Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being Thank-filled

There are many things about Thanksgiving that fascinate me. First, that we as a nation set apart one day each year to dedicate ourselves solely to the three F's -Food, Family and Football. Secondly, I am fascinated by the intricately layered rainbow Jello that my wife manages to create each year. It is as much a work of art as it is delicious.

What fascinates me most about Thanksgiving, however, is the fact that it was first instituted and made a national holiday during perhaps the most trying time in American history. You would think Thanksgiving would be a product of the 50's what with its preponderance of Dads sleeping on the couch all afternoon while mom is in the kitchen doing the dishes. But no, Thanksgiving is not a product of the 50's. You might think Thanksgiving would be a product of those first pilgrims and their Native American buddies, but alas, they only serve as a nice back story.

In reality, Thanksgiving was first instituted in the midst of the American Civil War. Think about that. Thousands of men had died and millions more would endure the scars of battle that last a lifetime. Brothers were literally being pitted against brothers. All of the nation's best resources were being dedicated towards a war amongst with ourselves and our President decided to set aside a day to give thanks. What??

Despite the fear and uncertainty of the time, Abraham Lincoln had the vision and foresight to see the many ways in which our nation was being blessed. He managed to see through the blood and fog of war and witness a benevolent hand blessing a nation and its people.

In a time of war at home, he was thankful for the relative peace abroad. In a time when the fields of battle yielded so many victims, he was thankful for the fields at home which yielded so much fruit. And of these many blessings he stated:

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

While the only brothers being pitted against brothers this Thanksgiving will be on the flag football field, there is no doubt that America is still going through a bit of a rough spot. How much more than should we be thankful for the things that we do have. Consider the many things I am thankful for this year:

I am thankful to live in a country where a man by the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president. This gives hope to all the unfortunately named Richard Heads and Fred Frank Funks that exist out there.

I am thankful to have a daughter who is not old enough to like Hanna Montana. Egads that music is horrible.

I am thankful to have a family who, despite all my glaring faults, still likes having me around sometimes.

I am thankful live in a country with such an abundance of food that we make reality TV shows dedicated to watching fat people weigh themselves.

I am thankful to live in a country where 6% unemployment sets off pandemonium. In France they have a saying about an unemployment rate so relatively low "C'est Imposible!"

I am thankful for a DVR. I am now so used to fast forwarding through commercials that whenever I am watching live TV, I still instinctively grab the remote any time a commercial comes on. It is a serious condition I call "DVRthritis."

I am thankful to live in a country that was able to look passed the color of a man's skin when selecting a president. Now if only we hadn't looked passed his inexperience and blatant political pandering.

I am thankful for a car that runs. If you knew my history with cars, you would know how much this means to me.

I am thankful for a home that is actually increasing in value. The French have a term for that as well, it is called "Texas."

I…am…thankful…for…my…job. There I said, are you happy!

Last but not least, I am thankful to be a citizen of a country where I can write what I like, think what I want, and believe whatever the heck it is us crazy Mormons believe in. In short, I am thankful to be an American.

Now it is your turn, what are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When the Gay Come Marching In

The ignorant, hate-filled anti-Mormon protests ranging from coast to coast deserve a serious, thoughtful analysis; an objective discussion of the feelings and emotions causing such animosity against the religion. Which is why I highly encourage you to go some where else and read it.

Here, I treat these protests with the same seriousness with which I treat our sacred political process (i.e. none). Below are some of the photos from these protests that gave me a hearty, old-timey chortle. Really, I would like to thank all those bigots who felt the need to disrupt our religious services because we had the audacity to disagree with you in a democratic election; I haven't laughed this hard in years. But remember: I am not laughing at you, nor am I laughing with you. I am laughing because of you.

The original drafts of this poster said go back to New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Then they realized that Mormons had already been driven by angry mobs out of those states. I guess now we can add California to the list.

I think we can all agree that the word "Hater"= stupid=dumb. Thank you Jerry Springer for foisting that term on society.

With that type of Christ-like compassion, I guess this protester will be burning along side us.

I think the founding fathers would agree: Gay marriage is a far more protected institution then something as small and unimportant as religion.

They are right about this one. The Main entrance is actually around the back.

While being tolerated may suck, I think we can all agree it sure beats being persecuted by an angry mob.

We keep trying to separate the church from hate. Why do you think we build fences around our temples? Also, if you look closely you will see a German Iron cross. This of course has nothing to do with the church but appears to be the new logo for the Gay Rights community.

