Sunday, February 27, 2011

Youtube: A Moral Case for LDS Same-Sex Marriage Part 1 of 8 by Brad Carmack



I'd be interested in your thoughts and responses to part 1. I also made a playlist for the whole moral case for LDS same-sex marriage (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7FC0ACE62E613B06) in case you want to "play all."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why black people shouldn't be allowed to marry

I received the following email recently:
 
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS


The Anglican Mainstream in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life has asked the Jonah Institute to invite qualified researchers and/or clinicians to submit proposals for a meta-analysis of the existing literature on two separate topics:

 1) Same sex partnerships/marriages
 2) Same sex parenting

 and the impact of each on public life.

The results will be published through Oxford University.

The Anglican Mainstream is a community within the Anglican Communion committed to promote, teach and maintain the Scriptural truths on which the Anglican Church was founded. Those in the network of Anglican Mainstream are committed to the traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality and seek to educate the public on secular psychological understandings relevant thereto.

 The Centre contributes to public deliberation by highlighting moral issues of public concern and by publicizing them in conversation with other traditions of religious and philosophical thought. 

The scope of this research should encompass studies that cover the following topics:

I.                    Same Sex Partnerships/Marriage:
               
·         Is faithfulness a category used by same sex couples who enter into long term partnership?
·         How is it understood?
·         Does it include exclusiveness as a criteria?
·         Length of self described long term same sex partnerships/marriages?
·         Conditions that enable same sex partnership to be long term.

II.                  Parenting:

·         The nature of same sex partnerships/marriages parenting?

a.       Is it different from the parenting of heterosexual couples?
b.      Its impact on the development of children in the area of social, emotional and education performance.


III.                Is faithfulness a characteristic of same sex couples?

IV.                Is faithfulness a required characteristic of successful parenting?


All are invited to participate. If you are interested please list your topic of interest for the research, estimated length for completion and compensation sought.

Additionally, if you know of someone qualified who may be interested, please contact us.

Please e-mail your proposal with a current CV no later than January 31, 2011 to orly.jonahoffice@gmail.com or via mail to:

JONAH, PO Box 313, Jersey City, NJ 07303

Please feel to call (201) 433-3444 with any questions. 

Sincerely yours,                                                                                                                                               
Arthur Goldberg                                                                              
Co-Director                                                                                                                                           
JONAH


I have modified it thus:

 
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS


The Anglican Mainstream in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life has asked the Jonah Institute to invite qualified researchers and/or clinicians to submit proposals for a meta-analysis of the existing literature on two separate topics:

 1) Black partnerships/marriages
 2) Black parenting

 and the impact of each on public life.

The results will be published through Oxford University.

The Anglican Mainstream is a community within the Anglican Communion committed to promote, teach and maintain the Scriptural truths on which the Anglican Church was founded. Those in the network of Anglican Mainstream are committed to the traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality and seek to educate the public on secular psychological understandings relevant thereto.

 The Centre contributes to public deliberation by highlighting moral issues of public concern and by publicizing them in conversation with other traditions of religious and philosophical thought. 

The scope of this research should encompass studies that cover the following topics:

I.                    Black Partnerships/Marriage:
               
·         Is faithfulness a category used by black couples who enter into long term partnership?
·         How is it understood?
·         Does it include exclusiveness as a criteria?
·         Length of self described long term black partnerships/marriages?
·         Conditions that enable black partnerships to be long term.

II.                  Parenting:

·         The nature of black partnerships/marriages parenting?

a.       Is it different from the parenting of white couples?
b.      Its impact on the development of children in the area of social, emotional and education performance.


III.                Is faithfulness a characteristic of black couples?

IV.                Is faithfulness a required characteristic of successful parenting?


All are invited to participate. If you are interested please list your topic of interest for the research, estimated length for completion and compensation sought.

Additionally, if you know of someone qualified who may be interested, please contact us.

Please e-mail your proposal with a current CV no later than January 31, 2011 to orly.jonahoffice@gmail.com or via mail to:

JONAH, PO Box 313, Jersey City, NJ 07303

Please feel to call (201) 433-3444 with any questions. 

Sincerely yours,                                                                                                                                               
Arthur Goldberg                                                                              
Co-Director                                                                                                                                           
JONAH



Discussion:

Biblical family structures were as diverse as the cultures they existed in.  Many Biblical examples of family suck.  Prevalence of concubines, oppression/devaluing of women, and stigmatizing barren women merely begins the illustration.  Many of the other references to marriage, family, and sexuality are contradictory and ambiguous.  What exactly is the "traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality" the Anglican Mainstream wants to promote? 


