If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
– Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World
As you may know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), though my personal beliefs and feelings seem to move farther in the opposite direction day by day. On Friday, I had the privilege of joining a group of about 50 Mormons and former Mormons who delivered a package to Church headquarters, to protest the Church's heavy involvement in the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California. The event was organized online via the web site Signing For Something.
Proposition 8 is a proposed amendment to the California constitution to ban marriage between people of the same gender. The Mormon church has used church time and resources to actively campaign for Prop 8, and has directly solicited the time, money, and effort of its members to campaign for Prop 8's passage. It has organized massive efforts via its membership network, which we believe violates its own stance of political neutrality, for example as stated in Doctrine & Covenants 134:9, "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government."
Our delivery on Friday contained about 300 letters written by individuals, carnations to symbolize those who have lost their lives over this issue, and copies of a petition explaining why we oppose the church's involvement. The petition can be found here, and has currently been signed by about 700 people, Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Those who have signed the petition hold various positions on the issue of same-sex marriage, but all are opposed to the Mormon church's attempts to use their religious influence to impose their beliefs on the larger secular society in this civil matter.
The event was covered on almost all of the local news networks, and you can see coverage at the links below. You can actually see me in some of the videos; I have a beard and ponytail, and was wearing a purple dress shirt and tie.
- Fox 13 - I consider this the best coverage, with the clearest explanation of our position.
- KSL - a station owned by the Mormon church; it's interesting to compare how they chose to report the story.
- ABC 4 - also good coverage.
- Salt Lake Tribune
- Deseret News - a newspaper owned by the Mormon church; again, interesting to compare the differences.
Honestly, I doubt the petition or the letters will have any effect on the church's stance toward same-sex marriage, much less its stance toward homosexuality. But I cannot imply my agreement on this issue by remaining silent. I find it sad that the church characterizes this as a moral issue, when I see the issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage as analogous to the issues of black civil rights and interracial marriage in the 1950s and '60s. This has nothing to do with morality.
If you are in California, please vote NO on 8. Wherever you are, please donate to Equality For All (at the bottom of the page - contributions through ActBlue are being matched only through today!), sign the Signing For Something petition, talk to your friends and neighbors about this issue, or do whatever you can. And regardless of your feelings on this or any other issue, remember to vote on November 4.