Monday, December 22, 2008

USA Today: Prop. 8 foes use blacklisting tactics to make their point

Thanks, Ruby, for drawing this to my attention! It is so underhanded to attack people's livelihoods when they've merely exercised their right to free expression - a real RIGHT that's outlined in the First Amendment, as opposed to this so-called "right to marry."

School children are taught about how horrible and evil the McCarthy trials and blacklisting of the Hollywood Eight were - and, let's remember, it was those on the Left under persecution then. So somehow the tactic is perfectly acceptable now that it's people whose beliefs oppose your own? How does that make sense? How is that tolerant and open-minded?

Standing up for Prop. 8 - for traditional families and for religious freedoms - is not hateful. It's honorable, and it will continue to be my battle cry, even if everyone else defames it as wrong.

Anyways, enough of my soapbox. USA Today reports:

Prop 8 foes turn to 'blacklist' tactics
By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — After losing on Election Day, some supporters of gay marriage are using economic boycotts and Internet lists to focus ire on the financial backers of Proposition 8.

Some on the receiving end say the tactic amounts to a blacklist, a term that conjures memories of Hollywood's refusal to hire screenwriters and others identified as communists in the late 1940s and 1950s.

"I just hate being pigeonholed as a hate monger or bigot," says Robert Hoehn, who contributed $25,000 to the campaign for Prop 8, which amended California's Constitution to exclude same-sex marriage. "I have friends in the gay community, and I don't think any of them would say that."

Hoehn has seen protesters outside his Carlsbad, Calif., car dealerships, his name and business have appeared on websites publicizing donors, and he has received "the most vitriolic kinds of e-mails, letters and phone calls."

His discomfort is exactly what some have in mind.

"I want to make it a little hot for these people," says Fred Karger, a retired Los Angeles political consultant who started the group and website called Californians Against Hate.

Small as well as large donors have felt heat:
• El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles since 1931, has seen fewer diners and been picketed over a $100 contribution by a manager and member of the owning family. Marjorie Christoffersen told The Los Angeles Times, "I've almost had a nervous breakdown."

• San Diego developer Doug Manchester, who donated $125,000 to put Prop 8 on the ballot, has seen a boycott against hotels he owns, including the Manchester Grand Hyatt on San Diego Bay. Manchester did not return calls seeking comment. Sonja Eddings Brown, spokeswoman for the Protect Marriage coalition, which supports Prop 8, said Manchester's hotel "has lost several national conventions and conferences."

• A-1 Self Storage, with 30 locations across California, has also been targeted by Karger's group. Owner Terry Caster and family members donated $693,000.

Caster did not return calls but has a recording on his phone defending the contribution and Prop 8. "The homosexual community is trying to change something that has been practiced since the start of our great country," he says, referring to marriage. "I simply exercise my right to support that which I believe in."

Brown says she has received calls from small business owners in Hollywood and West Hollywood who have lost customers because of their donations. She said she has seen printed lists that name Hollywood studio employees who gave to the cause, an action that "replicates that feel" of blacklists of movie-industry figures who many in Hollywood to this day believe were prevented from earning a living because of their politics.

Some say blacklist is the wrong analogy.

Larry Gross, professor and director of the school of communication at the University of Southern California, said publicizing donors is a legitimate tactic. He says it is similar to the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott of the 1960s in which blacks were protesting segregated seating.

"This is a matter of private citizens saying they don't want to patronize businesses that have worked against their interests," Gross said.

But Ron Prentice, executive director of the California Family Council, says it is wrong to compare supporters of traditional marriage to racists.

"I think the general public is recognizing intolerance" of the blacklist, he said.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One man and one wolfman?

I thought this piece by The Onion was worth a laugh:

Typo In Proposition 8 Defines Marriage As Between 'One Man And One Wolfman'

SACRAMENTO, CA—Activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate were shocked this November, when a typographical error in California's Proposition 8 changed the state constitution to restrict marriage to a union between "one man and one wolfman," instantly nullifying every marriage except those comprised of an adult male and his lycanthrope partner.

"The people of California made their voices heard today, and reaffirmed our age-old belief that the only union sanctioned in God's eyes is the union between a man and another man possessed by an ungodly lupine curse," state Sen. Tim McClintock said at a hastily organized rally celebrating passage of the new law.

But opponents, including Bakersfield resident Patricia Millard—who is now legally banned from marrying her boyfriend, a human, non-wolfman male—claim it infringes on their civil liberties. "I love James just as much as a wolfman loves his husband," Millard said. "We deserve the same rights as any horrifying mythical abomination."

On the heels of the historic typo, voters in Utah passed a similar referendum a week later, defining marriage as between one man and 23 wolfmen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jerry Brown, judicial review and Prop. 8 problems

California's Attorney General Jerry Brown had hinted that he wanted to see Prop. 8 overturned, but today he made those sentiments crystal clear in a brief to the California Supreme Court.

“Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.

You can read The New York Times report here - other than that newsflash, it goes through the typical opponents and supporters rhetoric that's really nothing we haven't heard before.

What this issue boils down to - aside from the marriage debate in specifics - is the general differing of opinions in contemporary America as to the function of the courts and the role of the vox populi, the voice of the people as evidenced by a vote.

Judicial review - the process by which courts can weigh in on the constitutionality of a statute such as Prop. 8 - is not explicitly in the Constitution. Rather, it came into play in America in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison.

I'll rein in my history geekiness and spare you the gory details, but basically, judicial review sets up an interesting power struggle between the legislative and judiciary branches. The way the Constitution is framed, the legislative branch (i.e. Congress) is supposed to make laws. The executive branch (i.e. the attorney general, who is the chief law enforcement official) enforces the laws, and the judicial branch (i.e. the courts) are to take real-life scenarios and hold them up against the laws to see if that law has, in fact, been broken.

Basically, judicial review strengthens the courts beyond their enumerated scope by creating the ability to legislate from the bench. After the Marbury case, judicial review wasn't used again until the Dred Scott case, and that case began the precedent that continued in full force through the Civil Rights movement in making rulings based on morality - not on the law.

Now before anyone gets up in arms, let me say that I agree with the outcome of the Civil Rights movement. Segregation absolutely needed to end, and racism should be done with. There's no way that voters would have changed the racism ingrained in the system with a vote.

But, that being said, the means used to reach that end set a dangerous precedent that is at the center of today's problems. There are differing schools of thought on what role the courts should play in the political process.

On the one hand, the more conservative, strict interpretation shies away from judicial review on two main grounds. First, the power of constitutional review is not specifically delegated to the Supreme Court anywhere in the Constitution. Along with this, the Tenth Amendment explicitly states that any power that is not delegated by the constitution is reserved to the states, or people. Secondly, it is the states alone that have the power to create this set of laws for the federal government follow, logically it is the states alone that have the power to interpret the meaning of these laws. Allowing the federal government to conduct judicial review allows them to interpret their own restrictions as they see fit, with no consent to the originating power.

Early American leaders had reservations about the effect judicial review would have on the voice of the people sticking in legislation. For example, in alluding to the Dred Scott case, Abraham Lincoln said:

[T]he candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

Likewise, Thomas Jefferson had concerns about judicial review:
You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.

On the other hand, you have the looser interpretation of the Constitution, which views the document more for the Founders' motives and ideals, and less for the actual system they put into place. This was certainly the M.O. of the Warren court and its Civil Rights rulings. From the perspective of Warren court member Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,
Our amended Constitution is the lodestar for our aspirations. Like every text worth reading, it is not crystalline. The phrasing is broad and the limitations of its provisions are not clearly marked. Its majestic generalities and ennobling pronouncements are both luminous and obscure. This ambiguity of course calls forth interpretation, the interaction of reader and text. The encounter with the Constitutional text has been, in many senses, my life's work.

Brennan's perspective is the one that is seen more and more in today's courts - especially as evidenced by the California Supreme Court's overturning of Prop. 22 in May, and the now-proposed overturning of Prop. 8 by our own attorney general.

Those who favor action by the vote of the people and those preferring decisions handed down from the courts come from such vastly different paradigms that the perspectives seem nearly impossible to bring together from a basic examination of theory - let alone when you throw in an issue as emotional and controversial as same-sex marriage.

