Things To Act
Saturday, July 24, 2004
 
Favorites
In all the recent discussion in the Bloggernacle, some have been making statements about the advisability (or lack thereof) of having 'favorite' General Authorities.  This immediately reminded me of something Arthur Henry King said about the scriptures:
"I was once asked to give a short talk on my favorite parable.  My reply was that I didn't think I had one and I doubted if I ought to have one and even if I did have one, I shouldn't talk about it because the important thing is not to dwell on our favorite things in the scriptures--that is self-indulgence--but to try to get other things in the scriptures to be as favorite as the favorite things we already have.  It is important that we concentrate on those parts of the scriptures that we don't much like ... we must never run into the danger of interpreting to ourselves particular verses that happen to speak to us and ignoring other verses which don't speak to us yet perhaps have a message that we ought to have ... Be mistrustful of what you like most, and listen carefully to what you have an impulse to reject."  --Arm the Children, 152-153.

The point, I think, is not that some doctrines should not sing to our souls more so than others.  The point is that we can profitably learn from examining why we find some doctrines (or verses, or GA speakers) to be so appealing, and why some are less so.  If the reasons point to a fault in us, we can then work to change it, and if not, we can at least understand why our perceptions are different from those around us.

In the case of GAs, reasons for different impressions could range from topics emphasized to speaking style to personal experiences with the person and so on.  Some GAs impress me more than others because of biography, because of particular teachings that resonated with me at particular times, etc.  Some people have speaking styles that I don't care for as much, which makes it harder for me to get as much out of their messages.  In some cases, the fault is probably mine, and in other cases it may simply be one of the unavoidable consequences of the fact that individuals will see different things differently.

In any event, I don't think it's a major problem to have a 'favorite' GA.  The problem would come if one stopped trying to learn from all of the Brethren, or if one failed to think about why that favoritism existed, and if it implied anything about whether other more important problems might exist in one's personal approach to receiving counsel.

 
Space Colonization II
I've been meaning to respond to the comments on this post below for a while now.

*Near-earth colonies can probably be considered 'part of Earth' for all intents and purposes.  And it is true that present technology seems unlikely to lead to easy travel to other solar systems anytime soon (though sci-fi fans are reluctant to rule it out, of course).  However, this line of thought seems to imply two possibilities:  A)  offplanet colonization attempts will never be self-sufficient, in which case why bother (except for the technological and scientific advancement, of course), or B) we'll work out how to build self-sustaining environments off Earth, in which case there's no reason not to send out an intergenerational colonization ship (the idea is popular enough in sci-fi that it seems certain that someone would want to try as the technology became available).  This leads us back to having some number of people outside the range of action when the Second Coming occurs, which seems weird to me (though several easy solutions exist).

*I would hesitate to assume that colonizing space is a 'trigger' for the Second Coming.  However, if it is, this doesn't imply that we should seek it any more than it implies that we should shy away.  After all, war in the Middle East is a 'trigger,' but we don't encourage that.

*I would also hesitate to assume that colonizing space is outside the bounds the Lord has set for us--at least without Him making it considerably clearer.  On the whole, space colonization seems to me to be A) morally neutral without further guidance, B) from a secular perspective, an enormously good thing, and C) from a theological perspective, a probably futile endeavor.  But as many other works (seeking world peace, an end of poverty, etc) are also ultimately futile though immensely important given what prophecies we have, perhaps this argument isn't as meaningful as I first thought.

 
Civil Unions Yet Again
First a few points:

*'Civil unions' is a broad term that can mean many different things.  It serves as a catchall term for legal relationships that range from nonsexual with relatively few benefits to relationships explicitly intended to be 'marriage-in-all-but-name' for same-sex couples.  The very question 'what does X think about civil unions?' thus is probably not a good yes/no question, as many people or institutions may have more complex views.  In addition, as state legislatures (or state courts) begin to consider the issues, they may come to a variety of conclusions--in favor of 'marriage lite,' in favor of changing certain legal rights associated with marriage in certain ways, in favor or a broad restructuring of family law, etc.  Any such changes might lead to a 'civil unions' provision, but what such a union might mean might vary considerably from state to state.  The degree to which such a provision seems to encourage versus being neutral with respect to immorality and/or undermining marriage might also vary considerably.

*Simply because we expect to see an official Church condemnation of civil union laws (however defined) is not sufficient evidence to assume that such a condemnation has been made [a lack of condemnation does not equal an approval either, of course].  Projecting our own assumptions onto the words of the prophets is not a good thing (though it is, to a degree, inevitable).  An example is the reaction to President Hinckley's war talk of last year--it would have been amusing, if it hadn't been painful to watch, to see various people (including one BYU religion professor) twist the Prophet's plain words to support their own narrow ideologies (to various ends).  In any event, since I have seen no official statement condemning civil unions (despite seeing several statements on the related-but-not-legally-identical issue of preserving the definition of marriage), I am tentatively assuming that the Church has no express position on that political question (at this time).

*My tentative take on civil unions is that some proposed forms would be unwise, and some proposed forms might be good.  I am aware that other members disagree with me in both directions.  If someone is wrong in a way that needs to be corrected, CHQ is quite capable of doing so without my help.  In the meantime, I think it wise to remember that members can hold a wide variety of political opinions on various issues, and that our doctrines can lead different faithful members to different answers to difficult questions.  I tend to be in favor of an expansive view of what odd beliefs are permissible--not because I think that odd beliefs are always good (by definition, the beliefs are odd to me; my odd beliefs are perfectly reasonable), but because A) it's difficult enough for people to join the Church without our erecting all kinds of unnecessary political and cultural barriers, and B) the GAs are quite capable of deciding how to bring us all along on the difficult issues of our day.  As we need further direction, or as less important political issues become more important, CHQ is perfectly capable of issuing clearer directions, emphasizing specific doctrines, and even establishing additional requirements for worthiness.

Finally, a reader sends this account from a state on the East Coast, which I found interesting enough to pass on:
I was interested to learn, in an informal conversation with our stake president after a Saturday stake conference session, that he had been asked by the Brethren (most probably the Area Presidency) to organize a political coalition ... with the express purpose of maintaining the traditional definition of marriage.  (It was subsequently organized and is chaired by the stake president's wife, who is also a former state legislator...).  I asked him what he thought about civil unions and he said he had no objections to the idea (this was contextually taken as a personal opinion).  The overriding concern he seemed to be expressing (on whose behalf I am uncertain) was that if the definition of marriage is "legally" altered, then all the laws and public policies referring to marriage are effectively being rewritten without careful forethought.  Civil unions, on the other hand, are a new legal construction, and the laws governing what rights will be granted to such unions would (presumably) have to be defined explicitly through current legislation and/or litigation, rather than being defined implicitly by already-existing legislation and precedent which had only married couples in mind when it was created.

