October 9th, 2008

Religion and Politics: The LDS Church and Proposition 8


photo credit: _iamimp_

In the minds of many Americans, the phrase “separation of church and state” is as important and Constitutional as “we the people”. Indeed, anytime there is an intermingling of religion and politics, critics are quick to cite their favorite phrase in support of a mutual exclusion between the two spheres of influence.

Surprise: the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution, and is antithetical to the views held by a majority of the Founders. The source is a personal letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist congregation, and has since become enshrined in a cloak of sacrosanctity.

On this basis and others, critics argue that religious institutions should be prohibited from interfering in political matters. Thus, with the participation of the LDS Church in Proposition 8, the number of individuals crying foul has increased, and their attention has largely been focused on the Church, despite the participation of other faiths and congregations.

So, let’s take the proverbial gloves off and look at a few of the issues to determine if the opposition’s arguments are valid.

Political Neutrality

A common argument fired at the Church is that it is hypocritical by claiming that it is politically neutral, when it is “interfering” in political matters local to California.

The Church has an article explaining its stance on political neutrality, clarifying that while the Church does not endorse parties, candidates, or platforms, it can and does speak out on issues:

[The Church does reserve] the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church. (Political Neutrality, LDS Newsroom)

American Church members are by now accustomed to hearing a letter, issued by the First Presidency, read over the pulpit in Sacrament meetings leading up to an election. It is important to note that the most recent letter contains an additional sentence at the end that has not previously been included:

The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues. (First Presidency Issues Letter on Political Participation, LDS Newsroom)

Speaking out on political issues is something the Church has always done. For what is politics, but a system of principles upon which men should be governed? The opposition does not quarrel with only the Church’s vocal commentary on generic issues, however, but also the tactical organization of Church members and use of Church meetings to encourage those members to help support a specific initiative.

It’s funny, you see, how the accusation of hypocrisy is thrown around. Contrary to other inaccurate assertions, it would be hypocritical for the Church to support an issue in principle only, and not rally its forces when the principle at hand is under threat of perversion or extinction.

When it boils down to it, each individual may vote as he pleases (or not vote, which describes the vast majority of Americans). Whatever organization or person has influenced him does not force him to vote a certain way. Whether he be motivated by a church, social club, work group, think tank, or book club, his vote is his alone, and he remains free to cast it as he desires.

So really, the argument against the Church’s logistical assistance in supporting a specific measure comes almost always from those who oppose it, and thus don’t want an influential group of people persuading potentially opposing voters.

The Church has a divinely-mandated duty to speak out against moral issues, as has been evidenced by the prophetic cry of repentance throughout the ages. Some issues receive a significantly greater amount of attention from Church leaders, and it’s up to them to determine what hand they will play; after all, they are the leaders of the Church. When the moral issue they are concerned about takes its shape in the form of legislation, this in no way hinders them from persuasion and encouragement.

Tax Exemption

Another accusation made against the LDS Church’s participation in political measures is that it is abusing its tax-exempt status by advocating support for a specific piece of legislation. This claim is demonstrably false, as evidenced by the IRS’ own position on the matter:

The IRS has published Revenue Ruling 2007-41, which outlines how churches, and all 501(c)(3) organizations, can stay within the law regarding the ban on political activity. Also, the ban by Congress is on political campaign activity regarding a candidate; churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in a limited amount of lobbying (including ballot measures) and advocate for or against issues that are in the political arena. The IRS also has provided guidance regarding the difference between advocating for a candidate and advocating for legislation. (Emphasis added)

Despite the IRS’ own claim that political participation is acceptable so long as a candidate is not involved, the Constitution clearly states the Congress has no authority to make a law regarding free speech (though it repeatedly does so). On these grounds, a number of churches have rallied together to assert their Constitutional right to speak out on political issues (and candidates), with the support of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Last night, the Church held a broadcast for its members in California (and their children attending BYU and BYU-Idaho). During the meeting, Elder Cook noted that one of the issues at hand is that of tax exemption, and that the argument for revoking such a status from a church which speaks out on political matters would be that the “government shouldn’t subsidize discriminatory beliefs with tax exemptions”. Should this argument win, the censorship of religious voices (which are often not “politically correct”) would continue in the same manner since 1954, when the Johnson amendment passed.

The threat of revoking a church’s tax exempt status is a political tool to intimidate religious leaders into self-censorship. There was a reason that free speech was protected under the Constitution, yet successive legislators have ignored this declaration and created contradictory laws to give themselves the power to target political enemies who happen to be tax-exempt.

What would have become of this nation’s great moral leaders had the federal government targeted and prosecuted them for their words? Would Martin Luther King, Jr. still have his own national holiday had he been punished for his outspoken support of civil rights legislation? Would the plague of slavery have ended differently throughout the world had it not been for pastors and other religious leaders proclaiming equality under the law from their pulpits? Would John Witherspoon have been allowed to participate and assist in the Revolution?

The social fabric of America remains intact only when individuals—whatever their affiliation or position—are left free to voice their opinions as they desire, on whatever the topic. Using a church’s tax exempt status as a political bludgeon with which to beat down opposing voices is the mark of a pathetic politician who has no regard for the Constitution he has sworn to support.

Utah Church, California Constitution

Others argue that the LDS Church, being a “Utah Church”, should not involve itself in the political matters of other states, in this case California. Such a myopic understanding of the church’s dynamics is horribly off base, much like saying that even though the Sun is millions of miles away, it should not let its rays touch us here.

There are nearly 800,000 members of the Church in California, so although the leaders located in Utah have become involved, this is very much an issue which justifiably concerns those hundreds of thousands of individuals residing in California. 95% of the donations for the “Yes on 8” coalition campaign have come from inside of California. While others may be donating some money, manning phone banks, or talking to friends in California, this is very much an issue involving members of the Church living within the state.

Despite the local involvement, the issue rightly concerns those living outside of the State. California has in recent decades been seen as the leading progressive state, and what happens there is not completely isolated and self-contained. Indeed, trends, fads, and social opinion can quickly travel and change what’s done in other states.

In essence, working to pass this proposition in California is an effort to suppress a dangerous contagion. Self-governance is determined by the votes of the residents themselves, but in all things they are influenced by voices from within and without their borders. As Elder Cook said last night: “this conversation will go on with or without us”. Opposing forces are letting their voices be heard, and so are we. No harm, no foul: the Constitution makes it free game.

Religion and Politics

Despite these arguments, many still feel that religion and politics should be mutually exclusive. These individuals have had the “separation of church and state” line engrained into their psyche, and therefore cannot often articulate sound reasons as to why churches should not be allowed to speak out on political issues—they just think that it’s a bad idea.

Perhaps no better answer has been given than by President Hinckley. In an October 1999 General Conference address, he addressed the question “why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?” His response:

I hasten to add that we deal only with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature or which directly affect the welfare of the Church. We have opposed gambling and liquor and will continue to do so. We regard it as not only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of society. Much of our effort, a very great deal of it, is in association with others whose interests are similar. We have worked with Jewish groups, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and those of no particular religious affiliation, in coalitions formed to advocate positions on vital moral issues. Such is currently the case in California, where Latter-day Saints are working as part of a coalition to safeguard traditional marriage from forces in our society which are attempting to redefine that sacred institution. God-sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman has been the basis of civilization for thousands of years. There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God.

Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality. Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Why We Do Some of the Things We Do)

The Church is nothing more than a group of individuals pursuing a collective goal. Like any number of other organizations, it has a purpose, a set of guiding principles, and uses its resources to support those principles as it deems necessary. Throughout this nation’s history we have benefited from the moral guidance given over the pulpit; using intimidation, the IRS, or the force of (un-Constitutional) law to silence these voices would be a disservice to the country and all liberty-loving individuals, whether or not they agree on a given issue. Now, more than ever, we need these voices to inspire Americans to remember God’s voice, and vote accordingly at the polls.

175 Responses to “Religion and Politics: The LDS Church and Proposition 8”

  1. Connor
    October 9, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    Also of note is this First Presidency statement from 1994:

    The principles of the gospel and the sacred responsibilities given us require that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints oppose any efforts to give legal authorization to marriages between persons of the same gender.

    Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God to fulfill the eternal destiny of His children. The union of husband and wife assures perpetuation of the race and provides a divinely ordained setting for the nurturing and teaching of children. This sacred family setting, with father and mother and children firmly committed to each other and to righteous living, offers the best hope for avoiding many of the ills that afflict society.

    We encourage members to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender.

  2. SJ Cooper
    October 9, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    A very well written article.
    I just wished you hadn’t honored a dishonorable man, namely Martin Luther king jr. Just as seperation of church and state has been perverted to excuse the oppression of religion, the life of Martin( Real name Michael) King jr. has been used incorrectly as that of a hero. I’m surprised someone so well versed in sifting through propaganda has fallen for the MLK crap. He was a communist and not a patriot. I know this seems a bit of topic, but It makes my skin crawl to honor such a deplorable individual.
    -End of tangent-

    Great article.

  3. Frank Staheli
    October 9, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    My best takeaway from this article is that the church would be hypocritical if it didn’t speak out on this issue. It’s critical to remember that the “Church” is an association of individuals who each act with their own free choice to band together to support or oppose various issues.

    Also a great point you made is that the people who think churches shouldn’t be involved in political advocacy are those who are opposed to what the members of those churches generally stand for.

  4. Connor
    October 9, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    I know this seems a bit of topic, but It makes my skin crawl to honor such a deplorable individual.

    I’m well aware of his personal foibles and the controversy surrounding his activities: more on that here (especially in the comments).

    I didn’t mean to flatly endorse his entire life by mentioning him here. Rather, I simply wanted to point out that he as a reverend spoke out on political matters, and influenced millions of people.

  5. Jeff T.
    October 9, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    Great article! I suggest a change of rhetoric in the last paragraph. You say: “The Church is nothing more than a group of individuals pursuing a collective goal.”

    Of course, Connor, you believe that the church is much more than that. I assume you mean that from the perspective of the world, this is all the church is. The implication is that it is silly to ban one group from speaking out, but let others do so freely, merely because the first group is labeled a “church.”

  6. Connor
    October 9, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    Of course, Connor, you believe that the church is much more than that.

    Right. But in a sense, we’re still strictly a bunch of people pursuing a common goal: God’s will. Yes, we have divine guidance in that process, but when it comes down to it, we’re a bunch of people with the same individual rights as our neighbors, and can act accordingly. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to. :)

  7. Jeff T.
    October 9, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    Also, someone made a good point to me the other day… if the prophet cannot speak about political issues, as people claim, then the quickest and most effective way to silence the prophet is to define all issues as being political.

    For example, if someone were to attempt legislative changes in laws about adultery, or honesty, or any issue, then suddenly the prophet can’t speak about these issues anymore?

  8. TheInfamosuGdub
    October 9, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    Conner you make some very god points. There are many church members I wish would read and consider what you’re saying. I can’t understand how an active latter-day saint would not follow the church’s council and vote against prop 8.

  9. Tim Harper
    October 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Connor – you rock. Your articles are well articulated and well formatted.

    That’s all :)

  10. drew
    October 9, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    This is one of the best articles I have read on Prop. 8.

    Thanks.

    Also, check out this video. It is about the effect of gay marriage in public education.

    http://www.thevote08.com/2008/10/proposition-8-effect-on-public.html

  11. Russ
    October 9, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    @Tim

    are you Tim Harper, the father of Scott Harper?

  12. JOE
    October 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    Good analysis.

  13. Shayne
    October 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    Well written Connor.

    It puzzles me why some folks don’t understand that our inspired founding fathers wanted to keep the “state” from dictating what the “church” can and can’t do, and vs. They never intended to keep any religious group of people from expressing their beliefs. Freedom of speech applies to groups as well as individual. Churches have the right to try to influence the government to make righteous choices.

  14. Inthedoghouse
    October 9, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    Connor, what an incredibly well written article defending the Church’s right to defend. I am involved in a Young Adult Branch in California, and have heard all these concerns, that you have addressed, from the individuals in my area. Thank you for addressing them in such an eloquent manner. I will most definitely pass this one along!

  15. Adrien
    October 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Are there actually any undecideds that might be swayed by the religious participation in the debate on prop 8? I can’t really imagine the thought process of someone changing their mind (in either direction).

  16. Janet
    October 9, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Excellent!!! I wish that I could write as well as you do. Your reasoning is so sound and out delivery is impeccable. Once again, I’ll be sounding your trumpet on my blog.

  17. Clumpy
    October 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    Interesting question. I’d like to posit the following quandary, about which I promise I’m not trying to be a smart aleck:

    How can religious views influence law, if our only guide is the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Wouldn’t any law designed toward any other end (religious, philosophical, or for purposes of societal engineering) be deeply anti-freedom and go against the principles of the Constitution?

    It’s plain that our religious, moral and philosophical beliefs should deeply influence our daily actions and service, but that only a regard for minimal government designed to preserve freedom should influence our lawmaking. I can’t think of a single law that would “preserve the family”, but there are dozens of ways to strengthen the family in your home and in your community without getting Uncle Sam involved.

    And I can see why the Church is urging members to vote the way that it is, but wouldn’t a complete abolition of civil marriage (replaced with mere contracts or formal announcements) be far more Constitutional? After all, to Mormon folk the ink-on-paper side of the marriage isn’t the “marriage” at all!

  18. Clumpy
    October 9, 2008 at 11:47 pm #

    SJ, I’m sorry that MLK Jr. doesn’t meet up to your standards. Remember, when we honor him as a great civil rights leader, we’re honoring him as just that, not an infallible man whose opinions were practically perfect in every way.

    MLK may not have been a “patriot” (whatever that means), but he had a strong respect for humanity and for that I respect him. I highly recommend his “letter from Birmingham Jail”:

    http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

  19. Mark N.
    October 10, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    Are there actually any undecideds that might be swayed by the religious participation in the debate on prop 8?

    I see the Church’s efforts here more as a “get out the vote” effort, and less as one of convincing or changing people’s minds. All of their arguments in favor of Prop 8, in my opinion, don’t result in much of anything beyond preaching to the choir.

    When I was on my mission, the occasional Zone Conference would usually include Q&A sessions between the missionaries and the visiting General Authority. I can recall a missionary once being concerned over the fact that the missionary lessons required him to bear his testimony as to the Law of Tithing, that it was a commandment by which those who obeyed it would obtain blessings, when prior to his mission he had never paid tithing (my impression was that he had never held a paying job before his mission, and therefore had no experience with the Law of Tithing).

    The reponse was that as missionaries, our job was to “teach the ideal”.

    I’m not sure that we, as member-missionaries trying to get out the vote for Prop 8, are teaching the ideal with regard to marriage. We are basically going about affirming the goodness of non-temple heterosexual marriage to non-members, while ignoring (I’m not sure that’s the best word here, maybe “temporarily forgetting” would be better here) our own scriptures regarding how marriage covenants not sealed by the Priesthood sealing power are of no force beyond this life. Why are we putting so much effort into affirming a “second rate”, non-ideal legal concept of marriage instead of going to the root of our doctrinal beliefs on this matter, which is that there will be no same-sex marriage in the eternities?

    To me it just feels strange that we’re forming alliances with other churches for the purposes of overturning existing laws while downplaying how our doctrinal viewpoints are very different in this matter. We’re hyping “traditional marriage” in public, but teach a very different (and higher) standard when we’re within the walls of our homes and churches.

    I have two daughters that have admitted to me that they are sick of hearing about the Prop 8 topic at church, and can hardly wait until the election is over so they won’t have to hear about it again. They haven’t said to me that they’re feeling that the Church is somehow trying to teach a double-standard with this thing, but I wonder if their irritation with the topic is because they’re feeling that way to some extent subconsciously.

    Or maybe I’m reading more into it than is really there, and they’re tired of the emphasis on the topic for other, simpler reasons.

  20. LiberalSlayer
    October 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm #

    Awesome Blog

  21. Curtis
    October 10, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    King Jr. was awesome SJ. His talk on the Vietnam war is second to none. He spoke truth as few others have since. I honor the name of Martin Luther King Jr. if noone else here does.

  22. Michael L. McKee
    October 11, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    It would be interesting to have a clear understanding of where John McCain and Barack Obama stand on this issue. One could surmise, based upon their legislative track records, that neither of them would vote yes. Of course, rhetorically speaking, they would leave us with no clearer understanding after they spoke.

    Make no mistake, the outcome from the California decision will have a major affect on where things go after November 4th. for all of us. Before you have voted for either of these globalists, I hope you will consider the United Nations true positions on such matters. I also hope all who vote for the lesser of two evils, will stand equally tall when their candidate brings us even closer to the New World Order.

  23. brandon
    October 11, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    Connor,
    You did a good job articulating your beliefs and rationale. I think they are well reasoned and mostly reasonable (although I disagree with a few). I agree that the church has every right to get involved in politics and no one should try to deprive the church of its first amendment rights.