Now if this sign had said "Virile Mormons", I think we could all agree it is true.

Well, at least one of these hate filled bigots has a sense of humor.

Poster board and Markers: $5
Two Jackets: $50
Taking your kids out on a cool autumn night to advocate violence and untrue stereotypes: Priceless.

As this bishops house in Southern California teaches us, you just can't spray paint bigot on someone's door without indicting yourself. It is like a member of the KKK spray painting "Racist" on a black mans door.

Okay, I actually kind of like this sign.

Protesting LDS churches in California is one thing, but protesting 7 year old girls in Seattle, where they did not even vote on the measure? Way to keep it classy.

Oh, I'm sorry, how did this picture get in here. Same bigoted movement, different century.

And I'd hate to be part of a group that pushes ignorant, untrue stereo types.

When democracy doesn't get you what you want, I think we can all agree the next best option is petty vandalism.

If you look really closely, this reads "I Heart Religious Persecution"

Finally, Mike Huckabee and the Gay Community have something they can all agree on.

With this I conclude my opus on gay-marriage and anti-Mormonism (for now). While my respect for the gay rights community as a whole has diminished somewhat, my love and respect for the individual members that I know within that movement has not. If anything, this discussion has only solidified the high esteem in which I hold you in. I would conclude with one of my favorite quotes by Joseph Smith where he said "Come on, dear brother, since the war is past,
For friends at first, are friends again at last" but I am afraid the mere mention of something Mormon-esque might make some in the gay rights movement all angry-smashy-torchy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So Long Mr. Nice Gay

Despite all their attempts to redefine marriage, it seems the only word the gay rights movement has managed to redefine is, well, gay.

Over the past two weeks, the word gay –which used to mean happy before it meant a same sex attraction-- continued its transition and it now means "blind, ignorant rage". How else can you possibly explain headlines like "Gay Activists Protest Mormon Temples." If gay means people with a same sex attraction, then a gay protest at a Mormon temple makes as much sense as a PETA protest outside HomeDepot. There simply is no reason for a quarrel between the two. Use the new definition and you get blind, ignorant activists protesting a Mormon temple and that at least makes sense.

Frankly, I think the homosexual community will be excited about the new meaning of gay. Now the only people who have to be worried about being outed are rednecks and skin heads. Just imagine:

"Son, is this your copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf?"

"Where did you find that? Have you been looking under my mattress?"

"Son, be honest with me, are you filled with ignorant rage? Are you… gay?"

"Yes Dad, alright. I'm Gay. I can't help it. Whenever I see a black man or a Jew, it makes me feel so angry!"

"I don't understand. Where did you learn to be gay?"

"I learned it from watching you, Dad. I learned it from WATCHING YOU!"

Call me crazy, but this has afterschool special written all over it.

Whatever you may think about the church or whatever your feelings are towards gay-marriage and Proposition 8, outside of blind, ignorant rage, there is no justification for protesting LDS temples and meeting houses. Now before you pull out the pitchfork and torch and start protesting my house, let me explain why.

While the recent anti-Mormon protests have shown us how homosexuals feel about the LDS church, it has not changed how the LDS church feels about them. The late President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley stated:

"People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church…We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties."

Simply put, you can hate the Church all you want, but the Church does not hate you.

Turning the LDS church into the Prop 8 boogey man is ignorant and unfair. Proposition 8 did not pass because of the Mormon Church, it passed because 52% of Californians voted for it. Even if every Mormon had voted against it, the proposition still would have passed. If you really want to blame someone, blame Obama. It was the unprecedented African American turnout in support of Barack Obama who voted 70-30 in favor of the proposition and pushed it over the top.

The idea that the LDS church bought the election is an intellectually dishonest argument. First of all, the LDS church did not spend a dime on the election. Yes, it encouraged its members to contribute financially to support Proposition 8, but the Church itself spent nothing.

Secondly, the Yes-on-8 campaign was vastly outspent by the gay-rights movement. According to Time magazine, the No-on-8-side spent $43.6 million to defeat the proposition, the other side spent only $29.8 million. You simply cannot claim the election was bought when the losers spent more than the winners.

