Sunday, November 30, 2008

VanJindelt Photography

Many of you are aware that I love photography. I enjoy taking pictures of various landmarks and architecture, and occasionally people. My brother-in-law is one who has influenced my love of photography and I must admit that he is far better than am I at the art. If you are ever looking for a photographer I would highly recommend VanJindelt Photography. Posted are a few of the pictures that he has done along with his website. Please, check it out.

*Photos, courtesy of Jeff Vanjindelt (Vanjindelt Photography)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day of Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving has come and soon will be gone, so it is that I should like to take the waning minutes of the holiday to share my gratitude by creating a top 10 list of things for which I am grateful:

10. MODERN CONVENIENCE--I am grateful for all things modern. I love having a house in which to live, a warm bed in which to sleep, a hot shower, hot food, easy transportation, easy communications, movies, music, and the likes. The list could go on and on, but to live in the age in which we live--what a blessing! There is so much to be grateful for which those who have come before us could not even have imagined that we would be enjoying. To think that I can type these words on a computer and publish them for anyone in the world to read--it is truly unbelievable and wonderful!

9. TRAVELING--I love the opportunity to travel both local and around the world. There is so much to see and do in the world and we have been blessed to live in a time when traveling is so convenient. I have had opportunity to travel throughout California, the state of my birth, throughout the United States, and throughout parts of Europe and Canada. I am constantly amazed by the various cultures that are unique to specific regions, the art work, architecture, history, culture, and of course the natural beauty that exists in each type of climate and location.

8. NATURE--I love the beauties of the earth. There is truly a rejuvenating quality within nature that seems to enlighten the mind and cleanse the soul. I love getting out into fresh air, getting a little exercise, clearing my mind, placing all worries aside, and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. I love art, and to me nature is the art of God, and he has created several masterpieces for us to enjoy!

7. EDUCATION--I have not always valued education, but with each passing year, the more I discover that I love to learn things and that I truly appreciate the opportunity to have my mind expanded. Education has helped me to develop culturally, to appreciate and understand life a little better, and has provided the means for me to gain meaningful employment wherein I may earn an honest living, providing for my needs and wants, while making a positive difference in the world around me.

6. MY ANCESTORS--I am thankful for ancestors passing back through the generations who have made countless sacrifices so that their children could have a better life. As each generation has sacrificed a little more, my life in the present has been made that much sweeter. I recall many stories of the many ways that my ancestors have lived and sacrificed in order to present better opportunities for the following generation. I hope that I may one day in turn make sacrifices for my own posterity which will benefit them and be worthy of the legacy that my ancestors have created and placed in my own hands.

5. FREEDOM--I am truly blessed to have been born and to have lived my life in the United States of America. It is an awesome blessing to have the freedoms that this country has afforded me. One need but look around the world at the varying conditions of society with poverty, disease, war, famine, restriction, and degradation. I am so thankful for our founding fathers who were inspired enough to recognize that differing opinion is alright and that the voice of the people should determine the laws and leadership of our government, not the elite. I am grateful for countless men and women who have sacrificed their time, energy, money, and lives in order to obtain and maintain the freedoms that we enjoy--the freedoms that I enjoy! God Bless America and Democracy throughout the world, and may we as a people honor it and honor the God who has inspired men to create such governments where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness may be enjoyed.

4. FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES--Throughout my life I have come across hundreds of people who have influenced my life for the good. People who have been good examples for me, people who I have played with, people who have made me laugh, people who have challenged me physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. My friends are few, but they are faithful and good people, and I am ever grateful for them. Life simply would not be enjoyable without them.

3. MY FAMILY--I shall ever be indebted to my family, both immediate and extended. My parents have taught me well and have prepared me for the challenges of life. I have been offered love and support all throughout my life from my parents, siblings, and extended family. I have received great council from family members and have been blessed by the examples of family members that has helped to shape my life and to be happy.

2. THE RESTORED GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST--I am extremely grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. To know that God has spoken to man in times past and that He speaks even today through living prophets is a great comfort to me. To have all of the scriptures that have been revealed to mankind to date, to have the Church of Jesus Christ established on the earth, and to have the priesthood authority governing the affairs of the church is truly a blessing. Through this, I know to what source I may look to in faith in order to have a hope of receiving proper instruction and guidance in my life, and to know what I must do in order to gain eternal life.

1. THE ATONEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST--I am most grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ as it allows mercy to be extended in my behalf. I am far from perfect, but I know to what source I may turn in order to make positive changes in my life. The atonement does not extend mercy to us so that we may continue in our sins, but offers strength to overcome our sins and to be made clean. There is nothing sweeter that I have experienced in my life than the sweetness that comes from this gift. I can never offer enough thanks for the suffering in Gethsemane, the death upon the cross, and the glorious resurrection wherein the living Christ has taken upon Himself our sins and suffered for them that we may have this hope to one day be perfect, even as he is perfect, and return to live with our Heavenly Parents.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nikki Forova and Jonna--Live at the Mint

Ukrainian eclectic musician, Nikki Forova, and Finnish music sensation Jonna will be performing live at the Mint on Tuesday, December 2nd at 10 p.m. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles Area on the 2nd, you should make an effort to attend this performance. I've met both artists and am impressed with their warmth of character and friendly and open nature. I have also seen both perform and I can honestly say that you will enjoy both the music and atmosphere that they will create. The band members are awesome too--great talent and great people. You do not want to miss this performance!
You can learn more about the artists from the links below. Here is the information for the performance:

6010 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
10 p.m.
Admission: $8

You can view bio information and listen to some of Nikki Forova's music HERE.

You can view bio information and listen to some of Jonna's music HERE.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Racist Dogs and other Random Observations

* Racism is alive and well in America. I witnessed it first hand this weekend as I hiked down the mountain that I had camped on the night before. A couple were standing on the side of the trail with two large dogs, the canines seeming very docile and well behaved as several hikers passed (that is, several white hikers). Then an elderly asian couple attempted to pass and the dogs went nuts! Had they not been leashed those dogs would have torn this asian lady apart. It was sad to see, but amazing to see just how agile an elderly woman can be when frightened out of her wits! She jumped up on some boulders with such ease that would have put me to shame had I attempted the feat. Racist dogs. I think the owners need to sit their dogs in front of the t.v. and watch "Albie the Racist Dragon." They could learn a thing or two.

