Archive for the ‘marriage’ Tag

Jubilation as Quakers endorse same-sex marriage

Jubilation as Quakers endorse same-sex marriage

Britain’s Quakers have this morning agreed to carry out same-sex marriages on the same basis as marriages for opposite-sex couples. The decision came after an intense week of debate and reflection at the Quakers’ Yearly Meeting in York.

Emotions ran high in the discussions and several people of various views were visibly in tears. Many participants hugged each other and expressed delight as the decision was reached.

People working for equality and inclusion within other churches and faith groups will be encouraged by the decision.

Quakers are now likely to face a difficult time with the law, which currently offers same-sex couples only civil partnerships, in which no religious element is allowed.

The statement agreed by the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are otherwise known, comes 22 years after they began formal consideration of the issue.

The Quakers agreed this morning that they would “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord’s work and we are but witnesses”

They further declared that “the question of legal recognition by the state is secondary”.

Christian registrar’s same-sex discrimination case dismissed

Christian registrar’s same-sex discrimination case dismissed

A London borough has won its appeal against a ruling that it unlawfully discriminated against a Christian registrar who refused to perform same-sex civil partnerships.

The ruling was issued in favour of Islington Council just before Christmas, and has delighted both secular and Christian equalities campaigners.

Ms Lillian Ladele had said that she could not carry out same-sex ceremonies “as a matter of religious conscience”.

In July 2008, an employment tribunal found that Islington Council in north London had discriminated against her. But on 19 December 2008 an appeal tribunal (EAT) upheld the council’s appeal aginst this judgment at a central London hearing.

It ruled that the earlier tribunal had “erred in law” and there was no basis for concluding that any “discrimination had been established”.

The appeals tribunal declared: “The council were not taking disciplinary action against Ms Ladele for holding her religious beliefs; they did so because she was refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies and this involved discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The council were entitled to take the view that they were not willing to connive in that practice by relieving Ms Ladele of the duties, notwithstanding that her refusal was the result of her strong and genuinely-held Christian beliefs.”

A Latter-day Alliance

A Latter-day Alliance

Although many evangelicals were not quite ready for a Mormon presidential candidate this election season, others were quick to join Mormons’ efforts to pass California’s ballot proposition banning same-sex marriage.

Evangelicals were the largest group of Americans who expressed reservations about voting for a Mormon candidate in surveys conducted last year. But leaders of the successful Proposition 8 campaign said that evangelicals, Mormons, and Roman Catholics cooperated more extensively than ever before to rally California to ban gay marriage.

“I think this is the ironic part, because everybody seems very content to work together on these issues of common values,” said Mark DeMoss, an evangelical publicist and early supporter of Mitt Romney. “But the moment a Mormon man presented himself as a candidate for President, people said, ‘That’s a line we as evangelicals can’t cross.’ ”

Advocates of Proposition 8 estimate that Mormons contributed at least half of the nearly $40 million raised for the ballot initiative, which about 80 percent of evangelicals in California supported. Since Election Day, Mormon churches have fielded protests across the country. California’s fair-elections commission is investigating a complaint that contends that the LDS Church provided significant contributions to the campaign that it did not report.

More than 4,000 people have signed an online petition thanking the LDS Church for its Proposition 8 efforts. Those who signed the letter include Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Evangelicals were content to partner with Mormons on Proposition 8 because the groups agreed on the end goal, said Gerald R. McDermott, professor of religion at Roanoke College and coauthor of Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate.

Ah…the sight of people putting aside their differences and coming together to hate the gays. Is there anything like it?

The Ex-Mormon Factor

The Ex-Mormon Factor

A little before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the night after Proposition 8 was approved by the voters of California, Levi Jackman Foster arrives at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple with scores of protestors after marching four miles from a rally in West Hollywood, which drew several thousand. Foster, a handsome blond, is 22, gay and angry. He’s also an ex-Mormon, the great-great-grandson of Nathaniel Tanner, one of the founders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a relation to Levi Jackman, who surveyed the land where the church created its national headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I completely abandoned the church because it abandoned me,” Foster explains on the sidewalk outside the temple on Santa Monica Boulevard. Now, he says, “Proposition 8 is tearing my family apart.”

Foster’s parents donated money and voted in favor of the ballot measure that eliminates the right of gays and lesbians to legally marry in California. “They weren’t going to vote on it,” Foster says, “but the church told them to, so they did. They also gave money to ‘Yes on 8’ because the church told them to do that.” Members of the Mormon church contributed tens of millions of dollars to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

“The Mormons have been oppressed minorities in the past,” Foster says, as he looks through the temple gates, “and now they’re doing the same thing to us. It’s something the church doesn’t get.”

