Thursday, October 22, 2009

Uncensored II

So what outed me?

Proposition 8.

I know.

Me and how many others? But it's important, because in some ways the fact that the church got involved in an election in California over the civil rights of a minority, the rights to pledge a commitment to each other, to publicly pronounce that they were a family hits a pretty tender nerve.

Some of you might not have been following this whole drama (maybe? How far was this covered in Europe?) so a bit of back story.

California, the state that has San Francisco in it - you know, THAT San Francisco - had seen a bit of judicial history happen when the supreme court ruled that same-sex couples should not be descriminated against but should be allowed the same civic standing as heterosexual couples. That ruling happened in May, 2008. In June, 2008 a request for a re-hearing was denied. Apparently the legal types, the ones who really study constitutional law, had decided that constitutionally there's nothing to bar same-sex couples from marrying.

Well...

Yes.

So a measure was put on the ballot for November, 2008 to change the constitution of California - to actually re-write the bit of the law that says who gets to do what to whom and what just ain't right, thanks. What they wanted to write into law was a bit that said, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." And all hell broke loose.

It wasn't just the Mormons. I want to make it clear that the Mormons were not the only people who rallied the troops and fund-raised and made advertisements and spread information (please note my restraint. I did not put a 'dis' in front there). In fact, the Mormons found themselves in company with a bunch of people who had, historically, spent a lot of their energy being contra-Mormon. But I was Mormon. As I have been reminded many, many times, Mormonism is part of my heritage, and so the Mormon involvement in this particular bit of political history, hit pretty close to home.

The first presidency actually issued a letter which urged people to, "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time." Keep in mind that the prophet (the first presidency consists of the prophet and his two councilors) speaks for God - I mean really, truly, he has a direct, one-on-one, seriously hearing the Voice, link to God - so, to Mormons, God was telling everyone to get involved in this political battle. In fact, about 45% of all the non-California contributions to the pro-Prop 8 group, ProtectMarriage.com came from Utah. According to Wikipedia (don't say it, I know all about using Wikipedia as a source) about 80 to 90% of the door-to-door volunteers in the fight to pass Prop 8 were Mormon. The church itself disclosed, after a bit of palaver, that it had donated nearly $190,000. There are some reports that put contribution by Mormons in general at over $7.5 million. I can't verify the figures. Honestly, I hope they're wrong. I really, really hope that $7.5 million was not donated to STOP other people from having civil rights.

The church, way back in the 90's some time, issued what is called The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The very first paragraph states, "We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

A man and A woman.

Singular.

As in one.

One man. One woman.

Anyone want to say it?

Anyone?

Yes, this is the church founded by a man who married at least 30 women. Those women include several teenagers, including Fanny Alger(16) and Helen Mar Kimball (14). Of those women, 11 were already married (according to my quick and possibly dodgy research).

There were a lot of scare tactics used in this campaign, ugly, nasty scare tactics. Mormons, it was said, would have to open their temples to the unworthy and be forced to perform gay marriages. Please, if you were concerned about this or any of the other fear-based claims made, check out this rebuttal here. (pdf)

I'm not gay. I have never faced the particular prejudices that my gay friends have faced. I have never, as one friend did, had to see a beloved partner of 12 years go into hospital with a possibly life-threatening condition and hope desperately that her family would allow me to be at her side before surgery. So I've been asked why I feel strongly about this, why the narrow, judgmental, poisonous behavior of the church has stirred me so much. After all, I'm not gay.

But I am human.

28 comments:

wheelsonthebus said...

well-said

Anonymous said...

It must be very difficult to be a gay Mormon.

It was a profoundly sad day when Prop 8 passed. On the upside, momentum is gaining around the country for marriage equality.

If you haven't seen it, the video of Philip Spooner's testimony on equality is inspiring.

Mujja said...

Do you know, I am horrified that I didn't know this. It was not widely (to say in the least) publisised in Europe. I was so comfortable with the fact that same sex civil partnerships are accepted and celibrated in exactly the same way as traditional marriage in Britain that I just assumed (arrogantly and very stupidly) that it was the same everywhere... I am appalled and horrified that God can be used to inflict such cruelty on people who just want to be with the one they love.

child 2 said...

As the most violent (admittedly) of the childlets, i have to say i still punch walls when that absolutely horrendous, foundless, and prejudiced law comes up in conversation. Prop 8 owes many happy lives, much emotional trauma, AND damage to government property however indirect. I find it astounding that this kind of thing should be going on in the country that is supposed to be the "land of the free" in this day and age. it's especially horrifying that it was blatant, open, and nothing was done about the fact that church and state were very definitely not seperate.

MitMoi said...

Apparently idiocy knows no bounds. Nor religion.

Congratulations on your restraint ... I am trying to match it. (However seething on the inside.)

Lori Simpson said...

Megan, the money was donated because we live in a country that has been hijacked by groups that for decades have tried to wear away at the values that have glued society, even civilization, together since its inception. The Family has been slowly taken apart bit by bit, its values undermined by ideas that have been proven to cause disease, chaos, broken homes and broken lives. I am including heterosexuals in this. They have done probably more damage to family ideals than any others: faithfulness between husbands and wives is less and less common, monogamy is not expected, chastity is seen as weird, children are commonly neglected, and abandoned by easy divorce. People all over the "developed" world are less likely to have children because they don't have the inclination. In fact, in many "Enlightened" circles, having children is increasingly seen as irresponsible to the planet. It has always struck me that the people in the Book of Mormon, whenever they faced their own destruction, saw with dismay that their enemies were far more numerous than they. As do we. I don't see our potential enemies around the world curtailing the number of their children. As a civilization, in our world ruled as ever by the aggressive use of force, we are going down a very well-traveled slope.

Talk down the prophets if you must, Megan, but be aware that these things are not without precedent. There is a pattern in history that never changes. There is truly a Hand that shapes all our ends. I am sad for you, and I hope that you can find peace. You have been through a lot. May God bless you in your life's walk.

Lori Wilcox Simpson

Mujja said...

Lori your piousness leaves me speachless with rage and terrified for the future of humanity because it blinds you to the facts.

Homosexuality is a genetic state not a life choice. Without getting into a dissertation on the subject homosexuals have physical differences to hetrosexuals. As you will know from bible study we are ALL made in Gods own image and by him out of his love for us all and his love for infinite variety. As God has made some of his beloved children this way it is up to us to accept and love them too.

Thier families may not be the same as yours but they are families non the less. Quite simply it is not for you to choose how they should live. By definition of the fact that they have no more choice in their physical make-up than you do, they cannot become like you, nor can they impact on traditional families.

child 2 said...

good point mujja. also, what gives us the right to decide what God thinks? according to scriptures, God is perfect and we are flawed. And yet there are a whole lot of people that seem to think they know exactly what he thinks. if homosexuality is a life choice made consciously and with intent to wound, why are there gay penguins? gay dogs? gay seagulls?
And just how, exactly, have homosexuals caused divorce? is it contagious, some kind of disease? well honey, i'd like to stay married to you, but i saw a gay couple walking down the street. sorry mom, i was going to stay chaste, but i saw that gay dude the other day, and all of a sudden my judgment was completely swayed? Let me put it this way. GAYS DO NOT HAVE MIND CONTROL, nor to they care about your life and your family in any way unless you encroach on their constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. there is no, i repeat, NO constitutional right to stop ANYONE from getting married. God has no place in law, but apparently we are trying to put him there. Lori, i have NEVER been more ashamed of the country i am giving up my freedoms to defend and protect than i was when i read your misguided, and incredibly prejudiced post. The fact of the matter is you are scared of them because you can't relate to them at all, and they are different to you. that is narrow minded and small and it's something a child would do. it's time to be adult, and recognize that "gays" are human and therefore deserve basic human, GOD GIVEN rights.
*rant rant rant* i should stop now before i get really offensive.

Anonymous said...

That some Christians define marriage as only between one man and one woman strikes me as ironic and hypocritical. Men in the Bible had more than one wife. You and I both had ancestors with multiple wives. Men can be sealed to more than one woman in heaven (or has that doctrine also changed?) Polygamy (to be precise, polygyny) is the fastest way to increase the size of any human population. Increasing numbers mean power and resources. No wonder it was embraced in the good old days by some cultures and is still popular throughout much of the world.

Lori Simpson said...

Child 2, congratulations on your great opportunities and achievements! And thank you for your service.

if you read my post again, you will see that I blame most of the decay of the Family on heterosexuals. I am not uneducated, nor do I throw blame around at groups who have only had increased influence BECAUSE of the way our society has lost its way.

I knew when I wrote that I would have to face some overripe e-tomatoes being lobbed my way, or worse. I suggest, however, that we all remember that we are blessed to live in a country which has carefully enshrined in our founding documents the right to speak our minds. I am not alone among Conservatives in being very tired of knowing that if I state my mind I will be persecuted. I fear this verbal violence about dearly held values is beginning to fuel a backlash in our country that no one wants.

Everyone has the right to follow God (or not--whatever) according to the dictates of their own concience. Nothing anyone says here will change anyone's mind. I just had to state my thinking about the blog posted. Good day to all.

Lori W. Simpson

Lori W. Simpson said...

Megan said:
"But then what do I do when the thing I genuinely want to write is something I feel passionately about? Something where I honestly want to express my own beliefs? Something where I feel a wrong is being done and people should stand up and say so? And what do I do if writing that will possibly hurt or offend people I deeply care for?

Difficult.

But then, someone pointed out that dissent is just dissent, and that it can be done with compassion and care. They said that allowing those you love to know how you feel is in itself an act of love.

And, while I know that I will inevitably be judged for the opinions I express or the things I say, I also trust that the people who really know me and love me will listen even if they disagree.

So I've decided to write. "

Hear, hear, Megan! Well said.

Lori

Anonymous said...

Lori,

I'm a little confused about what you've written. In what way is marriage equality damaging to Family?

I've always thought marriage as the first step in creating family.

Lori Simpson said...

Here I go--I cannot resist trying. I know, like I said, that feelings run strong on this issue, but let this be my statement on the issue.

Marriage, throughout history, has been the safe place for children to be born and nurtured. That is why marriage has been protected by law in all human civilization--it is the cradle of culture and tradition, and the place where children can grow up feeling safe and getting the teaching and example they need to fill their place in society. All cultures that have let this decay, tried to tamper with this, or tried to set up other formulations for the raising of children, have had real problems.

Children who have been raised by both of their own biological parents, married and stable, are statisticaly much more likely to avoid the sorrows of drug abuse, poverty, single parenthood, crime, gang violence, etc., and are much more likely to be successful adults themselves. This is not arguable--it is fact. I know my saying so may touch off another firestorm, but before you flame at me look at the stats yourselves.

Megan is a single parent not because of selfishness or abuse, but because of an unavoidable tragedy. Her children have the continuity of love and tradition that both their parents gave them. The tribute Child 1 gave her mother is evidence of that. I believe that God makes up the difference--helps single parents raise their children with success when they do their best. When families break up because of selfishness, however, children are terribly harmed, and parents will be held responsible.

My thoughts about gay marriage are tied in with all this. Governments and societies have always had a definite, economic, vested interest in promoting a safe place for children to be raised. The definition of marriage as between a man and a woman promotes this safe place, and has demonstrable and quantifiable benefits for society as a whole.

More in my next comment...

Lori Simpson

Lori Simpson said...

Continued....


The decay of the family is very advanced. Here are some of my concerns:
1)government pays to raise children without holding parents responsible for the economic well-being of their own offspring(long-term AFDC,for example, and other welfare programs that do not promote self-respect and self-reliance, but instead bind the poor to the promise of a skimpy government check). This has caused its own decay of our whole society. Places where a greater percentage of people are chronically on gov't assistance are places that are ravaged by drugs and crime and misery and loneliness.
2) easy divorce
3) sexual permissiveness: sex is supposed to be the glue that holds a marriage together, not the lubricant for personal freedom! Sex has consequences! No amount of social change can remove these consequences, for individuals and especially for children.
4) loss of respect for parenthood itself! Beginning when I was pregnant with our fourth child, I became the brunt of many vicious attacks on my intelligence and/or my sanity. (Once I fought back: I innocently told an exasperated stranger, who had just huffed at me for my lack of respect for the earth, that I was simply practicing planned parenthood. Her reaction was so angry I thought her head was going to explode. She was rendered speachless, and just walked away.)

All these things are the biggest threat to the Family. However, the idea of gay marriage is one that benefits society as a whole not at all. It may be comforting to some, but it does not fit the goals of marriage as proven to be beneficial to society throughout history. There are other ways gays can get their stated goals met; getting to be with a loved one in the hospital, or the right to inherit property, for example, are commonly cited goals. The idea of "marriage" being the only way to acheive these goals is not reasonable. Civil unions of various kinds can and do do the same thing.

The concerted effort by activists to change the definition of marriage to include something it is not is a careful attack on a historical societal norm--it can be nothing else. We all want to be compassionate, but to lose sight of the real objectives in this situation is to play into the hands of those activists, who, I have discovered, do not even speak for all gays.

Megan quoted part of the "Proclamation on the Family" in her post. Please go to www.LDS.org and read the rest of it. It states very well many of my deep feelings about Family.

Thanks for listening.

Lori Simpson

Anonymous said...

Fascinating.

If I understand correctly, you feel marriage is solely for the purpose of protecting procreation of the human species.

Perhaps I've been looking at marriage equality backwards. Really, the state should only recognize domestic partnerships and not marriage. Marriage should be left to individual religious institutions to recognize as they see fit. Some will recognize it, and some will not.

child 2 said...

...so, Lori, you view yourself as a baby machine? i feel terribly terribly sorry for you. i truly do. however, you can't place the limitations you have put on yourself on others. I am not bashing your religion, nor am i trying to convince you that it is wrong. i am merely stating that this country is built on equality, and that is what you are vehemently trying to deny a part of our population. churches aren't going to be forced to marry gay couples unless they want to, but neither can they force their way in to other people's sexuality. for an institution that tries so hard to deny the existence of homosexuals, religion tends to spend a lot of time attempting to smother them, and that goes directly against the foundation of this great country of ours.

Lori Simpson said...

Child 2--LOL!!! This is not the first time someone has called me a baby machine. I do not see myself as such--I see myself as a mother and an educator. This is what i sorrow about--the value of "The hand that rocks the world" is now so underestimated.

My own Child 2 wrote an essay for her English 122 class at the local community college when she was 16 years old. I would like to share some of it with you:

Writing 122 11:30
04/30/08
paper 3

True Influence Isn't Rocket Science

One day while at working at Roth’s I had an experience that set me to pondering the role of mothers. I am a courtesy clerk, and people are constantly asking about my school situation. I was helping one woman out with her groceries when she asked me this question. She then asked me about my plans for after college. When I answered that I planned to be a stay-at-home mom she said, in a condescendingly polite tone, that she guessed that was alright for some. I asked her why she thought so and she replied that some woman wanted to "do something more with their lives." I was taken aback and very astonished. I had heard of such a belief, but I had never yet met someone who actually believed so. I wondered out loud what other thing in this world could be more important than motherhood? The customer immediately declared that she was over fifty, was a very accomplished artist, and had never had any children. My immediate response was to express sincere sympathy, but she stopped me and said "No, I chose not to."
She went on to tell me about the many things that women could do that were much more rewarding then child raising but I was still musing over her decision. How can anyone not yearn to hold their very own baby that was so fresh and so pure; a totally individual human being? Children are magical.

We live in a hypocritical society. A society of double standards. One such double standard has been that of women's reproductive rights. Because a woman bears the biological evidence of sex, women through history could not hide fornication. It did not matter that both a man and a woman had participated, the woman's involvement was there for all the world to see. Therefore women were protected by their families and the law. These protections weren’t always enough. It was relatively easy for a man to escape responsibility for his sexual actions.
A sad fault of society was that when a woman was found pregnant without a husband, she was immediately shunned by society and labeled as a whore. The man on the other hand could socially get away with such an act. Even if his activities became known people would often just smirk and say that he was "sowing his wild oats." That is probably where the term "got lucky" came from.

The original momentum of the Women's Rights movement arose out of the desperate need for women to have full citizenship, suffrage, and property rights. This was done, as it needed to be done. Women's Rights activists lost their way about sexuality, however. Instead of insisting that men be held more accountable for their sexual actions, they became obsessed with challenging nature by promoting for women the same "sexual freedom" that men had. The tragic victims of this chaos are children, born and unborn.

The most vigorous promoter of sexual freedom was Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse and the sixth child of eleven. This new "idea of woman's right to control her own body, and especially to control her own reproduction and sexuality, added a so called "visionary" new dimension to the ideas of women's emancipation." (History). This is a sad attitude. Sanger’s idea of controlling one’s own sexuality had nothing to do with self control.

