Because They Couldn’t Very Well Say “Sorry We Insisted You Waste All that Time and Money”

As pretty much everyone already knows, today the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ruled that the private sponsors of Proposition 8 in California didn’t have the legal right to step in and appeal the ruling by a federal court that Prop 8 was unconstitutional when the state of California declined to do so.

From what I understand, this means that gay marriage will probably soon be legal again in California, and that gay couples in the states that recognize gay marriage can soon get federal benefits, including (I assume? I hope?) green card status in marriages where one spouse is not a citizen. (The immigration thing really upsets me.  I know the tax thing is a drag, but at least you can still live with your chosen partner if you’re both US citizens.)

It only took the church an hour or two to issue a statement lamenting the court’s actions:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

I saw people on Facebook reacting with surprise at the snark in the statement.  Personally, I think snark is a step up for an institution that has regularly condemned people as evil and tools of the devil and destined for everlasting punishment.  Way to go, LDS church!  You’re ever so slightly less nasty now!

So that’s the official response.  I can’t help wondering, though, about the response from people like Pam and Rick Patterson, the Folsom, CA couple of modest means who in 2008 for emptied their savings account so they could donate $50,000 to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.  What are they thinking now?

I posed that question on Facebook.  Several people suggested that the most financially generous Prop 8 supporters are hardened in their resolve that they did the right thing, that they feel persecuted for righteousness’ sake and closer to celestial glory.

And maybe they do, because they need to justify their enormous sacrifice.  It’s hard to admit something so costly and destructive was an easily avoidable mistake.

But I’m willing to give it time.  I know people who donated to earlier fights (the one in Hawaii, for instance) who now feel shame and rage at the church. It was one thing after the defeat of the ERA–the church won that fight–but they have lost this one, and spectacularly. I think a lot of people who donated will quietly concede the matter, and having seen their money and time so wasted, will be much more reluctant to fund the next battle.

As for “supporters of traditional marriage” who didn’t write checks, just made plenty of homophobic statements in public forums, I bet a lot of them will just shrug and say as little as possible now.

And I will add that it delights me to see people who claim to have the gift of prophecy so screwed over by their own bad choices.



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21 Responses

  1. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    As a Air Force brat, I’m glad same sex families will now be treated the same as opposite sex couples. (and not that I’m happy about next of kin notification, but it beats hearing bad news second hand)

    Looking at the Church’s statement made me want to pull out my genealogy. How did the children of my polygamous ancestors compare with the children of my less valiant ancestors?
    But one thing I do agree with, early Mormon Utah was not the best environment for nurturing children.

  2. Parker says:

    All of a sudden there may be a little chink in the 12th Article of Faith.

  3. Holly says:

    good point. Certainly our polygamist ancestors were quite willing to throw out the 12th article of faith, so why shouldn’t we decide it’s a problem again?

  4. visitor says:

    “All of a sudden there may be a little chink in the 12th Article of Faith.”

    And I guess that doctrine about the Constitution being divinely inspired is going to need some redefinition as the Constitution begins to refine the concept of equal protection to include gay Americans.

    But one thing we can be sure of Jon McNaughton will be painting up a storm to prove SCOTUS evil.

  5. Holly says:

    But one thing we can be sure of Jon McNaughton will be painting up a storm to prove SCOTUS evil.

    Oh, heavens, I hadn’t thought of that! I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with.

  6. Chris F. says:

    I’m glad that the damage that was done by Prop. 8 and its supporters is finally being repaired and justice is prevailing.

  7. chanson says:

    I wonder about people like the Pattersons as well. I followed the link, and apparently they have five sons. There’s a decent chance one of those boys is gay. Meanwhile, having invested all that money may make the parents all the more devoted to the anti-gay cause. Potentially a very sad situation…

  8. Alan says:

    In its response, the Church focuses solely on a perceived broken system…as if gay marriage somehow weaseled its way through the whole process. Historically, judges and legislatures have always had the ability to act differently than the will of the people because it’s their job to rule and lead, not just represent. The Church knows this, and hence its snarky attitude.

    In terms of jurisdictional issues, the only one that I see is a personal annoyance that the Court did not make gay marriage the law of the land for the whole country. Both rulings rested upon the notion that the Court does not have jurisdiction over state law, but this did not stop the Court in 1967 from toppling state laws banning miscegenation. The constitutionality of gay marriage itself will have to be argued in a later case, I guess, brought by couples in states that ban gay marriage. Sigh, such a long process…

    Anyway, the Church always fails to note the jurisdictions in which a popular vote is what brings about gay marriage, such as in Maine, Washington State and Maryland. They never snarkily say, “We regret the decision made by the will of the people.” If California has another proposition on the matter to formalize gay marriage there democratically, the Church will have to reexamine its constant rhetoric of victimhood.

  9. Alan says:

    Also, what’s telling about the snark is that while the quorum is so set in its ways that they can only react in snark, there are countless Mormons who are praying, grappling deeply, etc. It’s such a disjoint. Even Mormons Building Bridges is telling its members to go “somewhere else” to talk about the rulings, because of its policy of not talking about gay marriage.

