An Open Letter to Prop 8 Supporters

 

(Also posted at mormonsformarriage.com)

Rainbow_Phoenix

Dear Prop 8 supporters,

I remember this feeling you may be feeling today, now that Prop 8 appeals have been exhausted and same-sex marriages are about to resume in California. I remember this feeling that your vote doesn’t count. The feeling that all the time, money, effort, hard work and dedication you shared didn’t matter. The feeling that, despite all your best efforts, you’ve been left out in the cold. I felt that way almost five years ago when Prop 8 passed in California.

It hurts. It feels like it was all for nothing.

But, as they say, no pain, no gain. If it weren’t for the hurt, we wouldn’t be in this place at this time. You, with your tenacity for clinging to tradition, have been a much-needed catalyst for societal change.

You told us you wanted to protect families. And we showed you that we have families that need protecting as well. We came out, again, as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, cousins. We came out in our myriad of shapes and sizes and said, “All families matter.” Thank you for reminding us about the importance of our families and encouraging us to fight for them.

You told us you wanted to protect religious freedoms. And we showed you that our religious freedoms were being hindered when our religious leaders could not marry us in the eyes of the law. But they celebrated unions with us anyway and comforted us and prayed for us and for you. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of our religious and spiritual communities and the solace they provide.

You told us you wanted to protect children and give them a stable place to grow up. And we showed you our children and the stability they needed. Many of our children came to us from you, from parents who were unable or unwilling to care for them. Others of our children came to us from the streets where they’d sought shelter after coming out to parents who rejected them. Still others were born after much love and effort, none created as accidents, all of whom benefited from growing within the shelter of loving arms and watchful eyes, despite laws preventing full adoption for some of our parents. Thank you for inspiring us to be better parents and guardians, making the world a better place for the next generation.

You told us tradition was on your side. We examined traditions and realized that sometimes traditions need to change because, “when you know better, you do better.” Thank you for helping us re-think the way we’ve always done things so we could get out of our ruts and move to new ground.

You gave us the reason and the impetus to share our stories with the world. To replace caricatures and generalizations with the reality of faces and names. In the five years since Prop 8 was put onto the ballot in California, millions of stories have been shared and it’s much harder for Americans to say they don’t know any gays or lesbians.

We’ve been through the fire, through the flames you fanned, and it burned. It hurt. But the fire is not the end. Our phoenix is rising. And it is rising with the support and cheers of millions who heard our stories and saw our faces and touched our lives because you provided a catalyst.

Would it have been nice to get to the place we are now without having had to go through the fire? Yes, but the fire made us stronger. And the pain made us more empathetic. And the stories we’ve shared remind us that you have stories too – that you have families and religions and traditions and children worth living for and worth fighting for.

Perhaps the phoenix rising from these ashes is a society where all are respected and welcome; where children are free to learn and grow and love and be themselves; where adults provide safety and security for one another their whole lives long; where it’s more important to embrace each other than to embrace ideology.

Marriage is not easy. It is even harder when community support is not part of the equation. And yet, “For all its failings in particular cases, and for all the stress it has borne lately, marriage is the great civilizing institution. No other institution has the power to turn narcissism into partnership, lust into devotion, strangers into kin. What other force can bond across clans and countries and continents and even cultures? InRomeo and Juliet, it was not the youths’ love which their warring and insular clans feared; it was their marriage.” (Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America)

Let us not fear marriage, but embrace it and support it and make it work for everyone willing to take that plunge.

18 comments for “An Open Letter to Prop 8 Supporters

  1. Jay
    June 27, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Absolutely spot on, appro pro, and exquisitely written. Thank you, Laura.

    • Donna
      June 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      I still have not had my only question answered. Who defines marriage? If it isn’t defined then why not polygamy? Bigamy? But you know where this is headed? And nambla has already put this out there….men marrying little boys. It will happen, because marriage is not defined, and everyone should be able to marry who they love, right?

      • Daniel Parkinson
        June 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

        Polygamy and bigamy were practiced by early Mormons including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. I am not sure what that has to do with same-sex marriage. Bringing up Nambla is also a distortion…as is bestiality. Marriage can only be between consenting adults. It will never be moral between children. The vast majority of gays and straights agree on this. Meanwhile, implying that gay people are pedophiles is a distortion, because the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are straight men in heterosexual marriages.

      • Jay
        June 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm

        Donna, your comments show how very little you actually know about what you claim. Science has proven that the rate of pedophilia among gay men is no different than it is among straight men, and it has consistently proven it dozens of times without exception. As someone who was raped and assaulted multiple times as a little boy, I find your ignorance offensive. My rapist was not a gay man, but a married, straight man who held a high calling in the local church. You have no basis to make the claims you do. Based on what was done to me, I could easily draw the conclusion that all married, religious, straight men are pedophiles, but I find out facts before I speak. To insinuate that I would do to another what was done me makes me sick.

        The answer to your question is simple. It is the people of each and every society who decide what a marriage is. A definition that varies with every societal tradition. Judges and governments are simply people given authority by the people of that society to enforce what common consensus has deemed a marriage. Only in a theocrisy does the majority religion attempt to define marriage, and even then, some form of common law marriages exist despite religion. History has shown this time and again. It never has been the bible, which is a common misconception. Ordinary persons weren’t even allowed to read or own Bibles until after Martin Luther and Henry VIII.

        Next time, try Wikipedia before attempting to fear monger. The majority of the U.S. now favors marriage equality and the Supreme Court simply ratified what society now wants. Laura’s letter addressed family and morality, not deviancy as you suggest, and in a much kinder way than you try to spread your fallacies.

