My ancestors came long ago to America seeking religious freedom. Some, like Isaac Wheeler, came as early as the 1600s from England to Massachusetts. They were Protestants who wanted to be free of the Church of England and the persecution that was heaped upon them. Others came in the mid-1800s from England, Norway, and Denmark after joining the LDS (Mormon) Church there.
America offered a land free of religious persecution (although the Mormons had to go all the way to the wilderness of Utah to find that); a land where its citizens were guaranteed the Freedom of Religion; the freedom from a government mandated, political church. And although the early European settlers of the colonies and later United States had various reasons for coming there, a great many of them were seeking that same freedom.
I often think about those ancestors of mine and about the blessings that I have in my life because of the sacrifices that they made. They wanted a better life for themselves and for their posterity. They helped to build this great nation, which became of beacon of freedom to the world.
I also think about my own children and posterity. Will they look back at the choices that I made and thank me for them? Will their world be one in which religious freedom is tolerated? Will they enjoy the same comfort and safety that I do as I worship God as I see fit and teach my children to do likewise?
I strongly believe that Proposition 8 in California (and similar ballot initiatives in other states) on traditional marriage will have an impact for ill or good on whether or not my children enjoy the same freedoms that I do--the liberties that my ancestors sought when they left their homes, families, and native lands behind to go to a strange, unknown land.
I know that I have already posted a few times about Prop 8, but I feel that I need to do everything I can to speak out about this issue. Redefining traditional marriage as being between PartyA and Party B (or between two brides or two grooms) is legislating that there is no difference between a homosexual "civil union" and a heterosexual marriage. If that is the case, churches will surely be sued for preaching that homosexuality is against God's will. They will be prosecuted for refusing to perform gay marriages. They will be forced to place adoptive children in homosexual homes. They will not be allowed to live (and perhaps even teach) according to their religious beliefs.
Those who oppose Prop 8 say that these are scare tactics, that this issue has nothing to do with religion. That is simply not true. Already a doctor has been sued (and ruled against) for refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian woman, even though he referred her to another doctor who would do it. He refused on the grounds that he was morally opposed to gay couples parenting children. And the court ruled that he does not have the right to be opposed to that. It doesn't matter that the woman could receive the service she sought from another doctor. His rights to believe in traditional marriage and families was trumped by her right to be inseminated by any fertility doctor she chose.
This is just one example of how aggressively the gay community is pursuing what they label civil rights. (If you would like to hear how a number of African American community members feel about having gay rights compared to civil rights, watch this video.)
Some will cry out that you can't legislate morality, that it violates the separation of church and state to do so. I strongly disagree. Our founding fathers most definitely legislated morality, and we continue to do so today. Murder, fraud, embezzling, perjury, those are all examples of legislated morality. If we are going to live in a society where anything goes, where we are not even allowed to say that we believe another's choices and lifestyle to be wrong, that is not the separation of church and state. It is abandoning God completely, and turning our back on the fact that truth might exist. It is, as in Judges 17:6, "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
The separation of church and state was never meant to eliminate God, but to eliminate an official church who was so interwoven with the government that corruption was inevitable. It was meant to allow people to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.
Proposition 8 does not take away the rights of gays to live openly as gays. It does not take away their domestic partnership rights. It does not take away any rights. It only seeks to define marriage the way that it has been defined since Adam and Eve.
You may be tired of hearing about this. I am tired of hearing about it. But I believe that the choice that we make this fall will have a fundamental difference on the future America that we give to our posterity. So I don't care which candidate you vote for for president. I don't care which congressman or woman you plan to elect this year. But if you are undecided about how you will vote on traditional marriage, please consider my words. Please think about the long term implications of this law. Please don't just shrug your shoulders and say, "to each his own. It won't hurt me." It will impact every member of this society in not very many years.
And if you have already decided to vote Yes on 8, keep talking about it. Do all you can to educate your friends, neighbors, and associates. This is our children's future. We need to handle with care.
Painting by Gordon Grant; photo of sculpture taken by me at Conference Center in Salt Lake City, UT.