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11/16/2010

Latter day revisionism: Church allies hope memory banks are as easy to steal as wedding rings

by Jeremy Hooper

JoelcampbellThis is Joel Campbell, a media commentator and associate communications professor at Brigham Young University, "explaining" why the poor LDS church has been criticized in the needlessly more-hostile days since Prop 8 passed:

"Mormons were singled out more in news coverage because they were an easy 'other' to identify," Campbell said.

After the amendment passed, Campbell said a New York Times article in November 2008 talked about how Mormons had tipped the scales in the gay marriage ban.

Yet Campbell pointed out the criticism was disproportionate given the number of other pro-proposition groups involved, many much more so than the LDS Church.

Part of that anti-LDS sentiment during Proposition 8 was fueled by leftover Mitt Romney angst, Campbell said. During Romney's presidential campaign, media created an "evangelical versus Mormons" mindset, which was easy to transfer to "gays versus Mormons," he said.
Mormon church was unfairly targeted over Prop. 8, BYU professor says [Mormon Times]

Okay, so let's start with the "other" claim: The Proposition 8 effort was solely designed -- SOLELY. DESIGNED. -- to tell California citizens that their gay neighbors are an "other." The Prop 8 spin painted gays as threats to children, heterosexual marriage, churches, and just about anything else that came to an anti-gay campaigners minds and then proceeded to poll well in behind-the-scenes testing. Whereas the state Supreme Court had made a reasoned, principled, lawful decision that removed barriers of differentiation, the subsequent months became all about dividing society in ways like never before. The overarching theme: Hetero"normality" vs. an "other."

For their role, the Mormon church caught crap for one reason and one reason only: Because they, the leaders and members of a religious body who should fully understand what it means to be discriminated against, chose to fling the discriminatory caca in unprecedented, unexpected, and highly unnecessary ways! For starters: In a letter read to every LDS church in California during the campaign's early days, congregants were told to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time." This letter led members to respond resoundingly, both in state and out (nearly 45% of out-of-state donations to the anti-equality effort came from Utah, over three times more than any other state). Also, a disproportionately high number of door-to-door volunteers came from the church, treading around California, using their faith motivations to speak out against gays' civil marriage equality. At the time, church members and leaders seemed pretty proud of this bold involvement, freely acknowledging most of it in the press. It was only after the vote that their feet, just like their respect for gay couples' civil rights, turned cold. So while it's incredibly easy to once again paint gays as the big, bad bullies who are simply scouring the nation looking for weak ones to target, the truth is that the vast majority of LGBT activists (and allies) had no need, reason, intention, or desire to even address the LDS church in the days prior to Prop 8, much less knock it. But when human beings are slapped in the face, they tend to get annoyed, pissed, angry, and then, eventually -- even.

As for the Mitt Romney factor: For starters, it's far more accurate to say "Mormons vs. gays," not "gays versus Mormons." Because as we've established: It was the LDS church that attacked gay rights. All we've really done in return is say, "Hey, everyone -- look at what this church did to us!" When we move on from this sphere of reaction and start using our civil textbooks to close LDS churches and deny their religious ceremonies, then we can talk about gay-initiated attacks. But not until.

And then, finally, for the supposed transference of media memes from Mitt to Prop 8: How incredibly convenient. But this easy explanation once again overlooks the factuality of the situation. Because the truth is that many evangelicals did express hesitation about Romney. This idea hit the media, because evangelicals put it out there. And so too, the Prop 8 media conversation. It may be expedient to act like these things just up and spring from the agendas of the "liberal media," but in this case, the news most certainly came from factual observation. Although not surprising that Prop 8 proponents would fail to see this, since nonfictional reality does seem to be the most notable adversary in their own drama play.

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