Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why we can't just agree to disagree

LDS blogger Natasha offers advice to gays on how to deal with the loss of our marriage rights. Right now I am busily preparing reasons why she should leave the LDS Church. Neither piece of advice is likely to be followed.

Luckily, she also provided me a link to a video which very accurately summarizes my views of the role of the LDS Church in taking away my marriage rights. So, with hat tip to Natasha, I post it here as my response to her, why gays will never agree to disagree about same-sex marriage.

No peace without justice.

6 comments:

Brendan said...

That's a great ad. One measure of its effectiveness is the amount of howling it's causing among the Mormons. Truth hurts.

Scott said...

I feel so used. All this time you've been seeing other Mormons behind my back.

Natasha said...

Did you happen to read the post before that where I said why I would want to vote No on Prop 8? Did you read all my reasons why I thought Prop 8 was dumb? Hmmm? The advice I gave was good advice. Because short of murdering all the Mormons, there's not much else you can do. And EVERY person on earth needs to accept the fact that their own happiness in the midst of unpleasant or even dire circumstances lies in their own hands.

Your counter argument, that I should leave the Mormon church, is not even close to the same logic. I didn't say you should stop behaving a certain way or stop believing a certain way. That would make no sense.

Also, I'm more sympathetic to homosexuality than you could know.

Dan Weston said...

Natasha,

Thanks for your reply.

Did you happen to read the post before that where I said why I would want to vote No on Prop 8?

Yes. Did you vote No on Prop 8? That is all that matters to me, not why.

Your counter argument, that I should leave the Mormon church...

...was obviously meant ironically. I have no more interest in your religious beliefs than you should have in my connubial ones.

Perhaps the original post was too flip. Let me try again in more detail:

Here's the thing: Mormons believe that marriage is a holy sacrament from God that man has no power to touch. Most Mormons believe that as something HOLY, it needs defending because anyone who tries to alter something holy is acting under the influence of Satan, no matter how pure their motivation.

Fine, I am acting under the influence of Satan. My motivation should be of no consequence to them, only my actions.

Nothing that anyone says is going to change how they feel and the values and rights that make up the United States of America say that Mormons should not have to change that.

"Values" has no meaning in law, only "rights". And yes, the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and belief.

And here's the thing that short-sighted "No" voters and believers fail to understand: NO ONE IS FORCING ANYONE simply by taking part of a democratic process.

Wrong. Prop. 8 was not an opinion survey, it was a Constitutional amendment, which unless overturned on appeal, forces the lower courts, the executive branch, and me (barring civil disobedience), to obey.

There exists a marriage LAW. Citizens of a democratic country have the right to vote on laws.

Vote away. There are laws against abortion too. They are a waste of ink and paper. The Court has rendered them moot.

Above statutory law, there exists Constitutional law. This also governs Constitutional changes, and separates that process into amendment and revision. Mere amendments cannot overturn core Constitutional principles such as Equal Protection. Even a revision may put the CA Constitution in conflict with the US one.

Simple majority does not always rule. This is a very good thing. Especially if you are African-American.

If you don't like the idea of majority ruling, maybe you should lobby to have marriage laws revoked altogether.

Why? I have fought half my life to be married. Why would I want to abolish it?

Maybe marriage shouldn't be under law. Then, when you want a divorce, there will be no laws to protect you there, either, no way to decide a darn thing.

We agree that marriage should not be abolished.

You can try to sway opinions. You can talk things out rationally. You can appeal to the compassion of others. But there comes a point where GROWN FREAKIN' ADULTS need to agree to disagree and stop trying to change that which they cannot and just wait it out.

We have not reached that point. Let's see what happens next March.

Instead of trying to combat what you view as hate by spreading more hate, like an unsophisticated kindergartener, accept your situation.

No. I choose not to submit (but nice ad hominem with the kindergarten comment).

Okay, so not everyone believes in God. Even still, aren't those good values to have?

Let's see what we can agree on without appealing to a deity:

Don't you see how often in life Change waits for Acceptance?

No. The status quo never changes of its own accord. That is why it's called the status quo.

learn how to be happy despite situations that make happiness difficult.

