The Mormons are coming!

antimormonpropFor a while I was complaining that the mainstream media hadn’t really covered how the clash over same-sex marriage affected religious groups. So in that regard, I’m pleased to see this story by the Washington Post‘s Karl Vick about how some supporters of same-sex marriage are engaged in, to put it in the most charitable way I can, a public relations campaign against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The story, headlined “‘The Mormons are Coming!’” has some major-league weaknesses, however:

As more states take up the debate on same-sex marriage, some advocates of legalization are taking a very specific lesson from California, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dominated both fundraising and door-knocking to pass a ballot initiative that barred such unions.

With the battle moving east, some advocates are shouting that fact in the streets, calculating that on an issue that eventually comes down to comfort levels, more people harbor apprehensions about Mormons than about homosexuality.

That’s the lede. While I think the notion that the issue of redefining marriage to encompass same-sex unions comes down to “comfort levels” is idiotic, I recognize that some people think that. Some folks believe that opposition to same-sex marriage can be attributed to nothing more than fear and homophobia. No matter how many majorities clearly state they’re opposed to it, the media rarely ask them why — they just chalk it up to people being, at worst, bigots or, at best, sheltered and not knowing any gay people. It’s the argument stated by Harvey Milk in Milk — if people just knew more gay people, it would change their political views. It’s a condescending notion. So again, while I realize that some people believe this issue comes down to comfort levels, usually those people are on one side of the issue. To state that this issue definitively comes down to comfort levels is really beyond the scope of a journalist’s vocation.

Anyway, the story looks at an ad campaign being run by some proponents of same-sex marriage:

“The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!” warned ads placed on newspaper Web sites in three Eastern states last month. The ad was rejected by sites in three other states, including Maine, where the Kennebec Journal informed Californians Against Hate that the copy “borders on insulting and denigrating a whole set of people based on their religion.”

“I’m not intending it to harm the religion. I think they do wonderful things. Nicest people,” said Fred Karger, a former Republican campaign consultant who established Californians Against Hate. “My single goal is to get them out of the same-sex marriage business and back to helping hurricane victims.”

The strategy carries risks for a movement grounded in the concept of tolerance. But the demographics tempt proponents of same-sex marriage: Mormons account for just 2 percent of the U.S. population, and they are scarce outside the West. Nearly eight in 10 Americans personally know or work with a gay person, according to a recent Newsweek survey. Only 48 percent, meanwhile, know a Mormon, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The story goes on to take the campaign seriously, and discusses how people view Mormons. So, for instance, a Mormon author found that for every American who expressed a strong liking for Mormons, four expressed a strong dislike. Whether or not that’s true, I’m surprised the story doesn’t dig a heck of a lot deeper.

I mean, it’s possible that people view Mormons negatively and still have a huge problem with a campaign trying to control what they teach or do. Not to get all Martin Niemoller on the topic, but people with different religious views might see the writing on the wall with ad campaigns such as this. They might see that religious opposition to same-sex marriage (and any living out of that opposition in the public square) is considered incompatible with gay rights.

I’m extremely surprised that in the story we don’t hear from anyone pointing out that going after Mormons for their opposition to same-sex marriage might backfire big time, to put it mildly. There’s also no discussion of some of the anti-Mormon protests and vandalism that erupted following California’s Proposition 8 vote. Far from it. The only comment dealing with the issue comes in the kicker:

“Is it fruitful to use the Mormon bogey?” said Mark Silk, a professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Connecticut. “My sense is that there aren’t great risks to it. Once a religious institution is going to inject itself into a public fight, which the LDS did in a straight-up way, then I think people are prepared to say, ‘Well, okay, you’re on that side and we’re against you.’”

mormonmoneyAgain, I bet there are quite a few people who look at the anti-Mormon rhetoric and begin wondering about how tolerant some gay activists are.

The story has some interesting discussion of Mormon organization and how that played out in Proposition 8. But check out this section:

The proponents’ strategy is grounded in a stubborn reality: While the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage is slowly increasing — Maine recently became the fifth — in every case the agent of change was either a court or a legislature. Voters have rejected the idea wherever it has appeared on a ballot.

The election results track public opinion nationwide. Polls consistently show that while a majority of Americans support some legal recognition of gay unions, more want to keep marriage reserved for a man and a woman.

The disparity is narrow and shrinking, however, and in California, Mormons may well have made the difference on Proposition 8, which nullified a decision by the state Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage.

While the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage is slowly increasing, so is the number of states banning it. California, Arizona and Florida were the last three — bringing the total to some 30 — states to ban it. They did so just this past November.

And is the disparity narrow and shrinking? What about the Gallup poll that came out earlier this week showing that Americans are not becoming more accepting of same-sex unions? In May 2007, 53 percent opposed same-sex marriage and now 57 percent oppose. Two years ago, 46 percent supported same-sex marriage and now only 40 percent do according to the poll.

The media really like to run with the narrative that same-sex marriage is inevitable. They have repeated it incessantly. But is it true? Take, even, the oft-repeated statistics about how young people support same-sex marriage while older people oppose it. That is definitely true. But should we assume that attitudes don’t change over time? It reminds me of these surveys showing that college students don’t go to church as frequently as older adults do. The thing is that college church attendance has very little to do with later church attendance. For decades we’ve seen that college students drop off and then rebound in church attendance.