    While I agree in principle with the idea that the IRS should also not be used as a tool to intimidate one’s political opponents, I think you are glossing over an important issue. If the Government is going to give special tax exemptions to certain organizations, and those organizations take full advantage of the tax breaks, does the government not have any claim to influence those orgs (ignoring the fact that the tax system is ridiculously broken)? In otherwords, I can understand completely the position that says the government should not be subsidizing discrimitory organizations with tax breaks.

    Why should churches get tax breaks, when other organizations don’t? And if they do get tax breaks because the government wants to promote religion as a stabalizing force (isn’t this one of the arguments you have used to support the position that gov’t has a right to regulate marriage?), then why shouldn’t the government be able to revoke those tax breaks once the gov’t no longer feels that an organization is worth promoting?

    Also, you said:

    The social fabric of America remains intact only when individuals—whatever their affiliation or position—are left free to voice their opinions as they desire, on whatever the topic.

    A church is not an individual. It is a legally organized entity (not unlike a corporation). Individuals should be free to organize and express their opinions. However, I don’t think individuals should be free to organize a church, engage in commerce and political activity and not expect to pay the same taxes that I have to pay (although I wish neither of us had to pay taxes).

    Another part of your argument I find a little bothersome is your ability to use examples of past changes to the social order influenced by religious leaders while ignoring the fact that LDS leaders were on the opposite (wrong?) side of both of these issues.

    What would have become of this nation’s great moral leaders had the federal government targeted and prosecuted them for their words? Would Martin Luther King, Jr. still have his own national holiday had he been punished for his outspoken support of civil rights legislation? Would the plague of slavery have ended differently throughout the world had it not been for pastors and other religious leaders proclaiming equality under the law from their pulpits?

    Given that Prop 8 is highly discriminatory (I believe by your own admission, since you have stated that discrimination should not be illegal), I find it odd that you would use those examples to illustrate why the LDS church should be free to seek discriminatory legislation without fear of the IRS.

  24. Jeff T.
    October 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    brandon,

    When has the church been on the wrong side of the issues?

    Most people cite the church’s general opposition to civil rights and equal rights amendment. However, I think these were really the same issue. Consider: the church condemns racism and sexism, but we oppose giving the government power to legally enforce these things. For example, the civil rights movement has given the government tremendous powers to regulate employment, housing, etc. in ways it hadn’t been able to before. Since when should the government be allows to say who I can or can’t hire? Same with the equal rights amendment… it would have given the government much more power to regulate the private sphere. The issue is the same: we opposed sexism and racism, but also opposed giving the government the ability to impose its standards upon us as a church and upon private institutions in general. And that, my friend, is the right side of the issue.

  25. Connor
    October 11, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    If the Government is going to give special tax exemptions to certain organizations, and those organizations take full advantage of the tax breaks, does the government not have any claim to influence those orgs (ignoring the fact that the tax system is ridiculously broken)?

    This is a large problem with government subsidization: what the government subsidizes, it indirect influences and ultimately controls. In a way, exemptions are definitely subsidies, so yes, the government is entitled to set certain policies it feels are appropriate.

    However, in my mind, the proper realm of taxation is one we generally follow: that organizations (groups of individuals) that are not making a profit should not be taxed in their efforts, whatever they may be. The Church is exempt because it is not a for-profit venture, much like a humanitarian aid organization or “Save the Whales” group.

    If this proper method is followed, then the organization would be allowed to maintain its exemption so long as its profit status did not change. However, some legislators have intervened to take advantage of this status, and add additional impositions (including the denial of free speech in relation to political individuals). This is not right, since it directly contradicts the Constitution and has nothing to do with the real reason why certain organizations are granted tax exemption.

    Why should churches get tax breaks, when other organizations don’t?

    As I explained above, my understanding of tax exemption for churches is not that the government wants to promote religion, but that the church is not a for-profit venture, and thus should not be taxed (in their altruistic ventures).

    A church is not an individual. It is a legally organized entity (not unlike a corporation). Individuals should be free to organize and express their opinions. However, I don’t think individuals should be free to organize a church, engage in commerce and political activity and not expect to pay the same taxes that I have to pay (although I wish neither of us had to pay taxes).

    Where the church engages in commerce, it does so through its for-profit arms that do indeed pay taxes:

    Each of the businesses owned by the Church operates in a competitive environment and must succeed or fail according to standard business operating principles. These companies pay taxes to federal, state, and local governments. (The Church is the fourth largest payer of real estate taxes in Salt Lake County.)

    Another part of your argument I find a little bothersome is your ability to use examples of past changes to the social order influenced by religious leaders while ignoring the fact that LDS leaders were on the opposite (wrong?) side of both of these issues.

    Joseph Smith was one of the biggest advocates in his day for the abolition of slaves. Just because blacks were denied the Priesthood (not a civil right), and because some individuals treated blacks prejudicially, does not mean that leaders were on the opposite/wrong side.

    I find it odd that you would use those examples to illustrate why the LDS church should be free to seek discriminatory legislation without fear of the IRS.

    Why do you find that odd? Again, the IRS says that churches can speak out on issues (though the Constitution allows them to speak out on any issue)—including discriminatory ones.

  26. Bill
    October 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

    SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:

    Why do people think that the separation of church and state doctrine is supposed to limit religion or even religious individuals from speaking? The founders endorsed this doctrine to limit GOVERNMENT. NOT CHURCHES.

    In California a murderer was convicted. As the judge was pronouncing the death sentence he said the common phrase “may God have mercy on your soul.” The lawyer picked up on that. It happened to go to the 9th ciruit court of appeals (the most anti-religious court in the country). They nullified the trial. He went free. This court would rather a convicted murderer go free than have anyone mention the name of God in a public place.

    Heaven help the nation who is offended at mentioning God.

  27. Bill
    October 11, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

    DISCRIMINATION:

    Somehow this has become a bad word. It has become synonymous with prejudice. They DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING!!!

    To discriminate simply means to notice differences. This person has different skin, eyes, hair, nose, whatever. What is inherently evil about this? If I report that I got mugged, but don’t mention any of these things about the mugger how will the police be able to find this person? If we notice different fingerprints on a murder weapon than the one being accused of a crime isn’t that discriminating?

    We NEED to judge and discern differences between individuals. If we could not judge discern any differences between people we’d all be the same. Think of Harrison Bergerom. (I know some people will be googling that one).

    The reason the church was against the equal rights amendment was the wording was WAYYY to general. No right to discriminate based on sex? Hello? Haven’t you noticed that the person you’re married to is not the same sex as you? If you haven’t noticed that, how did you have any kids?

    It was so vague that it could have easily been construed to mean that all public bathrooms and public showers (gyms) had to be unisex.

    We will always discriminate as long as we are an informed, thinking people. If you think discriminating is wrong, then how did you come to that judgement?

  28. Bill
    October 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    TAXES:

    I disagree with much of what is said about taxes. Actually, I think I disagree with everyone who has written so far. I’m for eliminating the income tax at all levels and instituting the national sales/use tax.

    I see no reason why a non-profit organization should be exempt (religious or otherwise) if they are the end user of any goods. If you expect the government to favor charitable organizations because they forward the society, then you have to ask which organizations merit the favor. And you may even think that some for-profit corporations are so important for the country as a society that the government needs to favor them–like, say, oh, I don’t know, the banking industry.

    No. All goods should be taxed.

  29. brandon
    October 11, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    The issue is the same: we opposed sexism and racism, but also opposed giving the government the ability to impose its standards upon us as a church and upon private institutions in general. And that, my friend, is the right side of the issue.

    Jeff, the funny thing is that I think Prop 8 violates this principle. I think Prop 8 uses the government to impose people’s religious/moral standards on all private citizens. If you really believe that the church opposed those issues because it didn’t want the federal government to regulate private life…

    Since when should the government be allows to say who I can or can’t hire? Same with the equal rights amendment… it would have given the government much more power to regulate the private sphere.

    …then how can you justify supporting Prop 8 since it uses the government to regulate the private lives of individual citizens (who is the government to say who I can marry?). You limited gov’t afficianados can’t have it both ways. Either the government should get out of our lives on all these issues, or it shouldn’t. I don’t like the picking and choosing based upon personal religious convictions. But, that’s just me.

    As I explained above, my understanding of tax exemption for churches is not that the government wants to promote religion, but that the church is not a for-profit venture, and thus should not be taxed (in their altruistic ventures).

    Connor, I think the non-profit explanation makes sense. However, I think I might agree with Bill as far as they value of giving tax exemptions to non-profit orgs (I just think we should be consistent across the board). Also, I am not entirely sure how the whole non-profit thing works. The link that you provided (to show that the church pays taxes) did not actually provide any reference I could find to establish that all of the church’s business interests actually pay taxes the same way I do. In addition, I have yet to find any information regarding the church’s income or distribution of funds. I assume that the IRS monitors or audits the church to make sure they are following non-profit rules, but I don’t know. Maybe someone can enlighten me???

    Joseph Smith was one of the biggest advocates in his day for the abolition of slaves. Just because blacks were denied the Priesthood (not a civil right), and because some individuals treated blacks prejudicially, does not mean that leaders were on the opposite/wrong side.

    Connor, while Joseph Smith may have been an abolitionist, subsequent church leaders were far from it. In fact, I have seen very little evidence to lead me to believe the church leaders thought much of blacks. In fact, they had lots of good explanations for why God was depriving them of the priesthood. Most of those reasons lead an observer to conclude that the church had a very racist culture.

    Racism may or may not have been a part of the official church doctrine, but that wasn’t my point. Various church leaders very clearly taught racist ideas over the many years. I think to deny this is to ignore reality. In fact, I think this racism lives on in the church (although I think it has improved substantially). It would be dishonest of me to pretend that I never received any lessons in church (and regrettably, at home) about why blacks were indeed black (less valiant in the pre-existence sound familiar to anyone else?). I’m not trying to be antagonistic about this issue, I just think it is important to be clear.

  30. Connor
    October 11, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    …then how can you justify supporting Prop 8 since it uses the governement to regulate the private lives of individual citizens.

    Proposition 8 does nothing to regulate the individual lives of California citizens. It simply defines marriage in a specific way. Civil unions would still exist should the proposition pass, and homosexuals would still be able to cohabit and do as they please. Homosexuality (an action) is not being outlawed here, thus no regulation is taking place.

    Maybe someone can enlighten me???

    Let Wikipedia be your guide. :)

  31. Jeff T.
    October 11, 2008 at 11:13 pm #

    Brandon,

    I was only talking about the historical examples, to show how the church was not on the wrong side on those issues. I was not talking about the present one.

    But I do think it applies, anyways. What has happened is this: the government has stepped in and interfered with the definition of marriage, changing its legal to something that it is not. I see this amendment as a way of limiting the power of the California government to make fiat changes to what was once a religious ceremony and an institution ordained by God. The amendment isn’t taking away anybody’s freedoms; it is limiting the federal government from interfering in the definition of marriage when it shouldn’t.

  32. Mark N
    October 11, 2008 at 11:37 pm #

    Homosexuality (an action) is not being outlawed here

    What is being outlawed is the ability for homosexuals to claim that they are legally married. Or am I wrong about that?

    When homosexual marriage is outlawed, only outlaw homosexuals will be married. Or something like that.

    Civil unions would still exist should the proposition pass

    Can a heterosexual couple get “civilly united” instead of married?

    If so, would that not demonstrate that homosexual couples do not have equal rights?

  33. Curtis
    October 11, 2008 at 11:56 pm #

    Michael in #22,
    Both Palin and Biden, in the Vice-Presidential Debate stated their opposition to any effort to extend marriage to homosexual couples. I got the idea that both camps would vote for Prop. 8 were they California residents.

  34. Daniel
    October 12, 2008 at 2:59 am #

    Connor, ol’ pal, we’ve disagreed on a lot of things over the years. We’ve agreed on a lot of stuff too. But one thing I always thought was that you were one of the good conservatives. When I read about neocons and Bush, and thought bad things, I stopped for a second and thought, well, somewhere out there are some conservatives that still believe in conservative principles, even though I may disagree with those principles. People who really believe it.

    So that’s why I’m disappointed to read this:

    Proposition 8 does nothing to regulate the individual lives of California citizens. It simply defines marriage in a specific way.

    This is sophist hairsplitting crap, and I think you know it, and if you don’t, you should.

    I don’t know what I expect you to do about this. The men that represent God to you have already told you what to think, not that this poses any problem for you, since it’s probably what you thought already. But would a little intellectual honesty be too much to ask for, even if causes you some internal conflict between your conservatism and your religious beliefs?

    Avoidance is not an acceptable response to cognitive dissonance, and neither is making up phony justifications for going against your putative small-government values. Man up, and sort it out.

  35. Connor
    October 12, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    This is sophist hairsplitting crap, and I think you know it, and if you don’t, you should.

    Defining marriage to apply only to a subset of individuals who meet the requirements is no different than defining who is eligible to receive a drivers license, apply for military combat, or enter the FBI.

    Again, it does not regulate individual behavior, it only defines who is eligible to call their relationship a marriage.

  36. Bill
    October 12, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    I wish to emphasize several things for myself (my opinions only):

    1) I have a political philosophy different from the Church’s official political philosophy.
    2) Marriage is not a civil right, but a religious right.
    3) Prejudice is a HUMAN trait — not particular to the Church — nor absent from its membership.
    4) Homosexuality is not the same kind of prejudice as racism or sexism.

    I am a Constitutionalist with slight libertarian leanings. The Church is Constitutionalist with strong conservative leanings. This means that I would be all for allowing things like legalizing drugs. The Church would be against that. If it were just a matter of civil rights, I would be against Prop 8. The Church would be for it no matter what.

    Marriage was originally a religious ritual. Those that were not religious didn’t care about sexuality as a virtue/vice would just take any woman he wanted and add her to his harem. Marriage was the recognition that God (or the gods) was part of the marriage or that He blessed it.

    During the middle ages when The Pope had overreaching power over Europe, he decided to turn it into a civil institution — merging Church & State. By continuing the tradition of marriage being a civil ceremony, we have never really separated church & state. In addition, a church must be formed by satisfying certain laws. Why? Isn’t that asking the state for permission to worship?

    I suppose that if a group of homosexuals wanted to get together and form a church, then one of their tenets could be that God sanctions their unions. If government were completely out of the way, I’d be ok with that. But when the state has its fingers in the pot as much as it does, I can’t oppose Prop 8.

    For instance–drugs. If we say we should legalize drugs and let people mess up their lives and maybe they’d learn a lesson and turn their lives around. But if they were legal today, we have welfare for those who burn out, which in turn effects MY taxes; and they never learn any lessons. Get the government out and I would be all for legalizing drugs.

    As a minority, I clearly see where racism comes from. I’ve witnessed it first hand all my life. I can tell you that it does not come from the official doctrines of the Church. It comes from ignorant individuals (and there are a lot of them–even today) both in and out of the Church.

    It also comes from another insidious source: Society. Don’t think that it is a recent occurrence. The founding fathers owned slaves. Are you going to blame them for the sins of the society they lived in? It was the best available to them at the time.

    And don’t think it is going away just because we are going to have our first black President. Many people are voting for Obama just because he is black. This is not an assumption or an accusation. I’ve personally heard at least a dozen people say that to me. Since I tend to run around in conservative circles, a dozen liberals saying this to me is a big percentage. I can still adimit it is a small sampling. But the fact that I found these individuals to be informed, educated, and intelligent people (yes, I said that about some liberals) and they would say something like this without blinking makes me wonder about the average American.

    I could write an entire epic on the nature of prejudice, but I believe those who are well informed realize that sometimes even good, well-intentioned individuals will fall into the trappings of their generation’s culture without realizing it until they stuck their foot in their mouths.

    Homosexuality is a different trait than other prejudices such as racism or sexism. Race or sex has NOTHING to do with behavior. Homosexuality IS a behavior. The question of genetics vs environement comes up. OK, let’s talk abou that.

    I was born with a poor temper. Just ask anyone who knew me when I was a kid. There was no controlling it. Did I CHOOSE to be angry? No. It just happened. What would have happened if I never LEARNED to control it? I would have become a criminal or an abusive husband and father.

    I was BORN a certain way, but I LEARNED to be better.

    Unfortunately, with homosexuality, it is not so simple. We look at a person with a fiery temper and we all believe that is bad behavior. We look a homosexual and we don’t agree whether that is bad or not.

    As a Constitutionalist, I will go with the will of the people (no, I don’t live in California, but you get the point).

    As a Libertarian, I don’t see a problem with gay marriage as long as the government gets completely out of it. Not partially out, not special privileges for them because they are a “protected class”. Completely out of marriage.

    As a member of the Church, I believe homosexual behavior is wrong. But look at this quote:

    Pres Hinckley said in General Conference (welcoming homosexuals to the Church) “We all have tendencies of one form or another. But if we do not act on them, we are not held under judgement.”

  37. Mark N
    October 12, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    From a secular viewpoint, marriage is more than just what the words on a piece of paper issued by the government might happen to say.