* While hiking down the mountain, one of the boy scouts stopped on the trail and pleaded with me, "Brother Hall, I've got to go to the bathroom!" (Brother is a title people use in the church I attend, the equivalent of Mr.). Thinking that he simply has to go number one, I reply: "Well, go off of the trail a ways to a place where no one can see you and do your business." A few other boys and I are waiting on the trail when one of the boys tells me, "Brother Hall, he doesn't have any toilet paper." A short time later, after receiving some toilet paper, I hear a voice in the near distance shout excitedly, "I did it!" I couldn't help but laugh as it sounded like a little kid being potty trained. But it doesn't end there. O, no. A few seconds later I see the kid running back toward the trail holding up a zip-lock bag. Fear and shame shot throughout my being. O, no he didn't! I was relieved, in part, to learn that he did not crap in a bag, but disgusted to find that he did put his used toilet paper in it (uhm, you go ahead and bury that). And the final absurdity. . . the boy begins asking, "who has room in their pack to carry this out?" Nope, no crap coming down the mountain in my pack!
* So, the other day I come home from work to see a hole in my dinning room wall. That is odd, I thought. I know that it would not take much for my flatmate to put a hole in the wall if he really wanted to, but as strapping as he is, he isn't the type to become violent (unless, of course, you are trying to kill him). It turns out that some construction workers who are replacing termite infested wood beams in the complex, punctured my wall. Nice. At least it is high up. . . it would be weird to have people looking through a hole in the wall at me eating my dinner.
* My students are doing "creative writing" exercises for their warm-ups and it didn't take long for them to make me one of their comical characters. It is fun to know that my students have such vibrant imaginations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Institutions Discriminate--A Call For Equality

Backlash to the Passing of Proposition 228 Sparks Protests
Brit Johansson
The Associated Press

November 8, 2018--Over the course of the past election cycle there has been heated debate regarding California Proposition 228, which restores California Colleges and Universities the issuance of traditional diplomas. The measure was voted into law this past Tuesday by a narrow margin with 52% of Californians in favor of the proposed law. This law effectively overturns the California Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision stating that traditional diplomas are unconstitutional due to its discriminatory nature in denying the rights of individuals who are born without an intellectual capacity or drive to fulfill academic requirements. The court extended the right of people obtaining diplomas to anyone who wished to apply, not just those who completed required coursework and mandatory units. The passage of the proposition restores the traditional practice of students fulfilling unit requirements in order to obtain a degree. It is unclear if those diplomas that were issued to non-college applicants between last spring’s Supreme Court ruling and last weeks vote will remain legal.
The fallout from the passage took place immediately with opponents of the proposition taking to the streets and pundits taking to the airwaves. A large crowd of angry protesters amassed at various private Universities who had contributed heavily to the “Yes on 228” campaign. The protesters shouted such slogans as “Don’t educate with hate” and “Burned by the hate degree.” The gates of the University were vandalized with “No on 228” slogans and “Go back to home-schooling you Bigots!”
One protestor that was interviewed said, “I can’t believe after all we have come through in our nation’s history that civil rights are still being denied. Everyone deserves a diploma. I just don’t understand how people can hate someone simply because they are born without the intellectual capacity of those who have obtained college degrees. Shame on educators for discriminating—Shame on you!”
Opponents of proposition 228 often site the economic disparity that exists due to the discrimination of our nation’s universities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Workers 18 and over sporting bachelors degrees earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915. Workers with an advanced degree make an average of $74,602, and those without a high school diploma average $18,734.” It is evident that there is economic disparity between those who do and do not have degrees. Alexis Peabody, a college graduate who sympathizes with the protestors said, “It amazes me that people want to deny this particular group of American citizens of their fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Who are we to deny an individual’s happiness by denying that individual of a college degree? It isn’t their fault that they do not have the natural disposition to learn. This is blatant discrimination and it should not be tolerated by America’s institutions.”
Jim Johnson, a college dropout, was appalled by the passage of the proposition. “I don’t understand why people have to hate. I can’t help that I am born this way. I’ve tried and tried to earn a degree, but it just was not natural to me. Imagine how it feels to see others dressing in their ceremonial gowns and knowing that the government does not recognize me and what I have to offer to the world. I don’t understand why they just won’t let me have a degree. It isn’t affecting anyone else’s life. I just want to be viewed as normal, to be like everybody else. Is that so wrong? ”
Protestors on the streets of California and around the nation are not the only one’s to chime in on this controversial issue. Governor Arned Schweister (R-CA) was disappointed with the results of the election. He stated: “It is a shame that Californians would vote for a proposition that is obviously discriminatory in nature. I am confident that this issue will go before the California State Supreme Court and that they will strike it down as being unconstitutional.” Senator Dina Funstone (D-CA) appeared in several “No on Prop 228” commercials wherein she claimed that the proposition is “wrong and unfair” and urged Californians to “vote against discrimination.” Upon learning of the election results, Funstone said, “It is sad that Californians have voted to deny individuals the right to have a degree. Everyone deserves to have a degree, regardless of one’s abilities. To establish requirements in obtaining a degree is obviously aimed at denying a particular segment of society of their fundamental rights. I have seen this type of discrimination before and it has no place in our society.”
