Given the local interest regarding all things even tangentially Mormon-related, it was fascinating to watch the so-called "Culture Wars" implode our little corner of the world last November with the brouhaha regarding Proposition 8, the adorably innocuously-named California's controversial ban on gay marriage. Maybe you heard of it. Anyway, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came under considerable fire from gay rights (and other) groups for its vocal support of the proposition, citing that "the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan." Fair enough and to each their own.
On May 26, the California Supreme Court handed down a ruling that upheld the validity of Prop 8 while simultaneously preventing any existing same-sex marriages from being invalidated. With ignoble, almost Dadaesque rantings from Mormon fringe lunatics like Orson Scott Card (or Catholic fringe lunatics like Catholic League president William Donahue) drowning the rhetorical landscape, it's difficult to remember that this isn't just a matter of faith, but also a matter of politics. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, only 33% of California voters are registered Republicans, compared to 44% Democrats and 19% independents; the LA Times reported that Prop 8 squeaked through, passing by a teeny tiny four percent margin. Now, I'm not a doctor, but I do know that if the split was that close to 50/50, it wasn't just Republicans that voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Inexplicably popular blogger Perez Hilton famously (and ridiculously) called for a boycott of Park City’s Sundance Film Festival, claming that any in attendence "...will support the Mormons if you go. [They] WILL support the taking away of equal rights for gays!" For some reason, Hilton is under the impression that 100% of Utah is Mormon, and that being Mormon automatically indicates a political belief. His ludicrous blanket statements are obviously hypocritical, but affording Perez Hilton critical analysis is about as rewarding as a rousing round of Proofread Stephanie Meyer (a favorite amongst English majors), so that's a fruitless pursuit. The point is not that his blanket statement is wrong, it's that blanket statements are wrong (I'm fully aware that that is, in fact, a blanket statement).
Standing proudly next to the All Mormons Hate Gay Marriage compost pile is the Democrats Support Gay Marriage (as well as its inbred cousin, the Republicans Hate Gay Marriage). President Obama, holder of the coveted Get Out Of Controversy (Except For Fox News) Free pass, is against gay marriage. He has said so repeatedly, going so far as to tell the Chicago Daily Tribune that "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."
Aside from that statement’s inherent admission of failure at his attempted separation of religious doctrine and secular politics, President Obama also seems to be under the (mistaken) impression that Jesus ever actually addressed gay marriage, or even homosexuality. I seem to recall something about loving your neighbor a whole bunch, though (cough cough Matthew 22:39 cough cough).
In fairness, Obama’s gay rights record is pretty solid; the Human Rights Campaign gave him an 89% on his 2006 Congressional Scorecard, indicating a strong support of gay rights. It could be, as has been suggested, that Obama’s hesitance to support gay marriage is strictly a political issue and he plays it safe in order to win a second term, during which he’ll tell us what he REALLY thinks. However, I was frequently criticized back in November of 2008 for hoping that Scary John McCain of 2008, even with Palin in tow, was just Badass John McCain of 2000 in a cunning disguise, a view that I have since retracted.
“B-b-b-but,” some stammer, “Obama is a Democrat! That means he’s for gay marriage!” Enter: Dick Cheney. Earlier this month, Cheney publicly supported the legalization of gay marriage (although he supports the rights of the states to decide their own legislation). Cheney’s daughter, Mary, is a partnered lesbian and participated in campaigning for her father during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
And don’t leave out Schwarzenegger. Last November, the California Governor, a Republican, was disappointed in the passing of Prop 8, saying that those fighting for gay marriage “…should be on it and on it until they get it done.” (LA Times) He has since encouraged protestors and vocally expressed hope that the decision would be overturned (I’m trying to think of a good Terminator pun, but I’m coming up short).
So don’t jump to conclusions. I’m a libertarian-leaning independent that didn’t really want to vote for anyone that stood a chance of winning. I’m also a practising Mormon (believe it or not), and a staunch, unabashed supporter of the legalization of gay marriage at the federal level (a rare thing for a libertarian), and I have no issue sleeping soundly at night. Don’t let the contradictions make your head explode.