Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Defining a Landslide Victory

The 2008 presidential election in the United States was been labeled as a 'landslide victory' and a 'mandate of the people' by many. The vote breakdown from this election for the two major candidates are as follows:

Number of Votes

Barack Obama - 67,066,915 (52.6%)
John McCain - 58,421,377 (45.9%)
Others - 1,933,645 (1.5%)

States won

Barack Obama - 28 (56%)
John McCain - 22 (44%)
Others - 0

Electoral Votes

Barack Obama - 365 (67.8%)
John McCain - 173 (32.2%)

Given that 52.6% of the vote evidently represents a 'landslide' or 'mandate' in political terms, let's use that as the barometer for measuring the voice of the people as it relates to same-gender marriages in California and the United States.

California - Proposition 8

Number of votes
Yes - 6,838,107 (52.3%)
No - 6,246,463 (47.7%)

Counties won

Yes - 42 (72.4%)
No - 16 (27.6)

In the United States the president is elected via an electoral college with 538 possible electoral votes. If California ballot initiatives were decided via an electoral college, similar to the way we elect the president of the United States, with each county given relative votes based on population with at least three votes allotted per county (as with each state in the United States) then the results would have been as follows: (analysis that of the author)

'Electoral' Votes

Yes - 418 (77.7%)
No - 120 (22.3%)

By every measure used to gauge political landslides the passage of Proposition 8 in California would appear to be mandate from the voice of the people to their elected leaders. Interestingly, the issue of same-gender marriage in the United States has been the most pervasive ballot initiative that I can find. According to the research of columnist Lee Benson of the Deseret News, of the thirty (30) states that have taken the issue to a vote of the people all thirty have passed laws or constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

A 30 - 0 record is further evidence of a mandate. According to Mr. Benson's research there have been 58,911,741 votes cast on this issue in the last decade with an astounding 63.9% of the people voting to define marriage as between one man and one woman. If this were a little league baseball game the mercy rule would have been invoked two innings ago.

All this makes it reprehensible that there are two non-binding resolutions under consideration in the California state legislature (SR 8 and AR 5) to "make it official state policy to invalidate Prop 8." Apparently there are some in the legislature that, along with Governor Schwarzenegger, who have forgotten that they took an oath to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.' (California Constitution Article 20, Sec.3)

That is why I am supporting the California Petition to Protect Marriage to be presented to every member of the legislature and the governor reminding them of their duty and obligation to represent the people who elected them to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.' Join me in signing the petition by going to

While you're there sign up for United Families California email alerts. It is a great way to be informed on issues that affect California families. To read the United Families California email alert on this issue click on

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thirty Years Ago Today

Today I attended church where my nephew was speaking. He is leaving in a couple of weeks for Argentina to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sitting there caused me to reminisce...

I don't really remember much about the day. I think it was cloudy. It was probably a bit chilly. I remember the week before had been very emotional.

We had dinner at my grandparents home on Thanksgiving. The next day I attended the Salt Lake temple for the first time. On Sunday I said goodbye to my brothers and girlfriend -- I would have a long term relationship with my brothers, not so the girlfriend. Wednesday I was set apart by President Jesse E. Godfrey as a missionary and said goodbye to my younger sister.

On Thursday, November 30, 1978 I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah with my parents in preparation to serve two years in the Michigan Dearborn Mission. My parents left after about an hour, but I stayed for five weeks. That mission doesn't exist anymore - at least by that name. It is now the Michigan Detroit Mission, but in 1978 there wasn't a mother anywhere in the Church who would willing send her son to Detroit.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than 50 mile back pack trips. Harder than recovering from knee replacement surgery. Harder than anything I have faced in life. That's probably why I look back on those two years so fondly.

I had lots of expectations of what the missionary experience would be like. Looking back, I realize that I didn't have a clue as to what lay ahead.

I made some of the best friends I ever had. Although it seems odd to write that as I haven't really kept in touch with any of them. I have run into them at various times and places. Most have remained faithful to their testimonies. A few, sadly, have not.

Maybe it was because I was more sensitive to the workings of God at the time, but I literally saw miracles. After being in Michigan for five weeks I met a sixteen year old girl, Rose Buccaletto. In answer to prayer she had seen the Salt Lake temple in a dream, but she didn't know what the building was or what it meant. A few days later she saw a picture of the temple in a magazine and called the missionaries. For some reason they only visited her one time and never came back. When I got transferred to the area I was picking up a book and a little scrap of paper with her name and address fell out. One day while on her street I remembered seeing that little scrap of paper. We knocked on the door and when she saw us there she started crying and asked us in.

