Supporting the Church’s position on SSM (part 2)

This Sunday, bishops will be asked to read a statement in Sacrament meeting requesting that members donate their time and means to make sure a constitutional amendment promoting one-man one-woman marriage is passed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The purpose of this post is to discuss ways members can contribute to this effort, either in California or elsewhere.

I would respectfully ask anybody who would like to debate the merits of the Church’s effort to take their thoughts and input elsewhere. There are literally thousands of other blogs where you can debate same-sex marriage to your heart’s content. This is not one of them.

Modern-day prophets have spoken. The letter specifically asks members to donate their time and means toward this effort. The letter says that “our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.” The letter also points out that the Church’s teachings on this issue are “unequivocal.” Members are being told that local leaders will give them direction in the weeks ahead.

Based on my experiences in a bishopric and on the High Council, what this is likely to mean is that stake presidencies will receive guidance and training from the Brethren on how to organize this effort in California. They will then pass on this guidance to bishoprics and ward leaders. I have been told that past efforts helping marriage included placing signs on your lawn, passing around petitions and even going door to door.

If I were a Church member in California, I would take this message as clear direction from the prophet to “go and do.” I would approach it the same way I try to approach all callings or Church tasks I am given: by doing my best.

I don’t live in California, but I have literally dozens of family and friends there. My efforts will include calling as many people as I can to ask them to vote for the constitutional amendment. In addition, I will be promoting the Church’s efforts through this blog and in my other personal communications (when appropriate). If it is appropriate, and requested, I would be willing to donate my time by traveling to California and helping the effort in the days ahead.

I would like to point out that this is the same approach I have taken to all of my Church tasks. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, I was asked by my stake president in Miami to organize a relief effort in our stake. We sent almost 50 people from Miami to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where we spent several days cleaning up and providing assistance. I see the effort to help preserve marriage in California in the same light.

I’d love to hear from other Church members on this issue. Obviously, members should follow the local guidance of their bishoprics. Many details are not available now. But I’d love to hear the thoughts of those who are preparing to help.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

26 thoughts on “Supporting the Church’s position on SSM (part 2)

  1. Geoff,
    It is a much more organized effort than you even know here in California. Elder Ballard spent most of a week here working to build a coalition. There are local leaders who have been deciding how best to proceed and consulted with him on the issue.
    I just want to dispel the notion that SL leaders are micro-managing the situatuon. They are not. California local leaders are running the show.

  2. Anon, thanks for that info. Like all such “anonymous” info, it should be taken with a small grain of salt, but it does sound believable. If the Church is working with other churches on this effort, clearly the Brethren have to get involved, and local leaders need to get organized.

  3. anon’s experience echoes what our experience was with prop 22 when we lived there. It was very well organized, driven by local leadership, and quite extensive in scope and reach. We were asked to donate time and money. Hubby and I went door to door and helped put up posters.

    And I just want to say, Geoff, that I appreciate your unequivocal position on this. It’s the way it should be. It’s such a blessing to have prophets who can help us know what really matters and when. I don’t think we can comprehend how important this all is.

  4. Without debating the merits of the Church’s position (I personally am opposed to same sex marriage, though not opposed to civil unions or the like), I would note that the letter asks us to “do all [we] can to support” the amendment. Some of our brothers and sisters do not support the amendment. Perhaps the “all [they] can to support” the amendment is to be polite and tolerant in their opposition to the amendment.

  5. Thanks for your post, Geoff B.

    I am going to help through my prayers. And money.

    Request, Geoff (and others): If you know of any groups or organizations that non-California members like myself can donate money to, please let us know.

    That said, it seems to me that the members in California, more than anyone, are being called upon to fulfill their Temple covenants. I feel sad sometimes: from what I have heard, they have been called upon thusly more often than Saints in any other state, being that California is the hotbed of this issue. I pray Heavely Father will bless them abundantly, beyond measure, for their faithfulness. And I hope I can contribute to ease this burden.

  6. Modern-day prophets have spoken. The letter specifically asks members to donate their time and means toward this effort.

    When the brethren have spoken, the thinking has been done, eh? :-)

    I no longer live in California, but if I did, I would support the brethren just as I did in 1999: By keeping my mouth shut and not participating in any way, except to vote my conscience.

  7. One thing to consider is that the letter was addressed only to the CA saints. The church may not want those outside of CA to become extremely involved in the issue. If you look at the ERA history, there was incredible anger when LDS people from outside of the state in question got involved in another state’s politics and it may be that the church would rather not have goodwill problems this time around. (Not to mention that fence-sitting voters in CA might be jumping to the side you don’t want if they perceive that the effort is financed or masterminded by people from elsewhere.) Anyway, just something to consider: when the FP sends a letter to the rest of us, then we should get involved.

  8. Julie, the FP has issued numerous press releases supporting traditional marriage. So, clearly the Church has made its position clear, and “the rest of us” have been called to action. I would agree with you that involvement that is counter-productive is certainly not called for. You will note that I say where “appropriate, and requested” that I would get involved personally.

    If you are saying that somebody from out of state should not call a friend or family member to ask them to vote for this amendment, then I simply have to disagree. People should use their own judgment — I won’t be calling my many, many liberal friends in California, especially those who accused me of joining a “right wing cult” when I joined the Church. But I will be calling people who may not be all that politically aware to discuss this with them. I have many friends and family members who fall into that category.

  9. You can pay additional tithing and have faith it will go to the right place.

    When we were in CA, the church leaders encouraged us to give to the coalition funds, if I remember correctly. I know that we didn’t give via the Church. I don’t know what way they will ask people to give this time around, but thought I would share that FWIW. It makes sense to me (just my little opinion) to send money to the group(s) that are sponsoring the coalition that the Church is joining (again, this isn’t a Church effort alone, it’s a joint effort with lots of groups) so that the money goes right where its needed — and you know it does. Just a thought.

