Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Note to Members of My Tribe

Tuesday's presidential election was momentous and cause for celebration, but some ballot initiatives on the state level were not as momentous and brought with them cause for sadness and concern.

In particular, California's Proposition 8--a proposition that "eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry"--passed 52/48 in the Golden State on Tuesday. For those who haven't been paying attention, this means California voters have outlawed the right of gays and lesbians to marry. It is a revision (note: not an amendment) to the state's constitution that, for the first time in American history, reverses the rights of a subset of the population.

The passage of Prop 8 was heavily, loudly, and visibly supported by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other evangelical, Catholic, and right-oriented family groups participated and supported this proposition as well with dollars and canvassing, but none were as heavily engaged and invested as the Mormons who supplied more than 40% of the $75 million that was spent on this campaign.

The result has been divisive within and without the Church. Families with gay sons and lesbian daughters feel betrayed by their church and its leaders. Members who support marriage for Mormons regardless of orientation have been disparaged by members who support marriage as between one man and one woman only. (And I'm sure some of the same has gone on in the other direction, but for the purposes of this entry, I don't care.) Some members who support(ed) Prop 8 have been strident and adamant that those who support gay marriage or who are gay and want to marry are going straight to hell.

Now, the Church and many of its Prop 8 supporting members are decrying the media backlash and civil protests taking place in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Salt Lake City against their involvement in and bankrolling of this initiative. The Church goes out of its way to state it is neutral when it comes to politics, but then involves itself in politics only to then cry foul when others call them out for engaging in politics. Which is it, brothers and sisters? 'Cause you can't have it both ways.

My point in this is, if you're a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you support Prop 8 and you feel it's necessary to cry on my shoulder about how unfair the media is being to the Church, don't. I don't want your emails sent in utter disbelief. I don't want your phone calls expressing indignation. I don't want your newspaper clippings or your YouTube videos. I don't want any of it because it all boils down to three things for me: fear, inequality, and unchristlike behavior have no place in my life.

Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Jesus said, "As I have loved you, love one another." Jesus said, "Render unto Ceasar, that which is Ceasar's and unto God, that which is God's." You have rendered unto Ceasar. You have made your bed and now you must lie in it. If the consequence is a lack of appreciation and understanding from your brothers and sisters who love, just as you love, then so be it.

I'm done with compassion and forgiveness when it comes to building bridges of understanding between gay and lesbian Mormons and their straight families. I'm done with graciously accomodating your lives and your opinions in my home in an effort to make a place at the table. I'm done with living in silence in an effort not to upset your world. I've accepted your ways and your opinions and your feelings and now, I'm done.

Just wanted to put you on notice, you will find no sympathy here.


Cele said...

Well said and bravo.

Ha ha my word verification


foundinidaho said...

Yep. What you said and more.

I remember being so happy that the church came out in favor of a dialogue on discontinuing private clubs right before I moved back to Idaho. Then I thought - WHAT THE HELL DO WE NEED YOUR APPROVAL FOR?

Not that that is anywhere near as important as Prop 8. For heaven's sake (literally), it's time for the LDS Church and ALL churches to remember the separation of church and state is an important cornerstone of our country.

Brad and Kimberly Lester Family said...

Hello Friend, please note: According to CNN - over 5.7 million people voted YES on Prop 8 in California, and there are just over 761,000 LDS members that live in California. Even if all 761,000 LDS members cast their vote, that still a huge difference in numbers, and it is amazing that the church is the biggest target. But that's okay...that's not a surprise. In my experience, one can accept a person who chooses that lifestyle for themselves, and love that person and be friends, etc... but that doesn't necessarily mean that their belief system changes of how they believe marriage is defined because they have family and friends who are homosexual.
I'm sure those in the tribe will share their unkind comments to me. But again, the numbers above show that the other 5,000,000 non LDS people voted Yes.
I also appreciate what was said about this huge milestone that President Elect Obama achieved and how it means that there's no more excuses...speaking of race and what people can become. I believe it could also mean no more excuses for what people are and choose to be, and to stop the blaming, but live and be better at whatever it is you are and do. What a waste to be angry with others. I love you my Friend!

Scenic Wheaton said...

