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Parker v. Hurley Examined

By Morris A. Thurston

The Family Research Council Video
and the Massachusetts Case of Parker v. Hurley
Several people have asked me to comment on a video currently making the rounds concerning school children in Massachusetts who were exposed to materials promoting tolerance of same-sex marriages.  The video is narrated by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and is apparently being distributed by the coalition. I have been asked whether the video is factually and legally correct and whether I think it portends any of the “slippery slope” predictions of the proponents of Proposition 8.

My answer is that I believe the video is accurate in some things and misleading in others.  Obviously it is biased, but that is the nature of political videos such as this.  Whether it portends a “slippery slope” depends on what a person considers that slope to be.

If one feels that it is bad for society to become more tolerant of committed gay relationships, then I would agree that legalizing gay marriages will gradually tend to bring about that tolerance and hence could be seen by some as a “slippery slope.”  Increased tolerance will likely happen in society at large whether or not Proposition 8 passes, but it will probably come about more quickly if it fails.

Unfortunately, videos like the one being circulated serve to stoke the bigoted feelings of people who already despise gays.  Here is a message about the video that was sent by one man to his mailing list (which happened to include me):  “Listen to this video and please forward to everyone on your list. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I sure hate seeing millions of dollars wasted trying to stop these morons. Just wait until they get the full impact of the backlash that’s inevitable, because of their trying to force their perverted lifestyles on the rest of us.”

Let me provide a little legal background that is missing from the video.  The case that came about as a result of the incidents depicted in the video was titled Parker v. Hurley, but it actually concerned two separate incidents.  The first involved the Parkers’ child, a kindergarten boy named Jacob, who brought home a “Diversity Book Bag.”  This included (among other things) a picture book titled Who’s in a Family? that depicted different sorts of families, including single-parent families, interracial families, animal families, a family with two dads and a family with two moms.  Since the child was in kindergarten, he wouldn’t have been able to read it himself, but the parents could read it to him if they wished.  They were not required to read it to him and, of course, they did not do so.

The second situation involved the Wirthlins.  In that case the teacher actually read aloud a book to her second grade class (including the Wirthlins’ child, Joey) titled King and King, which told the story of a prince who fell in love with, and married, another prince.  As I will explain at greater length below, I find this case more troubling than the first.

The Parkers and the Wirthlins brought suit, contending that these incidents infringed on their constitutionally protected freedom of religion.  The United States First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them on that point.  The court pointed out the school was not “targeting” only those children from families with religious objections to gay marriage and that “exposure to the materials in dispute here will not … prevent the parents from raising Jacob and Joey in the religious belief that gay marriage is immoral.”  The court cited previous decisions holding that “exposure to ideas through the required reading of books [does] not constitute a constitutionally significant burden on the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion.”  The court suggested if the school system had not been sufficiently sensitive to the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, the issue could be resolved through “the normal political processes for change in the town and state.” Recently the United States Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari, permitting the lower court ruling to stand.

It was pretty easy for the Court of Appeals to reject Jacob Parker’s claim, since he was never required to read the books sent home in the diversity book bag and the books did not endorse gay marriage or even address those topics explicitly.  They merely described how other children might come from families that look different from one’s own.  I feel the court’s ruling was appropriate in the case of Jacob Parker.

The case of Joey Wirthlin presented a more difficult issue.  He was actually required to sit through a classroom reading of a book that endorsed gay marriage.  The court found, however, that the book was primarily intended to influence the listeners toward tolerance of gay marriage, and that there was no evidence of systemic indoctrination or that Joey was asked to affirm gay marriage.  The court said, “Public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them.”

In my mind, the problem in the case of Joey Wirthlin was not that his freedom of religion was infringed, but that the material read in class was not age appropriate and not appropriate for children of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  I can understand why the Wirthlins were offended that the King and King book was read to a captive audience that included their second-grade son.  It seems to me that the court could have found that the Wirthlins should at least have been notified before the book was read and had the option of exempting their child from that portion of class.  The PTA president contended that all parents were given an opportunity to examine the books during a back-to-school night that had been held early in the school year, but I do not find that a very convincing argument.