We taught her the missionary discussions and I baptized her a few weeks later. Towards the end of my two years I was invited to speak to a comparative religion class at a local high school. Several of the students in the class recognized me from a picture that Rose had shown them from the day of her baptism. They said she was always talking to them about the Church and the joy she felt. I haven't ever seen her since then, but I did receive a wedding announcement from her a few years after I had returned home. I think she was marrying a young man from a nearby ward in the Washington D.C. temple. I hope I sent her a card, but I probably didn't.

Dale and Martha Daniels had three young children. Their oldest daughter who was seven at the time had leukemia. The chemotherapy she was receiving caused her to lose all of her hair and she wore a wig most of the time. Her parents were baptized in June of 1980 and I left the area at the end of July. To this day I can remember her telling me how she knew that she was loved by the Savior. She felt His support when sick and His comfort when other kids would tease her about having no hair. Today I wonder where the family is and how they are doing.

I met some wonderful people who had a tremendous influence on me. From my mission president's, William R. Horton and Vernon A. Cooley, to bishops Kurt Mikat and Ray Hansen from Fenton and Adrian, respectively. I got to participate in organizing a regional church conference, held in Ann Arbor on September 20-21 of 1980 with some extraordinary church, business and political leaders -- George Romney, Richard Headlee, Bud Stoddard and Ed Jones, among others. They encouraged me to keep in contact with them after returning home. They offered to mentor me in my schooling and career decisions. Unfortunately, I have never spoken with any of them after leaving Michigan.

For a few years after returning home I felt as though I had 'grown up' while in Michigan. In reality, a mission was just another stepping stone along my continuing path to growing up. I made friends with other missionaries that I hoped would last a long time. In reality I have only spoken with a few after leaving Michigan. I learned a great deal about people, the Savior, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the joy of service. Mostly, I learned about myself in a way that could not have happened at any other time or any other place.

Looking back I see how unprepared I was for the serving as a missionary. I wonder if I could have made a bigger difference in the lives of others. I wonder if my service was acceptable to the Lord. I wonder if anyone can say that meeting me helped them in any way. Ultimately, I was the biggest benefactor of my missionary service and that is not something that I am entirely comfortable with. My guess is that everyone who has ever served has felt this way.

Looking back thirty years I can still say that it was the hardest thing I have ever done. The hardest and most influential experience in my life.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

The Day I Defended the Indefensible

I moved from Utah to New York in December of 1984. My wife, Kerry, had accepted a job at WROC-TV in Rochester as the weekday meteorologist. We arrived in Rochester on Friday, the 14th of December and she began working the following Monday.

Three days later I went to the TV station between the 6:00 and 11:00 news broadcasts and met some of the people that she worked with. I remember vividly meeting the sports anchor and discussing college football with him. Eventually our conversation moved to the Holiday Bowl that was being played the following night in San Diego between #1 rated BYU (11-0) and Michigan (6-5).

It was his opinion that even if BYU beat Michigan they should not be awarded the 'mythical' national championship as they 'hadn't played anyone'. It was true. They were the first, and remain to this day, the only college football team to be ranked #1 at the end of the regular season without having played even one team ranked in the top 25 in any major poll. I was as ticked off as anyone that BYU was playing for a 'national championship', but I felt obliged to defend them.

I maintained that it really wasn't their fault that their schedule wasn't very strong. As schedules are booked several years in advance it is virtually impossible to know who will be good in any particular year. In their defense, I pointed out that they had played at Pittsburgh (1984 record of 3-7-1) the first game of the season and won. When that game was originally scheduled, Pittsburgh was coming off of a national championship season themselves (1976) and had back-to-back-to-back one loss seasons from 1979 - 1981.

Further, I argued that if anyone was particularly interested in proving that BYU wasn't the best team in the nation they should arrange to play them in a bowl game. BYU, by virtue of being WAC champions, was committed to play in the Holiday Bowl , and nobody (not even BYU, as I recall) was willing to discuss a buyout of that commitment so that BYU could have played a top ranked team in a bowl game.

There were a number of teams that could have accepted an invitation to play BYU, including third ranked Washington (10-1), but they all decided to take a larger payout and hope that Michigan beat BYU. For their part Washington accepted an invitation to play #2 Oklahoma (10-1) in the Orange Bowl. BYU ended up beating Michigan in a very unconvincing manner 24-17, while Washington beat #2 Oklahoma 28-17 in the infamous Sooner Schooner penalty game.