I love you too, Brad. You and all 40 of your wives. BTW, I loved the clever re-wording of Proposition 8 - and the incredible marketing job by your fine group. Peace and love!

NG said...

This issue troubles me and I don't quite know how to express my feelings about it. While any church organization has every right to have an opinion on a moral matter, at the same time I am disappointed in a church organization that has always told people to vote their conscience but now seems to be campaigning and organizing on political actions. My feeling is if we're now campaigning for our moral stances to be reflected in government, we should also be trying to reinstate prohibition, ban cigarettes & pre-marital sex, censor R-rated movies... and a whole host of other things that people outside our faith do every day and we just accept. What happened to free agency?

But I do agree with the previous commenter who said that the Mormons are getting a disproportionate share of the "credit" for the passage of this inherently discriminatory law. Please know that not everyone in "the tribe" voted for Prop. 8, and lots more who aren't residents of California were against it too. I'm just very sorry for everyone who is adversely affected by all this.

Anonymous said...

This Prop 8 debacle has turned me from a lapsed Mormon to an anti-Mormon.

I don't automatically write off individual Mormons, but just as Mormons say they hate the "sin" but love the "sinner" I can say that I hate "mormonism" but am willing to give individual Mormons the benefit of the doubt. My litmus test for giving a Mormon the benefit of the doubt now is where they stand on gay marriage. I think that a person's opinion on that issue speaks volumes.

I think the mormon church, through their political and monetary involvement with passing Proposition 8, has spoken volumes about its core motivations, which seem to me are not aligned with the most enduring teaching of a surprising number of religions:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Instead, the mantra seems to be: Do unto others according to the biases of white male mormon leaders, and keep doing it until you win.

- Phoebe

Gilahi said...

It really is more than a little ironic that the Mormons cried foul so loudly when the federal government stepped in and said that they could no longer continue their marital practices, and now they're the ones who spent millions of dollars in a campaign to do the same thing to another group. And sure, there aren't actually enough Mormons in California to have affected the vote, but the campaign to persuade all those people who did vote that way was funded to the extreme by the Mormon Church. So apparently over the years they've redefined marriage from "one man many women" to "one man one woman". Who knows? Another century or two an maybe they'll be willing to redefine it again.

Brad and Kimberly Lester Family said...

How old are you "scenic wheaton"...and it wasn't Brad...it's me Kimberly and I didn't reword anything. And don't write Peace and Love when you contradict yourself in the previous sentences.  - Sorry Janet...that person is just plain stupid.

Scenic Wheaton said...

If you don't like it, then don't write an inflammatory comment trying to deny that the Mormon Church did not play a huge role in restricting equal rights to liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness to fellow Americans. I believe Gilahi's comment summed it up the best. I also don't appreciate being called stupid.

Anonymous said...

Wha-hey! I think that Kimberley Lester is WAY off base. She obviously cannot keep herself out of a conversation in which her opinion is not welcome right now.
You have every right to express your dismay at the fundies and their position re Prop 8. This is your blog - I certainly hope that someone hasn't gone trampling over her comment section the way she did yours. It's a damn shame that she cannot see the ties between her church's present and thinly disguised hatred and the discrimination that the Mormons faced over polygamy - however, I've never known Mormons to understand how their arrogant actions affected others (their idea of missionary 'work', baptisms and any other ceremony done for the dead of other religions, polygamy, etc). It's simply a lack of understanding nuance and a blatant lack of manners. Take heart J. She didn't really mean "I love you, my Friend." Love means taking other people's views (and rights) into consideration. Love is not based in fear. Love transcends all and love allows criticism.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Kim: I know we've known each other a long time, but I have to stand with the others on this and reiterate the fact that the views you've expressed find no sympathy here. The hard, cold fact remains that the Church bankrolled a campaign that spread lies and fear in a successful effort to deny rights to citizens of our democracy.

Just as you are entitled to your opinion, so is Adele. I count her among my friends as well and would appreciate not calling her or anyone else who expresses an opinion here "stupid." If you wish to disagree, that is your prerogative, but let's keep the name calling out of it, please.

Anonymous said...

Amen to all you say, Tewkesy. You are right on.

