Well, that's what my roommate Evan is calling Proposition 8, the amendment to the California State Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively ending the current state of legalized gay marriage there.
Now, I'm a faithful, somewhat liberal, gay Californian Latter Day Saint living in Utah. Not that that fact lends my thoughts on this matter any more validity than anyone else's. Just that I want people to know where I'm coming from. I am aware that the word "gay" connotes entire lifestyle choices to many readers here, so I will clarify: I am attracted almost solely to other men, but I also believe the Church when it says that to act on homosexual desires is wrong. Many would call me naive in my attempts to remain faithful to my religion, but I am insulted by the notion that people (particularly homosexuals in this instance) are incapable of controlling their impulses and living by a higher moral law. I am very tolerant of others' making the choices from which I intend to abstain. I also know many people sneer at the idea of tolerance because a degree of disapproval inheres therein, but I can think of no other word for how I feel about it. I try to live by a double standard when it comes to ethics and morals: I am very permissive with others, while trying to maintain a behavioral stricture for myself.
I struggled with the Prop 8 issue the moment I heard about the letter from the First Presidency to the members in California. I was disappointed that this issue received so much more attention than other recent moves from the church intended to reach out to its homosexual population, such as the pamphlet entitled "God Loveth His Children," which can be read in the church website. I also wish the government would stay out of the marriage issue altogether, and was saddened to see that the Church was supporting a constitutional amendment that would only serve to further enmesh the legal apparatus with the issue of marriage. I also have many friends (a brother and a best friend included) who are living active gay lifestyles. I love these guys. My best friend is dating a wonderful guy right now, and I would love to see them happy together forever. I also have a very strong sense of live-and-let-live morality; do whatever you want, as long as your actions don't impinge upon my own liberties. And the issue of gay marriage feels like one of those times when it couldn't hurt the church to allow the gays to change the label of something they already have.
A few feeble reasons have been presented. The case of the Catholic Church choosing to discontinue their adoption agency in Massachusetts after the judicial decree that they place children with gay couples is evidence that maybe at least some of the Church leaders' warnings are not merely slippery-slope scare tactics, but rooted in verifiable past experience. The Church's claim that marriage is ordained of God could be expressing a claim that marriage is not a societal contract between people, but rather something older, immutable, and God-given.
Still, these are claims that pale in comparison with the apparent (or perceived?) effects on the homosexual people of disallowing marriage between two members of the same sex. Furthermore, these claims are not ones that could be made to persuade someone in any secular light. To me, the obvious choice is to allow gay marriage.
However, I am cognizant of the fact that I have not attained the longest view on any earthly matters. I do have a testimony of a living prophet (and that testimony has been reinforced recently due to my soul-searching on this issue). It is strange to me that the church is taking such a strong stance on what appears to be a political issue. My political views are sharply contrasted with the commandments I've been given from the church. But I have to remember the watchtower metaphor: the man up in the tower shouts warnings and instruction to the people below, and the wise heed his words because they know he knows something they don't.
For me, it all boils down to this quote from President Harold B. Lee:
"The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. …
"Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, 'as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.' (D&C 21:4–5.) There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.' (D&C 21:6.)" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 126).
The promises made in that quote are powerful, and they're what I truly want out of this life. I really do believe these words from one of our latter-day prophets.
I do worry that people will read a quote like this and become myrmidons. That sort of unquestioned loyalty is what leads to the worst of inhumane atrocities. So let me be clear that I would never obey a commandment with which I disagree. But I will appeal directly to God to ascertain that a new commandment is indeed from Him. That's what our leaders have counseled us to do (indeed, it's the counsel that led to the first vision in the first place): to appeal directly to the source of all wisdom. One can receive a second witness of the prophet's words through the Holy Ghost.
That's the invitation I'll be making to my friends who are pondering what to do and on which side of the line to pitch their tents. The invitation to not just go out and vote based solely on political ideologies or visceral reactions to sensational pleas and anecdotes. Nor do I want people to vacantly follow the instruction of any leader or activist. I would have people take all of those things into account and ask God in humble prayer (being willing to have a change of heart if the answer is contrary to the one expected) what their responsibilities are vis-a-vis Proposition 8. If you happen to get a different answer from mine, I will support you in your decision, knowing that you (like I am) are choosing to act on your conscience in the best way you know how.
When I did that, I received an answer that I can't rightly defend to other people using the usual logic and rhetoric. But when people ask me how I can possibly defend such a notion, I can view it as an opportunity to bear my testimony of a living prophet, whose purpose is to be the mouthpiece for God and help set a common course for people in a time when so many divergent paths are viewed as the right one.
In fine, I don't urge you to vote yes on 8, but I urge you to turn the question directly to your God and act accordingly. Whatever decision you make, I love and respect you, and I hope the best for you and for all of us.
[edit: Thanks for all the comments! I've left a response to each down at comment number 23 or so. I appreciate the discussion!]