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A Mormon in the Aftermath of Prop 8

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Guest blogger Vanessa: There are two sides to every story. Here's mine.

proposition 8 demonstration

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known to most as the Mormon church. Two months ago, I had no idea what Proposition 8 was or how much it would affect me.

Deciding to support it was one of the greatest emotional conflicts I have ever been through in my entire life. I dearly love all of my gay friends. They are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met and I want them to be happy. I fully support domestic partnerships because I know that everyone wants to be with the one they love.

Yet there was an unsettled feeling in the pit in my stomach -- the definition of marriage. I am religious and believe the Biblical definition as being between a man and woman, going all the way back to Adam and Eve. Marriage is the crucial partnership that makes it possible to biologically have children together and seal a family unit.

But what would people think? Would they understand?

I wasn't alone in my confusion. Many of my church friends where going through the same turmoil. Firm in their beliefs, but not wanting to alienate their gay friends and coworkers.

After a month of praying about the issue, I came to a personal realization. What is this really about? The definition of marriage. Man and woman. I decided that I would follow my faith, although a large part of me was left sorrowful.

I didn't donate money to Yes on Prop 8, but like many others, I donated my time. I held "Yes on Prop 8" signs and went polling. I was flipped off, called horrible names and was the target of much yelling. It's okay, though, I understand. They have the right to yell, and I listened to what they had to say.

Could they understand? Could they know how much I still cared for them?

Election Day came. I was proud to see all of the "I Voted" stickers on everyone in my city and I celebrated what I thought would be a new era ... where we would come together to work through the issues facing our nation.

The next morning, Prop 8 passed. I was honestly surprised. I don't watch much TV, and all of the ads I had heard on the radio were against the proposition. Officials such as Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Diane Feinstein (who I have complete respect for) had both opposed it.

Although I was glad that the hours of time invested had paid off, I was far from happy. My heart broke for all of the couples that woke up that morning, not knowing if they were married or not. I cried at my desk when I was alone. I couldn't imagine what they were going through and I prayed that they might be comforted.

proposition 8 demonstration

That's when I noticed a change. People who opposed Prop 8 were angry. A completely natural reaction of course, but this was different. This was a kind of anger that I had never been exposed to. The anger seemed filled with hate and distrust ... and the search was on to find a reason Prop 8 passed. And someone to blame.

Then the protests started. I couldn't believe it at first. The blaming finger had pointed at the Mormon church, a religion that makes up under two percent of the California population (and later I found out that we made up LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT of the yes vote). Yes, a large portion of Yes on Prop 8's donations came from members of our church. But didn't they have the right to donate to a cause that they believed in?

And it wasn't just blame, it was accusations of hate and prejudice ... everything that I have stood against my entire life.

The protesters were at the Los Angeles Temple ... MY temple. My place of worship. Somewhere that I had always felt safe.  I had so many emotions inside of me that I couldn't differentiate one from the other. Would they desecrate my place of worship? Would my family and friends be safe from harm?

I had to know for myself and headed down to the temple as soon as I got off work.

The sea of protesters were marching peacefully but were carrying cruel and offensive anti-Mormon signs. My heart sank and I left determined to prove their accusations wrong.

I wanted to make sure that my church friends understood the other side of the story and felt compassion for all those who were hurting.

I discovered that they already did understand. They were going through the same thing I was. Not all of them had even voted yes on the issue. But no matter how they voted, their hearts were still open to those who were standing against them.

Over the next few days, things were rough for both sides. The protesters continued, although I helplessly felt there was nothing I could do for them. Our gates were written on, they banged on the doors of our chapel and stood outside our parking lot to take photos of our license plates. The members who had donated money to Yes on Prop 8 were exposed online, open for attack.

Blog posts and emails from church members started to pop up everywhere -- messages of love and peace and encouragement. Every prayer at church that Sunday spoke for the safety of our members and that those who where yelling outside our gates would be comforted and feel our love for them.