    Marriage is more than just the state of two people who have promised to remain true to each other until death do them part.

    Marriage is the relationship between the two people in the marriage as well as the relationship of the state and all of the legal ramifications between the state and the married couple. Since all of the same legal rights are being granted to the homosexual couple in a civil union, it has to be admitted that for all intents and purposes, homosexuals united in a civil union are married. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then I guess what we have here is an actual duck.

    If the state wasn’t in the “marrying business”, it would be solely in the hands of the individual churches as to whether or not any marriages between homosexuals would take place. No doubt, the majority of churches would not perform marriages for gay couples (at least at first; churches interested in increasing the sizes of their congregations might decide to go after that “market”), but there would still be a number of churches that would perform the ceremony and make the pronouncement as to the status of the couple in question. No church would have any measure of control over what other churches could do in the matter, and those who would not perform gay marriages would only be able to make public statements on the subject, and hope to be able to convince the public that God does not approve of any such thing and that those churches performing gay marriages are teaching false doctrine.

    Similarly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might just as well take issue with the rights of other churches to claim that their members are actually officially and “legally” baptised members of those churches, since the LDS claim would be that the other churches do not have the authority to perform a baptism that is recognized by God as such, and therefore start an ad campaign in hopes of getting other members of other churches to see the light.

    But since the government is involved in the marriage business, and since what the government does in our democracy is a function of what the people want it to do, there seems to be no compunction against attempting to seize control of the government with regard to this one function.

    Instead of trying to retain control over the definition of a single word via the ballotbox while not attemping to change the legal rights of those who are civilly united, it would seem to me to make more sense that the Church would just come out and condemn the whole concept of gay marriage and civil unions between gays simultaneously and attempt to change all of those laws instead. Why doesn’t it? Wouldn’t that be more in keeping with standing for what is right?

  38. Bill
    October 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    Mark,

    I hear your “duck” argument. And there is truth to it.
    I believe (in most instances) there are two differences that you are overlooking. God and children.

    When we think of traditional marriage, we are publicly stating that God sanctions this marriage. Even if it is a civil ceremony, we’re still saying that. When Hollywood couples “marry-divorce-marry-divorce” I don’t really believe they even think about God. Is that really a marriage? It’s about as much a marriage as our current system of government is Constitutional. But I digress.

    How many times have I heard that marriage is “just a piece of paper”? Sounds like the Constitution. But I digress.

    How many times have I heard the argument that the Bible was written by a bunch of old men so long ago that we don’t even know who they were and they never knew who we were? Sounds like the Constitution. But I digress.

    How many times have I heard cries for tolerance for things that I find morally deplorable in the name of pluralism, multi-culturalism, and diversity but found no acceptance for the beliefs that I personally hold dear? Instead my beliefs are publicly derided. Sounds like the Constitution. But I digress.

    The other difference is that marriage is about raising a family together. I’ve heard of, but have been unable to substantiate cases of homosexuals adopting children. Too much . . . brain . . . overload. . . need duct tape . . . hold . . . brain in . . . OK, that’s better.

    CIVIL UNIONS AND CHURCH POLICY.

    The Church has always taken the following approach:

    1) Teach the principles of righteous living in church to the members and avoid statements to the general public (with rare exceptions).
    2) Do not INITIATE any political/legal measure to enforce gospel principles on others.
    3) When the average citizen initiates a ballot measure or other method of lawmaking, the Church will only have a position if our beliefs CLEARLY coincide with one side. From that point the leaders will endorse voting for or against it.

    I am not aware of any publicized measure to ban civil unions for homosexuals. If it were to be brought up, I’m not all that certain which side the Church would be on. I suppose that would depend on the specifics of the rights of civil unions in each state.

    THE BAPTISM ARGUMENT

    Remember that there are two purposes to baptism. One is to make a covenant with God. The other is to become a member of that church.

    The thing is, other churches don’t see it as a covenant. They see it as a public statement. God isn’t really a part of it. A few believe there is something magical about the water and we are really cleansed of our sins by the water itself. Regardless, the meaning is different for different churches. So, they are not really WRONG. We just have more to it.

    We don’t bother INITIATING a conversation on that matter or preaching it to others because unless they are interested in joining, it wouldn’t matter.

    As a membership ceremony, ANYONE has authority to determine the ceremony by which one can become a member of their organization. Baptism is no exception.

    COMMONLAW

    We also consider commonlaw marriages. I believe about 20 states in the Union are commonlaw states (citation needed). I recently married a couple in Colorado. Since it is a commonlaw state, they didn’t really need me to. No religious or legal figurehead needed. They are married. No paper required either. But for reciprocity in other states, they went and got the paper from the county clerk’s office.

    This brings up the definition of the Law of Chastity. It used to say “We shall have no sexual intercourse with anyone but our spouse to whom we are legally and lawfully wedded.” But people were pulling a Bill Clinton regarding the “sexual intercourse” wording. So the wording was changed to “sexual relations”. That is how it stands today.

    Now I ask — if we legalize gay marriage, what would the wording have to change to if homosexuality were to be part of the law of chastity?

  39. Daniel
    October 12, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    I mean, I would respect you a hundred times more if you’d just say, “You know, I have these two values, and in this situation, they conflict. It’s hard to choose between two good values, but in this case, I think this one is more important, and that’s why I’m taking this position.”

    See how easy that is? Recognising the contradictions in your value system shows intellectual maturity, and the ability to make sophisticated moral judgments.

    But instead, you’re like all “What contradiction? There’s no contradiction. My theory is entirely consistent. Now excuse me while I go make up some more fatuous justifications to try to reconcile small-government libertarianism with invasive legislative puritanism.”

    Man, you’re really letting me down here.

  40. Connor
    October 12, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    Daniel,

    The burden of proof is on you to clarify where you see “the contradictions in [my] value system”. Simply saying it is so does not in fact make it true.

    I see no contradiction. I see no regulation. You apparently disagree, and unless you specifically state why (rather than just blow steam), your position holds no water.

    Additionally, you’ve misrepresented my value system, thus indicating, perhaps, that the contradiction you see is in error. I am not a “small-government libertarian”. Rather, I am a Constitutionalist who favors letting the local people decide how they will be ruled. Big difference.

  41. Clumpy
    October 12, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    Frankly, I see the Church’s action as completely pragmatic, though certainly not wrong. As long as the government has long taken action that goes against its role (i.e. recognizing marriages), it’s perfectly valid to make a public statement in the pursuit of a short-term fix – creating an additional law designed to ban an additional breach of power (recognizing nontraditional marriages). The root of the problem (the fact that the government is in the business of recognizing marriages in the first place) goes far beyond the Church’s ambition as it relates to public policy. Imagine trying to explain it to the members. . . Keep in mind that I may be projecting my own views onto the Church in this case, though I don’t think I’m saying anything antithetical to my religion.

    I won’t single anybody out (though Connor, as the keeper of this site, inevitably take the brunt), but my stomach turns slightly watching staunch Constitutionalists attempt to justify Prop 8 on purely legal grounds (or, worse, turn from the Constitution whenever it suits them by turning to more schizophrenic, rationalistic lines of reasoning). Prop 8 is certainly an illegal piece of legislation in and of itself, though doing the right thing by supporting an illegal law because the actual system that led to the entire issue is a lost cause is regrettably necessary in this case.

  42. Barbara
    October 12, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    Connor,
    I think it is important to note here that Mitt Romney started this ball rolling in Massachutesettes. The difference being that he instalated gay marriage as govenor and never let it go to the vote of the People. World Net Daily did a, to the point article. I called the Mass. legisature myself and got pretty much the same story that WND wrote. They did their homework on the article. Barbara

  43. Daniel
    October 12, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    I think you’re pretending not to understand what I’m talking about.

    An internally consistent conservative would ask him- or herself “What would a hands-off laissez faire conservative think about this issue?” And I think they’d get a very different answer than the one you’re espousing.

    You instead seem to be asking “How much compromise to my conservative values can I explain my way around?”

    So very well. I’ll go through the drill. Your response:

    Defining marriage to apply only to a subset of individuals who meet the requirements is no different than defining who is eligible to receive a drivers license, apply for military combat, or enter the FBI.

    Apples and oranges. The examples you’ve cited relate to physical or mental ability. Marriage has no such physical or mental entry requirement.

    Got a better example?

  44. Jeff T.
    October 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Clumpy,

    Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment. The California constitution is the highest law in the state, so by definition, the legislation cannot be illegal, unless it violate the federal constitution. The federal constitution clearly leaves all unenumerated powers to the states, so nope, it is not illegal.

  45. Connor
    October 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    An internally consistent conservative would ask him- or herself “What would a hands-off laissez faire conservative think about this issue?” And I think they’d get a very different answer than the one you’re espousing.

    Conservatism means nothing without context. Many people of different political stripes identify themselves as conservatives.

    Nonetheless, the “hands-off laissez faire conservatism” you seem to be referring to sounds to me more like libertinism or nihilism. This is the danger of using political epithets to categorize a group of people or political ideology that no two people might agree 100% upon.

  46. Mark N
    October 12, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    by definition, the legislation cannot be illegal

    That’s nonsense. If a suit is brought claiming that the introduction of a new constitutional amendment conflicts with portions of the constitution already in existence, it will be raising “a constitutional question that’s within [the Supreme Court's] authority and responsibility to decide”.

    The question “Do California’s marriage laws (meaning the Prop 22 wording) violate the state’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection and individual liberty?” has already been answered in the affirmative.

    Prop 22 was already thrown out once. Why anyone believes that the Supreme Court won’t do it again is beyond me. Adding a new amendment to the state’s constitution is no magic bullet that will assure the ongoing existence of Prop 22’s definition of a “valid” or “recognized” marriage.

    http://www.freedomtomarry.org/get_informed/marriage_basics/history/eisenberg_op-ed.php presents a good reasoning as to why the 4-3 decision on the matter is not a case of “judicial activism”.

  47. Connor
    October 12, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    Mark,

    The very nature of an amendment implies an addition or change to a previous portion of the Constitution. Just like the United States Constitution has amendments that alter previously existing portions of text, so too would Prop. 8 trump any previous portion of the CA Constitution that may contradict with it.

    Otherwise, what would be the point of amendments, if not to be able to change the current document?

  48. Jeff T.
    October 12, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    If the judges did throw it out, their actions would be illegal, considering they would do so in violation of the constitution, which they do not have the authority to do.

  49. Clumpy
    October 12, 2008 at 11:56 pm #

    Jeff T. –

    Awright, I was presumptuous calling the bill illegal. That is to say, it might be illegal, but there was no reason for me to call it so unless I knew for a fact that it violated some aspect of the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

    I’m aware that marriages are filed as par state laws, but are marriages recognized at the state level or are they maintained federally? If marriages are a states issue then I’ve repeatedly and forcefully stated a wrong opinion on multiple occasions (that government cannot legally recognize marriages). If it’s a states’ rights issue then it comes down to personal opinion and legislation (Of course, I still believe that keeping marriage records out of government business solves a good many problems).

  50. Daniel
    October 13, 2008 at 1:29 am #

    Hey, no dissing the libertines.

    So are you now disavowing the notion that government should stay out of the lives of private citizens?

  51. Connor
    October 13, 2008 at 7:20 am #

    So are you now disavowing the notion that government should stay out of the lives of private citizens?

    I have never made that claim. That would be anarchy.

  52. Mark N
    October 13, 2008 at 7:58 am #

    Otherwise, what would be the point of amendments, if not to be able to change the current document?

    Let’s suppose a new amendment gets added to the US Constitution that conflicts with the first amendment such that freedom to worship as one wants or freedom of the press is negated in some not-immediately-obvious way. Somebody with standing brings a lawsuit saying, hey, guys, we’ve got a problem here in that there is now an internal conflict in the constitution that needs to be worked out. Do you think the end result would be that the Supreme Court would say, yes, it really is better now that the freedom to worship or freedom of the press has been restricted by this new amendment?

    Now, if the new amendment were more specific about stating that the desired result of the change was to effect a restriction on the rights mentioned in the first amendment, it’s possible that it might be retained. But it is the job of the Supreme Court to work out the big constitutional questions in order to maintain the integrity of the document. As stated in the decision, “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” Also, “”[i]t is irrelevant that the voters rather than a legislative body enacted [the challenged law], because the voters may no more violate the Constitution by enacting a ballot measure than a legislative body may do so by enacting legislation.” And the determination has been made that Prop 22 violated the Constitution. Trying to turn it into a constitutional amendment will not alter that basic fact.

    What I find to be the most interesting thing I’ve learned from this is that while those proposing a change to the US Constitution have to jump through all sorts of hoops, including a super-majority of ratifications by the states, the California State Constitution can be modified by a simple initiative process needing no more than a majority vote to pass. This says to me that the California Supreme Court carries a much heavier responsibility to see to it that the integrity of the document doesn’t get screwed up by that bare majority vote.

  53. vontrapp
    October 13, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    @Mark

    What I find to be the most interesting thing I’ve learned from this is that while those proposing a change to the US Constitution have to jump through all sorts of hoops, including a super-majority of ratifications by the states, the California State Constitution can be modified by a simple initiative process needing no more than a majority vote to pass. This says to me that the California Supreme Court carries a much heavier responsibility to see to it that the integrity of the document doesn’t get screwed up by that bare majority vote.

    Well such is the law of California. If prop 8 passes, it does so according to the law, and becomes law, the highest law of the state. I’m not sure that the California supreme court could then continue to vote it as unconstitutional, as it _is_ the constitution.

    “[i]t is irrelevant that the voters rather than a legislative body enacted [the challenged law], because the voters may no more violate the Constitution by enacting a ballot measure than a legislative body may do so by enacting legislation.”

    That’s why prop 8 is no longer a “ballot measure” but is now a full blown constitutional amendment. So you may argue that the California supreme court did what it was supposed to do in regards to prop 22, I might disagree with you and them, but they are the judges. Now the legal thing for those who want a clear man/woman definition of marriage is precisely to do this constitutional amendment, and it is in fact 100% legal.

  54. vontrapp
    October 13, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    @Mark again

    Similarly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might just as well take issue with the rights of other churches to claim that their members are actually officially and “legally” baptised members of those churches, since the LDS claim would be that the other churches do not have the authority to perform a baptism that is recognized by God as such, and therefore start an ad campaign in hopes of getting other members of other churches to see the light.

    The Church can in fact do this (not that they do) and that’s fine, because there are no laws concerning baptism. Currently the church can speak out against gay marriage (which it _does_ do, and wants to do) but because marriage is so entwined into the law, if prop 8 were to not pass, gay marriage would become this crazy right, and the Church would no longer be able to make any statements on the issue without suit. If anyone thinks this will _not_ be the case they are deluded. There are already plenty of examples of lawsuits regarding ‘discriminating’ gays. Now if you believe the church should not be able to teach against gay marriage, and thus you want prop 8 to fail, then that is your prerogative, but do not pretend that such would not be the case.

  55. Mark N.
    October 13, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    Well such is the law of California. If prop 8 passes, it does so according to the law, and becomes law, the highest law of the state. I’m not sure that the California supreme court could then continue to vote it as unconstitutional, as it _is_ the constitution.

    Yes, they can. That’s their job (even the dissenting opinions admit to that). If new parts of the Constitution are found to conflict with older parts of the Constitution, they get thrown out, regardless of who enacted it or how it was enacted. Nothing has changed in the wording of prop 22/8 since it declared to be unconstitutional, and neither has the relationship of the state with regard to all of the legal rights that are accorded to partners in civil unions.

    I suggest you find a copy of the whole ruling and read it all for yourself, pretty close to 150 pages or so, including the dissenting opinions. As is stated therein:

    Although defendants maintain that this court has an obligation to defer to the statutory definition of marriage contained in section 308.5 because that statute — having been adopted through the initiative process — represents the expression of the “people’s will,” this argument fails to take into account the very basic point that the provisions of the California Constitution itself constitute the ultimate expression of the people’s will, and that the fundamental rights embodied within that Constitution for the protection of all persons represent restraints that the people themselves have imposed upon the statutory enactments that may be adopted either by their elected representatives or by the voters through the initiative process. As the United States Supreme Court explained in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) 319 U.S. 624, 638: “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

    Indeed, Chief Justice Burger made the same point for a majority of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens Against Rent Control v. Berkeley (1981) 11 4 454 U.S. 290, observing emphatically that “[i]t is irrelevant that the voters rather than a legislative body enacted [the challenged law], because the voters may no more violate the Constitution by enacting a ballot measure than a legislative body may do so by enacting legislation.” (Id. at p. 295, italics added.) Accordingly, the circumstance that the electorate voted in favor of retaining the traditional definition of marriage does not exempt the statutory limitation from constitutional review, nor does it demonstrate that the voters’ objective represents a constitutionally compelling state interest for purposes of equal protection principles.

    In other words, just because one might attempt to graft onto the Constitution a new section, it doesn’t mean that it’s not still subject to review by the court. If it’s found to be in conflict, out it goes. It was found to be unconstitutional when it was Prop 22 wording, and it will still be unconstitutional when it comes in as the exact same Prop 8 wording.

    Calling it a constitutional amendment doesn’t automagically make it constitutional.

  56. Jeff T.
    October 13, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Um, present amendments to the federal constitution conflict with previous statements of the constitution. Are they unconstitutional?

    ANY change to the constitution is going to differ from what’s already there… else why the change?

  57. Mark N.
    October 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    What part of “the fundamental rights embodied within that Constitution for the protection of all persons represent restraints that the people themselves have imposed upon the statutory enactments that may be adopted” are you not understanding?

    In the opinion of the court, Prop 22 attempted to change an area in the constitution contrary to the “restraints that the people themselves have imposed upon the statutory enactments that may be adopted” and was therefore rejected. The will of the people is already expressed in the state constitution by those protected areas, therefore the courts has determined that Propositions 22 and 8, despite all the ruckus, are not the will of the people, but are instead a violation of that will.

    The time for screaming about civil unions being judged to be the equivalent of marriage is past. The screaming should have occurred when the legal rights accorded to the two groups differed but were starting to encroach upon each other. Now that they are the same, the court sees no compelling reason as to why both groups should not claim the “married” title.

    The court also sees “civil union” or “domestic partnership” as being a discriminatory “second-class” type of thing:

    While retention of the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples is not needed to preserve the rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children. As discussed above, because of the long and celebrated history of the term “marriage” and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term “marriage” is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship. Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.

  58. Jeff T.
    October 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    Are you saying that we could not amend the Constitution to restrict freedom of speech by altering the Bill of Rights? I actually agree that doing so would be in violation of the intent and spirit of the Constitution, but to claim that it would be unconstitutional to do so would be saying that there is no such thing as an amendment.

  59. Mark N.
    October 13, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    Are you saying that we could not amend the Constitution to restrict freedom of speech by altering the Bill of Rights?

    That seems to be what the California Supreme Court says it believes when it cites West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) the way it did.

    Most amendments to the US Constitution, to my understanding, were added to address items not covered under the original Constitution, rather than to make changes to pre-existing sections. The first amendment appears to be viewed as being more sacrosanct than others in some ways (only recently did the Supreme Court ever get around to attempting any clarifications with regard to the right to bear arms, for example). If they do amend already existing portions of the Constitution, it’s clear as to the exact nature of the change; there used to be no term limitations on the President, but now there are, for example.

    Which section of the California Constitution is being modified by Prop 8? The word “marriage” pops up in Section 21 of Article 1 with regard to property rights, again in Section 2 Article 13A with regard to taxation limits, but that’s it, so far as I can determine. It’s obviously an attempt to use the initiative process so as to modify the Constitution with the purpose of making some kind of blanket group of changes to all laws enacted in the state dealing with marriage, and not something that affects the Constitution itself.

    I’m no lawyer, but this seems like an awfully big power grab to me. If current laws on the books regarding marriage and civil unions or domestic partnerships are found to be undesirable from the Church’s point of view, I would think that the proper and responsible way to go about things would be to address the individual laws themselves, instead of going for the “nuclear strike” that Prop 8 apparently intends to be.

    At any rate, the decision as rendered already seems to preclude Prop 8 from ever being enacted for the same exact reasons that the Prop 22 wording was thrown out, and is just going to turn out to have been a huge waste of time and effort on the part of everyone involved, at least from the Supreme Court’s viewpoint. If it does pass, the very first same-sex couple who is unable to obtain a marriage license after its passing will be able to bring a lawsuit, and the only possible response from the court, so far as I can see, will be “Why are we having to go through this again? We threw this out as being unconstitutional before, and it still is unconstitutional now. Have a nice day.”

  60. Bill
    October 13, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Has anyone ever heard of prohibition?

    The 18th and 21st amendments specifically condradict each other. That is why the 21st was passed. The 21st REPEALED the 18th.

    I don’t get this idea that an amendment can be unconstitutional. An amendment is different than a simple law. It has the power to overturn the Supreme Court (be it federal or state). That is its power. As a statutory law, the Supreme court had the power to overturn it as unconstitutional. As an amendment The Supreme Court does NOT have that power.

    And, YES, if we pass a federal amendment stating that the rights garanteed in the 1st amendment were no longer valid, then it would be the NEW LAW OF THE LAND. I wouldn’t agree with it. I would do everything to fight against it. But it would indeed be Constitutional because – – –

    AN AMENDMENT IS PART OF THE BLOODY CONSTITUTION!!!

    What I find really stupid and chaotic is the California process that says a simple majority can actually pass a constitutional amendment. That just seems stupid to me. But, hey, there’s a reason I left California.

  61. Mark N.
    October 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm #

    Again: “One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

    The Supreme Court of California evidently sees this as a matter of fundamental rights, which are off-limits to legislative and voter initiative actions.

    Putting something in the Constitution is of no value when the Supreme Court determines that fundamental rights are at stake.

    I wish someone would put Chief Justice George on record and ask him what will most likely happen if Proposition 8 passes. I’d love to hear his response.

  62. Clumpy
    October 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    Jeff asked if the Constitution could be amended to remove the freedom of speech, making the point that it could technically be done (after all, an amendment is part of the Constitution, as Bill pointed out, as legally valid as something that was there in the first place).

    But any amendment designed to reduce the freedom of speech would be violently, toxicly unconstitutional until the moment it was implemented. It’s an interesting thought – that a proposed amendment can be “more” unconstitutional than another proposed amendment until its implementation, and, by being implemented, cheapen the entire Constitution and our way of life with it.

    Prohibition was mildly unconstitutional by comparison, not even contradicting directly with anything in the Constitution’s text or the country’s existing interpretation of the document (after all, we restrict hard narcotics and heavy weapons). Women’s suffrage and abolition were so in tune with the principles of the Constitution that their truth should have been taken for granted. But it would be criminal to pass an amendment to reduce our freedoms (freedoms that, I might remind you, many of you have argued that only God can take away), just as many existing laws signed by nearly every administration (including many current glaring examples) reduce freedoms granted by the Constitution and Bill of Rights without even bothering with an amendment.

  63. Carissa
    October 13, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    this seems like an awfully big power grab to me

    Until recently, the word “marriage” used in California’s constitution was generally understood by everyone to mean a legal union between a man and a woman. This proposition just seeks to clarify that definition and keep it from evolving with societal trends. Power grab? Not at all.

  64. Mark N
    October 14, 2008 at 1:13 am #

    Carissa, if you can come up with a “compelling” reason as to why the State of California must maintain two separate designations signifying marriage, one for opposite-sex couples and a different term for same-sex couples, you’ll have saved the day for the Prop 8 supporters. According to the court, nobody has been able to pull off this all-important task.

    Under the strict scrutiny standard, unlike the rational basis standard, in order to demonstrate the constitutional validity of a challenged statutory classification the state must establish (1) that the state interest intended to be served by the differential treatment not only is a constitutionally legitimate interest, but is a compelling state interest, and (2) that the differential treatment not only is reasonably related to but is necessary to serve that compelling state interest. Applying this standard to the statutory classification here at issue, we conclude that the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples embodied in California’s current marriage statutes — the interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage — cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.

    Go for it, and you may turn out to be the big hero.

  65. Carissa
    October 14, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    The reason there must be “compelling” state interest is because the court believes marriage to be a fundamental right that cannot be abridged without good reason. If we’re going to call it a fundamental right we should do so WITHIN the definition of the word. Because the courts are interpreting “marriage” differently than society has traditionally recognized it, clarification is needed for what that definition really is. That is what the proposition seeks to accomplish in a legal and constitutional way, letting the people of California (not just the courts) participate in setting the legal definition.

  66. Mark N.
    October 14, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    The wording of Prop 22 — and now Prop 8 — has already been determined to be unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter where anyone is going to try and lodge it in the state’s legal documents, if it was unconstitutional as part of the family code, it’s still going to be unconstitutional if Prop 8 passes, and I imagine the court is not going to hesitate to say so, given that the court states on page 6 of the decision,

    … under this state’s Constitution, the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process.

    and on pages 111 and 112 of the decision,

    … the circumstance that the limitation of marriage to a union between a man and a woman embodied in section 308.5 was enacted as an initiative measure by a vote of the electorate similarly neither exempts the statutory provision from constitutional scrutiny nor justifies a more deferential standard of review. Although California decisions consistently and vigorously have safeguarded the right of voters to exercise the authority afforded by the initiative process (see, e.g., Associated Home Builders, etc., Inc. v. City of Livermore (1976) 18 Cal.3d 582, 591), our past cases at the same time uniformly establish that initiative measures adopted by the electorate are subject to the same constitutional limitations that apply to statutes adopted by the Legislature, and our courts have not hesitated to invalidate measures enacted through the initiative process when they run afoul of constitutional guarantees provided by either the federal or California Constitution.

    Prop 8 is, of course, an initiative measure.

  67. vontrapp
    October 14, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    Mark, I’d just like to see the courts _try_ to overturn a constitutional amendment. Actually, I would not. That might result in very bad things, such as war.

    You keep saying that prop 22 and prop 8 are the same thing. They may have the same words, and the same goal, but they are most definitely not the same thing. One was a legislative action, and legislative actions are subject to the constitution. The other one is to be part of the constitution. “A house divided cannot stand.” If you start dividing the constitution against itself, you’re going to have chaos, thus, the only possible interpretation of a constitutional amendment is that it trumps whatever was there before.

    As for compelling reason for the state to sanction man/woman marriage over gay marriage, I wrote about that on my blog. For a brief synopsis, and just in case my blog post isn’t clear enough…

    What can we say about marriage that is beneficial and purely devoid of religion and morality? (not that I think any argument has to be posed this way, but there are those who seem to insist…)
    A Priori:
    * children are better off with two parents
    * children are better off with the same two parents who stay together
    * a male and a female engaging in sexual relations bears the possibility of conception
    * homosexual relations bear no such possibility
    * when a man and a woman are married, any conception and birth results in a child with two [relatively] stable parents

    THEREFORE, the greater the percentage of married men and woman, the greater the percentage of conceptions that will be born to married, two parent homes.
    Note that gay marriage does NOTHING to skew the statistics of where children are born, for they have no children.

    That’s my for the children argument, but I reserve the right to make moral arguments all day long.

  68. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    “You keep saying that prop 22 and prop 8 are the same thing. They may have the same words, and the same goal, but they are most definitely not the same thing. One was a legislative action, and legislative actions are subject to the constitution. The other one is to be part of the constitution.”

    What part of

    initiative measures adopted by the electorate are subject to the same constitutional limitations that apply to statutes adopted by the Legislature, and our courts have not hesitated to invalidate measures enacted through the initiative process when they run afoul of constitutional guarantees provided by either the federal or California Constitution.

    are you not getting?

    You seem to think that just because this is supposed to be a constitutional amendment that this constitutes an end run around the Supreme Court. Nope. This is a voter initiative, regardless of which state document or law code it is intended for, and the S.C. will not hesitate to dump it if they feel it doesn’t meet constitutional stature.

  69. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    But if the voter initiative passes, it then becomes part of the constitution. Are you saying that the courts should be able to repeal amendments? Can the US Supreme Court repeal amendments to the US constitution? I’m pretty sure the people would have to vote to repeal it- the court doesn’t have a say at that point. Am I wrong?

  70. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    “But if the voter initiative passes, it then becomes part of the constitution. ”

    Yes, and possibly only temporarily. The Supreme Court always has the right to look at what the voters and the legislature does when someone brings a lawsuit. And if Prop 8 passes, there is no doubt that somebody will.

    Everybody is pinning their hopes on the idea that “if only we can put it into the state constitution, that will be the end of it”.

    Well, no, it won’t.

    initiative measures

    adopted by the electorate

    are subject to the same constitutional limitations that apply to statutes adopted by the Legislature,

    and

    our courts have not hesitated to invalidate measures enacted through the initiative process

    when they run afoul of constitutional guarantees provided by either the federal or California Constitution.

    There, I broke it up into smaller chunks. That is what the Supreme Court stated in their decision stating that Prop 22 was unconstitutional.

    Does that help any?

  71. Connor
    October 15, 2008 at 9:44 am #

    Well, no, it won’t.

    Can you point to any precedent when a Supreme Court (state or federal) issued a ruling saying that a portion of the Constitution was un-Constitutional?

  72. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    I’m no lawyer, so I’m not sure where I’d have to go to look for that. Nothing comes to mind, certainly. But it sure looks like the Supreme Court decision went out of its way to put everyone on notice as to what they could expect to have happen if Prop 8 passes.

    “As discussed below, upon review of the numerous California decisions that have examined the underlying bases and significance of the constitutional right to marry (and that illuminate why this right has been recognized as one of the basic, inalienable civil rights guaranteed to an individual by the California Constitution), we conclude that, under this state’s Constitution, the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process.”

    What else do they have to say?

    It’s unconstitutional now, and trying to jam it into the state constitution does not make it immediately impervious to Supreme Court review. Since the wording hasn’t changed, and the state of the other laws on the books with regard to marriage and domestic parterships hasn’t changed, why would you expect them to say, OK, it’s good to go this time?

  73. Connor
    October 15, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    …they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process.

    This does not apply to Proposition 8. Prop. 8 is a Constitutional initiative, not a statutory one.

  74. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    But Mark, if the constitution then clarifies the definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman- then everything they just said about marriage only applies to the definition of marriage that the amendment clarifies.

  75. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    “This does not apply to Proposition 8. Prop. 8 is a Constitutional initiative, not a statutory one.”

    Where in the CA State Constitution does it draw a distinction between Constitutional initiatives and statutory initiatives?

    Article 18, section 3 simply states:

    “The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative.”

    An initiative is an initiative, regardless of the document in the sights of said initiative.

    ARTICLE 2 VOTING, INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND RECALL

    SEC. 8. (a) The initiative is the power of the electors to propose
    statutes and amendments to the Constitution and to adopt or reject
    them.
    (b) An initiative measure may be proposed by presenting to the
    Secretary of State a petition that sets forth the text of the
    proposed statute or amendment to the Constitution and is certified to
    have been signed by electors equal in number to 5 percent in the
    case of a statute, and 8 percent in the case of an amendment to the
    Constitution, of the votes for all candidates for Governor at the
    last gubernatorial election.
    (c) The Secretary of State shall then submit the measure at the
    next general election held at least 131 days after it qualifies or at
    any special statewide election held prior to that general election.
    The Governor may call a special statewide election for the measure.

    (d) An initiative measure embracing more than one subject may not
    be submitted to the electors or have any effect.
    (e) An initiative measure may not include or exclude any political
    subdivision of the State from the application or effect of its
    provisions based upon approval or disapproval of the initiative
    measure, or based upon the casting of a specified percentage of votes
    in favor of the measure, by the electors of that political
    subdivision.
    (f) An initiative measure may not contain alternative or
    cumulative provisions wherein one or more of those provisions would
    become law depending upon the casting of a specified percentage of
    votes for or against the measure.

    The only distinction between the two according to Section 8 involves the percentage of the population that signs the petitions. But that’s about it.

  76. Connor
    October 15, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    An initiative is an initiative, regardless of the document in the sights of said initiative.

    Ah, but the portion of the Court’s opinion you posted above clearly specifies that they are referring not to any initiative, but to a statutory initiative.

    While Prop. 8 is indeed an initiative, it is certainly not a statutory one. The Court’s opinion, therefore, applies to Prop. 22 and related efforts, but not to Prop. 8.

  77. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    And if it passes, it will no longer be an initiative, but part of the law.

  78. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    “Are you saying that the courts should be able to repeal amendments?”

    When the court declares something unconstitutional, that is not a repeal. A repeal is done either by voter initiative or legislation.

    The court would simply be declaring that it was never valid in the first place.

  79. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    So if the amendment were to pass, you think the courts would simply ignore it and declare it not valid?

  80. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    “The Court’s opinion, therefore, applies to Prop. 22 and related efforts, but not to Prop. 8.”

    The phrase “constitutional initiative” appears nowhere in the state constitution. The phrase “statutory initiative” appears once, in Article 13C, section 3, relating to voter approval for tax levies.

    I don’t see anything anywhere that would encourage me to think that the CA Supreme Court cares one way or the other as to whether a given inititive intends to modify a statute or the constitution. If 51% of California voters decide to make murder legal, and put it in the state constitution, the Supreme Court would have to let it go?

    I’m pretty sure you’re wrong, and I’m sure we’ll find out.

  81. Connor
    October 15, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    I’m pretty sure you’re wrong, and I’m sure we’ll find out.

    On what basis? The only text you’ve supplied that lends credence to your position specifically references a statutory initiative, which Proposition 8 is not.

    I do realize, however, that the CA courts are highly “progressive” and create powers and rights out of thin air—so I wouldn’t be surprised if they concocted some challenged to a constitutional initiative.

