Religious Organizations Should Not Rely on False or Misleading Legal Arguments in their Zeal to Support California Proposition 8

By Morris A. Thurston

I have received a copy of William Duncan’s response to my “Commentary on the Document ‘Six Consequences . . . if Proposition 8 Fails.’” I must say that I am disappointed and somewhat bewildered by both the tone and content of his piece. He misrepresents the point of my Commentary and tries to deflect attention away from the inaccuracies of the “Six Consequences” document. In doing so, he implicitly supports the continued use of falsehoods in the cause of California Proposition 8. This is wrong.

As I noted in the introduction to my Commentary, my intent was as follows:

“[T]o be of service in helping our Church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] avoid charges of using falsehoods to gain a political victory. I do not believe these so-called “Consequences” have originated at or been approved by Church headquarters; rather, I suspect they are the result of overzealous volunteers who have misinterpreted California law and the legal cases on which the supposed consequences depend. Relying on deceptive arguments is not only contrary to gospel principles, but ultimately works against the very mission of the Church.”

The first person to whom I sent this document was the general counsel to the LDS Church. I knew he would see that it was referred to the appropriate people so that corrective steps could be taken. It was my hope—and still is—that the Church will take steps to cease the distribution and use of the erroneous and misleading “Six Consequences” document.

My contribution was never intended to be an exhaustive commentary on the subject of gay marriage. I fully recognize there are valid arguments that can be made on both sides of that question, but the arguments made in “Six Consequences” are not valid. I want to spare our Church any further embarrassment that may result from circulating such a document.

Mr. Duncan’s response begins by attacking me as someone who “touts his personal religious activity.” My Commentary identifies me (in a footnote) as an active member of the LDS Church. This is true. I make no claim that my church activity should guide anyone to accept or reject what I say and it was clear from the context that I was not speaking on behalf of the Church. Duncan’s response to my Commentary identifies him as the director of the Marriage Law Foundation. I do not find this identification objectionable.

Mr. Duncan next claims that I “have been attacking the idea that redefining marriage in California creates possible negative ramifications for religious liberty in this state.” Where is the attack he refers to? Does he seriously think my Commentary on the “Six Consequences” document constitutes such an attack? I invite readers to look at it again and make their own determination. Next he accuses me of saying that “there is no reason to worry that churches and religious believers will be harmed in any way if California redefines marriage.” How does he get that out of my Commentary? Surely jumping to such unwarranted conclusions is unworthy of Mr. Duncan’s fine academic credentials.

Duncan even finds a way to criticize me for referring to “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” an article on the Church’s website that reminds us of the importance of approaching this issue “with respect for others, understanding, honesty and civility.” His criticism is that I referred specifically to this injunction, but not to the general conclusion that the redefinition of marriage bodes ill for religious liberty. Apparently he does not understand that my Commentary was not an attack on “The Divine Institution of Marriage;” it was merely a refutation of “Six Consequences.” Obviously, any reader of my Commentary will know that the Church supports Proposition 8.

After impugning my motives, Mr. Duncan launches into a discussion of a variety of other issues, apparently in an attempt to deflect attention away from the “Six Consequences” document. In all that discussion (which constitutes the bulk of his response) he touches on only two of the issues discussed in my Commentary. The first is the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group case. This was not a gay marriage case. In my discussion (page seven of my Commentary), I pointed out that the decision was based on a California law that expressly bans discrimination by businesses based on sexual preference. I concluded: “Whether we agree with this decision or not, the fact is that the law upon which this ruling was based will not be affected by the passage of Proposition 8.” It is disingenuous to claim that this sort of litigation will be avoided if Proposition 8 passes. Surely Mr. Duncan would agree.

The second issue in my Commentary that Mr. Duncan addresses is California Education Code 51890. In his response, Mr. Duncan says that this code section will “require schools to teach students of every age that there is no difference between a husband and wife and between same-sex couples.” In so stating the issue, Mr. Duncan proves the point made in my Commentary; namely, that the statement in “Six Consequences” is misleading. That document contends that the California Education Code would require schools to teach that same sex marriage is “just as good as” heterosexual marriage. In fact, however, the Code does not require schools to make a value judgment on the moral aspects of same-sex marriage. Even Mr. Duncan’s restatement of the issue, though preferable, is not entirely accurate. Perhaps he is trying to say is that if Prop 8 passes students will have to be taught that marriage between same-sex partners is lawful. If so, I would agree, though that seems obvious.