Yes, good psychology. But happy does not mean content. Struggling against adversity may contribute more to happiness than acquiescing to it.

strengthen our characters, grow our patience, improve our communication skills.

All good. I am patiently continuing this seemingly endless struggle, and charting my progress with this blog. I feel my character growing stronger with each post.

Don't these sorts of life experiences provide these lessons and help cultivate these values? Isn't there always a silver lining?

Ok, you take the silver lining, I'll take the cloud. Sounds like a fair trade.

As for your advice that I will continue to ignore:

Take a deep breath. Have a good cry. Hold your friends close and take comfort in their understanding.

This is patronizing. I would rather that my opponents do the crying and seek solace from their friends.

Stop hating people who are NOT contradicting your beliefs "out of hate" but rather because they hold sincere beliefs they feel they cannot edit at will. Stop hating. Try understanding and acceptance.

It doesn't matter one wit if people contradict my beliefs, only if they infringe on my rights.

It matters even less WHY they do this, only that they do.

Hate is a useful emotion at times. It keeps me motivated and away from despair.

Press on in what you feel to be your mission, having no expectation of outcome.

I have a strong expectation of outcome, and will press on until I achieve it.

Appeal to the compassion of the human spirit. Compile your data and strong argument but do not demand that it be heard. Do not DEMAND anything. People don't respond well to demands.

This is tactical advice, not strategic advice. Anyway, we tried this on Prop. 8 (and didn't go negative). Didn't work too well.

Also, I'm more sympathetic to homosexuality than you could know.

Excellent. It's nice to have an ally in the same-sex marriage issue on the inside. On the off-chance that your sympathy does not extend quite that far, then I'm afraid it won't be of much use to us in this current battle. Keep it handy for the next one though!

Maybe this video below will speak to you and give you a measure of peace.

I did not watch the video, because I do not seek peace. Come to think of it, neither did Jesus: "Think not that I am come to send apeace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matt 10:34)

No peace without justice. And no rest for the weary.

Melessa said...

You DID know Natasha was Canadian, right? And therefore not likely to be able to vote in any American election. Or did you just do a search for a Mormon blog to bash, learning as few personal details about the blogger as possible? I'm sure it's easier that way-you run a far smaller risk of actually getting to know any of us as an individual with thoughts, feelings, and opinions in the slightest variance from mainstream LDS culture. Unlike Natasha, I live in the U.S. In Oklahoma, as a matter of fact, and am used to being picked on for believing outside the mainstream. Over the years, it's made me very sympathetic to anyone living outside that same mainstream.

I think my family and I were about the only straight people in this state to vote against a similar measure here four years ago (for the fat lot of good that our 'no' vote did-I blogged about it before Blogger had labels in Nov. 2004). I would have voted no if I lived in California, but I don't, so it wasn't an option for me. I do know many Latter Day Saints who could and did vote 'no' and probably feel that their efforts were just as futile as mine were here.
For my very vocal defense of gay rights, I receive ostracism from my fellow church members AND, ironically, I am now getting that exact same treatment from gay friends and family members simply because I'm LDS. I can't win and, at this point, I'm ready to wash my hands of all of you right now.

Am I proud of the political actions of church members in California? No. Nor am I impressed by the adolescent behavior (vandalism=junior high) that I see the gay community engaging in either. In fact, the more of that I see, the harder it is for me to hold my head up at church for all the silent 'I told you so's' that I know are aimed in my direction. And while I will never change my stance on gay rights, I am beginning to regret being quite so vocal. It's not as if anyone on either side of the fence appreciates what I have to say.

Natasha is far more pro-gay rights than you've bothered to find out in your cursory search of her blog. And so am I. And we are far from alone in the LDS community. It's just easier to paint us all with one brush rather than identify that there might be individuals within the group who just might be sympathetic. But, as someone else who is ostracized and marginalized in her home state for her lifestyle (in this case, my religious beliefs) I am used to it.

Dan Weston said...

Hey, Melessa. Welcome to the discussion!

You DID know Natasha was Canadian, right? And therefore not likely to be able to vote in any American election.

