So what outed me?
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.
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.
As in one.
One man. One woman.
Anyone want to say it?
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.