BYU was voted the 'mythical' national championship at the end of the season. I guess they deserved it for the most part. They were the only undefeated team in the nation. No team could claim that they were better by proving it on the field. I think BYU was certainly a top 10 team that year - maybe even a top 5, but most assuredly were not the best. In my opinion the BYU 1983 team was better.

There was minor outrage at the end of the season that BYU had been awarded the championship. It seemed for a while that this incident would lead to a true national championship game. Instead, eight years later in an even bigger money grab, the six largest football conferences and Notre Dame developed the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Sorry, the BCS is even too indefensible for me to try mounting a defense.

Tomorrow in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah (11-0) will play BYU (10-1) for the Mountain West Conference championship. If, as expected Utah (the good guys, wearing the red hats) beats BYU (booooooooo!) they will have a far stronger claim for consideration of the national championship than BYU did in 1984. They will have beaten five teams that had been ranked in the top 25 during the year (Michigan - okay they didn't deserve it, but they were ranked at the time, Oregon State, Air Force, TCU and BYU). They will likely receive a big bowl game payout from one of the BCS bowls, but should be a given a chance to PLAY for a title.

Utah went undefeated in 2004 and became the first team from outside the BCS structure to be awarded a berth in a big payout BCS game. Unfortunately, they were invited play an extremely undermatched, Big East Conference champion, Pittsburgh team in the Fiesta Bowl who they beat 35-7. I wouldn't for one minute claim that Utah was the best team in the nation that year. They probably would have put up a better fight against USC, however, than Oklahoma did in the Orange Bowl (final score 55-7).

Our newly elected president of the United States, Barack Obama, has indicated that he thinks that college football should have an end of season tournament to determine a national champion. It is maybe the only thing he has said that makes sense to me. It may not happen in my lifetime, however. The money for the six BCS conferences is just too big and the rest of the country doesn't have the clout (or television viewing populations) to unseat it at this time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

True Colors of the Rainbow

I saw a video clip of a rally protesting California's Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that established marriage as between one man and one woman in California. In the video clip there were people waving rainbow flags as a symbol of their protest.

I remember in a eighth grade science class an acronym for the colors of the rainbow. Roy G. Biv - standing for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. In honor of my science teacher, Mr. Hauser, I've decided to take the acronym and provide my own words to describe the 'rainbow' as it relates to these rallies in opposition to Proposition 8. Perhaps, this better describes their true colors.

Rage - those opposed to Prop 8 have sunk to unthinkable lows in their exhibition of anger.
Ostracism - a well defined coaltion worked to pass Prop 8. Oppenents are simply attempting to break up that coalition by singling out individuals or groups in attempts to have them ostracized by the rest of the coalition.
Yell - If your argument isn't convincing, simply yell louder. Adopt the mantra of teenage rock bands - If your music stinks, just turn up the volume and maybe someone will notice you.
Government by the people - what they don't believe in. They want government to just grant unwarranted special treatment to groups that really have no legal standing for such treatment.
Bigotry - No other way to describe the hatred and venom spit at people who's religious beliefs led them to vote for Prop 8.
Intolerance & intimidation - They speak of tolerance, but redefine it to mean 'if you don't agree with me you are intolerant, but if I spit, scream and curse at you, that is within the bounds of tolerance.'
Violence - If all else fails, vanadalize property, deface churches or threaten women and children.

People have the right to peaceful assembly and protest. Those protesting the passage of Prop 8 have gone well oustide the lines of decency in this case. Opponents to Prop 8 speak of hate, but the only hatred in this campaign has been exhibited by them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack the Builder?

On Tuesday night in Barack Obama's acceptance speech after John McCain had conceded the presidential election, he repeatedly would cite something that he hoped to accomplish as president and would say 'yes we can'. The crowd would then repeat the words 'yes we can'.

I started to laugh because it reminded me of the animated television show that my younger boys used to watch, Bob the Builder. Bob would ask his crew, 'can we do it', and all of his tools would reply 'yes we can'. If President-elect Obama will ever be more than an animated version of a president of the United States, then he must do more than repeat trite, catchy phrases.

The television pundits repeatedly said that it was an historic night. I agree with them. I wish that I could have found reason to celebrate that historic night. There may have been one, but electing a president with the policies that President-elect Obama campaigned on is decidedly not a reason for me to have been excited about the historic night.