This may not be exactly what he meant, but that's how it seemed to me.  I subsequently had the thought that maintenance of the traditional definition also allows the church to continue to use the word, while a societal redefinition of "marriage" would force the church to invent a new word to mean the same thing marriage used to mean.

What has been interesting to me is the extent to which this coalition, though it is not visibly organized as a church program, is referred to in church meetings, in counsel from the stake president on what to teach our families regarding the marriage debate, and in literature printed and distributed by the stake.  While nobody has explicitly given a statement of the church's position on civil unions, the implicit message seems to be that maintaining the definition of marriage is the key issue at present.  We were counseled to call our senators and tell them what we thought about the FMA, but were not explicitly counseled to support it.

It seems to me that allowing civil unions would lead to the same social effects as redefining marriage, but on a slower timescale as things filter through the courts, and with the legal terminology making it explicitly clear that such an arrangement is not exactly equivalent to marriage.  In the long run, I am not sure what good this does except to delay the inevitable (and allow the church to continue to use the usual words to teach the doctrine).  Maybe a delay is the best we can get?

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/24/2004 12:13:00 PM (0) comments
Thursday, July 22, 2004
 
Succession in the Twelve
It's been nearly 10 years since there's been a change in the Quorum of the Twelve.  In other words, the Quorum has been largely the same for my entire life, or at least the entire time in which I was conscious of such changes.  Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Bloggernacle people are asking questions and spreading rumors about the succession process.  I therefore figure that taking a closer look at the issue might help.

The Deseret News provides some helpful bios of current General Authorities which I'll be using as sources.  First PresidencyQuorum of the Twelve.  Presidents of the Seventy.  Presiding Bishopric.

The last time a vacancy in the Twelve was filled was following the death of President Hunter (on 3 March 1995).  Elder Eyring was "sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve April 1, 1995, and ordained an apostle April 6, 1995, at age 61."  Elder Eyring had previously held callings in the Presiding Bishopric, the First Quorum of the Seventy, and was serving as Commissioner of CES when called to the Twelve.

The previous vacancy had occurred with the death of President Benson (on 30 May 1994).  Elder Holland was "ordained an apostle June 23, 1994, at age 53; sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Oct. 1, 1994."  A press conference was held the day of the ordination, according to a subsequent Ensign report.  Elder Holland had previously held callings as a commissioner of education, in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and president of BYU.

The previous vacancy had occurred with the death of Elder Ashton (on 24 February 1994).  Elder Hales was "sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve April 2, 1994, and ordained an apostle April 7, 1994, at age 61."  He had previously served in the First Quorum of the Seventy and was Presiding Bishop at the time of his call to the Twelve.

The previous vacancy had occurred with the death of President Romney (on 20 May 1988).  Elder Scott was "sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve on Oct. 1, 1988, and ordained an apostle Oct. 6, 1988, at age 59."  He had previously served in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and as a President of the Seventy at the time of his call to the Twelve.

The previous vacancy had occurred (I believe) with the death of President Kimball (on 5 November 1985).  Elder Wirthlin, however, was not sustained until nearly a year later; "sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Oct. 4, 1986, and ordained an apostle Oct. 9, 1986, at age 69."  I believe this delay may have been because of health problems among some Church leaders, but am well before my period of conscious recollection.  Elder Wirthlin was serving as a President of the Seventy when he was called to the Twelve.

By now, a few patterns seem to be apparent.  A vacancy is usually filled by the next conference, though it can be filled before (as in Elder Holland's case).  With conference nearly three months off, it seems like it could go either way at this point.  While no hard-and-fast pattern emerges, service as a President of the Seventy or in the Presiding Bishopric seems a common theme, and being a former BYU president could mean something [Elders Oaks and Holland are BYU's only two living former presidents besides Elder Bateman].  Links to short bios of those serving in the P70 and PB are above (though Desnews doesn't seem to have updated them to take last Conference's sustainings and releasings into account, including releasing Elder Bateman from the SS general presidency, and replacing Elder Neuenschwander with Elder Groberg in the Presidents of the Seventy).

Also of possible bearing is the evident recent decision to have the Presidents of the Seventy meet with the Twelve in their weekly meeting (one report here).  When I first heard about this, I thought it might be a logical way to ensure continuity in the Quorum--if Presidents of the Seventy had already been working closely with the Twelve, they would be available to fill vacancies fairly seamlessly (and given how smoothly the Twelve have been working together in recent years, it seems smart to build mechanisms to keep the momentum in that direction).

Those who obsess about symbolic representation among GAs will doubtless be interested to note that of the current Presidents of the Seventy, four were born in Utah, one in Idaho, and two in Europe.  Of course, if we look beyond the current Presidents, several other international GAs are available to serve.  [Personally, I think the symbolic representation arguments are sort of silly, as the Church has only just begun to be established long enough in most countries to give rise to a pool of native Church leaders with lifelong experience.  I expect that over the next few decades, the trend of increasing internationalization of Church leadership will continue, but that it ultimately isn't that big a deal.]

In the end, of course, the new member of the Twelve will be picked by the Lord through the Prophet.  Any number of well qualified individuals seem prepared, and while we'll miss Elder Maxwell, getting to know a new member of the Twelve should be interesting.  The succession process will work smoothly, and the Church will continue to be led by inspiration.


- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/22/2004 07:15:00 PM (0) comments
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
 
The Politics of Losing
One of the silliest criticisms leveled against supporters of the FMA is that it was a 'waste of time' with so many other pressing issues on the national agenda.  Anyone seriously making that argument is likely either appallingly ignorant or deliberately deceitful.  It's not as if Congress is known for being a hallmark of efficiency, and it's certainly not as if every minute spent thinking about domestic policy is a minute that Senators won't be spending working on national security--reelection fundraisers or even normal business-as-usual pork are going to take up large amounts of available discretionary time.  In any event, Senators show up to vote and/or to make speeches for the C-SPAN cameras--they don't sit on the floor listening to debate, and don't expect their arguments to change the minds of their fellow Senators (changing minds is reserved for private conversations, in which wheeling and dealing can proceed without undermining everyone's reelection chances).  The argument that 'we can put this off 'til later' is not only deceptive, but plays on the side of those who are trying to force change through the courts.
 