The ridiculous red herring about mormons being only 2% of the population and therefore being blameless in the Prop 8 passing is really becoming beyond tiresome. When your church has raised 40% of the funding to pass the proposition, you are approximately...hmm...40% RESPONSIBLE. Suck it up mormons -- you exercised your political rights; allow us to do the same.

- Di

Phoenix Touch said...


Been awhile since I have commented here and today, I just can't help myself.

I am astounded that you specifically said, "I'm done with graciously accomodating your lives and your opinions in my home in an effort to make a place at the table... I've accepted your ways and your opinions and your feelings and now, I'm done..." and, NO MORE! And, yet, someone is willing to disprespect you by going forward and touting the virtues of the Church. I am wondering what part of "I don't want any of it" is unclear?

At any rate, my friend, I am in support of your eloquent post here. Thank you for speaking up. I have a lot of people in my life whom I love dearly that are being effected deeply by the aftershocks of this unconstitutional event.

Love you,

Brad and Kimberly Lester Family said...

First of all, I wasn't asking for your sympathy. You have a blog and you allow people to leave comments, even though you have said in the past that you wouldn't allow anonymous comments any longer, but you have. All I stated were the factual numbers. I said nothing of my feelings regarding any of the groups, religious or otherwise, that supported this proposition. The "stupid" statement to your friend Adele had to do with the fact that she said Brad had 40 wives. That wasn't her sharing an opinion of what was discussed on your blog, that was her critisizing another person she didn't even know by making a back handed comment. Her comment was stupid. You are very opinionated and have said all sorts of things about people and that's your right and this is your blog. That comment was directed at me, or rather Brad, since she didn't even know who she was talking to. But thanks for telling your friend not to say stuff about this friend. The fact is we have known each other a long time but really haven't known each other since I was in the mission field and you left for a mission. Your life has drastically changed since then. I haven't had any conversations with you about that. I haven't asked you, and you haven't shared. Much of what I have learned about you has been through your writings. I remember the Janet that was the dearest of friends to me many years ago and I have appreicated being able to stay in contact with you. If stating a fact by numbers, and saying that I love and accept people for thier own beliefs, but don't necessarily change my own personal beliefs about things for me, offends you, then the whole definition of friends means nothing to you. I certainly hope that's not the case. You can email me or call me directly if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Oh. Okay. So it's your opinion and no one wants any other opinion or hear any other 'side' of it. That's 'democratic'.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

To the Anonymous commenter: Please know that you are welcome to comment on this blog at anytime, but I would ask that you please sign your name at the end of your comments. I am not a fan of anonymous comments as I believe we say things we wouldn't otherwise. While I don't disagree with the comments you've left, I would ask that you be a bit more transparent and leave a name. You'll note there are several other folks who comment under "Anonymous" but then sign a name at the end.

My apologies to everyone who has commented here for not engaging each of your comments individually. I'm currently in the middle of a large writing project that is due in two days. As soon as I've finished that, I'll return to this.

Note to Kim: I'm sorry if I've left the impression that your opinions aren't welcome here by me. (I can't speak for others, only myself.) Rather than continuing this conversation in this medium, why don't we move it off-blog and discuss this between ourselves? There are a few things in your comments I'd like to get some clarification on, but I don't think this is the medium for that. That said, if you'll give me a few days, I'll send you an email and we'll talk amongst ourselves.

Maya said...

You have my full support!

Anonymous said...

Sorry J,

The first anonymous comment was from me. I was in a rush and didn't feel like signing in.


J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Thanks, Aitch! No harm, no foul. xJay

Dingo said...

Hi, I've been in the middle of a writing project as well so I've missed some posts of yours.

I have to say that I'm not a Mormon but I come from a fundamentalist background that long ago I said "good-bye" to for the same reasons you have bid adieu to the Mormon Church. Don't preach love with your mouth but practice hate with your dollars and your actions.

As for everything else you and your commenters have said (except for Kim and Brad) -- Word.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Dingo: Thanks for weighing in on this. All I can say is "Amen!"

Gunfighter said...

...and "whatever you do to the least among you, you also do to me"

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Gunfighter: Amen. And thank you.