To those who oppose same-sex marriage, the vote of the people was wrongly overturned by the courts in May and absolutely should not be trampled over again. The people voted - TWICE - so let their voice stand.

Those who favor same-sex marriage, however, see the court ruling in May as a triumph for their side, and the "unenlightened" voice of the people should not be allowed to stand.

In case it's not clear, I'm more of a strict Constitutionalist from the get-go, so without bringing in the marriage question, I firmly feel that the voice of the people is sacrosanct. It's the beauty of our democratic republic that the people can weigh in and make decisions for themselves, to their blessing or curse.

Factor in the value I place on the traditional family and the importance of defending religious freedoms, and, well - I think Jerry Brown should do his job of enforcing the laws the people and legislature pass instead of giving the courts the green light to trample over the voice of the people.

But, hey, that's just me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A quick thought from the heart

I am not yet a mother. I will be, someday, but for now, I'm a career gal - a career gal who moonlights as a babysitter for a few friends with kidlets.

Last night I had the sweet opportunity to watch my friend Lauren's darling children - a tow-headed, adorable little boy of 22 months and a sweet baby girl of 8 months.

There is something so sweet about wrestling with a toddler or having a baby fall asleep in your arms. It's pretty amazing to realize that you've got the future in your arms.

And then it hit me.

This is why we're fighting this fight.

Too often I get more wrapped up in the socio-political implications of gay marriage and in the scriptural counsel on the matter. Which are important, no doubt - but at the end of the day, the true beneficiaries of our battles will be our children (or future children, in my case). I want them to be raised in a world where marriage matters, where traditional families are the norm and where religious freedoms, regardless of sect, are respected.

It may be an uphill battle - one that will not end until Jesus Christ himself returns to reign on this earth. But that's no matter. They that are with us be more than they that are against us, and thanks to prophecies new and old, we already know who wins.

Right will triumph. The question is, will you fight for God, or will you fight Him?

I am so grateful to be part of a network of fellow believers who are also standing for the right. Our children and grandchildren cannot fight this war yet - but we can do our best to hold off the worst for as long as we can.

It won't be easy, but oh, will it be worth it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Case studies of same-sex marriage's impact on religious freedom

I was so impressed with this report posted by the Christian Examiner, I couldn't help but to repost the whole thing - sorry, it's quite long, but it's filled with case studies of how same-sex marriage does, in fact, cause a chilling effect on religious freedom, despite what the No on 8'ers say. They use surface-skimming rhetoric; we can back up our claims with substantial facts.

At the heart of the arguments in favor of Proposition 8 are concerns about eroding religious freedoms that come about as the same-sex agenda is advanced. Below are some of the legal cases heard across the country as compiled by Rancho Santa Fe Attorney Charles S. LiMandri. Affiliated with the Thomas More Law Center, LiMandri was involved in the Mount Soledad cross case and the first case listed below. He has also been involved in the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

LiMandri’s list also includes source documentation, which can be found at his Web site at http://www.limandrilaw.com/CM/Custom/Resources.asp. The cases are listed in a Powerpoint presentation called “The Impact of Same-Sex Marriage on Religious Freedom.” The cases are listed on pages 4 to 11.

February 24, 2000: A professional printer refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives because he felt doing so would violate his religious beliefs. He was fined and ordered to print the material anyway. He took his case to the Ontario Supreme Court and then to the Ontario Court of Appeal and lost both times. His total legal bills exceed $170,000.

2001: An evangelical Christian employed as a prison guard in Canada placed an ad in the Saskatchewan Star Phoenix. The ad was a picture of two stick men holding hands, with a red circle with a bar superimposed on them. Below the picture were four Scripture references, but not actual Bible verses. He was convicted of a hate crime by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal. The judge suggested that using Bible verses in a newspaper ad like this could be construed as hate literature. Thus, there is now legal precedent in Canada that the Holy Bible is hate literature.

May 1, 2002: A Catholic high school in Whitby, Ontario was forced by the Ontario Supreme Court to allow a homosexual student to take his boyfriend to the graduation prom, even though the church-run school has strict prohibitions against condoning any kind of homosexual behavior.

January 26, 2004: Cardinal Gustaaf Joos is sued by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight Against Racism (CEOFAR) for human rights violations because he said that most homosexuals are perverts.

February 3, 2004: Canadian teacher Chris Kempling was suspended for one month for his Christian views on homosexuality, expressed in a letter to the editor.

October 15, 2004: A group of Christians was arrested, spent 21 hours in jail, and was charged with multiple felonies for peacefully protesting at a Philadelphia gay pride event even though the event was open to the public and held on city streets and sidewalks.

October 27, 2004: Rocco Buttiglione of Italy is nominated as Commissioner of Justice for the newly formed European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. He said publicly that he thought homosexual conduct was immoral, and members of the European Parliament blocked his nomination.

January 1, 2005: Calgary Bishop Fred Henry is forced to remove a diocesan letter from his Web site because it urged Catholic Christians to support traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage.

January 26, 2005: B.C. Knights of Columbus are sued for not permitting the rental of their Canadian hall for a same-sex wedding reception.

February 11, 2005: A Swedish pastor is sentenced to jail for one month after speaking out against the homosexual lifestyle from the pulpit. The Gota Court of Appeals subsequently overturned this decision. In the meantime, his sermon was replayed numerous times throughout the appeal process and was eventually broadcast by several news agencies.

June 1, 2005: A former manager with Allstate in Illinois was fired on the sole basis that he wrote a column posted on several Web sites that was critical of same-sex marriage and espoused Christian beliefs. This was done while he was not at work. He sued and reached a settlement.

June 5, 2005: Gay protestors march down the aisle of the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in France during mass, where one of the protestors, dressed like a priest, performed a mock marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple. One of the priests saying mass receives a minor injury while trying to remove the protestors from the cathedral.

June 30, 2005: A lesbian couple used Vermont’s public accommodations law to file a discrimination complaint against a couple who owns a small inn for expressing their concern that, as Roman Catholics, they would have moral difficulty hosting a same-sex civil union on their premises.

March 9, 2006: The California Supreme Court voted unanimously that the City of Berkeley could withdraw a rent subsidy to a Boy Scouts affiliate (the Sea Scouts) at the city marina because of the scouts’ opposition to homosexuality.

March 10, 2006: Catholic Charities in Massachusetts is forced out of the adoption business for the first time in 100 years because it will not place children with homosexual couples.

April 5, 2006: San Francisco City Board of Supervisors issued a scathing resolution condemning the Catholic Church’s moral teachings on homosexuality and urged Catholic leaders to defy Vatican directives telling agencies not to place children with same-sex couples.

April 28, 2006: A government commission ordered a man who runs a video duplicator business to do a job for a lesbian activist after he initially refused because, as a Christian, he did not want to help promote homosexuality.

June 16, 2006: Robert J. Smith, a member of the board of directors of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, appointed by Governor Robert L.Ehrlich, discussed the federal marriage amendment on a local cable show and stated that gays and lesbians are “persons of sexual deviancy,” and was subsequently fired from his position. He said that as a Catholic this was part of his religious beliefs.

November 1, 2006: Emily Brooker, a social-work student at Missouri State University, was charged with violating the school’s “Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education.” One of her professors accused her of the violation after he assigned a project that required the entire class to write and each sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of gay adoption. Brooker said her Christian beliefs required her to refuse to sign the letter. She subsequently sued the school for a violation of her First Amendment rights and won.

January 1, 2007: Christian Vanneste, a member of the French parliament, was convicted for homophobia by a French court. He had said that “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality” and that “homosexuality endangers the survival of mankind.”

May 31, 2007: Eharmony.com was sued in California for refusing to offer its dating services to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Eharmony.com was founded in 2000 by an evangelical Christian with strong ties to Focus on the Family.

June 1, 2007: The Oakland, Calif. city government found the words “Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values” to be a hate crime and reprimands a group of Oakland city government employees for using these words on a flier in the workplace.

June 12, 2007: Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, leader of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, received his second death threat, in the form of 3 bullets, from an anonymous militant homosexual activist enraged at the Catholic Church’s campaign to defeat civil union legislation in Italy.

June 27, 2007: Belgian homosexual activists have brought charges against Monsignor Andre-Mutien Leonard, the Roman Catholic bishop of Namur, for homophobia because he is said to have described homosexuals as “abnormal” people.