The only reason for anyone to be squeamish about the leadership's decision to force a vote on the FMA, and to put the issue in the headlines, is because it draws public attention to the issue.  And politicians of both parties are notoriously uncomfortable with having their activities drawn to the attention of the public if said activities are out of step with public opinion (or even if said activities will be wildly unpopular with significant blocs no matter what actions are taken).
 
That said, public opinion does not appear to be in favor of the FMA in proportions high enough to let it pass.  This doesn't seem likely to change immediately either--even if pro-FMA forces managed to organize and vote as a bloc, it would likely just promote counter-organization by FMA foes.  The FMA appears unlikely to get out of Congress as long as the status quo is maintained.
 
The only change to the status quo likely to have much effect, then, would be further judicial overreaching.  If a federal court overturns DOMA or mandates SSM, the backlash might be enough to propel the FMA (or an alternative like the Hatch proposal) over the top.  A significant number of state courts taking similar action might be sufficient as well, but this seems less likely if MA alone couldn't change people's minds.
 
Paradoxically, the pro-SSM forces' best hope is to go slow, enjoy the fact that the courts have shifted the status quo to their favor, and let the issue simmer for a while before trying to expand into a few more states.  Defeating the attempt to amend the MA constitution to restore the old status quo would help their cause as well.
 
For the anti-SSM forces, a win in a few state amendment battles might help, but probably won't generate enough momentum by itself (unless marginal pro-SSM Senators consistently lose, and wavering Senators are concentrated disproportionately in amending states).  Ironically, a win in MA would undercut the rationale for the FMA.  On the other hand, a decisive lose of an anti-SSM amendment in any state might also undercut the rationale for FMA--at a minimum, it would give a lot of strength to the federalism arguments, if the courts uphold DOMA.
 
In any event, my current impression is that while the state-level battles may affect things at the margins, the actors to watch at this point are the courts. 


- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/20/2004 05:53:00 PM (0) comments
 
Civil Unions?
Does the Church have an official position on civil unions?  A few days ago I posted: 

I am not aware of any official LDS position on civil unions. Nate Oman provides anecdotal evidence that the Church might not mind civil unions, which is interesting if true. It seems to me that the Church's public positions can be interpreted two different ways, either as 'opposition to all legal recognition of sodomous relationships,' or as 'wanting to preserve the traditional definition of "marriage," without caring about civil unions much.' I'd be interested if anyone can provide a definitive statement in which the Church clarified its position between these two options.
A reader email since has alerted me that I may not have been perfectly clear on my question, which dealt with the Church's political advocacy, not its internal policies.  Should civil unions become legal, the Church would not ecclesiastically accept them any more than it accepts legal alcohol drinking, gambling, Sabbath-breaking, or abortion.  In other words, things that are perfectly legal under the laws of the land may still bring a member under Church discipline.
 
However, the Church takes different positions of political advocacy on various issues.  On a few key issues, the Church spends its political capital and advises members to vote certain ways (sometimes successfully, sometimes not).  Thus, members are asked to vote to curtail gambling whenever the issue is on the ballot, and have been asked to work for constitutional and statutory preservation of the present legal definition of marriage.
 
However, other issues with moral overtones are not addressed.  The Church has no detailed ideal public policy program that it asks its members to work for in every area of law.  Many members disagree on how far government regulation should go, and one can find scriptural justification for various positions.
 
As for why the Church doesn't issue detailed policy guidelines, I can only speculate.  Reasons might include that members wouldn't have enough faith to accept more detailed direction, that members should be anxiously engaged in working out obvious applications of doctrine to law without being commanded, that Church leaders have not received guidance from the Lord on various matters and thus we are left to our own wisdom, that no one answer is right or wrong for many areas of policy, or some combination of these and other reasons.  While the moral consequences of these reasons differ, as long as none is given, I am forced to assume that members acting in good faith can (and do) disagree about many public policy questions, from sin taxes to no-fault divorce, from the exact role the welfare state should play to the meaning of the Establishment Clause.
 
Now obviously, some policy questions should be obvious from Church doctrine, regardless of whether the Church spells it out or not.  But many others are ambiguous, though members may have strong (and divergent) opinions about what Church doctrine implies in a given situation.
 
Which brings us back to civil unions.  When I first heard of the concept, I couldn't see much difference between a 'union' and a 'marriage' if both implied identical rights.  The Baron of Deseret argues for this position.  However, the more I look at this subject, the more complex it seems.  For one thing, it seems only fair to tweak family law in some ways to make it fairer--I see no reason why any adult shouldn't be able to easily make decisions about who he wants to give medical, inheritance, or insurance rights to, whether or not it has anything to do with a romantic relationship.
 
In addition, looking at the few public statements Church leaders have made on the issue of Church political advocacy and SSM, I see mainly rhetoric about preserving the definition of marriage--not about barring any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.  This does surprise me somewhat, but I think it serious enough that I should refrain from reading my own preconceptions into statements of Church leaders.  Thus, I wonder about what the Church's position really is.  I also wonder about many things relating to the lack of full explanation on these issues (why does the Church pick policy fights it will almost certainly lose?  Why does the Church worry about moral problem X but not moral problem Y?  Etc.).  In any event, I can see how a member, after reading all recent official statements on SSM, could come away thinking that the Church's position on the legal availability of civil unions is neutral as long as 'marriage' still refers only to heterosexual unions.  If the Church actually actively opposes civil unions, I hope that it clarifies its position soon.


- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/20/2004 05:26:00 PM (0) comments
Monday, July 19, 2004
 
FMA Vote
Here is the roll call vote in the Senate.
 
Of Senators up for reelection, 11 voted yes and 15 voted no.
Of Senators retiring, 3 voted yes and 5 voted no.
This means that possible turnover this November could include 14 yes votes and/or 20 no votes.
 
If the FMA were a decisive voting issue one way or the other, this could flip the vote to 34-66 (if all the yesses were replaced by Senators opposed) or to 68-32 (if all the nos were replaced by Senators in favor).  This is nonsense, of course, as many of these Senators are safe for reelection.  In addition, nothing stops a Senator from changing his vote later (and with elections every six years, it's surprisingly easy to get away with tacking back and forth on some issues).
 
