The silver lining to Proposition 8’s passage

Like many in the non-religious community, I was outraged by the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which banned gay marriage there.  It was nothing less than the denial of a basic civil right by enshrining a specifically religious viewpoint into law – a stark reminder of the potent power of faith to cause hardship and derail progress even today.

Still, I see reasons for guarded optimism.  At the least, we should recall that states are clearly divided on the issue, which should dampen pressure for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a prospect seriously raised not too long ago.

More important, opposition has progressively waned as time has gone on, with polls showing highest support among the future electorate.  This augurs well for the gay marriage down the road, though it’s cold comfort for gays understandably indignant at present-day discrimination.

To the extent that Christians were heavily involved in passing Prop 8, I think their image will suffer further damage.  Already, protests are being waged against churches in California whose involvement was influential in the proposition’s success.  Mormons and Catholics, two denominations in particular that poured many resources into the pro campaign are currently experiencing difficulties retaining members, and can only be further damaged by a negative backlash.  Polls show Christianity is increasingly seen in a negative light, with even many younger Christians bothered by its overt anti-gay agenda.  A decline in Christian numbers and influence, accelerated by the passage of Prop 8, can only mean good news for gays in the long term.

4 thoughts on “The silver lining to Proposition 8’s passage

  1. Unfortunately, there is much misinformation regarding LDS support of prop 8 leading many to conclude that Mormons have some sort of vendetta against gays.

    Fortunately, this is not true. Church leaders themselves have officially stated that they do not oppose the legalization of domestic partnerships so that gays may obtain the rights they deserve.

    I respect the right of gay marriage proponents to peacefully protest, but they should do so with a correct understanding of the church’s position towards gays and the rights they seek.

  2. Willard,

    The LDS Church has always taken a particularly homophobic stance, so its all-out support for Prop 8 came as no surprise to anyone. A past LDS president, Spencer W. Kimball, called homosexuality a “crime against nature”. The Church used to practice the barbaric aversion therapy to “cure” gays. If some think the Church has a vendetta against gays, it’s an impression with some basis in fact.

    Given its polygamous past, the Church’s defense of one man, one woman marriage rings hollow. Doctrine & Covenants, section 132, which endorses polygamy, remains canonical. Mormons believe polygamy will be practiced in the afterlife.

  3. Sean,

    IRS regulations prevent religious organizations’ direct involvement in elections, but that did not prevent the LDS Church from leaning heavily on its members to support Prop 8 financially and otherwise. It was also a member of Prop 8 support coalition, the Protect Marriage Coalition.

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