Don’t blame Mormons for undesirable election outcome

Since Election Day, disappointed voters have made public expressions of their displeasure with both their feet and their wallets.

Disgruntled Obama opponents? No, gay rights activists angered over the narrow passage of California’s Proposition 8, in which voters sought to overturn a state Supreme Court decision allowing marriage between two same-sex people.

Last weekend, gay rights activists met in cities around the country protesting the decision. I can understand this. If voters had just declared my parents’ marriage was invalid, I would be a little ticked off too.

But some want to go further, and “punish” those who supported the measure.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better know as the Mormon Church, has especially been singled out for complaints because of the mobilization of their members in California to contribute time and money to support the proposition.

According to a Nov. 7 Yahoo! News article, activists have been protesting the Mormon Church’s support outside of Mormon temples, and calling for a boycott on tourism in Utah.

“They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards,” said John Aravosis, a gay rights activist and blogger from Washington, D.C., in the Yahoo! News story. “You don’t do that and get away with it.”

Some are even calling on Hollywood directors and actors to boycott next year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is held in Park City, Utah.

I did a Google search on “boycott Mormons” and found sites calling for boycotts of Mormon-owned businesses, such as Marriott Hotels, and stripping the Mormon Church of their tax-exempt status, saying they gave up that right when they stuck their fingers into the political cookie dough.

Since the election, it seems that calling Barack Obama even a “socialist” is considered racist, but apparently, calling for the boycott of an organization just for participating in the democratic process is OK to some people.

I’m opposed to gay marriage for a number of religious and political reasons, personally, but I also think the issue is wildly overemphasized by conservatives, who would do better taking care of other problems in our society, such as the poor and the environment.

Not to mention some of the most compassionate and fun-to-hang-around-with people I’ve ever known were gay and some of the most arrogant and cliquish people I’ve ever known were Christians.

Still, if the voters can claim that they’ve had their say in the presidential election and want it inarguable, the will of the voters on Proposition 8 should be seen just as valid. I actually think it’s great that people are protesting Proposition 8, as long as it’s peaceful. Peaceful protests are part of our right under the Constitution.

Targeting specific people and groups who contributed time and money with boycotts, on the other hand, seems childish and – dare I say it – just a bit hateful.

In a Nov. 17 article on the Los Angeles Times Web site, Melissa Proctor of Harvard Divinity School said, “It’s disconcerting to Latter-day Saints that Mormonism is still the religious tradition that everybody loves to hate.”

This incident seems to be another in a long line of indications of just how much Mormons are still one of the most misjudged groups in society.

Two years ago, I was taking photos of a TCU-BYU game for the yearbook. I loved to get pictures at the games of the signs, but some of the anti-BYU signs were just so hateful.

I used to think the stereotypes about Mormons were true, too. Then, when I got into high school, I made friends with some Mormons.

Yes, they didn’t drink alcohol or caffeine. And most of them are at BYU, if they’re not about to leave on their yearlong mission. But otherwise, they were just the same as me, as much as anyone else is the same as me.

The Mormons I knew were some of the most devoted people to their faith I have ever known, and they were also some of the most compassionate.

Incidentally, I would not be very surprised if some of my young Mormon friends supported gay marriage.

I suppose that’s the point I’m trying to make here; that the Mormons, just like any other group, aren’t monolithic. We should be at a point as a nation this year of all years where we see each person for who they are as an individual and not lump them in with a group with our own predetermined notions.

Features editor Valerie Hannon is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Allen.