The real hope of those who wish to sway the issue one way or the other lies in getting momentum.  If, for instance, pro-FMA forces are able to knock off two or three Senators in the fall, it might persuade some others (particularly who might be up for reelection in 2006) to switch (and vice versa if strongly pro-FMA Senators get knocked off in close contests).
 
Even so, pro-FMA forces would have a long climb to get to the 67 votes they need.
 
According to a Volokh poster, three Republicans voting yes on cloture (to close debate, 60 votes needed) would vote no on final passage (to amend, 67 votes needed).
 
The partisan split in the cloture vote was 45 R for, 6 R against; 3 D for, 44 D against, two D running for President and not bothering to vote.
 
Incumbents who will have to defend their votes include the following (though I suspect it will make a difference in only a few of these, perhaps including OR, NV, ND, SD, AR, or IN):
 
Alaska: Sen. Murkowski (R), voted yes.
Hawaii: Sen. Inouye (D), voted no.
California: Sen. Boxer (D), voted no.
Oregon: Sen. Wyden (D), voted no.
Washington: Sen. Murray (D), voted no.
Nevada: Sen. Reid (D), voted no.
Arizona: Sen. McCain (R), voted no.
Utah: Sen. Bennett (R), voted yes.
Idaho: Sen. Crapo (R), voted yes.
North Dakota: Sen. Dorgan (D), voted no.
South Dakota: Sen. Daschle (D), voted no.
Kansas: Sen. Brownback (R), voted yes.
Arkansas: Sen. Lincoln (D), voted no.
Alabama: Sen. Shelby (R), voted yes.
Missouri: Sen. Bond (R), voted yes.
Iowa: Sen. Grassley (R), voted yes.
Wisconsin: Sen. Feingold (D), voted no.
Indiana: Sen. Bayh (D), voted no.
Kentucky: Sen. Bunning (R), voted yes.
Ohio: Sen. Voinovich (R), voted yes.
Maryland: Sen. Mikulski (D), voted no.
Pennsylvania: Sen. Specter (R), voted yes.*
New York:  Sen. Schumer (D), voted no. 
Vermont:  Sen. Leahy (D), voted no. 
Connecticut:  Sen. Dodd (D), voted no.
New Hampshire: Sen. Gregg (R), voted yes.* 
 
*s may vote no on final passage.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/19/2004 09:55:00 PM (0) comments
Monday, July 12, 2004
 
Sen. Bennett update
The SLTrib reports that Bennett is now in favor of the FMA. No real indications as to whether the switch was before or after the LDS announcement:
Although opposed to gay marriage, Hatch and fellow Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett did not rush to embrace President Bush's call in February for a constitutional amendment. Hatch said he wanted to develop alternative language to give states the right to decide what marriages they would recognize, and Bennett wanted to investigate legislative alternatives.
As Republican leaders pushed to make gay marriage a marquee issue before the Democratic National Convention in Boston this month, Hatch shelved his alternative language and Bennett has joined fellow members of Senate GOP leadership in coming out firmly in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The other question the article raises is why the 'Republican opposed' quote is always from former Rep. Barr in this type of article. One would think that if significant Republican federalist opposition to the FMA exists, either current Republican members or at least different former Republican members of Congress might be found to give quotes.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/12/2004 07:38:00 AM (0) comments
Sunday, July 11, 2004
 
Notes on the FMA
The House Version, with Rep. Musgrave (R-CO) as the most prominent sponsor, is being held pending Senate action, though indications point to forcing a roll-call vote at some point before the election. The resolution has 126 cosponsors (290 votes are needed to meet the 2/3 threshold). Of Utah's representatives, only Rep. Cannon (R, UT-3) is listed as cosponsoring. Neither Matheson (D, UT-2) nor Bishop (R, UT-1) seems to have anything about the FMA, one way or the other, on either his official or his campaign website. However, I believe Matheson has said he would vote in favor (he evidently drew a protest at the state party convention over the issue). The complete list of cosponsors is available by clicking on the link above.

The House version, however, is unlikely to persist in its current form, as it has the since-amended state law provision:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article --

`SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.'.

The Senate version, as most recently introduced, carries neither bolded provision above [incidentally, SJR 40 seems to have superseded SJR 30]:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

`Article--

`SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

`This Article may be cited as the `Federal Marriage Amendment'.

`SECTION 2. MARRIAGE AMENDMENT.

`Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.'.
The other change, removing the recent traditional seven-year expiration date, is interesting. The most prominent recent unsuccessful Constitutional amendment, the ERA, failed to be ratified in seven years, and then failed ratification in an unprecedented three-year extension of the deadline. On the other hand, the most recent successful amendment, the XXVIIth, was originally proposed with the Bill of Rights, and languished without enough states' ratifications for 200 years before the magic 3/4 was reached.

An interesting twist that could come up is the question of whether a state can 'unratify' an amendment. A couple of states tried to rescind their ratifications of ERA, though the constitutionality of this move was never tested. Some legal scholars argue that such a move is impermissible, and that once a state has ratified, it cannot rescind. However, my suspicion is that at least some who argued for this position were strongly in favor of the ERA, and likely strongly oppose the FMA; it would be interesting to see if any change their minds if the FMA escapes Congress. Nevertheless, if we take the precedent of the 27th amendment establishing an unlimited ratification period, and the concept of once-ratified, no rescinding, the stage could be set for the FMA to be a perpetual issue in American politics, unless and until ratification is reached. Whether or not this is a good thing is open to debate.

The possibility that the sponsors of the FMA want an unlimited ratification period would answer one question I was wondering about, which involves the method of ratification. Under the Constitution, two methods of ratification exist--3/4 of state legislatures ratifying under a simple majority vote, and 3/4 of the states ratifying in special ratifying conventions called for the purpose [this latter method is less familiar, and has only been used once, with the XXIth Amendment's repeal of Prohibition]. Given that public opinion tends to slightly favor the amendment, and given the ease of blocking legislation in state legislatures, I was wondering why the sponsors chose not to seek the ratifying convention route, as special ratifying conventions called for one purpose only would presumably mirror state opinion better than legislatures. The fact that legislatures are repeat players in the process (even legislatures that meet every other year would have three chances to ratify the amendment in the standard seven-year time period) could explain the decision. Proponents may prefer a more drawn-out fight for whatever reason, be it fear of a quick decisive loss or a desire to keep the issue alive through several election cycles.

