it acceptable to write discrimination into our constitution.

Guest Blogger: Chris Crans on the Nature of Fear and the Fear of Nature

Initially, I didn’t care about Prop 8. Practical, real rights are more important than the dictionary entry for a silly word. Our language is too fluid to nail down with a constitutional amendment. But a Google search of Prop 8 brought up a host of pro-8 sites that troubled and surprised me. It IS about a word. And that word is “fear.”

Like Robert (who wrote a beautiful and heartbreaking post on this blog), I shared my adolescence with Mollie in yuppie, conservative, suburban Texas. We met at the Mormon Church. I served a Mormon mission in France and graduated from BYU.

20 years later, I finally made friends with the tidal wave of biological and/or societal forces that make up a large part of who I am—forces that terrified me because I could not control them and because they clashed violently with my religious paradigm and my world view. I had been taught to fear and distrust NATURE because it “is an enemy to God.”

There are battles we can win and needn’t fear fighting—for we must, to some degree, be the masters of our own destinies—but there are those other wars that merely drain our resources and have no end.

My recent departure from Mormonism leaves me with a clear memory of how I argued that side. I was an ambitious and zealous missionary, eager to convert thousands of French people to Mormonism. I stopped people in the streets every day for two years. I cornered people on busses. I stood on street corners and sang hymns and cried repentance. I made a complete fool of myself with total abandon. The more I did crazy stuff, the more I was convinced I was right. (There is a lesson in that somewhere.)

More recently, I argued against homosexuality with the same vigor. I remember secretly thinking I was an authority on the subject, because I struggled with it, but was obedient—an example of righteous celibacy. “If Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son’s life on the altar of obedience, then I should be prepared to sacrifice MY life on the altar of loneliness.” I believed we couldn’t, as a nation, allow gay marriage or ANY gay rights, because future generations would grow up with a normalized view of homosexuality, and be more likely to consider it a viable option.

This, of course, exposes the deeper, unspoken agenda, and the ESSENCE OF PROP 8: a wish for the institutionalized marginalization of homosexuality—a prayer that society send a warning, loud and clear: it is NOT ok to be gay; it is NOT a viable option; you WILL be ostracized; and your rights WILL be restricted. I do believe that many Christian religions harbor this rotten and vile wish while holding their noses—aware, on some level, of the un-Christlike and hypocritical nature—not to mention futility—of the wish.

If you take comfort, as Mormons do, in the notion that God put ALL of us here on Earth with the SAME eternal purpose, which is essentially to get married to the opposite sex and procreate as heterosexual gods throughout eternity, then you MUST view homosexuality as doing violence to God’s plan. It is a plague that potentially threatens every spirit God sends to Earth. I don’t envy the Mormon position. They want to love everyone—I know they do. But you cannot love someone while fearing they are the plague! It’s not possible. And in an increasingly chaotic world, one can’t risk embracing an idea that jeopardizes the whole plan—a plan that is so soothing and secure!

All this is to say that the heart of the conflict is fear—terror, even. These ARE scary times. After terrorists attacked MY city on 9/11, I woke up crying every morning for weeks. I was dependant on the morning news to be sure I was safe. I’m still like that. My “spiritual” response to this new insecurity was … informative. I made a little, portable, laminated “shrine,” with pictures of the WTC, firefighters (who became my heroes), and my newly composed, personal creed, wherein I pledged to pray ALWAYS and to keep God as my constant, best friend. My silly response to the crisis was a short-lived but very intense attempt to broker a deal with god. In exchange for his protection, I would vow to pray always and never ever, um ...defile myself--so to speak, for fear of losing favor with him at the moment of the next attack.

Studies have shown that people who fear they are losing control of their surroundings become more prone to superstition, conspiracy theories, and belief in the supernatural. They are also more prone to yield their civil liberties for a false feeling of safety. We MUST resist this. We must not write this fear into the constitution by passing Prop 8.

How does this play out in real life? If you're AFRAID they will teach gay marriage in schools, take it up with your school board. Pass a proposition THERE, that no kind of marriage be taught in classes—where they should be more focused on math and science anyway! Just add “marriage” to the long list of things (like creationism) that you’ll have to teach your children yourselves.

AFRAID your church will be forced to marry same-sex couples? That’s never going to happen because of protections under the 1st amendment. The CA supreme court ruling made it very clear that their ruling would not "diminish any other person's constitutional rights" or "impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official or any other person."

FEAR children will be adversely affected? Gays can already adopt. What about parents SHOULD be considered? Stability? Yes. Psychological health? Yes. Financial means to support a child? Yes. Two parents better than one? Yes. Legally recognized union? Yes. Married or baptized in a church? Not important.

AFRAID that the gay lifestyle is getting more and more mainstreamed, more and more accepted, and that this will seep into the consciousness of your children? It does seem likely. The thing is, when you give up hopeless battles (such as trying to ostracize gays out of existence) EVERYONE wins. Being gay will be less dramatic. We won’t have to wave flags and march in parades or kill ourselves out of guilt and hopelessness. People will either be gay, because they JUST ARE, or they won’t. If you’re worried about turning into a pillar of salt as God destroys YOUR Gomorrah, well… just have faith in a kind and just god, and know that you did your best. What are you afraid of?

Finally, your Prop 8 dream narrative is unfortunately flimsy shelter from your greatest fear. Ask my parents. I grew up in a very conservative, Christian community. I was a varsity athlete who dated the prom queen. My entire circle of friends used the word “gay” to mean “stupid.” To my knowledge, there was not ONE, single gay kid in my entire high school. No one EVER pushed a gay agenda on me. There was no Will and Grace or Brokeback Mountain. In fact, I never had a clue about “gay”—until the day I fell in love. I was 25. His name was Matt. What proposition would you pass to prevent THAT? Scary stuff!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Blogger: Chris Bussard on Marriage and Why He "Wants In"

Note from Mollie: Chris is the boyfriend of my dear friend, Rob who was a guest blogger earlier in the week.

Dear friends, family, and colleagues:

I normally try not to share or subject anyone to my political views, especially when it comes to gay issues, but Prop 8 puts my rights and liberty in jeopardy like never before and I feel compelled to speak out.

As you know, in May of this year, the California Supreme Court ruled that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution and marriage between individuals of the same sex is currently valid and recognized in the state. Prop. 8 seeks to eliminate this right by amending the California constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California.

I have been gay all my life (I knew it since I was 7) and I never thought I would have the option to marry. It didn’t really bother be because that’s just the way that it was. But as I’ve gotten older, fallen in love, and moved in with a beautiful man, I realize that it’s not OK. I am willing, able and desire to commit to a stable, loving, supporting relationship with a person who lifts me up, makes me calm, and inspires me to be a better person every single day. My journey through life has become a shared journey, and I would like the protections that marriage affords—hospital visitation, decision making, and inheritance, to name just a few. My home is now Robert’s home, but if something happens to me, he can be kicked out with no rights whatsoever. Yes, I can pay an attorney thousands of dollars to establish legal contracts, but why should I have to? The sterility of legal contracts should be overshadowed by love and commitment, and that’s what marriage provides.

I recently read an article Los Angeles magazine where the author reflected on witnessing a lesbian wedding:

"Not until I was standing on that hillock of sand watching the two women marry did I get it in the gut what the whole thing was about. After all, California has had a law endorsing domestic partnerships with virtually all the attendant rights of marriage save one: the name.

Oh, marriage. What an entanglement of egos and ambitions and hopes and money, a voluntary legal contract to love someone forever and ever. That’s what they wanted, my two women friends, to be able to make that contract. They wanted the complicated, passionate, sometimes enraging engagement that is uniquely a marriage, and, standing there, I wanted it for them. Welcome. Hang on. Good luck.

I am reminded of a line from the poet W.H. Auden. “Any marriage,” he once said, “happy or unhappy, is more interesting than a love affair.” That is what my gay friends—not just these two but the others who are marrying—have intuitively understood in their anger and/or despair at being kept out of the wedded ranks. Marriage is the great emotional adventure story—there is nothing like it, nothing close—and they want in.”

It really reinforced that marriage is a journey of two people--two consenting adults--that love, laugh, cry, fall down, get up, support, protect, motivate, improve, and dedicate their lives to each other. And I want in.

But I need your help. I surround myself with like-minded or sympathetic individuals (I hope you’re like-minded—my apologies for sending this to you if you are not). But there may be people in your circle of friends and family or people you know in California that may be sitting on the fence or are planning on voting yes on Prop 8 without realizing the consequences. Will you advocate on my behalf? Perhaps you can just forward this email?

Please share with your friends and family the facts about Prop 8:

· It eliminates fundamental rights and treats people differently under the law.

· It would be the first time discriminatory language is added to the constitution.

· It’s not about children—If marriage was about having children, retirees and infertile couples should not have the right to marry.