News commentator Ken Olbermum took several minutes of his program on MSNBC to passionately decry the passage of proposition 228: “Finally, a special comment tonight, as promised, on the passage last week of proposition 228 in California which rescinded the right of individuals to obtain a degree. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about prop 228, and I don’t have a personal investment in this. I’m not without a degree; I had to strain to think of even an extended member of my family who is. I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues who are fighting prejudice that still pervades their lives, and yet to me this vote is horrible, HORRIBLE! Because this isn’t about politics, it is about the human heart. If you voted for this proposition I have a few questions for you because I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? In a time when there are so many sources for information, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—to have a diploma. But no, you are saying that you cannot have it on these terms. Maybe something similar like a GED if they behave, if they don’t cause too much trouble. You even give them all the same legal rights even as you take away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them anchored in a college degree and you’re saying, “no, you can’t have a degree.” What if someone passed a law that said you can’t have a degree? I keep hearing this term “redefining diploma.” If we didn’t change the types of degrees that universities issue, we would not have any of the science and technological degrees that are offered today that were not offered in 1862. 1862! This is obviously a civil rights issue because before 1862 slaves were not allowed to have a degree. Those who support traditional degrees are the moral equivalent of slave owners. Just like the white taskmasters of our jaded American history, you want to make this segment of our society servile. And why? All because they have been born without the intellectual capacity or the drive to follow the requirements that you have established for earning a college degree! What is this to you? No one is asking you to embrace their lack of knowledge. But don’t you as human beings have to embrace what they have? With so much hate in the world; with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against each other, for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadness, this is what your conscience tells you to do? With your knowledge of life with endless vigor to tilt the playing field in favor of unhappiness and hate, this is what your heart tells you to do? Do you want to honor your degree and the God that has given you intelligence? Then spread happiness. Offer a degree to those who choose not to go to college, but still want one.”
Leading up to the election there were many television advertisements that appealed to viewers emotions in hopes to sway them from voting for this amendment. One such advertisement showed a young woman dressed in her beautiful and distinguished black graduation gown. As she pulled up in her car for the graduation ceremony her car door jammed and she needed help opening it from her father. Next, a tree branch caught her graduation cap and flipped it to the ground. As she approached the podium in order to receive her diploma, members of the crowd stuck their feet out to trip her and yanked on her gown in order to stop her. Fighting them off, she continued up the steps only to be straight-armed by one of the professors. A tearful family looked on as their daughter was denied the right to receive a diploma. A voiceover then stated, “Imagine if you couldn’t get a degree. Vote no on proposition 228.”
Another commercial showed footage from the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, followed by scenes from the 1960s of African American students being denied entry into all-white schools by police and politicians at the height of the civil rights movement. A voiceover stated: “It wasn’t long ago that discrimination was acceptable in our society. Japanese-Americans were pulled from schools and forced into internment camps. African Americans were not allowed in public schools. We have come a long way since those times, yet even today we have people that wish to deny others of the fundamental right of a college degree. Please stop the discrimination and hate and vote no on proposition 228.”
Due to the amount of money donated to the “Yes on 228” campaign by religious individuals, such as Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Protestants, and Muslims, protestors have targeted a number of churches, synagogues, and mosques. Demonstrations have been organized in front of many places of worship, crying foul for churches to get politically involved. They chanted demands of separation of church and state and called upon the government to tax these religious organizations because their members had donated money to a political cause. These religious organizations claim that their members have a right to support whatever proposition they choose, and that while these religious organizations have encouraged their members to earn an education and to value the traditional meaning of a college degree, they have not directly contributed to the campaign. Many opponents are particularly angry with Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) who donated an estimated 40% of the total funds spent by the “Yes on 228” campaign and offered countless hours of their time to promote the proposition. One member of the LDS church stated, “We believe that ‘The glory of God is intelligence,’ and that by giving access to college degrees to anyone who simply wants one without following the intellectual requirements associated with traditional degrees diminishes the true purpose of a degree. This is not a message of hate. We feel that everyone has the right to pursue what course in life that they wish. We just do not believe that we should change the fundamental requirements of earning a college degree.”
Resentful of individual Mormon’s involvement in backing the proposition, many have rallied throughout the nation at Mormon temples. In Los Angeles, protestors scribbled on the temple gates such phrases as: “Church of Latter-day Lies,” “Go back to Utah you bigots!” and “The Mormon church encourages its members to get more than one degree, yet they won’t let me have one. Hypocrites!” Protestors also carried many signs and chanted “Tax the Mormon church,” “Separate church and hate,” “Expel hate—vote no on 228.”
Opponents are also extremely upset with the African American community who voted overwhelmingly in support of proposition 228. It is estimated that 70% of all African Americans supported the proposition, which has led to vitriol from those who are opposed to it. One angry protestor screamed, “Shame on you blacks! Of all people! You should know better. You should know that we stood with you to help you obtain your civil rights and now you turn your backs on us by denying our civil rights. SHAME ON YOU!”
John Alexander, an African American who supported prop 228, said, “It is shameful that people want to equate this issue with the civil rights movement. There have been many who have said that this is a fundamental right for everyone and that by limiting college degrees to those who attend college and fulfill the requirements outlined by the institution, we are discriminating. I just don’t see it that way. People who don’t have a college degree have never had to drink from a different drinking fountain, or ride at the back of the bus, or have been hosed down by law enforcement and locked out of schools by politicians. To compare what we as African Americans had to go through in order to obtain our civil liberties is nothing like the current movement to issue college degrees to anyone who applies for one, regardless of whether or not they have attended college. As a matter of fact, it is insulting, and to point an accusatory finger at African Americans simply because we are smart enough to recognize that this is not a civil rights issue and to vote accordingly, that is just wrong.”
One thing remains certain. While the election has passed and the people of California have spoken, this issue is not going away. Opponents of proposition 228, with support of the ACLU and other organizations, have already submitted half a dozen challenges to the California Supreme Court in hopes to overturn the recent amendment. While the people of California have exercised their democratic right, those who do not agree with the outcome are hoping that the judicial branch of the state government overturns the will of democracy. Win or lose, this battle will continue to play out both in California and throughout the United States.