Moving on to the content of the FMA: The first statement would codify the definition of marriage to be only "the union of a man and a woman" in any jurisdiction in the U.S. The second statement would prevent judicial imposition of SSM or civil unions relying on either state or the federal constitution (and since state constitutions tend to contain broad clauses about equal protection, etc, the potential for mischief by activist judges is genuine). The second statement does appear to bar civil unions in any state constitution, but should not bar statutory enactment of such (as the earlier version of the FMA could be construed to do). If an activist judiciary tried to impose civil unions by statute, however, it would be comparatively simple for the Legislature (or a citizens' initiative) to amend and clarify the statute in question.

The second sentence, which intends to restore democratic majoritarianism to process of deciding in which direction family law ought to evolve in response to increasing societal tolerance of same-sex relations, seems less controversial than the first, which would codify a single definition of marriage into the Constitution. Senator Hatch proposed an amendment focusing on the concepts in the second sentence--restraining activist judges--but social conservative groups (and the now the Church) favored establishing a national definition.

I am aware of several broad lines of argument against the first sentence.

*"A national definition violates federalism." The FMA would prevent the states that want to from experimenting with SSM. This is the most serious argument against the FMA, in my opinion. While it's true that those in favor of SSM largely also seek to create a national definition (imposed by the courts), one could make a principled argument that as long as DOMA is upheld, states should be free to experiment if they want. I don't know that a nation half SSM and half not is quite as serious as a nation half free and half slave, but the Church seems to think it's a bad thing regardless. I don't know that I'm terribly impressed by some Republican hedging on this issue though--my inclination is that they should bite the bullet and argue more directly that it's a justifiable expansion of national power, rather than trying to paint themselves as pure federalists (and it's not as if the national media that accuses them of hypocritical federalism is itself a model of ideological purity, even on this issue, in which liberal born-again federalists are popping up left and lefter).

*"A national definition in the Constitution is bad because the people might change their minds later." This argument lacks moral seriousness when put forward by people trying to impose a definition undemocratically via judicial fiat. If the broad national consensus did change, either the legal structure would find a way to cope or another amendment would be passed. It's not as if people lie awake at night distressed over the fact that we have the 18th and 21st amendments cluttering up the beauty of an otherwise pristine Constitution.

*"A national definition is less likely to pass." Pragmatic, for those who care for such things. I personally thought a laissez-faire federalist amendment had a better shot, but what do I know? In any event, if the Church is in favor of a federal definition, then the chances of passage are less relevant than making a good try.

*"A national definition writes discrimination into the Constitution." This argument is quite silly on several levels. It is literally true--discrimination, in the technical sense, involves making distinctions, and the FMA does create legal distinctions between permissible types of marriage and impermissible types. However, every amendment to the Constitution, along with the original text itself, is technically discriminatory (whether against third-term presidents, untrustworthy Congressmen, or even the American people themselves). People who make this argument take for granted that the structure of marriage law as currently enacted is discriminatory in a bad way, as it not only discriminates against minors who want to marry or incestuous couples, but it also prevents same-sex marriages. However, very few of those making the argument that marriage as it currently exists discriminates badly are attempting to challenge current marriage statutes in the various state legislatures. Their use of nondemocratic judicial forums to force change is both cynical and somewhat effective, though it still may backfire spectacularly. A corollary to this argument is that 'past amendments have always expanded rights.' This argument is both untrue (stripping standing to protect state governments and blocking voters from voting for popular presidents unquestionably limit rights) and absurd, if carried to logical extremes. However one defines rights, one cannot endlessly expand rights without the framework of government breaking down--freedom to do anything is anarchy. Expanding rights is important, but only if rights need to be expanded, and contracting rights can be equally important (the proposed balanced budget amendment, for instance, would limit the rights of the American people to mortgage their (and their children's) future). In any event, expansion or contraction of rights should be argued on the merits, not with reference to some mystical notion of the primacy of expanding rights.

*"The proposed national definition would exclude polygamy, which is hypocritical for LDS." Surprisingly, this line of argument has popped up in a few places in the Bloggernacle recently. I'm not convinced. On the first point, the FMA defines a marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but this is not necessarily incompatible with polygamy. My polygamous multiple-great grandfather did not have a marriage with two wives, he had two marriages, each of which was the union of one man and one woman. Under the FMA, state laws could continue to bar multiple simultaneous marriages or not. In any event, the Church is extremely unlikely to return to the practice of polygamy anytime soon--arguing that the Church ought to be paving the way for its legal return seems rather silly. The current legal structure is incompatible with polygamy in any event--the FMA does little to change that political reality, as it exists as a cultural sentiment independent of laws or amendments.

*"But it's hypocritical for LDS to punish others for practicing alternative forms of marriage." This is the follow-up corollary, whether delivered in anger or pious self-righteousness to try to score political points. Nevertheless, numerous differences exist between the 19th-century polygamy persecutions and the 21st-century SSM arguments, including but not limited to scriptural justification for polygamy, geographic isolation (and practical independence) of polygamous communities, ex post facto criminalization of polygamy, punishment of belief versus punishment of action, expected societal acceptance, etc. Federal persecution of polygamous families who had already been driven out of the U.S. and largely wanted to be left alone is hardly the same as resisting an active movement to force U.S. communities to extend special legal privileges to same-sex couples. At the end of the day, the polygamous LDS families largely wanted to be left alone to practice their religion, while same-sex couples today are trying to force society to accept their beliefs, independent of legal rights (which can be granted by civil unions, if actually needed to ensure fairness).

*"The FMA is playing politics with the Constitution." While some in both camps are probably motivated by electoral gain, the general cry of "unfair wedge issue" strikes me as silly. Activists playing politics with the judiciary is just as serious, if not more so, and now that the issue is on the agenda, politicians shouldn't complain that they might be forced to take a position and vote on it. If opponents really think the FMA is deeply misguided on the merits, then they either A) don't trust the American public to notice this fact, or B) should be salivating at the prospect of electoral gains in the wake of the inevitable pro-FMA implosion.


