Against Prop 8 But Not Against Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals

I am against California’s Proposition 8, which puts a ban in the California constitution on gay marriages.  When the ballot measure passed, I was disappointed, but I also thought that over time, people’s attitudes would change.  So when I saw protests against the change in the California constitution, I was generally supportive.  One of the things that bothered me about the protests, though, is the criticisms I see in some of the protest signs against Mormons, Catholics, and Evangelicals.  I think that is a big mistake, for not all Mormons, Catholics or Evangelicals supported Proposition 8.  A better way would be to appeal to the more liberal and moderate Christians that belong to each denomination to support the cause of gay marriage.

A common misconception among some progressives is that Christians are all conservative Republicans.  Yet a quick glance at the pews of the churches will find a diversity of political views.    Within the Mormon, Catholic, and Evangelical churches are more liberal views that do not agree with the conservative elements in their respective denominations.  If opponents of Proposition 8 begin to view a fight for gay marriage as also being a fight against these churches, it’ll backfire for several reasons.  It’ll galvanize moderate Christians who are in the fence about this issue to defend their church.  This will also gives more ammunition to conservative Mormons, Catholics and Evangelicals to marginalize their more liberal parishioners. 

Jasmyne A. Cannick, an African American lesbian activist, wrote an article called The Gay/Black Divide for the November 8, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times.  She commented:

“White gays often wonder aloud why blacks, of all people, won’t support their civil rights.  There is a real misunderstanding by the white gay community about the term.  Proponents of gay marriage fling it around as if it is a one-size-fits-all catchphrase for issues of fairness.
But the black civil rights movement was essentially born out of and driven by the black church;  social justice and religion are inextricably intertwined in the black community.  To many blacks, civil rights are grounded in Christianity- not something separate and apart from religion but synonymous with it.  To the extent that the issue of gay marriage seemed to be pitted against the church, it was going to be a losing battle in my community.”

Cannick makes a good point that there is a strong progressive tradition within the Christian church, especially within the Catholic and Evangelical movement.  The anti-slavery movement and the Social Gospel movement both had adherents within the Evangelical churches.  The Catholic Church has always taken up the cause of the poor and the marginalized, and since Vatican II has also take up anti-war positions.   Though the past 30 years have seen the rise of the Religious Right, there are still progressives within those two denominations and I’m sure that is true of the Mormon Church as well.

So what should supporters of gay marriage do with their Christian foes?  We should protest and go in the streets, as people have done these past couple of days.  But we should refrain from making our protests into antiMormon,antiEvangelical or antiCatholic protests and instead encourage liberals and gays within those denominations to speak out.  And we should try to persuade moderates and even sympathetic conservatives within those churches of the prejudice that arises from a ban in the constitution.  In my time at an evangelical church, I found two types of people who were against homosexuality: one group thought homosexuality was a sin and hated gays and lesbians; and the other group thought homosexuality was a sin but had close family members or friends who were gay and lesbian and sincerely struggled with loving their gay friends and family while holding on to their belief. Trying to talk to the first group is a waste of time, but I think it’s possible to talk to the second group. The people in the second group do not see gays and lesbians as two dimensional stereotypes: they are their brothers, sisters, relatives, close friends. Though it may be futile to try to convince them that homosexuality is not a sin, I think it’s possible to convince them that even if they believe homosexuality is a sin, homophobia is an even worse sin. Homophobia is like racism and sexism in that they have the effect of dehumanizing and marginalizing a group of people, making them vulnerable to a whole range of cruel treatment. Jesus went out of his way to reach out to marginalized people, to make people see the humanity in prostitutes, demon possessed people, taxcollectors and outcasts.

If we demonize Catholics, Mormons and Evangelicals, the road to gay marriage will become much harder than it already is.  If we instead reach out to the liberals within those churches, we may find support where we least expect.

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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Since my time in college, my goal has been to be a successful children’s book illustrator. I’ve illustrated 3 books: Two Moms the Zark and Me by Johnny Valentine in 1993; Night Travelers by Sue Hill in 1994; and Cherubic Children’s New Classic Story Book Volume 2 for Cherubic Press in 1998. I’ve painted murals for Lester Shields Elementary School in San Jose, the Berryessa branch of the San Jose Public Library, and Grace Community Church in Los Altos. I’ve had a few illustrations published in South Bay Accent Magazine and I will have an illustration published in the January/February issue of Tikkun magazine.
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7 Responses to Against Prop 8 But Not Against Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals

  1. kickingalion says:

    For information on Prop 8/Gay Rights boycotts, marches, letter writing campaigns and more, visit kickingalion.wordpress.com.

  2. Simply put – the Mormons have proved with their complete obsession with PROP 8 to be a Tax-Exempt Hate Group.

    Heterosexuals – You better wake up. Instead of pondering a cerebral concept like how gays want the “1,138 rights of marriage”, you need to educate yourselves about the CONSEQUENCES when one or more of those 1,138 rights are denied. GOOGLE “Freeheld” or “Tying the Knot”; watch the DVDs. Write it down now.

    Your laws HATE us, and we’ve had it! Yes, I did said HATE – I stand by it. Because how else can you explain these 3 realities?:

    A police woman loses her life in the line of duty; her wife of 13 years is denied all pension benefits.

    A rancher loses his husband of 22 years; his inlaws evict him and try to take the home he built and lived in with his beloved.

    A detective spends 25 years risking her own life while protecting society; she has to spend her remaining days on this earth worrying whether her earned pension will be transferred to her wife (while living with terminal cancer).