Looking back at the Gallup poll, shouldn’t the media be exploring something about why attitudes have changed, according to the poll? Are people looking at the lack of violence following, for instance, an Iowa Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage compared with the response in California to how Prop. 8 turned out? I don’t know . . . but it’s odd that a story about an anti-Mormon ad campaign (an ad campaign literally called “The Mormons are Coming!”) wouldn’t even consider that this might backfire big time.

I also find it fascinating that this entire story aims to support the notion that Americans will be less comfortable with Mormons than gays (if forced, somehow, to choose). We learn all sorts of things about the Mormon church in this story — much of it very fairly written. But we never explore whether it’s true that the more people know about gay activists, the more comfortable they’ll be with them.

Take, for instance, the woman who organized California’s “Meet in the Middle for Equality” march held Saturday in Fresno. Her name is Robin McGehee and she seems by all accounts to be a very nice and capable woman. Here’s an absolutely fawning profile of her in the San Francisco Chronicle from last fall. I sure hope it was written by her mother — it’s just that biased. Anyway, she is one of four partners in the raising of her children — two partnered women and two partnered men. I’m sure that what I’m about to write is considered shocking inside the Washington Post . . . but I bet quite a few people in America think that such a family arrangement is less than ideal. They might even feel more, dare I say, “comfortable” with the Mormon family next door (not that I, again, think this should matter regarding marriage policy). But we never really see any hard-hitting looks at why society considers families led by two parents of opposite sex to be best for children. It’s almost considered impolitic to discuss this reality.

There’s much more to the Washington Post story and I encourage you to check it out. What do you think? Is it fair? Does it rub you the wrong way? What else is missing from this story?

Photo via Evan Jacobs on Flickr.

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  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “…some supporters of same-sex marriage are engaged in, to put it in the most charitable way I can, a public relations campaign…”

    Implying, of course, that you hold many “uncharitable” opinions of Gay Marriage activist tactics towards the Mormons. I wonder, do you hold similarly “uncharitable” views towards organizations that you agree with who employ similar tactics? Just curious.

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    Has anyone in the media pointed out that the outrage over the Mormon Church’s involvement in the anti-Prop 8 campaign is inappropriate only if the involvement of the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, Unitarians and others is ALSO inappropriate?

    This appears to be a hateful attack on one side of the issue, and for the media to go along with it and not point out the hypocrisy is shameful, though again, not at all surprising.

    Oh, and the sign in the picture about Mormons being able to have “10 wives” is profoundly ignorant, hateful, and hilarious all at the same time.

    Mollie’s point about values changing over time as young people get older (and enter the workforce) is a good one, and is frequently overlooked when this issue is raised.

  • Dave

    Mollie, it’s not condescending to aay that people’s gay tolerance increases as they get to know more gay people. It’s experience. Having people you know come out is startling at first but any cognitive dissonance is shortly resolved, and it’s largely in favor of tolerance. At a more evolved level, knowing committed gay or lesbian couples evokes tolerance and even support of marriage equity.

    These are not just opinions. It’s a summary of social experience within Unitarian Unversalism over the past three decades. Give Vick the benefit of the doubt when he analyzes things in terms of comfort levels; not everyone has an examined, defensible theology ready to throw on the table.

    That being said, the anti-Mormon campaign makes my skin crawl, and I agree (as usual) with your complaints about unasked interview questions.

  • RB Scott

    The problem with this story, as well as the earlier piece in the Washington Post, is that both assume, perhaps unintentionally, that Mormons are pretty mindless, Kool-Aided lot marching happily together in fervent lockstep. I daresay they, we, are a rather more diverse “people” with as many – perhaps more — divergent, nuanced views on marriage, life and the pursuit of happiness as any group of Catholics, Southern Baptists, Presbyterians and Baptists, even Jews, Episcopalians and Unitarians.

    Also, didn’t the recent Gallup poll indicate that while there had been a small uptick in opposition to same sex marriage nationwide, there was also substantial increase in support for same sex civil unions?

    RB Scott
    Boston, MA.

  • str1977

    Dave,

    “Mollie, it’s not condescending to aay that people’s gay tolerance increases as they get to know more gay people. It’s experience.”

    But this issue is not about tolerance of homosexuals at all. No one is arguing against tolerating them. This issue is about the people of California defending themselves against a manipulation of its laws and its constitution.

    The only people intolerant here are those now attacking the Mormons. How would you like a slogan like “The gays have stolen our freedom.”, which would be grossly generalising but still closer to the truth.

  • Dave

    I have already said the anti-Mormon campaign makes my skin craw. Actually I’ve gone beyond that; I said so in church yesterday as part of a formal program. You’re kicking down a door that isn’t even latched.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jason,

    I made my comment in reference to this campaign against Mormons — not the work of gay rights activists in general. And yes, I’ll fess up, this campaign bothers me. The work of most gay activists doesn’t bother me at all.

    I should also clarify that I think the “comfortability” issue plays a part in all political discussions. I just don’t think it’s the place of the reporter to rule that the gay marriage issue all boils down to comfortability.