July 21, 2007: Four San Diego firefighters were ordered to participate in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade. The employees filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego in California Superior Court alleging sexual harassment and violating their freedom of speech. After a mistrial was declared, a new trial is scheduled for after the first of the year.

July 28, 2007: Anglican Church in the United Kingdom was found guilty of discrimination against homosexuals for requiring lay Diocesan Youth Director to be celibate if not married. It is now against the law for a Christian organization to require its employees to abide by Christian teaching.

August 2, 2007: Two Christian physicians were sued for acting in accord with their religious beliefs by not artificially inseminating a lesbian. The California Supreme Court ruled in August 2008 that the doctor’s religious rights did not carry as much weight as the woman’s civil rights under California’s anti-discrimination laws which protect sexual orientation. The case is still under appeal and has cost the physicians nearly $1 dollars.

August 24, 2007: A Massachusetts father, who objected to the homosexual curriculum being taught to his kindergartener, was handcuffed and taken to jail for refusing to leave a school meeting where he came to voice his concerns. An appeals court later ruled that the father had no rights to question the school’s curriculum and suggested the best option for parents who object to school content is to segregate.

September 15, 2007: California Lutheran high school is being sued for expelling two girls who engaged in “homosexual conduct” on campus.

September 25, 2007: A lesbian high school student in California accused principal of violating Equal Protection and First Amendment rights for issuing disciplinary action in response to continual inappropriate displays of public affection on school grounds. U.S. District Court ruled in favor of school defendants, finding no federal or state constitutional violations.

October 2, 2007: General Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was fired because he publicly expressed moral opposition to homosexual behavior.

October 7, 2007: Ocean Grove Camp Ground, a Methodist camp in New Jersey, loses its state tax-exempt status for not hosting a same-sex union in its marriage pavilion.

October 24, 2007: A Christian couple in the UK were denied re-registration as foster parents following their refusal to sign an “Equality” policy which forbids discrimination on the grounds of homosexuality. After public outcry, on October 31, 2007 Somerset Social Services met with the couple and allowed them to make a conscientious objection to the “Equality” policy, reinstating them as foster parents.

November 3, 2007: British Employment Appeals Tribunal upheld a decision rejecting a discrimination claim by a Justice of the Peace. The Justice sat on the court’s Family Panel and had requested to be excused from hearing cases involving same-sex couples based on his Christian religious beliefs. His request was denied and he filed a discrimination claim. The EAT concluded that magistrates must apply the law as their oath requires, and cannot opt out of cases on moral grounds.

January 28, 2008: Jon and Elaine Huguenin, a young Christian couple from Albuquerque, N.M, were tried before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission after they declined a request to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, citing their religious beliefs. The same-sex couple filed a discrimination complaint with the commission, which scheduled the hearing. In the hearing, the Huguenins cited their First Amendment rights, but the commission sided with the same-sex couple. The Huguenins were fined $6,600.

Why marriage matters

This excellent read comes from The United Families International Blog - please feel free to leave comments both here and on their site.

Also, as a sidenote, I've linked to the Newsweek story that actually tries to use the Bible to support same-sex marriage (something which I think is absurd, personally). The comments are still open on that article, should you feel so inclined to make your voice heard there.

Last night, during a discussion over the absurd Newsweek cover story, "A Religious Case for Gay Marriage," this comment was made, “If gays are legally able to wed, it will not really affect my marriage, nor your marriage.” I was pretty surprised to hear that comment and I fear that others may believe this lie. In truth, if same-sex marriage is legalized it will not only have a tremendous impact on my marriage, but on all current and future marriages. Families would lose important aspects of religious freedom and the freedoms and rights that are given to parents would be under attack if gays and lesbians are legally allowed to marry.

One argument that I have made before is that as gay marriage is legal the freedom of religion is lost. As the marriages of gays and lesbians are legalized around the world, those who are free to practice religion lose aspects of that precious freedom. Sexual freedom trumps religious freedom, this is a pattern that has happened and will continue to happen as long as states and countries ignore that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The various religions that view homosexuality as a sin would, through the legal process, be forced to change their doctrine or face punishment such as the loss of tax-exempt status or other legal ramifications. Sexual orientation would be viewed in the same light as race or eye color, characteristics that are by no means controllable, a notion that the teachings of many religious institutions fully oppose.

Take these 3 cases for example:

  • February 24, 2000: A professional printer refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives because he felt doing so would violate his religious beliefs. He was fined and ordered to print the material anyway. He took his case to the Ontario Supreme Court and then to the Ontario Court of Appeal and lost both times. His total legal bills exceed $170,000.
  • March 10, 2006: Catholic Charities in Massachusetts is forced out of the adoption business for the first time in 100 years because it will not place children with homosexual couples.
  • January 28, 2008: Jon and Elaine Huguenin, a young Christian couple from Albuquerque, N.M, were tried before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission after they declined a request to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, citing their religious beliefs. The same-sex couple filed a discrimination complaint with the commission, which scheduled the hearing. In the hearing, the Huguenins cited their First Amendment rights, but the commission sided with the same-sex couple. The Huguenins were fined $6,600.

Marriage matters because of the effect on education and the parent’s right to teach and rear their children in the manner they see fit. It is widely documented that once same-sex marriage becomes legal, it will be taught that it is just as acceptable as heterosexual marriage in public schools. The schools that will be forced to teach about homosexual marriage and parents will be unable to withdraw their students from these teaching sessions. Public schools will, by law, be required to teach about gay marriage. Students will, by law, be required to listen as teachers teach the mandated material. Parents will, by law, be required to stand by as principles that they disagree with are taught to their children. I do not wish to practice “fear-mongering,” the scenarios that I have laid out are real and have already happened in some states.

As a society grows lax in its defense of the traditional family, the goals of the anti-family movement draw closer to fulfillment. Their desire is to create a genderless society that is run by the state – void of religion, marriage and parents. They hope for a pleasure-filled culture with no responsibilities and zero accountability.

Archbishop George Niederauer said in a post-Prop. 8 editorial, “Members of churches who supported Proposition 8 sincerely believe that defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is one such issue. They see marriage and the family as the basic building blocks of human society, existing before government and not created by it. Marriage is for us the ideal relationship between a man and woman, in which, through their unique sexual complementarity, the spouses offer themselves to God as co-creators of new human persons, a father and mother giving them life and enabling them to thrive in the family setting.”

MUST READ: The Gay Marriage Mess in Mass.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Steve Lopez column: A life thrown into turmoil by Prop. 8 donation

The well-known L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez may have opposed Prop. 8, but even he sees the insanity of the No on 8'er backlash as evidenced in the case of Margie Christofferson of El Coyote.

Check out his column, "A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation to Prop. 8," to get the latest on the El Coyote situation.

Here's a teaser:

Margie Christoffersen didn't make it very far into our conversation before she cracked. Chest heaving, tears streaming, she reached for her husband Wayne's
hand and then mine, squeezing as if she'd never let go.

"I've almost had a nervous breakdown. It's been the worst thing that's ever happened to me," she sobbed as curious patrons at a Farmers Market coffee shop looked on, wondering what calamity had visited this poor woman who's an honest 6 feet tall, with hair as blond as the sun.

Well, Christoffersen was a manager at El Coyote, the Beverly Boulevard landmark restaurant that's always had throngs of customers waiting to get inside. Many of them were gay, and Christoffersen, a devout Mormon, donated $100 in support of Proposition 8, the successful November ballot initiative that banned gay marriage.

She never advertised her politics or religion in the restaurant, but last month her donation showed up on lists of "for" and "against" donors. And El Coyote became a target.A boycott was organized on the Internet, with activists trashing El Coyote on restaurant review sites. Then came throngs of protesters, some of them shouting "shame on you" at customers. The police arrived in riot gear one night to quell the angry mob.

The mob left, but so did the customers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New York Times Ad Backstory and Interview

Meridian Magazine had this interesting article about the No Mob Veto ad placed in the New York Times recently. Link's at the bottom.

Violence and Religious Intimidation: No Place in Civil Society

Publisher's Note: Following are excerpts of a phone interview by Meridian 's Editor-in-Chief, Maurine Proctor, with Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, Chairman and President of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Last week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed its thanks for a full page ad that recently ran in the New York Times http://www.nomobveto.org/images/nytad_lg.png decrying the violence and intimidation that has been directed toward it in the wake of California 's Prop 8.