In any event, my initial reluctance about the FMA stemmed largely from the federalist and pragmatic rationales--while I agreed that some action seemed to be necessary to prevent judicial usurpation of the democratic process, I wasn't sure it was wise to pursue a federal marriage definition, especially given pragmatic concerns. However, as the Church evidently does believe it necessary to pursue a federal definition, the FMA seems as good an option as any (particularly given that the failure of the FMA would likely be a death knell for any pro-marriage amendment).

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/11/2004 02:30:00 PM (0) comments
 
The Politics of the State-Level Amendment Drives
All eyes are on Missouri, which votes first (in about three weeks). Both sides want momentum going into the November elections. If those in favor of an amendment can point to a Missouri victory, it might help swing comparatively liberal states (such as Oregon), as well as dividing the resources of those opposed. Those opposed, meanwhile, would take an MO win as a sign that there may be hope in the Deep South or Utah (in addition, it seems unlikely that 'no' campaigns in those states could attract much cash after a MO defeat).

I could find one website run by a group actively campaigning for the amendment: Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri.

A fair question to ask is what effect, if any, amending state constitutions will have. Several possibilities include:
*Widespread failure of anti-SSM ballot propositions would likely hasten the day that more states recognize SSM.
*Successful amendments might keep SSM out of those states, if the DOMA is upheld as constitutional when it reaches the Supreme Court. Under this scenario, MA either does or does not enact a similar amendment in 2006. Regardless, it seems likely that at least one state would eventually legalize SSM (whether by election, legislation, or judicial fiat), and the country would go forth for a time with some states allowing SSM and some not. If public opinion trends increasingly favor SSM, more states might follow if no immediate negative consequences are evident (other than the wrath of conservatives). A watershed moment under this scenario might be the first state to repeal its anti-SSM amendment.
*On the other hand, the DOMA may be struck down. In that case, SSM would be legalized in every state (via MA), regardless of state-level amendments (unless MA banned it again, but some other state might legalize it again, and off we would go...). Striking down DOMA, as it would likely be a close vote, could lead to further Supreme Court political warfare (especially over nominations), or it could lead to increased pressure for some sort of federal amendment. However, my guess would be that if DOMA is struck down, the movement to eliminate SSM would lose momentum and, at most, fade to the sort of issue position that abortion plays in American politics today--lots of people are angry, but nothing they do makes much difference, and swing voters and the political class lack the will to make the changes they want.
*Regardless, civil unions are now widely seen as a compromise option, and it seems likely that civil unions will become widespread in at least some of the more liberal states (besides Vermont) under any scenario (except nationwide SSM, which would obviate the need). How this would play out in family law, particularly in family law disputes between states, seems a question of staggering complexity.
*Successful state-level amendment campaigns could send a signal to the political class, particularly if large numbers of people make it a voting issue in candidate races. This could increase support for the FMA, if Senators (or Senatorial candidates) feel increased pressure to support the FMA. In addition, if the FMA ever clears Congress, it would need to be ratified in 3/4 of the states to take effect. State electorates that have voted in favor of such amendments might have an easier time ratifying than those that haven't, as state legislatures might be more reluctant to go against the referendum results (or, if Congress submitted the FMA to ratifying conventions instead of legislatures, passage would seem even more likely).

In any event, the net effect is debatable, and depends on how things play out in other venues. Meanwhile, the Church's public statement in favor of the idea of amending state constitutions to preserve marriage still leaves some questions open. The Church could conceivably pick from among several different options.

Some of these options are unlikely. It seems unlikely that the Church will formally endorse the FMA, and even more unlikely that the Church would officially support or oppose any Senators for reelection, regardless of votes on the FMA (though what members unofficially do is an open question). I base this conclusion on the Church's avoidance of candidate races, and on the observation that, since the FMA vote is this week, a forthcoming endorsement in addition to the non-endorsing statement seems unlikely.

However, at the state level, the options are more flexible. The Church has involved itself officially in supporting similar ballot propositions before, in HI, AK, CA, and NV. In my understanding, the Church donated money to campaign coalitions, encouraged its members to work for the passage of the propositions, and was in general publicly officially in favor of each amendment.

With ~11 states voting on state-level amendments, the Church could take any or all of these actions again. It could formally endorse various state-level amendments (though observers would read volumes into its choices if it endorsed some and not others). The Church could donate money and/or encourage members to donate manpower and/or money (though official donations in multiple states might stretch the budget more than one-time commitments in previous years). Or the Church could take no official action from this point, leaving it to members to decide what actions are appropriate in light of the official statement of last week.

All of these actions carry possible interesting consequences. Some members feel uncomfortable with this sort of political advocacy (at least, anecdotal evidence I've heard from members in CA in 2000 seems to indicate such), and many members may have split opinions on the merits of the various state-level amendments (such as those that ban civil unions in addition to SSM). In addition, a public relations backlash from a press that largely favors SSM and doesn't care for the Church seems certain. Furthermore, any more of an endorsement in Utah, at least, seems certain to bring more cries of church-state interference with possible polarizing LDS/non-LDS consequences in Utah. And support public support elsewhere would likely be seen as equivalent to public support in Utah, even if the Church doesn't donate a dime to the efforts in Utah.

In any event, it will be interesting to observe what choices the Church makes, as well as how the issue plays out nationwide.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/11/2004 01:46:00 PM (0) comments
Saturday, July 10, 2004
 
Does the FMA bar civil unions?
The SLTrib seems to think so, unjustifiably, in my opinion.
But S.J.R. 30 continues: "Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
This language is problematic, because it may eliminate the opportunity for states to provide same-sex couples, perhaps through civil unions, some of the "legal incidents" -- read "benefits" -- now associated only with marriage. For example, the right to make health-care decisions for an ailing partner.
This simply doesn't follow, in my understanding. The FMA was specifically amended to allow for the possibility of state-level civil unions after complaints that previous wording (which included references to state law as well as state constitutions) might bar them, given the right kind of activist judge. At most, the current version might bar civil unions in state constitutions, but wouldn't prevent them in state statutes (FMA sponsors had wanted to prevent judicial imposition of civil unions with the former language referring to state law, but agreed to drop the matter to simplify the issue). The Trib seems to be either in error or deliberately deceptive (it makes me wonder how many opponents of the FMA aren't going to let the fact that the FMA was amended to specifically allow civil unions stop them from claiming that it would bar them). In any event, the subject has been discussed extensively on Volokh, though the discussions are a few months old at this point.