  82. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    “So if the amendment were to pass, you think the courts would simply ignore it and declare it not valid?”

    I imagine they’d have to wait for somebody to bring a lawsuit that would then have to go through all the normal channels. I wouldn’t be surprised if an injuction was sought in order to stop the new amendment from going into immediate effect until a court had a chance to review it.

  83. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    Do you believe it is constitutional for a court to review and/or possibly invalidate an amendment that has already passed? Or do you just think that is what this court will try to do regardless of whether they have the authority?

  84. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    I believe that “statutory” as used in that one spot in the state constitution simply refers to the initiative process as authorized by legal statute, and not to the subject of any given initiative.

    statutory

    5 dictionary results for: statutory
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This
    stat·u·to·ry
    –adjective
    1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a statute.
    2. prescribed or authorized by statute.
    3. conforming to statute.
    4. (of an offense) recognized by statute; legally punishable.

    [Origin: 1710–20; statute + -ory1]

    —Related forms
    stat·u·to·ri·ly, adverb

    —————

    Maybe there’s a difference in other states, but I don’t think there is one in California.

  85. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    Statutory initiatives change statutory law; constitutional initiatives change the Constitution. Constitutional initiatives usually require more signatures to get on the ballot, making it an intentionally harder process.

  86. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Constitutional law is superior to statutory law. It is my understanding that statutory is subject to judicial review, but not constitutional. That would be a new thing indeed.

  87. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    “Do you believe it is constitutional for a court to review and/or possibly invalidate an amendment that has already passed? ”

    Yes. I think that there is probably a legal difference involving your use of the word “invalidate”. The court’s decision wouldn’t invalidate it, since they would declare it as never having been valid in the first place. You can only invalidate something that was once valid.

    If the legislature were to attempt to put something in the Constitution that is inconsistent with the rest of the Constitution, it would certainly be the job of the judiciary to make that determination. They have the same power over the initiative process.

    On page 110 of the decision, we find the following:

    “The form in which a statutory limitation or prohibition on marriage is set forth does not justify different constitutional treatment or preclude judicial review.”

    On page 111:

    “By the same token, the circumstance that the limitation of marriage to a union between a man and a woman embodied in section 308.5 was enacted as an initiative measure by a vote of the electorate similarly neither exempts the statutory provision from constitutional scrutiny nor justifies a more deferential standard of review. Although California decisions consistently and vigorously have safeguarded the right of voters to exercise the authority afforded by the initiative process (see, e.g., Associated Home Builders, etc., Inc. v. City of Livermore (1976) 18 Cal.3d 582, 591), our past cases at the same time uniformly establish that initiative measures adopted by the electorate are subject to the same constitutional limitations that apply to statutes adopted by the Legislature, and our courts have not hesitated to invalidate measures enacted through the initiative process when they run afoul of constitutional guarantees provided by either the federal or California Constitution.”

    A list of examples then follows.

    Finally on page 113:

    “Although defendants maintain that this court has an obligation to defer to the statutory definition of marriage contained in section 308.5 because that statute — having been adopted through the initiative process — represents the expression of the “people’s will,” this argument fails to take into account the very basic point that the provisions of the California Constitution itself constitute the ultimate expression of the people’s will, and that the fundamental rights embodied within that Constitution for the protection of all persons represent restraints that the people themselves have imposed upon the statutory enactments that may be adopted either by their elected representatives or by the voters through the initiative process. As the United States Supreme Court explained in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) 319 U.S. 624, 638: “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

    The CA Supreme Court has already declared the right to marry to be among those “other fundamental rights”.

  88. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    “Constitutional initiatives usually require more signatures to get on the ballot, making it an intentionally harder process.”

    True, but that doesn’t require any different treatment by the judiciary.

  89. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    So your opinion is that the Judiciary branch reigns supreme, above all the other branches and even the constitution itself?

  90. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    “Ah, but the portion of the Court’s opinion you posted above clearly specifies that they are referring not to any initiative, but to a statutory initiative.”

    Just to be clear, in keeping with the definition of “statutory” posted above, in the phrase “statutory initiative process”, the word “statutory” modifies “process”, not “initiative” (as does “initiative”).

  91. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    “So your opinion is that the Judiciary branch reigns supreme, above all the other branches and even the constitution itself?”

    In matters of determining the constitutionality, or non-constitutionality, of any given law of any type, whether created by the legislature or through the initiative process, yes. That is its job, in part.

    The legislature reigns supreme in matters of enacting laws.

    Why would you think that when the Supreme Court does its job by rendering decisions that help to prevent garbage laws from being put on the lawbooks anywhere, that that constitutes “reigning above” the other branches? They don’t write the laws, but they are expected to say, “this is a good law, so it stays”, or “this is a bad law, inconsistent with other laws already passed, so it has to go”.

    This is known, as I’m sure you’re aware, as “checks and balances” of power.

  92. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    “And if it passes, it will no longer be an initiative, but part of the law.”

    When Prop 22 passed, it became part of the law as well, which, after 8 years, the Supreme Court finally determined, after waiting for all of the other hoops to be jumped through first, that it conflicts with the state constitution.

    The same wording, inserted into the state constitution, will still conflict with the state constitution. And it will still be the job of the Supreme Court to make that determination.

  93. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    Mark, read the supremacy clause of the US constitution (Article VI, Clause 2).

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    There it is- Judges are bound by the supreme law of the land, that is the constitution. I assume it works the same way with the individual states (their judges bound by their constitution). If the judicial branch could override constitutional law, we would not have any “checks and balances” of power because everything would be subject to judicial review.

  94. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    Again, Mark:

    When prop 22 passed it became law but it was NOT constitutional law, therefore it was indeed subject to judicial review. If prop 8 passes it will be supreme law (even if it conflicts with what is already in the constitution- think of the 17th amendment here that superseded the original text of the constitution about how senators should be elected) and is not supposed to be subject to judicial review. That is the precedent set by the supremacy clause I quoted above.

  95. Connor
    October 15, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Mark,

    Your reasoning makes no sense to me. Consider the following:

    • A state Constitution says that Action X is prohibitied.
    • Citizens in the state decide that they no longer wish to be ruled under that law, and pass a Constitutional initiative to state that Action X is now allowed.

    Under your logic, the Court would be able to strike that initiative, since it doesn’t agree w/ what the Constitution previously said. But isn’t that the point of amendments—to change the existing document? How else would we reverse things that had previously been inserted into the Constitution?

  96. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm #

    “Your reasoning makes no sense to me. Consider the following:”

    In your example, it’s clearly worded such that the intent is to nullify an old law and replace it with a new law, as was the case with the amendments to the US Constitution dealing with alcohol prohibition.

    Prop 22 was different because the wording didn’t attempt to create new law, just add a clarification to a definition of a word. But the restrictions imposed by the new definition were determined to come into conflict with “equal protection under the law” principles stated in the Constitution. Either the “equal protection under the law” principles had to go, or the new wording did.

    As for Carissa’s comment about Constitutional laws not being subject to judicial review, the wikipedia article about “Judicial review” in the section about the United States says:

    The Constitution states in Article III that:

    “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish… The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution… ”

    The legal case Marbury v. Madison, the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States, is an interpretation of the Constitution as applying to the law and politics of government. It implies the power of federal courts to consider or overturn any congressional and state legislation or other official governmental action deemed inconsistent with the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or federal law.

    Opponents of judicial review have charged that the Supreme Court’s power to invalidate Federal and state laws or actions has no counterpart in common or civil law, and has no textual basis in the United States Constitution. The law of the United States derives in great part from the common law traditions the colonies inherited from Britain, which arguably have vested the power of judicial review in the people since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

    Proponents of the doctrine argue that while it is true that judicial review is not mentioned in the Constitution, it is likewise true that the Constitution makes no explicit mention of the adversarial system, stare decisis, or virtually any other specific aspect of the common law. The argument is therefore made that these concepts were necessarily implicit in what the Framers understood by the term “the judicial power,” and therefore should govern the Constitution’s interpretation. See Barnett, The Original Meaning of the Judicial Power.

    There is an arguable case that while judicial review is not explicitly written into the Constitution, it could be implied by the provision in Article Six,

    “ This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme Law of the Land… ”

    which would imply that the laws of the United States which are not in pursuance to the Constitution are not the supreme law of the land. The remainder of Article Six

    “ and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. ”

    clearly means that a State law or state Constitutional provision in contravention to Federal law (which is in pursuance to the Constitution of the United States) or to the Constitution is invalid, and that the Constitution implies that judges are the proper authority to find a provision unconstitutional, and this power could equally apply to a Federal law which is not in pursuance to the Constitution.

    ———–

    I imagine that all of that holds true for the CA Supreme Court and the CA State Constitution as well.

  97. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Oops, left out an important part of the article on jucidial review:

    While American constitutional law derives many of its forms and traditions from the common law, it is important to note that the constitutional order of the United States was very different from that of the United Kingdom. As the Marbury vs. Madison Supreme Court observed, the Constitution’s written nature, and the formal enumeration of the powers of government would be empty promises if there were no means to measure the actions of the government against The Constitution, and strike down those found wanting (see Marbury, supra, at 177) (“[c]ertainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void“). It is the predominant view in United States constitutional jurisprudence that, because the Magna Carta is only the distant progenitor of the Due Process clauses, the Constitution is far from vesting judicial review in United States juries.

  98. Jeff T.
    October 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Mark,

    No offense, but you are arguing that Constitutions cannot be amended without permission of the Supreme Court. That is contrary to the very spirit of the Constitution. That is a scary worldview, since neither the California Constitution or the U.S. Constitution make that claim. In fact, the California Constitution claims that it may be amended by initiative. If the Supreme Court has said otherwise, and claim that the issue is beyond the power of initiative to address, they have done so in violation of the California Constitution. If they have done this, they have usurped power and become free radicals.

  99. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    Did you notice this in your quotes?

    “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution… ”

    Nowhere does it say they have power over the constitution. Look, no one is saying the judicial branch shouldn’t review laws to make sure they’re in harmony with the constitution. All I’m trying to say is that once a law becomes part of the constitution via an amendment, it is not subject to review by the judiciary. Only the people (by a vote) can repeal an amendment. Nothing you quoted proved otherwise.

  100. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    “All I’m trying to say is that once a law becomes part of the constitution via an amendment, it is not subject to review by the judiciary.”

    At what point, then, can the Supreme Court review something which might become an amendment should the people or the legislature vote it in?

    I can’t think of any instance when a proposed new law, while still going through the initiative process was disallowed by the Supreme Court before it was voted in.

    I don’t think anyone answered my question about making murder legal by amending the state constitution. At what point does someone stand up and say, no, I’m sorry, murder can’t be made legal by amending the Constitution? Who is supposed to say it?

  101. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    “No offense, but you are arguing that Constitutions cannot be amended without permission of the Supreme Court.”

    No, I’m not. But if somebody brings a lawsuit that says, my rights are being violated here because of a conflict introduced into the Constitution by amendment [roman numeral goes here], there is a potential that the decision could reach the Supreme Court, and the court could very well end up making the decision that, yes, there is a conflict, and therefore constitutional amendment [roman numeral] is determined to be unconstitutional.

    There has to be some process for indentifying inconsistencies that are introduced over time into the constitution so that they can eventually be removed from the constitution, and it’s certainly not up to the legislature, and it’s certainly not up to the Governor.

    I’m just saying that it’s highly likely, from my understanding — which could be wrong — that should Prop 8 pass, it’ll eventually end up before the Supreme Court (again! as Forrest Gump would say) and then they’ll say bye-bye to it (again!).

    Given that the California State Constitution can be so easily amended (in comparison with the hoops that must be jumped through to amend the Federal Constitution, for example), it would seem to make a bigger case of the need for stringent judicial review of Constitutional amendments in California.

  102. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    I can’t think of any instance when a proposed new law, while still going through the initiative process was disallowed by the Supreme Court before it was voted in

    Six initiatives in California (3 of which were removed from the ballot) have been subjected to pre-election review by the judiciary including a 1983 reapportionment initiative, a 1984 federal balanced budget amendment initiative, and a 1988 no-fault insurance reform initiative. So yes, in California, an initiative can certainly be challenged before it reaches the ballot.

    I don’t think anyone answered my question about making murder legal by amending the state constitution

    Well, ironically, the federal judicial branch has concluded that we don’t need an amendment for abortion (a form of murder) to be legal. Had the decision gone through the amendment process, I am confident the people wouldn’t have passed an amendment legalizing abortion. The amendment process itself is designed be the best safeguard against poor initiatives in that it is intentionally hard to do and requires a significant amount of support from the people.

    There has to be some process for indentifying inconsistencies that are introduced over time into the constitution so that they can eventually be removed from the constitution

    A process DOES exist. A new amendment can be passed nullifying the old one- just like with prohibition.

  103. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    Way back up there in #64, Carissa said:

    “This proposition just seeks to clarify that definition and keep it from evolving with societal trends.”

    Do you believe that interracial marriage is a social trend that the Supreme Court should have kept unlawful?

    The big problem that the Court has, as I understand it, is that it has been a priority to make sure that there are no differences in the rights afforded to same-sex couples as there are afforded to married opposite-sex couples in California. By making the rights virtually the same for both groups, the court has determined that the naming convention for describing the relationships between the members of each set of couples provides “second-class citizenship” to domestic partners.

    About the only way left to go if you want to not allow same-sex couples to be allowed to call themselves “married”, as I see it, is to be able to convince the Supreme Court that same-sex couples should not have equal treatment under the law, that they really are “second-class citizens” and deserve to be treated as such because of X, Y and Z.

    Your job is to fill in X, Y and Z in such a way that the Supreme Court will agree with you.

  104. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    “So yes, in California, an initiative can certainly be challenged before it reaches the ballot.”

    Good to know. According to the California Bar Journal, however it’s a very rare thing:

    The Supreme Court’s brief docket orders in these two cases send an unmistakable message that pre-election judicial review of initiatives is strongly disfavored, almost to the point of being unavailable. Although some critics have raised questions about whether the court’s pre-election review cases have been consistent over the years — with questions raised particularly about how the court could have removed the redistricting measure from the ballot in 1999 on single-subject grounds yet restored Proposition 77 to the ballot notwithstanding its problems — the court has actually been quite consistent in its approach.

    The 1999 redistricting case, Senate v. Jones (1999) 21 Cal.4th 1142, dealt with a single-subject challenge to an initiative. The California Constitution specifically provides that “an initiative measure embracing more than one subject may not be submitted to the electors or have any effect” (Cal. Const., Art. II, Section 8(d)). In light of this special provision, Jones must be treated as a special case for pre-election review.

    Putting Jones to one side, the court’s pre-election review cases and cases involving post-election interpretation of initiatives have always focused on the voters’ likely intentions and reasonable expectations. Moreover, every effort has been made to give voters the opportunity to exercise the franchise. It is hard to argue with this preference when California’s Constitution expressly provides that “all political power is inherent in the people” (Cal. Const., Art. II, Section 1).

    According to the wikipedia, “On July 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court dismissed a motion for pre-election review of Proposition 8 which would determine whether it was a constitutional amendment or constitutional revision. Were the court to have found Proposition 8 to be a constitutional revision, it would have been removed from the ballot.[33][34] The question of whether Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment or constitutional revision remains unresolved.”

    So, it’s entirely possible that after the election, the Supreme Court will determine Prop 8 to have been a revision and not an amendment, and could throw it out on that basis.

    That would probably surprise a bunch of people.

  105. Mark N.
    October 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Carissa, thank you again for bringing up the topic of pre-election review. I wasn’t familiar with that, and it’s pretty interesting.

    Just as an FYI, http://www.calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/sections/public/public-law-journal_vol-30-No-1_spring-2007.pdf has an interesting discussion of pre-election review.

  106. Carissa
    October 15, 2008 at 3:32 pm #

    Do you believe that interracial marriage is a social trend that the Supreme Court should have kept unlawful?

    Nope, they got it right- still between a man and a woman. Not every ruling the courts make is wrong ;) I’m tempted to write more but I think I’ll stop here. It sounds like you’ve already made up your mind anyway. Nice chatting with ya.

  107. Bill
    October 15, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    SHUT UUUPPP!!!!! My e-mail box keeps getting filled up with everyone going in circles.

    To all but Mark N:
    He doesn’t get it. He’ll NEVER get it. To him there is NO difference between an amendment and a statutory law. He doesn’t believe in written constitutions. He only believes in the supreme power of the courts which line of thinking in the population has a great deal to do with how we got into this mess in the first place. He even doesn’t believe in jury nullification. How wrong is that?

    To Mark:
    Your argument about murder and inter-racial couples is actually a good argument. Here is the answer:
    First of all I find it incalculably unstable for a government to alter its constitution by a simple majority. Can we please have someone verify this is the case? I thought I heard somewhwere that 60% was what was required in California.