*This satire was composed by Brett Hall on November 18, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

So, while I was attempting to sleep my mind reverted back to the day and how it has been set aside to honor veterans of our great country. As I was thinking upon that purpose, I felt a need to express my great appreciation for all who have ever served our country, both living and dead. Needless to say, a few years ago I watched a program on the World War II American cemeteries in Europe and was inspired to write the following poem. May God bless all who have served, those who now serve, and those who will serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America! And may we as American citizens ever be grateful for their service.

by Brett Hall
April 20, 2003

The day was bright, with a light breeze,
The waves beneath the cliff did break,
And people sauntered with such ease,
Though hallowed, lest the dead they waked.
The grounds, so careful and so clean,
Were so well kept by the new guard,
Who made the grounds on such days glean--
These very grounds that once were scarred.
A visitor upon the site
Had come to view this world of men
Who once had faced an awful plight
So that a greater cause might win.
And so she passed behind a cross
An alabaster monument
Erected for a man whose loss
Would prove the world's own betterment.
And as she walked amid these stones,
In pensive and in grateful mood,
She saw a man of wretched bones
Who on his knees appeared subdued.
He wept, his hand upon a cross,
The other wiped the tears away.
O how he wept for his own loss,
She thought as she beheld him pray.
Her heart grew heavy at the sight
And tears upon her cheek did swell
As a deep sadness reached its height
Within a man who seemed so frail.
She stood and watched as time did pass,
Reflecting on an anguished soul
Who bitterly wept upon the grass,
The tears the dead softly extolled.
Perhaps a fellow man in arms--
Perhaps a father, brother dead--
Perhaps a fellow whose alarms
Prevented yet another dead.
Perhaps a friend from long ago
With whom in school he once did play
Or in the fields on farms did go,
And worked together bucking hay.
Perhaps, perhaps, her mind ran wild
With all the possibility
As she watched an ancient child
Weeping with the weeping sea.
The waves, they rumbled with a sigh,
Remembering the bloody gait
With which so many men did die
As on her shores they met with fate.
His body heaved, the waves washed back,
Launching ever to and fro,
A harmony they did not lack,
A synchronizing ebb and flow.
She stood, the minutes racing by,
And waited for this lovely scene
To pass beneath the blazing sky
And enter in her heart serene.
The man upon his feet did rise
And slowly walked toward her place
And staring deep into her eyes
He reached out with a warm embrace.
She held the stranger fervently
Within her arms and then inquired
In a tone so reverently
About the dead that he admired.
"I know him not," was the reply.
"He's not a relative of mine,
Nor was a friend, this man who died,
Nor anyone with whom I've dined.
I do not know a single soul
Who lies beneath these hallowed stones,
And yet I feel my heart so full
For these whose final breath bemoaned
The pain and anguish suffered here,
So far away on distant sand,
That liberty may yet appear
For one as I in my homeland.
I weep for freedoms that I love
Whose price, in part, cost these men's blood.
I weep for peace, that graceful dove,
Which flies now where once warriors stood.
I weep for liberty divine,
For joy and lasting happiness,
These blessings which I claim as mine
Preserved by those who did enlist.
And here these lie within the earth
While all the world is passing on--
These men in death preserve the birth
Of freedoms which their blood has won."
And so the old man walked away--
Alone the woman in awe stood
Without a word which she could say
She hearkened to her pensive mood.
And kneeling down at a near cross
She also wept with grateful tears
For all the young lives that were lost
To preserve freedom through the years.

It Is A Beauteous Evening

Of all the poets throughout all of the ages of time, none have a more dear place in my heart than William Wordsworth. His ability to capture the simple, the subtle, the moment and to make it all so profound is an amazing talent which allows my mind to feast and my heart to rejoice. I should like to share one of his sonnets: "It Is A Beauteous Evening." And seeing that it is Veterans' Day, I should like to thank all those who have served our great country and have sacrificed so that we as human beings could have such moments of serenity. Now, before the purists attack me for using an English poet from the 19th century to show gratitude for God, life, and the service of our soldiers both present and past, let me state that Wordsworth captures the human condition that extends beyond country and age. Just as Wordsworth states, "God being with [us] when we know it not," so is the peace and freedoms that we enjoy as Americans due to our service men. . . even when we do not recognize that it is their sacrifices that have made it possible for us to enjoy our freedoms, along with the hand of the Almighty looking over us. Let us ever be grateful to those willing to sacrifice their lives for their countrymen, to our God who gives us life and freedom to live as we choose, for nature to enjoy, and great poetry to remind us of the finer things of life.

It is a beauteous Evening, calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down it its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven is on the Sea:
Listen! the mighty being is awake
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder--everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Defense of the Mormons--Is This The Face of Hate?

In light of the recent protests by gay and lesbian activists who are upset with democracy and wish to use the Mormon church as a scapegoat, I thought that I would write a simple blog by which people may contrast the anger and hate of gays and lesbians with the humanitarian efforts of the Mormons. If you have watched the news reports at all, you have discovered the claims by angry protesters that Mormons are bigots, intolerant, hateful, ignorant and etc. I've also heard these activists yell that Mormons should be ashamed of themselves and should use their money for something good rather than in opposing same-sex marriage. Let me first point out that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) did not donate any money to the campaign for "Yes on Proposition 8." Individual members of the Church, such as myself, have donated that money. Furthermore, it should be noted that while I have donated money to this campaign because I believe in the traditional value of marriage and feel that altering the institution of marriage will lead to more social ills, I have donated far more in charitable contributions which is done through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please take a little of your time and view some of these videos and read through some of these articles that exemplify the humanitarian causes in which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is involved. Then decide if we are a hateful, bigoted, and intolerant people.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. . . wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7: 16-20).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Humanitarian Aid Video

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Measles in Africa

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Continent-Wide Day of Service--Africa

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Aid to Myanmar

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Aid to Texas--Hurricane Ike

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Hurricane Katrina Response

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Hurricane Katrina Relief

Here are some articles that exemplify The Humanitarian spirit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (click on the title to be redirected to the article):

Muslims and Mormons Work Together to Provide Tsunami Relief

Muslims and Mormons Flying Aid to Indonesia Tsunami Victims

Neonatal Resuscitation Training

Church’s Wheelchair Initiative Turns a New Corner

LDS Church Providing Emergency Relief to California Fire Victims

Mormons Aid Flood Victims in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin

Clean Water initiative

Mormon “Helping Hands” Clean Up After Hurricane Ike

PBS: The Mormons: Humanitarian Programs

Bishops' Storehouses Continue to Send Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims

Asia relief efforts

Europe Flood-Relief Efforts Receive Church Donation

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Final Posting on Same-Sex Marriage in California

As we are all aware, Proposition 8 has passed in the state of California, adding to the state constitution that marriage will be recognized between a man and a woman. Sadly, gay and lesbian activists have already begun to challenge the people's will in the courts. . . again. Obviously, these activists have an issue with democracy and wish to force their will upon the masses through the improper use of the courts. It is the court's duty to interpret existing laws, not to create them. Needless to say, this will be my last post upon the issue. . . at least until the courts force it to become a public issue again and I am called upon to defend traditional marriage. I shall end where I began, simply by posting my original blog concerning the matter which I wrote last spring after discovering the courts had over-stepped their bounds and created law rather than interpret it. Here is the blog in its entirety:

Bigotry (noun)--Bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.