The rest of Mr. Duncan’s response deals with other cases and other issues. Since my Commentary was never intended to imply that there are no arguments to be made against same sex marriage, I shall not bother to respond to it.

I can only hope that the official response of the Church to my Commentary will be more reasoned and charitable than Mr. Duncan’s attack. I hope the Church will instruct its members that reliance on misleading and false “consequences” is not worthy of our basic values of honesty and fair dealing and that they should immediately cease further distribution of the “Six Consequences” document.

October 25, 2008

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.

Filed in mormons, prop 8 |

22 Responses to “Religious Organizations Should Not Rely on False or Misleading Legal Arguments in their Zeal to Support California Proposition 8”

  1. 1Amandaon 17 Oct 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I believe that the church is right in it’s doctrine against homosexuality, but gay marriage is a political issue not a religious one. The church shouldn’t be telling it’s members how to vote. Our temple marriages may be a privilege, but civil government ceremonies are not. They are a right. The government shouldn’t pick and choose what rights they give to what people. I think the church maybe needs to take a little chill pill. If they’re attacking your article like that and telling their members how to vote.

  2. 2Ritsumeion 18 Oct 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I found your 6 points to be extremely informative, and I appreciate a cool, calm explanation of these things without the hype and scare-tactics. I absolutely agree that while defending marriage is important it should be done with facts, not misrepresentation, however well-intentioned. The voice of reason and truth looses all validity when it strays from a *strict* standard of integrity.

  3. 3John Baumon 19 Oct 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I hope this is not seen as ‘off topic.” If it is and an administrator knows of a better place for it, please move it. Perhaps one of the regular contributors to the blog can research the topic and create a ‘proper post’ on the subject. I have no objection if this reply does not appear. I think it is important that the topic I raise be considered.

    I could not find an email address. I appreciate why. Some people cannot resist the temptation to spam it to death.

    Today I encountered this story.

    http://mormontimes.com/around_church/general_authority/?id=4192

    In response, I wrote to Ms. Carrie Morris.

    Here is what I said. I think it is important for LDS members to appreciate the ‘guilt by association’ they may experience as a result of being part of the ‘interfaith coalition.’

    Dear Ms. Moore,

    Thank you for your article about the petition. It includes the following sentence, “The issue is important to both the LDS Church and other churches within the interfaith coalition supporting Proposition 8.”

    I tried a Google search to see if anyone has posted a list of the members of this coalition. I did not find it easy to find. Do you have a link?

    I ask, because as an evangelical I would be surprised if Focus on the Family is not on that list. After all they’ve given about $500,000 to the campaign directly and much more through adjunct organizations. I ask because I’ve read this link:

    http://www.powells.com/authors/wallis.html

    If you find it too long to read, open your browser’s search tool and enter “Focus” and see where it takes you. The LDS leadership may believe in their heart of hearts that same-sex marriage is harmful to the community. It appears that Focus on the Family is not so convinced. Their involvement appears to be a financial one. Attacking the GLBT community brings in money.

    I ask, does the LDS community want to be affiliated with so hypocritical an associate? Does the LDS community want to be seen as yet another organization that supports the perspective, “the ends justify the means?” I hope not.

    If they do not, please pass this link and my message upwards in the communication chain in Salt Lake.

    Thank you,

    John Baum

  4. 4Microgravityon 20 Oct 2008 at 2:58 pm

    The major weakness of Mr. Thurston’s arguments is that they only consider the short term consequences of Proposition 8. Of course teachers won’t start teaching that gay marriage is the same as traditional marriage the minute after Proposition 8 is passed. But if Proposition 8 does not pass, it will put society on the path towards that very thing happening. It may take years for it to happen, but once we are on that path, it will be very difficult to get off of it. Take the long-term perspective: vote “Yes” on Proposition 8.

