Political churches

Four days ago, a group of churches filed a brief for the Supreme Court concerning the Prop 8 case, which will be heard next month.  Those churches/church groups are as follows.

  • National Association of Evangelicals
  • The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  • The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
  • The Romanian-American Evangelical Alliance of North America
  • Truth in Action Ministries
The first striking irony to me is the fact that the LDS church recently established this website which was constructed with the main purpose of giving the illusion that the church is reaching out to LGBT persons in love.  The fact that they filed this brief, in conjunction with other churches, shows that their outreach is insincere.  They want to be seen as friendly toward gay people but behind the scenes will continue to do whatever they can to fight against rights for gay people.  

I must say, it is good to see Evangelicals, Baptists, and Mormons all getting along rather than cat-fighting with each other for a change, but it's sad that it takes something as sinister as fighting against people's rights in order to bring about such a coalition.

Since the word "brief" is a blatant falsehood, I don't expect many of you to read through the document linked above.  I'll quote parts of it here and give my own rebuttals.  

"Honest debate among reasonable people of goodwill explains why California voters adopted Proposition 8." (page 2)

Then the same thing will explain why Maine, Maryland, and Washington voters adopted laws to legalize gay marriage. If you want to appeal to the voice of the people in the case of Prop 8, you need to do so in the case of these three states as well.

"no law is invalid simply because it happens to coincide with particular religious beliefs." (page 3)

That's true. But the ruling where Prop 8 was found to be unconstitutional did not base its decision on the fact that it coincided with any particular religious beliefs. It was found to be unconstitutional because it took away rights from a group of people that previously held those rights without a rational justification for doing so. The Fourteenth Amendment states
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Therefore, abridging the rights of gay people which were currently allowed to marry is a violation of the US Constitution. It has nothing to do with religious belief.

On pages 4 and 5 they admit that their only concern is the use of the word "marriage".  They state "we and many other religious organizations generally had supported, or at least refrained from opposing, the expansion of legal rights for same-sex couples in California, including their formal recognition as domestic partnerships."  In other words, they're okay with gay couples having the same legal rights as straight couples, and they're okay with the government officially recognizing these relationships, their only issue is using the word "marriage" to describe these relationships.

What's wrong with same-sex couples settling for "domestic partnership" or "civil union"?  Well, I reflect the question back to the religious.  What's wrong with same-sex couples using the same word to describe their relationships as you use to describe yours?  What is the difference?  My relationship with Conrad is built upon love, just as most straight couples' relationships are.  My relationship with Conrad is defined by the commitment that we feel for each other, just as most straight relationships.  Where is the fundamental difference?  I am in love with another human being--a consenting adult--and he is in love with me.  We long for each other, we value and serve each other.  We support and respect each other.  What more do we need in order to be worthy of the use of this word "marriage" whose use you so strongly wish to deny us?

"In fact, our support for Proposition 8 rested on the very supposition brushed aside by the court of appeals--we 'intended only to disapprove of same-sex marriage, rather than to pass judgment on the same-sex couples as people.'" (page 7)

Let's use this same argument on a separate issue to see how well-reasoned it is.  Indeed, consider that the issue at hand is whether the Mormon church should be allowed to exist or should be outlawed.  I will restate the quote above in the context of a person proposing to outlaw the LDS church (or any specific religion).  "In fact, our support of [measure to ban said church] rested on the supposition that we intended only to disapprove of the religion itself, rather than to pass judgment on the people who believe in the religion as people."  This is nonsense.  To make an act illegal is to judge against people who commit it.  And in this section they also argue that they're not trying to fight against gays' civil rights.  But in the case Loving v Virginia in 1967, the Supreme Court declared that "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival."  Therefore, trying to deny the right to marry is denying civil rights to gay people.

"Our faiths uphold the virtues of marriage and family life through teachings that seldom mention homosexuality." (page 7)

This one is simply a blatant lie.  A search for the term "homosexuality" on LDS.org renders 227 hits.  That doesn't seem very "seldom" to me.  Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a speech at BYU that was nearly an hour long and the entire speech was about homosexuality, talking about it being a sexual perversion.  The book The Miracle of Forgiveness uses similar language when talking about homosexuals as "perverts".  This book was published by the church-owned company Deseret Book and was required reading for all missionaries for years.  It even goes so far as to say that homosexuality is caused by masturbation, which leads to mutual masturbation with other persons of the same sex and then into "full blown homosexuality".  The topic of homosexuality is something which the LDS church, and nearly all Fundamentalist Christian churches, teach frequently, not "seldom".

Perhaps at a later date I will go through the remainder of this document (I like to keep my posts from getting too long).  But, I will address in general the argument given that opposition of gay marriage is really just an affirmation of "traditional marriage".  The key flaw in that argument is that legalization of gay marriage does not preclude the existence of straight marriage.  Men and women are still able to marry each other in jurisdictions where gay marriage has been legalized.  Those who wish to marry someone of the opposite sex rather than someone of the same sex are still capable of doing so.  In no location has this been violated.  Straight people can still marry.  Churches can still perform their "traditional marriages".  And contrary to some outrageous claims of some opponents of marriage equality, there has never been a case where a church has been forced to perform a gay marriage against its will.