Friday, October 10, 2008

Proposition 8 - Protection of Marriage - UPDATED

The reactions to Proposition 8 from the opposition are, sadly, predictable. Samples of love and tolerance:
• Sign stealers in Orange County (scroll for updates)
• Attack on a Prop 8 supporter in Modesto

These are difficult times for our nation. Those who consider themselves to be minorities have long worked to be granted equal treatment under our laws. Those who don't get their way frequently turn to the courts where they stand an even chance of being heard and redressed. If not, they sometimes turn to violence, reckoning that at least their voices will be heard and the issue may once again be discussed.

It is difficult in today's political climate to voice an opposing opinion. There are so many "hot button" issues in the United States (and, indeed, throughout the world) today. It is nearly impossible to present a point of view — any point of view — and expect it to be heard or read without any negative feedback. Even this insignificant blog of mine is a good case in point. No matter what opinion I voice, there are always those who are eager to thow the arguments back in my face. No matter what the issue, the process is always the same: attack, denigrate, be as sarcastic as possible, but for heaven's sake don't bother to offer thought-provoking discourse because the simpleton that wrote the article obviously is unwilling (or unable) to listen. It probably doesn't help that my own sense of humor frequently provokes such responses.

On occasion, however, an issue becomes so important that being silent is unacceptable. An opinion must be voiced. Efforts must be made to persuade. A majority will speak this November, and the rest of us will have to live with the consequences of any resulting decision.

The issues surrounding Proposition 8 are relatively simple when taken at face value. Those of us who support this proposition do so from the perspective of wishing ardently to protect and preserve the definition of a "traditional marriage" as being between a man and a woman. Those who oppose this amendment to our state constitution see only the idea that marriage is being denied to one class of citizen in this state. It is a battle of wills, enjoined by people who would otherwise get along just fine if left to their own devices.

I do not deny that life is not always easy for homosexual people. There are those who are violently opposed to their lifestyle and will inflict that violence on otherwise innocent victims. There can be no quarter expected or granted to those who willingly hurt or destroy the lives or property of others. Everything else about this issue, then, comes down to how one believes.

It is no secret (except, perhaps, to my detractors) that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is also no secret that the Church has made statements to its membership regarding Proposition 8 and why, precisely, we need to support it. This is not a question of political "neutrality" for the Church. This is a social issue that has wide-reaching ramifications if the current status quo remains unchanged.

Those of us who have been watching such things carefully have noted a disturbing trend. Along with being LDS we are also a homeschooling family. This was a decision that Mrs. Woody and I made many years ago, even before our daughters were born. We knew we wanted to homeschool because it was becoming increasingly clear that public education was forcing (and I do not use the word lightly) an agenda on our children with which we strongly disagree. Much of this agenda has its roots in the word "diversity" and all its connotations, both the good and the not so good.

Across the nation we have read countless stories and news articles relating to this agenda. It consists primarily of something called "inclusion," and demands tolerance of all sorts of social behaviors that stand in stark opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a significant difference between public education and the Church in how the issue of homosexuality is perceived and handled.

The Church understands that same sex attraction is real. However, the gospel makes it clear that the gift of procreation is sacred, and should only be enacted within the confines of a legal marriage between a man and a woman. Together this couple have the power to bring children into the world to be raised and nurtured with love and protection. Indeed, the realization of the fullest blessings of eternity, including life with our loving Heavenly Father, depends on our obedience to this principle of marriage, sealed for eternity by those who hold the proper authority.

Other religions hold similar views and have traditionally discouraged any union other than the one described above. The only difference might be in the method or authority used to create such a union, but the basic principle has remain unchanged for centuries: marriage between man and woman. No other marriage is honored or allowed in the heavens.

Lately some religions have been experiencing tremendous upheaval by entertaining even the idea that changes to this long-standing commandment of the Lord might be somehow acceptable to Him. We have watched with no small concern the turmoil in the Episcopal church in the United States. A sharp division has risen throughout its congregations regarding the practices of same-sex marriage. Congregations are threatening to secede from the body of the church if they insist on formally adopting such practices.

Elsewhere, entire churches have already given themselves over to the inclusion of same-sex practices. Large portions of scripture are re-written (or "translated" to justify the practice) to eliminate the conflict between revealed word and desired results.

Such things are perfectly acceptable in this nation. The guarantees of being allowed to worship as we choose are still one of the keystones of this republic. Those who would create a church that allows same-sex marriage are allowed to do so. We who feel differently certainly do not have to acknowledge their claims to authority or doctrinal correctness. We are not required to attend their services. We are free, in other words, to believe differently from them.

Which is what makes the recent decision of the California Supreme Court so critically dangerous. By using a simple majority of the court to override the language of Proposition 22, which was passed in 2000 by 61% of California voters, they have changed the rules of engagement. It is now possible for fringe groups to launch legal challenges against those who do not believe as they do. They have already made changes to the state education code that allows such things to be taught to our children in school at very tender ages. That they now feel empowered to legally challenge churches to require that they allow same-sex marriages will set up a colossal struggle between church and state.

The tone of this challenge has already been established by San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom. Gay marriage is coming, he says, "whether you like it or not." Yes, a distinct challenge. And we must be equal to it.

The only way to deal with this challenge is to find the one way that the California Supreme Court cannot overturn it; by making it an amendment to the California state constitution. Proposition 8 takes the same language that was approved eight years ago in Proposition 22, and makes it an amendment. That will make it "constitutional" and will eliminate the court's ability to override it on those grounds.

It is important to understand that, whatever you may feel or believe about this issue, many of us who support Proposition 8 are not doing so to discriminate against homosexuals. We are not supporting it to violate anyone's civil rights. We are not trying to deny same-sex couples the same rights and privileges afforded to married couples. We are, instead, fighting to protect our own civil rights; the ability to continue to believe and worship as we have been instructed. It is important enough to us that we will continue this fight, if needed, even if Proposition 8 is somehow defeated.

We can only pray that it will pass this November.

UPDATE: Connecticut's Supreme Court has now overturned their state's ban on gay marriage. The challenges will continue to mount. This fight is far from over.

Interestingly, the article implies that California's ballot initiative is the "first time" this issue has come before voters. Breitbart is incorrect: Proposition 22 in 2000 placed that language in our state code, which is what the Supreme Court cancelled with their decision.

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