It will not surprise me if some will label me a bigot because of my belief in the traditional values of the marriage covenant. It will not be the first time; after-all, I was labeled such back in 2000 due to my support of California's Proposition 22, which added to the state constitution the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The irony with those who point the finger and cry "bigot" is, according to the definition of bigotry, they are bigots themselves--intolerant of someone who simply has a differing opinion. In 2000 I was a Junior at Cal Poly Pomona, majoring in English Literature. I wrote an article in defense of marriage, supporting Proposition 22, which was published in the school newspaper. Following its publication, I attended my Spanish class, and as the professor took roll, she came to my name and said, "Brett Hall--are you the Brett Hall that wrote that article in the paper?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Shame on you!" my professor scowled as she pointed an accusatory finger.
Some students on the campus went about making signs that essentially stated anyone who was in favor of Proposition 22 was a bigot, and other articles arose in the school press denouncing my position. So be it. We live in a country that values freedom of speech, and I have no problem with people freely expressing their opinions in opposition to my own, even if I am falsely accused of being a bigot.
Needless to say, Proposition 22 was voted upon by the citizens of California and it passed with overwhelming support. The people of the great state of California had spoken, and marriage was officially declared to be strictly between a man and a woman.
So, one might imagine my surprise when on the news yesterday I learned that special interest groups within the state of California have brought the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage to the California Supreme court. There are a minority of citizens within the state that feel differently about the issue than what the majority has legally added to the state constitution. I have no problem with these individuals and groups expressing their opinions, that is their right. What I do take issue with is their attempts to override the fundamental principals of democracy by imposing their ideology upon the majority by changing the laws through the courts. This is a dangerous move that should concern every citizen, regardless of one's position on the issue of same-sex marriage. If judges are allowed to create laws, rather than to interpret and enforce laws (which is their true role and authority), then we create a society for ourselves that is governed by the elite rather than by the people. If the courts create and impose law, what then is the role of democracy? What then is the value of the peoples' votes? Who then is left to stop judges from implementing additional laws that run contrary to the will of the people? Is such action far different from fascist, communist, or dictatorial rule--the ceding of power from the people to an elite group of individuals who in turn decide what is and what is not best for the people? This is a scary development which potentially could lead to the downfall of American Government as we know it.
Aside from the issue of government, what I wish to address is the defense of the traditional values of marriage. I wish to be clear that I have no animosity towards gays or lesbians. I respect all human-beings, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality. I honestly believe that everyone is a child of God and that God loves every person. It is my aim in life to become like God; therefore, it is a logical conclusion that I should not hate anyone. As such, I plead with my readers to not misinterpret my position or intention on this issue. I sincerely believe that it is possible to be in disagreement with someone without harboring ill will or feelings towards the person. So it is with my defense of the traditional values of marriage.

To understand the defense of traditional marriage, we must first explore the history and purpose of marriage. Marriage is a seemingly universal rite. It is not unique to a single, or even a few, cultures. The rite of marriage springs from various cultural religious ceremonies. The concept of civil marriage followed the example of religious marriage. The question becomes, what is the purpose of marriage? The answer may vary dependent upon culture, but being that our roots are Judeo-Christian, we shall explore the fundamental purpose accordingly.

The Religious Argument
If one were to ask the average citizen what is the purpose of marriage, I imagine that the response would be something to the effect of, "to manifest one's love for another individual." While this statement may be one modern reason for marriage, it certainly was not the fundamental purpose traditionally. The real purpose of marriage is three-fold: (1) to provide a fundamental unit (the family) through which couples may pro-create, offering children a stable environment from which to be reared, (2) to uphold chastity according to the Law of God, (3) for a man and woman to enter into a covenant with one another to love, support, and cherish one another, whereby they may work together in the process of perfecting one another in the pursuit to become like one's Heavenly Parents. The concept of civil marriage followed suit, focusing less upon the laws of God and the religious pursuits associated with marriage, yet still upholding the purpose of providing the stable environment in which children could be reared and husband and wife may experience true fidelity.
Hence, the fundamental problem with same-sex marriage is that it does not meet the criteria for any of these purposes. First, same-sex couples do not have the power to pro-create. Second, the same-sex couples are clearly in defiance of God's stated laws regarding sexuality (that sex is justified only between a man and a woman who are married together--this does not mean that God loves these individuals any less; rather, it manifests his love for them by allowing them to choose for themselves--God does not force anyone to follow his laws, but he provides his laws as a guide on how to become like Him). Third, same-sex couples fundamentally cannot emulate their Heavenly Parents.
One key argument that might be made by some same-sex couples is that they do not believe in the traditional concept of God and His laws; hence, such laws are not applicable to them and their relationships. If such is true, why then do they feel compelled to be married (marriage being a law of God)? Why would they desire to be a part of a tradition (or law) in which they fundamentally do not believe? From a religious standpoint, it is clear that homosexuality is opposed to the teachings of the Judeo-Christian religions. Marriage, according to this tradition, stems from Adam and Eve, with the first and great commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (in other words, to have babies and rear children in order to populate the earth). Homosexuality runs contrary to this commandment, thus defeating the primary purpose of marriage. The second purpose of marriage, to preserve chastity according to the law of God, would also be defeated through same-sex couples. If chastity is defined as having no sexual relations with anyone other than his or her husband or wife of the opposite sex, then homosexuality is unchaste, just as fornication is unchaste and contrary to the will of God. Simply masking this behavior under the banner of "marriage" is not going to suddenly make homosexuality any more chaste according to the law of God. On the contrary, it mocks the law of God just as "common-law-marriage" mocks true marriage (the law of God). Same-sex marriage would be a marriage in name only, lacking the substance of true marriage according to Judeo-Christian principles and doctrines. Hence, from a religious perspective, same-sex marriage is fundamentally wrong.
What then of those who believe that they are homosexual by birth--the argument that "this is the way God made me"? Well, this is certainly a debatable point. But let us imagine that this argument is true--that there is a natural disposition that is beyond one's control. Could not others make the same argument? Pedophiles could make the same claim, yet we do not justify their actions. Serial killers could make the same claim, yet we do not justify their actions. And the list could continue on and on, yet we require such to curb such "natures." Of course, this is an unfair argument on my part. Killers and pedophiles pray on innocent victims whereas homosexuality is a behavior of consent. I do not wish to classify homosexuals with pedophiles and murderers. However, the point is that "being born this way" does not always justify one's actions. It certainly does not justify the need for same-sex marriage.
I am not here to debate the nature vs. nurture argument. The truth be known, I believe that some people are born, by nature, homosexual while a greater number become homosexual by nurture (which explains the explosion in the numbers of gays and lesbians, particularly among people who claim to be bisexual). For example, I have an acquaintance who is gay who says that he has always been attracted to other men. He doesn't want to be gay, but he is. This is an example of nature, yet he has made a conscious choice not to practice his homosexuality. Since he is not attracted to women he simply chooses to be celibate. This is a tough choice, no doubt, yet it is his choice, despite his nature. I'm not saying that all homosexuals should choose to be celibate. People may live as they choose--that is the agency that God has given to each of us. I may not agree with the practice of homosexuality, but I am not going to treat an individual unfairly as a result. In my view, God does not approve of the practice of homosexuality, but He still loves the individual, and therefore it is my obligation to love and care for the rights of the individual. Yet, this does not justify changing the traditional practice of marriage as being between a man and a woman. No rights are being violated in upholding this practice.