  • Jeff

    Mollie:

    If the Mormons were trying to take away the rights of African-Americans to vote, Japanese to own property, women the right to have equal pay for equal work, or Mexican-Americans the right to a public school education, people would–appropriately–be outraged and shine the spotlight of negative public opinion upon the Mormons for their efforts to take away the rights of those groups. However, that is EXACTLY what the Mormons did in California by substantially bankrolling Proposition 8 in California — which took away the rights of gays and lesbians in California to marry the one consenting adult that they love.

    Is is appropriate to inform the residents of other states that Mormons played a major role in taking away the rights of gays and lesbians in California, Hawaii and other states?Absolutely. People should consider the sources of funding behind ballot measures and lobbying campaigns. If the Mormon Church does not want this level of scrutiny, then they should not have gotten involved in the efforts to take away people’s rights.

  • Stephen

    I think the notion that the issue of redefining marriage to encompass same-sex unions comes down to “comfort levels” is idiotic

    Mollie: While the above statement is clearly your viewpoint, my personal experience has been that–as people are exposed to new ideas, and new people–they become more open minded. I went to high school in the Chattanooga area, and some of my classmates had never been outside of the five-county-area around Chattanooga. Was it surprising that these students (and definitely their parents) were not the most open-minded people in the world? Of course not — their world view was extremely small.

    As people become exposed to new ideas, new cultures, people with different world views, they generally become more accepting of people who are different then they are in whatever way (race, religion, ethnicity, sexual oriention etc.) While such acceptance does not always equate with fully embracing the new ideas, often such exposure will broaden people’s perspective and lead to positive changes.

  • Martha

    “Anyway, she is one of four partners in the raising of her children — two partnered women and two partnered men. I’m sure that what I’m about to write is considered shocking inside the Washington Post … but I bet quite a few people in America think that such a family arrangement is less than ideal.”

    I’d disagree there, Mollie. The shuffling of the partners is different, but in a heterosexual marriage where Mom and Dad divorce and re-marry, there’s two fathers (Dad and Step-Dad) and two mothers (Mom and Step-Mom) and maybe even step-siblings and half-siblings on top of that. So the two-dads, two-moms thing isn’t that big a shock.

    The bit that had me rolling my eyes, though, was that we got all this wrought prose about the terrible, terrible ‘human cost’ to the little boy having to leave his school – and it’s only in ONE sentence that we learn that the school never asked him to leave, they actually wanted him to STAY, but the mommies decided to pull him out because Mom No. 1 had been asked to resign her position in the school due to the “No on Prop 8″ protest she attended.

    You can argue the toss as to whether she, as a Methodist, can be bound by Roman Catholic church rules, but when it comes down to: “‘The question that haunts me now is, had I not accepted this position would I have been left alone?’”, then the only answer is “Yes. If you’d been happy to let him stay in school and not be on the PTO, then he wouldn’t have been “the human casualty in all of this.”"

    On the other hand, if she doesn’t want her children to attend a school she can’t be involved in (and she can’t be involved without being on the PTO?), then that’s her decision.

  • Martha

    “At a more evolved level, knowing committed gay or lesbian couples evokes tolerance and even support of marriage equity.”

    Guess I’ll just keep crawling down here in the mud with the rest of my uninvolved brethren, Dave! ;-)

  • Martha

    That should be “unevolved”, of course, but what else can you expect from iggnerant types like me?

  • 4njvotes

    It’s hard to be tolerant of anyone that takes away your rights. Equality under the law. Not God. Not Your God. My God says same-sex marriage is OK. I will light a candle at church on Sunday and ask my God to help me be tolerant of those that tell lies about me to keep me as a second class citizen with less rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than they have. I understand the anger of gay people. A group of people have gone after them. Hmmmm wear those gay people’s moccasins for a while and then tell me how tolerant you would be of the group that spreads lies about who you are to escalate hate towards you and keep you as a second class citizen.

  • Dave

    4njvotes, I’m on your side on the underlying issue. However, I’m also of Jewish extraction. Those are the sandals I walk in when I see a religious group being scapegoated.

  • Julia

    While such acceptance does not always equate with fully embracing the new ideas, often such exposure will broaden people’s perspective and lead to positive changes.

    Some changes can be negative.

    I’ve lived in Europe and the Far East, have black and Jewish relatives, and gay friends, and I still don’t think same sex marriage is a good idea, but I do suport civil unions for all kinds of situations.

    I wish Professor Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School would be cited more often. He thinks the state should get out of the marriage business altogether. To get the protection of the law, all people, gay and straight, could sign up for officially recognized civil unions. Afterwards, like most of the rest of the world, anybody who wants a church marriage can do that – in addition to the civil union. Churches who want to bless same sex marriages could do so and others wouldn’t be required to.

  • http://tfhgodtalk.blogspot.com Jeff

    Two things:

    1. It’s looking like the “hate card” is the new “race card.” If I say you hate me, does that make it true? Since when does disagreement equal hate? And if it does, is one side more guilty of hate that the other?