· It does not jeopardize religious freedoms –Your church does not have to marry me. Even today, churches can marry or not marry whomever they want. Mormons won’t let non-Mormons get married in the temple and no one is suing over that. “The idea that we would be forced as clergy to perform a marriage that was against our conscience, or that a church would lose its tax-exempt status, is ridiculous,” said the Rev. Karen Sapio, the minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Southern California. “If you look dispassionately at the record, there are a lot of churches with policies that are at odds with civil law. I have not heard of a single Catholic church forced to marry someone who has been divorced, or a rabbi forced to perform an interfaith marriage or an evangelical church forced to marry a couple who has been living together.”

· If marriage is a religious institution, the state should not be issuing marriage licenses. By issuing marriage licenses, the state is offering a civil sanction and civil definition of marriage. It is this civil right that Prop 8 tries to deny from a minority group of Californians.

· Virtually every major paper in California is against Prop 8. The L.A. Times says it is "a drastic step to strip people of rights." La OpiniĆ³n called Prop 8 "an unnecessary initiative". The San Diego Union Tribune wrote that Prop 8 "offends many Californians' sense of fairness."

· Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education. And no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it. California’s top educators including Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell and California Teachers all agree: Prop 8 has nothing to do with education.

· Marriage has been offered to same-sex couples for over three years in Massachusetts and no opposite-sex marriage has been damaged or diminished.

· Senator Feinstein says, “Proposition 8 would be a terrible mistake for California. Its not about schools or kids. It’s about discrimination and we must always say NO to that.”

· It’s about discrimination.

No matter how you feel about marriage, vote against discrimination and vote no on prop 8 and please encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. Even if you have issues with gay marriage, please at least abstain. Please do not vote to take away my rights.


P.S. If you are inspired to make a donation to help defeat this ballot measure, I encourage you to do so. We need all the help we can get. You can donate at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

First Graders, Field Trips, Fear and the Facts

Working at home + being sick for 10 days = way too much time watching TV.

If I see the misleading Prop 8 commercial about the first graders and the field trip one more time, I am going to be seriously tempted to shoot my TV--and that's saying something because it's brand new (and I'd have to get my butt off the couch and go buy a gun). The statement made in the ad that "a public school took first graders to a lesbian wedding" is actually much more than's a lie. You can read an in-depth check of the facts here: But in short, the school did not take the kids. A parent took the kids. And the kids didn't witness the wedding. They stood outside on the steps of city hall and threw rose petals on the teacher as she exited with her partner. Parents were consulted and permission slips were signed. Two families opted out, and their kids stayed behind at the school. I could go on.

Does anyone else find it troubling that this campaign relies on fear rather than the facts???

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Setting Aside The Rhetoric: A Lesson in Constitutional Law

Disclaimer: Okay. I'm not a constitutional lawyer. I'm not even a lawyer. Hopefully this will work for me and not against me.


I'm actually learning so much through this campaign. It's the first time I've been an activist (if you call starting a blog and bugging all your friends activism), and I've learned that I like it. It feels good to stand for something. I've learned that you can make time for what really matters to you because if you'd asked me last week if I had the time to do this, I would have laughed and then gone back to running my business. And I've learned that what we learn in high school really does matter.

I was educated in good schools, so I am sure somewhere along the way I MUST have learned what it means to be part of a democratic system and live according to a constitutional law. Maybe 9th grade? Or 10th? But I guess I wasn't paying attention, because I sure don't remember it. The good news is that what I should have learned all those years ago actually does matter 25 years later (who would have thunk it?)! . And I'd go as far as to say, if you boil it down and set the rhetoric aside, constitutional law may be the ONLY thing that matters in the Prop 8 debate.

I have devoted many of my waking (and what should be my non-waking) hours to reading and studying the issue. I truly want to understand both sides. And I have concluded that both sides are pretty much fighting for the same thing: their rights. The supporters to preserve religious rights and the detractors to preserve civil rights. If you concede both sides have some legitimate arguments, what it really comes down to is this: interpretation of our state constitution. Since I didn't remember learning it in high school, I had to refresh my memory on just exactly what that means.


The governing law in Calfornia is a constitution, interpreted by the California Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the Governor, and ratified at the next general election. (For those who claim the judges are a bunch of liberals, I would ask you to pay mind to the facts: 6 of the 7 were appointed by Republican Governors. And we, the voters, approved each appointment.)

The constitution can be changed by initiatives passed by voters. Initiatives can be proposed by the governor, legislature, or by popular petition, giving California one of the most flexible legal systems in the world (I the world!!) This means, in effect, we can be "citizen legislators". Only 24 states and Washington DC have an initiative provision in their constitution.