Proposition 8 passed because its proponents won the war of ideas. Admittedly, the LDS church was a major force in organizing and communicating in favor of the proposition. So if the gay-rights movement hates the church because we were better at persuading people, well, then compliment accepted. Bare in mind, however, that this was the LDS Church's first foray into political activism. The fact that it was so successful in persuading so many people has far more to do with the gay-rights movements inabilities than with the Mormon church's abilities. For the Gay-rights community, this was defeat snatched right out of the jaws of victory and you have no one to blame but yourselves.

It was the belligerent actions of people like Gavin Newsome and the other members of the GayKK who tried to earn public support for gay rights by cramming it down our throats.

Breaking the law and handing out marriage licenses to gay couples does not encourage acceptance of gay marriage anymore than graffiti encourages acceptance of the arts.

Saying gay marriage is going to happen whether we "like it or not" makes you sound more tyrant than tolerant.

You don't ease the fears of the pro-traditional marriage supporters who worry about homosexuality being taught in schools when you drag a group of first graders to a gay wedding.

Finally, you can't expect to earn public sympathy when you ignorantly and belligerently attack a minority religion for having the audacity to disagree with you in a civil, democratic election.

Despite these obvious facts, the blatantly anti-Mormon protests continue. Just this week two envelopes containing an unknown white powder were mailed to LDS temples in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Apparently someone in the gay rights movement knows of a right to terrorize small churches clause in the constitution that I have never heard of. (Don't worry, if it isn't in there, I am sure the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will write it in for you.)

Why is the LDS church being so unfairly targeted? Because it is easy. The LDS church is the only group not protected by the umbrella of political correctness that falls over the other groups involved in the debate. Pick on African Americans and you're a racist. Pick on Jews and you are anti-Semitic. But pick on Mormons and you are just another part of Mike Huckabee's America.

For a group of people who fought so long against unfair stereotypes and hatemongering, the gay rights movement wasted not time pulling out hateful terms and untrue stereotypes of Mormons. It seems the most popular poster at the anti-Mormon love fests is the "If you can have 5 wives, why can't I have just one." Great poster except for the fact that it is NOT TRUE. The LDS church has not allowed polygamous marriage in over a hundred years and anyone who even whispers support for the practice is excommunicated faster than you can say "Warren Jeffs." But hay, who needs facts when your persecutin' Mormons. The people of Missouri sure didn't.

My particular favorite are the "No on H8" signs right next to the "Mormon Scum" or "Vile Mormons" or "Go to Hell Mormon" posters. I have no doubt these protesters have very acute "gaydars" but their irony detectors must have been left at home.

One look at these anti-Mormon protests and you can see that ignorant rage is the new gay, intolerance is the new tolerance and Rainbow flags are the new burning crosses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It’s All about the Benjamins, Until They Try to Marry Each Other

When I set out to voice my support for Proposition 8, I never expected to spend so much time on it. Every time I try to write about something else, Proposition 8 lures me back in with it seductive controversy and come-hither intrigue. I am like the Michael Jordan of Proposition 8. Rest assured, this will be my last treatise on this topic after which I will move on to more important things like politics, the economy and my fascination with the mythical Strawberry-Banana. Seriously Science, quit trying to cure cancer and start genetically manufacturing my dream fruit immediately! But as for now, Proposition 8, I can't quit you!

In looking over the many words I have written on the issue, I realize I have yet to boil my arguments down to their most cogent and salient issue.

The most important issue is not about how much Gay couples want to get married, despite the fact that it is about the only argument they seem to offer. After watching Keith Olbermann's diatribe on the issue, it seems you could boil his whole argument down to "Homosexuals really, really love each other and they, like, totally want to get married, so we should like let them since they have asked so nicely and all."

The most important issue is not love. They are plenty of non-traditional relationships built on a foundation of love that even Homosexuals don't support. I personally get tremendously tickled watching the gay rights movements explain why two men should be allowed to marry but one man and two women shouldn't.

The most important issue is not what good people homosexuals are. I have never met a gay man or lesbian woman I did not immediately take a liking to. However, just because you are a good person does not mean you should be able to marry who ever you want. Mother Theresa could marry Mary Magdalene and I would still oppose it (although it would make a terrific Dan Brown novel).

The most important issue is not rights. If marriage were a right, then you would not need a certificate from the government in the first place. Do I need a certificate to practice free speech? Do I need a permit to go to church? Those are rights. Marriage is no more a right than getting a drivers license. It is a privilege.

