Proposition 8 protests heat up

templedefacedSo the protests against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of its support for Proposition 8 are continuing and receiving quite a bit of mainstream media coverage. Proposition 8 passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Stories involve everything from Mormon churches being vandalized to large-scale protests in urban areas. The story is so big that it has even crossed the pond. Here's the Independent's lede:

Daniel Ginnes carried a banner declaring: "No More Mr Nice Gay." Brian Lindsey held up a sign billing Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, as a "prophet, polygamist, paedophile." Hundreds of others simply chanted: "Mormon scum."

The story is fairly balanced for a British paper but fails to articulate why Mormons are being singled out from all the many religious and other groups that supported Proposition 8. (Although it looks like evangelicals are being targeted as well -- here's an Associated Press report on large-scale marching on Saddleback Community Church. Mosques, Roman Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, Orthodox synagogues and most Protestant churches are as yet untouched, interestingly.)

CNN mentioned a religious angle in its write-up of the protests:

In Palm Springs, a crowd of several hundred gathered in front of the city hall, chanting "Civil rights" and "Tax the Church." One sign read: "We will not give up."

Several protesters surrounded an elderly looking woman, an apparent Proposition 8 supporter, and shouted at her. No arrests were reported at any of the demonstrations.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, about 2,000 demonstrators gathered at Temple Square to protest against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church strongly supported Proposition 8, which amends California's constitution to define marriage as legal only between one man and one woman.

Proposition 8 opponents say the Salt Lake City-based church donated a majority of the money raised in support of the measure.

The LDS Church believes it should not be singled out when other groups also supported the proposition.

"It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election," the church said in a statement Friday.

It's great that this story mentions that the LDS weren't the only ones to support the proposition, but this needs to be fleshed out much more. And this tidbit about a majority of the money being raised in support of the measure coming from Mormons? How would anyone -- supporters or opponents -- know whether that's true? Do you now have to list your religious affiliation before contributing funds to be engaged in the democratic process? And, since you don't, how is this figure being calculated? And if the opponents of Proposition 8 were spending their time investigating the religious affiliation of donors to the proposition, did they just seek out information on Mormons or did they investigate other groups as well?

Even when talking about funding, it's important to provide some context. How many stories mention that the opponents of Proposition 8 out raised the supporters? Or that the California branch of the National Education Association donated $1.25 million to fight the proposition? The LDS, while encouraging members to support the proposition with votes and donations, didn't give any money to the cause.

At the same time that Mormons are being targeted for their support of Proposition 8, black voters are as well. They overwhelmingly supported traditional marriage. As in 70 percent supported it. The Los Angeles Times devoted a story to the matter:

Los Angeles resident Christopher Hill, 50, said he was motivated by religion in supporting Proposition 8. Civil rights, he said, "are about getting a job, employment."

Gay marriage, he said, is not: "It's an abomination against God."

One complicating factor was that both sides in the campaign had plausible reason to claim Obama's support. The president-elect strongly stated his opposition to the proposition, calling it "divisive and discriminatory."

But he has also said in public speeches that he opposes same-sex marriage.

Certainly Obama's coattails helped pass this proposition. The Washington Times had a really thorough piece about how it passed:

Blacks voted 70 percent in favor of Proposition 8, and slightly more than half the Hispanic voters backed the measure, according to exit polls released by the National Election Pool.

And those voters were adamant.

"We shouldn't do anything to jeopardize the future of our family and our children," said Frederick K.C. Rice, an elder with the Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles, which joined a thousand other black and Hispanic congregations with about 3 million followers in public support of Proposition 8.

protester  antimormon The article also notes that Prop 8 opponents are hoping to litigate away the people's vote. There's an interesting discussion there.

But these article about whether to credit/blame minority voters or religious voters for the passage could also explain why we're not seeing protests in Arizona, Florida or any of the 30 states that now have passed amendments or propositions defining marriage traditionally. And for people looking for the most insane entry into the blame game, you could do worse than check out the reliably offensive Mark "Obama is a lightworker" Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle: he blames God and voters in the area where I grew up -- the San Joaquin Valley:

Or maybe it's all those sad, white, central portions of the state, the huge chunks of voters who live in places without much culture or perspective or major universities, who only hear certain strains of spiteful rhetoric and thin fearmongering, whose general lack of education means they apparently still believe certain flavors of love will poison everyone's soup and ruin the sanctity of the time-honored 50-percent heterosexual missionary position Christian divorce rate.

Ah, feel the love. One thing that mainstream media does fail to indicate in these reports is that not all gay-marriage advocates are calling on the IRS to revoke churches' tax-exempt status or to otherwise attack religious groups. Some see this is as fulfilling the claims of traditional marriage advocates that same-sex marriage is an attack on religion or otherwise harming the cause of gay marriage.

Another angle that's been untouched is a comparison of the fallout on the Proposition 8 vote with that of other propositions. Social conservatives lost Proposition 4, for instance, which would have required that parents of underage children be notified before said teen aborts her child. It lost by the same margin that Prop 8 passed. It's interesting to note the different reactions of the pro-life community from the same-sex marriage advocates as well as the different coverage of same by the mainstream media.

Photo of protests on defaced Mormon temple grounds via Beetle Blogger.

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