    YES, H-A-T-E. And your silence on this matter is a serious affront to our families’s safety and security. FAMILY – isn’t that a cherished concept in the U.S.A.?

    So now after decades of disinterest, some of us in the LGBTI community have AWAKENED. And we will refuse to pay one penny of income tax to the IRS until the government (i.e. – you) decide you WANT our tax dollars as EQUAL CITIZENS.

    This ain’t a vote.
    This ain’t a debate.
    This ain’t a popularity contest.

    You will PAY OUR TAXES until we have what your family ALREADY HAS; your apathy is costing you money as you read this.

    GAY TAX PROTEST!

  3. angelolopez says:

    Thank you John Bisceglia for your comment, although I do not support some of what you say.

    I support gay marriages, but I don’t support the stereotyping of all Mormons as being a hate group. I’m sure there are Mormons who are gay or who support gay rights but are too afraid to go against their more conservative colleagues. That’s the way it was in an evangelical church I once attended. You’re making a big mistake in making a fight for gay marriage as a fight against all Mormons.

    And you’re making a big mistake in stereotyping all heterosexuals as being uncaring of homosexuals. There are many heterosexuals who are strongly for gay rights because they see the injustice done to their gay friends, coworkers, and family members. We have friends like the police woman, the rancher and the detective that you mentioned and we are just as outraged as you are at the injustices against them.

    Don’t make enemies of people who are friends.

  4. Meisnerman says:

    I feel that the Mormon church (along with any other group that publically lobbied for prop 8) is a legitimate target for protest by those who are outraged at the outcome of this vote. The LDS church took official action as an organization to publically support prop 8 and to exert pressure on it’s membership to work and donate for it’s passage. Some pprincipled members publically opposed their church and should be applauded for doing so. But Mormons who oppose prop 8 should welcome ongoing protests, and join in with them.
    I’m sure that you are right that there are many members of this church, and of many other churches or organizations, who may disagree with the policies of their group, yet remain silent out of fear. Unfortunately, when we allow ourselves to be numbered with a group that takes a public stand, our silence is effectively a voice in favor of that stand – no matter what our private feelings may be. I may sympathize with such a person’s fear, but I can’t allow that sympathy to keep me from voicing my dispeasure with the group which they are silently allowing to represent them. If I remain silent out of politeness, I merely compund the error of the person who remains silent out of fear.

  5. angelolopez says:

    Thank you Meisnerman for your comments. I agree that you should not be silent out of politeness. You shouldn’t be polite at all. It’s justified for people to protest against the ban on gay marriage. Just don’t make it an antiMormon or antiCatholic or antiEvangelical diatribe.

    In your protests, encourage people within those churches to speak out. And find ways of connecting with Mormons, Catholics and Evangelicals who oppose Proposition 8 and ask for their advice on the best way to reach those people who may sympathize with gay rights but are quiet. I’m not Mormon and I don’t know what Mormon culture is like, so it would be good to ask a Mormon gay rights activist on how to best manuever in that culture. My only worry is that you may be making enemies out of people who may have been friends if your protests are seen as attacks on their church.

  6. Meisnerman says:

    Thanks Angela, I certainly understand your concern and agree that as a matter of strategy it is important to consider whether it is best to use anger or persuation in specific situations. I am a former Mormon myself and live in downtown SLC so believe me I am familiar with the cultural concerns. I am not gay, but as a professional theatre artist I have many gay friends and acquaintances.

    Basically I am of the opinion that society goes way too far to respect religious sensibilities. I do not withhold my vocal opposition to the positions of a political party (including my own) or a Union or any other group. I see no good reason to treat a religious group any differently. People should get used to the idea that just because they hold certain things sacred the rest of society need not, and that criticism of their faith is not a personal attack. Muslims make this basic argument when exherting public pressure to suppress the publication of cartoons or novels because they find them ‘offensive’. Americans should be above the idea that the right to worship includes the right not to be offended. If I find the Mormon position on Prop 8, or the Catholic position on condom distribution in Africa, or any other public postion of a group to be unethical and wrong, Iam honor bound to say so publicly and forcefully even though not all members of that group hold that opinion.

    That being said, I agree that there is a fine line in this matter that can be easily crossed. Unfortunately it is not an absolute line, and no matter where you draw it, someone else will feel you have crossed it. But he POINT of any protest should never be to hurt feelings or to retaliate, that is admittedly counter-productive.

    Thanks for blogging! I believe that discourse is vital to such hot-button issues as this.

  7. angelolopez says:

    Thank you Meisnerman. We agree on the same goals, I think we just have different tactics on how to reach that goal. I agree when you wrote: “Americans should be above the idea that the right to worship includes the right not to be offended. If I find the Mormon position on Prop 8, or the Catholic position on condom distribution in Africa, or any other public postion of a group to be unethical and wrong, Iam honor bound to say so publicly and forcefully even though not all members of that group hold that opinion.”

    I personally think that social change comes from pressure both inside and outside any institution. If the goal is to persuade people of the justice of gay marriage, I think we’ll eventually need to reach out to those Mormons, Catholics and Evangelicals who support gay rights to speak out, and this may persuade those churchgoers who are on the fence or are too quiet. These quiet churchgoers are more likely to listen to a fellow churchgoer than to protesters outside of their community.

    Thank you too Meisnerman for your comments. I usually do not get many comments from my blogs.

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