Second point: the average incidence of promiscuity of same-sex partnerships should not factor into whether a same-sex couple should be allowed to marry.  From my book (http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/10/homosexuality-straight-byu-students.html):


Gay promiscuity will taint marriage by reducing marital fidelity


Interlocutor: “Studies show that gay men have on average more than 250 partners.  It is women that tame male promiscuity- and women would be absent from male-male marriage.  ‘The chaos of sexual irresponsibility (especially infidelity and promiscuity within marriage) will grow, and the moral expectations of the basic institution of society will fade as the sexual ethic of gay and lesbian lifestyles is embraced as marriage.[i]  Also, ‘Legalizing same-sex marriage would be another notch in what Professor Helen Alvare calls “The turn toward the self in the law of marriage and family.[ii]” It would encourage gay fluidity, promiscuity, infidelity, and instability in marriage.  However, if we want to foster fidelity, monogamy, responsibility, and emotional bonding in marriages, the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples would be counter-productive… The morality of marriage would be the most devastating casualty of the legalization of same-sex marriage.[iii]’”

My response: I will make five responses.

Response 1:
It would be unsurprising that gay men on average are more promiscuous than straight men.  They lack (generally) the civilizing institution of marriage, approved sexual outlets, and societal acceptance compared to straight men.  Also, the area of the male brain that processes thoughts about sex is 50% larger on average than the female brain, and men’s brains are practically saturated with testosterone[iv]. Males are more visually oriented when it comes to sex, and the number of thoughts about sex that sexually mature males have per day is on average several times that of their female counterparts of the same age.  Though there may not be a strong link between sexual desire and promiscuity, it would be unsurprising that gay men, like straight men, are more sexually active, more sexually creative, and interested in a greater number of sexual variety and sexual partners than women.  It is not altogether unlikely that there would be more straight sex, including more sexual partners, were women as interested in sex as men are- and thus it would be unsurprising to learn that gay men are on average more promiscuous than straight men.  However, the figure you cite greatly exaggerates gay male promiscuity.  The 250 average you cite came from a San Francisco Bay Area sample recruited from bars, sex clubs, and sex-cruising spots[v].  The consensus numbers are more likely similar to these descriptions:

“Now it does appear that a significant minority of American gay males do have lots of sexual partners.  Moreover, the median American gay male does have somewhat more sexual partners than the median straight male (likely ten to twenty lifetime partners for gays as opposed to five to ten for straights…).[vi] 
The General Social Survey found that straight women reported having had on average three sex partners since age 18, straight men six, and gay men ten[vii].  Thus, gay men are not on average as hyper-promiscuous as you claim.  Plus, it may be that a minority of gay men are responsible for the predominance of the promiscuity- and it could be argued that group is less likely to enter SSM than the less promiscuous subset.

Response 2:
Homosexuals may be asexual, on average, more often than heterosexuals (though the following finding is limited since it was not based on a random sample):
“An online poll suggests that there is an overrepresentation of gays and bisexuals among asexuals, with 11% of the asexuals polled self-identifying as gay, 24% as bi, and only 43% as straight[viii].  One hypothetical explanation is that among sexuals, large percentages are homo/bi-romantic or homo/bi-physical but they identify as straight because their sexual attractions are exclusively hetero, whereas among asexuals the diversity of romantic and physical attractions comes to the forefront. Alternatively, asexuality may be an effect of some of the same prenatal biological factors that cause homosexuality/bisexuality, in which case the correlation may be a result of a common origin. Another way of looking at the poll data is that a gay person is about 8 times more likely to be asexual than a straight person, and a bisexual person is about 18 times more likely to be asexual than a straight person (assuming a 3% prevalence rate in the general population for self-identified gays and also 3% for bi).[ix] 

Response 3:
It is well-established that men are more promiscuous than women[x]- and that includes both heterosexual and homosexual men.  However, lesbian couples do not contain men- yet few if any who raise the promiscuity contention would permit SSM for lesbians, even if lesbians exhibited on average even greater fidelity that straight couples or straight women.  If marital fidelity were truly the aim, then there would be no reason to bar lesbians- in fact, they may be preferred to opposite-sex couples who, due to the fact that they each include a man, may be on average more promiscuous.