The Family Research Council video begins with this message displayed on the screen and read aloud by a woman with a soothing voice:  “If Prop 8 Fails on Nov 4th, All Public School Children Will Be Affected.”  This same message is echoed at the end of the video.  I do not believe that the Parker and Wirthlin cases support the conclusion that all public school children will be affected.  Because California has different education laws than Massachusetts, we do not know how a ruling on a similar situation would come down in our state.  In general, public schools in California are required to be attuned to the sensibilities of the community.  California Education Code Section 51890 (the one referred to in “Six Consequences”) has specific provisions for the community to actively participate in the teaching of family health issues.  Education Code Section 51933 (the one dealing with sex education) specifically requires the instruction and materials to be age appropriate, to be appropriate for use with pupils of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and to encourage pupils to communicate with their parents or guardians about human sexuality. If a Wirthlin-type case did arise in California, I would be happy to be on the side of the plaintiff.  I do not feel it was age-appropriate or appropriate for use with pupils of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

However, I don’t believe it is likely that the Wirthlin problem will surface in California, at least not on any wide-spread scale.  Existing California law already requires schools to teach respect for “committed relationships” (which include gay ones). Domestic partnerships (including gay partnerships) already enjoy all civil rights that marriages do.  Even though these laws on the books for several years, I have never heard of a teacher trying to read a book promoting gay committed relationships to a grammar school class.  In fact, it is pretty amazing that in all of the United States, we apparently have only one actual instance similar to the one described in the Wirthlin case.  I think we can be sure that if there were others, they would be buzzing all over the Internet by now.  I do not believe, therefore, that the Wirthlin case portends apocalyptic consequences and it certainly does not support the assertion that if Proposition 8 fails, all public school children will be affected in the way that the Parker and Wirthlin children were affected.

While the underlying story is based on a true incident, I take issue with the video on a few other points.  For example, it never explains that Jacob Parker was not required to read anything.  Persuasive arguments can be made that the book in Jacob’s “Diversity Bag” was entirely appropriate.   It is an undeniable fact that there are already many families in California (and Massachusetts) where the children have two moms or two dads.  According to a recent article in the L.A. Times, there are more than 109,000 same-sex couples in California and nearly a quarter of them have children.  More than 50,000 California children are now living in same-sex households and this number will increase in the future, whether or not Prop 8 passes.  Children are going to be aware of this fact and, hopefully, will be taught to show respect and civility toward their classmates who come from such families.  I’m not suggesting parents cannot teach their children that homosexual relationships are sinful if they want to, but would hope they also will teach them to be charitable and kind and polite toward those families that believe otherwise—a message that has been stressed by President Hinckley and, more recently, Elder Ballard.  To use an example we’re all familiar with, most evangelical Christians are convinced that Mormons are not Christian and therefore are going to hell, but many of them still manage to treat us with kindness and respect.  Others stand on street corners screaming about our perverted beliefs or spew out their bigotry in online websites.  No matter what our beliefs on this issue, certainly we want to teach our children to be civil and respectful toward our gay brothers and sisters and their families.

The video is also misleading in the way it treats David Parker’s being jailed.  It seeks to give the impression that he was hauled off to jail because of his religious beliefs.  In fact, David Parker went down to the school and refused to move unless the school administrators agreed to his demands.  (Remember, his child was not required to read anything.)  When the police were finally called they tried to talk him into leaving voluntarily.  They waited more than two hours, and when he would not budge, they arrested him for trespass.  When he got to the jail, he refused to post bail, choosing instead to spend the night in jail.  As he put it, he wanted to “prove a point.”

Recently I received an e-mail from a man who attended an Interfaith Council community forum.  The forum featured speakers in favor and opposed to Prop 8.  One of the speakers in favor was an LDS representative.  Here is what this brother (we’ll call him “Brother Jones”) is reported to have said in this public forum:

“When the panel received a question from the audience that asked ‘How would Proposition 8 would hurt me or my family?’ Bro. Jones responded by saying that all we have to do is to look to Massachusetts and see how a father was jailed because he didn’t want his kindergarten-aged child to learn about homosexuality marriage.  If Proposition 8 fails, the same thing could happen here in California.”