  5. 5Blake Ostleron 20 Oct 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Mr. Thurston: I have read your document responding to the Church’s 12 points. Let me say that I appreciate your taking the time to write, but ultimately find it to be misleading. Let me elucidate. First, a little about my background. I have practices in the areas of Constitutional litigation and education law for approximately 23 years. I have represented LDSFS and other mental and social health organizations (private, governmental and quasi-governmental) in several cases, though I haven’t represented LDSFS in the last 10 years. I believe that I can assess your arguments based on my experience and knowledge of these areas. Let’s take them one-by-one:

    1. Teaching about same sex marriage. You claim that passage of Proposition 8 will not require teachers to teach that “same sex marriage is ‘just as good as’ as traditional marriage.” However, your response is both misleading and uninformed. Given that SSM is legal, you are correct that it follows that teachers will teach that same sex marriage is lawful and legally on par with traditional marriage. It won’t and cannot stop there. Teachers will be prohibited from making any distinctions between traditional and SSM. It therefore follows that teachers will be barred from stating that the State, e.g., has a greater interest in protecting traditional heterosexual marriage than SSM. The problem as I see it is that no distinction can be made between SSM and traditional marriage. Any student who expressed opinions regarding the distinction, for instance that that homosexual conduct is sinful, could possibly be regarded by a school district as engaging in hate speech. What is to stop that kind of inference? Does the law mandate that it be so treated? Of course not — but it leaves such responses as an open possibility. The implication easily arises that SSM is just as important and on equal footing with traditional marriage in all respects and no distinctions of value will be allowed. That was the Church’s point as I see it and to that extent it is accurate.

    2. The tax exempt status of churches may be challenged. You state flatly that this is a “false consequence,” arguing that the argument is based on a New Jersey case. In fact, it is easy to see how the challenge can and will arise. As you are well aware, the concern is actually based on Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983). For those interested, here is a short link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jones_University_v._United_States It is easy to see how Bob Jones could be extended in California to deny tax exempt status in California if Proposition 8 fails. Here is how: the Ca. Supreme Court held that the right to SSM is a “basic and fundamental right” that is on par in every respect with traditional marriage. Those who deny “fundamental rights” to others can be denied tax exempt status. Nor is the LDS Church the only organization to express such concerns. See e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Religious_Broadcasters I’m surprised that you didn’t discuss this possible extension of the rationale of the Bob Jones case. That California would extend the rationale to apply to organizations that teach that SSM is sinful, it is well within the range of reasonable possibilities to be concerned.

    3. There is no concern that religious organization might be denied the right to originate adoptions. You argue that the Church misleads because it states that Catholic Charities was forced to shut its doors. The Church doesn’t state that Catholic Charities was forced as you state. Further, there is a legitimate concern here. The State of Mass. would not exempt Catholic Charities from the demand that it perform gay adoptions. The Catholic Church looked at the statutory framework and how the Mass. Supreme Court had interpreted it and expressed extreme concern that it would lose a costly lawsuit — and the mere requirement to defend its religious position was prohibitive for it.

    You are correct that there are difference between LDSFS (whom I have represented) and the Catholic Charities — primarily in the refusal of LDSFS to accept government support. However, as you well know, the courts often search far and wide to find a way to interpret any connection with federal or state funding as receipt of such funds — and the tentacles of the government are far reaching. This concern is very legitimate. No, the case against LDSFS would not be identical to the Catholic Charities case, but the distinctions that you point to are from from dispositive and there is a very real concern that California would interpret its law much like Mass. thus forcing a legal showdown. However, there is cause for even greater concern in California unless Proposition 8 passes. Unlike Mass., California has interpreted its State Constitution to establish a “fundamental right” and thus the case would be much stronger in California that it would have been in Mass.

    You suggest that California’s already existing broad civil unions statute means that passage of Proposition 8 would have no effect on the outcome of such a case. You miss the fact that a statutory protection of equality between traditional marriage and a State Constitutional provision that has been construed to create a fundamental right will be interpreted very differently. The case against LDSFS would be much stronger if Proposition 8 does not pass — and in fact the concern will likely evaporate if it does. Your response is thus very misleading and shortsighted in my opinion.

    4. You suggest that passage of Proposition 8 would have no effect on university housing. This is your most misleading claim. The fact is that it is easy to see how the Yeshiva University precedent would be adopted and extended in California unless Proposition 8 passes. That it hasn’t been tested to date doesn’t entail that passage of Proposition 8 would have no effect as you misleadingly contend. Your argument is a simple non-sequitur, i.e, it hasn’t been ruled on yet so passage of Proposition 8 won’t have an effect if it is ruled upon. That is just non-sense. The fact that the issue may not arise with a religious school is beside the point when we speak of state sponsored institutions. It may well change the requirement that an LDS student will be required to house with someone of the opposite or same sex given the equal protection arguments of the California Supreme Court.

