Friday, November 7, 2008

The Mormons v. The Gays

Activists in California are targeting the Mormon church for their involvement with Proposition 8, the measure to deny marriage equality to gay and lesbian families. They're protesting at Mormon temples and petitioning to revoke their tax-free status. As a gay atheist, I sympathize, but as a conscientious objector to the culture war, I strongly disagree with these divisive tactics.

Gay and Lesbian couples (and their friends, families, and allies) have put enormous effort into gaining marriage equality in California, so it's understandable that these people would feel hurt and angry and want to lash out against those that hurt them. I am as heartsick as anyone about the 11,000 gay marriages that have been nullified by Prop 8, but fanning the flames against another minority group that itself has been the victim of bigotry is counter-productive, and sort of misses the point.

I would assume everybody, even anti-gay folks, would want gays and lesbians to be held legally responsible for their families, but there's obviously something about gay marriage that the Mormon church feels threatened enough by to devote a great deal of time, money, and energy. So the challenge to those of us who support marriage equality is to assure them that their gay neighbors are willing to peacefully coexist with them even if we have strong disagreements on the definitions of family, but as long as there are cops in battle gear guarding their temples from gay protesters, their fears will only be validated.

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