Affirmation asks LDS religion to just “stay out of it”

I’m not exactly sure what to make of the recent request of Affirmation (described here) for the LDS religion to stay out of the debate over same-sex marriage in California. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the LDS religion has actively worked to discourage same-sex marriage in multiple states over the last 20 years, including spending a lot of money. But, given the religion’s slow moving recognition of the rights of gays to, well, exist, maybe the LDS religion is now at the point where it can let people be and not try to force their moral views on others? I’m interested in what people think will happen. Here’s a poll to see what people think.


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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21 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Interesting strategy. Should the church do nothing (fat chance) then they appear to have acquiesed to Affirmation’s messaging. Should they do somthing then their actions are framed by Affirmation’s messaging as “dis-affirming family worth … political meddling … and demonizing” all in additon to blowing-off an offer to work together with it’s own gay (and implicitly accepted) members in a constructive and … dare I say … Christ-like way?

    Twisting in the wind I tell ya.

  2. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    I like it.
    more pro-active than reactive.
    as Dear Abby/Ann Landers would have said, NOYB.

    this statement is near eloquent and simply states their case and the concerns of their constituents.
    Beautiful (and, I AGREE)

    ‘Almost’ points out that LDS cultural considerations threaten to outweigh ‘doctrin al’ matters.

  3. Wayne says:

    It would be great if they would just ignore it.

    I am not sure, exactly what they believe will happen to marriage.

  4. Steve EM says:

    Hey Affirmation, I’m simpathetic to you, but put your thinking caps on! The church’s involvement isn’t really about gays. There aren’t enough gays on the planet for the church to have this level of concern about something that even most church authorities subtlety acknowledge is for most gays an innate trait, not a choice. So what’s driving the LDS leadership to ultimately push for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman?…………….. It’s polygamy stupid!

    BTW, while I’m somewhat open to gay marriage, that 4/3 California supreme court decision was a big overreach. This issue is best left to the political process. The risk now is both the court and the political process will be shut down by state and federal constitutional amendments.

  5. Hellmut says:

    The state legislature passed gay marriage twice. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it twice for the express reason that the court resolve the issue.

    Besides, the seven judges were elected.

    In this case, there is no reason to demand judicial restraint. The democratically elected legislature is with the court.

  6. Hellmut says:

    Besides, there is zero risk of a federal constitutional amendment. The referendum in November will be a real danger. We will have to raise money and work to defeat it.

  7. profxm says:

    So much for debating the LDS response (I think; correct me if I’m wrong here), the attorney general of Utah, Mark Shurtleff (who apparently hasn’t had enough media attention lately), has joined with 9 other Republican attorneys general to request a stay in the California Supreme Court decision:

    To assume the LDS religion is behind this is assuming a lot (I’m not saying they are). But Shurtleff is LDS and he does represent Utah. So, whether directly inspired by the LDS religion or indirectly, here’s at least another initial response (the LDS religion’s first response was a letter expressing disappointment in the decision).

    Based on the responses to the poll, I guess we all saw something like this coming…

  8. Steve EM says:

    “….no reason to demand judicial restraint”

    It was a 4/3 decision that ignored the will of the voters. That is gross overreach risking the voters now shutting down both the court and future political processing. If that isn’t a stupid overreach by a slim court majority, I don’t know what is.

    “there is zero risk of a federal constitutional amendment”

    The risk is not zero.

  9. Hellmut says:

    You are correct, Steve, that the literal chances of a Federal Marriage Amendment is greater than zero. Since the supporters of a constitutional amendment do not even master a majority of fifty votes in the Senate, much less the required 67 votes, I would say that the chances for doomsday are better than the chances of a Federal Marriage Amendment.

    I am skeptical about the democratic value of referenda. Majority votes to deny unpopular groups rights amounts to the tyranny of the majority, which the founding fathers worked so hard to avoid.

    Historically, minority rights have always relied on elected officials and lawyers to assert their conscience against the will of the majority. That includes Jewish emancipation, women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, religious freedom for Catholics, and the abolition of capital punishment.

    One only need to read the Sun or watch FOX News for a couple of hours to understand that empathy and the golden rule are not among the standard repertoire of the masses. Dang, Dan Brown has been making a fortune baiting Catholics only a couple of years ago.

    That’s why the founding fathers wanted legislatures to mediate the will of the people and designed the constitution to make it difficult to change anything.

    Usually, it took the majority half a generation to come around to accepting minority rights after elites instituted the necessary reforms.

  10. Steve EM says:


    Yes, I agree letting a representative republic do its job is preferred to the California referendum stuff. But that’s the California system, and in my opinion a rogue California supreme court is willing to roll the dice on a 4/3 decision and have the entire process shut down under that system. That is overreach. That is dumb. They are Morons.

    On a federal amendment, you’re looking at a static model and also forgetting the convention route that can propose any amendments for consideration by the states. It’s never been done, likely because it’s a nuclear option that risks dumping the entire constitution, but it’s a constitutional process just waiting for 2/3 of the states to call such a convention. Once such convention is convened, it’s anything goes!

    Personally, I’d like to see gov’t get out of the marriage business and end the debate that way. Then if some churches marry gays, straights, polygs, or mixes of thereof, it’s a private matter. Ironically, I suspect in our hunter-gatherer origins, the family unit within a tribe likely consisted of a reproducing straight alpha male with multiple females and gays. Even my wife says women work much better together with a few gay guys in the mix. Maybe it’s back to the future?

  11. Hellmut says:

    Again, California judges are not only elected but they did what the legislature and the governor wanted them to do.

    With respect to a constitutional convention, Governor Leavitt floated that idea to “restore” states rights in 1996. The Christian right shut him down.