This was not an issue of hate. For me, it was purely an issue of religious belief. We have all made sacrifices. Many have lost friends, and others abandoned by their coworkers. I, myself, had to find another place to live.

I believe that God loves all of us, and it is our duty to love one another as his children ... through all of the trials and tribulations that we face together.


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170 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 13, 2008, 3:34 PM

It’s nice that you don’t feel hatred toward others and their choices but the actions of voting yes say otherwise. Couples everywhere feel the slap across the face that you and others dealt them. And I know first hand of a couple who may, in the not-so-distant future, have to tell their children why that special day they got married now means nothing.

Anonymous November 13, 2008, 3:47 PM

i am episcopal and we were judged for letting a gay man be a bishop. we had people protest across the street from our entrance to our church. but these people were yelling horrible things….even to children (i’m talking 3 years old and 5 years old and up) saying HORRIBLE things that you don’t want your child to hear. they had no right to say these things, especially in front of children. the funny thing, the weren’t even episcopal…how did it effect them????? my marriage won’t be in any trouble or it doesn’t mean any less just because 2 women or 2 men get married. there was a time when a white and black person get married, how out dated is that? i’m sure i will get a lot of judgment for this post, but oh well. i know 2 women that have been together for 12 years, have a 3 year old son together, and it breaks my heart to know that if the biological mother loses her job, she can’t get health insurance thru her loved one for her or THEIR child, or if the child gets in the hospital the “other mom” has NO right to see him, but most of all, they can’t legally share the love the me and my husband have for eachother just because they are both women. who are we to tell someone they can’t get married? shame on you for thinking that YOU have the right to tell someone else how to live their life.

Anonymous November 13, 2008, 3:53 PM

i am episcopal and we were judged for letting a gay man be a bishop. we had people protest across the street from our entrance to our church. but these people were yelling horrible things….even to children (i’m talking 3 years old and 5 years old and up) saying HORRIBLE things that you don’t want your child to hear. they had no right to say these things, especially in front of children. the funny thing, the weren’t even episcopal…how did it effect them????? my marriage won’t be in any trouble or it doesn’t mean any less just because 2 women or 2 men get married. there was a time when a white and black person get married, how out dated is that? i’m sure i will get a lot of judgment for this post, but oh well. i know 2 women that have been together for 12 years, have a 3 year old son together, and it breaks my heart to know that if the biological mother loses her job, she can’t get health insurance thru her loved one for her or THEIR child, or if the child gets in the hospital the “other mom” has NO right to see him, but most of all, they can’t legally share the love the me and my husband have for eachother just because they are both women. who are we to tell someone they can’t get married? shame on you for thinking that YOU have the right to tell someone else how to live their life.

John Larsen November 13, 2008, 3:54 PM

The action of voting yes on Prop 8 does not show hatred of people, only hatred of a behavior.

It may be a slap across the face, but just because a few people feel hurt means that the church needs to change their stance? What happens to a church or a society that changes its values at people’s whims?

The LDS church is not a democracy. Our government is. The people of CA voted in a democratic election.

Disgusted & Saddened November 13, 2008, 3:55 PM

So sorry, but it’s awfully hard to feel sympathetic towards you (the author). I’m glad you can understand why this group of people are so angry, maybe next time you will be a little less selfish in your reasoning. This vote would take nothing away from any marriage you may have now or in the future, so why would it be such a hard decision for you? I noticed the sign in the picture above - Brigham Young had 55 wives, I want one…how true it is. There are so many people out there that ruin or taint the “sanctity” of marriage with lies, deceit, and cheating why don’t we pass a law against this “group” instead? Domestic partnership means nothing if one of those partners passes away. The surviving partner loses all rights, so unless there was a will (which, lets face it, many people feel they are invincible) these “widows” could lose the very home they live in to their passed partners surviving blood family. Marriage might come from the bible, but it is has become the legal foundation of most people’s lives in America - shouldn’t we all get that right? If it comes from the bible then lets take “Marriage” away from any couple that was not married in the church (which would include myself and my husband), not from a group of people we decide to hand pick.