Response 4:
Why is SSM counter-productive to fostering emotional bonding between spouses?  It is not at all clear that same-sex couples do not bond emotionally with their partners in an inferior way to same-sex couples.  The rush of oxytocin (a bonding/trust neurochemical) associated with orgasm in both men and women still occurs when same-sex couples kiss, hug, touch, and have sex.  Authentic communication engendered by commitment and a shared life with a partner bear the potential to foster emotional bonding in same-sex as in opposite-sex pairings.  Male and female brains are, on average, different.  Arguably, due to the decreased median difference between the brains of same-sex spouses, an elevated level of similarity and understanding may grant an emotional bonding advantage.

Response 5:
“Remember that two-day, four-part Marital Aptitude Test you were required to pass before you were allowed to get your license?  Remember when the social worker visited your home and interviewed your neighbors to make sure you were faithful enough to your partner to qualify for marriage?  Remember how, before they issued your license, the authorities looked up your age group and ethnic group and religious group to check that the odds of your staying married were up to par? No?...
[T]he fidelity double standard—the insistence that gay people become model marital citizens before they can have the right to marry—is the bitterest of all the ironies in the gay-marriage debate, and also the most twisted… [Critics] treat gay people not as individuals but as averages… it is certainly possible for [a gay couple] to stay faithful to each other, and many do, just as many straight couples do not.  Even if all gay-male couples were adulterous, their number would not approach that of adulterous heterosexual husbands.  But all such considerations are deemed inconsequential, because the gay average is below par.  One wonders: Exactly what proportion of gay men would need to be faithful in order to earn homosexuals the legal right to marry?  Seventy-five to 80 percent- the male heterosexual average, if you trust surveys?  Ninety percent? And how many heterosexuals would agree that their own legal right to marry should depend on the average fidelity of other heterosexuals?[xi]

Barring SSM because of the promiscuity of gay men penalizes both homosexually oriented men and women for not living up to the rules of a club they’re excluded from, predicts without merit the future behavior of a group of people, assumes that any increase in heterosexual couples’ divorce or adultery would be unacceptable regardless of costs to homosexuals, and applies a fidelity prerequisite to homosexuals that is not applied to heterosexuals.  As with fertility (see chapter 4), it seems that by exposing inconsistencies we have unearthed yet another fa├žade- one that is no more pro-fidelity than the fertility-based SSM opposition was pro-fertility.  Instead, it is merely anti-SSM.


[i] Lynn Wardle, "A Response to the ―Conservative Case‖ for Same-Sex Marriage: Same-Sex Marriage and the Tragedy of the Commons," BYU Journal of Public Law, Volume 22, Number 2 (Winter 2008), pg. 473.
[ii] Helen M. Alvare, The turn toward the self in the law of marriage & family: same-sex marriage & its predecessors,” 16 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 135 (2005).
[iii] Lynn Wardle, “The morality of marriage and the transformative power of inclusion,” in Wardle’s What’s the Harm, Chapter 11, pg. 228.
[iv] See LouAnn Brizendine’s The Male Brain, circa 2009.
[v] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 142.
[vi] Eugene Volokh, UCLA, circa 2003, qtd. in Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 143.
[vii] Qtd. in Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 143.
[viii] http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?showtopic=873. Also see the newer poll at http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?showtopic=34365
[ix] Personal friend, email to the author, December 2010.
[x] “Is Promiscuity Innate?” Washington Post, 2003: Men on average desired 1.87 partners over the next month compared to women’s .78, and over the next ten years men wanted 5.95, while women wanted 2.17. 
[xi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 155-156.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Advocate improvements in lieu of criticizing

I spent a recent Christmas with my Grandpa. When I arrived on Christmas eve, we talked about healthcare reform and government and such. He criticized Obama about a half dozen times in different ways, and also criticized the healthcare reform bill and government spending and Medicare changes and the US as "policeman of the world." I noticed he didn't propose too many solutions.

"Criticism and pessimism destroy families, undermine institutions of all kinds, defeat nearly everyone, and spread a shroud of gloom over entire nations.” - Gordon B. Hinckley

This incident reminded me of countless conversations over the last decade that I've participated in or overheard which criticized teachers, government, school, policies, war efforts, spending habits, grading methods, degree requirements, Congressional inaction, corrupt officials, polluting businesses, etc. I have found that these types of comments and dialog are very common on campus, and not infrequent off. I remember the culture of criticism I have encountered in most every workplace I've labored (e.g. the Government Accountability Office or Especially for Youth or the Idaho Supreme Court). 
 