It is worth noting, however, that the proposed Utah state-level amendment would indeed bar civil unions in Utah (though state constitutions are always subject to being overridden by federal law). This is interesting, particularly given that I am not aware of any official LDS position on civil unions. Nate Oman provides anecdotal evidence that the Church might not mind civil unions, which is interesting if true. It seems to me that the Church's public positions can be interpreted two different ways, either as 'opposition to all legal recognition of sodomous relationships,' or as 'wanting to preserve the traditional definition of "marriage," without caring about civil unions much.' I'd be interested if anyone can provide a definitive statement in which the Church clarified its position between these two options.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/10/2004 10:19:00 PM (0) comments
 
FMA in the Senate
Vote Count

Another Vote Count

To my knowledge, there are presently five LDS senators. Three currently support the FMA (Hatch, UT; Smith, OR; Crapo, ID), one is undecided (Bennett, R-UT), and one is opposed (Reid, NV). Note, however, that the Church did not specifically endorse the FMA, though I imagine many LDS voters wouldn't be impressed with a no vote. Also note that Reid isn't terribly popular among his LDS constituents anyway.

The FMA is highly unlikely to pass this year. Supporters must hope to either elect more Senators who support it, or convince opposed Senators to change their minds. Either seems to require the immediate goal of defeating some anti-FMA Senators. Opponents, meanwhile, might be able to kill momentum by defeating vulnerable pro-FMA Senators this fall. On the ballot:

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski (R), listed as undecided, has to survive a primary challenge (including a pro-FMA candidate) as well as a competitive general election. Alaska already enacted a state-level amendment by referendum.

Hawaii: Sen. Inouye (D), listed as undecided, is considered safe--but is running in one of the four states to enact amendments by referendum already.

California: Sen. Boxer (D), listed as opposed, is likely safe, despite California's 2000 state-level anti-SSM initiative.

Oregon: Sen. Wyden (D), listed as opposed, is favored for reelection, but Oregon is likely to be voting on a state-level amendment in November, which could influence things.

Washington: Sen. Murray (D), listed as opposed, may end up in a fairly competitive race for, among other things, praising bin Laden in 2002.

Nevada: Sen. Reid (D), listed as opposed, is up for reelection, though he hasn't attracted a strong challenger yet, evidently. However, he's been winning by thin margins in his last elections, and may end up vulnerable. Nevada passed a state-level amendment in two consecutive referenda in 2000 and 2002.

Arizona: Sen. McCain (R), listed as undecided, is likely to win reelection easily, though there is perpetually talk of a primary challenge from disgruntled conservatives. Seems unlikely this year, though.

Utah: Sen. Bennett (R), listed as undecided. Would Utah Republicans turn on him if he voted no? Could they stomach voting for his Democratic opponent?

Idaho: Sen. Crapo (R), listed as in favor, is easily favored for reelection in Red Idaho.

North Dakota: Sen. Dorgan (D), listed as undecided, may not face strong opposition in the fall, but faces a Red state regardless. In addition, ND may vote on a state-level amendment in November.

South Dakota: Sen. Daschle (D), listed as opposed, is running in what may be the most exciting race of the year, as his opponent, who lost by a razor-thin margin in 2002, now has President Bush at the top of the ticket in Red SD.

Kansas: Sen. Brownback (R), listed as in favor, is safe in Red Kansas.

Arkansas: Sen. Lincoln (D), listed as opposed, is running in another Red state. Arkansas also may be voting on a state-level amendment in November.

Alabama: Sen. Shelby (R), listed as in favor, is safe.

Missouri: Sen. Bond (R), listed as in favor, is up for reelection in the perpetual bellwether state. MO votes on a state-level amendment in August, not November.

Iowa: Sen. Grassley (R), listed as in favor, is favored for reelection.

Wisconsin: Sen. Feingold (D), listed as opposed, is up for reelection.

Indiana: Sen. Bayh (D), listed as undecided, is up for reelection in another Red state.

Kentucky: Sen. Bunning (R), listed as in favor, faces reelection as Kentucky votes on a state-level amendment.

Ohio: Sen. Voinovich (R), listed as undecided, is favored for reelection, but Ohio is a battleground state at the presidential level, and Ohio's signature drive may yet put a state-level amendment on its ballot.

Maryland: Sen. Mikulski (D), listed as undecided, is favored for reelection in Blue MD.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Specter (R), listed as opposed, barely fought off a conservative challenge and may face revolt from PA conservatives, who may decide to throw the election to the Dems to keep Specter from chairing the Judiciary Committee in 2005.

New York, Vermont, Connecticut: Sens. Schumer, Leahy, and Dodd (D all), all listed as opposed, are all easily favored for reelection in their Blue state havens.

New Hampshire: Sen. Gregg (R), listed as undecided, is considered safe, but faces a libertarian-leaning state that's also a presidential battleground.

By my count, up for reelection are six Senators in favor, nine undecided, and eleven opposed. Meanwhile, eight Senators are retiring, leaving open-seat races. These are:
Colorado: Sen. Campbell (R), listed as undecided.
Oklahoma: Sen. Nickles (R), listed as in favor.
Louisiana: Sen. Breaux (D), listed as opposed.
Illinois: Sen. Fitzgerald (R), listed as in favor.
Florida: Sen. Graham (D), listed as opposed.
Georgia: Sen. Miller (D), listed as in favor.
South Carolina: Sen. Hollings (D), listed as opposed in one source, and undecided in another.
North Carolina: Sen. Edwards (D), listed as opposed.

This leaves three in favor, one/two undecided, and three/four opposed retiring. GA and OK will vote on state-level amendments in November, and LA will in September.

I have no idea of the positions of the challengers in most of these races, so it's worth keeping in mind that a change of Senator is not necessarily a change of vote.