The ad, written by Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, is a project of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a powerful and successful Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. Operating in both the courts of law and the court of public opinion, they represent people of all faiths and have stepped up for Anglicans, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Native Americans, Zorastrians and any religious groups whose rights are trampled in the public square.

Hasson, who is a Catholic, said, “I think most of my clients are wrong theologically, but I think we should defend their right to be wrong.”

He said that the LDS Church did not ask the Becket Fund to defend it, nor pay for the ad, nor did they know about it before hand, but, he said, in a civil society we must be on guard to protect religious freedom.

Ad Language

“The way we thought we could do our part,” he said, “was to round up a coalition that was as broad as we could, from conservative Jews to Liberal Jews, from believers to non- believers, from supporters to opponents of Prop 8. In the ad, he wrote, “We're a disagreeable lot… Nevertheless, we're united in this: the violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or “Mormon” church and other religious organizations—and even against individual believers—simply because they supported Proposition 8 is an outrage that must stop.”

The ad continues, “Of course, when a religious organization enters the public policy arena, it must be prepared for disputes. Religious groups can't claim some sort of special immunity from criticism. Nevertheless, there's a world of difference between legitimate political give-and-take and violent attempts to cow your opponents into submission. Violence and intimidation are always wrong, whether the victims are believers, gay people, or anyone else.

“Some of the violence is being stoked by public statements denouncing the LDS for merely participating in the debate at all-as if that were somehow illegal. The question isn't even close. Participating in ballot initiatives is legally different from politicking for candidates. It is perfectly lawful for charities, including religious ones. It is perfectly appropriate as well that all voices be heard. That is a basic point of democracy: the proper response to free speech you disagree with is your own free speech in reply, not attempting to coerce your opponents into silence.

“Regrettably some public voices have even sought to excuse the threats and disruptions simply as “demonstrations” that got out of hand. Perhaps that's true in some cases. Far too many, however, seem never to have been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade, but to intimidate. When thugs send white powder to terrorize any place of worship, especially those of a religious minority, responsible voices need to speak clearly: Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous. Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well. Consciously or not, they are numbing the public conscience, with endangers all of us.”

Twin Dangers

Hasson sees twin dangers if, as a society, we turn a blind eye to the intimidations leveled at the Latter-day Saints and other religious groups.

The first danger is that violence and intimidation directed toward a religion will come to be seen, not as an aberration, but as normal. “If we allow it, it will come to be seen as tolerable, a tolerable level of violence. It is disappointing that the anti-prop 8 media plays right along. A couple of pro-gay websites have been heroic and have said this is an outrage and should stop. However, many gay spokespeople have said, we have suffered at the hands of religious people over the centuries, you should expect some payback.”

He said that with 46% of Californians voting against Prop 8, and only about 5% of the population being gay, the intimidation could be coming from any quarter. “The point is that religious intimidation is not acceptable and we cannot let our society go there the way that Europe did when it tolerated pogroms against the Jews or the way some places began to tolerate terrorism in the 80's.”

The other danger would be that extreme fringe elements on the other side seek revenge for being so badly treated.

19th Century Parallels

Hasson said that you'd have to look to the 19 th century to see any kind of parallel to the violence that has surrounded Prop 8, which he considers a huge step backward.

What is little known, he said, is that in the 19 th century, the First Amendment with its freedom of religion clause did not apply to the States, therefore they could legally outlaw religion. Catholics often felt the brunt of this.

In Vermont it was a constitutional requirement that all office holders be Protestants. In the state of Massachusetts , the Congregationalist church was the official state church until 1832. In 1854 the Massachusetts legislature created a commission to investigate nunneries, among other things looking to expose the dungeons that were supposed to be secreted beneath them. A law was passed that only the King James Bible could be read in convent schools.

Riots broke out in Philadelphia in 1844 when groups, claiming that Catholics were a danger to the nation, broke into a nunnery, expelling nuns and orphans with blows and cursings, defiling graves and sacred objects, and burning St. Augustine's church to the ground.

A potent group called the “No Nothings” began to flourish in the 1850's, whose goal was to exclude Catholics and foreigners from any position of power.

Of course, the Latter-day Saints have their own stories of being driven, murdered, and persecuted in those times.

However, said Hasson, when the First Amendment started becoming a part of the states' laws in the beginning of the twentieth century, people thought those days were behind us. “These historical events,” he said, “are the closest analogy to the outrage that is being perpetuated in the name of Prop 8. This is not a happy development.”

A Declaration

The Becket Fund's New York Times ad ends with a stout declaration that says they mean business. As Hasson said, “We recommit to be in this for the long haul and to back up our words.”

The ad ends: “Therefore, despite our fundamental disagreements with one another, we announce today that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to defend any house of worship—Jewish, Christian, Hindu, whatever—from violence, regardless of the cause that violence seeks to serve. Furthermore, beginning today, we commit ourselves to exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason.”

If you would like to add your name to the ad, go to nomobveto.org So far about 2,000 people have added their names, including some groups, said Hasson, who have hounded the LDS Church theologically in the past.”

Hasson said, “I know we've pricked a few consciences in the gay community and let them see that what some of them are doing is counterproductive to their cause.”

Family Leader has volunteered to collect stories of intimidation, hate mail, jobs threatened or lost for the Becket Fund. If you have such stories, write to Maurine Proctor at maurineproctor@familyleader.net

AbovetheHate.com

Meanwhile, national columnist Maggie Gallagher has written a letter to President Monson, that can be found at abovethehate.com which details some of the attacks against the Church, and then pledges:

We, the undersigned, utterly condemn and reject the ongoing unprecedented efforts to incite religious hatred and bigotry towards members of the LDS Church because, as American citizens, you have courageously exercised your core civil rights to speak, to vote, and to donate to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We pledge to work with you and for you not only to protect marriage, but to protect the rights of all religious citizens, including the LDS Church, to participate freely (without threats of retribution or retaliation) in the political processes of this country in defense of the Judeo-Christian values—and the common good—we hold so dear.

So far this letter has received over 5,000 signatures including many of the top Evangelical leaders such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Dr. Gary Bauer of American Values, Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptists Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and many more.

http://www.ldsmag.com/familyleadernetwork/081210violence.html

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Call in "gay" to work?

According to The Associated Press, tomorrow is set to be "The Day without a Gay" - a sit-out of sorts set to coincide with International Human Rights Day. Modeled loosely after the 2006 immigration demonstrations, same-sex marriage supporters are being urged by the West Hollywood organizers to "call in gay" to work Wednesday to show how much the economy relies on the gay community.

With the economy being in the state it's in, I don't think that's a particularly wise move.

I mean, I don't know about you, but I have no doubt that the economy relies upon gays, just as it relies upon every single minority group out there. It's an intricate and complex system, and minority groups thankfully aren't segregated into certain sectors.

However, I'm slightly impressed that the protest organizers are urging participants to spend the day in community service instead - that is somewhat commendable. It's always good to give back to the community.

But I still think the whole concept is a little ridiculous. I'm interested to see what kind of momentum it gets.

Gay-rights witchhunters win El Coyote battle

Well, I'm sad to report that Marjorie Christofferson, the Latter-day Saint woman who was raked over the coals by the gay community for her personal donation of $100 to support Prop. 8, has resigned from El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles.


Let's refresh our memories on the scenario. Marjorie, who managed the restaurant and was on its board of directors, donates $100 of her own money on her own time to support a cause that aligns with her personal beliefs. Some of the gay employees and patrons catch wind of this and call for an large-scale boycott of the restaurant. (Mind you, the donation was done on her own time and had nothing whatsoever to do with the restaurant.) The restaurant management invites the gay community for a free lunch and pledges donations of $5,000 each to two gay-rights groups - in other words, $10,000, which is 100 times what Marjorie had donated herself.



But is this enough?

No.

The gay activists, as caught on video, say that they want Marjorie to donate from her own pocket to the No on 8 side - something that is diametrically opposed to her personal beliefs. They relentlessly continue to boycott the restaurant until Christofferson steps down from her livelihood and her role at a family restaurant that's dear to her heart.