    5. We are largely in agreement that ministers who teach that homosexual conduct is a sin will not be charged with hate crimes — but because these rights are well-established under the United States Constitution and California is powerless to change them.

    6. I don’t know enough to comment on the financial effects of not passing Proposition 8, but I am highly dubious that the revenues from marriage will off-set the tax-payer burden for room-mates. Further, you miss the point. The issue isn’t cost with respect to net government revenues, but the cost to private litigants who disagree with SSM.

    I believe that you also incorrect about the effect of passage of Proposition 8 on the North Coast Women’s Care case. You are correct that it was decided under California’s very broad anti-discrimination statues. However, if Proposition 8 passes, these statutes are likely to be read in pari materia with Proposition 8 and therefore the outcome may well be different. Passage of a new law has an effect on interpretation of existing laws as you well know. This fact points to a serious defect in your legal analysis throughout your response. You assume that if a case is decided based on the existing laws that Proposition 8 will not have any effect on interpretation of those laws going forward. It is a basic failure to acknowledge the effect on interpretation of existing laws when a new law is passed. This is the kind of argument that I find used in your response repeatedly and it is misleading and quite incomplete.

    For these reasons, your analysis critically misleads in many respects and fails to engage in the relevant analysis at several critical points. The chief failing is the refusal to address how the passage of Proposition 8 will affect statutory and Constitutional interpretation in the future — the effect would be profound.

    Now let me be clear — nothing I have said ought to be interpreted as a suggestion that there is anything inherently wrong with a person who has homosexual tendencies. Nevertheless, the claim made on this site that no homosexuals have a choice about their orientation is just dead-wrong. The scientific evidence established quite conclusively that there is in fact a continuum and many who have such tendencies can swing either way. However, there are likely some who have no choice about whether they have tendencies. However, they do have choice about their actions — such a distinction is fundamental to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the failure of this site to even acknowledge that fact is deplorable in my view. Notwithstanding my support for Proposition 8, nothing should deter us from accepting those who may have same sex attraction tendencies in full fellowship, with affirmation of love and support for them. If they choose to sin, then I am not called to judge, (I have plenty of my own sins to deal with).

    I support civil unions — and I support them for all state sponsored ceremonies that establish contractual protections for relationships for both traditional and SS marriages. I do not support state sponsored marriage of any sort and I believe that it in a world where folks are properly informed the institution of marriage will be seen as solely a religious rite. It therefore violates the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause for the State to perform marriages on par with religious rites. Some day we’ll make such a distinction and the issue can be resolved in that way.

  6. 6Law Dee Daon 20 Oct 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Blake, are you sure your a lawyer?

    1.Go back and review your Chemerinsky con-law book and find out what rises to the level of hate speech, you can say that it is immoral and sinful to be black, that is not hate speech. 1st amendment protects political speech, and you know this.
    2. Losing non-profit, 501(c)(3) status will not be lost by not allowing gays to marry in the temple—are you kidding me? Marriage is a fundamental right for straight people too—and not all straight people are allowed to marry in the temple. Further, the only threat to the churches nonprofit statutes is there “substantial” involvement in changing legislation.
    3. Sorry, maybe some of us are not concerned if same sex marriage is taught in schools. Maybe the church should worry about people teaching that abortion will be taught in school–now abortion is an issue the church SHOULD worry about (oh that’s right, crickets on that one). Many things are taught in schools that LDS folks disapprove of, that is the point of the family and church, or did you forget that?
    4. As far as your adoption “tentacle” argument goes, nice scare tactic. LDS Social Services does not currently have to adopt to ANYONE they do not want to: Wiccans or Scientologist who also have the right to marry, or single people for that matter.
    5. non-sequitur? please do explain for all of us how gay marriage will force men and women to live together in religious housing, if that has not already happened under the current legal regime (the civil & women’s rights movement.) That is entirely separate issue.
    6. There is not anything “inherently wrong with a person who has homosexual tendencies. Nevertheless, the claim made on this site that no homosexuals have a choice about their orientation is just dead-wrong.” Is it? You KNOW this,? Wouldn’t a continuum indicate that there are those, on the END of the continuum? You are not here to judge? It sure sounds like you are, because apparently you find something horribly wrong with gay marriage, gay adoption, and teaching about homosexuality in school—that, is called “judging.” Further, what if people do choose to be gay, people choose to be Mormon, people choose to be Pagan or Atheist, you don’t see the church propping up legislation keeping parents from teaching their children about religions some may find abhorrent? So why is this? That’s right….It really just comes down to homophobia, doesn’t it. Sorry, but I don’t find your slippery slope, scare tactics credible—I’m going to go with the Harvard educated guy who makes sense.