This suggests the video had misled Brother Jones into thinking that David Parker was jailed because of his religious beliefs, not because of trespass. That is unfortunate. We do not jail people in America because they express religious or political opinions, but it is astonishing how many people are willing to believe we do.

Perhaps the Family Research Council video is no more misleading than other political propaganda pieces, but I feel it creates a one-sided and, in some respects, inaccurate picture of the legal risks to Californians from same-sex marriage.
Morris A. Thurston
Morris Thurston received his undergraduate degree in political science from BYU and his law degree from
Harvard Law School.  He recently retired as a senior partner with a global law firm, where he specialized in
litigation and intellectual property law. He is an active member of the LDS Church.

Filed in Uncategorized | 19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Parker v. Hurley Examined”

  1. 1admin3on 09 Oct 2008 at 11:43 pm

    This news just came from the Supreme Court:

    US Supreme Court refuses Lexington case

    Parents challenge gay-related books

    By Lisa Keen

    Globe Correspondent / October 9, 2008

    The US Supreme Court refused this week to hear the appeal of two
    Lexington couples who said the inclusion of gayrelated books on a
    public school’s reading list violated their First Amendment right
    to free exercise of religion.

    Parker v. Hurley was one of nearly 2,000 cases whose petitions
    for review the high court rejected on Monday, the first day of
    the 2008-09 session.

    In that case, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had
    rejected the parents’ argument that the Lexington public school
    district should have given them prior notice that it was going to
    include books that include gay families on their student reading

    The parents – David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin
    Wirthlin – said they believe their constitutional rights to free
    exercise of religion, as well as parental and privacy rights,
    require they be given a chance to exempt their children from
    receiving the bag of books or hearing the books read aloud in
    class. The books are not required reading.

    David Parker was arrested for trespassing at Estabrook Elementary
    School in April 2005, when he refused to leave the building until
    school officials promised to give him prior notification of their
    use of books that include homosexual characters.

    Rachel Cortez, president of the school’s parent-teacher
    association, said at the time that parents are given a chance to
    examine the books during a back-to-school night event early in
    the school year.

    In January, the court ruled that the inclusion of books that
    included gay people or relationships did not violate the parents’
    First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and suggested
    the conflict was a political one that should be resolved through
    “normal political processes for change in the town and state.”

  2. 2a. mcewenon 10 Oct 2008 at 4:02 pm

    allow me to put something out there and i hope its not too big to be posted:

    Distortion—David Parker objected to his child being exposed to homosexuality because it was an issue of sexuality and Joseph Estabrook Elementary refused to accommodate him

    Truth—In a January 17, 2005 email to the school, Parker said: “There is a book included entitled, Who’s in a Family (with pictures) that include lesbian and homosexual couples with children—implicitly equating this family structure as a morally equal alternative to other family constructs. We stand firmly against this book or any other subject matter pertaining to homosexuality ever being indoctrinated to our child, discussed in school, or sent home. We don’t believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated.”

    Joseph Estabrook Elementary principal, Joni Jay, wrote Parker an email clearly saying homosexuality is not a part of the kindergarten curriculum. She also said she cannot control what students say to one another and that many children attending Joseph Estabrook Elementary live in same-sex households.

    Point of fact: The entire controversy began because Parker’s son brought home a “diversity bookbag” with several items in it. Among them was a book showing certain types of families, including same-sex families. It was the only book in the packet that talked about anything of a homosexual nature.

    Distortion—Parker was well within his rights because Massachusetts laws says parents must give permission to have their children discuss any issue involving human sexuality.

    Truth—Parker was not well within his right because discussions of differing families, including gay-led households are not included in the parental notification policy. This is because it is not an issue about human sexuality. Principal Jay informed Parker of this on March 4, 2005. Jay said she confirmed this with the district assistant superintendent and the director of Health Education. She was answering an email in which Parker said that neither he nor his wife authorize any teacher or adult to “expose” his sons (Parker has two sons) to “any sexual orientation/homosexual material/same sex unions between parents.”

    Point of fact: The night before Parker’s arrest, he addressed the Lexington School Committee during their public meeting. In his speech, he attempted to link gay-led households to sexual behavior:

    “Children who are successfully indoctrinated that same-sex marriage is normal and correct will eventually understand that sexual intimacy is a part of this union. Let’s not be naive about the implied human sexuality aspect of same-sex unions. Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we accept same-sex unions, we accept its implied . . . sexual intimacy. These concepts are indeed inextricably linked.”