Hizzeather, Christa Jeanne and Melissa
Last month Hizzeather, Melissa and I , along with my roommate, went up to L.A. to dine at El Coyote, and Marjorie actually stepped out and sat with us for a few minutes. Although the restaurant was busy when we were there, she said it was actually really slow compared to how it had been, and that the family-like staff were sticking with her, even though it was causing them financial hardship.

What a shame. I am absolutely disgusted by the below-the-belt tactics of the No on 8'ers who will stop at nothing to trample the vox populi on their quest to get their way. It is completely and totally undemocratic and wrong.

Are you disgusted, too? Send the Coyote a message supporting Marjorie's decision to stick with her beliefs: elcoyotecafe@hotmail.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Different Marriage Protest

Another protest at the LDS Temple in Manhattan...

Ryan Simmons
2008 New York, New York Stake Film Festival winner.
Filmed and Edited by Collin Mapp.

I love to laugh, and I laugh a lot. But I haven't been able to laugh at Prop 8 stuff. It's too important of an issue, and it hits too close to home. That's why I am so surprised that I laughed so hard at this little gem. It's a nice comic relief...our LDS audience will especially appreciate it!

New York Times Ad

Click on the picture to make it bigger
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed appreciation yesterday for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times that decries the "violence and intimidation" directed toward the Church because of its support of Proposition 8. The ad was sponsored by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and was signed by scholars, dignitaries and religious leaders from a variety of faiths.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses its gratitude to the signatories of the full-page advertisement that appeared today in the New York Times. This was a thoughtful and generous gesture at a time when the right of free expression of people of faith has come under attack. We join with those of all religious faiths and political persuasions who have called for reasoned and civil discourse on matters that affect our nation."

The ad is reprinted at http://www.nomobveto.org, a website sponsored by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. There is also a page on the site where you can tell your story of harassment or intimidation that you have experienced because of your support of Prop 8. You can share your story at: http://nomobveto.org/story.php. The Becket Fund is planning additional action against those who intimidate believers because of their stance on Prop 8 and would greatly appreciate your support: http://nomobveto.org/help.php.

Thank you!

All the best,

Hannah Smith

Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and JRCLS Board Committee Member

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Demographic Winter

From Kingfisher Column



The Decline of the Human Family

How the road to self fulfillment led us to the perfect storm

From Rick Stout’s Demographic Winter

Of all of the causes we have in the world today, many of which particularly capture the time and space of the media and academia, it is singularly peculiar that the disintegration of an institution as important as the human family should want for attention. Perhaps it is because the family is made up of individual people, and we have become a society obsessed with a focus on the self. Be that as it may, we have ignored this institution to our great detriment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights got it right when it declared that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society”. Implicit in this inclusion in an international founding document declaring universal human rights, is the recognition that stable society’s very survival rests on the strength of this fundamental group unit.

The years have not been kind to this most important institution – the family, particularly the last four decades. Worldwide, families have broken down at a historically unprecedented pace. There are certainly records of how now-extinct societies have experienced similar declines before their demise, but what we now face is unique in that it has a global spread. This has ominous portent.

The family’s importance to basic social structures has perhaps been more explored and discussed than its importance to other aspects of our world, and certainly deserves continued study. What is probably less obvious, and therefore less examined, is the family’s impact on such things as the rule of law, democratic structures, societal and even technological advancement, education, successful commerce and economic structures. Society depends on these in order to remain stable and the family’s impact on them is profound.

When the great social experiments of the 1960’s were launched, and when concern over a “population bomb” loomed large, we did not have the social science and economic studies we have available to us today. So the world embarked unknowingly on a self-destructive course.

Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family seeks to reawaken society to the importance of the stable, intact family, and engender a discussion and greater focus in the media, in academia, in the halls of policy makers, in religious circles, in the committees of civil society and in households around the world. Our hope is that all of these circles will bring to bear on the problems facing the family the tremendous contributions each can uniquely make. In this way, we hope to avert the storm that is now most surely coming on.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rolling Stone: "Don't blame the Mormons" for Prop. 8's passage

Wow, did this one ever give me a surprise!

Rolling Stone, which is hardly considered a bastion of conservatism or a flag-bearer for family values, has an article on its site (dated Dec. 11 - so perhaps it'll be in print next week?) titled "Same Sex Setback."

The subtitle?

"Don't blame Mormons or black voters - the California activists who tried to stop Prop 8 ran a lousy campaign."

Ummmm, thank you, Rolling Stone!

Of course, the article hardly condones Prop. 8 or basks in the victory; rather, it continues to blast the traditional marriage folks as homophobic. However, at least in this piece the blame is being laid at the feet of the No on 8 crowd for running an unsatisfactory campaign.

I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this stance, either - perhaps the victory should be attributed to people rallying around a good cause in the preservation of family values and faith? Nor, of course, do I agree that the passing of Prop. 8 can be chalked up to "entrenched homophobia and religious intolerance." I love my gay friends, I love that their rights are already protected via CA Family Code 297.5, and I love that Prop. 8 passed, keeping the government out of my family and my faith.

Well, either way, I appreciate Rolling Stone's proclamation to stop pointing fingers.

I recommend dropping in to comment. Here's a snippet of the piece:

But evidence of entrenched homophobia and religious intolerance obscure a more difficult truth. Prop 8 should have been defeated — two months before the election, it was down 17 points in the polls — but the gay-rights groups that tried to stop it ran a lousy campaign. According to veteran political observers, the No on Prop 8 effort was slow to raise money, ran weak and confusing ads, and failed to put together a grass-roots operation to get out the vote.

"This was political malpractice," says a Democratic consultant who operates at the highest level of California politics. "They [messed] this up, and it was painful to watch. They shouldn't be allowed to pawn this off on the Mormons or anyone else. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and now hundreds of thousands of gay couples are going to pay the price."


If you opt to read the piece, obviously do so with a grain of salt - but it's quite the in-depth analysis, and it makes some important points to note for the next battle in this ongoing war of values.
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P.S.: I thought the end of the article was also noteworthy - and it indicates why we must, as Winston Churchill so wisely said, "Never, never, never give up." 'Cause the opposition most certainly won't. Let's not ever rest on our laurels, friends!

Civil rights groups in California have already petitioned the state Supreme Court to toss out Prop 8, arguing that revising the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature. The fight has also gone national. On November 10th, the gay-rights group Equality Utah announced that it would draft legislation in Utah to legalize civil unions — a direct challenge to the Mormon church, which claims to support such relationships. And on November 15th, after only eight days of organizing online, more than 100,000 protesters rallied against Prop 8 in 300 cities across the country.

As the demonstrations suggest, there is a silver lining to the passage of Prop 8. Because it succeeded due to the mistakes and mismanagement of its opponents — rather than deep-seated hostility to gay and lesbian couples — it can be overturned at the ballot box. Since 2000, the margin of voters in the state who oppose gay marriage has plunged from 23 points to only four.

"The speed at which this issue is moving is unprecedented in my personal political experience," says Bill Carrick, a prominent Democratic consultant who worked on the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy. "Support for gay marriage has moved so far, in such a short period of time, that I think we're going to look back at Prop 8 as an aberration. History is headed in a very pro-gay-marriage direction, and it probably is going to happen in a much shorter time than anybody imagines."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prop. 8: The Musical?

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


One of the latest Prop. 8 viral crazes is this video from FunnyOrDie.com that mocks Prop. 8 supporters, showing them as trying to sneak hate into the Constitution while everyone's basking in the glow of Obama's presidential run.

Obviously you can't take this video too seriously - I mean, Jack Black as Jesus Christ? Seriously? If I weren't devout, I'd probably find it funny, but mocking religion has no humor for me - but it really is unfortunate how the facts of the matter are hidden by the humor, satire and pithy sound bytes that speak to my generation. People don't look into the facts anymore. Goodness gracious! I mean, for starters, the Law of Moses of the Old Testament was fulfilled by Christ's coming, so that's why those nitpicky dietary laws and such are passe. However, homosexuality is categorized as sinful in the New Testament. And, thankfully, we have modern-day prophets who guide the way on the matter, too.

I could go on and on - but I'll spare you.

The video's cast is pretty phenomenal - a TON of actors I really like! Well, they're entitled to their opinions, as I'm entitled to mine.