I also remember a conversation with a woman six months ago who decried the deplorable state of the Constitution in our country, and how it has been warped and twisted and how we have departed so far from it. Having just completed a Constitutional Law course, and working at the time for a Supreme Court Justice who spent most of his day-to-day labor striving to give proper and consistent efficacy to the state constitution, I wanted to know her perspective and what she meant. My probes for specifics or clarification of her meaning were fruitless - her criticism, though vehement, proved at best superficial. She had no firm idea of what she was criticizing.

"I would take one activist over one thousand critics."

Though criticism shows that one cares (which is a step above apathy, certainly), a critique doesn't of itself suggest a candidate solution- and if there's an important problem, a solution is called for. I think a sort of general duty exists on inhabitants of this planet to improve it somewhat before they leave it. (See Gen. 2:15 and D & C 58:27)

I wish I could recall or find a quote I remember reading by Hugh Nibley: something along the lines of, "If you really cared [about the issue], you'd be in the library, not choosing a side." The point is, we are quite prone to taking premature, critical stances on issues (global warming, population control policy, health care reform, government size, the war in Iraq, the performance of the current President). If a person really cared about that issue, rather than deciding where s/he "comes out" on the issue based on shallow shared perceptions, the person would research what insightful minds and researching hands have produced on the subject. I would add that the person who really cared about that issue would then advocate a solution likely to improve conditions in the area of interest. Mere criticism is not all bad, though.

Criticism has its virtues! Criticism can lead to clear problem identification, which is a necessary component of the decision analysis PrOACT model (define the problem, articulate objectives, generate alternatives, project consequences, grapple with trade-offs). Criticism often results in relationship building by providing a common ground (you think Bush is an imbecile? So do I, let's be friends!). Criticism can also serve a cathartic function, providing an outlet for negative emotions. Yet, the criticism consequence bundle also contains many substantial negative straws:

"Criticism, fault-finding, evil speaking--these are of the spirit of the day. They are in our national life. To hear tell these days, there is nowhere a man of integrity among those holding political office. In many instances this spirit has become the very atmosphere of university campuses. The snide remark, the sarcastic gibe, the cutting down of associates--these, too often, are of the essence of our conversation. In our homes wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes a catalyst that leads to failure." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Upon reflection I conclude that I am a card carrying member of the Critics Club! I participate too frequently in these critical forays. In a world of limited attention/passion/focus/volition capital, I would like to lose my membership. To make this blog internally consistent, I need to advocate an improvement rather than merely criticize my own criticism. So, what do I propose to spend my capital in more constructive endeavors?

I can use my critical impulses as triggers to 1) research the issue in greater depth, 2) remind myself there are probably strong arguments supporting the counter to my position, and/or 3) advocate a viable solution. 
 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dallin H. Oaks 1984: "Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals"

I have placed the pdf in a folder with related documents (https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B1u3K43P-3JoNzNlY2IwNmMtMTMzYy00ZjM4LTgzMDgtNGVjZjljMThiY2Y4&hl=en) and my source is ((http://affirmation.org/pdf/oaks_paper_02.pdf).  I include some excerpts below from Elder Oaks's 1984 memo:

"'Homosexuality can be cured if the battle is well organized and pursued vigorously and continuously.' [This obviously refers to the condition of sexual attraction to persons of the same sex.]

Parents who prefer and a society which prefers male-female marriages and procreation should be able to insist on teachers and youth leaders who will teach and demonstrate (or at least not contradict) those values. For the reasons suggested above, arguments for job discrimination against homosexuals are strongest in those types of employment that provide teaching, association and role models for young people. This would include school teachers (especially at the elementary and secondary levels), and youth leaders and counselors (such as scoutmasters, coaches, etc.).. Since public policy must obviously favor perpetuation of the nation and its people, laws should permit employers to exclude from key positions of influence those who would proselyte and promote the homosexual lifestyle... if an anti-job-discrimination law is proposed to protect homosexuals, the church should oppose the law if it did not contain a youth-protection exception... it would also be desirable to permit employers to exclude homosexuals from influential positions in media, literature, and entertainment, since those jobs influence the tone and ideals of a society.

the interests at stake in the proposed legalization of so-called homosexual marriages are sufficient to justify a formal Church position and significant efforts in opposition... one generation of homosexual "marriages" would depopulate a nation, and, if sufficiently widespread, would extinguish its people. Our marriage laws should not abet national suicide... vigorously oppose the legalization of homosexual marriages. 