Similarly, the most important issue is not fairness. As a society, every law we have carries with it some measure of unfairness; of inclusion and exclusion. Why can't people under 35 years of age be President? Why do only men have to submit for the draft? Why are minority candidates given preferential treatment when applying to state colleges? Why do I have to drive on the right a side of the road if I am left handed? As a society, we pass such laws because the individual sacrifices they require provide greater value to society as a whole.

And in a word, that is what the issue is really about: Value, not love, not rights, not desire. Value. If we are to provide Gay Marriage with equal status then it must prove that it holds equal value.

Unfortunately for the No-On-8ers, they have yet to prove in the slightest that homosexual marriages hold the same value to society that heterosexual marriages hold. I have asked this question before and I have yet to see a valid response: "What value does gay marriage provide society that just being roommates doesn't?"

Don't tell me it is love. Love does not pay for public services or help put my kids through school. You can't buy love and love and can't buy you anything in return. While love may benefit you personally, how does it help society?

There are measuring sticks that can be used to measure the value of traditional marriage versus gay marriage. Religion, philosophy, morality to name just a few. However, few of those perspectives provide us with the common ground we need to make a collective decision. I may have my own personal religious views on the matter but in an incredibly diverse country such as ours, religion can no more help us decide on gay marriage than it can help us decide what to eat.

However, there is one way to measure value that we can all agree on: money. That's right. Greenbacks. Dinero. Scrilla. What ever you want to call it, we all know what it is and we all know how much it is worth (Answer: a lot less than it used to).

Using plain old dollars and cents we can compare the value of one relationship to another. We are a society fueled by money. The very basic services we need to survive and thrive (infrastructure, education, public safety) all require money.

The average amount of money my wife and I will earn over a lifetime will probably not be that much different than a gay- couple. In that sense, our relationships are equally valuable to society. However, there is one difference, with my wife and I, we are able to have children and those children in turn can become a tremendous benefit to society.

For example, If you figure each of my children earns $50,000 a year over 40 years of work, that is $6.0 million dollars my little family pumps back into society that a gay couple will never be able to replicate. If each of my children has three children in turn, than my wife and I can count on an additional $18 million added back to society.

While it may seem to dehumanize the issue by boiling it down to pure earning potential, at the end of the day, without it, nothing else will matter. With the incredibly top heavy social support network our society has established, if there are not sufficient workers earning enough money, than the whole system collapses. Why do you think western Europe and Japan are starting to freak out (freaking out being the technical term) about their incredibly low birth rates? Why do you think Australia will literally pay you cash for each child that you have? Why do you think Russia had a national Conception Day? ( No Seriously. It must be the first case in modern history where an entire country was given the day off and encouraged to have un-protected sex). Why have they all gone to such drastic measures? Because, as a society, they have written checks that they can't cash if there is nobody there to pay for the future benefits they have been promising. Say what you want about traditional families, but it is my kids that are going to pay for your social security not the other way around.

This also raises another salient point as to why we need to support and protect traditional marriage; because it provides these children with the best opportunity to maximize their potential. Children not raised by a Mother and Father are far less likely to be successful productive citizens. These kids are more likely go from being a boon to society to becoming incredible burden. My kids already have to pay for your Medicare and Social Security, let's not add additional prisons and food stamps to their already overflowing cup.

This concept of value is also why I can frown upon the draconian laws that prevented interracial couples from marrying while still supporting Proposition 8. Because interracial couples hold the same value as any other. They have the same ability to have and raise honest, good children and for that they are equally deserving of marital recognition.

To society as a whole, there is just no more beneficial institution than traditional marriage. It has no rival. It has no equal. Because of its tremendous, inherent value, it deserves the highest pedestal we can put it on. With this special recognition comes the societal pressures and rewards offered only to marriage that help it to succeed and, more importantly, help it to raise another generation of Americans who give more than they take.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Commentary Commentary

The following post is in response to a comment posted by Boymystere on my West Coast GayKK blog posted earlier this week. His comment was so respectful and well-thought out, I felt it deserved an equally respectful and well thought out response. But since this is me we are talking about here, you are pretty much stuck with whatever comes out.

Boymystere- First, thank you for your open and honest response. This is the type of dialogue that is so greatly needed to maintain the free market of ideas our democracy is based on. Dissenting opinions are always welcome and I appreciate you taking the time. I hope you will indulge a response on my part.