It's really so blatant how "good is called evil" and "evil is called good" nowadays. I was thinking this over on my commute this morning, when a local radio station was promoting a "holiday hottie" photo contest sponsored by Hustler. Twenty years ago, that kind of filth and smut was hush-hush; now it's paraded around as delightful and liberating while wholesome, virtuous values are degraded as unenlightened and backwards.

Anyways... if you feel so inclined, go comment here. I'm sure there will be far more No on 8 comments on there, so it would be good to get our voice into that dialogue.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An ugly attack on Mormons

Great Column in the LA Times by Jonah Goldberg.

Did you catch the political ad in which two Jews ring the doorbell of a nice, working-class family? They barge in and rifle through the wife's purse and then the man's wallet for any cash. Cackling, they smash the daughter's piggy bank and pinch every penny. "We need it for the Wall Street bailout!" they exclaim.

No? Maybe you saw the one with the two swarthy Muslims who knock on the door of a nice Jewish family and then blow themselves up?

No? Well, then surely you saw the TV ad in which two smarmy Mormon missionaries knock on the door of an attractive lesbian couple. "Hi, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" says the blond one with a toothy smile. "We're here to take away your rights." The Mormon zealots yank the couple's wedding rings from their fingers and then tear up their marriage license.

As the thugs leave, one says to the other, "That was too easy." His smirking comrade replies, "Yeah, what should we ban next?" The voice-over implores viewers: "Say no to a church taking over your government."

Obviously, the first two ads are fictional because no one would dare run such anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim attacks.

The third ad, however, was real. It was broadcast throughout California on election day as part of the effort to rally opposition to Proposition 8, the initiative that successfully repealed the right to same-sex marriage in the state.

What was the reaction to the ad? Widespread condemnation? Scorn? Rebuke? Tepid criticism?

Nope.

Read the rest of the column HERE.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What is Truth?

In case you haven't already figured it out, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are commonly referred to as "Mormon" or "LDS." My Christianity definitely affects my viewpoints on politics & moral issues...I won't deny it. I also don't think that is a bad thing. I know that there are people that don't believe in my religion or any religion at all, so they may dismiss my viewpoint simply because of my religious beliefs. This is a mistake. In this day & age, with the turmoil in our nation and world, we need to look for the similarities instead of the differences. That being said, here are two viewpoints that I agree with, even though they are not given by people of my same faith. Thank you to Blaine Stewart for sending these links my way.

Robert George is Catholic, a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University & a council member of The President's Council on Bioethics. You can see a quick bio here & here. He spoke in a forum at Brigham Young University on October 28th, 2008 entitled "On the Moral Purposes of Law and Government" where he addresses same-sex marriage. If you feel indifferent about the topic, I doubt you will after listening to it.
Unfortunately the discourse is not yet transcribed. But you can hear it by clicking here and choosing to watch it in quicktime or listen in mp3 format.
*UPDATE - Transcript now available (12/06/08)*

There is an article he published similar to his discourse here.

I also share with you an article written by Adam Kolasinski entitled "The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage." Adam is a doctoral student in financial economics at MIT. I don't know his religious views.

Here is my favorite part -

Some argue that the link between marriage and procreation is not as strong as it once was, and they are correct. Until recently, the primary purpose of marriage, in every society around the world, has been procreation. In the 20th century, Western societies have downplayed the procreative aspect of marriage, much to our detriment. As a result, the happiness of the parties to the marriage, rather than the good of the children or the social order, has become its primary end, with disastrous consequences. When married persons care more about themselves than their responsibilities to their children and society, they become more willing to abandon these responsibilities, leading to broken homes, a plummeting birthrate, and countless other social pathologies that have become rampant over the last 40 years. Homosexual marriage is not the cause for any of these pathologies, but it will exacerbate them, as the granting of marital benefits to a category of sexual relationships that are necessarily sterile can only widen the separation between marriage and procreation.

The biggest danger homosexual civil marriage presents is the enshrining into law the notion that sexual love, regardless of its fecundity, is the sole criterion for marriage. If the state must recognize a marriage of two men simply because they love one another, upon what basis can it deny marital recognition to a group of two men and three women, for example, or a sterile brother and sister who claim to love each other? Homosexual activists protest that they only want all couples treated equally. But why is sexual love between two people more worthy of state sanction than love between three, or five? When the purpose of marriage is procreation, the answer is obvious. If sexual love becomes the primary purpose, the restriction of marriage to couples loses its logical basis, leading to marital chaos.

This is a lot of information for you to process. I know a lot of people have stopped thinking about this issue, hoping that it has been resolved. Unfortunately it has not. I truly believe that we will be fighting this battle for awhile. Apathy will just help the other side. To help us with this, here is my attempt at transcribing my favorite part of Mr. George's discourse -

Our task as I see it should be to understand the moral truth and speak it, in season and out. Speak it lovingly, speak it civilly, engage those with whom one disagrees in civil discourse, open to hearing counter arguments, open to considering the other side's point of view. Yes, speak it lovingly, speak it civilly, but firmly and vigorously, because so much is at stake. Now we will be told by those who are pure pragmatists that the American Public is too far gone in moral relativism, or even moral delinquency to be reached by moral argument. Sometimes they say,"Give it up. Give up the argument for life, give up the argument for marriage. The public's too far gone. They've drunk the kool-aid of moral relativism." But we must have faith that truth is luminous and powerful, so that if we bear witness to the truth about say, marriage or the sanctity of human life, lovingly, civilly, but also passionately and with determination, and if we honor the truth in advancing our positions, then even many of our fellow citizens who now find themselves on the other side of these issues will come around. Don't underestimate our fellow citizens. People are open to the argument. Our problem is not so much that people are gone and sunk in moral relativism and so won't listen. Our problem is we don't make the argument and we don't make it often enough or well enough, with enough conviction, determination.

Now, to speak of truth frightens some people today. They evidently believe that people who claim to know the truth about anything—and especially about moral matters—are fundamentalists and potential totalitarians. But, as my friend Professor Hadley Arkes has patiently explained, those on the other side of the great debates over social issues such as abortion and marriage make truth claims, moral truth claims, all the time. They assert their positions with no less confidence and no more doubt than one finds in the advocacy of pro-lifers or defenders of conjugal marriage. They proclaim for example, not as some mere matter of abstract opinion, but as something true that women have a fundamental right even to elective abortion. They maintain with all the conviction you can have when you are speaking something that you believe to be true, that “love makes a family” therefore any two people, or perhaps more than two people, who feel affection for each other should constitute what is recognized as a marriage. The question, then, is not whether there are truths about such things as the morality of elective abortion and the nature of marriage; the question in each case is, What is the truth?

Please find out for yourself what you believe the truth is, and stand for it.

LDS leaders discuss Christ's return



My apologies for this non-Prop. 8 post, but recognizing that much of our readership is composed of Latter-day Saints, I wanted to share this video with others of my faith.

Hizzeather posted this video on her blog, and it brought me to tears. Not just misty-eyed tears - no, no, I was so touched, I sobbed silently and briefly in my little cubicle, watching this.

Which isn't really that rare, nowadays. I didn't used to be a cryer with spiritual things, but oh boy, am I ever now! I feel like a leaky faucet. Oh well.

What an honor, a privilege and a daunting responsibility it is to be among those prepared to be here, now, when and where the Lord needs us. How grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the light it brings into my life and for the wise leaders we have who can help us navigate through an ever-darkening world.

The Prop. 8 experience really strengthened my testimony of our inspired leadership and of so many prophecies that have been fulfilled in the last few months. I feel that it was one major battle in a war that will continue to wage between the faithful and the faithless, the religious and the anti-religious.

May we all band together - the believers of all sects, denominations and faiths - as we share strength in our common beliefs. Christ's return is at the pinnacle of every Christian faith, and we all share those Biblical prophecies that highlight signs of the times that we see all around us. It is not a season for fear, but for faith, for strength, for courage and serenity.


For more information go to http://whatisprop8.com

If Democracy Doesn't Work, Try Anarchy

Hi...remember me?

I've been letting Christa do all the work around here since the election. Let's face it...she is generally more on top of things and a better writer, so it has been for the best! :) Thanks Christa!

I'm not usually a Chuck Norris fan, but he wrote this column that I really liked. Check it out here.

