Dear Mormon Temple of Oakland,
Hi. You don’t know me, but we’re neighbors. As such, I thought I’d give you some neighborly advice in regards to marriage equality – you know, that whole gay marriage thing that you got so exercised about five years ago. You remember, right? Five years ago this month, after the California State Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional, gays and lesbians had a partying good time getting married left, right, and center. I’m sure you remember, because while we were celebrating and marrying, hooting and hollering, you started forging the wrench to throw into the machine and stop everything cold.
Well, here we are five years and three court rulings later. Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court said that you lacked the right to defend Prop 8 and basically threw everything back to the original decision by US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, which affirmed that yes, Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Remember? This was your first loss in court. And now, in case you haven’t heard, the 9th Circuit decided to vacate their stay sooner rather than later, a lot sooner. Friday afternoon, in fact.
As I’m typing this, same-sex couples are happily getting married again in San Francisco City Hall. Indeed, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the couple that brought suit against Prop 8, were the first couple to get married, officiated by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Similarly, in my birth city of Los Angeles, Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami, the other anti-8 plaintiffs, were married by a very enthusiastic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The marriages are rolling on again. SF City Hall has vowed, no pun intended, to stay open all weekend to marry many happy couples.
I understand that some of your comrades in the fight against marriage equality are up in arms because the 9th Circuit did not wait 25 days after the Supreme Court decision before vacating their stay. In other words, they acted before you could respond. Oh well. Judges do what they will, and they probably saw no point in waiting or listening to anymore appeals in this matter. One constitutional law scholar, Professor Vik Amar of UC Davis School of Law, stated that the 25-day waiting period is for the Supreme Court and is not binding on lower courts. In any case, since the Supreme Court ruled that you had no standing to defend Prop 8 in the courts anyway, what’s the point?
So I know that you’re not happy with the turn of events, but this is my sincere advice to you. Give up.
I know you poured millions into the campaign to rid California of marriage equality. You invested a lot of capital into this cause. It just didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. I know that must be difficult to face. Paula Deen mentioned in an interview last year that it was difficult for her great-grandfather to adjust to a world where he could no longer own slaves to work on his plantation. He ended up killing himself over it, in fact. But I’m sure you’re made of stronger stuff. Don’t kill yourself. Just learn to adjust. Adjustment is healthy.
In the not-too-long-ago, you weren’t particularly enamored with folks that look like me, dark-skinned and all. Then you had a change of heart. Now there’s a temple across the street from USC in South Central LA, not far from where I grew up. See? Change is healthy.
And you have to admit, the whole “no gay marriage” thing really didn’t turn out too good for you anyway. It kind of exploded in your face. Suddenly, people who benignly tolerated you started showing great anger towards you. Folks started picketing in front of your Temple. I remember. I pulled over and joined the picket myself. I also remember seeing someone bicycling past you with his arm extended high, flipping the bird at you.
It wasn’t very neighborly of you to go out of your way to campaign against the lives of gay and lesbian folks, was it? I sure didn’t think so. I used to admire your annual Christmas displays, up until Prop 8 passed. Then they stopped looking so nice. Pretty is as pretty does.
Beyond just the poor neighborly relations, I think it is safe to say that you made a national spectacle of yourself. That whole musical thing, The Book of Mormon, kinda clowned you big time. To make it worse, it got rave reviews, won Tonys, and gave aid and comfort, and hearty laughs, to folks you probably aren’t too keen about, like Keith Olbermann. He saw it like a gazillion times.
Furthermore, I heard that you weren’t exactly a house united when you launched your antigay marriage campaign in 2008. It would seem that some of your members would have just as soon not bothered, and they began protesting against you as well. That couldn’t have been fun. Family feuds rarely are.
So really, the best thing for you to do is just let it go. Let go of your antigay animus. Let go of your need to enforce your brand of morality on the whole world. Let go of hate. The courts have let H8 expire, and so can you. I know you can. After all, didn’t you just recently go with the Boy Scouts decision to allow gay scouts to participate openly? That’s a start.
When I came out, I went to the gay men’s rap group at UCLA a couple of times. On each occasion, at least one of the guys who spoke out talked about how hard it was being raised Mormon and being gay. I have since met many LGBT folks who were raised Mormon. So clearly folks in your ranks are part of the rainbow coalition. Don’t you think you’d make these folks feel better if you let go and embraced them fully, rather than scorn them? I know, I’m just a neighbor. Probably none of my business. Just trying to help. For the record, I would never support an effort to force your church or any other church to hold same-sex nuptials against your will. That would be a violation of church and state. Similarly, though, coercing the state to accept your moral dogma is also a violation of church and state. It runs both ways.
If nothing else, find it in yourself to accept church and state separation as a reality, and let go. If you do that at least, maybe I’ll look at your display again and think, ‘gee, it sure brightens up the neighborhood’ the way I used to before the unpleasantness.
Sincerely, your neighbor,
the gar spot
PS: Happy Pride Weekend!
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.