  7. 7Benon 20 Oct 2008 at 6:49 pm

    God wants all his children to receive all the blessings he has available. One problem with same sex marriage is it creates families that can never be sealed, neither in this life nor the next. They can also never be baptized without breaking them up.

  8. 8Blake Ostleron 20 Oct 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Law Dee: yeah, I’m a lawyer and this is my area of expertise. Let me point out how your response purposefully misstates and misrepresents what I actually say and how it amounts to little more than calling names:

    1st — I agree that saying that homosexual relations are sinful is not necessarily hate speech. I said that school districts may construe it to be and disallow it because California law requires that both SSM and traditional marriage be regarded as equals. Perhaps you missed that simple point?

    2nd — I didn’t say anything about temple marriage so your comment is an attack on a straw man and misrepresentation of what I said. In fact it has no contact with what I actually said. You are just flat wrong that marriage is a fundamental right for straight people too. The Ohio and New York courts refused to recognize it as such and California is the first to recognize marriage as a fundamental right. Such a finding has far reaching legal implications and a large part of the reason taht I support Proposition 8.

    3rd — You may be unconcerned if your children are taught in public schools that homosexual relations are just fine and anyone who disagrees cannot express a contrary view, but I don’t want my children taught or muzzled like that.

    4th — My argument about how courts interpret various receipt of funds by students to amount to receipt of tax funds by the institution and so forth is hardly an argument that is novel or even controversial.

    5th — Yeah, the argument was a non-sequitur. So is your response. Your response is: well, if the law is now interpreted to mean that you must live with mixed sex housing without Proposition 8, it will be the same after Proposition 8 is passed. That doesn’t follow at all.

    6th — Yeah La Dee, I’m positive that the scientific research demonstrates a continuum of orientations and commitment to orientation and the broad brush that you insist on brushing everyone with is in my view more insulting that simply recognizing the truth. I’m not judging anyone with such a comment — I’m stating what the research has established and it won’t change just because you don’t like it.

    Finally, to pull a “homophobia” charge like a grand ad hominem out of the hat is not merely bad form, it is the very kind of judgment I would agree with you that we are better of avoiding. Just because we disagree doesn’t make me homophobic. If someone chooses to be gay, fine — but it is a choice with moral implications and consequences. As I said, there may well be many who have no choice about their orientation; but they have choice about their conduct and actions. It is time to take accountability for that which we are accountable for.

  9. 9Jeanieon 20 Oct 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Ben– Yours is a religious argument, not a legal one. Prop 8 deals with legal and civil rights. It is inappropriate to make laws based on the religious beliefs of individual churches.

  10. 10admin3on 20 Oct 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Just a reminder folks that we can debate issues without attacking one another, issuing calls for repentance, or swearing. If you want your posts to get through, please keep that in mind.

    We’ll keep this thread open as long as people can treat one another with the respect they deserve as sons and daughters of Deity.

  11. 11Jeanieon 21 Oct 2008 at 6:39 am

    I misspoke in my previous post. I should have said that the reason Prop 8 should be defeated is that it is based on putting the beliefs of one religious group over another, which is not what laws and civil rights should be based on.

