Saturday, November 15, 2008

You may not have noticed, these aren't the sixties

I lived through the 60s and the 70s. I remember going to work in 1967, in South Phoenix and driving through drifts of tear gas and seeing stores boarded up from vandalism. During the time of the Civil Rights movements, the protests were aimed at the government and its leaders in an attempt to end racial seggregation. It is generally agreed that the Civil Rights movement began in 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, holding that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The early years were marked by violence, including murder and kidnapping. The rioting continued off and on and erupted again in 1992 in Los Angeles. In all of that turmoil, it was always clear that the issue was the ability of Blacks to participate in the political processes of the United States. There are still parts of the United States that have a long way to go before there is true racial equality.

The current protests and vandalism aimed at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can in no way be characterized as civil rights demonstrations. First of all, we did not fight a Civil War so that people could enter into same-sex marriages. No one is being denied citizenship or the right to vote or being limited in any way in participating fully in the electorial process. The current protests are not directed at the government, but at a religious organization. Even before the California Supreme Court overruled the ban on same-sex marriage, domestic partners in California had virtually every right granted to married couples. Not one of those laws granting rights to domestic partners, is repealed by the passage of Proposition 8. In the case of the earlier racially motivated civil rights protests, the United States government could actually do something about the inequality and it did. There was major legislation in the Civil Rights Acts of 1968 and 1991. The protests against the passage of Proposition 8, however, involve no substantive rights at all.

Unlike the institution of marriage, slavery was never a fundamental and universal basis for society. Slavery was opposed on both moral and religious grounds long before the American Civil War. Church Ministers were some of the most active opponents to slavery. In fact, members of the LDS Church were driven from their homes in 1838 in Missouri under an extermination order for allegedly opposing slavery.

The current protests are motivated by a desire for vengeance. The LDS Church cannot change the law voted on by over 50% of the voters of California. The protesters are essentially trying to deny a majority their own Constitutional rights to peacefully participate in the election process. In effect, punishing the Church and its members for voting in an election and supporting a cause they believe in. There are no parallels with the Civil Rights movement. The protesters' use of the Civil Rights banner in their vindictive punishment of the LDS Church and its members is a mockery of the real Civil Rights movement. Ironically, a large majority of the Black population of California voted for Proposition 8. These same-sex marriage protesters desecrate the very movement they claim to support.

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