If you feel like trying to make a difference, contact your state's Senators. It also wouldn't hurt to research the position of any challengers. And, of course, giving even token sums to candidates you support speaks volumes louder than a simple email.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/10/2004 08:14:00 PM (0) comments
 
Credibility
Human beings are hopelessly dependent on others to filter information for us. Various sources--mainstream media, informal media, word-of-mouth/gossip, etc, endlessly filter information and try to put it in context. We can't research everything ourselves, and inevitably must depend on the work of others. However, all sources of information are not created equally--some are far more reliable than others. How to decide which sources are worth trusting? One easy way is to see how effectively the source handles something on which you already know a fair amount. For instance, look up "Mormon" in the index of a book/encyclopedia that mentions the Church and see what it says--chances are, the factual accuracy and editorial slant on the material presented will give you some idea of how reliable the work as a whole is. Alternatively, for mainstream media, see how accurate the source is when it addresses something you already know about. I've always been amused at the following Heinlein quote:
TIME magazine probably publishes many facts ... but since its founding in the early 1920's I have been on the spot eight or nine times when something that wound up as a news story in TIME happened. Not once--not once--did the TIME magazine story match what I saw and heard.
In any event, Thursday's Daily Disappointment provides two classic examples. The first:
However, Amy Naccarato, state elections officer said the group failed to get at least 10 percent of signatures from voters in 26 of 29 counties, only making the cut in 24 counties.
The Utah initiative county-signature requirement was actually struck down two years ago as an unconstitutional violation of the one-man, one-vote rule. The law, as amended in 2003, actually calls for 10% in 26/29 state Senate districts, which other Utah media sources managed to get right with minimal difficulty. Now, the DU reporter claims to be paraphrasing a state elections official, who might herself be confused--but that seems far less likely, and doesn't excuse the reporter from doing basic fact-checking.

The second example:
The bill, Resolution 30, sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., and Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo, supports amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Legislation/resolutions receive different numbers in the Senate and the House, which, after all, operate independently. In the House, the Musgrave amendment is H.J.RES.56. In the Senate, the FMA is introduced as S.J.RES.30.

In any event, it was immediately obvious to me, in reading these stories, that the reporter couldn't get basic details correct, at least in a subject I know something about. This does not give me cause to trust any of the reporting on subjects about which I am comparatively ignorant.

UPDATE: THOMAS URLs fixed, updated.

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/10/2004 02:46:00 PM (0) comments
Thursday, July 08, 2004
 
Marriage Amendments
By now, it is of course old (nearly 24 hours) news that the Church issued a statement on marriage amendments:
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement today. This is a statement of principle in anticipation of the expected debate over same-gender marriage. It is not an endorsement of any specific amendment.
"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."
SLTrib
Desnews

Two things struck me immediately about the announcement. One is the low emphasis on the Church's website, and the other is the statement's ambiguity concerning federal versus state amendments. News accounts indicate that the Church spokesperson evidently did clarify that the statement is intended to apply to state-level amendments as well.

The Utah Legislature has referred an anti-SSM constitutional amendment to the fall ballot. The amendment, though its 60% initial support was a bit low for where a 'yes' ballot proposition campaign wants to be at this point, still looked quite likely to pass before this announcement. With the announcement, it seems close to certain, barring miracles from the 'no' campaign. The 'no' campaign's only real hope at this point is to try to play up the issue of whether the Utah amendment goes to far--ie, the issues about completely banning any civil recognition, or ending common law marriages, and so on. However, such tactics depend not only on the hope that enough LDS voters will carefully parse First Presidency messages for implications and shades of meaning, but will also be opposed to banning common-law marriages or civil unions.

Utah, however, is not the only state in which this is a ballot issue. Seven state legislatures to date have referred amendments to the ballot, and four state initiative petition drives appear to have qualified for the ballot as well (with two more initiative states with later deadlines not out of the picture either).

Issues to watch (both of general and LDS interest) include arguments for possible effects on other elections, including the Presidential election (if such ballot issues affect turnout on either the yes or no side), the question of the whether the early-voting states will influence, and to what degree, the later-voting states, the degree of support the Church lends to such efforts and where, and potential public relations effects, if any, on the Church's decisions. For fun, we'll look at 2000 election numbers and the approximate number of LDS stakes in the state (as a back-of-the-envelope rough guess of LDS strength on the ground).

Voting first will be Missouri, thanks to a state supreme court ruling that the Legislature's careful attempts to make the letter of state law force the issue to the November ballot could be overruled by the Democratic governor's desire to vote earlier (he, at least, evidently believed the higher conservative turnout theory). So Missouri will vote on the legislature-referred state consitutional anti-SSM amendment on 3 August 2004. Missouri is considered a bellweather swing state. In 2000 it went 50-47-2 for Bush (~2.3m voters). Missouri evidently has about 13 LDS stakes.

Voting next (on a legislature-referred amendment) will be Louisiania, on 18 September 2004. LA went 53-45-1 for Bush (~1.8m voters), but is considered competitive by some (though if Bush loses there, he's likely in enough trouble everywhere that it won't matter). LA evidently has about 7 LDS stakes.

Other legislative-referred states voting on the issue in the general election in November include GA, MS, KY, OK, and UT. None are presidential swing states.

GA: 55-43-1 for Bush (~2.5m voters). About 14 LDS stakes.

MS: 58-41-1 for Bush (~1m voters). About 4 LDS stakes.

KY: 57-41-2 for Bush (~1.5m voters). About 5 LDS stakes.

OK: 60-38 for Bush (~1.2m voters). About 7 LDS stakes.

UT: 67-26-5 for Bush (~700K voters). Lots and lots of LDS stakes.

Assuming all of the initiative states that have submitted signatures qualify (not necesarily a good assumption, given the determination of opponents to use legal challenges to try to keep it off the ballot, and given the high bar some states set--look at the failure of the UT open spaces initiative), the issue would go on the ballot in AR, MI, MT, and OR, of which all but Montana are considered swing states.

AR: 51-46-1 for Bush (~900K voters). About 4 LDS stakes.

MI: 46-51-2 for Gore (~4.2m voters). About 8 LDS stakes.

MT: 58-33-6 for Bush (~400K voters). About 11 LDS stakes.

OR: 47-47-5 for Gore (~1.5m voters). About 32 LDS stakes.

ND and OH are evidently still conducting signature drives, and may qualify for the ballot.

ND: 61-33-3 Bush (~300K voters). About 2 LDS stakes.

OH: 50-46-3 Bush (~4.7m voters, major swing state). About 11 LDS states.

On a first pass, it seems to me that if the Church wants to mobilize in any of those states beyond Utah, Oregon may the the one with the most potential to make much of a difference, followed by Montana.

Meanwhile, the issue of what effect such state efforts to constitutionalize DOMA may have on the federal FMA amendment is also complex and probably worthy of another post (perhaps after I get some work done).

- posted by BDemosthenes @ 7/08/2004 10:27:00 AM (0) comments

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