Mormons under siege

Mormons under siege

Sister Sugiyanto’s guided teatime tour of Temple Square, the world headquarters of the Mormon Church, was rudely interrupted by the sound of emergency sirens and police helicopters hovering over central Salt Lake City.

A suspicious package containing white powder had been opened by a clerk in the Church Administration Office, prompting FBI agents wearing chemical warfare suits to swiftly evacuate the building. Across town, news was coming in that eight local churches had been vandalised. One, in a family neighbourhood, had obscene graffiti scrawled on its walls. The other seven, in the nearby towns of Layton and Ogden, had windows shot out, apparently with a BB gun.

The brouhaha on Thursday was severely testing the happy demeanour of the sister, a visiting missionary from Indonesia whose informative trips round the Mormon Church’s 45-acre HQ culminate in a not-so-subtle attempt to recruit you. “I feel we are being picked on,” said Sister Sugiyanto. “We are not the only group that supported this proposition, so why do they only blame us? Last week, thousands came here to protest. It made me sad, more than anything.”

The proposition in question is Proposition 8, a ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriage in California that was backed by 52 per cent of voters on 4 November. The “they” refers to gay rights activists upset by the Mormon Church’s role in the campaign to push the measure through. Modern morality and religious doctrine have collided in spectacular fashion, and nowhere more so than here in Utah.

To liberal America, the Church of the Latter Day Saints and its 12 million members around the world are suddenly public enemy number one. They stand accused – and, it must be said, it is an accusation they strongly deny – of thinly-veiled homophobia, using their massive financial muscle to help railroad the ballot measure.

Before anything else, one point should be made. Vandalism, particularly in cases such as this, is a Bad Thing. While there are times when property damage may be justified – if the property being damaged is itself destructive, for example – in this situation it is worse than useless. The intimidation and fear created by it simply serves to reinforce the prejudices being held, and to create a seige mentality (hence the title of the article.)

And when this escalates to the point of terrorist threats, even as hoaxes, it is clear something has broken down.

With that being said, however, comments like this deserve a response:

“The gays have become everything they accused their opponents of,” added her fellow guest, Wilson Clyde. “They’re intolerant of me, of my beliefs and my way of life. They’re nothing more than extremists who are trying to intimidate and silence anyone who disagrees with them.”

“I hate the gays, they’re all bigots!”

There are two main misconceptions with this stance. The first is the idea that “the gays” are a homogenous mass being represented by these activites. Gay rights activists are a minority within “the gays” as a whole, and of those, I can’t help but imagine those taking the more militant route described here are a further minority still. The Mr. Clyde described here is taking the actions of a handful and using them to attack the group as a whole – a stance which in itself is often the first sign of bigotry.

The second is the idea that this is about, in Mr. Clyde’s words, his “beliefs and way of life.” That some protestors have chosen to attack Mormon beliefs is regrettable, as of course is the way some have chosen to express their anger. However, the wider issue – and the issue that brought these protests about – is activity on the part of the LDS Church in campaigning to strip rights from a particular group of people. And no organisation, religious or not, is immune from criticism. While the person being quoted may have been referring solely to those who have taken more militant action, the generalisation of “the gays” makes me suspicious.

Another misconception here, incidentally, is the idea that gay marriage is only a concern for gay rights activists.

“It’s easier to attack a minority religion, especially one that frankly isn’t very well understood, than to protest because 70 per cent of African American voters also supported Proposition 8,” says Mike Otterson, a somewhat exasperated church spokesman. “It’s a tactical thing. It makes it easier for them to vent their anger and frustration. But to vandalise chapels, vandalise temples, put graffiti on our buildings, protest outside our temples … It’s completely unreasonable. People have the right to protest. But this is way over the top.”

The last part of this statement, that it the vandalism et al is wrong, is valid. However, the comparison to the 70% of African Americans who voted in favour is simply wrong. There is no Church of Black America which devoted $40 million to banning gay marriage. Additionally, blacks constitute around 6% of the population of California – making that 70% a lot less impressive. The LDS Church, on the other hand:

The facts regarding the current round of protests are disputed by both sides. The disagreement started several months before polling day, when Mormon congregations were read a letter by Thomas Monson, the Church’s president or “prophet” (a sort of Mormon Pope) asking them to give time and money to help ban gay marriage.

Followers, who place the family at the heart of their faith, responded in their thousands, providing up to $40m by some estimates that allowed the “Yes on 8” campaign to run a series of aggressive and highly-successful television attack ads. Some featured small girls announcing: “Today I learned in school that a prince can marry a prince and I can one day marry a princess!”

It is also, as noted later in the article, somewhat amusing seeing the LDS Church – which in its early history was notable for its obsession with polygamy – now fighting so fervently for “traditional” marriage.