As you know, our form of government is made up of an executive, legislative and judicial branch (ah yes, this is starting to ring a bell). In a state, the executive branch is the governor, the legislative branch is the state assembly and senate, and, at the top of the judicial branch is our state supreme court. It's set up this way to provide a system of checks and balances so that one branch doesn't have too much power. When the legislative branch passes a law, whatever they put forward must be able to survive judicial review. So, when as "citizen legislators" we pass an amendment, it too must be able to survive judicial review to ensure that it's constitutional because THIS IS HOW OUR SYSTEM WORKS!


It is the judicial branch, ultimately, our state supreme court, that interprets the constitution. When they interpret the constitution, they consider precedents. They don't consider their own personally held beliefs. In the same-sex marriage ruling, the precedents cited were two cases on interracial marriage: Perez v. Sharp (1948) and Loving v. Virginia (1967). Both struck down laws against interracial marriage on the basis that marriage is a civil right. The part of the CA constitution that applies to this ruling is Section 7, which reads in part:

(a) A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws ...
(b) A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.

Ruben Navarette, a columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune, wrote: Opponents of gay marriage make a fuss over the fact that a handful of judges overrode the wishes of millions of voters. You don't say? These people are all too eager to use ballot initiatives to play citizen legislators, as they did eight years ago. But when real legislators pass a law, whatever they come up with must be able to survive judicial review. The same goes for a voter-approved initiative. The opponents of gay marriage want all the power that comes from making laws, but none of the responsibility of making sure the laws they pass are constitutional.


Reacquainting myself with the democratic process and the rule of constitutional law, combined with reading section 7 of the CA state constitution, leaves no doubt in my mind that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. This is where I think the argument is so cut and dry. No matter what you think of same-sex marriage, I just don't see how anyone could disagree with this. This is our democratic system at work. If people don't like it, they have a few options: they can try to get different justices appointed to the State Supreme Court; they can find some unsettled territory and set up a theocracy; they can move to another country that has a system they think is better. But trying to legislate discrimination is not an option. And I hope that the groups who spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to do so will recognize this and find real problems that they can solve with all that money. We all know there are plenty.

Just like interracial marriage did not lead to the demise of our society, neither will legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Recent studies have shown that the generation growing up now is more color blind and gender blind and sexual orientation blind than ever before. These things, quite simply, just don't matter to them. If we keep dragging out this fight over legalization of same-sex marriage, it may well be this generation that ends up ultimately settling the issue.

I just hope they are paying attention in school.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Robert Cope on Family vs. Ideology

Mollie and I met in a Mormon ward in Dallas when we were both 14 years old. She has seen more of my life over a greater span of time than any friend I have. When I came out to her eight years ago she was nothing but completely understanding and supportive. She has been there for me unfailingly for the past eight years and we are closer now than we have ever been.

I have tried not to be combative with those in my family who still are active Mormons and who see life differently than I do. I have tried to not make a big deal out of my homosexuality. It's nothing that I sit and obsess over, it just is. And so I have let it just be, let my life run its course, and I am now in a loving relationship of three years with an amazing guy, and I am happy.

There is a wedge though between me and my family. Things mostly have remained unspoken and we have had a fragile peace based on this silence. With the Mormon church's decision to involve itself in California's battle over Prop 8, however, my family has been forced to choose: ideology or family.

Sadly, ideology wins. When at last I decided to respond to some of their emails in support of Prop 8, I was told that who I am and the life I have chosen is immoral and invalid. One sibling said, "Go ahead and say I am small minded, uncaring, hypocritical, but I will not change my moral belief standards so you can have equal treatment that you do not qualify for". Another said that I had chosen darkness. Another said they could no more accept homosexuality than they could accept incest. Another said, "Your consequence for choosing to be gay, is that you are not entitled to all of the rights that the Constitution affords to all law obeying citizens. There is nothing natural that condone(s) the gay is morally wrong. Just like there are consequences for stealing, adultery, murder, etc…there are also consequences of being gay, of which the least I would be concerned with right now is whether you can marry or not".

My argument to them, which was shot down in flames, is that there is a distiction between their religious beliefs about marriage, which they are entitled to uphold and protect, and the civil equality that our Constitution is olbigated to provide to all citizens. Two adults in a consenting relationship deserve the equal rights and protections afforded to any such relationship, gay or straight.

As my friend Becca said, there is a certain irony that a church, which once found itself on the outside of societal norms, now plays the moral enforcer crusading for traditional marriage. We should all be aware that the wheel of fortune turns...

Why not be brave and stand up for someone else's right to believe in something you disagree with? That is gutsy American plurality at its best. We will all survive, we can live and let live, and we could possibly even together pool our resources and attempt to solve some of the real evils of our day, too numerous and obvious to even list.

Robert Cope