Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BYU Editorial

Apparently the following appeared in today's BYU Daily Universe, but has since been censored and removed.

Viewpoint: Defending Proposition 8 — It’s time to admit the reasons

Tue, 09/07/2010 - 00:35


Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the recent United States District Court case that overturned Proposition 8, highlighted a disturbing inconsistency in the pro-Prop 8 camp.

The arguments put forth so aggressively by the Protect Marriage coalition and by LDS church leaders at all levels of church organization during the campaign were noticeably absent from the proceedings of the trial. This discrepancy between the arguments in favor of Proposition 8 presented to voters and the arguments presented in court shows that at some point, proponents of Prop 8 stopped believing in their purported rational and non-religious arguments for the amendment.

Claims that defeat of Prop 8 would force religious organizations to recognize homosexual marriages and perform such marriages in their privately owned facilities, including LDS temples, were never mentioned in court. Similarly, the defense was unable to find a single expert witness willing to testify that state-recognized homosexual marriage would lead to forcing religious adoption agencies to allow homosexual parents to adopt children or that children would be required to learn about homosexual marriage in school.

Four of the proponents’ six expert witnesses who may have been planning on testifying to these points withdrew as witnesses on the first day of the trial. Why did they go and why did no one step up to replace them? Perhaps it is because they knew that their arguments would suffer much the same fate as those of David Blankenhorn and Kenneth Miller, the two expert witnesses who did agree to testify.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who heard the case, spent 11 pages of his 138-page decision meticulously tearing down every argument advanced by Blankenhorn before concluding that his testimony was “unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.” Miller suffered similar censure after it was shown that he was unfamiliar with even basic sources on the subject in which he sought to testify as an expert.

The court was left with lop sided, persuasive testimony leading to the conclusion that Proposition 8 was not in the interest of the state and was discriminatory against gays and lesbians. Walker’s decision is a must-read for anyone who is yet to be convinced of this opinion. The question remains that if proponents of Prop 8 were both unwilling and unable to support even one rational argument in favor of the amendment in court, why did they seek to present their arguments as rational during the campaign?

It is time for LDS supporters of Prop 8 to be honest about their reasons for supporting the amendment. It’s not about adoption rights, or the first amendment or tradition. These arguments were not found worthy of the standards for finding facts set up by our judicial system. The real reasonis that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment. We must accept this explanation, along with all its consequences for good or ill on our own relationship with God and his children here on earth. Maybe then we will stop thoughtlessly spouting reasons that are offensive to gays and lesbians and indefensible to those not of our faith.

Cary Crall is a senior from Temecula, Calif., majoring in neuroscience andminoring in mathematics. He loves the Great Gatsby and wearing suspenders.


nicole said...

This makes me happy. Is there any way we can get it up on fMh? I'd love to see their thoughts on it as well.

Jenz said...

hmmmmmm -- so they have taken it down now?

kevin said...

I once wrote a response to a girl who wrote a letter in the DU. The letter was published the week I married my wife in the temple. (Not that it's relevant, but I am a straight man, lucky enough to be raised in a faithful LDS family that was very tolerant of every kind of person.)

I can't remember all the details of the letter I responded to, but it said something to the effect of how gay marriage was a way for homosexuals to force Christians to accept them.

My letter pointed out her logical problems (being a homosexual does not exclude someone from being a Christian, and vice fact, since a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ's teachings, any opinion that a Christian has of homosexuality is not founded in Jesus' teachings, since he is silent on the issue...I argued that only Paul had spoken out against homosexuality, and Paul also spoke out against many LDS practices...are Mormons, therefore, non-Christian?).

That wasn't well-accepted at BYU.

The most common response I got was "well, Jesus never mentioned x, which is obviously evil..."


Most of the people who responded to my letter had such a narrow view of Christianity that they saw LDS people as the only Christians.

I was labeled an apostate by some writers. One even gave me one of the worst labels you can publish at BYU -- "non-member."

So, it is comforting to know that at least a few people agree with me.

On a related note, one of the headlines for the day my letter appeared was "LDS Church enters fight over gay marriage." So, according to that newspaper, it was pretty much 13 million members versus me and my voiced opinion. Or at least that's how it felt.

And that was the start of a very long 4 and a half months at BYU. Voter registration drives for freshman students from CA that hadn't yet registered to vote. Call centers that were set up by professors that were also in Stake Presidencies. And a lot of wining that Obama won and a lot of gloating that Prop8 was passed.

And I'm not even gay. I felt terrible for my friends and family members who were far more directly effected by the Church's actions. It was a terrible climate to be in.

Now that I've graduated and am now attending a different University, I can say that it feels so nice to get out of there. It was just so unfriendly. And I find it hard to avoid the assumptions that most people have when I say I came from BYU or that I am from Utah. I almost have to say "I'm from Utah, went to BYU, but find nothing wrong with you or your lifestyle--in fact, I vocally supported it" to everyone I associate with on campus.

