Well, it turns out my read on the Mormon view of the constitution is at odds with the recently published official view. This article details the official postion, as released on July 7th, and it’s pretty concise:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.
This raises a number of interesting questions, of which I’ll only touch on two:
1) If the constitution is amended, does this create a constitutionally-supported definition of religion?
2) If my personal belief is at odds with an official statement from the men I believe to be prophets, seers, and revelators, what happens next?
Question 1 is more interesting to most folks. In my view, while it depends HEAVILY on the wording of such an amendment (and that’s a fight the Church has, according to sources, opted to steer clear of), any amendment “defining” marriage must be taken in context with the first amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
The only way for both amendments to exist, unrepealed, is for “religion” to be contextually defined as something that falls SHORT of describing the practice of monogamous marriage. The implications there are fascinating. We’ve ALREADY passed laws that define religion as something that falls short of, say, kidnapping and killing people. In short, while the Constitution is not saying what a religion IS, it DOES have the ability, should a marriage amendment pass, to say what a religion is NOT, and to do so in a way that deeply affects the beliefs of a large number of people.
That said, I don’t think an amendment defining marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual institution will pass. It might be close, but I don’t think it’ll pass. And I’m not sure the Church’s endorsement would change things much.
Question 2 is more important to me personally. The pattern in the Mormon church is a clear one. We believe in continuing revelation, and that there are those with authority to recieve revelation for others. We also believe in personal revelation, and that individuals have the right to recieve personal revelations in confirmation of instruction they’ve been given from the Prophet.
So… I’ll spend some time in prayer and see what happens. What it really comes down to, however, is that my previous read on the Constitution and Marriage was based on my interpretation of non-specific statements, and extrapolation of those to the current situation, rather than on any personal revelation on the matter. That’s NOT the same as a straightforward statement of position from the First Presidency, which I believe IS revelation on the matter. In short, no contest. My well-founded opinion was wrong on a couple of key points, and I’m humble enough to admit it in front of 285 (Holy CRAP! 285!?!?) LJ subscribers.
I’ve thought long and hard for the last three days about posting this entry. I realize that in the context of my July 4th post, it would be misleading for me to NOT post information about the July 7th announcement. On the other hand, I really, really, REALLY don’t think this is the right forum for a heated discussion on marriage, mormons, and constitutional law. Or at least not the right forum for ANOTHER one.
With that in mind, I’ve posted the new information, but I’m disallowing comments. You can email me privately if you’d really have to vent (I’ll assume you can figure out how to find my email address without me posting it here.)
Oh, and just to be clear, my personal tolerance of your behavior and your beliefs remains unchanged.