    Taylor Petrey’s piece about the Church’s three options was a good read. I like the fourth option someone posted underneath the article, that the rulings point to the fact that the End Times are in sight.

  10. Elaine says:

    What bothers me about the statement is that they continue to believe that it is acceptable to take a vote on people’s rights.

  11. Parker says:

    “the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman”

    I don’t think they can strengthen traditional marriage. What they can and are doing is strengthening their position of who can be legally married. In other words they are endeavoring to strengthen a conceptual position, not a practice.

    On the other hand they may, like most churches, make an effort to support parents in raising their children, whether biological or adopted. One would hope that their support of a family for a single mother of father is as great as a two parent “traditional marriage.”

    They really should stop trying to pass off their efforts to strengthen traditional marriage as being the same thing as supporting caretakers raising children.

  12. Holly says:

    I loved Rachel Maddow’s opening piece last night on the rulings. It discussed the whole immigration issue–sure enough, it puts the kibosh on deportations of gay spouses, which makes me SO happy.

    And it also mentions that today, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, is coming to Salt Lake City to continue the fight.

    Hi, Chad! I’m waving to you from the window of my apartment. Have a great time here–I hope you get A LOT done!

  13. chanson says:

    @12 Fantastic!! She’s right to point out that immigration is a point where a whole lot of families got a necessary legal protection today!

  14. chanson says:

    And I guess that doctrine about the Constitution being divinely inspired is going to need some redefinition as the Constitution begins to refine the concept of equal protection to include gay Americans.

    Seriously, what was God thinking when he inspired the founding fathers to include that bit about “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State”…?

  15. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    All legal procedures and institutions set in place by our constitutional form of government functioned as they are supposed to. The idea that somehow people in CA will now have ‘troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates’ should not be confused with people not understanding our form of government in the first place. We live in a democratic constitutional republic, not a pure democracy, where every question is decided by a popular vote, for which Mormons should be particularly grateful. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to defend Prop 8, as did AG Jerry Brown as they found it unconstitutional. The CA Supreme Court upheld their refusal, and said that they were not obligated to defend Prop 8 in Federal Court. If people in CA were unhappy with their decisions , they had ample opportunity to replace them. They did not. Jerry Brown was elected governor, and Kamala Harris, who campaigned on NOT defending Prop 8 was elected AG. Individuals have never been granted the right or ‘standing’ to defend a state issue in federal court, so the USSC finding that Prop 8 proponents did not have standing is totally consistent with past findings of law and procedure. The idea that people in CA have been disenfranchised is whiney, overblown nonsense by those who clearly don’t understand the legal system we have. For added measure, every single poll done within the last two years has found that public perception of Mormons has plummeted. ‘Self righteous moralistic busybodies’ is not a term used to my knowledge by anyone but me–I just added it for pure snark.

  16. chanson says:

    @15 good analysis. There exist “troubling questions” about things like government gathering too much information about people, perhaps illegally. But this supreme court decision is an example of the government functioning correctly.

    Also, a few years ago when I was discussing problems and possible improvements in the US voting system (Electoral College, etc.), conservative readers were quick to explain to me that the US is not a Democracy, it’s a Republic! But for stuff like this, it’s majority rules…?

  17. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    Supporters of Prop 8 should be careful about the ‘majority rules’ concept they are obsessed with….the majority in CA now strongly favor equal protection in marriage rights for homosexuals. Now I’m sure, those same people will say that the majority is ‘wicked’ and the Mormons and co-religionists are persecuted for Jesus–mighty tiresome if you ask me.

  18. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    BTW chanson, the current government snooping is totally a product of the Patriot Act, which those who are screaming about ‘big government’ had no trouble supporting and enacting when GWB was President. A different story now that Obama is in the WH. These people need to make up their minds.

  19. chanson says:

    @ 17 & 18 — So true.

    Personally, I was opposed to the government snooping under GWB, and I’m still opposed to it under Obama. Obama has unfortunately continued some constitutionally problematic policies from the previous administration (including things like detaining people and imprisoning them without charging them with a crime). I guess it’s an improvement that people on the other side of the culture war notice that stuff like that is bad now that it’s Obama in charge of it…?

  20. Alan says:

    @18/19: The way I understand it, it wasn’t so much a left vs right thing, but that 9/11 created an opportunity for the federal gov’t to implement surveillance/detainment strategies that it had been itching to implement for a while. The nation was “shocked” and the Patriot Act passed in that context. Perhaps Obama in charge makes it seem worse to those on the right, but I also think he has toned down the rhetoric of “drastic times call for drastic measures” so that the policy seems problematic/unnecessary from both sides of the aisle.

    IMO, the federal gov’t is always at least a decade behind the info gathering capabilities of private companies who gather data for commercial reasons.

    To link the two subjects (gay marriage and the Patriot Act), there are scholars who would argue that the end of DOMA is a sign that America is now increasing “homonational,” meaning that gay rights are linked with abusive foreign policy overseas (like when Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State said in 2011 that “gay rights are human rights,” so Axis of Evil beware).

  21. chanson says:

    @20 I don’t really mean to link the two issues. My only point bringing it up @16 was that sometimes the government functions well and sometimes it functions badly. It is neither always good/right/competent nor always bad/wrong/incompetent.

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