  12. 12Benon 21 Oct 2008 at 7:33 am

    Moroni 7 teaches that whatever teaches us to to good is sent from God. Because SSM teaches that homosexuality is good, it cannot be sent from God (unless you deny the scriptures).
    Dale Carpenter, a thoughtful pro gay marriage blogger who posts at Volohk Conspiracy said:

    Trying to win “gay marriage” through a campaign that never mentions “gays” and hardly ever mentions “marriage” does seem counter-intuitive. I doubt voters can be bamboozled into thinking that a consequence of a “no” vote on Prop 8 is anything other than the (probably) permanent establishment of gay marriage and an implicit public declaration that homosexuality is unobjectionable. A vote against Prop 8 is a vote for gay marriage; a vote for Prop 8 is a vote against gay marriage. For most voters, pro and con, I doubt it’s any more complicated than that.
    http://volokh.com/posts/1224269295.shtml

  13. 13John Pack Lamberton 21 Oct 2008 at 9:42 am

    Brother Ostler understands much about the law, and I agree with his well thought out argument.
    His bringing up hate speech in the context of the schools was not meant to say any specific statement is hate speech. Hate speech is not well defined, and considering that the ruling by the California Supreme Court found new rights that had never before existed, it is impossible to know what hate speech will be in the future.
    Mr. Ostler wisely points out that we are discussing issues that are not known.
    Schools like to control students and usually err on the side of suppressing student opinions instead of letting students say hurtful things. The one exception to this is when insults are lobbied at religions.
    I believe in religious freedom. Maybe LDS activities will not be curtailed if Proposition 8 fails. However Lutheran, Catholic and many other reigious groups will possibly be denied ability to recieve any state aid to students in their colleges in California. I believe in religious freedom for all, not just Latter-day Saints and so I support Proposition 8.

  14. 14cowboyon 21 Oct 2008 at 11:40 am

    Mr. Ostler,

    I respectfully challenge you on your notion that homosexuality is a choice and can be changed along some “continuum”. Scientifically there is nothing supporting your claim. You need to provide your sources.

    It boils down to this: either you support the idea homosexuals are equal or not. And please, please don’t be so condescending to alter the meaning with: “homosexuals with tendencies”…that’s just rude and ignorant. Being a lawyer you should know how prejudiced it is using those terms. Please stop using offensive terms. These terms are being used by anti-gay bigots and I’m not sure you want to be associated with that.

    This is just your opinion as a lawyer. You are not a scientist, not gay, probably have little to no associations with people who are gay. Therefore you can pronounce your judgment upon a segment of society?

    Please, do some research.

    But, I’ll make it easier for you: name me ONE person who has changed from being a homosexual into a heterosexual. Name just one. And before you answer, I want to qualify what constitutes a “change”. It has to be someone who has no “tendencies” (your word) at being gay at all.

  15. 15Bryanon 21 Oct 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Respectfully I would like to add:

    Does a tendency to do something contrary to the will of God make me unequal to others? As, say, a heterosexual, does my general instinctual desire to couple with many different attractive members of the opposite sex–a tendency to fornicate or adulter as the case may be–make me unequal to others? Certainly not. What about if I commit those sins, am I now accorded less rights? No. Even though there are others out there who are not committing these sins? Still, no. That I can see my rights should not be curbed.

    But are others required to embrace my behavior as correct? As part of my rights not being curbed should the rest of society be made to bow to my preference to sin. Maybe I was just born with a non-monogamous sex drive. Maybe I could point to some uber-sex-drive gene. Maybe I married a shrewish woman. Maybe I’m surrounded by beautiful desirable women at my workplace (and I just happen to be ridiculously attractive myself…I wish). I might have a massive list of challenges to the Lord’s mandate that I keep the Law of Chastity, but the expectation remains. It does not make unequal. That I am tempted, does not make me unequal. Even that I should sin, does not make me unequal. But others are under no duty to embrace my actions and call them right if that is not their understanding. Neither ought they to stand by while I try to force the issue.

    I might have to live with this tendency/preference/gene/orientation (whatever you want to call it) for the rest of my life. But God’s plan for his children remains the same. We ALL have something that tempts us away from it. But where members of the Church have to draw the line (I think) is when we try to make the quantum leap from “God allows me to be tempted by X” to “X must be ok because God made such that I am tempted by (or have a preference for) X.”

    Asking for a “right to marry” is not asking for a right of action. You already have the right to do as you please. You are asking for a “right of approval,” a “right of sanction.” I.e. it’s not a right, but a blessing you’re seeking from the government. But note, the government remains, largely, “by the people.” It’s not, as yet, a monarchy. Which means that you seek that sanction from the people. Some will give it to you. Others, like myself, cannot in good conscience. I have loved ones, even a sister, who deals with same-sex attraction. We love and sympathize with you, but to my understanding, the Lord’s Law of Chastity still applies. I cannot say or act otherwise.