    Distortion—David Parker was arrested because Joseph Estabrook Elementary did ot respect his rights as a parent.

    Truth—David Parker was arrested for trespassing. Even though his initial questions were answered, Parker persisted and finally received another meeting with school officials. According to a press release issued by William J. Hurley, Interim Superintendent of Schools and Christopher Casey, Chief of Police in Lexington, Parker and his wife requested that the school, in the future, ensure that teachers automatically remove their children from discussions of same-sex households, even if the issue rises spontaneously. It was explained to Parker and his wife that the policy allowing students to opt out of discussions of human sexuality was not relevant here and the Parkers’ request was “not practical” because children could discuss “such matters among themselves at school.”

    When Parker and his wife were told that they could appeal the response to the Commissioner of Education, Parker did not want to. It was then that the two decided not to leave the school. The Lexington Police were called. Parker’s wife went to the couple’s car but he stayed. Two plain-clothed detectives came at 5:20 p.m. and a police lieutenant came at 6 p.m. All asked Parker to leave but he refused.

    Distortion—David Parker did not intentionally get arrested. According to his lawyer, Jeffrey Denner:

    “He (Parker) was invited to come in, he came in, there was a dialogue going back and forth, there were faxes sent back and forth to the school committee. His intent was not to get arrested. His intent was to establish a dialogue to protect his own children and other children as well.”—Father faces trial over school’s ‘pro-gay’ book, WorldNetDaily, August 4, 2005

    Truth—According to the press release submitted by Hurley and Casey, Parker said “If I’m not under arrest, then I’m not leaving.” The press release also said Parker began calling people on his cell phone and a small group of people began arriving with cameras. Parker was finally arrested at 6:24 p.m. The group with the camera was waiting behind the police station and photographed his arrival.

    Mass Resistance (Massachusetts conservative group) claimed that Parker was using his cell phone in order to keep his wife up to date with the meeting while she sat in the couple’s car.
    Point of fact: There are pictures of Parker being arrested and led away by police on the Mass Resistance web page. Now how could any of this have happened by chance? For that matter, there are pictures of Parker addressing the Lexington School Committee the night before his arrest. The fact that these pictures are on the web page do give an impression of premeditation by Parker and Mass Resistance.

    Distortion—David Parker got into this fight solely because of his concern for his children and what they are being exposed to in school.

    Truth—Since his arrest, Parker has been speaking against gay rights in other states. On June 13 and 14, he was the speaker in a six-town “Wake UP Maine” tour with Brian Camenker, the head of Mass Resistance. The purpose was to aid a Maine referendum against the recently passed bill outlawing discrimination against the gay community. A flyer was distributed showing Parker in handcuffs. The flyer also claimed that Parker “questioned the homosexual rights movement.”

    The image of Parker in handcuffs had made its way around several web pages like some sort of bastardized picture of Che Gueverra. He also appeared in a commercial in another effort to overturn the Maine anti-discrimination bill.

    And then don’t forget this interesting addendum:

    In May 2006, Parker’s son was involved in a fi ght at school with a friend over seating in the school cafeteria. His son and the other student made peace with each other and continued to be friends. They even had a play date later that week. In addition, Parker was informed as to what happened.

    However, less than a month later, the Mass Resistance sent out a press release claiming that Parker’s son was set upon by eight to 10 students who did not appreciate his fight against Joseph Estabrook Elementary. The press release generated considerable buzz with the anti-gay industry, as it was either run or referenced by many so-called “pro-family” web pages, including the Traditional Values Coalition and Concerned Women for America.

    Joseph Estabrook Elementary School explained the true story in a press release. However, none of the so-called “pro-family” groups, including Mass Resistance and the Traditional Values Coalition, apologized for any of their claims about a conspiracy to hurt Parker’s son nor did they correct the error.

    Parker should chalk this entire experience up as a lesson that all of us, no matter what age, can learn.

    When you lie, you lose. And you deserve to lose.

