Friday, May 23, 2008


marjorie says...

See below for an excerpt about gay marriage from David Alire Garcia's interview with Tom Udall, posted this morning on the NM Independent. If you wonder why I post it along with the bit about his religion, its because they're related.

Here's the deal, show me that there's a Mormon who's going to support gay marriage and you might have me going back to church. Notice that Udall also declined to answer the question about whether sexual orientation is a valid issue to bring up in the campaign. I think this is necessary to point out.

Don't think from this that I'm bashing Udall or the Mormon's. Well, I might be a little. But, like Udall, I'm a baptized Mormon and I'm proud of my Mormon heritage--I can see clearly the link between my value system and the way my parents raised me. Of course, I was 8 years old when I was baptized, and my interpretation of how those values should play out in the social and political sphere has evolved a little as an adult. But if anything, Udall is another example to me that people who have a lot of similar political values to my own can also be members of the Mormon church. That's nice to see (you know, as an aside, I've never actually voted for a Mormon before--I guess I'm going to get my chance).

The truth is that male/female marriage is utterly central to the Mormon church. It's the foundation on which that church is built, and they guard it fiercely. And Mormons are fierce about their religion.

The problem, though, is that marriage is also a legal designation with a lot of significance in secular life. And, this designation is legally permitted to happen in church. Yes, internet-mavens can marry people these days also, but lets face it: marriage is incredibly intertwined with religion, and culture, in the world we live in. In this regard, the law is intertwined with religion. This is a problem for a secular society given the centrality of the male/female union in most religions, and not just concerning the GLBT community.

It's also an issue (in a different way) for many hetero-couples, not to mention women in general. There are a lot of problems that stem from the prevalence of patriarchy in our society. And I'd suggest religious institutions are one of the primary vehicles through which patriarchy is maintained. From this perspective, in so far as its a bedrock of how religions are structured, marriage is an institution of gender oppression. Pretty big thing to say, I know...

For this reason, I along with many people I know haven't always quite understood why the GLBT movement is so adamant about being able to participate in marriage. Why can't civil unions be just as good? Well, in a place in which marriage is the institution through which society creates couple-dom, its about validation, civil rights...legitimacy. And in this regard I'm on board with the GLBT community 100%.

But, frankly, I'd like to see "marriage" leave the secular realm entirely. I'd prefer to live in a secular world in which civil unions alone were the mechanism through which couples are created in the eyes of the law. This would level that playing field, and then people would be free to get married in the eyes of their god or spiritual entity of choice within their own churches any time they wanted.

But until then (and we're talking major social change) I have to go with gay-marriage. It's only fair. And I think hetero-people should consider very carefully how they participate in this institution until that happens.

Finally, don't think from my comments about patriarchy that I don't get why people want to be joined in such a central manner. It's called love, and family. Marriage is what we call this union, and we all deserve to have it if thats where we find happiness.

**Since writing this, off-line conversations have made me realize I need to clarify my Mormon-status (this is what happens when you blog on the fly). I am not a participant in the Mormon church. I am an official member on the rolls of the church, was baptized into the church at 8-years old, and my upbringing was centrally conducted through the lens of Mormonism. I am a happy member of a large Mormon family. As such, who I am is informed by Mormonism, in many integral cultural and familial ways, and I have a lot of respect and honor for it. Despite my disagreements :-). In this respect, I feel similar to Mormonism as do many of my friends regarding their Catholic roots. At times conflicted, but very much at home in Mormon gatherings.

NMI: On religion, I read in an E.J. Dionne column a few months back when Mitt Romney was still running for president that you’re a member of the Democratic Mormon Congressional Caucus along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among others. How does your religious background inform your views on questions of war or the environment or poverty, if at all?

TU: Well, I’m a baptized Mormon. And I’m proud of my Mormon heritage. And my values and my value system are a very much a part of how I put together, are very much a part of my approach to issues.

NMI: Including issues like war and the environment and poverty?

TU: I think I’ll just leave it there.

NMI: As you probably know, a recent California Supreme Court decision determined that it’s unconstitutional in the state of California to prohibit same-sex couples from petitioning for a civil marriage license. Does that ruling change your position at all on the issue of gay marriage or other arrangements like domestic partnerships?

TU: This is an issue that has been handled by the states for over 200 years. Marriage has been regulated by the states it is very much a part of the state civil system. And I believe that’s the way it should stay. I support New Mexicans that are tyring to get civil unions legislation through the New Mexico Legislature and I support the idea of equality that’s built into the civil unions legislation.

NMI: Is it fair to say that you’re not at this point in time a supporter of civil marriage extended to same-sex couples?

TU: That’s fair to say, yes.

NMI: As I’m sure you’ve hard, in the last few days there’s been an unusual, some might say bizarre, back-and-forth in the race to succeed you on the Democratic side in which one candidate has questioned another candidate’s sexual orientation. Is that a legitimate issue in your view?

TU: I don’t think I’m going to get into the debates going on, debates on any of the issues going on in the 3rd Congressional District or any of the other congressional districts.