    If there was a constitutional convention, everything would be on the table including an equal rights amendment. There would also be the specter of bringing the Bill of Rights in line with international human rights standards.

    Therefore the Christian right will not permit a constitutional convention. The very people who want to discriminate gays have the most to loose from a constitutional convention.

  12. Seth R. says:

    Like Steve, I also would like to see government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses.

    When my wife and I got married, it was in the temple under a set of beliefs that we both held in reverence. It had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the judge down at the Provo courthouse issuing a marriage license. I couldn’t care less what he thought of the whole thing. In my mind, I was married to this woman – with or without government approval.

    Government should be in the business of protecting contractual relationships – of any sort, and protecting those who are vulnerable in society – wherever it finds them.

    End of story.

  13. profxm says:

    “Government should be in the business of protecting contractual relationships – of any sort…” What is marriage? You may believe it is something more than a contractual relationship because of your religious beliefs, but the government doesn’t see it as anything other than a contractual relationship. Ergo, by your own reasoning, the government should be in the business of regulating relationships between people.

    “protecting those who are vulnerable in society – wherever it finds them.” What are gays and lesbians if not vulnerable members of society? They are people too, but they are currently discriminated against. Again, by your logic, at least as I read it, the federal government should immediately step in and give “contractual relationship rights to vulnerable homosexuals.”

    Is my reasoning off here?

  14. Seth R. says:

    I think you missed my point. My prescription for society is twofold:

    1. Take government out of the business of licensing “marriages” entirely

    2. Pass good laws protecting human contractual relationships of any sort – including gays who want to live together.

    This was actually something that James Dobson, of all people, tried to get going here in Colorado. He felt that general laws should be passed to protect the rights of people who choose to live together. He made the argument that two elderly sisters living together for over 30 years would have less hospital visitation rights and powers of attorney, etc. than a deadbeat son who hadn’t even spoken to his mother in the same amount of time. An unjust result of course.

    He proposed that generic laws be passed protecting human relationships, including gay unions.

    One of the few time I’ve agreed with Dobson.

    Of course, his goal was to weaken the case for “gay marriage.” If you can pass fair laws protecting gay relationships, you can knock out one of their main arguments for getting “gay marriage” – the legal and economic unfairness of the current system.

    I agree with that reasoning to a point. People must be treated fairly, or the controversy will never go away.

    However, gay advocates will simply shift the argument and claim that government is still unfairly treating gay unions by giving heterosexual unions a sort of “marriage” label of legitimacy – meaning that even if gay unions are getting the same tax breaks and legal rights, the government is still playing favorites in a societal legitimacy sort of sense. They might even make some segregation analogies, claiming that “separate” is ALWAYS inherently unequal (provided the supporting facts are there – which they probably would be to some degree).

    Therefore, I go further than Dobson and ask that the “generic” laws apply not just to “non-traditional” relationships, but to all relationships. A young man and woman, married by a Catholic priest would get the government designation of “civil union.” Two men married by a progressive Unitarian priest would get the label “civil union.”

    This entirely neutralizes the charges that the government is playing favorites and gives people and religions the freedom to call “marriage” whatever they want in their own churches and in their own homes. It seems to me to be the only ultimately satisfactory solution.

  15. Kullervo says:

    That’s how it’s done in Germany.

  16. profxm says:

    Seth… Much better explanation. I could get on board with a proposal like that.

  17. Seth R. says:

    It also makes things a lot smoother for when the LDS Church ultimately ends up bringing polygamy off of hiatus.

    Don’t give me that look. You know it’s inevitable. 😉

  18. profxm says:

    You know, I’ve long said that it weakened the LDS religion to stop polygamy in the first place. That said, it’s never coming back (I know, you were kidding). LDS Inc. is far too corporate and too concerned with its image these days. The only way polygamy would make a comeback is if it became a common family form in the US and around the world in the same way same-sex couples will eventually become more common; it will just be one more way of being in a relationship (one man, many women; one woman, many men; or lots of both). Just as the LDS religion will allow gays in and into leadership positions (or disappear as a religion) in the next 20 years, if polygamous relationships become common, Mormonism will eventually allow it. Mormonism may take a while to catch up to popular culture, but it eventually does. 😉

  19. Hellmut says:

    We had problems with marriage and religion before. The Roman Catholic Church was using its marriage monopoly to undermine the secular state.

    In response, European and Latin American governments introduced obligatory civil marriage. Insofar as the family is the basic unit of the society, the state has an essential interest in marriage. Therefore couples ought to make their commitment before a public official, which renders their pact legally binding.

    Beyond civil marriage, people can enact their religious rituals at their pleasure.

    It would be a mistake to grant religion a monopoly over marriage because religion cannot unite us as a people. Too many couples marry across religious boundaries. Other citizens reject religion entirely.

    Obligatory civil marriage has been tried and does not have any of these draw backs.

  20. Kullervo says:

    Yeah, I really doubt polygamy is coming back, Mormon eschatology notwithstanding. I agree with profxm on this one.

  21. Seth R. says:

    Thing is, the LDS Church is actually a lot more fluid in its positions than people give it credit for. There’s a bit of a short institutional memory, so to lay membership and contemporary observers, it looks like some impassive rock of doctrine and policy. But there have been shifts and signs of evolving positions.

    I imagine that the inevitable de-criminalization of polygamous relationships and unions in the United States will change the playing field. You could be seeing a relaxation on LDS prohibitions as early as 20 years following general acceptance in the broader society. It really could happen that quick.

    All speculation of course. But I think the legalization of polygamy in the US is pretty-much an inevitability and could happen quite soon. Like some have said, the LDS Church tends to be a bit more cautious about jumping on societal trends and doesn’t currently thrive on the “cutting edge.” But it could easily follow suit.

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