The Evolutionary Argument
Of course, there are many who will reject the religious argument and steep their beliefs in nature and the scientific theory of evolution. Such may dismiss God and Adam and Eve and place their beliefs and trust in evolution and the learning of man. I have heard some point out that through the observance of the natural world we may view other species involved in homosexual activity. They use this point to argue that homosexuality is natural, and thus justified. Let us say that we concede this point for arguments sake. Could we not make the counter-argument that other species do not marry? Could we not also argue that other species have multiple partners or different partners dependent upon the season? If we use this nature argument, could we not also justify the killing of our own children (after-all, have we not observed some species of animals to do just that)? Can we not also justify incestuous, polygamous, and other untoward practices that are observed in the animal kingdom? Can we not also justify the abandoning of orphaned children through the example of the natural world? It is obvious that this argument does not hold up against scrutiny. Of course, this is a neophyte argument. Let us look at something more advanced within the nature argument.
A more sophisticated argument might be made by some same-sex couples that they are homosexual by nature (not the same nature referred to above that deals with the lesser animal kingdoms, but born with the natural disposition to be gay--in other words, they cannot help but feel the way that they do. They are by nature gay but also by nature more advanced than other mammals). The validity of this argument has been, and continues to be, debated, yet I will concede this point for arguments sake. Let us say that homosexuality is natural. Does this alone justify same-sex marriage? After-all, if it is natural, and we are so advanced, why would one want to submit to a man-made institution such as marriage? If we are merely advanced mammals in the evolutionary chain, would it not make more sense to follow the natural course of mammals--namely, the reproduction of the species without the institution of marriage? What reason then to bind ourselves to such an institution? This would be counter-productive to the freedom that we have by nature. Ah, but we are more advanced than other mammals and marriage is a sign of our advancement, one might say. So be it. But if we are so advanced, why have an institution without a purpose? What then, by nature, is the purpose of marriage? Would it not be to provide the best possible means by which to rear children in order to offer them the best chance at success in life? Is it not true that children fair better when they are reared in a two-parent home. So, even by nature, marriage becomes important, but really it is only important as it relates to family life. By nature, same-sex partners cannot have offspring. If nature wanted it so, would human-beings not have evolved in order to do so? Hence, even the argument by nature does not justify same-sex marriages. By nature, marriage fulfills the needs of heterosexual couples with the ability to reproduce. It does not fulfill any such need in same-sex couples.

The Social Argument
What about same-sex marriage as a social issue? Is it possible to make the argument that we are denying one's civil liberties by denying them the right to marry? The problem with this argument is that maintaining the traditional definition and practice of marriage does not impede one's civil liberties. Will entering into a marriage covenant make a homosexual any more free than what he or she already is? There really are no rights or privileges that would be advanced for homosexuals through the legalization of same-sex marriages. There are already laws in place that protect homosexuals from prejudice. Some may argue that offering same-sex couples the opportunity to be married would provide a perception of "normalcy" rather than "other" within society. Yet if we buy into this argument are we not admitting that homosexuality is something other than normal? And if it is something other than normal, why then should it pretend to be normal (that would be fundamentally deceptive)? And if we already view it as being normal than why the need to cloak it in marriage (that would fundamentally be a sign of insecurity)? Homosexuality is what it is--it doesn't need to pretend to be something that it is not. It does not need to pretend to be a part of a tradition whose roots are religiously based and whose practices have been fundamentally opposed to the nature of homosexuality for thousands of years. It does not need to go against what the majority of Americans define as the true definition and practice of marriage--a covenant between a man and a woman. Besides, cloaking homosexual relationships within the title of marriage will not truly change people's perceptions of it. Those who are biased will remain biased and those who are accepting will remain accepting.

The Economic Argument
What about the economic impact of marriage--are same-sex couples being financially discriminated against? There are already laws in place that prohibit such discrimination and having same-sex couples marry will not resolve any such issues that may still remain. The one exception might be tax deductions, but such deductions are designed to alleviate the burden of families with children (children obviously not having the means to care for themselves). Homosexual couples who are old enough to marry are also old enough to care for themselves. By nature, they cannot have children of their own, so they have no true dependents, whereas heterosexual couples have an added expense with children who cannot contribute financially to the family. Another argument might be concerning insurance coverage. Once more, medical, dental, vision, and etc, may be, but is not always, extended to spouses and children. Homosexual couples may not be able to claim one another on such coverage through their employers, but then again, what is keeping a homosexual partner from working and obtaining coverage for himself or herself? In a heterosexual relationship, a spouse may forgo full-time employment in order to rear the children, and as we have established children cannot work, so it makes sense that such coverage would be extended in behalf of a spouse and children. Even if one feels that homosexuals are not being treated fairly on these two issues, attempting to become equal through the redefining of marriage is an awful way to address the issue. Why change a tradition that has been in existence for thousands of years simply to promote monetary gain? There are other ways and means; the people may promote such issues without changing the traditional institution of marriage.

The Concluding Argument
As we see, there is no solid reasoning as to why a tradition that has been in practice for thousands of years and is rooted in religious purpose should have to extend itself into accepting a practice that it fundamentally opposes. There is no logic behind the adoption of same-sex marriage. The only argument that exists for adopting the practice would be "we want to be a part of it too." And the reasoning for this argument: "marriage is an expression of love and devotion to one another." I concede this point, but it alone does not justify same-sex marriage. Think on it. While it offers a couple a means to express love and devotion, such couples cannot fulfill the other purposes of marriage--namely, to reproduce, to preserve chastity, and to provide a nurturing atmosphere in which children may be reared by a mother and father. If all that is left is the argument that marriage should be extended to one who wishes to express one's love and devotion--if this were the sole-requirement, then what of individuals who love their pets and are devoted to them? What of polygamists? What of incest? Could not all of these claim the same right to marriage? Marriage must be and is something more, and it is our responsibility to defend it without being hateful, prideful, or disingenuous towards those who do not understand its true purpose and sanctity.

