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An email from a Mormon opposed to 8

Guest post– an email sent by Glenn Cornett to his friends shortly after the passage of Prop. 8.

Many of you (this is a bcc list) know I am an actively-practicing Mormon (actually, all of you do now).  I wish to make clear my  thoughts on my church’s “successful” role in the passage of Proposition 8.

In short, I am happy neither with my church’s role nor with the results of its efforts.

I disagree profoundly with the bases (purported and actual) of support for Proposition 8, and am markedly disappointed that my tithing has gone (and continues to go) to a church that has supported what I consider something likely to be a last, wrongful stand against the dignity of same-sex relationships in California (and perhaps the nation).  I believe that the dignity of my 20-year marriage is not threatened by allowing emotionally-committed same-sex couples to marry.  Indeed, I believe the dignity of my marriage can instead be damaged by continuing to keep the institution of marriage itself something that is gratuitously divisive and destructive by forbidding the marriage of same-sex couples.

It will probably take less than a generation to correct the mass-electorate error in moral judgment that culminated in the passage of Proposition 8; the measure barely passed as it is.  In the mean time, my church has materially compromised its credibility (and, for that matter, relevance) as a productive, favorable actor in civil society, and I am getting an increasing amount of reasonable, respectful questions from my friends as to how I can support my church with my participation and tithing.  My responses [that I owe much to the LDS community and still find much that is positive in my church, including its extensive (largely unpublicized) humanitarian efforts; that I still have what I consider to be a meaningful spiritual experience as an active Mormon] have been coming across as decreasingly robust over the past several months.

For better or worse, I remain engaged in my religious community, but have been saddened by recent events.  My sympathies go out to those of you who have felt particularly wronged by the passage of Proposition 8 and the efforts that supported it.

With regards,

Glenn
Glenn Cornett, MD, PhD

Filed in Uncategorized | 19 responses so far

19 Responses to “An email from a Mormon opposed to 8”

  1. 1Ivyon 09 Nov 2008 at 2:07 am

    Dr. Cornett,
    More of you need to come out and show the bravery you have with your message. I know it is hard to stand against the callings of your church. I was once LDS myself and have an understanding of the preassures that can be there. In the end, the LDS church is a patriotic one. The more people who stand up for what they belive in, the less afraid people on the fence will be. I honor your courage and the courage of the men and women on this site altogether.
    Cheers,
    ~Ivy

  2. 2Joel Tuckeron 09 Nov 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Dr. Cornett: My anger towards Mormons is greatly eased by your letter. I was taken back with the LDS’s aggressive campaign against gay brothers and sister and children of God. I would have thought the church would understand more than others the pain of discrimination. Thank you for speaking out. Joel T.

  3. 3B.J.on 09 Nov 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Obvioiusly, this is a very heated and emotional issue. I acknowledge that the generation to come may feel differently about this. With such strong emotions and opinions, it is sometimes hard to see the perspective of others. I concede that same-sex marriage does not directly impact my 10-year marriage to my wife. It does, however, affect what I believe to be the moral frabric of my society. This isn’t an issue of fear or hate to me. It is a moral issue and the line apparently needs to be drawn in the proverbial sand. The arguments that are made in favor of same-sex marriage can be made for any “alternative lifestyle” of consenting adults. (Notice that I said adults. The argument of marrying pets just lacks intelligent credibility in my opinion.) I realize that individuals in the gay community sincerely want their feelings of love to be accepted and normalized. However, our prophets and apostles have declared what I believe to be the Lord’s position on this issue. The language has softened over the years (I haven’t heard or read the word abomination for some time in church publications and conferences). Some may take this as a step in the direction acceptance. I suppose that is a possibility, however, unlikely. The less compassionate side of me feels that the gay community has the same right I do and that is to marry a member of the opposite sex if they so choose. If the choose not to, there are alternative legal routes to publicly acknowledge/celebrate their relationship. I don’t believe that needs to be called marriage. I think it is completely justifiable for a society to define what marriage means. Opinions are apparently more evenly divided in California, but across the nation, the statistics are more overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage. I extend my love and prayers to those that are hurt by this outcome. Hopefully, we can all find common ground to still be respectful while holding differing opinions.

