After spending an estimated $20 million and employing 77 people full time to ban gay marriage in California with Proposition 8 in 2008, the church’s political surrender on the issue has enabled a cultural shift that is spreading rapidly across the United States.
The Mormon church’s apparent withdrawal from the effort to legislate lifestyle and sexuality has resulted in an abrupt string of victories for gay rights activists. Recently, voters demanded marriage equality in Maine, Minnesota, Washington, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island.
The pullback may also have allowed Republicans to back same-sex marriage, as Mormons are among the country’s most reliable GOP voters. Republicans were instrumental in marriage advocates’ success in Rhode Island and Delaware, Stephanie Mencimer writes at Mother Jones.
Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, is cautiously optimistic about “whether the LDS church has unilaterally withdrawn from the marriage fight or whether this is just a temporary cease-fire,” Mencimer writes. Wolfson said: “In 2012, part of their tactical reason for pulling back was to avoid any muddying the waters for Romney. That was a higher priority for them than even attacking gay people.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
[A]fter the Mormon involvement in Prop. 8 was fully exposed, the backlash was severe—and apparently unexpected. The church became a target for public protests, and lost a considerable number of members who were unhappy with its involvement in a political issue that had caused individual LDS families a lot of grief. In the campaign’s aftermath, a top church leader even apologized to gay church members for the pain they’d suffered.
This is not to say that the Mormons have had a change of heart about gay marriage. The church is still adamantly opposed to it. On April 6, during the LDS’s annual conference, Boyd Packer, who is next in line to assume the church’s top leadership post, warned, “We need to be careful of the tolerance trend trap, so that we do not get swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate and legalize immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result from a violation of God’s law of Chastity.”
That said, the church seems to have returned to focusing on homosexuality as a personal issue rather than a political one. After years of working behind the scenes, hiring lobbyists, and mobilizing its members to fight state referendums sympathetic to same-sex marriage, it appears to have simply dropped the rope. “In the other four states last year that had marriage, you didn’t see the Mormon church anywhere,” says Kevin Nix, spokesman for the LGBT advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign.
maxintosh (CC BY 2.0)