More....

Lori Simpson said...

Simpson Child 2 continued...

In the Webster's New World Dictionary the word "Mother" is defined as "a woman who has borne a child . . . [who] nurtures in the manner of a mother . . . a woman having the responsibility and authority of a mother." But I believe that there is much more to
the definition of mothers. A mother is not someone who merely gives birth to child and then sends it off to daycare, to be raised by paid help. A true mother is someone who is always there for her child. Someone who is "at the crossroads;" always there to support the children in their doings. The role of a mother is a full time job that pays more than any other job can ever pay. A true mother guides and teaches her children to work hard and make the right choices in sticky situations. There is a well known saying: The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Sanger did not believe that. In fact she stated that "[t]he marriage bed is the most degenerating influence in the social order" (Dew). She declared that "[a] woman's physical satisfaction [was] more important than any marriage vow" (Dew). I was not surprised to find out that Sanger was involved in an affair with a famous eugenicist during the time of her campaign. It is interesting that Planned Parenthood does not tell everything about their founder Margaret Sanger.

Nowadays society seems intent on tearing apart the family by belittling motherhood and the importance of chastity. Diane S. Dew includes a quote on her website made recently by Planned Parenthood, saying:
"At Planned Parenthood you can also get birth control without the consent or knowledge of your parents. So, if you are 14, 15 or 16 and you come to Planned Parenthood, we won't tell your parents you've been there. We swear we won't tell your parents." (Dew) Such counsel encourages young teenage girls to blatantly disobey mothers and fathers and undermines parental authority. Such a belief belittles the role of mothers and the sanctity of life.

We live in a world that is denigrating the value of motherhood even as the importance of mothers increases as the evil in the world grows stronger. If mothers do not teach their children the importance of motherhood and the family, the percentage of mothers and strong families will deteriorate. It is already doing so. Fewer and fewer women, especially educated women, are willing to be mothers.

Cont.----

Lori Simpson said...

Sadly a great many women believe in the things that the customer at Roths told me. Activists declare that women have the right to do whatever they want. This is true, but the sad fact is that the choices that feminists promote usually don't include full time motherhood. These women believe that children just get in the way of their own success. They ask: why have children when I can do something that can change the world? They see the role of a mother as wiping snotty noses and changing dirty diapers. That is not even a quarter of what a mother does. Feminists do not seem to realize that full time mothers influence the world for generations to come.
In my family, we children rely on our mother for counsel. Because we are home schooled we look to her for knowledge. The word that we use most is "mom." I now make my own decisions but I still turn to my mother for advice. A mother is who the children look up to. A true mother is her child's role model. The child will follow the example of the mother. What better way is there to change the world?



Works Cited
Dew, Diane S. "In Her Own Words." Margaret Sanger Founder of Planned Parenthood. 2001. 3 May 2008
(LWS:website not allowed--I don't have the patience right now to figure out how to get it on here. Should be easy to google up, though)
History of the Movement." Living the Legacy: the Women's Rights Movement 1848-1998. 2002. National Women's History Project. 3 May 2008 (same--trouble with website url)Guralnik, David B. "Mother." Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Second College Edition ed. 1 vols. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

She was 16 years old at the time she wrote this. Full time college student (3.86 GPA)and part time courtesy clerk earning money for her transfer to a university. Can't wait to see what she can do when she is fully grown! Our other children are just as wonderful. I am not a baby factory. I am a builder and facilitator of successful human beings.

Lori

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori,

Thank you for posting your thoughts. I can see how and why marriage equality terrifies you. Really, it shouldn't - nor should women working - but I do understand why you would perceive both as threatening.

Mujja said...

Lori,

Whilst I understand that you sincerely believe that your way of living is best, I am saddened by your inability to appreciate and accept that other people may wish to have a chance to experience the love and stability that a family (albeit an alternative family) brings.

Your way is certainly one way to live, but it is not the only positive scenario and it is certainly no better than any other loving and stable home environment.

By refsing to accept such alternative marriages you are denying people the very thing that you appear to hold most dear... stability, security and recognition for people to laugh, love and bring up their own children and family.