    2. I’m sure it’s out there, but I have yet to see/hear anyone make note of the fact that in order for Mormonism to be “included” in U.S. society, the trade-off was that they would give up a personal right that was very dear to them (polygomy). What is more ironic is that the Bible makes clear statements against homosexuality (whether or not you cast them as antiquated, the statements are unequivocal), while it makes no such statements regarding polygomy (only the New Testament guideline that it would not be right for church leaders). The truth is, we all at times surrender some personal rights for the sake of social convention.

  • Matt

    Mollie is right. Harvey Milk was wrong and deeply condescending on this point. I live in one of the gayest neighborhoods (in a big city) in America and I staunchly support a traditional definition of marriage. That said, I love my neighborhood and treat all my neighbors with courtesy and friendliness regardless of their living arrangements.

  • michael

    Julia,

    I think you must be the first person ever to write that Douglas Kmiec should be cited more often.

    While we’re at it, I think we need more magazine covers featuring the Obamas.

  • Sarah Webber

    I’m not a regular reader of The Weekly Standard, but T19 had this article up last week that I found interesting, in terms of useful social structures:
    The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage
    I also think we should separate the legal and religious pieces of “marriage” so that a state can decide who gets legal benefits for living together and a church can decide who it solemnizes.

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    I haven’t seen a lot of coverage of just how the gay marches in Central California are affecting the residents of those towns. It seems to me that there would be a certain number of them who would feel intimidated or invaded, yet the reports I’ve seen concentrate only on the gay demonstrators themselves.

    It’s hard to be tolerant of anyone that takes away your rights. Equality under the law.

    4njvotes, all of the news reports cast the issue in that light, but from another perspective, Prop 8 was meant to preserve the rights of religious institutions not to recognize same-sex marriages. Why does only one side in the debate have rights that should be protected?

  • dalea

    One reason to go after the Mormons is that is one religion which is very easy to ridicule. At Liberal blogs, Mormonism is usually referred to as the magic underware church. So, we are looking at a major pushback from those the Mormons would put in second class citizenship status. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Kenn

    Joel,

    If it is your belief that state recognition of marriage rights for gays and lesbians threatens the rights of religious institutions NOT to recognize same-sex marriages, I’m genuinely puzzled by that.

    You must be aware that the 2008 CA supreme court ruling explicitly acknowledges the rights of religious institutions to marry ONLY those couples they deem appropriate. And further, a few of the most recent states to recognize same-sex marriage rights explicitly exempt religious institutions from compliance if it violates their religious tenets.

    Could this be a solution in this debate? To more clearly and emphatically state that religious institutions are exempt from marrying gays and lesbians if it runs counter to their beliefs?

  • http://www.chaosprg.com/blog irv

    It seems likely that the people who came up with this campaign also believe that Mitt Romney failed to win the 2008 Republican nomination for the presidency in whole or in part because he is a Mormon, rather than because of his flip-flops, too-slick presentation and bad policies.

    To put it another way, it’s not surprising that those who see setbacks for gay marriage as being the result of unfair prejudice might think that appealing to some other unfair prejudice will counteract that.

    But, as this post points out, that same equation should not be accepted at face value in coverage of the situation. Someone should have at least asked if this might be a too-simplistic and ultimately futile formulation.

  • Dale

    It seems likely that the people who came up with this campaign also believe that Mitt Romney failed to win the 2008 Republican nomination for the presidency in whole or in part because he is a Mormon, rather than because of his flip-flops, too-slick presentation and bad policies.

    Or don’t realize that ugly, anti-Mormon rants do nothing but increase sympathy for Mormons among those who aren’t committed to “The Cause”.

  • Rathje

    Oh, I can tell you that it’s already backfiring at least on one level -

    Me.

    I’m an active member of the LDS Church, and I publicly opposed the Church’s campaign on Proposition 8 – mostly on grounds of fairness and Libertarian analysis. I was highly irritated that my Church leadership chose to become as highly involved as they were.

    Then the gay backlash happened. A lot of the anti-Mormon rhetoric on the Daily Kos is almost indistinguishable from the kind of anti-Jewish rhetoric seen in pre-Nazi Germany. People talked about sodomizing Mormon missionaries, driving the Church into bankruptcy if possible, punching the next Mormon they met. Charming pictures of protestors flipping the bird at the spire of a Mormon temple while holding “Say No to H8″ signs. Harassing small businesses even for the most tenuous of donation connections, publishing the names and addresses of donors online and muttering darkly about “payback.” I couldn’t even navigate the internet without tripping over a nasty joke about “funny underwear” accompanied by comments about Mormon founders being pedophiles.

    And you know what?

    Message received guys.

    Now I just feel like an idiot for ever sticking up for these people in the first place.

    And if Mr. Karger thinks my friends and family in Utah are going to be intimidated into putting their money somewhere else, he’s got another thing coming. Mormons are culturally a very stubborn lot. You piss em off, and you wouldn’t believe how long they can stonewall you.

  • Dale

    Mormons are culturally a very stubborn lot. You piss em off, and you wouldn’t believe how long they can stonewall you.

    I’ve heard tell they’ll walk thousands of miles pushing carts full of their meager belongings, just to live as they see fit. Strange folk. ;-)

  • Kent Parsons

    It’s sad to see anti-Mormon bigotry thinly disguised as pro-gay advocacy. These anti-Christian, anti-Mormon bigots promote the hatred that they hypocritically claim to reject.