Trisha November 13, 2008, 4:01 PM

I also agree that it is thoughtful to look at both sides of this proposition. But when you say you chose to follow your beliefs when you voted is where I lose your respect. This has NOTHING to do with religion and everything to do with discrimination. There is supposed to be a seperation of church and state remember? Everything we as Americans strive for is to live by our founding fathers word. The very base of our country. So just because you belive that a marraige is between a man and woman doesn’t mean a damn thing because you are going by the Bible. Here in a America we are a melding pot of religions and cultures. We don’t all belive in God and I don’t think our laws should be based off of the Bible. See where I am going. Do you know any biracial couples? Remember that used to be veiwed as unconstitutional. C’mon now.

Mrs. R. November 13, 2008, 4:03 PM

What the mormons and conservative Catholics and Evangelicals have done to the gay community is pretty much what the Taliban did for decades in Afghanistan.

All in the name of God right? Let’s take away people’s legal and civil rights in the name of God.

Gross.

I guess all the people who voted for Prop 8 (I voted against it, and prayed in my Catholic church, along with most of my NorCal parish, for it to not pass) feel that gay people aren’t full citizens of this country or this state, and don’t deserve LEGAL rights equal to the rest of the population.

Last time I checked, my marriage certificate was a legal document.

Regardless of the fact that I had a full religious ceremony in a church with a priest (and actually a bishop and archbishop in attendance), as far as the state of CA knows and cares, my marriage is a legal arrangement.

The gay population of CA has as much right to a legal arrangement of their choosing as the rest of us. It’s discrimination on the highest scale to say otherwise.

Mike  November 13, 2008, 4:16 PM

I have to ask if this also a part of the writer’s religious belief.

Racism in the writings of Brigham Young (second Mormon President)

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 10:110)

Do you still believe this?

Anony-moose November 13, 2008, 4:19 PM

So… this was purely a religious belief for you? Then why support a proposition to amend the state constitution? The first amendment in our US Constitution explicitly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Hey… guess what this means… you can’t pass a law that respects YOUR religious beliefs while diminishing others. If you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman… good for you, practice it yourself. You don’t need a law to tell you that, your Bible apparently does a good enough job.

But to go out of your way and support something that limits the rights of others… I’m sorry, you shouldn’t be surprised when those others get royally pissed (and rightly so).

Last time I checked, the reason why most Mormons were in Utah was because of religious discrimination that forced them out of Illinois and Indiana. I frankly think that it’s a little silly that however many years later, this is the same church that pumped 25 million dollars into a campaign that essentially put religious discrimination into my state constitution.

I’m sorry, but you have none of my sympathy… and for you to claim that you dearly love all of your gay friends… all I’m going to say is apparently you don’t love them enough to let them live their lives and be happy.

Troy November 13, 2008, 4:22 PM

“After a month of praying about the issue, I came to a personal realization. What is this really about? The definition of marriage..”

- There was your error. No one was taking anything away from straight couples. My self and my partner on the other hand had our marriage taken away…and it is really really hard to say how that affects OUR children.

Your church and your religion misled you, that is why you feel so bad. You should. The next time this comes up, pray really really hard and LISTEN to what God is telling you. I am sure He wasn’t telling you to strip rights away from you neighbor.

Misdirected??? November 13, 2008, 4:23 PM

It was the black community that voted overwhelmingly (70%) YES on Prop 8 and that 70% put the yes votes over the top and because of that Prop8 passed. So why aren’t people protesting black churches?

Anonymous November 13, 2008, 4:23 PM

you are full of crap

Joel November 13, 2008, 4:25 PM

The sad thing is that you think you feel compelled to force your religion on others. If you don’t think that gay people should be married, then don’t marry a gay person. My God is a loving God, and my God delights in both love and righteousness. Do what you want in your church. No one is forcing you to change that. However, your church has forced a change on the government. Mormons contributed more than half the money for the Yes on 8 campaign that included automated telephone calls just days before the election calls that were seemingly from Barack Obama and specifically targeting African American neighborhoods. The people who funded and made those calls knew that Barack Obama opposed Prop 8. But they intentionally used Barack’s voice and a quote taken out of context to deceive voters. Is that what the Mormon Church is about?