Vice is a monster of such frightful mein,
As to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face,
we first endure, then pity, then embrace.
--Alexander Pope (from "Essay on Man")

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Truly Disturbing Ad

Regardless of your political persuasion or personal beliefs, any reasonable thinking human being would be offended by the content of this ad. It is discriminatory in nature and falsely attacks mormons with an inaccurate stereotype. If you do not recognize the offensive nature of this ad, simply plug in your own religion, race, or cause, and think about what the ad is saying regarding your own free speech. It is true that many mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have contributed to the "Yes" on 8 campaign, but they are not the only ones. Additionally, if "Yes" on Prop 8 passes it will be due to the vote of each Californian--the overwhelming majority of which are not mormon. Furthermore, what does it matter what religious persuasion an American citizen happens to be? Aren't we all entitled to support the causes that we feel are just? Needless to say, in this ad two men (who are dressed to resemble mormon missionaries) force their way into a lesbian couple's home and ransack their belongings. It speaks of them taking away rights and looking for what other rights they may deny individuals. Now imagine if it were catholics and they had a priest invading the home. Or Christian with a pastor invading a home. Or Muslim with a cleric invading the home. Or Jewish with a rabbi invading the home. Would this not be offensive? Would it not be an attempt to silence the rights of individuals or groups to express an opinion and fight for a cause? Let's look at it from another angle. What if there was a commercial with a gay or lesbian couple breaking into a family's home and tearing children away from their parents with the caption: "gays and lesbians are attempting to destroy families--say no to gay and lesbian activists from taking over your government." Would this not be extremely offensive? This ad is reminiscent of the old Nazi propoganda demonizing Jews. The demonzing of a group has to begin somewhere and always plays upon the fears of others. It is the mormons now. If we do not stand up and condemn such propaganda, who will be next?

*Here are a few pictures that I am adding to this particular post, dated 11-6-08. As we see in these photos, those who claim tolerance and acceptance are not very tolerant or accepting in return. Here they are targeting mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) due to many of the church members' support of proposition 8. Interesting to note that mormons only make up 2% of the population in California and they are an easy target or scapegoat. These crowds are acting on the general mistrust of the population regarding the faith of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These protests that gay and lesbian activists are having throughout California is truly bringing out their true colors. They are certainly changing public opinion through their actions, but I don't think they are changing that opinion in the way that they would like.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fundamentally Changing Society--The Prop 8 Debate

Same-sex marriage will fundamentally alter society whether you believe it or not. This is why it is such a charged issue in California's current political season, wherein we find the masses passionately supporting both "YES" and "NO" on California Proposition 8. Proposition 8 will officially define marriage in the state of California as being between a man and a woman. It is important that each individual consider the immediate issue as well as the ramifications of the issue, being well informed, before voting on this proposition. A "YES" vote will preserve marriage as it has always been and how it should always be--between a man and a woman. A "NO" vote will change marriage, open the door to further changes and will fundamentally and adversely change society. Ultimately, it comes down to what you personally believe marriage to be. You will obviously vote accordingly. But let us explore how society will be changed if same-sex marriage passes in California.

1. By redefining marriage we are bringing into conflict religious beliefs with religious practices. Those who promote same-sex marriage say that religion will not be affected. This is wrong. Apparently, they believe that religion is a sunday activity within the walls of a church and not a way of life. In essence, they are attempting to impose gay and lesbian rights on society while shoving religious rights into the closet. You may worship in private, but do not live your religion. And those who live their religion--they will be deemed discriminatory and will be sued for their opposition to the law. We will be forced to practice what we morally oppose or be fined, fired, incarcerated, or persecuted in other manners. Let me offer a few examples of how this will play out from actual cases that have already occurred:

a. Adoption services: Catholic Charities in Massachusetts refused to place children with same-sex couples as required by Massachusetts law. After a legislative struggle — during which the Senate president said he could not support a bill "condoning discrimination" — Catholic Charities pulled out of the adoption business in 2006.

b. Parochial schools: California Lutheran High School, a Protestant school in Wildomar, holds that homosexuality is a sin. After the school suspended two girls who were allegedly in a lesbian relationship, the girls' parents sued, saying the school was violating the state's civil rights act protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination. The case is before a state judge.

c. Medical services: A Christian gynecologist at North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, and he claimed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. (The doctor referred the patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment.) The woman sued under the state's civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May 2008, and legal experts believe that the woman's right to medical treatment will trump the doctor's religious beliefs. One justice suggested that the doctors take up a different line of business.

d. Psychological services: A mental health counselor at North Mississippi Health Services refused therapy for a woman who wanted help in improving her lesbian relationship. The counselor said doing so would violate her religious beliefs. The counselor was fired. In March 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sided with the employer, ruling that the employee's religious beliefs could not be accommodated without causing undue hardship to the company.

e. Adoption services: A same-sex couple in California applied to Adoption Profiles, an Internet service in Arizona that matches adoptive parents with newborns. The couple's application was denied based on the religious beliefs of the company's owners. The couple sued in federal district court in San Francisco. The two sides settled after the adoption company said it will no longer do business in California.

f. Wedding services: A same sex couple in Albuquerque asked a photographer, Elaine Huguenin, to shoot their commitment ceremony. The photographer declined, saying her Christian beliefs prevented her from sanctioning same-sex unions. The couple sued, and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found the photographer guilty of discrimination. It ordered her to pay the lesbian couple's legal fees ($6,600). The photographer is appealing.

All of these cases are truly unnecessary. These gay and lesbian individuals could have easily found an adoption agency that would allow adoptions by same-sex couples--instead, they sue and drive people of faith out of business. The parents of the lesbian girls obviously knew the rules and standards of a religious school, yet they sue when they break those rules (they could have easily enrolled their daughters in another school where it would not be an issue. Instead, they wish to impose their own beliefs over that of religious beliefs). The lesbian who wanted to receive in vitro fertilization was referred to a doctor who would be happy to perform the procedure, yet she chose to sue the doctor who made the referral because he would not compromise on his religious beliefs. And the list goes on and on. If we could trust people to be civil and understanding (dare I say TOLERANT) of people's religious beliefs, this would not be an issue. But because there are some within the gay and lesbian community that wish to impose their beliefs on others, same-sex marriage will take away the rights of individuals to live their lives according to their religious beliefs. You may view the article from which these cases are documented here.

2. Same-sex marriage will be taught in public schools. This has already happened in Massachusetts. The opposition to Prop 8 claim that what happened in Massachusetts will not happen in California. They are wrong. It is already happening as is exemplified with a school class taking a field-trip to a same-sex wedding. Also, with kindergarten classes being exposed to "Gay Appreciation." Another article on the matter may be read here. And you may wish to read through some of the California State Content Standards that require the teaching of families in 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade, which will undoubtedly lead to teaching same-sex marriage in public schools (you will have to download the document from this site--see my previous blog for the specific standards). The teaching of same-sex marriages will take away the rights of parents who oppose the teaching of their children concerning this practice.