    Articles and web pages used for this post:

    Arrested father had point to make, The Boston Globe, April 29, 2005

    Wake UP Maine Tour announced,, June 10, 2005

    Massachusetts Men Speak Against Homosexual Rights,,
    June 14, 2004

    Coalition for Marriage to host David Parker at Littlefi eld Baptist Church, www., November 3, 2005

    Father faces trial over school’s ‘pro-gay’ book, WorldNetDaily, August 4, 2005

    Report: Christian Parent Arrested After Being Denied Say-Son in Son’s Education,
    Agape Press, April 28, 2005

    Dad Becomes Icon in Battle over Homosexual Agenda in Schools, Agape Press,
    May 18, 2005

    School dispute persists after plea deal is struck, The Boston Globe, October 27, 2005
    Press release, Lexington Public Schools, May 2, 2005

    David Parker’s Son Beaten Up on the Playground, Traditional Values Coalition,
    June 15, 2006

    New liberal strategy: Assault 7-year-olds, Kevin McCullough, June 16, 2006

    Press release, Lexington Public Schools, June 16, 2006

  3. 3Johnon 11 Oct 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you so much for the information provided. I had no idea that Mormons were tolerant of gays. I am an 18 year military serviceman living in the state of California who is voting NO on prop 8. I serve to protect the people of the United States and the Constitution. We believe that all people are created equally and are intitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If two adults choose to be married they should not be denied that because of their sexual orientation. Thanks again for the information provided.

  4. 4Braunon 13 Oct 2008 at 11:33 am

    I stumbled upon this website after viewing the video that was critiqued above and I’m grateful for the clarifications on the facts of the video. I too, like the LDS representative who the author named “brother Jones” thought that Parker had been arrested because of his beliefs since that is how the video portrayed it. But i thought there might be more to it so i came looking online and found this site of which i found very informative, thank you.

    But i did want to clarify something to John since I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormon’s). The word “tolerant” that you used can sometimes be misinterpreted so i just wanted to let you, and any other reader, know the official position of the Mormon Church towards homosexuality.

    The following Quote can be found at:

    “We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.

    “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

    “We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

  5. 5Franon 14 Oct 2008 at 1:58 pm

    huh…interesting case. Wouldn’t that case sort of support the Church’s fears of what may happen if gay marriage is legalized? I mean, here is a case where children are taught in school about all kinds of relationships, including gay relationships (which I personally don’t think is bad, but that’s beside the point right now). If gay marriage is legal, I think those relationships need to be address even more so along with any other kind of “marriage” or family relationship. And with that, children are already being taught at a young age that homosexual marriage/relationships, single parents, etc. are normal…and possibly acceptable. I’m not trying to make any judgment here on those family situations, but since the church has a pretty clear view on what the ideal family is, I can see how they would be opposed to legalizing gay marriage, and thus allowing yet another family combination that is morally objectable (from a religious point of view)…

    Just a thought…

  6. 6EcoOceanon 15 Oct 2008 at 10:49 am

    Hello John,
    Though there are a few individual Mormons who are tolerant of gays, as a whole the community is about as anti-gay as any in the United States. When I forwarded this analysis to my large extended family of Mormons, in response to the online video that another family member had forwarded, several let me know that I was going to hell. 40% of the pro-prop 8 funding has come from individual Mormon contributions. Most of the prop-prop8 material Mormons are using, ironically, comes from organizations that consider Mormons to be satanic cultists.

  7. 7Jeanieon 15 Oct 2008 at 4:06 pm

    It does look like members are being asked to forward the video to extended family and friends. I was forwarded a copy of an email that was sent out by my father. (He didn’t send the e-mail directly to me.) I talked to my father last night and told him that I’d like to send him a critique of the video written by someone LDS and he agreed to read it. While I think my dad is generally a thoughtful and logical person, I suspect that when he reads the Thurston review, he is going to be embarrassed about sending it out and will then have to save face by discounting the points made in the review.

  8. [...] at length over at the Mormons for Marriage site. One commenter seemed to indicate that the father deliberately tried to get arrested. Here is the relevant portion of that comment: According to the press release submitted by Hurley [...]

  9. 9amaon 15 Oct 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you for this post. I just wrote an article over at my blog, about this and at first I thought he was arrested for not supporting gay rights, but I had my doubts. This blog answered a lot of questions for me and hopefully for all the readers that frequent my blog.


