What Do I Think About Proposition 8?

I’ve had a few people ask me, and a few more people email me, with regard to what I think about Proposition 8 in California. This is something that people want to know about me because I am:

  1. LDS
  2. Progressive/Liberal

It appears with all of the hoopla surrounding Proposition 8 in California, a few people are wondering whether one or the other of my identity labels is in trouble. (Because, with everything happening in the world right now, that’s rather important.) Well, my feelings on Proposition 8 actually run to the side of how ridiculous I think it is that the whole thing has to be an issue at all. Mainly because it has to do with the separation of church and state.

Yes, yes, I know that the Constitution does not explicitly provide for such a separation. The First Amendment merely (among other things) prohibits Congress from establishing a national religion and restricting the exercise of religion. But two rather important framers, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, made it very clear that they thought that a wall should exist, and that the Establishment Clause did that. The whole issue of the state defining marriage is one that is fraught with concerns regarding religion and state, which, unfortunately, have not been able to remain adequately separated for much of our history.

Civil unions for everyone

I think Proposition 8 shouldn’t even have to be an issue. The fact that it is says more about our common practices regarding marriage the business transaction and marriage the religious issue. In my mind, the state shouldn’t be involved in marriage — whether performing it or defining it. Instead, the state should be performing civil unions. A civil union is, in my opinion, a business transaction. The state should perform them for people who want certain legal protections that right now are automatically assumed with what we accept as marriage.

Marriage, I think, should be a matter for religions. Religions can define it how they want, and marry whomever meets their specific requirements without fear of reprisals or tax exempt statuses. So if a liberal branch of the Episcopalian church wants to define marriage one way, and Pentecostals want to define it another, that works out. Because just as there are different definitions of what a baptism, a confirmation or a Eucharist should be (and who should participate in these rites), there is room for different religious definitions of marriage.

But for the marriage to have legal force, it would have to be backed by a civil union. Which should be a completely separate transaction presided over the state for the purpose of benefits (taxes and health) and next of kin and other legal protections and statuses. That means that, if we were operating under a civil union type law, after my temple marriage as a member of the LDS faith, my husband and I would have had to go to a state official and had a civil union performed if we wanted the legal benefits.

If we made the move to separate the spiritual from the political in the way we look at marriage, by adding a civil union requirement, there would be no need to “protect” the current “definition” of marriage, and religions would have nothing to fear legally from refusing to perform marriages for anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements set forth by the organization.

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20 Responses to What Do I Think About Proposition 8?

  1. Amen, sister. That’s how they do it in Germany. You have to get married civilly in order to get the state/government ‘benefits’ of being married. Then, if you’re LDS, you go to be sealed in the temple (I think you get something like 24 hours from the time you get married, to go to the closest temple to be sealed, but don’t quote me on that one). I wish we could have gotten married like that. My dad to this day holds a grudge that he wasn’t able to be at our wedding ceremony. Not a grudge against Dave and I, personally, but against the church. But that’s a different story for a different day…

  2. Though I do have to say that it’s not necessarily the solution to the problem. I’m not sure about the laws now, but I know that at one time, only a man and a woman could enter into a civil union. So you’d still have the issue of who would be allowed to enter into civil unions, whether religion is involved or not.

  3. Thanks, ladies.

    Doreen: Right now, in Cali and in many other states, civil unions are not restricted in that way (although Florida is trying to get a civil union defined as one man and one woman in this election).

    But, again, it is my belief that the state shouldn’t tell you who you can enter into legal and business arrangements with — unless, of course, you would be infringing on others’ rights.

  4. Oh, I agree with you, Miranda. Though the “infringing on rights” part is, I believe, what so many people are so upset about. I think the concern is about children that may come into these unions (whether through adoption, surrogacy, sperm donation, or something along those lines). What about the right of the child to grow up with both a male and a female parent? Some people may be upset about the mere union of two people of the same sex, but many are concerned about children that may be involved, and their rights. I have my own opinions about this, but that’s just what I’ve been getting in the never ending email forwards… :p

  5. Yeah, so, if having one male and one female parent is a “right”, does that mean we start taking kids away from single parents? And, really, are kids better off in orphanages than with loving, responsible same-sex couples as one high ranking politician implies?

