Recently a member of our LDS stake presidency spoke in our sacrament meeting in favor of Proposition 8, which would change the California Constitution so that homosexuals are banned from participating in marriage.
He did not explain how the church views homosexuals or why same-sex marriage was bad; instead, he simply stated that we needed to "follow the prophet" on this issue. If we had raised our right arms and sustained the prophet in the last General Conference, we needed to obey him now, by voting in the way he has directed, by paying as much money as possible to the cause of Prop. 8 (church leaders are giving many Mormons assessments to donate specific large amounts), and by knocking on doors and encouraging people in our neighborhoods to vote for Prop. 8.
All of this is reminiscent of the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when leaders instructed members how to vote and Mormons willingly voted as a bloc. The church has not given us general principles, using education or persuasion, then asked us to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the issue and vote on it. Instead, church leaders have instructed us to simply "follow the prophet" by voting for and supporting Prop. 8. While the church has made some talking points and arguments for Prop. 8 available, this has been almost an afterthought.
This has not been a problem for Republican Mormons, the great majority in our church, but it is a problem for the minority of Mormons who, like myself, are wholehearted Democrats. Banning gay marriage is an issue strongly associated with the Republican Party.
Banning homosexual marriage is not just a characteristic Republican issue; it's characteristic of the Republican far right. Karl Rove, who masterminded the technique of getting the Republican base out to vote by using divisive wedge issues, made banning homosexual marriage his preferred polarizing issue. In my view, Rove represents the worst in American politics. And now Mormon Democrats are being commanded to become close allies of Rove in this respect.
I've never understood the Republican argument that allowing homosexual marriage will prevent heterosexual marriage. However, I do know that typical Democrats conceptualize this as a civil rights issue. Homosexuals are a minority, different from the majority; therefore, there is a tendency for the majority to deny minorities, such as homosexuals, full civil rights. The Republican Party's record on civil rights in this century has been abysmal. There are no black Republicans in Congress, and this is not a problem for many Republicans. On the other hand, civil rights is an issue that Democrats care passionately about. So it is not surprising that most Republicans support Prop. 8, while most Democrats oppose it.
The LDS Church always states that it is politically neutral; however, in this case it seems to be saying, "It's acceptable for church members to be Democrats, as long as they uphold characteristic Republican positions."
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