  4. 4Amanda Duranon 09 Nov 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Dr. Cornett,

    I am a mormon living in Utah County [LOL I'm sure you can imagine ;) ]. I am totally against prop 8 and this message has definitely helped me not to feel so defiant of the church and it’s teachings about this. I cannot just turn away from my church, but I also cannot ignore what I know is right.

  5. 5Sheryl Becketton 09 Nov 2008 at 11:44 pm

    BJ (and others who have stated that Gays are free to marry someone of the opposite sex so they are not being denied rights), I wonder if you would want your son, daughter, sister, brother to marry someone who could not totally love them and therefore deny them that wonderful relationship?

    I feel that as long as states issue marriage licenses then this is a civil rights issue and not a moral issue. If people want marriage to be a moral issue then states should not issue marriage licenses.

    sheryl

  6. 6the naon 10 Nov 2008 at 1:29 am

    Glenn,

    I would love for you to post (or give us permission to post) this on a site that a friend and I put together yesterday:

    http://forgivenessfor8.blogspot.com/

  7. 7BJon 10 Nov 2008 at 9:15 am

    Sheryl, I concede that I don’t have any family members that struggle with this. However, as I posted previously, that same argument can be stated for anyone that leads a less traditional lifestyle. Following that logic, I should be able to marry as many women as I want as it is a civil right to have that sense of fulfillment. Or for that matter, I should be allowed to marry my sister if we so choose. The only difference is that our society has softened in this idea of homosexuality and the examples that I just gave sound more “outrageous.” Isn’t it reasonable to give others that don’t follow this traditional ideal another legal outlet without calling it marriage?

    I also feel that we live in such a hyper-sexualized culture that we place much too much emphasis on sexual gratification to where we simply give it a less alarming title of “intimacy.” As heterosexual, I have men in my life that I love with all my heart. I have lived with them and have had “intimate” moments with them. To me, love is a choice that is action based. However, complete sexual gratification should not be expected in any marriage, because we all bring our own expectations and baggage to the table. I love the discussion. Thanks for questioning and challenging my thoughts.

  8. 8Carrieon 10 Nov 2008 at 12:47 pm

    BJ: We should be careful about comparing same-sex marriage to other currently unacceptable forms. I’ll give a couple of reasons.

    1) polygamy/bigamy would add degrees of freedom that current marriage laws, which assume two independent parties (when the union is formed or dissolved), cannot accomodate. Bigamy (two separate marriage contracts held by one person) is an obvious legal conflict of interests. Accomodating these would indeed involve re-defining what the *government* considers to be marriage. Same-sex unions would need no such radical changes.

    2) incest could not be construed as legal for the same reason that sex between a prisoner and prison guard: the guard has too much power over the prisoner to allow for the safe assumption that consent was given freely. Anyone who wants to marry a sibling, for example, probably had a weird upbringing. We’ve seen this happen in cults.

    I have a question for you: is your marriage meaningful and fulfilling? Can you see that the term “marriage” (which *traditionally* involves melding of property and families at least as much as anything religious) is meaningful and fulfilling to many same-sex couples?

  9. 9Sheryl Becketton 10 Nov 2008 at 2:39 pm

    BJ, (and others who have made the comment about gays being free to marry someone of the opposite sex) my question was not if you had family members who were gay, but rather would you want your daughter, son, brother, sister to be married to someone who was gay, knowing that the person could never love them they way they deserve and they would not know that happiness that comes from having that loving relationship. And I am not just talking sex, love is so much more than sex. I’m talking about wanting to share the rest of your life with that person, the sharing of dreams and hopes and the working together to overcome obsticles. And knowing that the possibilty that this person would someday no longer be able to be content with a partial relationship and leave your loved one.