  16. 16cowboyon 21 Oct 2008 at 3:21 pm

    There is only one but glaring flaw in your logic: sexual attraction is not a temptation.

    If you want to make homosexuals force themselves to love someone of the opposite sex that would be similar to asking heterosexual man to force his “temptations” towards a man. See how ludicrous that is. And you are implying a gay man should alter his temptations.

    It can’t be done…with honesty. You only create an instance of denial or forced love. What woman would want to be with a homosexual man? If you knew the true nature of love there is no mistaking there are factors greater than sex and lust that compromises the aspect called love and companionship.

    I wish I could introduce you to some gay couples. There, you might witness the loving and caring emotions and actions that most people recognize. Their love is as deep and loving as any heterosexual’s. Heterosexuals don’t have the corner on the market on love.

    It’s not a “temptation”.

    If only you could understand. If only you would understand.

  17. 17Suzanne Neilsenon 21 Oct 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Bryan, Bryan ,Byran
    Under California Law marriage is a fundamental right. I don’t want your love, I daing well don’t want your sympathy and you can keep your approval. I’m not your sister, I don’t want it.
    What I do object to is your insistence on writing discrimination into the California constitution. I demand equality.

    As a parent and legally married lesbian, I think it is outrageous to seek to destroy my family and thousands of others in the name of protecting families. Self righteousness is not a reason to strip people of their Civil Rights. Under the law we are equal.

    [edited for tone]

  18. 18Dave Hoenon 21 Oct 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Folks –

    Are you listening to the words coming out of your mouths? I can agree that it is well within a religion’s right to believe homosexual acts are a sin. But does that give you license to force all other religions or the State to deny basic fundamental CIVIL rights to a group of people just because you believe they commit sin? You are saying that it is okay and correct that a simple majority can take away civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Is that really what you want to say? Would it be within your right to deny marriage to those who don’t keep the Sabbath day holy? Certainly it would be for Temple Marriage but not civil marriage. Would it be within your right to deny marriage to those who eat lobster (since that is an abomination too)? Certainly it would be for Temple Marriage if not eating lobster was one of the requirements, but not for civil marriage. What about Religions who believe that homosexuality is not a sin? Is it within your right to make it illegal for them to perform same-sex marriages? Be careful how you answer here. For if you believe that it is right to deny one group of their civil rights, then you must also believe that the government and other religions were justified in their persecution of Mormons for practicing polygamy in the early days of the church. You can’t have it both ways.

    The Eleventh Article of Faith, which is still a basic tenant of the LDS Church says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    [edited for tone]

  19. 19Bryanon 21 Oct 2008 at 6:04 pm

    The context is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This site, though I’m starting to think I very much misread it, was ostensibly to talk about this subject within the context of the Church, not just yet another forum to talk about it the matter purely politically. There’s lots of places for that.

    I am not making a legal argument that will–within the narrow bounds of what one may believe to be their political rights written into the state constitution–somehow convince you to abandon your struggle to preserve state-sanctioned same-sex marriage.

    I making a religious argument meant to be made to the members of the Church. What the Lord asks is what the Lord asks. Call homosexual tendencies whatever you want to call them. The Lord has explained that part of his plan for us is to live the Law of Chastity, which, as it happens, doesn’t include homosexual relationships. The reasons are clearly laid out both in the scriptures and in the modern revelation like the Proclamation to the Family. I can see a paradigm has been created where “homosexual” has been made into a distinction like black and white, but it doesn’t seem to be a distinction which the Lord makes. We may all labor under different predispositions to sin, but we’re all simply Gods sons and daughters. These predispositions do not, that I read in the Scripture or hear from modern prophets, put us into different categories for which different commandments apply.

    With that in mind, when the Lord asks us to (1) live the Law of Chastity, and (2) support Yes on 8, the choice before is simple enough, as with anything else–however odd it may seem in the moment–which the Lord may ask. “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve” etc. These aren’t new concepts.

    Civil and historical arguments–however tortured, on both sides–can be made until we are all blue in the face (and I think some of us are) but to members of the Church, following the Lord’s commands Prophets and Apostles will come first. If you don’t believe in them and the Church, then I shouldn’t doubt that that will sound like political sacrilege. But to say the opposite would be–for me–true sacrilege.