There is an irony inherent in the church's taking a public position opposing homosexual marriages... The leading United States Supreme Court authority for the proposition that marriage means a relationship between a man and a woman is Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, in which the United States Supreme Court sustained the validity of the anti-polygamy laws, the Court defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The court's stress in that case was on one. The modern relevance of the Reynolds opinion is its reference to marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The irony would arise if the Church used as an argument for the illegality of homosexual marriages the precedent formerly used against the Church to establish the illegality of polygamous marriages."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chapter 7: In Re Proposition 8: Perry v. Schwarzenegger


My day job is as a humble Teacher’s Assistant in the BYU Biology Department.  Between shifts I’m a full-time grad student at the Marriott School of Management (BYU’s Business School), and in my spare time I moonlight as a J. Reuben Clark Law School student.  [Don’t ask me how I found time to write this book, which first 120-page draft I did in a three week period during September/October].  On September 9th, after a meeting on the hydraulic fracturing research mentioned in chapter 2, I literally ran across campus from the Marriott School to the Law School to get a good seat for hearing a distinguished speaker- Mr. Charles Cooper.
The lead counsel defending Proposition 8 in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Chuck Cooper spoke to students and faculty for an hour.  I was privileged to sit in the front row, from which position I could observe not only Mr. Cooper but other VIP's such as DC Circuit Court Judge Tom Griffith; First Quorum of the Seventy emeritus member Lance Wickman; former clerk for US Supreme Court Justices Warren Burger and Antonin Scalia, Von Keetch; J. Reuben Clark Law School Dean James Rasband; and professors Cole Durham and Lynn Wardle, among others. 

Mr. Cooper spoke for a half hour to the standing-room only crowd, focusing on faults in Walker's decision.  After discussing the history and purposes of marriage, he opened to questions.  There were many hands and little time- but amazingly after a few questions such as how homosexual marriage harms heterosexual marriage and whether the plaintiffs have standing to appeal, I was chosen.  I even got to ask two questions!  Hogging the Q and A time- selfish I know.    

My first question addressed his claim that homosexuals can't reproduce.  I refuted his claim, showing that some of them do reproduce by citing two examples (e.g. lesbian couple- partner A gets her egg artificially inseminated, then implants the embryo in partner B who bears the child.  Or, a gay couple who mix their sperm, fertilize a donated egg, then have a close friend act as surrogate).   I further noted that stimulating the germline development of totipotent cells from partner A into sperm, then using that sperm to fertilize an egg of partner B, would yield a two biological parent homosexual household.  I concluded by asking whether advancing reproductive technologies such as these would weaken his tradition-based argument.  He said no, but admitted that eventually it would if the technologies get to that point (a notable concession).  He pointed out that a third party intercessor is required.  I didn't push him on the contention that no one balks at infertile heterosexual couples doing the same or similar third-party-required procedures.  For that matter, I also refrained from the more obvious rebuttals that reproduction or likely reproduction or even potential reproduction has never been required to get a marriage license.  Even if reproduction is vital to the institution of marriage, if you'll let old people who can't reproduce (and others who aren't likely to reproduce) marry, why deny marriage to homosexual people on the basis of their reduced reproductive capacity?   Anyway, back to the story.

He continued to answer my question by citing a lengthy list of social ills, such as children growing up in single parent families, children growing up without a father, and the education and poverty and drug problems that result in those situations.  This is where he lost me.  I spent a chunk of my 2010 summer as a research assistant for a law professor researching issues such as the economic and social consequences of family breakdown.  [Let me know if you'd like my paper on this, or my thorough research on the role of courts in defining SSM, by emailing me at homosexualityperspective@yahoo.com].  Thus, I was aware of how well documented the ills are that he cited.  However, they don't advance his position!  He's arguing for a particular definition of marriage (only a man and a woman) over an alternate (man and a woman + man/man + woman/woman).  Yet the evidence he cites is not causally linked to his advocacy of definition A over definition B.  Sure, we all agree that those social outcomes are undesirable - but they've mostly taken place during the last 40 years, during which time as Mr. Cooper noted the applied marriage definition has been the traditional one.  Thus, the most likely deduction is either that 1) other factors besides the definition of marriage caused those ills, or that 2) the traditional definition contributed to those ills.  The speculative, prospective non sequitur (it does not follow) that instead the alternate definition would exacerbate those negative social consequences is the least supported deduction of the three.  This rhetoric bears the signs of a classic witch hunt: though most everyone is upset about the breakdown of the family, you’ve pinned the tail on the wrong donkey.  Homosexuals are not the perpetrators of society’s broken homes and single parenting.  (Indeed, as The Economist argues, “the weakening of marriage has been heterosexuals' doing, not gays', for it is their infidelity, divorce rates and single-parent families that have wrought social damage.[i]”)
Thus, my follow up question appropriately demanded that he identify the nexus or link between the ills he cites and the alternate marriage definition he opposes.  I found his response, which centered on the ills resulting from general family breakdown being likely to increase because of the weakening the institution by the alternative definition, unsatisfying.  The alternate definition is not clearly a weakening of the institution- it is only clearly different.  Whether the change weakens, strengthens, or doesn't affect marriage is neither agreed upon nor well evidenced, and thus in the absence of empirical data amounts to little more than a value judgment which lacks the ability to confidently predict future consequences.  The evidence he emphasized is nothing more than a red herring effectively wielded on those unaware of the glaring gap between that evidence and his proposition.  Again, frustra probatur quod probatum non relevant- that is proved in vain which when proved is not relevant.