    Just wondering,

    Sheryl

  10. 10Saraon 11 Nov 2008 at 10:18 am

    On November 6, I marched to the gates of a Mormon temple in Los Angeles. It was my dad’s birthday, and I called him to tell him I couldn’t make it in time for the dinner. I told him why, and he said, “I’d be there with you if I could.” I marched there, filled with anger over seeing my friends’ hopes taken right from the grips of their hands by a group of people who claimed to represent God’s love, yet raised millions of dollars to stop it. I am not homosexual, but seeing the pain endured by some of my best friends, good, honest people who only wanted a chance at happiness was more than I could take. There was a lot of frustration and feelings of hostility at this protest at the thought of being marked with a Mormon “stamp of inferiority.” There were also a lot of tears… and there was an unbelievable amount of love among us.

    The one thing none of us could do was love the men who stood atop a huge hill protected by iron gates and stared as we chanted. I can not tell you how glad I am to hear these stories. I read the forgiveness blog, as well, and I’ve been crying all morning. Anger is an ugly thing to hold on to. In my heart, I knew that this could not possibly be God’s will. I just knew it. I thought to myself, “How could God possibly be looking down at all this and smiling?” And to get nothing more than a casual shrug accompanied by a “We voted, you lost, get over it” response from Mormons who we spoke to was only more enraging.

    So, even though I am half an hour late for class, reading these entries was well worth it. I feel like I can finally put a smile on my face, knowing that there are still members of the Mormon church who believe God’s love is unconditional. I am living proof that the church’s refusal to budge on this issue fuels the flames of anger, while those who have the courage to reject what they know in their heart contradicts everything God represents have the ability to quell it.

    Thank you.

  11. 11Bryanon 11 Nov 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Sheryl,

    I think the point BJ was trying to make (take it for what you will) is that to the extent that the pro-same-sex marriage argument rests on the idea that certain individuals are denied the right to marry, that this is somewhat facetious in that we all have a right to marry a person of the opposite sex.

    I.e. whereas once upon a time various racial minorities and women were denied the right to vote (but white men were not) and other things, this was not “equal” treatment because white men weren’t being denied the same things (either explicitly or in practice). Contrast that with the current situation in which all have the same right (to marry a person of the opposite sex) and a subset of the population wants an expansion of those “rights” (really just redefinition since we’re not talking about freedom of actual action or access to government) which the rest of the population sees no reason to pass.

    To your point, though, I think to the extent that one believes that marriage between a man and a woman (whatever one’s sexual attractions) is part of God’s plan for his children…then–meaning no disrespect–no, I suppose creating an environment of approbation for a homosexual relationship would not be a goal, even for (perhaps especially for) a loved one. Why would I want something for someone I love, which something I thought would not bring them all the happiness they could have potentially? I realize many do not share that view, and that’s fine, but this is our position on it. We’ve cast our votes with that in mind, meaning no hate to anyone. What would it mean for me to say I believe that marriage (between a man and a woman) is ordained of God, but then to vote to socially redefine that as being something else?

  12. 12B.J.on 11 Nov 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Sheryl, you’re right. I misread your previous comment. My response, of course, would be that I would not want a loved one to marry someone to love them completely. I don’t agree, however, with the premise a partial relationship.

    “I’m talking about wanting to share the rest of your life with that person, the sharing of dreams and hopes and the working together to overcome obsticles. And knowing that the possibilty that this person would someday no longer be able to be content with a partial relationship and leave your loved one.”

    I feel like I have the ability, as a heterosexual, to share all of those things with another “dude.” All of those things are a matter of choice within any relationship. Frankly, there are many marriages that don’t acheive this standard which is unfortunate. All I am saying is that there are many choices involved.

    Carrie, I can’t speak authoritatively on contract law. You stated, however, that anyone that practices incest came from a weird upbringing or would be a part of a cult. I used extreme examples volitionally to make a point. Thirty years ago, many people viewed homosexuality a similarly. Today that is not the case. I am simply saying that it is reasonable for society to define marriage as being between a man and a wife. . . I also don’t support kissing cousins/siblings or bigamy.

    Also, I concede that homosexuals want the same fulfillment in their marriage as I do in mine. They want their sexuality to be accepted and normalized. It is their right to push for this. My counterpoint (and please don’t misconstrue this as me being smug, because I truly enjoy the dialog) is that I also have a right to maintain a traditional perpective and to vote and encourage others to vote accordingly. I don’t want homosexual marriage to be viewed the same as my marriage. I believe that it does affect the strength of marriage in our society. We don’t live in a vacuum. I believe it ultimately affects us all.