    I can’t recant. To the extent you believe you are doing the right thing by supporting No on 8, I don’t ask that you do either. I strongly believe that we should all do what we think is right, whatever that may be. I’m expressing that view, and I’ve been happy to hear what you have to say as well.

  20. 20Daveon 21 Oct 2008 at 7:25 pm

    This is a fascinating issue that certainly pushes all the right buttons, including quoting scripture, the constitution, politics, philosophy, applicable legal codes, appeals to equality, tolerance, acceptance, religious ideals, etc.

    The challenge is that most of the contributors mix all of the issues together, depending on what the agenda and bias is of that particular contributor. If a sound legal analysis is created, then challenged, someone else criticizes based on “tolerance” or other real or pseudo-Christian ideals.

    It is rare to find individuals that are able to stay on point with an issue, without mixing issues or approaches in order to attempt to have the final word.

    My comment is purely legal based–and yes I am a practicing lawyer, although I do not feel the need to publicize my credentials–let these comments stand on their own:

    When I reviewed Mr. Thurston’s article, and his postings related to his article, there did seem to be something that was critically missing. My reading of Mr. Ostler’s analysis discovered a significant flaw: Mr. Thurston neglects to provide any thoughtful analysis as to how a Constitutional right based on an equal protection claim will affect any of the issues he summarily dismisses. In short, he does seem to entirely miss the major issue that is created by a holding that gay marriage is a fundamental right that arises from the equal clause of the California Constitution. All of the Codes and cases that he quotes, whether interesting or not, if similarly raised in California, will become subject to and trumped by Constitutional implications that result.

    It does seem a bit arrogant to call others “misleading” when the analysis, while interesting, stays in the shallow-end of the pool. In other words, the legal issues raised by gay marriage in California entirely relate to how courts will in the future interpret gay marriage in the context of existing laws and programs vis a vis the equal protection clause.

    Note, I have not suggested that therefore an equal protection analysis will result in different holdings, etc. In fact, I am not taking the time myself (at least not right now) to provide such analysis. I am just pointing out that the wrong tool was used in measuring the criticism as set forth by Mr. Thurston.

    Now, if you are going to criticize me, that is okay. But note, I will only respect you if you provide some thoughtful comments to my LEGAL point.

  21. 21Have Compassion Pleaseon 22 Oct 2008 at 6:33 am

    Cowboy… I completely agree with you. What can we do to make people understand that “same sex attraction” is not just a struggle… Some people have sexual tendeicies towards both men and women but most gay people I know were born that way and would identify themselves as gays, not people who struggle with same sex attraction. Why can’t heterosexuals in the church be more compassionate and understanding? I have heard people compare homosexual tendencies to struggles with drugs and alcohol which I think is ridiculous. The whole purpose in life is to be loved, and we ask homosexuals in the church to give up that possibility? How can anyone understand what gays in the church go through? It is impossible! As a church we need to be more compassionate and stop judging something we don’t understand.

  22. 22cowboyon 22 Oct 2008 at 7:51 am

    I stumbled onto this mormonsformarriage forum and applaud and appreciate the points made here. We are part of something historic here. I believe Mr. Thurston is correct about the potential for embarrassing consequences by overzealous members of the LDS faith. The future will be the ultimate judge on the actions by the LDS Church. I think there are some brave Saints here who understand the importance of civic duty and civil rights and the obligation to follow their Prophet.

    If it weren’t for mormonsformarriage there would only be the black & white and our politics would be like a dictatorial theocracy. But it’s not. I don’t believe Mr. T.S. Monson is working for my best interests in my life. I will admit his influence is grand and impressive but his dogma does not trump my civil rights.

    I wish I could sit down with each one of you and show you more of what I believe is a mischaracterization of who gay people are. I may not be the best representation (heaven knows!) and I know there are far better gay people than me but, I feel, it would be interesting…for me at least.

    Truly, inspiring to read the comments here. I’m impressed with the reasoning and insightfulness. I even appreciate the conflict that is the crux of mormonsformarriage.

    This is an historic moment we are witnessing. Much like the civil-rights issues in the 1960s the LDS Church had to endure.