Here's the end of the article -

The truth is that the great majority of Prop 8 advocates are not bigots or hatemongers. They are American citizens who are following 5,000 years of human history and the beliefs of every major people group and religion – that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Their pro-Prop 8 votes weren't intended to deprive any group of their rights – they were safeguarding their honest convictions regarding the boundaries of marriage.

On Nov. 4, the pro-"gay" community was obviously flabbergasted that a state that generally leans left actually voted right when it came to holy matrimony. But that's exactly what happened – the majority of Californians, red, yellow, black and white, voted to maintain the margins of marriage between one man and one woman. California is the 30th state in our union to amend its constitution in doing so, joining Florida and Arizona in this election, too. Like it or not, it's the law now. The people have spoken.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

L.A. Film Festival director - and Latter-day Saint - resigns over Prop. 8 protests


The anti-Prop. 8 assault on Prop. 8 supporters continues, and its latest victim is Richard Raddon, director of the L.A. Film Festival and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The L.A. Times reports that when Raddon's donation of $1,500 became public almost two weeks ago, the gay community began inundating Film Independent with criticism for having Raddon among its ranks. Raddon's initial offer to resign was countered with a vote of confidence from the board, which includes Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker, Lionsgate President Tom Ortenberg and Fox Searchlight President Peter Rice.

However, according to one Film Independent board member, "No on 8" supporters also berated Raddon personally via phone calls and e-mails. He offered to resign again, and the board accepted the second offer.

Raddon issued this statement:

"I have always held the belief that all people, no matter race, religion or sexual orientation, are entitled to equal rights. As many know, I consider myself a devout and faithful Mormon. I prefer to keep the details around my contribution through my church a private matter. But I am profoundly sorry for the negative attention that my actions have drawn to Film Independent and for the hurt and pain that is being experienced in the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] community."
It's unfortunate that he basically has to apologize for his beliefs; however, gay couples ALREADY HAVE all the same rights. I applaud how Raddon stands by his faith while empathizing with the hurt and pain felt by the GLBT community.

Here's more from the L.A. Times piece:

Raddon's support for Proposition 8 has sparked debate within both the gay community and Hollywood, as many publicly worry about punishing people for free speech, even speech they deemed hateful, and his departure has already provoked ambivalence.

"I'm personally saddened by the outcome," said Film Independent board member Bill Condon, the writer-director of "Dreamgirls." "Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs. I think the organization was ready to tough this out, but Rich ultimately decided it wasn't worth the cost. I'm not sure he was right."

What a shame. How many more careers are going to be derailed because of bigoted hatred against those who supported their faith-based beliefs?

For more information go to http://whatisprop8.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Responding to Karger's claims of "hate"

While working in Laguna Beach, I dealt on several occasions with Fred Karger, who fought heartily on the No on 8 side as leader of "Californians Against Hate."

Fred is just as passionate as I am on causes he supports, so I can appreciate his fervor, even if I am often personally opposed to them.

Well, he added me to his "Californians Against Hate" mailing list forever ago, and I've just overlooked his emails - my inbox is so glutted these days, I pretty much ignore anything but personal correspondence.

Anyways, Melissa posted about the probe into the LDS Church's Prop. 8 donations, and lo and behold, Fred was leading the charge! I couldn't help but to respond to him personally - and I wanted to share my response with y'all.

It is so difficult when our views are so diametrically opposed to those of people with whom we interact on a daily basis. I hope that we can all continue to respect one another, regardless of where our beliefs fall.
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Fred, please remove me from your mailing list. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I find it deplorable that so much hate and anger is being focused at my faith when its members (myself included) were joining in the political process in honor of a cause that aligned with their beliefs.

We are in America - we are welcome to our beliefs and should not be punished in a McCarthy-esque witchhunt. Latter-day Saints make up a mere 4 percent of the California population, and half of those are children. While we put much effort into this effort, it was as a part of a broad coalition of faiths and as individuals.

Furthermore, while some may have "hate" toward the LGTB community, I should hope that our work together in Laguna Beach made it clear that I, for one, do not fall into such a hateful category. In fact, most of those with whom I worked in favor of Prop. 8 have no hate for the gay community. One of my best, best friends is gay!

The fact of the matter is that civil unions have ALL the same rights as hetero couples in California under section 297.5 of the California Family Code, and that is something I would happily support in every state. However, when you change the definition of a fundamental term such as "marriage," you enforce a chilling effect on religious and personal freedoms - in effect, you push for a state church of relativism and irreligion. The Founding Fathers wanted freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. I believe strongly that we can all happily work together to make our nation the best it can be - without trampling over rights on either side of the fence.

I'm sure your views differ, but I wanted to give you insight into another perspective. I wish you well, all differences aside. Take care, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

All my best,
Christa

For more information go to http://whatisprop8.com

"We are all Mormons," proclaims Rabbi Shifren

I received this via email and thought it was definitely worth sharing - enjoy!

WE ALL ARE MORMONS
by Rabbi Shifren
http://www.lawatchdog.com/RabbiShifren-WeAreAllMormons112008.html
November 21, 2008

We are living in an era of insanity! Witness the latest attempt to remake the nature of our country, founded and established on certain principles that have been the envy of the entire world. The latest assault on our country and its values comes in the form of vicious and criminal violence against the Mormon church in Westwood, California

Interesting how the selective self-righteous indignation on the part of the radical Gay activists is played out here: they bewail the blow to freedom and justice! But I thought we just had elections, where the majority of Californians expressed their views in a free and open manner. Are we not a nation of laws? Dare we relive the McCarthy era, where Americans were harassed and threatened with the loss of their jobs for believing in a certain way? If the Gay radicals should have their way, untold numbers of Americans would live under the threat of the Gay-Lesbian "thought police," where individuals that reject the Gay lifestyle would be sought out and have sanctions brought against them.

It's bad enough for those working in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles, where a fog of political correctness and a bending over backwards to accommodate, even promote Gay lifestyle is in full gear. Let none dare say that this type of activity is anathema to our country, our morality, and the debauchery of our young people.

Let it be stated unequivocally: The radical Gay attack on the Mormons is the shot over the bow against the United States of America. There was a time when what a man did in his bedroom was sanctified between himself and G-d. Now we are being served an "in-your-face" smorgasbord of smut and licentiousness as being between people who only "want their civil rights."

Hogwash! We are dealing with the equivalent of a moral takeover of the country that has as its bedrock a belief in G-d and His promise for humanity. They don't want civil rights! What they desire is quasi Gay/Lesbian hegemony, where a huge "bookburning," reminiscent of the Nazis, will purge any remnants of the "Christian, White, mainstream America" that has given ALL AMERICANS the most profound scope of freedom, liberty, and justice that Mankind has yet to experience.

People have perhaps wondered: why the Mormons? Answer: they are a small, yet vocal Christian minority. They have been selected by the mobs as vulnerable, a group that might not have such massive support among America's Christians.

We who are friends of the Mormons, their patriotism, their family values, will not falter in our continued support of these dear Americans. Let us recall the Christian minister Niemoller, whose admonition during those dark years of Nazi Germany moved us to our core:

"When they came for the gypsies, I said nothing, because I wasn't a gypsy. When they came for the homosexuals, I said nothing, because I wasn't a homosexual. When they came for the Jews, I said nothing, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I said nothing, because I wasn't a Catholic......then they came for me, and there was no one left to defend me."

My fellow Americans, in the coming battle for the heart and soul of America and everything we cherish, may this call to arms be the mantra of every concerned patriot:

"WE ALL ARE MORMONS!"

For more information go to http://whatisprop8.com/

Probe into LDS Church's Prop 8 donations going forward.

This comes from http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_11064769:

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) confirmed Monday that it will investigate allegations that the LDS Church failed to report nonmonetary contributions to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

An independent nonprofit organization, Californians Against Hate, called for the investigation after the measure passed earlier this month, effectively ending same-sex marriages in that state.

"They read my letter and I guess came to the conclusion that there's something worth looking into," said Fred Karger, who heads Californians Against Hate, which was formed to track donations in support of the ballot initiative. "I'm hopeful that the LDS Church will cooperate and share all the records and all the information they have about their activities in the Proposition 8 campaign."

Karger, a retired political consultant, alleged in his complaint that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to report money invested to organize phone banks, send out direct mailers, provide transportation to California, mobilize a speakers bureau, send out satellite simulcasts and develop Web sites as well as numerous commercials and video broadcasts.

