In today's The Daily Iowan:
It's funny that, given my interest in the Supreme Court, this is my first time actually drawing the nine justices in a cartoon. (Although I did draw a cartoon for Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings.)
If I were still drawing cartoons for The Daily Universe, I probably would have drawn something different. But for here, I went with something neutral, that could express the situation no matter which side of the debate you're on. I'm sure The Daily Iowan would have loved a "marriage equality!" cartoon, but for that they would need to ask somebody else.
I have surprisingly a lot to say on the subject of gay rights and same-sex marriage. I won't repeat it all here, but if you're curious, you can read these previous posts of mine:
It Gets Better
Good, Better, Best (and a follow-up: Letter Aftermath)
Much Ado About Nothing (and a follow-up: Update - Church's response)
I'll just add a few more thoughts.
1) In forming my opinion, I do my best to follow the teachings of my church and prophet. A lot of people (more and more these days) would say that I'm a blind follower. But I'm not following blindly. The way I see it, the prophet and apostles have answered questions for me, and I'm going to follow those answers. And I have faith that these men speak eternal truth, and speak for God. And I'm willing to reshape or change opinions to align more closely with what they say. Not because I'm a blind follower, but because they are following the truth, and I want to join them. And I can't go that direction, and at the same concede to the growing trends in the world and move in that direction too. Maybe someone feels like he or she can fragment him or herself into a religious, spiritual identity and a secular, "pragmatic" identity. But I try to avoid even making that attempt.
2) By remaining in full support of traditional marriage, I feel like I'm part of an ever-shrinking minority - especially as a 26-year-old, at law school, in Iowa City. It feels like it won't be long before the only people who agree with me are fellow Latter-day Saints (and even people who support traditional marriage in that demographic seem to be shrinking in numbers).
I'm sure to many people, my opinion seems so backward and behind the times, and that it is outright bigotry. But it wasn't long ago that the topic of same-sex marriage was just a matter of differing opinions. That has changed though, rapidly and recently, to a sentiment that supporters of "marriage equality" were just quicker to arrive at an inevitable conclusion, and are impatiently waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Those supporters assume it's a given that people have an inalienable right to marry whoever they want.
I think a lot of this mentality comes from our retrospective view on the Civil Rights Movement. We know that Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks were the "good guys," and Jim Crow was the "bad guy." And we will go out of our way to make sure we don't follow the footsteps of restaurant owners who kept black people out of their businesses or bus drivers who sent black people to the back seats. They were the "bad guys" in our middle school social studies textbook, and we are not going to repeat their crimes and mistakes. And already, just one generation removed, we have a black president in the White House.
All of that is good and impressive in many ways. And there are many lessons to be learned from the Civil Rights Movement that can be applied to fighting for gay rights. Gay people shouldn't be segregated, shouldn't be discriminated against when renting apartments or offering jobs, shouldn't be bullied, and definitely do not deserve to be victims of violence.
I'm all for gay rights in the sense of treating everybody with the same
legal and democratic protections, regardless of their sexual
orientation. Certainly, many of the same rights and respects that were
fought for in the Civil Rights Movement deserve to be given to the gay
community as well. In fact, I would probably support any "gay rights"
that the gay community and its supporters want - except marriage.
But saying the fight for "marriage equality" is "today's Civil Rights Movement" is too simplistic. And I don't just mean that marching in Washington is different from changing your Facebook profile picture or tweeting. Being black and being gay are totally different. And fighting for equal protection of the law and fighting against discrimination and fighting for marriage are totally different.
3) I see a lot of people who resolve this issue for themselves by saying, "I just think government should get out of marriage altogether." There's probably a good argument for that somewhere. But with some people I know who take that stance, I suspect they use that argument because it satisfies them if they want to keep one foot on both sides of the debate, and reconcile both their religious beliefs and their interest in keeping pace with the world's so-called "progress."
I, for one, am glad that there are certain governmental privileges for people who are married, I'm glad that my relationship with my wife is recognized by my government as well as my church (more on that below). Marriage has been a fundamental unit of our law since medieval times (and in our society and human existence since Adam and Eve). I don't think it would be easy to just remove it, and even if it were, I don't want to try.
4) Some people who are familiar with the Church compare this to the revelation on the priesthood in 1978, which opened up the priesthood to men of all races and ethnicities. These people say the Church eventually "came around" on that issue, and so they'll eventually come around on this one. And they eagerly anticipate the day when they can tell people like me, "I told you so!"
But, again, race and sexual orientation are totally different. We don't know all the reasons why black men couldn't hold the priesthood for about 150 years. I do know that through the course of history, God has revealed His gospel in bits and pieces, to segments of the population, one at a time (like revealing His gospel first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles - see Acts 10). And I do know that by opening the priesthood to all worthy men, regardless of race, the Lord was furthering his work on the earth.
Same-sex marriage is different. Allowing men of all races to have the priesthood doesn't change what priesthood is. But allowing for same-sex couples to get married does change the definition of what marriage is. And, of course, any member of the Church knows that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God," for so many reasons (that I can get into more at another time). The gospel teaches us that not even every heterosexual marriage will be in effect for eternity - only those marriages done in the holy temple, under priesthood authority, and when the husband and wife are faithful to their covenants.
For the Church to embrace same-sex marriage, or give it the same validity as traditional marriage, would obstruct the Lord's work, rather than advance it. The most "progressive" reach I could ever fathom the Church making would be to do nothing and withdraw from the debate, continuing to recognize only traditional marriage while the entire world around them preaches for "marriage equality." As time goes on, the Church could possibly be more tolerant and could possibly be more sympathetic to the gay community - but I don't see how the Church would ever be accepting of the practice of same-sex marriage. That would be being "lukewarm" about one of our purposes of life and an essential component of the plan of salvation.
5) I'll end with these words from my friend Chris Hill:
"This [belief] has nothing to do with how we feel about homosexuals as
individuals. I believe they are incredible people, I'm sure better than
me in so many ways. This just explains what I believe to be the divine
nature of marriage and the family. Love is love; and all have the right
to love whom they please; but marriage is marriage."