But anyways, thanks for the post. Maybe things are getting better?

jeff in colorado said...

Thanks for sharing that letter... it's too bad that it was removed from the DU but I assume it got published in the actual paper distributed on campus (assuming they still distribute an actual paper).

It's interesting because it wasn't really speaking against the brethren. Maybe a little but ultimately he clarified that it was all about following the prophet.

And, I think that the intelligent LDS members understand that the "following the prophet" logic is indefensible in this case because it flies in the face of D&C 134 and the 11th Article of Faith.

So, what to do?

Sarah said...

I don't know any details. Just saw it on Facebook yesterday from Madame Curie. Maybe she can enlighten us...?

Wow, Kevin. Thanks for sharing your story. Allies like you and me, especially as members of the church, certainly have our work cut out for us in voicing our love and acceptance for our fellow men. It is definitely not easy.

Jeff, in my case, I follow my heart. Which of course means I have no temple recommend. But so it is, and life goes on.

jeff in colorado said...


Following your heart is the way to go. I don't really understand how it is that they can keep you from having a temple recommend. Am I wrong to have not given up mine because I believe the church is wrong when it comes to their opinions on homosexuality?

I learned through a friend that the letter was, in fact, published in the hard copy Daily Universe paper. Today, the DU online has a statement explaining that the editorial was removed because it was "offensive".

Gee - I thought that the prophet had asked us to be respectful of those with differing opinions. But, I guess it must have been too offensive to those BYU students not wishing to have their opinions questioned or challenged.

J G-W said...

It's definitely an interesting essay...

Didn't Dallin Oaks make a statement to the effect that if the Church was going to enter the political arena, it had to be prepared to defend its positions on political and civic grounds? It had to be open to being criticized on political grounds?

The essay definitely points out that Prop 8 proponents don't really have any political or civic grounds for their stance. Emphasizing that the real reason for supporting Prop 8 is "sustaining the brethren" is just a coy way of saying that the Church didn't really have a leg to stand on politically...

What I still don't understand is... What did supporters of Prop 8 actually lose when it was struck down? Are their marriages any less valid now than they were before Prop 8? Not one iota... They've lost nothing... except the ability to take my marriage away.

Sarah said...

Jeff, I did not give up my recommend. If it had been up to me, I would have in good conscience answered the questions correctly to have a recommend. But because of my blog and the fact I am public with my opinions on gay rights, my leaders do not believe I am being honest when I say I sustain my leaders, LOL. I thought the interview questions were supposed to be between me and my God, but they are not, apparently. My bishop and stake president are also judges in Israel and have a say in the matter.

Do not give up your recommend if you don't want to. You have my full approval, if that counts for anything.

Sarah said...

John, amen to every word you wrote here. It makes absolutely no sense to me either. I have a cousin in CA that voted for Prop. 8, and her comment to me on Facebook is that she is worried about what will be taught in the schools. The people have believed the church's propaganda, and are panicking about issues that cannot be justified in court.

Besides, I personally think it would be good for schools to teach that not all families are traditional, and that we can respect each other regardless of our family structure.

But I would not wish what I have gone through to gain that opinion on anyone, and before my eyes were opened, I honestly would have probably felt just like my cousin, believing every lie that was presented on the issue.

jeff in colorado said...


I'm not sure if you were actually asking for the quote or just noting that Oaks had said it. But, for anyone interested I'm pasting it here.

“When churches or church leaders choose to enter the public sector to engage in debate on a matter of public policy, they should be admitted to the debate and they should expect to participate in it on the same basis as all other participants. In other words, if churches or church leaders choose to oppose or favor a particular piece of legislation, their opinions should be received on the same basis as the opinions offered by other knowledgeable organizations or persons, and they should be considered on their merits. By the same token, churches and church leaders should expect the same broad latitude of discussion of their views that conventionally applies to everyone else’s participation in public policy debates. A church can claim access to higher authority on moral questions, but its opinions on the application of those moral questions to specific legislation will inevitably be challenged by and measured against secular-based legislative or political judgments.” Dallin H. Oaks, “Religious Values and Public Policy,” Ensign, Oct 1992

Regarding your comment that supporters of Prop 8 have lost nothing... I've actually read a couple of articles that state this case may not go to the supreme court because the plaintiffs are not impacted by it all.

jeff in colorado said...


Considering how little my Bishop's/Stake President's approval matters to me these days, I very happily accept your approval. And given the very "refining fire" that you and Scott are going through - your approval does count!


J G-W said...

Jeff - I wasn't fishing for the quote, but thanks for providing it. I'm glad to see that I remembered the gist of it quite well.

I'm not a legal/constitutional expert by any means, but I'd think that Prop 8 supporters at this point have far more to lose by pushing this to the Supreme Court than they have to gain...