Unfortunately, prejudice and bigotry have often hid in our country’s history — behind the cloak of a voting booth curtain, underneath the sheet of a KKK hood, and in closed board rooms. I think it is great that the Mormon Church and other religious fundamentalists are being put under the spotlight. If you’re going to violate separation of church and state (which itself is a manifestion of Holy Grace) and you’re religion finds nothing better to do with their time and money than to deny other people the right to love and marry, then people have a right to know, and a right to be angry.

czar2004 November 13, 2008, 4:28 PM

You say “That’s when I noticed a change. People who opposed Prop 8 were angry.” At first I wasn’t angry. During the weeks that led up to the election, I was more upset than angry. I was upset that I lived in a community where every major intersection I came upon there were people waving signs and yelling that I was a second class citizen and that they wanted it to stay that way. It was very much the same feeling that you would get in high school when the group of Mean Girls targeted you to bully. As upset as I was, I kept saying to myself, that they were in the minority and everything would be okay. It turned to anger when Prop 8 passed and I realized that so many of my fellow statesmen DID think of me as a second class citizen. Just like being bullied by Mean Girls, it turns to anger when you say to yourself enough is enough and I won’t be a victim anymore. It further angered me that churches that supposedly were teaching God’s love were instead teaching exclusion and hate. While individuals within those faiths may have taken the higher road, the Institutions themselves took very clear positions (and yes, unfortuantely it was the LDS that was the biggest supporter). You obviously don’t get it, when you say that “I dearly love all of my gay friends.” If you truly loved these so-called Friends, you would live your life by your religious values and let them live their lives without your interference into their rights. I would never presume to interfere with your Freedom of Religion, as long as that Freedom did not insist that everyone else conform to its beliefs. This is a civil issue, not a religious issue. If you insist that Marriage is a religious institution defined by the bible, then the govenment should not be involved in anyone’s marriage, including heterosexual couples, since it is clearly defined that there must be a separation of church and state. If that is truly the case ALL couples, both Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex
should only be granted Civil Unions and leave Marriage ONLY to churches.




Flynn D. November 13, 2008, 4:29 PM

History has proven: People will do unspeakable things to each other in the name of God. If God truly exists, I certainly can’t believe that he would give his blessing to hate, persecution and inequality.



Joel November 13, 2008, 4:32 PM

People have indeed protested at African American churches whose religious leaders and congregations actively campaigned for Prop 8’s passage. They have also protested at conservative synagogues whose leaders did the same. And evangelical churches as well.

Mormons contributed the most to fund disceptive advertising (such as pretending Obama was for Prop 8 when he was on the record for being against it or scaring people into thinking their 2nd graders would be forced to study homosexual marriages). So you’ll see more protesting at Mormon churches.

And if Mormons were the ones who funded Robo-calls to African American neighborhoods with Obama’s voice encouraging them to vote Yes on 8 (which purposely misled the listeners on the other end, who knew Obama was on record opposing it), it’s even hard to disentangle the Mormon influence over the African American vote in California.

Lovin' It November 13, 2008, 4:36 PM

In the Beginning God made Adam. He then made Eve. Steve came around thinking he could knock Eve out of the picture. Eve kicked his a$$. All of you No on 8 people - welcome to another a$$ kickin’

Anonymous November 13, 2008, 4:40 PM

Hmmm… All I hear is “Waaaah” from the No on 8 side. You are so misled.

Jennifer November 13, 2008, 4:45 PM

Mormons have the courage to stand up for thier beleifs even when it isn’t the most popular thing to do.

The votes were cast in a democratic process….time to move on.

Joel November 13, 2008, 4:46 PM

Wow. Where’s the love in Lovin’ It’s post? Congratulations Vanessa. That’s the kind of spite and homophobia you voted for. I hope you are proud to support and stand by this loveless poster.


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