    The reason why the US Constitution requires a 2/3 majority of the states AND a 2/3 majority in congress (or a 3/4 majority among the states without congress’ consent) makes it very difficult to pass an amendment. So good luck passing a law saying it is ok to murder people.

    Even if such an amendment were passed, it would be “constitutional” in the sense that it is part of the constitution that the courts cannot nullify without some really quirky legalistic legerdemain. But if it were the case, then the phrase from the Book of Mormon would come into play

    “if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity, that is, if the time should come that this people should fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction.” (Alma 10:9).

  108. Mark N
    October 15, 2008 at 11:47 pm #

    “To him there is NO difference between an amendment and a statutory law.”

    In the case of Prop 8, a reading of the ‘in re Marriage Cases’ decision sure makes it look like the difference isn’t going to matter a hill of beans to the CA Supreme Court. And a reading of the CA State Constitution doesn’t make any distinction between a ‘statutory initiative’ and ‘constitutional initiative’ (I don’t know how it could, since the phrase ‘constitutional initiative’ isn’t found in it anywhere), although it does make mention of a ‘statutory initiative process, which probably means only that the initiative process was established by the legislature.

    After having looked a bit at the linked article about pre-election reviews, it looks pretty clear that the Prop 8 request for a pre-election review was dismissed because A) the signature gathering effort didn’t appear to have any problems, and B) the Supreme Court would just as soon give the voters a chance to vote it down so they don’t have to say anything about it themselves. If it passes, they’ll worry about it then. Which sounds like excellent advice to me, which I shall attempt to follow, and which I’m sure will be a great source of relief to you.

    Sorry about all the email, Bill, but you can always un-check the “notify me” box.

    “I find it incalculably unstable for a government to alter its constitution by a simple majority.”

    You and me both. That’s my understanding, but given that I apparently don’t understand the difference between statutory and constitutional law, you’re probably going to want independent confirmation.

    “ripe for destruction”

    We’re probably way past that point already, even without having to take SSM into account.

    And I do believe in jury nullification, although I’m not sure I see how it has anything to do with Prop 8 and its soon-to-be expected demise at the hands of the CA Supreme Court.

  109. Bill
    October 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Thank you for illustrating my point.

  110. Joe
    October 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    “ripe for destruction”

    Who exactly now?

  111. AmoreVero
    October 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    There is no hope of ever solving the lesser homosexuality issues or stopping Same Sex Marriage until we solve the greater issue: that of changing ‘No Fault Divorce laws’ which was the truly fatal blow to Marriage back in the 70’s, which also started in California & swept the nation like wildfire. Gov. Reagan signed it into Law & later regretted it as one of the worst things he ever did in his political career. Divorce is far more destructive to families & society than homosexuality.

    It’s ultimately useless to fight Same Sex Marriage while tolerating ‘No Fault Divorce’ & allowing spouses to leave their spouse for any reason. We cannot claim to honor & protect marriage while tolerating heterosexual couples to disintegrate theirs so freely.

    Divorce & Spouse Abuse are the root causes of Homosexuality, where children become confused at a young age, for they don’t want to grow up to be the Preditor or the Prey or the Abandoned or the Abandoner.

  112. Joe
    October 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    AmoreVero,

    you said,
    “Divorce & Spouse Abuse are the root causes of Homosexuality, where children become confused at a young age, for they don’t want to grow up to be the Preditor or the Prey or the Abandoned or the Abandoner.”

    were did you get that idea?

    “It’s ultimately useless to fight Same Sex Marriage while tolerating ‘No Fault Divorce’ & allowing spouses to leave their spouse for any reason. We cannot claim to honor & protect marriage while tolerating heterosexual couples to disintegrate theirs so freely.”

    Mormon temple marriage is for eternity. Its not uncommon for non-LDS people to remarry after the death of their spouse. In theory a mormon woman who has a temple marriage could not remarry, however a man could. Thats quite a cultural difference between the LDS people and non-LDS. So, what would be an acceptible reason for a divorce? Reading between the lines, it almost sounds like there isn’t any acceptible reason for a divorce, not even death.

  113. AmoreVero
    October 17, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    The Prophets say there may be rare situations where divorce is justified, but breaking your marriage covenants to love & stay faithful to your spouse is never needed. You can be divorced for safety reasons & still be married (according to God) & faithful to your spouse, for you’re just legally separated. Because divorce does not end a marriage, only unfaithfulness to your spouse & moving on to another relationship does, by dating or remarriage.

    Mormon women who’s husband’s die can remarry just the same as Mormon men. Death is different than divorce. I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.

    Non-LDS people know divorce is wrong too. It’s all in the Bible. Christ said Adultery is one justification for divorce IF the other spouse was truly loving, faithful & innocent themselves, that’s the rare part, few spouses are.

  114. Joe
    October 17, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    AmoreVero,
    “Mormon women who’s husband’s die can remarry just the same as Mormon men. Death is different than divorce. I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.”

    I thought it was obvious, my appology. Are you talking about mormon women remarrying OUTSIDE of a temple marriage? I thought the LDS people only practiced Polygyny, and never polyandry. In theory couldn’t an LDS man remarry in the temple for a second or a third time or more and it still be recognized as a plural marriage for time and eternity? Logically, a woman could not remarry in the temple after the death of her first husband, as I haven’t heard of polyandry as ever being practiced. If she remarries after the death of her first husband, it would have to be outside of the temple. In either case she is unfaithful and breaks the vows of the temple marriage to be true to her husband. A man however could in theory remarry in the temple and be true to his vows, as polygyny is the typical pattern when plural marriage was allowed.
    Doing a search on mormonism and polyandry revealed a link, but it may not be an approved link. Feel free to research it yourself if you are interested.

  115. AmoreVero
    October 18, 2008 at 6:12 am #

    Yes, you are right, if a man has truly been righteous & faithful he can marry again for eternity after the 1st wife dies. Though it is probably the same for women too, based on scripture, prophets words, common sense & the fact that polyandry was also part of the early LDS Church, though at this time women are not sealed to more than one husband. It’s a wait & see thing. Truths about women are always revealed later when men are more ready for it (like women’s equality took 6000 years to be accepted).

    One common misperception is that a divorced man can be sealed for eternity to more than one living wife. That is false in that his remarriage would void his sealing & right to his 1st wife, even if it has not been done officially yet. For his remarriage (or even dating) is unfaithfulness to the 1st living wife. And any remarriage would also be invalid & Adultery if he was not justified to even be divorced & only the 1st wife would know if he was justified.

  116. Joe
    October 18, 2008 at 9:41 pm #

    Amorevero,

    The wording of D&C 132:63 doesn’t support what you are saying.

    “63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to amultiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be bglorified. ”

    There may be examples of polyandry, but the rules for conduct don’t appear to be spelled out, at least not here. Do you know if the rules of polyandry are spelled out?

  117. AmoreVero
    October 19, 2008 at 12:25 am #

    No, I don’t think the rules of polyandry are spelled out yet, but I would think it’s the same as for the man. The Prophet Joseph F. Smith said that God gives no blessing or gift to his sons that he doesn’t also give to his daughters. As I said before, these things pertaining to women have not been completely revealed yet if they are to be revealed.

    But the scripture you need to read is D&C 132:41: “And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new & everlasting covenant & if she be with another man & “I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing” (seems to mean she must receive the OK by the holy anointing 1st then it’s alright like it is for men), she hath commited adultery & shall be destroyed.” It would be the same for a man. If he was not appointed to receive another wife by the holy anointing, then it would be adultery for him too & he would be destroyed. A man must be appointed to this blessing of another wife for it takes a such a rare & high level of righteousness to be worthy of such. So, it seems to spell out here how it could be ok for a woman to receive another husband, as long as she has the same holy anointing or approval for it.

    Also, we must remember that the promised blessings of multiple spouses, lands, parents, children, houses, etc. are some of the blessings of Abraham because of true righteousness. And since women have historically been more righteous than men, even the Prophets say such, then it stands to reason that even more women then men will receive this blessing of Abraham, in the hereafter of course. For the world is not ready for such a thing now.

    Bottom line, it’s just common sense. God is not going to ask a woman to give her life & heart to a husband in marriage, even a 2nd or 3rd marriage if her other husband/s has died, IF she couldn’t be with all of them in the next life too, as long as she was faithful. That would be a very cruel thing to have a person fall in love & create children with someone & live 20 years with them, more in love at the end than the beginning, etc etc. & than have to say goodbye after you die? What could be more horrible than that? One Prophet said that True Love lives forever, & we (she) will still have the same feelings of love after death that we have here on earth for our spouses & will want to be with them. But if they just must part or she has to choose one (what a torturous thought) than that does not make any sense & Heavenly Father works by common sense & the Golden Rule. Both pointing to what we are discussing.

    Again, it’s a wait & see.

  118. Joe
    October 19, 2008 at 8:02 pm #

    Amorevero,

    Interesting idea, but I don’t see it, on a number of levels. “…that God gives no blessing or gift to his sons that he doesn’t also give to his daughters. ” If I understand you correctly, that would also mean that what he gives to daughters he also gives to men. According the the judeo/christian texts, I can think of a few examples that do not hold true.

    There is a basic conflict between a polyandry system, and a polygyny system of polygamy, especially in the context of ‘eternal marriage’. But perhaps this could be addressed in some detail of official rules. For instance, if a man marries in the temple and the wife dies, he would be available to remarry. If a woman marries in the temple and her husband dies, she could be available to remarry. However, these two individuals could NOT remarry each other, not in the temple or outside of the temple without committing adultry. Unless you believe that marriage could be between a man and a woman and another man and another woman. They would both have to remarry another spouse that has not been married in the temple yet.

    I do know of a woman who married in the LDS temple, and her husband died. she lived the remainder of her life, some 50 years without remarrying. This was because she considered herself still married to her dead husband. (I do not know if she was fearful of destruction.)

    Interestingly enough there is a question related to sequental polyandry in the New testiment.

    “Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27Finally, the woman died. 28Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
    29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
    (Matt. 22:25-30)

    In the larger context of the christian faith, the ‘common sense’ (as there are many more non-LDS christians)answer is that marriage is an earthly affair, and everyone is available to remarry after the death of their spouse.

    I would like to refresh a question which was left behind in an earlier post. I understand if you prefer to take on one answer at a time, but I would like to get back to it. Feel free to take your time and answer it if you wish. Of course you are under no obligation to answer anything.

    ““Divorce & Spouse Abuse are the root causes of Homosexuality, where children become confused at a young age, for they don’t want to grow up to be the Preditor or the Prey or the Abandoned or the Abandoner.”

    were did you get that idea?

  119. AmoreVero
    October 19, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    I got that idea from Prophets, who else would know the real truth of why things are the way they are. We surely can’t go to the philosophies of men for such truth. The Prophets have said that “if parents were truely righteous not 1 child in 100 would go astray” on this earth. (& spouses loving & staying faithful to each other & not breaking their covenants & divorcing, no matter what, is the indicator of true righteousness) Thus if spouses stop loving one another & divorce or abuse the other in any way, the children start having all kinds of problems, that being one of them.

    The Prophets have also said that ‘honoring the Marriage Vow’ is the preserver of the Human Race, so that would protect from things like Homosexuality which ‘stops’ the human race.

    And good job at mentioning the story of the 7 husbands. That is the opposite story of the ‘7 women to 1 man’ account. Christ never did answer the question of who’s wife will she be? Maybe it’s ‘all of theirs’, (If she was righteous).

    Also, no, the Prophet did not say that men get every blessing that women get, ‘the privilege to give birth’ being one of them, which was given to women because of their righteousness in the pre-existence. Blessings must be earned. And God knew that women in general would already earn whatever blessings men would because women are typically more righteous, according to Prophets, not me. That’s why he said women get everything men do but not the other way around always.

  120. landon
    October 24, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    I find it interesting that the mormon church has been on the wrong side of issues (remember the status of black persons not so long ago with respect to the church?) and ultimately have seen the light. It takes awhile when the leaders average age is 90.

    Additionally most churches speak in general terms about the message of Jesus (for instance) and do not specifically get into promoting a proposition or candidate. Specifically doing so can certainly be seen as threating the tax status of the church.

    The campaign threats state that ” churches will lose their tax exempt status” by not marrying gays. This is a quite amusing and bogus argument since the churches have excluded gays form becoming pastors ministers and even elders. Certainly this is against federal hiring practices and no church has lost their tax exempt status for doing so. The second bogus argument is that the california schools would teach/promote gay marriage, also debunked by the state superitendent of schools.

  121. Joe
    October 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    AmoreVero,
    “I got that idea from Prophets, who else would know the real truth of why things are the way they are. We surely can’t go to the philosophies of men for such truth”

    Does this discount science and free inquiry?

    “The Prophets have also said that ‘honoring the Marriage Vow’ is the preserver of the Human Race, so that would protect from things like Homosexuality which ’stops’ the human race. ”

    I don’t see any evidence that homosexuality has been effective at ‘stopping’ anything. Certainly not the human race at 6 billion plus.

    “And good job at mentioning the story of the 7 husbands. That is the opposite story of the ‘7 women to 1 man’ account. Christ never did answer the question of who’s wife will she be? Maybe it’s ‘all of theirs’, (If she was righteous). ”

    Not to promote anything from the buybull, but the story in context seems to have answered the question. The nazarene was faced with a question about an unlikely situation. (from todays perspective, there could be some custom I am not aware of) The answer was that it was not a good question, as people do not remain married after death.

    “…which was given to women because of their righteousness in the pre-existence. Blessings must be earned. And God knew that women in general would already earn whatever blessings men would because women are typically more righteous, according to Prophets, not me. ”

    Its new to me. I am not familiar enough with LDS belief. I was not aware that LDS people believed that people had gender before being born. Do LDS people have any belief about how people obtain gender in the first place? or when exactly?

    Could you expand a little bit on how every blessing must be earned?

  122. Joe
    October 31, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    Connor,
    I find something odd. On this thread, you have a photo of a woman with her mouth tapped. We are lead to believe that people who disagree with LDS church policy are trying to silence those who agree with the LDS official policy.

    What would happen if anyone gave a speach from the pulpit in an LDS church which supported another point of view? Perhaps expressing that anyone should be allowed to marry anyone they wish?

  123. Bill
    November 1, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Joe,

    Apples and oranges. To answer that question you need only refer to Section 134 of the D&C. Words spoken over the pulpit, words spoken in the public arena , and words spoken at home all have different criteria, allowability, and restrictions.

    Governments (public arena) are instituted among men to protect the individual’s right to free exercise of conscience. That is why we can SAY whatever we want. But when we seek to limit what OTHERS can say as an expression of conscience, then they are to be condemned for that aspect of their speech.

    An organized church by definition is a group of people with the SAME or SIMILAR beliefs. If you don’t share the same beliefs what are you doing in an organization that is based on a system of beliefs that we all share? As such, private organizations have the right to discipline such individuals with censure, disfellowshipment, excommunication, or similar measures.

    In ANY setting, it should NEVER (never say never) be permissible for someone to use FORCE or THREATS of physical violence to deter someone else from merely expressing his opinion in a polite, organized, and orderly manner.

    As an example of my meaning of “orderly”, this would mean that if the church has a procedure for who may speak when (such as a sacrament meeting) and someone takes it upon themselves to rise up and speak their opinion when uninvited, those in aurthority would have the right to restrict that person from taking a turn.

    ANYONE should have the right to SPEAK any words he wishes in the privacy of his own home. Some extreme exceptions could exist like yelling so loud that it keeps the neighbors awake. But this isn’t a condemnation of their expressing their opinion, but merely disturbing other people’s rest.

  124. Joe
    November 2, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    Bill,
    Thank you for the affirmation. My point was that I think the photo could also represent LDS members who don’t quite agree with everything. They are effectively silenced.

    But it is a great point that most likely the person will eventually leave membership, become inactive. Or perhaps continue to attend, keep silent, or voice accepted opinions to remain in good standing if there is some economic or social benefit from membership which is greater than their level of discomfort. Opinions which are ‘too much’ could create conflict, and sure the person could be asked to leave and not come back if they are disruptive or cause others to question what is believed.

  125. carborendum
    November 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Joe,

    When you say “they are effectively silenced”, by WHOM? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard whacked out ideas on doctrine by members in good standing. When I ask for a reference by some general authority, they say they don’t care. They are entitled to personal revelation, and if they receive revelation that tells them something happened in the past, it happened.

    This was in Gospel Doctrine class, which has a different standard than what is spoken over the pulpit in sacrament meeting. How many times during fast-and-testimony meeting have you found “that one person” in the ward that goes out on a limb in their “testimony”? I’ve been to church in probably over 100 wards in 5 states. Every testimony meeting I hear at least one of these.

    My point is that there isn’t a whole lot of “silencing” of members in good standing with unusual ideas.

  126. Joe
    November 2, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    Carborendum,
    Maybe they aren’t silenced about strange ideas, or conflicting opinion. I could be wrong. Another possibility is that perhaps some of these ideas are actually legit.