    Thanks again everyone. I hope I am not too offensive. I enjoy the forum.

  13. 13greenlesson 12 Nov 2008 at 8:28 am

    As I sat in RS last week, I became saddened by the other women in the room. Their opinions were fed with anger. I could not sit there any longer and not stand up for all of you who just want to show your love and be equal. All you want to do is show your love for one another and many others just want to show their hate. What is wrong with this country? Why is it that many people see it as an “evil” thing? Do you not stop to think that your words are full of hate and an “evil” thing.
    Someone in RS had mentioned that marriage is a religious ceremony and that is why it shouldn’t be opened to just anyone. Do you people not see where it hurts these people emotionally? Have you ever tried to help a friend get their medical records while they are sick with no immediate family around? It is near impossible without saying that you are a relative. I have an uncle that has been with his soul mate for 34 years. He is the “homemaker” while his loved one is the one who earns for their family. His significant other’s family has never liked the situation and refuses to allow him in their homes. They have also said that when their son dies they will make sure he does not get a single penny or item from his own home.
    For those of you against same sex marriage, I hope this reply has made you realize that it isn’t just about the paper…. It is so much more!

  14. 14Fiona64on 13 Nov 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Dear Bryan:

    I respect your right to hold your view. However, the LDS belief system is not the civil law of this country. Honestly, you and BJ bring up religious arguments that have nothing to do with a clear and blatant violation of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

    Both of you have brought up “marriage is for having children” a couple of times. My husband and I are not having children, and I have taken surgical steps to ensure that. Should our marriage be judicially annulled?

    No one had the right to vote on my marriage (or yours). I guess I don’t understand the hubris of believing that we should vote on anyone else’s. :-(

  15. 15BillyPilgrimon 13 Nov 2008 at 2:26 pm

    If marriage is for having children, should people who are physically incapable of having children not be allowed to?

    I’m a member of the church, albeit a mostly inactive member. I am very glad this website exists. It gives me a chance to see that there are very active members of the church that feel the same way I do and it gives me hope, not only for myself, but for the entire religion.

  16. 16Shannon Leeon 16 Nov 2008 at 9:31 am

    Some societies in the past, like the Egyptians, did marry siblings in order to keep their bloodlines pure. But today we understand that in-breeding causes severe birth defects, and for that reason, the practice of marrying first cousins was also prohibited. Many of our pioneer ancestors married first cousins. Setting aside the moral issue there, it becomes a biological issue.

    We tend to get a little ridiculous when we begin to talk about people then claiming that they should be able to marry a sibling or perhaps even their goat.

    I do see this as completely a civil rights issue and not a religious issue. Some churches do marry gays, so not all of the religious community is on board in fighting against same-sex marriage.

    What I am struggling with more than anything else, is the fact that the Church has felt it okay to actively work to deny citizens the same rights as they themselves enjoy. It’s just not right. How can we claim the privilege of worshipping according to our own conscience, but then work against those same rights for others? I can’t even comprehend how that could possibly be okay? Yes, we may feel that it is God’s plan, but other people don’t necessarily agree with that, and it’s their right not to. They have as much right to their own beliefs, and to practice them, as we do, and yet we’re fighting against their civil rights. That’s mind boggling to me.

    The argument that a civil contract is the same thing as marriage seems kind of strange to me as well. If it’s the same thing, then why not call it the same thing. Giving it a different name fools no one, except that maybe it comforts others to be able to call it something else.

    I applaud you, Dr. Cornett. You, and others like you, have given me the courage to speak my own mind on this very important issue.