Mr. Obama, you said you understood that people like me did not agree with his views and policies, but that you would work hard to be my president as well. I am assuming that you are a man of your word, so I would like to offer some advice on how to gain my support as the president.

First, the economy doesn't grow without population growth. Jobs aren't created without a demand for goods and services. Demand is created by people and businesses. Governments can't do that over an extended period of time. They never have. They never will. You need to adopt policies that encourage the development and support of families - the traditional marriage families that you claim to believe in. They are the only people that can create consumers for the goods and services that will create jobs. It won't happen overnight, but you can be the president that put policies into place for the long term.

Second, don't appoint judges to enact policies that you know won't pass muster with the people. Appoint judges that will exercise restraint and not legislate from the bench. Many political analysts speak of a 'litmus test' for the judiciary. A judge not prone to judicial activism should be your only 'litmus test'.

Finally, your record in the Senate was the most partisan and liberal leaning of any candidate that has run for president in history. You must move beyond rhetoric and catch phrases to govern effectively. Please don't repeat the errors of the past Democratic president and govern based on public opinion polls. It is important that you govern based on principle, not public opinion. Remember the words of Winston Churchill -- "There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion."

I am hopeful that you can be my president as well. You will have to work at it, however. I haven't seen anything in your campaign or public record that leads me to believe that this will be possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sex, Lies & Videotape

My dad tells a story about me from when I was five years old. I had apparently had some sort of dispute with my younger sister, who would have been about three at the time. We were on the front porch yelling when my dad intervened. He first asked my sister to tell her version of what happened and why we were fighting. After she was finished I got my day in court. About half way through my version of the dispute (the correct version, I might add) my sister shouted, "Curtis, you're lying even more than I did".

In the battle over Proposition 8 in California, both sides have accused the other about spreading lies about the consequences of not passing the proposition. In particular, the proponents ran a television ad asserting that same sex marriage will be taught in public schools to children as young as second grade if Prop 8 fails.

To counter that ad the opponents of the ballot initiative brought out Jack O'Connell, superintendent of California public schools, who claimed that 'our schools aren't required to teach anything about marriage'. While that statement may be true if analyzed in a vacuum, further analysis reveals that 96% of California public schools will be required to teach about same sex marriage if Proposition 8 fails.

The California Education Code (EC 51933) leaves it up to the individual school districts as to whether or not sexual health education is taught in its schools. However, if a school district chooses to do so they must comply with a specific set of requirements - one of which is to teach about marriage. The reason that 96% of California schools will be required to teach about same sex marriage is because, according a study on the California Department of Education web site, 96% of school districts do provide sexual health education. Therefore, by law these schools will be mandated to teach same sex marriage.

When I first started writing this post I was going to accuse Jack O'Connell as being disingenuous. After further review (as they say on football game replays), it is more accurate to classify him as a liar. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a liar as 'someone who lies'. It further defines a 'lie' as 'to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive or to create a false or misleading impressions'. Jack O'Connell may have many good qualities, but in this case he is most definitely a liar.

Today the Yes on 8 campaign challenged Jack O'Connell to a televised debate on this issue. My guess is that he will decline, citing an 'unworkable schedule' or by further asserting that Proposition 8 has 'nothing to do with schools'. In truth, however, he knows that his task in a debate would be to defend the indefensible.

I would like to see the debate happen.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hitting the Big Time

I found out this morning that my blog had been linked to by a site called It was in a section called the "Yes on Prop 8 Blog Roll". I was told about this in a comment to a previous post on my blog who said that my blog was on a 'black list' for my support of Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to restore the voice of the people to restore and preserve traditional marriage. I had hit the big time! I was excited to be on the 'black list'. Then I found out that it wasn't a black list at all. Rather it was a listing of bloggers who, in the words of the website author:
"These bloggers have no problem telling us we are sexual deviants, fake families, social misfits and what have you. With Election Day so close, the LGBT community can't afford to let these people believe their own BS any longer!"
So I reread all of my posts to see if I had written, or even implied, that anyone was a 'sexual deviant' or 'social misfit', or lived in a 'fake family'. Not surprisingly, I wrote nothing of the sort - not even any BS. Should I be 'offended' for being mischaracterized in this fashion? I'm not. Sorry, I just don't have time to be offended. Actually, I guess it is more accurate to simply say that I choose not to be offended.