  10. Good point, m&m. I wonder if the Church does donate money, whether any of it would be tithing funds. The Church uses a lot of money from its pro-profit ventures and seems to be very selective in its use of tithing funds. I’ll do both.

    I’ll also see what pro-marriage initiatives are up and running in my state.

  11. This issue, like it did with Prop. 22 in CA, is going to get very heated, very quickly.

    I disagree with Julie’s point about people from other states getting involved, especially in a day where the public eye can observe from afar (via the internet) all the nitty gritty of what’s going on. Regardless of location, people throughout the world will take note of the Church’s activities in support of the amendment.

    Ultimately the vote lies with the CA people, so any outside influence should be understood for what it is. And frankly, that influence will be felt on both sides of the line; the Mormons won’t be the only one interested in the outcome of this vote…

  12. Anybody interested in more information on this issue may want to go to this web site:

    http://www.protectmarriage.com/newsdetail.php?newsId=322

    Some interesting points:

    –Christian and secular leaders statewide are organizing.
    –There is a conf call today as part of that effort.
    –A 40-day fast will be held from Sept. to early November. It will be interesting to see if the Church urges members to participate.

  13. I like Brian’s idea: spread the word. Contact friends/family, raise their awareness of the issue, encourage them to vote, and ask them to send their friends/family an email about it.

    After Utah’s dismal participation in yesterday’s primary, I think we have learned once again that the issues are decided by a minority. Granted, hot topics such as this one will certainly attract more people to the polls, but getting people off their duffs is the first step.

    My mom was heavily involved in Prop. 22, and will likely be in the thick of this amendment stuff. (I’m from San Diego.) So, I’ll likely be finding out from her ways that I can support her efforts remotely, whether by donating money to various organizations (as noted in some comments above), talking to people who live there, or whatever.

    Another thing to consider (and one I promoted w/ the FLDS issue) was to put your local reps’ feet to the fire and make sure they know that you never want that happening in your state. Living in Utah now, that’s still an unlikely occurrence (though one never knows), but I think it is important that we make our elected leaders aware of what’s going on elsewhere, and why we don’t want it happening here.

    This initiative is just getting started, so as yet, I’m not entirely sure of the best way for us “foreigners” to jump in. I’m sure that opportunities will present themselves, though.

  14. There is a conf call today as part of that effort.

    Looks like they’re not handing out the number. They want people to go to one of the 43+ locations they’ve set up. Darn – I’d love to listen in.

  15. While researching Miike, Hawaii’s SSM case, I noticed the reliance on religious arguments in the legal briefs submitted to Hawaii’s Supreme Court, which subsequently held that restrictions were unconstitutional. Miike was overruled by the people of Hawaii amending the state constitution.

    While religion may be one of the motivations for our position, we need to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. In other words we need to have a cohesive Constitutional/public policy reason to oppose SSM; scriptural passages are not the most convincing vehicle for political change in a pluralistic society.

    I would suggest that the message should be along the lines that the state does not have an interested in promulgating SSM any more than the state has an interest in promoting relationships between best friends or other social relationships. The state has a compelling interest in promoting commitment between men and women. The state has an interested in encouraging families where children are loved and supported. The state may not discriminate against couples for reasons of race, religion, or nationality.

    While its true that marriage does not entail children, that doesn’t erase the fact that traditional marriage makes planned child birth much more likely. All the state can do in a free society is encourage family creation each step along the path.

  16. Heli, this are good point. Of course, Church leaders have made arguments like these. The Church as an institution has to be careful about avoiding religious arguments because its position as a religious organization requires its focus be in that area. However, we as individual members should of course mention arguments such as yours because they are persuasive and, ultimately, of supreme importance.

  17. Marriage reflects the natural moral and social law evidenced the world over. As the late British social anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin noted in his study of world civilizations, any society that devalued the nuclear family soon lost what he called “expansive energy,” which might best be summarized as society’s will to make things better for the next generation. In fact, no society that has loosened sexual morality outside of man-woman marriage has survived.

    Analyzing studies of cultures spanning several thousands of years on several continents, Harvard Chairman of the Sociology Department, Pitirim Sorokin, found that virtually all political revolutions that brought about societal collapse were preceded by a sexual revolution in which marriage and family were devalued by the culture’s acceptance of homosexuality.

  18. I have been mulling over the title of this post for a bit. In a sense there is no “church” that has a position. Only people take positions. We are only a church if we are united on the positions that our leaders ask us to take. If we make the church an “other” and an object then we are separating ourself from it and the people who unitedly call themselves a church.

    But the blog is a good one and so are the comments.

  19. It is certainly not easy to go and do when the prophet of God asks us to.

    As much as this is an issue that affects the nation, the prophet’s involvement makes this an issue of our own spiritual progression: will we put down the natural person (which, for various reasons and by various ways convinces us to refute the prophet if not oppose him) and become a saint and follow God’s prophet?

    No matter how this issue pans out in the end, being tested and tried in following the prophet will bear fruit for our own spiritual progression. If we obey, to our benefit; if we disobey, to our demerit.

    At least that’s how I see it, in large measure.

  20. In response to HeLi (although this is a little late)

    The Church News Room has posted the Amicus Brief that was filed by the coalition in California. It actually gave me some great insights into the legal side of this question. I know it still employs some religion, but it also argued the societal consequences. Anyway, just my two cents.

  21. The Church News Room has posted the Amicus Brief that was filed by the coalition in California.

    I was quite intrigued to see Kenneth Starr as the leading attorney.

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