    I’ve been getting those emails, too, and the logic is just weird to me.

  6. Thanks for that post Miranda. I have wondered your opinion as well. I am glad you shared because you really put to words what I haven’t been able to say about a REAL solution that would protect all on this issue. In my home state of Arizona we are trying to pass Proposition 102 defining marriage. Like you said, if our country used your logic then propositions like this wouldn’t even need to come up. Its been tough on our family because my husband’s sister is gay and her partner and her have been together for a very long time and we think of her the same way as the other in-laws. Its been tough to sit in church hear some hurtful and very unChristlike (not sure if that is a word) comments about “gays” when I am pretty sure most people in our ward don’t personally know any gay people but yet they have these very narrow-minded opinions. Again, thanks and I love your thoughts and more importantly how well you express them!

  7. Thanks, Miller Family. Even as I descend further into crazy, you remain with me 😉

    Anyway, Josh’s uncle is gay, but I think he is uneasy about openly acknowledging it because of some of the things that LDS and others have said about homosexuality.

    I agree that there has been a surge of un-Christian behavior this election. Since I’m in the primary, I don’t see it, but every week Josh comes back with some story from Sunday School about how someone was rather rudely and disparagingly outspoken about liberals, Obama, gays or some other thing. One week, Josh was about to say something when another guy got just as fed up and pointed out that:

    1. Such talk was not Christlike.
    2. Such talk did not advance the lesson.
    3. Such talk did not edify.
    4. Since such talk did none of those things, it obviously didn’t fulfill the requirements for appropriate Sunday School comments.

  8. Whoever that was in that Sunday School class – good for him. All his points were valid and I wish more would keep those things in mind. We need to remember that during this election season many know and keep in mind who their LDS neighbors and friends are and we can and will be judged by our words and action. I keep thinking to myself, if Mitt Romney would have won the nomination wouldn’t the LDS community be hurt and offended by so much hate towards him for being an LDS candidate!

  9. This is an interesting point of view and so is the argument that in order to be a Mormon you have to be a Republican. T’s dad is actually speaking on the radio this Sat. with some other Democrats from Utah about this.

  10. That’s a sore point with me as well. While I don’t have a party affiliation, I think it’s too bad that many people just automatically assume that a “good” Mormon is a Republican and staunchly conservative.

    Those folks have clearly never been to Massachusetts and Connecticut, where the LDS population is quite liberal in general.

    At any rate, I may have to listen in to T’s dad talk about it!

  11. Thanks! I knew Faust was a Democrat, and I think we might be surprised to find that many other prominent Church leaders are also Dems. But it might result in mass apostasy 😉

  12. so you support separate but equal. gee thanks but no thanks.
    All these propositions are meaningless, ultimately the courts will decide the rights of marriage. There is no provision in the Constitution for voting on the rights of a minority. Amendment 14 is clear that no American can be denied equal protection of law. The reason all these propositions get to the voting booth is our elected officials don’t have the backbone to confront their religious voting block. Barack Obama supported gay rights during his Illinois Senate tenure. He sponsored legislation in Illinois that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. These things take time. It already happened in Massachusetts, it will come. Know it. In the meantime have as much sex as possible in public with strangers.

  13. If you read my post, you would see that I don’t say separate by equal at all. I say EVERYONE should have to get civil unions. That the ONLY binding legal form of partnership for rights and benefits from the government should be a civil union — that goes for heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. Marriages should be treated as any other religious rite: On a case by case basis according to creed, but with no actual legal standing.

  14. Miranda are you saying that your people aren’t adult enough to share? Much like the civil movement of the 60’s and 70’s some people will be forced to share, mark my words. You belong to a church that prides itself on hatred. Run for the hills!

  15. What I’m saying is that when “morality” gets confused with what the government is doing, there are people that end up with fewer rights. And what I’m saying is that marriage — which has been religiously bound to morality for centuries — should not be regulated by the government. And never should have been. Instead the State should be involved in legal and business arrangements.

  16. So yeah they can’t share. I hear ya. It’ll make watching your douchebag church and parishioners lose their contributions that much sweeter.

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