Allow me to offer you a metaphor that I think will help explain why I support Proposition 8. I consider myself a well educated man. I have a Master's Degree from one of the nation's best schools. However, there are a large number of people who are not able to get a Master's Degree; some because they don't want it, others because they simply lack the ability. Sadly enough, there are far more people who want a Master's Degree than can actually get one.

Now, imagine if my school, in order to correct this perceived inequality, started handing out Master's Degrees to anyone who wanted one. A Master's Degree, at the end of the day, is only a slip of paper. Its value comes from what it represents: education, intelligence and hard work. When it no longer takes education, intelligence and hard work to obtain a Master's Degree, than its value becomes less then the piece of paper it is printed on. Handing out degrees based on desire, not achievement, does nothing to help those who want one and everything to hurt those who earned one. When everyone can have a Master's Degree, no one can. (Side note: This reminds me of Hank's response to a Christian Rock Band on King of the Hill: "They are not making Christianity better; they are just making rock and roll worse".)

Gay Marriage will never disrupt the relationship I have with my wife and the loving home we have tried to create for our children just like handing out Master's Degrees like party favors will never rob me of the education I achieved in earning one. What it will do is rob from my marriage the meaning that makes it so valuable. Marriage is the institution created by society to give children the best possible chance at success. When marriage loses meaning, it will be abandoned all together. When this happens, we rob from our children the commitment between a Mother and Father they need to have the best chance at success.

You may call this paranoia on my part, but sadly I have seen the consequences of the devaluation of marriage with my own eyes. I lived for an extended period of time in a country where marriage was virtually non-existent. This was due to the draconian laws of that country which made marriage virtually impossible. The result of this marriage-less society was family after family of fatherless children. With no social pressure or reward for fathers to stick around, very few of them did. Now, a whole generation of fatherless children is almost ensured a lifetime of poverty, crime and ignorance. Don't believe me? In this country I once met a single mom who became a grandmother at the ripe old age of 28. That is three generations right there suffering from a marriage deficient society. Even in our own country, we see that demographic groups which do not value marriage suffer from the same or similar problems I saw across the pond. No government, religious or academic program has ever been able to duplicate even a portion of the success that we see when Mom and Dad are married.

Even if California law were changed and homosexuals were allowed to marry, they would never have a marriage in the true sense of the word. When two men are allowed to obtain a marriage certificate, in that moment, all they and anyone else will really be getting is a piece of paper.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

West Coast GayKK

There are certain people in this world that we can all agree are infallible. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King. Mahatma Ghandi. Now imagine making a film which depicts these people as bullies and burglars. You could no easier kick a puppy or strangle sunshine. Yet, for the California Courage Campaign, stooping so low is all in a days work. In a brazen attempt to smear the LDS church for its support of Proposition 8 in California, the Kalifornia Kourage Kampaign has begun airing an ad which depicts LDS missionaries invading and burglarizing the home of a lesbian couple to "take away their rights". It shows them barging in, rummaging through their home (including the underwear drawer) and tearing up the couples marriage license. No seriously. See the ad for yourself here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q28UwAyzUkE.

Apparently, after making this movie, the Kalifornia Kourage Kampaign hopes to branch out with ads depicting Nuns lynching homosexuals and Jewish Rabbis bombing a gay pride parade.

While you may not agree with LDS beliefs or even their methods, it is difficult to find fault with Mormon Missionaries. These are young men and women who put their entire lives on hold and leave behind their families for two years just so they can help others. Yet because they happen to represent a contrarian viewpoint, the West Coast KKK has no problem blatantly misrepresenting them. Hitler's propaganda master Leni Riefenstahl may be dead but his spirit lives on.

Regardless of how you vote on Proposition 8, we can all agree that the lies and outright misrepresentation of the LDS church depicted in this ad cross the line. Could you image John McCain producing an anti-Obama ad that showed two black men barging into the home of a white couple and stealing their rights? No one, on either side of the political spectrum could defend such an ad. Not only does this blatantly anti-Mormon ad propagate lies and encourage hate, but it does nothing to advance the public dialogue on the issue at hand. Even if you do not support Proposition 8, tell me, what good can possibly come of this ad? How can a group that pretends to support equality and tolerance create something so inherently unfair and intolerant?

I think it is time we unleashed the fury of all the Average Joel readers (both of them) and email Rick Jacobs, (rjacobs@couragecampaign.org) founder of the Kalifornia Kourage Kampaign to let him know how we feel. The First Amendment gives them the right to say what ever they want. It also gives us the right to respond.