  17. 17Sherion 29 Nov 2008 at 10:48 am

    I find it fascinating that since I firmly believe that prop 8 was a violation of human and civil rights and was far departed from the true light of Christ and God’s love, I also find the clear and simple voice of reason in the arguments by those who voted “No”, but find the arguments for Yes completely twisted and convoluted. For months I’ve tried to wrap my mind around the “Yes” on prop 8 reasoning in order to understand it better since the debate has caused a great divide within my own family. The deeper I got into trying to understand it, the stronger the spirit spoke to me that the Protect Marriage Act is all about fear and insecurity, neither based in love. For people to flatly say, I don’t want gays having the same legal rights in their marraige as I have in mine because it takes the specialness away from me, sounds like the reasoning of a little child who has not yet learned how to share. It seems incredibly selfish, and juvenile, and does nothing to better the common good.

    When the argument is raised that our society will begin to deteriorate if we allow same sex marriage, with bililical stories of God’s wrath used as basis for such reasoning, consider this; Within two years of same sex marriage being outlawed in Califonrna, Alaska and Hawaii, and the “so-called” sanctity of marriage being preserved, the worst terrorist attack in U.S, history hit our soil and we were subsequently launched into a bloddy brutal war.

    Although there doesn’t appear to be a direct correlation between the two, the motto, United We Stand, Divided We Fall, can be used to demonstrate that when we use religion to divide us, disaster can ensue. (Islamic extremist suicide bombers defending their religion at all cost). We cannot allow relgious dogma to divide a nation built on our diverisity. Nothing good can come from such division. But much good can come from honoring the rights of all law abiding citizens, regardles of whether we believe in what they do in their bedrroms behind closed doors.

  18. 18JMon 18 Jan 2009 at 1:34 am

    I am one of the members of the church who struggled with Prop 8 initially, like many of those who have written above. However, I did what every Mormon is asked to do rather than following their leaders blindly or doing the opposite and supposing that whatever you already believe is right. I prayed, thought about it seriously – did my best to sort out my own thoughts on what the scriptures said, what I felt, and what part of my feelings were based on cultural norms and expectations, and what part of my feelings were based on things that I knew to be true, then prayed some more. I came through that process feeling a strong sense of love for all those who support Gay marriage, and yet, a very strong conviction that it was right to support Prop 8 and contribute whatever I was able to contribute to promote it. I had no hatred for those who yelled things at me as I held Prop 8 signs up, and no hatred for those who defaced and/or stole the signs that I and others put up. Like both my local leaders and the leaders in Utah, I pray for a healing of relationships divided by prop 8. The men and women who support Gay marriage deserve equal respect for their beliefs, though I heartily believe that it is up to the majority of voters to decide, to their blessing or detriment what the definition of marriage should be. Many GLBTQQ men and women long for the social acceptance flowing from state-sanctioned marriage, much much more than the property and tax benefits, and understandably will seek to do what is possible change public perception. Social acceptance of a philosophical standpoint or belief is a worthy goal. Being a Mormon – and thus a member of a religious minority – I want that too. However, if my dearly held beliefs about marriage and morality fly in the face of what is socially accepted (and mind you, some absolutely do), I would be hesitant to use the law as a vehicle to send the message out that my beliefs about marriage should be granted special protections beyond just my being able to believe them. Or to encroach even further by saying that my beliefs about marriage should be granted a special protected status even when the majority of voters finds otherwise. The law is a big hammer, and it should be weilded sparingly.

    I very much understand and sympathize with the comments of those who are disappointed with the abuses done in the name of religion, but I would decry the notion held by so many that all truth is what you make it. God is fully able and willing to reveal truth to every man or woman who is willing to thoughtfully put presuppositions and cultural beliefs on hold to receive that truth and let it soften their hearts but hardens their resolve to do whatever is necessary. I know from my own experience that God reveals truths to men and women for which they would give money, popularity, and even their lives – and in so doing, he also gives greater peace, love, hope and mercy – and so softens those to whom he speaks. I am very much in favor of Prop 8 and many of the implications it has that are unrelated to bigotry and hatred. I feel it my solemn duty to support and defend it with both a love of God and with love and respect for all my brothers and sisters who disagree with me.

    [Please remember this is not a place to call people to repentance. Thank you - Moderator.]

  19. 19Sherion 21 Jan 2009 at 5:34 pm

    JM, Beautifully stated, respectfully presented and heart felt. Thanks for showing those of us who have differing opinons that some do take the time to prayerfully consider the options.