  • Phil

    These extreme so-called “gay rights” activists are shooting themselves in the foot, big time. They cry “intolerance” and “bigotry”, while doing the very thing they are condemning, in a blatant and hypocritical way. Their biggest mistake is to blindly accuse anyone who opposes same-sex marriage as a “bigot” and “hate-filled person”. As soon as they make that mistake, then they immediately become the very thing they are trying so hard to condemn. They refuse to believe that people like me, who are against calling same-sex unions “marriage”, can be loving and supportive of others with whom I disagree, and that I can still love them as a person while not agreeing with everything that they do or believe. Same sex unions are an obvious answer to their goals. Why do they have to insist on calling it “marriage”, when most people do not want that to happen, and it is counter-productive to blindly accuse everyone who is against same sex marriage as a bigot.

  • str1977

    Dave,

    I am sorry. I had read the rest of your comment only after posting mine. I shouldn’t have done that.

  • str1977

    Well njvotes,

    it has hard to be tolerant of bigotry based on a childish reaction that the legislator held a differing opinion.

    And what rights are you talking about? There were never any rights there that got taken away. First a mayor did something not sanctioned by the law, then a court twisted the consitution until the originator of the constitution, i.e. the people, clarified the matter. And even than presumptive court now considers itself bound, why can’t you.

    Note, the parallel case would be if Mormons in a leap back to Brigham Young had tired to force the legalisation of polgamy down everybody’s throat. (With the difference that that would still be within the confines of what the word “marriage” has always meant.)

  • str1977

    Julia,
    “Afterwards, like most of the rest of the world, anybody who wants a church marriage can do that – in addition to the civil union”.

    Actually, it’s not like that at all in most of the rest of the world.

    Some countries recognise marriages in church as civil marriages or allow the marriage papers to be signed in church, e.g. Italy and Britain.

    Some countries have civil marriages and church marriages separately. e.g. Germany

    Some countries simply leave the whole marriage business to churches and similar groups, e.g. Israel.

  • Martha

    “People should consider the sources of funding behind ballot measures and lobbying campaigns.”

    Okay, Jeff, let’s do that.

    Warning: Wikipedia quotes to follow, so take with usual grain of salt.

    “By Election Day, volunteers on both sides spent thousands of hours getting their messages across to the state’s 17.3 million registered voters. The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $39.9 million and $43.3 million, respectively. Contributions totaled over $83 million from over 64,000 people in all fifty states and more than twenty foreign countries, setting a new record nationally for a social policy initiative and trumping every other race in the country in spending except the presidential contest.”

    So money came in for *both* campaigns from out of state and even outside the country.

    “A week before the vote, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry received an email containing death threats against both himself and Pastor Jim Franklin of Fresno’s Cornerstone Church, both of whom had spoken in support of Proposition 8 during a rally at Fresno city hall the preceding weekend. The pastor’s home and church were also egged. According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, the email “did state as to why that threat was made and it was stemming from Prop 8″. Dyer announced that his department was taking steps to protect both men, and that police were close to making an arrest; however, as of May 2009 no arrest had been made in the case. Fresno “No on 8″ organizer Jason Scott condemned the death threats, and Mayor Autry expressed concern that there might be a backlash against opponents of the measure, saying, “…the vast majority of the gay community would condemn this type of thing.”

    Fresno-area supporters of gay marriage were also harassed; “No On 8″ signs at the Clovis Unitarian Universalist Church were torn up, with Reverend Bryan Jessup saying that his church endured vandalism “every night”.

    At a Mormon church in Orangevale (in Sacramento County), vandals spray painted in red letters on the front sign and sidewalk: “No on 8″ and “No on Prop 8″.”

    So there were threats and violence from *both* sides of the campaign.

    Look, the original legal decision raised a lot of protest; whatever your view on it, it was creating a new ‘right’ where none had existed previously. The people wanted a referendum on this and they got it.

    Suppose civil unions with all the legal rights had been permitted – would there still be a campaign for same-sex marriage? Can we get an answer on that, because that seems to me to be an important point: if civil unions won’t do, it has to be marriage – then we’re having a very particular argument about redefining the institution of marriage and not just extending a right.

    And finally, we seem to have gone from discussing the coverage of the matter in the media (mainly fawning and gushing over gay coupledom) to arguing the ins and outs of same-sex marriage – can we get back to the point?

  • MichaelV

    “Opponents’ analysis of campaign-contribution reports indicated that Mormons contributed more than half of the campaign’s $40 million war chest.”

    Opponents would have an interest in inflating the amount contributed by Mormons – any ideas how we might get a figure from a more netural source, or information about how that number was arrived at, or at least something to balance it? I’m not saying “more than half” isn’t accurate, but I’m not convinced that it is.

  • dalea

    The ad in question did not originate with the No on 8 organization. It was put together in the last days of the election by a group of posters at DKos, lead by AIR meteorblades. It debuted on DKos Friday or Saturday before the elction. Internet only until somebody got it an airing on TV the day before the election. Please note: the ad was made by straight people using very simple home technology. The ad with the missionaries rummanging thru the lesbians’ home was not a part of the No on 8 campaign. It was guerrila politics.

  • Jimmy Mac

    Give gay and straight couples alike the same license, a certificate confirming them as a family, and call it a civil union — anything, really, other than marriage. For people who feel the word marriage is important, the next stop after the courthouse could be the church, synagogue, mosque, coven, whatever where they could bless their union with all the religious ceremony they want. Religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their tenets. And for nonbelievers and those who find the word marriage less important, the civil-union license issued by the state would be all they needed to unlock the rights, benefits and responsibility reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.

    Of course, in those states whose constitutions declare marriage to be valid only between one man and one women, a conundrum will then exist. That provision will, in effect, become a religious/theological statement and need to be removed from any secular documents of any kind under the separation of church and state. The state will have no business in codifying a particular religious tenet in secular documents.

    But, hey, we’re all big kids, right? We can deal with change … can’t we?

  • dalea

    The press here assumes that a short phone interview with Kargan is all that is needed. And then on to the issue Gays have with Mormons that began last fall.

    This is simply laziness on the part of the MSM. Gays and Mormons have been battling for 35 years that I know of. The report of Gay Mormons is that while in High School or College, they can be reported to church authorities as gay. This has been documented at ExGayWatch, TruthWonOut and other sites. Some are sent to institutions such as those covered by MormonGulag:

    http://www.mormongulag.com/

    Others are forced into the ‘exgay’ group Evergreen. This is run by the LDS Church. Evergreen has been proven to subject Gay men to electroshock sessions that leave permanent scars. To hold adult Gay men against their will. To subject Gay men to unproven treatments including drugs. If released, the students report constantly being spyed on and frequently hauled in for interogation. Of having rooms and property searched without consent. Of parents being ordered to beat their sons.

    And then, many who do not make the grade get dumped on the streets of major cities without any resources. Far more than 2% of the Gay street children in LA are Mormons, per social workers I know.

    There is a whole lot of background on Gay/Mormon relationships that would illuminate press coverage. But to do so would require doing some actual work, and meeting with actual Gay people. Which the MSM will almost never do. They might find out that some of the most vehemete Gays are those who grew up Mormon.

  • Jaime

    When did Harvey Milk become the Aristotle of the genital class? Knowing a lot of homosexuals does not change your political views unless those views are not well grounded to begin with. My wife and I have volunteered for many years for organizations that provide services to people with HIV/AIDS. Of course, over that time, we have come to know and count as good friends a significant number of gays, many of them in committed relationships. While we do not question or judge those relationships, our political and religious beliefs remain unchanged and we remain opposed to anything that pretends to be “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

  • http://fallibilismandfaith.blogspot.com JD

    The Milk argument, on a fair reading, is not that familiarity will lead everybody to greater acceptance, but that as a matter of statistical averages it is more likely than not to make people more accepting. Individual cases do not refute this argument. It is even compatible with a small number becoming less accepting. What counts is the overall average, the social mean.

  • Pingback: truenorthnewsandcommentary.com » Blog Archive » So What Does the Public Really Think About Same-Sex Marriage?

  • Kenn

    True North News and Commentary quotes Molly:

    The media really like to run with the narrative that same-sex marriage is inevitable. They have repeated it incessantly. But is it true? Take, even, the oft-repeated statistics about how young people support same-sex marriage while older people oppose it. That is definitely true. But should we assume that attitudes don’t change over time?

    So the argument would be that twenty-somethings now, will shift their position on same-sex marriage as they age, just as previous generations before them have? — Er, that argument has a number of flaws.

    Does anyone seriously argue that the generation now in their sixties would have supported gay marriage in their twenties? Honestly, that is a ridiculous argument. Homosexuality was still deep in the closet during that time period. (This is even more true of those in their 70s, 80s and 90s). Gay “marriage” wasn’t even on the radar screen as an option. It is ridiculous to argue that people who were living in the social climates of earlier times would have supported gay marriage simply due to their youth. By contrast, todays twenty-somethings grew up in a profoundly different social climate. They grew up knowing more about homosexuality and knowing peers who were open about their homosexuality. These facts make it less likely that their attitudes will shift with respect to gay marriage as they get older.

  • Kenn

    Excuse me Mollie.

    That should have been Mollie not Molly.

  • Martha

    Jimmy Mac, I’d be with you on issuing civil union licences.

    However, that bit about “Of course, in those states whose constitutions declare marriage to be valid only between one man and one women, a conundrum will then exist. That provision will, in effect, become a religious/theological statement and need to be removed from any secular documents of any kind under the separation of church and state.”

    How about laws stating that a married couple can only be that – a couple, not more than two? Anti-bigamy legislation could be considered religious/theological statements, especially since there are religions that permit polygamy/polyandry. Marriages between blood relations? Age of marriage? Species?

    Yes, I said species. Back in 2006 there was a woman who went through a ‘marriage’ ceremony with a dolphin in the Israeli tourist town of Eilat:

    “http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,180478,00.html

    …In a modest ceremony at Dolphin Reef in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, (Sharon) Tendler, a 41-year-old British citizen, apparently became the world’s first person to “marry” a dolphin.

    … “It’s not a perverted thing. I do love this dolphin. He’s the love of my life,” she said yesterday, upon her return to London. Tendler, who said she imports clothes and promotes rock bands in England, has visited Israel several times a year since first meeting the dolphin.

    When asked in the past if she had a boyfriend, she would always reply, “No. I’m going to end up with Cindy.” On Wednesday, she made it official, sort of. While she acknowledged the “wedding” had no legal bearing she did say it reflected her deep feelings toward the bottlenosed, 35-year-old object of her affection.

    “It’s not a bad thing. It’s just something that we did because I love him, but not in the way that you love a man. It’s just a pure love that I have for this animal,” she said.”

    If this woman is not certifiably insane, but judged competent to run her own life, then who are you or I to say she has to be forced to restrict her choice of marriage partner to a male or female of her own species?

    There are all kinds of restrictions around marriage, and blowing them off as just ‘religious/theological’ bias or prejudices isn’t good enough.

  • Kenn

    Martha wrote:

    If this woman is not certifiably insane, but judged competent to run her own life, then who are you or I to say she has to be forced to restrict her choice of marriage partner to a male or female of her own species?

    You do your side of the argument no favors by posting nuttiness like this. Marriage is a contract. In order to enter into a contract one must be capable of informed consent. Animals are not capable of informed consent.

    Be aware that people will take you less seriously when you attempt to compare the multi-dimensional human relationships of gays and lesbians with human/animal relationships. — Or do you see no difference between your husband and your dog? (metaphorically speaking, of course).

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I have said it before, but never gotten a response that makes sense.
    If there is a “fundamental human right” for two people of the same sex to set up housekeeping and call it “marriage”, even though no society in history has recognized it; why is there no such Fundamental Human Right for three or more people of assorted sexes, even though many societies in many centuries HAVE recognized it? If it is “bigotry” and “hatred” to say “Marriage consists of a man and a woman”, why is it not to say “Marriage consists of two and only two adults”?
    And yes, this involves the press, as when Senator Santorum said “If you accept gay marriage, you have to accept polygamy”, the MSM joined the chorus of “How DARE he?”

    I deliberately say “polygamy”, not “polygyny”, even though almost all discussion assumes polyandry is not even an issue.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    And, 4njvotes, while you are in church thanking God that you are not like Them, take some time off to read Luke 18:9-14

  • http://www.ascendrecovery.com Drug Treatment

    This is simple, God created man and women, God created marriage, therefor marriage is to be between a man and women. equal rights under law I will agree with. If the law of this land is to say any two can marry then we must obey the law. However, I can fight to keep the law that is already in place based on my opinions. Hold true to your beliefs, and make sure you have a personal relationship not religion with the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

  • http://fallibilismandfaith.blogspot.com JD

    Will – The short answer is: There is a slippery slope, but that’s only a problem if you’re bothered by what waits at the bottom of the slope. The principle behind same sex marriage is that we, as a society, should accept and ratify any arrangement of intimate relations that consenting adults choose.

    The long answer is a bit longer, but doesn’t make all that much difference to the short answer, so I leave it out.

  • Jason B

    How bigoted of the Californian people for exercising their democratic rights.

  • dalea

    Mollie says:

    No matter how many majorities clearly state they’re opposed to it, the media rarely ask them why — they just chalk it up to people being, at worst, bigots or, at best, sheltered and not knowing any gay people. It’s the argument stated by Harvey Milk in Milk — if people just knew more gay people, it would change their political views. It’s a condescending notion.

    The reason MSM keeps doing this is that Milk’s idea is demonstrably true. From a Pew Survey:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2325660420070524

    “Overall, those who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay are more than twice as likely to support gay marriage as those who don’t — 55 percent to 25 percent.”…
    “Percentages vary greatly by political orientation: conservative Republicans are the least likely to say they have a close gay friend or family member (33 percent), while liberal Democrats are most likely to say so (59 percent),” Pew said.

    In this case, the MSM is relying on established data.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Ah, so correlation IS causation! Good to know.

  • Brian

    Kenn thinks that all children who say they are going to be an astronaut will never be satisfied with any other career, since they grew up knowing more about space than any other previous generation. Also that there will be no more Republicans at all left in America when the old people die since nearly 5 decades of college students have voted overwhelmingly Democratic.

    It is ridiculous to think that kids grow up, mature, and start thinking for themselves.

  • http://fallibilismandfaith.blogspot.com JD

    Mollie and Brian – Who has the greatest stake in the truth of the Milk theory ? Homosexuals themselves. If the theory is wrong, they are hurting themselves by their own actions. Their interests are strictly aligned with discovering the truth of the matter. That doesn’t prove they are right; but it does mean that anyone who hasn’t very thoroughly investigated the matter should follow their lead. On this subject, homosexuals are the most credible source (heavy-duty social science excepted).

