One of the vanishingly few political positions the LDS church has staked out a firm position on since the 19th Century was its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, opposition which helped lead to the amendment's defeat. First proposed in 1923, the amendment is quite simple:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by theThe proposed amendment hardly even seems controversial anymore. Maybe it wouldn't be except for its potential ramifications for the gay marriage debate. Which brings us to one of the only other political positions the LDS church committed itself to: opposition to same-sex marriage. In particular, the church helped bankroll Proposition 22, which added to the California Civil Code the provision that "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
or by any state on account of sex. United States
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
One all-too-common result of the church's institutionalized homophobia is depression and suicide among LGBT Mormons. From a Salt Lake Tribune article published just before the initiative passed:
Just last week, a 32-year-old gay Mormon man put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger on the steps of a Mormon chapel in Northern California. He was profoundly opposed to Proposition 22, though his family insists the suicide was not politically motivated.Once again, the church finds itself on the wrong side of history, as Prop 22 was invalidated by the state's high court yesterday.
The judges drew explicit parallels to the black civil rights struggle of the last century.
The California Supreme Court struck a historic but possibly short-lived blow for gay rights Thursday, overturning a state law that allowed only opposite-sex couples to marry.
In a 4-3 ruling that elicited passionate responses on both sides of the debate and touched off celebrations at San Francisco City Hall - the scene of nearly 4,000 same-sex weddings four years ago that were invalidated months later - the court said the right to marry in California extends equally to all, gay and straight alike.
The state Constitution's guarantees of personal privacy and autonomy protect "the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one's choice," said Chief Justice Ronald George, who wrote the 121-page majority opinion. He said the Constitution "properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples."
. . .The high court - with a 6-1 majority of Republican appointees, including George - is the second in the nation after Massachusetts' to declare a right of same-sex couples to marry. It is the first high court to rule that the state's Constitution forbids all discrimination based on sexual orientation with the same strict type of prohibition that applies to bias based on race, sex or religion.
Not long into the oral argument before the California Supreme Court in March over whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry, Chief Justice Ronald M. George showed his hand.
Three times he quoted from the court’s 1948 decision in Perez v. Sharp that struck down a state ban on interracial marriage, a high point in the history of a prestigious and influential court.
“The essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice,” Chief Justice George said, quoting Perez.
That was when Shannon P. Minter, a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, knew things were looking good for his side. The chief justice seemed to be accepting arguments for same-sex marriage that were consciously rooted in the struggle for equal rights for blacks.
And this in a court with a solid majority of GOP appointees! Back to the SF Gate:
One justice positioned herself in the mushy middle:
[T]he court majority rejected an array of legal justifications for excluding gays and lesbians from marriage, including religious conservatives' argument that same-sex matrimony would alter the definition of marriage and weaken the institution.
Allowing same-sex couples to marry "will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage," George said.
Addressing the same groups' related argument that marriage should be reserved for couples who can procreate, George said the right to marry "has never been limited to those who plan or desire to have children.". . .
Marriage, George said, is not just a bundle of rights, but is a relationship uniquely honored by the state and society. Confining same-sex couples to a different category marks them with "second-class citizenship," the chief justice said.
As for the argument that marriage has historically been reserved for a man and a woman, George said that even the most widely accepted traditions "often mask an unfairness and inequality" that only the victims understand.
Justice Carol Corrigan, Schwarzenegger's sole appointee to the court, said in a separate dissent that she personally believes "Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call their unions marriages." But she said public opinion is to the contrary, at least for now, and should be allowed to run its course.
"When ideas are imposed," Corrigan said, "opposition hardens and progress may be hampered."
That is--how can I put this politely--bullshit. Call it what you want, call it upholding God's word, call it fighting the work of the devil, but don't call standing in the way of marriage equality "progress."
The church's current leaders leave the task of explaining the church's stark opposition to basic equal rights to the next generation, burdening them with all the logical and moral contortions this will produce. Some will consequently choose, as I did, to simply abandon the whole project.