However, his overall position seems to be in line with the LDS church on the matter: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision.  California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman.[ii]"  When I first read this, my response was: "Uh, what happened to the Constitution-loving church I thought I knew?"

I hope it is not necessary to prove that the LDS church is Constitution-affirming.  Besides the potent endorsements of the Constitution in the Doctrine and Covenants (98:5-6, 101:77-80, 109:54), President Ezra Taft Benson ("I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land[iii]") and President Hinckley, ("The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law[iv]") while president, both unequivocally endorsed the document.  Elder Oaks recently taught, "If we oppose persons who hold particular offices or the policies they pursue, we are free to vote against them or work against their policies. But we should not carry our opposition to the point of opposing their offices, or we weaken the institution of constitutional government[v]" (2010). 

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department [the judicial branch] to say what the law is[vi]."- Marbury v. Madison.   The judicial branch determines the constitutionality of state laws and state constitutional provisions under the federal constitution.  A state law, or even a state constitution, may not deprive a US citizen of a right under the US Constitution.  If indeed there is a constitutional right to marry (as has been recognized in numerous US Supreme Court cases- see e.g. page 110 of the Perry opinion[vii]), then it is emphatically the judicial branch's job to define that right.  Opined the United States Supreme Court:
“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.  Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival... Under our constitution, the freedom to marry or not marry… resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.[viii]  
An absence of a marriage definition would make the right meaningless, for one could not then discern when or whether the right is violated.  One may certainly argue that the court got it wrong, but I fail to see the defensibility of the position of a US Constitution-affirming church that the people of California should be the ones to define a federal constitutional right.  "[T]he United States Supreme Court... has the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the meaning of the lofty and general provisions of the Constitution[ix]" -Elder Oaks.  Coincidentally, Elder Wickman expressed basically the same position as the church that the legislature/people of California should be defining marriage rather than the courts during my conversation with him right afterward (which conversation also included a notable Q and A about the Oaks/Wickman Public Affairs interview on homosexuality).  I guess I don't see his/the church's logic.  It may seem odd that one man (Judge Walker) can overturn the expressed will of 13.4 million (7 million in favor, 6.4 opposed).  You may even agree with Thomas Jefferson, who in response to Marbury v. Madison said "that if this view of judicial power became accepted, it would be 'placing us under the despotism of an oligarchy.[x]'"  To Thomas Jefferson and those who contend similarly I say: you lost!  Welcome to contemporary America.  Federal judicial review of state law or conduct alleged to be violative of federal constitutional rights is how our system's been working for over two centuries now. 

Closing


In closing I 1) discuss my motivations for writing, 2) make a request of the reader, and 3) offer my closing thoughts.