  10. [...] Parker v. Hurley, 474 F. Supp. 2d 261 (D. Mass. 2007), a federal district court in Massachusetts held against [...]

  11. 11Marc Luxeon 22 Oct 2008 at 11:27 am

    Green Eggs and Ham: The Analogy.

    So if the Parker v. Hurley case was successful, then the Dr. Seuss classic would be banned in schools under the right to be free of religious indoctrination in schools. Green Eggs and Ham would be an affront to both kosher and Adventists traditions [no pork, no meat], no history books on wars [Quakers and pacifism], no Harry Potter [anti-magic fundamentalist], no books on Edison or Franklin [Amish and electricity]. Now that’s a slippery slope!

    Also: just who paid for a federal lawsuit and two appeals?
    The answer: This case was all about political grandstanding. I gotta hand it to the Parkers, et al. for brilliant strategic planning. Too bad it’s all about misleading the public with lies, and raping constitutional protections.

  12. 12john willison 22 Oct 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I am an attorney and I read the Parker v. Hurley case. I think the First Circuit’s legal reasoning was sound and the Supreme Court was right to deny review. I agree that the Wirthlin plaintiff’s case was more difficult. I agree with the court that there is no constitutional right for parents to insist that a public school curriculmn argee with their religous and moral beliefs.
    As a matter of public policy I would support the passage of a statute that gave parents the right to “opt out ” of presentations like this. But I do not believe that it mandated ny the free exercise clause of the First amendment or any other provision of the Constitution.
    The outcome of this case was determined by principles of contitutional law and had nothing to do with Gay Marriage being legal in Massacussetts.
    I wish the church would of pushed for things like “opt out” provisions and religious exemptions fo state and federal laws banning discrimination against Gays. I think lobbying efforts in these areas would be much more fruitful than the efforts to defeat proposition 8.
    The campagin against proposition 8 has created bad feelings within the church itself and reinforced negative sterrotypes of the Church by non- members.
    The Church will lose in more ways than one regardless of if proposition 8 passes or not.
    FYI— The Wirthlin plaintiff in Parker v. Hurley was a grandson of apostle Joseph Wirthlin.

  13. 13Dulce Bautistaon 25 Oct 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I am catholic, my family is quite traditional, yet we all seem to have an unspoken agreement of tolerance. We respect others as long as they respect us. Through out my life this has helped me keep an open mind to the diversity of people and their lifestyles. I love my friends and am all for their cause, their relationships have lasted longer than any of mine. They love and respect those around them, they’ve been there for me when no one else wanted to stay. The ads being used on this issue (prop 8 ) anger me and sadden me because of how misleading and disrespectful they are, not just towards homosexuals but to all of us. They seem to think we’re stupid and ignorant. I hope my son’s generation has a more tolerant population. (he’s only 12 months, but I will make sure he learns respect and tolerance.)

  14. 14Lisaon 03 Nov 2008 at 9:03 pm

    You could substitute the words “black people” for “same sex marriage” and the arguments would be exactly as they were 50 years ago. People are afraid, afraid of change. But as long as love is involved, and the change is for reasons of love, there is nothing to fear. Only change due to fear and hatred is wrong. I grew up knowing people who loved each other, some were married and some weren’t. Most were man/woman couples, and some were man/man couples. I seemed to grow up just fine. I dated the opposite sex, I had friends who were gay and straight, I went to college, I got a job working at a very family friendly company and married someone of the opposite sex. My daughter has a friend who has two mommies. Yes, it is out there and needs to be taught that it is OK. I want her to grow up to be a loving and tolerant person, not one filled with fear and hatred.

  15. 15Fiona64on 04 Nov 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Dear Mr. Willis (Message 17):

    CA state law already requires an “opt out” be available for health education. Parents must sign a permission slip for any child, grades k-12, to participate in health education. The default position is that if no slip is returned, the child does not participate in the curriculum.

