Friday, April 11, 2014

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

The following comes in part from what I wrote to a family in which both mothers were married in California before Proposition 8 and to whom I wanted to extended my congratulations and best wishes to them after Prop 8 was recently struck down in court:

Sometimes I can't believe how much time has passed since California's Prop 8. There's truth to Thomas Paine's quote: "Time makes converts more than reason".

In the years that have passed since that time I have undergone a mighty change of heart. I still recognize that people who oppose marriage equality should not automatically be labeled "haters" and that many of them are good and sincere people.

However, I now personally identify as an "ally" and feel strongly in favor of marriage equality (and this isn't even speaking as a religious issue, but as a public policy issue.) While I know many fellow members of my faith have become discouraged by the recent federal rulings in various states in favor of marriage equality, I have been heartened by them.  I feel in my heart it is the right thing, and I love that love wins out.

I believe that religious beliefs of a majority should not dictate public policy for the minority. There is wisdom in separation of church and state.  Our own scripture states this, but some don't seem to recognize it:  "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied." (D&C 134:9)

The interior walls of the Jefferson Memorial are engraved with passages from Jefferson's writings. Probably most famous is this line: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Government must not get in the way of that noble pursuit.

However, most prominent are the words inscribed in a frieze below the dome:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

This sentence is taken from a September 23, 1800, letter by Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush wherein he defends the constitutional refusal to recognize a state religion.

My personal opposition to "tyranny" in any form, or any other imposition of human will over my personal liberty/rights, makes me sympathetic to our gay brothers and sisters. And my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ makes me more compassionate. I love my gay brothers and sisters and desire the best for them. I'm sorry that my church has been an impediment to this. I see hope that this has and is changing, although the pace of change is painfully slow.