Motivations for writing:
I am often asked why I care about the issues addressed in this book.  Indeed, distributing it resulted in the loss of my chosen career (BYU’s MPA program denied my appeal to reverse their refusal to nominate me for the Presidential Management Fellow program on October 31, 2010.  Despite my exceptional performance in the selection criteria categories and the glowing reviews of my supervisors at the Maricopa County Superior Court, Idaho Supreme Court, and Government Accountability Office, the MPA program decided to reject me on account of my choice to share an early version of this book).  In addition, writing and sharing this book has brought the disapproval of my parents, contributed to a girlfriend’s decision to break up with me, and led to stressful conversations with several church leaders, BYU deans, and dear personal friends.  This book was not written for a class, and no mortal person suggested the project to me.  I am not a part of any advocacy group.  To be frank, the experience has required a lot of me- physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally- as I have wept and researched and reasoned its pages into existence. 
The short and unsatisfying answer to the “why I care” question is that I don’t exactly remember other than that I felt called to write this.  The highest goal of my life has been to fulfill the missions my Father has for me in this mortality.  My sentiments and situation mimic Ty Mansfield’s, who at the conclusion of In Quiet Desperation wrote of his decision to attach his real name as author:
“I believe in Christ and in the fullness of the gospel, and when it comes to proclaiming both the redeeming and enabling power of His name, with this specific book and in this particular situation, I could not stand behind “Name Withheld.”  Because I’m not married, I had to take into consideration how it could affect my potential future family but, nevertheless, as I continued to ponder and pray, I knew what I needed to do, and I felt the Lord’s peace with that decision.  That is the only thing that matters to me.  So, regardless of what happens in the future concerning a family or the societal response to the convictions recorded on these pages, I know the Lord is with me and will provide a way for me to do whatever it is that He would have me do.”
I am not as confident as Ty that the ideas in my book are correct and divinely approved/inspired.  However, I feel 1) to affirm that I felt called to this task, 2) that the general endeavor was largely appropriate, and 3) that some of the content was inspired.  I don’t think I could have written this book on my own.  During the three week period that most of it was drafted, I would sometimes go to bed, then unable to sleep because of the flood of ideas of what to write and how to write it, I would arise and resume composing.  I can’t fully explain what moved me.  However, I will give three post-hoc justifications for my composing and distributing this book: timeliness, my future children, and my human side.
Timeliness:
One reason for writing, especially the second part (SSM), is that same-sex marriage is a defining issue of my generation.  The acknowledgement that biologically-caused homosexual orientation exists is relatively new, significantly substantiated only recently, and spreading.  More and more people are choosing to come out, and more and more gay and lesbian people are openly living in lifelong committed relationships.  Due to current and improving reproductive technologies, homosexuals are gaining access to reproduction, including with each other.  Increased gender and racial equality, economic prosperity, no-fault divorce, and other changes have altered marriage from what it looked like in the 1950’s- and I doubt the institution will ever go back.  Now is the time to take a hard look at marriage from both a religious and civic standpoint and forge ahead with a marriage worthy of securing for ourselves and succeeding generations- which leads me to my next justification.
My future children:
It is my hope this reason appeals to my Millenial generation peers who are similarly situated.  The reason is this:
I plan to marry a woman and raise my own biological children soon.  One or more of those children may be homosexually oriented.  I want the world to be a place where the American dream and the LDS dream, which I believe both include the opportunity for marriage, is as bright for my homosexual children as it is for their heterosexual siblings.  Indeed, at the risk of being overly dramatic, I have a dream that someday soon my children will be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin their mostly-if-not-wholly-biologically determined sexual orientation. 
Human side:
I would also say that the more human side of my motivation is one cup curiosity, one cup commitment to truth, and two cups compassion. 
Curiosity: Initially, my interest resulted from my natural curiosity (I’m a binge learner), triggered three or four years ago after I heard from a BYU professor the evidence for a biological origin of homosexual orientation.  Without a doubt, his presentation challenged my presumptions.  I was not aware of a single homosexually oriented friend at that time. 
Truth: From my LDS upbringing I have been taught, above all else, to seek for and cleave to truth- and it is to that high standard I seek, though I don’t know that I have ever attained it.  In the Epilogue of Understanding Same-sex Attraction: LDS Edition, Dennis Dahle wrote: “The greatest display of compassion, and the greatest blessing that can be given, is to find and share the whole truth of the matter.[xi] 
Compassion[xii]: As I have since looked into the science and moral arguments, I have learned of the intense, widespread, and predictable difficulties my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters experience.  In a drama the reader is likely familiar with, the character Frodo said: “I will take the Ring to Mordor. Though — I do not know the way."  Gandalf, placing his hands reassuringly on Frodo’s shoulders, responded: “I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, as long as it is yours to bear.[xiii]  That is the message I hope to convey to those of my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters who consider their orientation a burden.  1 Corinthians 12: “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.[xiv]  Per my baptismal covenant and per the human compassion God has privileged me to possess, I will help you bear your burden- as long as it is yours to bear. 

