Friday, January 16, 2009

Proposition 8 - the aftermath

As much as it pains me - I find myself agreeing with Rev. Al Sharpton
It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when the they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners. There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you.
-- Rev. Al Sharpton
Tom Hanks has also weighed in while speaking at the premier party for Big Love, on which he is the executive producer
“The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed and people can see who's responsible and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting constitution and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So lets have faith in not only the American, but Californian constitutional process.”
-- Tom Hanks,
In the days following the election, I blogged about some of the protests against the LDS church and explored the rhetorical question: Are we reaping what we have sown? It's been 2 months - and the protests are still going on. Not with the same fervor that we saw in the days immediately following the election - but often with better organization and purpose.

For example, on December 20th, there were Light Up the Night for Equality candlelight vigils at shopping malls around the nation. I was impressed by the description and instructions for the event which said
we are not protesting ... This is a peaceful candlelight vigil in the spirit of the holidays ... We will stay silent unless asked a question, we will not yell, instigate, or bear signs ... We do not want to negatively impact any of the parking issues ...
There have also been food drives, toy drives, etc. It seems cooler heads are starting to organize - realizing that angry protests aren't the answer. While they may provide some emotional satisfaction for the moment - they are really not that effective in the long run. For example, the numerous boycotts which have been called for businesses where the owner donated to the YesOn8 campaign have been largely been ineffective (with just a couple of exceptions) - e.g. Utah tourism is doing as well as could be expected given the current economy. Tickets for the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah are selling strong - even though it's at a Cinimark theater, which was also targeted for a boycott.

The question on my mind is: How much am I going to support these peaceful protests and vigils? Because, the fact is, I am a member of the greater GLBT community - as is everyone else in the Mormon queerosphere. Regardless of our status with the church; regardless of how we choose to refer to ourselves - be it 'gay' or 'struggling with same gender attraction' - we all share a common trait with our queer brothers and sisters; and, we all benefit from increased societal acceptance.

On the other hand, there are still many out there reacting out of hysteria and making some ridiculous claims. For example, there is a YouTube video making the rounds titled Prop 8 - Did Mormons Go Too Far? which claims that the LDS church made far more donations to the prop 8 campaign than reported and suggests that it should lose its tax exempt status. The facts are
  • With the exception of a few thousand dollars, the vast majority of donations to the YesOn8 campaign came from private citizens. Granted, many of these were Mormon's who believed they were being obedient to a commandment from God as proclaimed by his prophet - the president of the Mormon church. But that doesn't change the fact that they were still private donations.
  • The call centers that the LDS church used were already in existence and was staffed by volunteers - there was no cost that can be directly attributed to the YesOn8 campaign
  • Any meetings on this topic, including the satellite broadcast, were under the auspices of preserving marriage. The same is true for the web site produced by the LDS church, preservingmarriage.org. Again, there was no cost that can be directly attributed to the YesOn8 campaign
Say what you will about the LDS church - but the reality is that the people running it are really smart. You can be sure that everything that was said and done was carefully scrutinized by a team of lawyers to make sure they were staying on the right side of the law.

The reason proposition 8 passed in California is because the GLBT community was over confident. For a long time, the NoOn8 campaign was running something like 20 points ahead in the polls; and, they were caught off guard when churches got heavily involved late in the campaign. They were not able to react fast enough and change their strategy to counteract the half truths and falsehoods being proclaimed by the Christian right (which many Mormons also bought into).

All of these calls for IRS investigations and protests at temples and churches is wasted energy - and is counterproductive to achieving increased societal acceptance.

I've publicly stated that I disagree with the LDS church's involvement in the YesOn8 campaign. But, frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of the LDS church being demonized so much by the gay press. They complain about the falsehoods and half truths that were used by the YesOn8 campaign - yet they are guilty of the very same in their attacks on the LDS church.

I know I'm in a "sanctioned" marriage and none of this directly impacts me as it does others. But, can't we turn the other cheek? Isn't being Christ-like - and beating the Christian right at their own game - far more effective in the end? When the dust settles, what is going to have a greater impact on society? Productive members of society - who happen to be gay - making an honest and sincere effort to educate the public? Or a bunch of bitchy queens?

5 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

They complain about the falsehoods and half truths that were used by the YesOn8 campaign - yet they are guilty of the very same in their attacks on the LDS church.

Some would say that this is status quo with the LGBT activists out there ... demanding that everyone play by the rules but them.

I agree with you, though, Abe.

Alan said...

Looks like some efforts are already doing this:

http://www.yesonequality.com/index.html

Beck said...

The aftermath of shame in my mind is where the Church say one thing in not opposing equal rights for domestic partnerships in one state (CA) and yet does not say the same thing in another state (UT) and as such, there is hypocrisy at the hands of the Church. Why the inconsistency? Because of political expediency?

That is the sad aftermath that I see, not the taxation issue...

Abelard Enigma said...

Some would say that this is status quo with the LGBT activists out there

I think this sort of hypocrisy can be found everywhere - on both the right and left. Unfortunately, this is the face of the GLBT community - in the eyes of many people.

Looks like some efforts are already doing this

Those are the kinds of efforts I can support.

Why the inconsistency?

I agree with you. While the LDS church was very careful to frame their efforts as a moral issue - the fact of the matter is, it was politically motivated; and, they were able to masterfully navigate around campaign finance laws. So, while I may be sympathetic towards the cause - I think many of the GLBT activists are barking up the wrong tree.

Mariah and Byron Edgington said...

Thank you for your insights.