    The idea of blood atonement is horrific, but it can be traced to Brigham Young.
    Journal of Discourses
    Vol. 4, p. 215-221

    The Adam god theory was advanced by Brigham young on April 9, 1852. Later it was commented upon by Spencer W. Kimball. (its felt that this was actually a transcription error)

    “Spencer W. Kimball labeled Brigham’s teaching “false doctrine.” He stated, “We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some General Authorities of past generations, such, for instance is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine” (Church News, 10/9/76).

    Christ’s birth was the result of the natural union of god the father and the human mary.
    (Journal of Discourses vol.8 p.115)

  127. Dustin
    November 3, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    All churches actually have a say in this. Cause all it takes is a good lawyer or lawyers. If at court you make a church look like a business and whichever church it may be is refusing same-sex marriages w/in their institution. Then it becomes a problem. So then what if all churches get sued for not allowing same sex marriages. And if you think I am crazy and that church and state are really divided trust me, one day this could get taken to court and that could happen. So I cannot blame any church in this matter for stepping up. Not just the mormon’s are standing up against this, in fact their is a whole coalition of churchs right now ranging from Calvary to Catholic all standing against this. If you turn a church into a business in court, then anti-discrimination law happens. So then what, a religion has to change it’s ways in california or leave california? And trust me if you think some same sex couples would not take it to court, then you have not met same sex couples. I was born and raised mormom actually now I am 20 and have not been to a church since the day I turned 18. But I cannot blame them on this one, cause this could be a start of whole religions leaving california or changing their religion…

  128. carborendum
    November 3, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    Joe,

    Ok, you’re making my head spin. First, this thread is about how people use the “separation of church and state” doctrine to justify taking God out of government entirely. The photo being a representation of liberals wanting to shut religion up.

    Then you say that it could represent members of the Church being silenced. The WAY you said it, it sounded like you were saying that the Church was trying to silence members who disagreed with Church teachings. –It was my interpretation, so forgive me if I misunderstood you.

    So I said there are different standards for political talk than religious talk in different forums.

    You didn’t get that. So, you made fun of my “affirmation”.

    Then I asked what exactly you meant.

    You bring up the Adam-God Theory. What does that have to do with silencing people?

    What exactly are you trying to say?

  129. Jeff T.
    November 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    Carborendum,

    It sounds to me like he’s trying to say

    1) prophets have been wrong before
    2) dissenters were “silenced”, but in the end proven right
    3) we should carefully disregard prophetic warnings today that we think will fall in the same category

    I think he’s fighting the wrong battle. Our covenant is to uphold and support the prophets, not weaken their message.

  130. Connor
    November 5, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    The Church issued a press release this morning on the results of the Proposition 8 vote, which contains the following paragraph:

    Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.

  131. Joe
    November 7, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    Carborendum,
    Yes thats right, I said the photo could also represent LDS members who don’t agree with everything, especially not using government to help them live their religion.

    “So I said there are different standards for political talk than religious talk in different forums.

    You didn’t get that…”

    True again. There is much in the way LDS people dialog that I don’t understand.

    “You bring up the Adam-God Theory. What does that have to do with silencing people?

    What exactly are you trying to say?”

    In an earlier post you stated, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard whacked out ideas on doctrine by members in good standing.”

    I just thought I would give a few examples. There are plenty more I am sure if you look through the journal of discourses, and various LDS publications through out history. I am sure there are plenty of things which a lot of LDS church goers would be unfamiliar with, and would not agree with.

    I’m sorry, your the same person as Bill? I used the word affirmation in response to a Bill in a previous post. I honestly did not invest enough in the conversation to tell that Carborendum and bill are the same person.

  132. Joe
    November 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

    Jeff T,
    I’m not LDS, I’m not christian. I was just responding to points in the conversation as they develop.

    “Our covenant is to uphold and support the prophets, not weaken their message.”

    Do you believe and support everything every LDS prophet has ever said, do you support and believe in everything that is said by the current leadership?

  133. Carborendum
    November 7, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    Joe,

    Yes, I’m Bill. I changed my ID to avoid confusion with another Bill that posted on another thread.

    You talk as if I’ve never read the Journal of Discourses or even heard of the Adam-God theory. Thank you for playing anyway.

    Back to the question I posed earlier — silenced BY WHOM? My point about the “whacked out” ideas is that the average member of the Church is allowed to say ALL SORTS of things (THAT ARE NOT IN LINE WITH THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH) without his membership or standing in the Church being in jepoardy.

    Take Amorevero for instance. The stuff he said starts off on the right foot, but then takes a turn of the beaten path quite a ways. Do you hear us trying to correct him?

    So, I ask again — WHO is doing the silencing? What is confusing me is that you somehow want to keep bringing up apocryphal (non canonized) theories and weave it into a thread about silencing others for their beliefs. What gives?

    As far as supporting the prophets, that is a good question. It is interesting to note that the temple recommend interview (a barometer of how good your standing is in the Church) asks,”Do you sustain (insert name of current prophet) as prophet. . .” It does NOT ask “do you believe every word that comes out of his mouth?”

    Regardless, we are to support and sustain him in his work. We are supposed to listen to him and follow his lead.
    If that makes you think we are a cult, sobeit. If you look up “cult” on dictionary.com, I believe we satisfy the first 5 definitions but only part of #6 in that most people CONSIDER our faith to be “false”. We do not live outside of normal society. Most of the time, we fit right in all over the world.

    The problem with the word “cult” is the connotation it brings of “mind-control”. We in this church are encouraged to think for ourselves, and above all — pray for ourselves to know that the things we hear are true. Sometimes we receive that confirmation by the Spirit. Sometimes we don’t.

    Thus we have people who disagree and even voice their dissent in church meetings. Yet these people are not excommunicated, nor are they disciplined in any way. You have to be pretty VEHEMENT and DISRUPTIVE in your opposition before any official of the church takes any action.

    Even then, the first tactic is to use persuasion and long-suffering, gentleness and meeekness, and love unfeigned (D&C 121:14). There is NEVER any of the Jim Jones type of goings on.

    Speaking of which — I shave my head every couple of years just before summer hits, so I can beat the heat. Since I’m Asian, I get the “grasshopper” comments quite often.

    But when someone just has to ask about it. I say,”Well, I just joined this cult. And we’re having a Cool-aid social this Saturday. You wanna come?” :)

  134. Joe
    November 8, 2008 at 12:05 am #

    Carborendum,
    I never brought up the word ‘cult’. I don’t know if I implied the word in any sense, but by your own words you think its almost fitting, for the LDS faith 5 out of 6 for the definition.

    “… part of #6 in that most people CONSIDER our faith to be “false”. We do not live outside of normal society. Most of the time, we fit right in all over the world.”

    Should we put this up to a vote? (as long as we are puting things up to a vote as to what is normal or not) I think you would get different results depending on how the question is phrased. Do you think the LDS church is true? Do you think the LDS faith is Christian? Do you think LDS people are normal? Do you think LDS people fit into your culture?

    The LDS lifestyle as it is currently practiced is very much in tune with chrisitianity at large, but a lot of people might disagree with the reasons why one is living that way. The doctrines behind that are a bit different for non-LDS christians. An atheist or a non-christian could live a very similar lifestyle for reasons having nothing to do with the nazarene.

    Conformity to a culture or society is not always a great way to measure emotional or spiritual health. Its quite possible to be living a lifestyle which does NOT conform to society at large, and be very much healthier emotionally and spiritually. Conformity is very questionable if the culture or society has basic faults, misunderstandings, ignorance. A ‘cult’ could be viewed as false by the majority, but not necessarily be unhealthy or pathological. Some individuals in history displayed a remarkable degree of disconformity, and were viewed as heretics. Leonardo da Vinci and Copernicus are two examples.

    I actually agreed with you that perhaps nobody is silencing anyone.

    “Maybe they aren’t silenced about strange ideas, or conflicting opinion. I could be wrong. Another possibility is that perhaps some of these ideas are actually legit. ”

    As I said to Jeff, “I’m not LDS, I’m not christian. I was just responding to points in the conversation as they develop.” I only brought up ‘far side’ ideas as examples of far side kind of doctrines. Did I bring up uncannonised doctrines more than once?

    “It is interesting to note that the temple recommend interview (a barometer of how good your standing is in the Church) asks,”Do you sustain (insert name of current prophet) as prophet. . .” It does NOT ask “do you believe every word that comes out of his mouth?”Regardless, we are to support and sustain him in his work. We are supposed to listen to him and follow his lead.”

    I never realized, now that you point it out the wording is rather loose, and open to Interpretation. Its not objective by any means, but perhaps nothing is truely objective. So what does it mean to you to support, sustain and follow?

    In an earlier post I commented on the political nature of the LDS faith, and I commented upon the temple recommend interview in particular. It is interesting to note that drinking green tea, black tea or coffee would bar you from entering the temple as much as any offense against the ‘law of chastity’. I view this as being totally political,along with the phrase, “Holiness to the Lord” on the outside of LDS temples.

    ” We in this church are encouraged to think for ourselves, and above all — pray for ourselves to know that the things we hear are true.”

    Isn’t that the first thing Mormon missionaries ask people to do? Read the BOM and pray about it in the name of the nazarene? I don’t understand how this isn’t mind control. First of all its not a fair method for an atheist to determine what is true, as praying requires faith and belief that there is a god. Its also not fair to seal the prayer ‘in the name of Jesus christ’. This is working under the assumption that the nazarene is the true god, if you believe in god. Years ago I received this challange, and I prayed, but not in the name of Jesus Christ, I left it open. I didn’t even close with ‘amen’. It took along time, but some suprising information has come to light for me some 20-30 years later. I think things could have come quicker, but there is a great deal of brain washing which got in the way. From the LDS faith, but also from western culture in general. At least this is my view.

  135. Juston
    November 8, 2008 at 7:19 am #

    If marriage should be based on what people are calling “love” then others may want marriage extended to them. Polygamists, people who love their cousin, their sister, their mother, a minor, their dog. There comes a point where society decides what it will sanction and condone by recognizing it as marriage.

  136. Carborendum
    November 8, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Joe,

    We’re going quite far afield from the thread. If you want to continue this conversation in a private forum write me at

    cloudcastle@comcast.net

    At least you could accept the fact that not a lot of “silencing” goes on in this Church. In some ways I wish there would be. But I do believe in tolerance and acceptance of people with differeing ideas. But as I said in another thread — There is a point at which tolerance ceases to be a virtue. Thus I was for Prop 8.

  137. Joe
    November 9, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    Carborendum
    I actually agreed with you that perhaps nobody is silencing anyone. (in the LDS church or on this board either)

    “Maybe they aren’t silenced about strange ideas, or conflicting opinion. I could be wrong. Another possibility is that perhaps some of these ideas are actually legit. ”

    I don’t know how much clearer that could be, I even stated that I could be wrong about how I think LDS people conduct themselves. I was interested in hearing your opinion about what it means to sustain a prophet, but I guess I won’t be hearing that, at least not here. As part of sustaining the prophet was it required of you to vote for prop 8 or advance the cause? Implied? encouraged?

    Basic equality and human rights shouldn’t be up for a vote. Thats what made sunday blue laws possible, the majority saw no problem making it illegal to open shops on sunday. And yes, in case you are wondering sabbath observance is a moral issue according to the bible, you could be put to death for not observing it.

  138. Joe
    November 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Juston,

    “If marriage should be based on what people are calling “love” then others may want marriage extended to them. Polygamists, people who love their cousin, their sister, their mother, a minor, their dog. There comes a point where society decides what it will sanction and condone by recognizing it as marriage.”

    Are you supporting any of the above? You also left out father, brother, and any number of other creatures. You might even want to include inanimate objects if you are into that.

  139. Juston
    November 9, 2008 at 10:06 pm #

    No, I’m not Joe. What’s your criteria and what is the basis for it?

  140. vontrapp
    November 9, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    We want to draw the line at “between a man and a woman.” You want to draw the line at “between two consenting adults,” if you want to draw it at all. What makes your line so much better than ours? Is not your line based in beliefs just the same as ours?

  141. Juston
    November 10, 2008 at 1:38 am #

    Vontrapp,

    If your comment is directed at me I never said the line is drawn at “between two consenting adults”.

    Marriage is between a man and a woman.

    If the criteria for marriage is defined only as “consenting adults” to accomodate same sex marriage, that will open up people claiming that they should be extended a title of marriage as well (polygamists, cousins, possibly even siblings in extreme cases). Society will need to have a definition of marriage that is not so broad as consenting adults unless it wants to grant marriage to other groups of consenting adults for they will likely seek it.

    I am NOT supporting that.

  142. Daniel
    November 10, 2008 at 2:19 am #

    @ vontrapp

    If you’re saying the definition of marriage is more or less arbitrary, then that’s awfully weird because as I understand it your entire point is that it’s not arbitrary. You argue that your definition of marriage is the Only True Definition, given from God through a prophet.

    Would it be terribly much to ask if you’d try and keep your story straight? kthxbai.

  143. vontrapp
    November 10, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    @Juston
    I wasn’t directing the comment at you. I think perhaps I was attempting to clarify the point you have been driving at, as your comment did spur mine. I don’t disagree with you.

    @Daniel
    No, the gays are the ones insisting their definition is the Only True Definition, given from the almighty Tolerance. My point is why can’t we believe in our definition and vote for it the same as you vote for your definition??

  144. landon
    November 10, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    “Protect Marriage”, Kids forced to attend a Lesbian wedding”?
    Such is the language of ads backing prop 8 and sponsered by the Mormons?

    The defeat of Prop 8 would in no way endanger anyone’s marriage or ability to marry. The Church (all churches) can perform wedding cerimonies, or not, as they choose without negative consequences.

    Guess that wouldn’t have conjured up enough fear to pass a truly perplexing initiative, a California (oestensibly), initiative backed by $400,000 from Idaho. Idaho? Maybe one day people will remove the log from their own eye.

    I think that says it all. $400,000 was a true sacrafice as (some) citizens of Idaho will be short of white sheets for awhile. Strangely the Mormons represent a fair percentage of the population of Idaho.

  145. Daniel
    November 10, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    @ vontrapp

    For the same reason other people don’t get to decide who you will marry. Your definition is designed to discriminate against a group of people. Therefore it’s not as good. Get it now?

    Tolerance is not a supernatural being, but it is a value. And while I don’t hold it as the ultimate good, I do think it’s a dern sight better than intolerance, which is what you’re offering.

  146. Juston
    November 10, 2008 at 7:19 pm #

    Step 1. Abhore
    Step 2. Tolerate
    Step 3. Accept

    Food for thought.

  147. Daniel
    November 10, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    You forgot:

    Step 4. Realise it’s not such a big deal
    Step 5. Wonder what the fuss was all about.

    The acceptance of formerly unacceptable ideas is not necessarily a negative process.

  148. Carborendum
    November 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

    Joe,

    When I said “At least you could agree . . .”

    I was not saying it as a complaint, or a suggestion.
    I was saying it as an observation that you did indeed have it in you to agree to that one point.

    When you said earlier “There is much in the way LDS people dialog that I don’t understand.”

    After observing the above exchange, could it be that you have an attitude of choosing to believe the worst first, then requiring an explanation to show that what was said was not what you heard? I realize the written word does take away from conversation on some level, since it is difficult to hear inflections and emphasis in the same way as speech. But could you try to read the best interpretation first?

    Just because people disagree with you doesn’t mean they’re out to get you.

  149. Carborendum
    November 15, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    landon, (and many others)

    How is it that money can be traced to Church members? Idaho is only about 1/4 LDS. How does anyone know who sent the money from Idaho? All the rest of the money that came from outside California — similar question. You don’t put your religious affiliation on a donation slip for a political cause.

  150. Carborendum
    November 15, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    Daniel,

    Your argument about absolute vs. arbitrary was a good job of debating legerdemain. But either you missed the point or you chose to be deaf and blind.

    Either there is an absolute or there isn’t.
    If so, what is your basis for dertermining it? You’ve stated what ours is.

    If not, then we need to draw a line to the limit of our tolerance for a stable society. Voting on such an item would be a good way to determine what that limit is. To push that limit BY FORCE to go further than what society is ready for will cause a backlash in societal development. At the same time, we should push the limit by non-forceful means (education, public awareness, etc.). Remember that government IS force. It is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

    If there should NEVER be ANY line drawn, then there is no right or wrong and it wouldn’t be a great loss if the entire universe were to implode upon itself into a singularity. In other words, your step 4 and 5.

    My position is that there are some things that belong into each of these three categories. How we categorize them determines the method of rationale behind our acceptance or rejection.

    Vontrapp (perhaps erroneously) believed those against prop 8 base THEIR rationale from placing this issue in category 2. But HIS rationale for backing prop 8 came from placing the issue in category 1.

    Where do you place it? Perhaps, hidden option 4?