  • Carl

    Obama has stated publicly that he is against gay marriage (but supports civil unions). Where’s the outrage against him? Biden stated the same thing. Any outrage toward him? Nope. The voters of California voted against gay marriage. Where’s the outrage against them? Blacks and Hispanics in particular voted very strongly against gay marriage in California. Where’s the outrage against them? Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose gay marriage. Where are the “boycott America” protests? A Catholic Archbishop in California specifically contacted the Mormons for help opposing gay marriage. Where’s the outrage against him and the Catholic Church. Catholic groups contributed more than the Mormon Church to defeat proposition 8. Where’s the outrage against individual Catholics? The California Supreme Court upheld the gay marriage ban. Where’s the Outrage against them? Mormons have traditionally been somewhat of a pariah among Christian churches. Casting Mormons as the big Boogeyman that ended gay marriage in California will only increase the status of the Mormon Church among Christian groups and the US population in general (because, as stated earlier, majority US opinion is against gay marriage). But hey, I guess you have to pick on the group you know least about (Mormons). Did anyone notice Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City’s openly gay mayor. Didn’t think so. Can’t let facts or rationality get in the way of the gay marriage proponents’ goal to punish someone, anyone, for the fact that their worldview is not held by the majority.

  • Cindy

    Mormons and gays are each about 2% of the US population. But gays live all over the US and Mormons live mainly in the West. Most people in the US know someone who is gay but don’t know someone who is Mormon (unless they live in the West). If the Milk argument is true, people would like Mormons a lot more if they only actually knew one (tends to be anecdotally true, actually). Two years ago I attended a Mormon worship service in Boulder, Colorado. The topic of the day: Families. The lecturer started out by asking the class “raise your hand if you have any friends who are gay.” About 1/2 of the people raised their hands. The focus was on loving and not condemning individuals who are gay but at the same time being true to God’s definition of marriage being between a man and a woman. It was not what I expected but very interesting.

  • c matt

    Nearly eight in 10 Americans personally know or work with a gay person, according to a recent Newsweek survey.

    So 80% of Americans know or work with a gay person. If the Milk theory were correct, most states would have already passed SSM.

  • Kenn

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/03/us/AP-US-XGR-Gay-Marriage-New-Hampshire.html?_r=3&hp

    New Hampshire Too

    New Hampshire is the sixth state to achieve equality for all its citizens in its marriage laws, and the third to achieve it legislatively.

  • stephen

    Mollie:

    As a follow-up to your statement:

    I think the notion that the issue of redefining marriage to encompass same-sex unions comes down to “comfort levels” is idiotic

    I found the following recent Gallup Poll from May 2009 (see http://www.gallup.com/poll/118931/Knowing-Someone-Gay-Lesbian-Affects-Views-Gay-Issues.aspx ), which indicates
    that adults who personally know a gay or lesbian support gay marriage by 49 percent (support) to 47 percent (oppose). However, for those adults who do NOT know someone who is gay or lesbian, support of gay marriage drops substantialy to 27 percent (support) to 72 percent (oppose).

    Clearly, those who know someone who is gay or lesbian are much more open with the idea of gay marriage.

  • Dan in Missouri

    Democracy is maintained by a people willing to check themselves. I am Mormon and find the discussion sickening. Not because it is against religion and Mormons, but because it divides the nation based on a minority interest. It has nothing to do with individual choice to be gay. We are all free to do what we want. However it has everything to do with social endorsement of a minority choice that does not benefit the social compact.

    We got into this financial crisis by banks not caring about tomorrow. Taking long term risks for short term rewards. The right to privacy over justice passed 40 years ago, robs justice. Yes there are people hurt when their privacy is violated, but is protection from that short term hurt worth more than the long term consequenses of not prosecuting 1000′s of true crimes. Our national debt is the creation of feeding short term choices with long term consequenses. There is no escape from the price. If delayed too far it will come with rapid inflation and massive devaluation of the market.

    The true issue here is should society endorse homosexual behavior as equal to hetrosexual behavior. My answer is that it isn’t. It promotes subjegation of the human will to the base appetites of the body. It says that the body its genetic code defines the future of the human race. I find that offensive. We are the masters of our own future and learn by overcoming appetite, not surrendering to it!

  • Dave

    Dan in Missouri, welcome to the discussion. There are a few points that you seem to be missing.

    Anyone who starts out a comment with the statement that “anyone is free” to be homosexual impairs his own credibilty, being apparently unaware of the centuries in which homosexuals were not free to be themselves. This only began to turn around in my lifetime. Ignorance of history does not add to the credibility of a message.

    The Constitutional right to privacy was first enunciated in the context of state regulation of contraception. You’d have a tough time showing how my right to contraception blights the future.

    The notion that we advance by overcoming our appetites is an old one, but far from proven. A competing idea of at least equal plausibility is that we advance by being honest about our appetites, creating social structures that create beneficial checks and balances between them, and make peace with our own nature as a first step to making peace in the larger sense.

    I write as a supporter of gay rights who is on record, here and elsewhere, as critical of the current anti-Mormon campaign by some BGLT activists. I’ve argued with the latter on this board about this issue.

  • http://www.ascendrecovery.com Drug rehab utah

    As a Christian not a Mormon, God created man in his own image. If the BIBLE says that a homosexual will not inherit the kingdom of God, I would then believe that God did not create man to be homosexual. This does not mean one can not choose that and live with their decision and all that come along with that choice. God does give Free will, you can choose to follow him and his teachings from the en-errant words of the Bible, “the only book that should be followed”(in my opinion as a Cristian not a Mormon)