3. The family is the most basic unit within society. By allowing same-sex marriages we are changing the very pillars of society. Marriage should be reserved for the promotion of the optimal or ideal family, which will offer children the best opportunity for success and happiness. Opponents of traditional marriage between a man and a woman use this article to support their position that children in same-sex families are not adversely affected. However, they fail to recognize this one key fact from the article--the comparison in the studies is to single mothers, not families with a mother and father. The article states: "Studies from 1981 to 1994, including 260 children reared by either heterosexual mothers or same-sex mothers after divorce, found no differences in intelligence, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, couple relationships, or parental stress." The optimal conditions for children is a family with a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage fundamentally changes that condition.

4. All those who oppose the practice of same-sex marriage will be demonized both in public schools and in society at large. They will be labeled bigots, intolerant, discriminatory, hate mongers, and plenty of other choice words. This will lead to further abuses within society. This will cause great confusion for children who are being taught religious principles by parents on the one hand and then are being taught in schools and by government (Diane Feinstein has already labeled us such) and society that their parents are ignorant, bigoted, Intolerant, and etc. Furthermore, the latest ads by opponents to Prop 8 presents the concept that those who support traditional marriage and the traditional family--father, mother, children--and who have not done anything ever in their lives to downtrodden gays and lesbians (truly tolerant people who simply disagree with some on how marriage should be defined), are the moral equivalent of racists and xenophobes. It exemplifies the fact that if you have a differing opinion on an issue, that opinion is not valid--you MUST think as they do or you are an intolerant bigot. Is this not the epitome of intolerance? It is quite hypocritical for opponents of Prop 8 to claim that they are for tolerance and fundamental rights when they are blatantly intolerant of digressing opinion and freedom of speech.

5. By redefining marriage to accept same-sex couples we are setting a dangerous precedent. The argument is that people love each other and we do not have the right to deny people of their love for one another. Supposedly, this is a fundamental right--if one loves someone, they should be allowed to marry that someone. As of now it will be same-sex couples. But what will happen a few years down the road when other groups with varying sexual preferences want their "fundamental right" of marriage? Do not those who practice or wish to practice polygamy have the same exact argument for marriage? They love. Is it their "fundamental right" to marry whom they choose? What about incestuous relationships? They love. Is it their "fundamental right" to marry whom they choose? What about people who practice bestiality? They love. Is it their "fundamental right" to marry what they choose? What about teenagers? They love. Is it their "fundamental right" to marry when they choose? And, of course, if we lower the age of marriages so as to not deny the fundamental rights of those who by nature are able to conceive, then what of more wicked and perverse groups such as NAMBLA. Will they not push for their "fundamental right" for dirty old men to marry young boys? Obviously, those who support same-sex marriage do not support polygamy, incest, bestiality, the lowering of the marriage age, or NAMBLA. But what they are doing by changing the definition of marriage is opening the door for all of these groups. The very logic which they are approaching the redefinition of marriage is the very logic that each of these groups will use in return. And those who claim at this time that it is discriminatory, immoral, unfair, and wrong to deny these supposed "fundamental rights" to same-sex couples, will be labeled the exact same thing when they in turn oppose these other groups. If we are considered to be prejudiced by opposing same-sex marriage, how would we not also be labeled as being prejudiced in opposing these other groups? If we are counseled to not be judgmental of others sexual preference, wouldn't that also mean that we should not be judgmental of all of these fringe groups? Can they not also make the argument that they are born that way, that they love, and that it is their "fundamental right" to be recognized by society as being nothing different than a mother and father in a marriage relationship? This is a slippery slope on which we stand. It would change the entire moral fabric and principle on which this nation was founded and will ultimately lead to the destruction of society as we know it.

6. Our ideals and values on sexuality will fundamentally change. Hollywood and various forms of media are already bombarding America with sexual messages, both heterosexual and homosexual. In my opinion, neither is appropriate for public consumption (I mean with easy access to children--one just has to flip on the television to be bombarded with sexual messages). Passing same-sex marriage emboldens this position. It will become wrong to make judgments concerning sexuality which will ultimately lead to the legalization of more perverse practices. This can easily be seen by looking at the Scandinavian countries where same-sex marriage has essentially been in existence for the past decade. The idea of being non-judgmental concerning sexuality has led to the legalization and popularity of such things as animal bordellos, as is evidenced by this article. and has led to an increase in divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, and etc. This repercussions of which are not limited to the individual, but have an effect on society as a whole.

7. Same-sex marriage will entirely alter the way Americans view sexuality. Advertisers for wedding rings, wedding dresses, wedding suits, or anything at all dealing with weddings will have to promote same-sex marriage through its advertising. Once more, people who believe in the sacredness of marriage as being between a man and a woman will have this ideology working its way into our homes and will cause a conflict of interest as families attempt to teach their children their own values while society is promoting a contradictory perspective.

8. Marriage will lose its sacredness and meaning. Whether you would like to admit it or not, marriage is a religious issue. It began as a religious ordinance and it is ordained of God. Same-sex marriage will entirely sever the original origin and purpose of marriage from what it will become. The way Americans view marriage will change and its traditional purposes of maintaining chastity, promoting procreation, providing an ideal environment for rearing children, and our pursuits of patterning our lives and families after that of our Heavenly Parents will be undermined. People will view it as nothing more than a profession of love, and realizing that they may profess that love without marriage, the institution of marriage will become an unnecessary ritual in the mindset of many.

9. Same-sex marriage will set the precedent of seeking redresses with government by attacking institutions rather than seeking to change government. Many gays and lesbians feel that the denial of same-sex marriage strips them of "fundamental rights." When pressed about these rights and confronted with the concept of domestic partnerships, they claim that domestic partnerships do not allow for recognition of citizenship with foreign lovers, federal tax reductions, and the likes. Hence, their rights are being denied. If they wish to have such rights they should take it up with the government which is preventing those rights, not by trying to redefine marriage. They are attacking the wrong institution.

10. By allowing same-sex marriage to stand in California, we are legitimizing the California Supreme Courts decision for activist judges to create laws that overrule state law (prop 22 passed in 2000, defining marriage in California to be recognized only between a man and a woman). This is a bad precedent. People may agree with the judges decision, but what about the future? What happens when elite judges begin creating other laws with which you do not agree? If we allow judges to create law now, we will be allowing them to create law in the future. We live in a democracy. I do not wish my democratic rights to be trumped by the tyrannical rule of elite judges who feel they (the few) feel what they know is best for the whole.

These are the reasons I feel we should vote "YES" on Proposition 8. You may disagree and that is your right. I believe in democracy and it is time for each of us to decide for ourselves and vote accordingly.

Click here to read a summary of the French Parliamentary Report on the Family and the Rights of Children