  151. vontrapp
    November 15, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    About category 1. Perhaps I do take rationale from cat 1, but only in that I abhor the idea of changing so divine and fundamental an institution as marriage. I don’t abhor gays. I believe homosexual actions are sinful, but it’s not for me to judge the person. It is for me to stand for right, however, and I will oppose gay marriage any way I can.

  152. joe
    December 17, 2008 at 10:50 pm #

    Carborendum,

    “When I said “At least you could agree . . .”
    I was not saying it as a complaint, or a suggestion.
    I was saying it as an observation that you did indeed have it in you to agree to that one point.”

    I don’t recall at all what brought any of these statements about.

    “When you said earlier “There is much in the way LDS people dialog that I don’t understand.”

    I was meaning that they speak their own language, follow their own logic, and I don’t understand it. Taking a look at the conversation as it progresses, I find very little that makes any sense at all, pro or con. I think its because I don’t care as much for reading other peoples opinions as I once did.

  153. joe
    December 17, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    Von Trap,

    “About category 1. Perhaps I do take rationale from cat 1, but only in that I abhor the idea of changing so divine and fundamental an institution as marriage. I don’t abhor gays. I believe homosexual actions are sinful, but it’s not for me to judge the person. It is for me to stand for right, however, and I will oppose gay marriage any way I can.”

    Many people have different takes on marriage. Some people don’t see it as divine at all. I personally believe its entirely created by humans to provide sexual/emotional needs for all. Without marriage and its rules its possible that more people may go without. But I do believe that ideals about relationships and marriage may cause new problems and create new hangups that didn’t exist prior to its creation.

    I’m sorry, but your statements about gays are not honest. How can you NOT abhor gays if you think its sinful? Believing its sinful IS a judgement being made by you.

  154. joe
    December 17, 2008 at 11:08 pm #

    “No, I’m not Joe. What’s your criteria and what is the basis for it?”

    My criteria is that people form relationships. The law is only as good as it acknowledges, respects and helps make them healthier.

  155. vontrapp
    December 18, 2008 at 12:08 am #

    Joe, I’m sorry you feel I’m dishonest, but honestly, I’m not. :) It is very easy to believe an action is sinful yet withhold judgment from the sinner. If I catch a kid stealing, heck, my own kid even, then I tell the young lad that what he did was wrong. I tell him why, have him replace the stolen gum, apologize, and if it’s my own kid perhaps some discipline would ensue. In all this I don’t abhor the kid, oh the thought! I love him still, and try to teach him. If it’s not my own kid then it of course is not my place to discipline, and therefore not my place to pass any judgment, I can still call the kid on it and state that what I saw him do was wrong, but that is the extent of it. And no, I don’t hate him. Likewise I assert that I do not hate gays, I do not abhor them, I have had a gay friend and would talk amiably with him about our different views on his lifestyle. I told him plain and simple what I thought of it, but there remained no bad blood between us. I assure you I am no hate monger, and I do not judge the person, but I still stand for what I believe to be right, as is my prerogative.

  156. joe
    December 18, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    Vontrapp,

    You said the following, “I don’t abhor gays. I believe homosexual actions are sinful, but it’s not for me to judge the person. ”

    And now your talking about someone stealing, and using the term ‘lifestyle’. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, its not a lifestyle. There isn’t a lifestyle that universally describes gay.

    ” It is very easy to believe an action is sinful yet withhold judgment from the sinner.”

    Ok, if you choose to believe that. But its kind of like saying you don’t have anything against a carnivore, except for all their meat eating.

  157. Carborendum
    December 18, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    Joe,

    I said “At least . . .”

    You said

    Maybe they aren’t silenced . . . I don’t know how much clearer that could be

    I was trying to clarify that I DID hear you. I was actually PRAISING you for at least admitting THAT. But you took it to mean a subjunctive voice as a sarcastic remark rather than past tense observation and praise.

    As far as the statement that we have our own language. I suppose I can see that in a gospel sense. We have ideas, doctrines, etc. that cannot be described in everyday language. We have to have a new vocabulary to describe such things.

    But the argument I made that evoked your statement was not in any way peculiar to our faith. I’ve heard a Lutheran, a Catholic, and an atheist all say the same thing using the same words.

    I’m finding that you’re doing your best to be polite. So, you try not to instigate. But when you see an opening to stab, you take it. You didn’t bring up the word “cult”, but talked around the subject until I brought it up. Then you were all for telling us just how bad a cult we are. Touche’.

    You never looked up the word did you? If you had, you would find that just about every religion in the world fits the very same definitions. That is fine if you’re an atheist (you are, aren’t you?–I forget, it’s been a while). But if you are of any faith in the world, it would be hypocritical for you to talk the way you have.

  158. Carborendum
    December 18, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    its kind of like saying you don’t have anything against a carnivore, except for all their meat eating.

    This is true if that one aspect encapsulates the subject of whom you speak. If a person is so much about homosexuality, that this one aspect completely describes who he is, then that would be true. But if you really are arguing for gay rights, you should recognize this is not all they are.

    There is a big difference between a child who stole something once vs. a career criminal who steals for a living. Can you really fault him for doing his job? :)

    There is a big difference between someone who fits into society in many ways, but happens to be gay vs. a person who every time he speaks, breathes, walks, etc. has to show just how gay he is.

    I myself would find that really annoying. You don’t find many heterosexuals constantly talking about their heterosexuality do you? Well, maybe some Italian men :)
    (And Strong Bad).

    I find anyone who is constantly talking about how many women they’ve laid to be really annoying too. Is that all they are about? Gosh how shallow. This is for both homosexual and heterosexual.

    And in both cases, if this really were true, I would combine the sin and the sinner. But usually the sin is just one aspect of the person who has many other aspects that show they are a child of God.

  159. joe
    December 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

    Carborendum,
    I dropped that silenced thing quite a log time ago, why is this still coming up?

    There it is again, the whole ‘sin’ thing about being gay. That is what is bringing judgement, misunderstanding and discrimination. I think even secular people do their fair share of it, perhaps even worse.

    There certainly are ‘in your face’ gays that go out of their way to display and annoy. But then are are people you are just truely being who they are, not wishing to annoy anyone. Its kind of strange, but someone at work once did a strange limp wrist thing while telling me something. I took it objectively and without judgement, some days later I felt annoyed because I think he was mocking me.

    I live in a very repressive area for gays. There is nothing more annoying than doing my best to hide this from everyone, for fear of judgement or harrasment. People find out anyway eventually, its amazing how quickly. It feels very uncomfortable at work for me, as I don’t feel welcome and I often feel like people would rather not see me there. I find the fear and ignorance very wearing. The majority of people here are some type of xtian, the fundementalist kind. It could be something else entirely. Maybe the people at work all grew up together and just naturally mingle easier with each other, I don’t know, but I have never felt welcome here, and I am planning on moving for my own sanity.

    I find people who brag about their sexual conquests pretty annoying also. And people who are just too open about their private lives at work. Its just me, I don’t feel comfortable talking about that stuff, and I avoid engaging speaking about that with others when I can. I worked with one guy who just loved talking about beautiful women, not all the time, but on occation. I think it was just in his nature, and I would just listen, and if I saw who he was talking about I would say what I thought, usually I agreed.

    I find the world a very interesting place. People change, the world changes, I change. I may have judgements about a lot of things, but I am finding that it feels better not to make judgements, not to hold grudges, but to forgive whenever possible. Thats the ideal, but I still find that its difficult not to make a judgement from time to time, but it is different knowing when your making a judgement vs. not knowing.

    I think one can find spirituality in a lot of different places. I accept science and atheism to be a spiritual path. My partner is an atheist and he is incredibly spiritual. The universe instructs no matter what your perspective. I was raised LDS, but now I find that it doesn’t resonate with me. I have gone to some xtian churches, and those didn’t resonate with me either, not even MTC, unitarians etc which are more liberal. I find the older earth religions to resonate with me much stronger. I suppose one could lable anything a cult if one wishes to.

  160. Carborendum
    December 19, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    I dropped that silenced thing quite a log time ago, why is this still coming up?

    Because you asked me to explain myself for a comment I made back in November. I did.

    As to the rest of your comment. I can go along with most of it.

  161. M. Lorenzen
    January 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    To SJ Cooper…

    I guess I’m a little late in commenting to this post. I just stumbled upon this blog/site yesterday and perused a few of the entries and the subsequent comments. I suppose there is much I disagree with here, but nothing that repulsed me so much as comment #2. I am aware of MLK’s shortcomings. And, if your opinion of him is that he is deplorable, okay. Fair enough. But, obviously the theme of this Blog and its followers is unabashed conservative/libertarian mormon. If you think that MLK was a deplorable individual, contributing nothing worthwhile to the world, I highly encourage you to investigate the SCHOLARLY history and biographies of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the early church in general. If hypocrisy, deceit, and shortcomings in the personal lives of leadership bother you, I wonder how long you will retain your membership in the Mormon church. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    P.S. – If you do not belong to the Mormon church, forgive me, my comments are probably nigh unto meaningless for you.

  162. M
    January 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    To M. Lorenzen comment 162. I saw your comment and then I happend to listen to Glenn Beck today. He talked about the NAACP chairman Julian Bond said about MLK Jr. This is what Bond said about MLK, “We don’t remember the King who was the critic of capitalism is, who said to Charles Fager when they were in jail together in Selma in 1965 that he thought a modified form of socialism would be the best system for the United States.”

    I can’t find the audio online. Maybe someone else has it.

    To read the transcript go here.

    In any case Beck found it to be a shocking revelation and thought it had something to do Brown winning the Bay State.

  163. M. Lorenzen
    January 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    M,

    Perhaps I am too dense, but I don’t see how this Glenn Beck revelation has anything to do with what I said. Care to elaborate? I said nothing of MLK Jr’s political opinions. I was simply making the point that no one, and I do mean no one, is perfect. My main point to SJ Cooper was this: If moral shortcomings and deception bother you, be prepared to adopt a pretty jaded and pessimistic view of the world once you dig a little deeper into the personal lives of many political, social, and religious icons, from BOTH sides of the political fence.

  164. M
    January 22, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    M. Lorenzen, I won’t speculate about your intelligence and no I don’t care to elaborate.

  165. J
    March 22, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Connor, I think you may need to clarify your comments more regarding taxation and commerce among nonprofits, as it is clear that you don’t understand what nonprofits are about, given the current law.
    There are many reasons why the government permits tax exemption to groups, but perhaps the main reason is because the group is engaging on some social cause that is not otherwise profitable for business or the state. This could be termed State and Market Failure (L. Salamon).
    Furthermore, the church is not exempt simply because it is a not for profit venture. Many non-profits actually do make money. The key is in how that money is used. The exemption status is clear that any profit made cannot be distributed to shareholders (hence they don’t exist) or the board of directors. In deed any assets that exist within a nonprofit organization that goes bust, will be redistributed to the community and no one in the organization benefits. Furthermore, you claim that the church engages in commerce through its for-profit arms. You need to check Webster’s on commerce, as it is the act of buying, selling, trade, financial transactions, etc. Any Temple Recommend holder knows that financial transactions take place in Temple cafeterias etc. But the key again here, is that the profits (which I would agree with you when you say the church does not make a profit here) but the money is simply redistributed for use within the organization.

    Finally, I was wondering what the real reasons are for an organization being granted a tax exemption?

  166. Brad Carmack
    April 18, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    I was impressed by the IRS ruling- thanks for that excerpt! You note that “Another accusation made against the LDS Church’s participation in political measures is that it is abusing its tax-exempt status by advocating support for a specific piece of legislation.” I agree with your conclusion that advocating for or against legislation is an appropriate exercise of religious freedom, and am glad that as yet churches can maintain tax-exempt status when so engaged. Attacks on the influence of religions in the public square will likely come under continuing attack (http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/apostle-says-religious-freedom-is-being-threatened)- so I’m glad to see your advocacy.

  167. Mark N.
    August 4, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    I rest my case.

  168. Nate Stobbe
    March 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    As a libertarian and a member of the LDS church I find myself confused and conflicted about the basic beliefs of the church and the stance that the church took on proposition 8. Let me explain my confusion:

    As I understand it there is God’s plan and Satan’s plan…
    God’s Plan: God gives us commandments and we have the agency/freedom to choose whether we follow and live the commandments or not. We aren’t forced into anything. We have our agency to choose. God doesn’t take away our agency.
    Satan’s Plan: We don’t have any say in the matter, our agency is removed and we don’t have the freedom to choose anymore. We have to follow what satan chooses and desires. Basically Satan’s plan is the complete opposite of God’s plan.

    With that being said, I find it contradictory that our first presidency would encourage members to vote for proposition 8 and encourage members to give of their time and means to pass prop 8. In my opinion, by defining marriage between man and woman only, you are at the same time taking away the right for a man and another man, or a woman and another woman to marry each other. As I understand it, all people are born into this world with unalienable rights that cannot be taken away, with marriage being no exception. So as I hop on wikileaks.org and find documents with the first presidency’s signatures behind documents stating that they encourage members to give of their time and means to pass prop 8, I interpret that as the church fighting/advocating to take away people’s God-given right to choose for themselves who they marry. I interpret this more or less as Satan’s plan which is eliminating peoples freedom and agency of choosing who they can marry because we are narrowly defining marriage solely between man and woman only. I interpret that more as Satan’s plan, not God’s plan of agency and choice and freedom.

    I think God’s plan is to let people have the agency to choose who they want to marry and ultimately face the consequences of following or not following God’s spiritual commandments. But to advocate that marriage should only be recognized between man and woman, you are taking away the right for people to choose otherwise and this in my opinion is Satan’s plan. This is taking away people’s agency

    I would love to hear the opinions of my fellow libertarians and LDS members.

    Your truly,
    confused

  169. jimz
    March 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Nate,
    I recently watched a you tube Bob Larson interview of two people from the church of satan. I am not sure why I found that of interest. Bob is a christian who I guess wants to inform christians and the general public about the christian faith vs. other philosophies.

    I don’t know if this will help at all for the LDS perspective on ‘satans plan’. If there is any connection at all, he has something different projected on earth. The represenatives of the CoS seem to be all for freedom, and in some peoples eyes maybe too much freedom. However, they didn’t seem to support socialism, welfare, drug use or even homosexuality. Not so much that its right or wrong, just not in the best interest of an individual for the highest level of survival.

    I found the interview sort of circular and rather lengthy, I didn’t get the sense that they would have legislated anything from a moral standpoint, because they think that morals are just something made up for particular people for particular times. I couldn’t get my head around the essentially atheistic nature of the CoS. Not believing in a literal satan, no god really, nor angels or demons. Instead symbolic and ‘archetypal’. I didn’t understand the need for the name or symbol of satan given the premise.

    So, you might find the interview surprising given the LDS teachings about what satan is supposed to support. Well its not quite matching at least from the free agency point of view.

  170. Clumpy
    March 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    @jimz

    You might compare Leveyans (Church of Satan) to many black metal bands who adopt occult symbolism for shock value while gathering under what is essentially an antireligious philosophy of what they see to be anticonformity and related values. (Thus the apparent contradiction of so many related musical acts who appropriate ancient religions and philosophies for their material without believing in any deity.) Aside, then, from advocating what many religious folk (and Latter-Day Saints such as myself) see as carnally indulgent and thus sinful behavior, the “Satan” stuff is just a trapping of the religion. I suspect that Leveyans see Satanists who actually believe in or worship the devil as part of what they’re opposed to.

    Thus I don’t think that what CoS or related Satanists say or believe has much bearing from a theological perspective regarding the devil, aside from possible advocation of what we may believe to be sin or opposition to much of what we stand for. Now, getting into what Satan’s plan was from an LDS point of view, I’m of the belief that it was essentially to tolerate sin and allow salvation in sin rather than from it, thus defeating the entire purpose of the Plan of Salvation in the first place. One primary reason, in my mind, that the government ought to stay out of purely moral issues is that a decision made through coercion is hardly a decision at all. There is no salvation through shackles, if I may coin a hokey expression.

  171. joe morman
    March 22, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Utah spending millions on a california initiative, an initiative which does not limit those currently married in any way? Defense of marriage? Might as well dream up a defense of martians proposition. As your mother would say, mind your own business, and concentrate on how to better yourself.

  172. jimz
    March 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Clumpy,
    There are theistic satanists, because otherwise they see the philosophy as just atheistic. Not the same thing.

    Well interesting idea about the lds idea about ‘satans plan’. I didn’t understand that at all. What I understood was that everyone would be forced to live the way of salvation, that they couldn’t do otherwise, and ‘lucifer’ would get the glory for it. The plan of Jesus the nazarene was to let people choose, and perhaps some if not most would fail, but god the father would get glory.

    As compliance to a set of standards by complusion does not equal faith trust or love. I think thats pretty close to what nate understands, and has a question about. And it sounds like you agree at least about coercion not being part of the deal.

  173. Jeena
    March 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    I have audio of Ezra Taft Benson April 6, 1972-Civic Standards. Do you need a copy?

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