Request to the reader:
What would I hope the reader will do, feel, or think, as a result of reading this book?  Wrote Bob Rees of Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones:
“The Mormon pioneers who set out on the treacherous journey to their promised land did so because they were misunderstood, persecuted, and at times even murdered for their beliefs, including their very unorthodox beliefs about marriage.  They went to escape social ostracism and political tyranny that sought to deprive them of their right to live according to their beliefs. What sustained them was their faith and their fellowship with one another and their belief that they would find a place, “far away in the West, / Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid,” where they would not only be free of persecution but free as well to build a better kingdom for themselves and for those who would come after.
I dream of such a place for our homosexual brothers and sisters. But rather than traveling to it over plains and mountains, rather than carving it out of a desert wilderness, I believe we have to make it where we are, here and now, in our homes, in our communities, and in our congregations. It is the courage of people like Carol Lynn Pearson that gives me hope that we can—heterosexual and homosexual together—build the Zion we are called to build.[xv]
How can we build this Zion?  To answer this question, I will quote another, who wrote two decades ago[xvi]:
“As someone who loved the church but has literally chosen between life and death, I beg you to consider these points:
1)      Most homosexuality is biologically determined.  It cannot be “unchosen” once it occurs.
2)      Please allow homosexuals the choice to remain in the church on the same basis as heterosexual members, through sexual restraint rather than denial and change.  I do not ask you to approve of gay sexual relations, but it is clear that those who understand their homosexual orientation early on in an accepting environment have fewer difficulties adjusting, are less promiscuous, and have a better chance of achieving a healthy self-image and a positive lifestyle.
3)      If and until a proven method of change becomes available, the burden of guilt could be lifted from those whose thoughts and feelings are homosexual.  If the church recognized that homosexuals did not cause their condition and are not responsible for its continued existence, their self-esteem could be built and they could focus their energies on sexual self-restraint and acceptance of themselves as gay individuals.
4)      If members of the church were educated about what we currently know and do not know about homosexuality, this would alleviate much of the suffering experienced by parents, wives, children, friends, and the homosexual individual him- or herself.  Such education may help to reduce the frequency of suicide among despairing gays…
Truth is one of the cornerstones of the church.  The church should not avoid truth or make it difficult to find.  I pray that you will be part of the effort to promote honesty and truth about homosexuality.  I pray that you will help bring about a greater understanding of this difficult subject so that families can come back together, individuals may begin healing, and we may all share a brighter future of love and understanding.”   

Closing Thought:
I anticipate that my views as expressed in this book will change over time as I learn more.  Thus, all that I have written is tentative- merely a snapshot of my current thinking.  In composing it I hope that I have learned and come closer to truth- in reading it I hope you have as well.  In addition to insights about SSM and homosexuality, I hope that you walk away from this book with one additional take-home: faithful members of the LDS church need not close their hearts nor remove their critical thinking caps to practice their religion.


[i] "The case for gay marriage: It rests on equality, liberty and even society," Feb 26th 2004, http://www.economist.com/node/2459758
[ii] "Church Statement on Proposition 8 Ruling," August 04, 2010, available at http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/church-statement-on-proposition-8-ruling
[iii] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Miraculous Constitution,” Friend, Sep 1987, inside front cover
[iv] Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 72
[v] Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle, “Fundamentals of Our Constitutions,” Utah’s Constitution Day Celebration, Tabernacle, SLC Utah, September 17, 2010.
[vi] Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 at 177-78 (1803).
[vii] Available at http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/35374462-Prop-8-Ruling-FINAL.pdf
[viii] Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967).
[ix] Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle, “Fundamentals of Our Constitutions,” Utah’s Constitution Day Celebration, Tabernacle, SLC Utah, September 17, 2010, pg. 6.
[x] James Taranto, Leonard Leo (2004), Presidential Leadership.  Wall Street Journal Books.  See also Thomas Jefferson to William C. Harvis, 1829 ME 15: 277. 
[xi] Dennis V. Dahle, “Return to Reason: Drawing Upon the Three Pillars of Wisdom to Address Same-sex Attraction,” in Understanding Same-sex Attraction: LDS Edition, 2009, pg. 478.
[xii] http://charterforcompassion.org/
[xiii] http://www.tk421.net/lotr/film/fotr/16.html
[xiv] Verses 25 and part of 26.
[xv] Robert A. Rees, Forward pg. xiv-xv, in Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones.
[xvi] Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-sex Attraction, edited by Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, pg. 112.

Search This Blog