In the aftermath of Proposition 8's passage, outcry over the LDS Church's active role has included demonstrations outside temples in California, Utah and New York protesting what critics see as Mormons' contribution of a disproportionate amount of the measure's financial backing. By some measures,

Latter-day Saints are believed to have contributed as much as $22 million to the cause.

The LDS Church did not comment on Monday's latest development but said earlier that Karger's complaint had "many errors and misstatements," that the church had "fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act" and that "any investigation would confirm the church's full compliance with applicable law."

Karger, however, sees the fact that FPPC is moving forward as a good sign. He said his political attorney told him the commission looks into fewer than 5 percent of complaints, an indication in his mind that "when they do it, it's pretty serious."

But Roman Porter, executive director of FPPC, urges against jumping to conclusions. He wouldn't say how often investigations unfold and insisted that comparing complaints, which all have unique characteristics, would be inappropriate. He also said an investigation is nothing more than an investigation.

"We haven't made any determination about wrongdoing," Porter said, and he encouraged people to "reserve judgment."

Porter said no time line has been set for the investigation and he would not speculate on when the public will know more. But he did say if the FPPC determines fault, the commission could fine "up to $5,000 per violation," and in some cases might also file a civil lawsuit, which could lead to remedies amounting to "three times the amount of unreported or misreported contributions."



Monday, November 24, 2008

The never-ending battle over gay marriage

This comes from the L.A. Times' Jessica Garrison:

Proposition 8: The endless campaign over gay marriage

In normal political campaigns, election day -- win or lose -- signals the end.

Not so with Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman that was approved by 52% of California voters Nov. 4.

Instead of settling the question of gay marriage in California, the election merely ushered in a new, and in many cases more heated, phase of the campaign, with both sides looking ahead to 2010, when the matter could be back on the ballot.

This could happen no matter how the state Supreme Court rules. The court announced this week that it would review the legality of Proposition 8 in response to several lawsuits filed by cities and gay couples.

If justices uphold the proposition, gay marriage backers plan to put their own measure before voters perhaps as soon as 2010 to re-amend the state Constitution to allow the marriages.

If the justices toss out Proposition 8, some gay-marriage opponents have talked of putting something on the ballot themselves, either to again ban gay marriage or to oust Supreme Court justices or both.

Read the rest of the story here.

For more information go to http://whatisprop8.com

Five minutes well spent

If you've got five minutes, please watch this video, which is beautifully done. The speech from which it draws is one of my favorites, especially in light of Prop. 8. How prophetic - it gives me chills to think this was first given 30 years ago, and what Neal A. Maxwell discusses is precisely the world in which we live today - and I'd like to think we were an example of "wakening a slumbering majority" in this instance.

Enjoy!




For more information go to www.whatisprop8.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prop 8 involvement a P.R. fiasco for LDS Church

(Laura's note: I wildly disagree with this article but am not at all surprised it was in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning. If you feel so inclined to go over there and comment, the link's at the bottom.)

Prop 8 involvement a P.R. fiasco for LDS Church
The campaign offered fuel for critics
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 11/22/2008 07:33:46 AM MST

Although they live a continent away from California, LDS Church members Gregory and JaLynn Prince, of Washington, D.C., still have felt the backlash from their church's involvement in the traditional marriage initiative known as Proposition 8.

Their daughter, Lauren, a Boston University student, has lost friends over the issue, while their son, an LDS missionary in San Bernardino, Calif., has had a disproportionate number of potential converts cancel appointments.

About two weeks ago, during a first-ever class on Mormonism at Wesley Theological Seminary, where the Princes have built bridges for years, students pointedly asked them: "What was your church thinking?"

"We are not taking sides on the issue, but the way this was done has hurt our people and the church's image," JaLynn Prince said. "It reminds me of the naive public relations strategy we had regarding the Equal Rights Amendment."

In some minds, the so-called "Mormon moment" heralded at the start of 2008 has stopped short.

Just 10 months after the death of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, who spent nearly 70 years burnishing his church's public image, goodwill toward Mormonism that culminated during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games seems to have faded in a haze of misunderstanding and outright hostility.

Mean-spirited critiques of Mormonism during Mitt Romney's unsuccessful presidential campaign were followed by persistent news-media reports linking Latter-day Saints
to the FLDS polygamous sect raided by Texas authorities. Now, angry opponents of Proposition 8 are demonstrating at Mormon temples, accusing the church of being anti-gay.

New President Thomas S. Monson faces a daunting public-relations challenge. He follows the well-respected Hinckley, who observers say had an intuitive gift for balancing the church's need to speak out on moral issues with the need to avoid appearing too extreme.

"The Olympics had this nice afterglow for Mormons and, boy, is that gone," said Sarah Barringer Gordon of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies LDS history and culture.

LDS Church apostles declined to be interviewed for this story, but the public affairs office did respond to questions.

"All in all, 2008 has been a particularly good year for the church," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said. "The church dedicated four temples and announced eight more. Membership topped 13 million worldwide with over 52,000 missionaries in the field. While some of the protest activity we have seen has been deplorable, there are others who have taken the time to fully understand the church's position on marriage and home to respect this principled stand."

Gary Lawrence added his own optimistic view.

"These protests will help us. It puts a spotlight on us," said Lawrence, a leader in the Proposition 8 campaign and author of How Americans View Mormonism: Seven Steps to Improve Our Image.

"Which is worse -- antagonism or apathy? I believe apathy is our bigger enemy."

Following the pattern » In a 1997 memo about the LDS Church's involvement in the campaign against gay marriage in Hawaii, the late Loren C. Dunn, then a general authority, noted that Hinckley approved Mormon participation but said "the church should be in a coalition and not out front by itself."

In the case of the Proposition 8, which supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, the LDS Church only joined the Coalition to Protect Marriage in June after being asked by Catholic Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, who presided over Utah Catholics for 11 years. The LDS First Presidency in a letter urged all California Mormons to give their time and money to the effort.

Ostensibly just part of a broad-based coalition, the Mormon faithful soon led the drive. They donated nearly half of the $20 million raised by Yes on 8, canvassed neighborhoods and staffed phone banks. Because the LDS Church routinely asks its members to give time and money, Mormons are "uniquely situated to be mobilized into politics," said David Campbell, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame. "But they only get mobilized when a match is lit, and that doesn't happen very often."

The Mormon push for Proposition 8 reinforces what people already think of Mormons, he said, "that they have a lot of money and are willing to work for a socially conservative cause."

That image may hurt the LDS Church with a wide swath of the American public.

Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., thinks the visceral opposition to Proposition 8 is much more consequential for the LDS Church than either the Romney campaign or the perceived association with polygamy.

LDS officials decided to inject themselves in the fight to protect traditional marriage "in a big money way," Silk said. "That raises the specter not just of Mormon weirdness but also Mormon power as far as cash on the barrel."

Mormons could be forgiven for underestimating the opposition, he said. They likely thought they were on the winning side. After all, marriage initiatives have passed in about 30 states. But California is not an average state.

"People expect anti-gay referendums to pass -- and they do -- but it's California, for crying out loud," Silk said, ". . . not Zion."

Benefits of battle » On the opposite side, are observers such as Kirk Jowers of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, who think the LDS Church actions may help it win friends among Evangelicals.

"Other members of this coalition may realize the significant role that LDS Church members played," and see that it took a disproportionate share of the opposition's arrows, he said.

The Rev. Jim Garlow is one of those evangelical allies.

Last week, Garlow, of Skyline Church in San Diego, was so outraged by the protests against Mormons that he e-mailed 7,200 California pastors urging them to "speak boldly" in defense of the LDS role in passing Proposition 8.

"We were not going to stand by and be silent while there was anti-Mormonism in the streets," Garlow said Friday. "Our theological differences with Mormonism are, frankly, unbridgeable, but these are our friends and neighbors and attacks on them are unacceptable."

The Proposition 8 campaign deepened his relationship with Mormons, he said, and the protests have solidified it.

It is not clear, however, whether the LDS Church will soon jump into another political fray.

"Politics is a tough game, especially at this visceral level where one side is talking about religion and the other about rights, " said Gordon, the Penn scholar. "I would be surprised to see them do this again. They really need to heal some wounds."

pstack@sltrib.com


http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11044660



For more information go to www.whatisprop8.com