I have seen so many very very badly abused and neglected children in traditional marriage set ups and conversly many children who have thrived under the love and tolerance that they have received in alternative ones.The key here is not one man one woman, but two like minded stable loving individuals who both wish to nurture, protect and educate their family to the best of their ability.

One size does not fit all. I am not saying that the place of traditional marriage should be eroded. I am simply saying that there is more than enough room to allow an alternative to exist alongside it.

Just as skin colour is determined by genes so is sexuality....no one colour, or indeed orientation is superior... just different. God has put us all here together... I cannot see that he would be pleased that one set of his children persecute and subjugate any other just because they fear that difference.

Lori Simpson said...

There is the word fear again. I am very aware that people throw accusations of mental instability or intolerance simply to discredit conservative views. Fear, hatred, etc., are not applicable to this discussion. The issue is what government should promote for the continued health of society. Anecdotes are cute, but statistical research bears out the benefits to the majority of children of a stable, two parent(male and female, biologically related) family. There is something in the balance that humans need. I know that this is not possible for a huge percentage of our children, and I know that we as a society will be held accountable before God for the choices we as a society have made that have degraded the Famiily to this extent. Please see The Proclamation on the Family at www.LDS.org.

Gravity is a law, we need oxygen to live, stubbing your toe hurts, etc. There are truths that do not change with the winds of public oppinion. The Commandments are still in force; God knew what we needed when He biologically set up the way Families should be. He created us, after all, and He knows exactly what we need. We each will be held responsible before God for our wresting of His commandments. I guess it all comes down to what we want most out of life. I want to be on the Lord's side. No matter what. Joshua had it right--Choose you this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. That to me means to seek out His word, honestly and without trying to fit it to my preferred wants, and live it, even when faced by negative winds of public oppinion. See you in the next life, when God will tell us EACH what we did right and wrong, probably surprising us all at least a little.

Lori

Child 2 said...

you are again assuming that everyone will agree with your god. God exists differently for every person. And isn't he supposed to love and be tolerant?

Megan said...

First, sorry for posting and running - it was unintentional and simply a result of when I posted and what my schedule did!

Second - thanks to everyone for an intelligent and passionate discussion. I appreciate all the opinions expressed and I'm particularly glad that they are being stated, in general (watch it Child II!! Love you, proud of you!) in such a respectful way. I truly feel that open discussion and careful consideration of the opposing view is essential to resolution and to growth.

Third - Lori, I do take a bit of exception to your early statement that I 'talk down the prophets.' I certainly did not intend any such thing, nor do I think I did so. I referenced two prophets - Joseph Smith and the current prophet and in neither case did I say anything that was not true, nor did I state it in a way that (I felt) was disrespectful. I'm sure you know I do not agree with a lot of your stances on things BUT, I do totally, and absolutely support your right to have them.

I want to make that absolutely clear - I support Lori, and all others, in their right to believe as they wish and to worship as they wish. In fact one of the things I like about the Mormon church is found in the Articles of Faith, written by Joseph Smith in 1842 when the church was under enormous pressure for (among other things) its suspected polygamous practices: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." I do not feel that, in its intervention in Proposition 8 and other similar political movements, the Mormon church is being true to its own declared beliefs.

Child 1 said...

I think we should just persecute the people who sell axe cologne. Please! For the sake of my nose!

child 2 said...

I apologize if i was offensive, i get very confrontational when confronted with injustice, and very defensive when it comes to my family. should probably work on that.

Anonymous said...

Any concerns about adoption? Foster care? Grandparents and extended family helping out? Nannies?
Loving, supportive families come in all flavors -- and statistics certainly don't capture the details.

Meagan said...

"Mormons, it was said, would have to open their temples to the unworthy and be forced to perform gay marriages."
I see the prohibition of gay marriage as being far more threatening to religious autonomy than than a statement of equality. Allowing the state to marry anyone keeps it a civil union (and I think we'd be better off if they all, gay ABD straight were just called civil unions). Limiting marriage to only hetero couples imposes a religious meaning on STATE marriage. This gives the government MORE religious authority, not less. This strikes me as a dangerous precident whatever your beliefs.

Lori- You have the right to believe that gay marriage is destructive to family values. This is however an opinion. I have an opposite opinion. Why does YOUR opinion give you the right to legislate how people live their lives? Your church has no obligation to recognize gay marriage, and I would not DREAM of voting for a law that forces them to.