  2. Evan
    June 27, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Perfect. Thanks for your words, Laura.

  3. Carol Lynn Pearson
    June 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Much thanks, Laura, for all your ongoing devotion to good things. Happy to celebrate with you. Yesterday at the gathering of religious leaders on the steps of Grace Cathedral in SL, I heard many memorable lines. Here is my favorite: “The victory today shows something phenomenal–not that We Won–but that We Are One!” Finally nobody will be left out.

    • Patti
      June 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      (Admin note: We as admins are debating on whether to allow direct hate mail to remain in the comments on this blog. We are reluctant to let it stay because we know we have a lot of LGBT readers and allies who have been routinely persecuted at church over a long period of time, and these kinds of letters are traumatizing. However, we want to keep this as a witness to the hostile, and rejection that LGBT people are still facing every Sunday in their church meetings. For that reason we have decided to publish them when possible with this disclaimer and with a response. We also invite the person who made this comment to remove it themselves and to write another comment where they invite a dialogue about their feelings instead of using hateful and aggressive language)

      Your Phoenix is rising? You are stronger? My resolve is firm, your letter is vindictive and combative. You might as well as said eat dirt. I am aware that courts are activists….if California had agreed to homosexual marriage and the courts had overturned the voice of the people I would have been troubled, but you are gleeful. Are you now going to sue the church so that you can marry in the temple? Just like in the old testament they will close them all down. I had no emotion until I read your letter, now i am filled with concern. You are smug and unpleasant. I am going back to ESPN. Much less intrigue. Enjoy, let me know where you register!

      • Daniel Parkinson
        June 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        I hope the person who wrote that comment will please visit the LDS website mormonsandgays.org The church clearly has a message that we should love our LGBT brothers and sisters.

  4. Robert Lathe
    June 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    A stunningly articulate, compassionate and logical plea to all of us. Brings to mind a certain Beatles song “Imagine”.

  5. ccarrolls
    June 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    absolutely breathtaking… thank you.

  6. Diane Oviatt
    June 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you, Laura. Beautiful and thought provoking.

  7. j
    June 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

    (Admin note: We as admins are debating on whether to allow direct hate mail to remain in the comments on this blog. We are reluctant to let it stay because we know we have a lot of LGBT readers and allies who have been routinely persecuted at church over a long period of time, and these kinds of letters are traumatizing. However, we want to keep this as a witness to the hostile, and rejection that LGBT people are still facing every Sunday in their church meetings. For that reason we have decided to publish them when possible with this disclaimer and with a response. We also invite the person who made this comment to remove it themselves and to write another comment where they invite a dialogue about their feelings instead of using hateful and aggressive language)

    Breath taking? Bluagh just puked in my mouth. You don’t understand what you are doing and how WRONG this is. Short sited people. Leave it to the wicked judges to overturn the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. That was not what the people of CA wanted.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      June 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Actually the people of California have changed their hearts. and polls show overwhelming support for same-sex marriage. If the court hadn’t made that decision the people would have voted away Prop 8 within a year.

    • Marthell
      August 13, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      The idea that just because the majority of people in a state want something that it makes it right is ridiculous. I assume you’re a Mormon or at least a Christian and so you might want to think what would happen if a large number of Buddhists or Muslims moved into your state and became a majority and then decided that only marriages performed by their clergy would be recognized and that yours would no longer be valid. Would that make it ok? Was it ok that people in the Midwest violently drove out the early Mormon leaders? My guess is they were in the majority in how they felt about the “prophet” and his followers. You are being very short-sighted in your ideas about treating people fairly and equally. No gay that I know – and I know a LOT – wants to force clergy to marry them. What they / we want is to be treated fairly under the civil laws of our states and country. I’m not a Mormon and while I find the polytheism of Mormonism contrary to my understanding of the Bible and Jesus’ teachings, I feel very strongly that it’s everyone’s right to follow their own conscience in these matters and I’d never presume to “vote” on someone’s rights as if they were up to me.

  8. Laura Compton
    June 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you all for the conversation. It is clear that gay marriage continues to be an issue that stirs strong emotions. Five years ago today, while same-sex marriages were occurring at Pride festivals, bishops and branch presidents across California read a letter from the First Presidency which eventually thrust the LDS church into the same-sex marriage spotlight.

    From that day to this, I have continued to be amazed and encouraged by the men and women who stand as angels among us embracing the hurt, encouraging the hopeless, and empowering those who, for many reasons, cannot speak up for themselves.

    As Rabbi Harold Kushner reminds us, “the task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we’re entitled to hate.” These past five years since being thoroughly immersed in the same-sex marriage conversation have been an exercise in applying this thought in many parts of my daily life.

    For those who have been willing to allow truth, love and empathy to tear down walls of prejudice, fear and anger on both sides of the gay marriage debate: Thank you. Your risks and hard work are creating a shelter for all of our families’ children.

  9. Karin
    July 2, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Laura, thank you for these beautiful words. When the SCOTUS decision was announced I was driving. I was so disappointed that my favorite NPR station was sticking to regular programming rather than following the news. They happened to be playing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Although frustrated, I kept listening, and then received a phone call with the news. Once I knew the Court’s decision I listened with joy to this piece of music – about a phoenix rising – and found myself in tears as I recognized how beautifully symbolic this moment was. Apparently you and I shared the same image that day.

  10. Jordan Petersen
    July 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    You are my hero!!

  11. Nephi
    September 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    While I have sympathy for my Brothers and Sisters who struggle with same sex attractions I will not condone acts or behavior. A marriage which is approved by God is a marriage between a Man and a Woman. I will continue to pray for all those who struggle with whatever life throws at them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *