In case you’ve been living in a cave on the moon for the past few years, here is a news update: gay rights advocates and social conservatives have lately been sparring over the issue of same-sex marriage in America. It’s also no secret that most Mormons support a traditional (heterosexual) definition of marriage.
It’s been a hard political position to take. I’ve wondered myself how to deal with the charges of bigotry laid against us, and how to adequately defend my stance.
The gay rights community has set up the debate as a matter of civil rights. This is misleading, particularly in the California Proposition 8 campaign. All legal rights have been granted same-sex couples for years. If it were just a matter of ensuring hospital visitation rights or filing an extra tax-exemption for a domestic partnership, I would be in favor of providing these civil rights, but they are already available. The real battle is over the marriage license; the right to call each other “husband” or “wife.”
Marriage is not, in and of itself, a civil right. Government has a long history of restricting marriages involving siblings, cousins, minors, and bigamists in addition to homosexuals. There is good reason for government to support only heterosexual marriages.
What is being fought for is not civil rights, but legitimacy. Society is being asked to ratify homosexual behavior, and Mormons cannot sanction the behavior in good conscience. Mormons view homosexual behavior as unwise and sinful. It is one thing to tolerate sin in a community, and another for society to endorse the sin officially.
Mormons are not trying to outlaw homosexuality. We are not hoping to deny anyone their legal rights. And we certainly do not support violence or discrimination toward gays or lesbians. Our aim is simply to support the traditional definition of marriage as the ideal way to organize society in families, and keep it as a matter of prudent public policy.
I recognize that this article will likely set off some powder kegs of emotion. Let’s discuss the issue, but before you comment, I’d like you to take a few deep breaths, read our comment policy, and keep your tone as polite as you can. I won’t respond to name-calling or insults (against me or my Church).