Good catch. You found the central point right up front. Actually, I did know Natasha was Canadian, and the synecdoche in my opening was no accident.

Here's the deal: slightly more than half of those who voted on Prop 8 voted yes. Who are these people? If they are a random subset then I wouldn't be blogging about it.

Are they hard-core conservatives whose mind I have no hope of changing? No. They are on the whole swing voters.

So why did they vote NO? It was under the sway of a targeted, misleading, well-funded, and much smaller vanguard.

And who is this vanguard? Do they represent a myriad of interests, or are they coherent, not just in ideology, but even in membership in a particular institution that can be targeted. It turns out they are. Apparently, an LSD couple near Sacramento with a gay son donated $35,000 to pass Prop 8. What wonderful family values. Are these your values, too? If you are LDS, people have a right to assign communal guilt, because you have such a strong chuch bond. The Prophet says jump, and you jump. The Pope tells me to jump, and I tell him to go to hell. That is a big difference in proxy thinking, so my conscience is clear on these matters.

Is every last Mormon in this Prop 8 vanguard? Obviously not. But all Mormons are collectively responsible for the workings of the whole (justifying my synecdoche).

I cannot take on the LDS Church directly (that would not only be an unfair fight but also an "attack on freedom of religion").

Here is my problem with Natasha. She is a member of a Church that had very publicly, strongly, and pervasively involved itself in a political process under cover of religion. If she does not publicly repudiate their action, she silently defends it.

The fact that she is Canadian does not mean she "cannot vote". Her public stance is very much an ongoing vote.

Actually, it did appear that she did exactly this on her first post on the issue, before strangely contradicting herself on the second (did someone get to her?)

Or did you just do a search for a Mormon blog to bash

Isn't Google wonderful? I typed in "Mormon blog to bash" and it sent me right to Natasha's blog. Real time saver.

Actually, I was specifically searching for Mormon blogs who had something nice to say about gay marriage, so I could understand better how life is like in the brackish waters of liberal Mormonia. I learned that they are still quite salty.

you run a far smaller risk of actually getting to know any of us as an individual with thoughts, feelings, and opinions in the slightest variance from mainstream LDS culture.

There is no risk of that. You all have been wonderfully articulate. It is not that we don't understand each other, it's that we don't agree with each other.

This exploration was a small foray into seeing whether the latter depended on the former. I see now that it does not.

The more I have learned about LDS members' relationship to the mothership, the more repelled I have become. Sometimes I wonder how the Mormon Pioneers even made it across the country when their covered wagons were welded together in a circle.

I personally know a closeted gay Mormon. Even now, his Mormonism compels him to pretend he is straight when his (non-Mormon) cousins, friends, and colleagues all know otherwise. I am neither disinterested nor dispassionate about this puppetry.

Let me say something that makes me look like a real idiot. What would Jesus do in this situation? (Answer: see Matt 21:28-31)

If you sit there quietly in church while the Prophet's Proclamation is read aloud and you do not rise to your feet and leave (or better yet, say something then and there), but then go around afterward reassuring gay people how gay-friendly you are, all while taking umbrage at the suggestion that membership in this all-encompassing Church seems to have such sway over your life and done the thinking for you, is that really what Jesus would do? I suspect that Jesus would have taken a whip to something or started saying "You hypocrite", as He seems wont to do so often.

For the record, I get that you all do not feel like bigots. I hope you get that that does not really matter to me.

My experience so far suggests that the LDS has many cult-like features, most noxious of which is that leaving it (or the threat of being made to leave it) causes such wreckage and isolation.

And no, this is not God's retribution, but the cold shunning of a too-tightly-knit commune that cannot tolerate internal dissent or meaningfully embrace the broader world.

So, Natasha, One for All and All for One. It is difficult to respond to the One and the All separately when you go to such an effort to keep them together.

The next time you are in church, ask yourself why you are so afraid to publicly oppose the LDS Church on any official matter, however small, and just ask them the question you asked me: "why can't we just agree to disagree?"

Talk about being burned at the Stake (Presidency, that is).