9th Circuit overturns Prop 8 — LDS response?

In 1980, the Church released a pamphlet against the Equal Rights Amendment. It included a fear that the amendment would encourage a “blurring” of gender roles as well as forcing “states…to legally recognize and protect [same-sex] marriages” because “if the law must be as undiscriminating concerning sex as it is toward race, [then]…laws outlawing wedlock between members of the same sex would be as invalid as laws forbidding miscegenation.” (“The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue,” 23-page insert in Ensign, March 1980.)

This “fear” came to pass with Judge Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8 in 2010, when Walker stated that “because of their relationship to one another,” gays and lesbians are discriminated against due to their biological sex. (Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 2010 US Dist [N CA], p. 120-21.)

In 1984, LDS apostle Dalin Oaks predicted that any arguments used about keeping children “safe” from the “culture of homosexuality would be used by the opposition to suggest that in opposing homosexual marriage the Church opposes parental rights.

In the 9th Circuit repeal today, it’s almost as if the judges are double-dog daring supporters of Prop 8 to make this a question of parental rights:

We in no way mean to suggest that Proposition 8 would have been unconstitutional if only it had gone further — for example, by also repealing same-sex couples’ equal parental rights or their rights to share community property or enjoy hospital visitation privileges. Only if Proposition 8 had any effect on childrearing or “responsible procreation” would it be necessary or appropriate for us to consider the legitimacy of Proponents’ primary rationale for the matter. (Perry v Brown, 2012, 9th Cir., p. 62)

Basically, the court has ruled that rescinding the right to marry for same-sex couples in California is merely to make sure heterosexual relationships are upheld as “superior.” If anything, the “responsible procreation” argument takes a backseat to this overall point.

In 1998, President Hinckley stated that the Church could not “stand idle if they [gays and lesbians] indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation” because “to permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families.”

Well, legally-speaking in most states, it’s kinda been demonstrated that a same-sex couple (with or without children) is “a family.”

As of this post, the Church hasn’t officially responded. What can the Church say except to express the ruling as “unfortunate?” I suspect what we’ll see is more of the same for several more years: official policy making sure Mormons don’t ever enter same-sex relationships so that these questions about superiority/inferiority, or the “blurring of gender roles,” won’t have to be internally addressed.

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    Ah, here’s the Church’s response.

    I wonder how the Church will respond when there aren’t democratic majorities. Personally I wouldn’t consider 52% to demonstrate that “the people of California have spoken so clearly on the subject.”

  2. Audrey says:

    I like how they use the phrase, “We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.” When they funded campaigns such as:


    “…children will be taught that marriage is between party A and party B regardless of gender” Oh, no! That doesn’t sound like the spirit of mutual respect and civility towards THOSE WITH DIFFERENT OPINIONS.

  3. dpc says:

    I like how everyone says Prop 8 is about the right to marry, when in reality (and as emphasized by the 9th circuit decision), all it’s really about is the right to call civil unions marriage. Millions of dollars wasted on semantics. Gotta love it.


    What is your definition of mutual respect and civility? Slavishly agreeing with anyone who disagrees?

  4. Alan says:


    I wouldn’t consider it “semantics.” For one, most US states don’t offer civil unions. In places where they’ve been built up as “separate, but equal” to marriage (such as California), they’re not equal due to federal considerations.

    A “civil union” can be contained within state politics, but a “marriage” is ultimately a federal matter. This is why the Church got so involved in Prop 8, even though Church HQ is in another state. What one state calls a “marriage” will ultimately affect the other states through the federal court system. This is why DOMA came into existence in 1996 after the Hawaii Supreme Court argued for same-sex marriage. There’s that court case now out of Massachusetts concerning DOMA brought forward by a married same-sex couple that couldn’t have been brought forward if they’d been in a civil union. If same-sex marriage comes to pass in California, I’m sure DOMA will be attacked there, too.

  5. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    As one of the lucky 18,000, it never Felt like semantics. A lot of money spent to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians. My relationship is not inferior.

    And DOMA is under attack in California,–Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management. Oh the joy of being legally wed and able to engage in a long court battle.
    What fun.

  6. Chino Blanco says:

    As Robert P. George told his BYU audience, the day will come when the full faith and credit clause will be used to whip Utah into line on marriage equality.

    Anyway, since a majority of Americans now support marriage equality… I guess the LDS leadership won’t object to DOMA’s demise.

  7. Alan says:

    @ Suzanne: Oh, okay. I wasn’t aware of that case. Seems DOMA is being attacked on a number of fronts.

    @ Chino: Yeah, I’m curious how the Church will respond when the word “democracy” isn’t on their side anymore. Actually, I already know: “religious freedom ^10”.

    People like George talk about society becoming “pathological” for accepting homosexuality, but really he’s just giving his audiences pathologies. If indeed Utah is forced to offer civil same-sex marriage licenses in 2020, it’ll be helpful (and healthy) if that generation of Mormons not think of it as a sign of the apocalypse.

  8. Chino Blanco says:

    Well, maybe BYU can invite Scalia to drop by in 2020 to calm Utah down with an explanation of Employment Division v. Smith.

  9. Alan says:

    Actually, it’s difficult for me to imagine the Supreme Court forcing states to accept gay marriage, even by 2020. Probably, the next step will be simple and obvious: to have the federal government recognize same-sex marriages in states that have same-sex marriages (that is, repealing Section 3 of DOMA, but maintaining Section 2). Beyond that, it’ll probably continue to be a state-by-state thing until the scales tip enough and then the Supreme Court would rule.

    *sigh* This stuff happens so slowly. I know there’re folks who are surprised this is happening in their lifetime, but I grew up in the 90s and had expectations to be living in outer space by now.

  10. Ren says:

    I can never get over the irony (or is hypocrisy a better word) of the church holding themselves up at the arbiter of what constitutes a legitimate marriage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.