    Unfortunately, if this proposition were as much about “children and preserving the marriage” as the proponents like to say, it would actually say something about that. It takes away rights from 5-10% of the population, and does nothing about the 90-95 percent who have always had the right to marry. It says not one word about children. As already pointed out on this website, the pro-8/102/2 (that’s the FL bill) are resorting to dishonesty in their desperation to enshrine discrimination into the law. I am astonished that we are going through this in CA in particular, since my state was the first to strike down its discriminatory anti-miscegenation law in 1948.

    And yes, there are definite parallels to this battle and the right for couples of different ethnicities to marry. Sad that people do not know better in this day and age. :-(

  16. 16Michaelitoson 24 Mar 2009 at 10:10 am

    Dear Mr. Thurston,
    I actually take issue with your analysis on one point. I think you blur the line between tolerance and acceptance. Your logic implies that the two terms are synonymous, when in fact they are not.

    You stated, “If one feels that it is bad for society to become more tolerant of committed gay relationships, then I would agree that legalizing gay marriages will gradually tend to bring about that tolerance. . .” Tolerance is an idea that is at the heart of the American experience, from the Pilgrims to the Founding Fathers. However, acceptance is quite different.

    As an active member of the LDS Church, I do not accept homosexual relationships as morally acceptable. However, I am tolerant to that lifestyle (and yes, I do have a couple of friends that identify themselves as “gay”). In your statement quoted above, I’m not necessarily opposed to a tolerance of committed gay relationships; I don’t oppose civil unions. However, if you change the word “tolerant” to “accepting”, then I would oppose the statement vehemently; marriage is an institution meant for the union of man and woman, as ordained by God.

  17. 17Sherion 24 Mar 2009 at 12:02 pm

    In order to productively work through my anger over Prop 8 and Prop 22 where gays have been demonized by the Christian community as the very force that will bring down society should they get the sacred privilege to legally marry, I wrote a book which is currently at the publisher. The title is, The Spell of Religion ….and the Battle Over Gay Marriage. I’d like to share an excerpt from the book here – particularly for Michaelitos.

    ‘As has been clearly demonstrated over the centuries, souls who come into this world with same gender attraction have been persecuted, shunned, murdered and driven to suicide, all in the name of God. The time has come to STOP the cycle of violence against our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. The time has come to accept them in all their goodness and beauty as children of God. They are not different from us, they are part of us. Those who can make this shift in consciousness will be richer and more fulfilled because of it–I promise.

    Truth has a path in the here and now and can only be arrived at with an open heart and mind. To be taught that we may never in this life completely understand the reason for our obedience to certain rules, (i.e. denying gay couples the opportunity to legally marry the person they love) and that it will all be revealed in the next, keeps us from following a logical path to truth. God is not illogical and would never expect us to be. I love the basic premise for the book, A Course in Miracles, which is; Nothing real can be threatened, Nothing unreal exists – Herein lies the peace of God.’

    If the institution of marriage is real, allowing same gender couples to share that institution threatens no-one and no-thing. But continuing to contend that they are not equal, or good enough, or worthy of marriage, is causing irreparable harm, and those unwilling to see our gay brothers and sisters as the children of God they really are, equal in every way, will one day be held accountable for the consequences of their intolerance, of this I can testify.

  18. 18Blakeon 14 Sep 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I was recently sent an email about this from family (ha, a little behind the times I guess) concerning the Parker v. Hurley case, and it prompted me to research the case further. I was disappointed to be unable to find commentary on it aside from what I assumed to be very polarized viewpoints – a gay rights blog and “Conservapedia” among them. Knowing the rap the LDS church gets from outside of the church (I am a Lutheran), I assumed a website called “Mormons for Marriage” would be strongly biased.

    So I must applaud you for surprising me and making me look the fool. What a joy to find a reasonable, well-written overview from the religious side of the argument! I just cannot stress enough how refreshing it is to find any commentary on such a polarizing issue that frees itself from bigotry and hyperbolic rhetoric that has become so commonplace in today’s religious and political environment. Thank you for proving my own prejudices about “The Mormons” wrong and for proving that being religious and being reasonable are not mutually exclusive concepts.

    (And I realize I’m about two years late to the party, but it was the first I had heard of the issue and I wanted to acknowledge this article.)

  19. 19Lauraon 14 Sep 2010 at 10:35 pm

    It’s never too late to learn new things, right? Glad you’ve found us – look around and see what’s in our archives.