Friday, November 14, 2008

Letter to Tracy L. Hickman

Tracy L. Hickman has an opinion piece in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle, entitled “Tolerance deserved for all.” I know nothing about her other than the fact that she is a Mormon, lives in Redwood City, California, and might benefit from a vaccine against misuse of the passive voice.

Read it if you can find the time. It pretty much states the case the Mormons are making these days, as they wake up to this protest against them which they think came out of nowhere.

Such nice people, the Mormons. Always invited them into my house in Japan when they came to the door. Bright eyed earnest youngsters who wore name tags on their impeccable suits and ties identifying themselves, at all of their twenty-three years of age, as Elder Potter, Elder Smith, Elder Young...

For me, they have always defined the word naive. Well intentioned. Clueless.

And now rich. And increasingly politically involved.

Anyway, I wrote back to Ms. Hickman:


Dear Ms. Hickman:

Thank you for expressing your views on Prop. 8 in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle. It provides an opportunity for dialogue, and I hope you will take my response in that spirit.

Let me address your main points.

• “(P)eople like me have the right to support a definitional (sic) proposition that agrees with a core religious teaching.
You evidently buy into the argument that gays are trying to redefine marriage and the claim that they should not be allowed to, rather than extend marriage, a right the Supreme Court has determined they do have. In doing this, you turn a blind eye to the fact that marriage is redefined at regular intervals as society’s core values change.

When our society determined that women deserved the same rights as men, marriage stopped being the transfer of a young girl from her father’s household to her husband’s and began being a union of two lovers wishing to form a new family and commit to a lifelong relationship. When Mormons wanted to join the union, they redefined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. When we determined that slavery had to go (and with it the prohibition of marriage to slaves), marriage equality was extended to former slaves. When we came around to thinking that American citizens maybe ought to have the right to marry the person of their choice regardless of racial classification, marriage equality was extended to bi-racial couples. Anybody who thinks marriage should not be redefined because it is has thousands of years of tradition behind it is working from a false premise.
That said, Ms. Hickman, you do, of course, have the right to voice your support for the status quo ante of marriage between opposite sex couples only, if you wish. But this election was not a survey of preferences; it was a move to repeal the constitutional right of two adult Californians to marry each other regardless of sex. You chose to support that repeal, and that too is your right as an American. To assume that people would lie down and quietly accept that you and others could take those rights away with impunity, however, is naïve.
• people don’t like Mormons, much of the time without merit
The people most outspokenly anti-Mormon are the Catholics and Evangelicals whom you crawled into bed with to revise the California Constitution, people who, like you, would argue the right to base their opinions on their religious doctrines. Most of the rest of us think you are mighty fine people, as individuals.
And this suggests people are demonstrating against the Mormon Church out of prejudice, rather than out of outrage stemming from the millions of dollars spent at the urging of your church leaders to remove constitutional rights. Where is the evidence for this?
• there is the “perceived influence from Utah”
Perceived? The Mormon leaders who were a major force in making this happen were not citizens of Utah? All those phone banks for Yes on 8 were not in Utah?
• Mormons represent less than 2 percent of California’s population, so singling them out is unfair.
Do you really not understand that it is in overwhelmingly large part Mormon money that bought this campaign? Some reports put it at 77% of the total. The ads, pretty much everybody agrees, did the trick. The suggestion this was all about poisoning the minds of children, the lie by omission that said Obama was against same-sex marriage but failed to say he was also against Prop. 8, the false claims this was about taxing churches – over $20,000,000.00 of that paid for by Mormons!
• the Church itself gave no money to the campaign
The LDS Presidency gave the directive to donate "of your means and time." And the people followed their leaders.
• “We exercised the most sacred and individual rights in the United States for which many people have given their lives”
This was not a vote to issue bond money to build a bridge, or change zoning laws. It was a vote to remove the rights of California citizens the Supreme Court determined, after three months of careful deliberation, was in the Constitution. It was an attempt at an end-run around the judiciary, whose function it is to help protect the rights of minorities against mob rule. Those who gave their lives for American freedom died for all of us, not just some of you.
• it is wrong to take aim at our churches and our sacred places of worship because of those beliefs
When churches enter the political arena, they can hardly claim they are sacred places any longer. You can’t have it both ways.
Tolerance for all? Prop. 8 will go down in history as a model of intolerance. You stepped on people’s toes. Now you want them to show tolerance of your right to put your foot anywhere you choose without saying ouch?

Not going to happen.


Louieslove said...

Thank you for writing this, Alan. I was feeling pretty good this morning until I read Hickman's pathetic plea to "Stop picking on us!!"

You may be amused (but not surprised) to learn that, according to her Linkdin profile, Tracy L. Hickman is "Director of Marketin (sic) and PR."

Alan McCornick said...

She's a dog lover. Give her full points for that.