Just to make certain that my views on Proposition 8 are accurately represented by the only person who is an expert on the subject (uh, that would be me - possibly the only thing in the world that I am an expert on) I will discuss some of them here.

First, I must admit that I don't understand same gender attraction. I have never experienced it in any manner. I don't believe that anyone is 'born that way'. There have been a multitude of studies that have attempted to prove that a same gender attraction is genetically determined, but none have ever been successful at doing so. A couple that I am aware of thought they had some evidence to the contrary, but could never be replicated in an unbiased, controlled environment. Same gender attraction seems to be mostly a matter of choice.

Now for my views on Proposition 8. I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. It's primary purpose is to provide a framework for people to be obedient to the commandment God gave to Adam and Eve to 'mulitply and replenish the earth'. I know that there are instances where couples are infertile or have other issues that make it impossible for them to bear children, but that doesn't preclude them from participating in God's plan for us.

Based on this belief alone, I will always work to support and promote marriage between a man and a woman. However, there are social and cultural reasons to promote traditional marriage which are very compelling.

Teaching children in public schools that same sex gender relationships are the same as a traditional marriage is not just a matter of teaching diversity or tolerance. There is an agenda of the LGBT community to promote and perpetuate their lifestyle. They realize that the best way to accomplish this is to indoctrinate children while they are young - which, by the way, overrides parental rights to teach their children about morality. What happened in Massachusetts following their legalization of same gender marriages is proof of this. While opponents of Proposition 8 are doing their best to convince the public that only 'radical fear-mongers' bring up this argument, the reality speaks for itself. I won't go in to any further detail here, because Brian Camenker wrote an excellent exposé by entitled "What Same-Sex 'Marriage' Has Done to Massachusetts". I would suggest that interested readers click on that link and read it.

While I have many other concerns about what will happen in California and around the United States if Proposition 8 does not pass, I won't discuss them here at this time. An excellent source for that information is at the web site In fact, I think it is the best source for information that I have seen on the internet.

The last thing I want to address is the 'fear-mongering' issue that keeps being thrown about. If recent history has demonstrated anything, it is that we can't leave it to the judiciary to decide societal values. (See my previous post "The People's Republic of America?") I can illustrate this with another hot topic, not only in society, but on the November ballot in California. That being the topic of abortion.

This illustration is valid regardless of your personal stand on abortion.

On 22 January 1973 the United States supreme court ruled that a woman's right to privacy, vaguely afforded in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, gave women a fundamental right to an abortion. On the 21st of January of that year, had I argued that this ruling would lead to case law granting a 15 year old girl the unmitigated right to an abortion, without parental notification, paid for by the state with no exceptions, I would have been called a 'fear-monger'. My opponents would have stated, correctly, that there is no case law, or any legal precedent for this to happen.

Fast forward 35 years to 2008 and it is very clear to see what a slippery slope leaving it to the judiciary to decide has become. The courts have not shown sufficient restraint to lead me to believe that even the worst case scenarios offered up by Proposition 8 supporters are well within the realm of reason.

Incidentally, I do not favor a total ban on abortion. I was told several years ago by a colleague that I am actually 'pro-choice' because I don't believe that abortions should be illegal in all cases. I think he was right. I am pro-choice. I just believe that the choice is not exclusively that of a pregnant woman and that the correct choice would be LIFE in the overwhelming majority of the cases. For this reason I am also supporting Proposition 4, 'Sarah's Law', on the November ballot.

I know that if Proposition 8 passes there will be many people that will be very hurt. I have empathy for them. I really do. That empathy, however, does not override my belief that society will be stronger, and children better protected if marriage is legally defined as between a man and a woman.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

You Didn't Hear the Best Conference 'Talk'

On October 4-5 my family attended the fall General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the conference church members were able to listen to talks by various church leaders. Most of my family and I attended two sessions of the conference in person and watched the other two on television.

The final two talks of the conference ended up being memorable for me, but not exactly because of what was said. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the difficulties and trials that we all face in life and how the Savior is always there for us with open arms. He told a story of two women who met as a result of a tragic traffic accident. One was the mother of a 20 year old young man who was involved in a head-on traffic collision with the husband of the other woman. Both men were killed instantly.

Through the years the two women became friends to the point that they attend the temple together each year. Elder Cook noted that the two women were attending that particular session of conference together.

At the end of his remarks he told of how President Thomas S. Monson was asked on his birthday this past August what would be the ideal gift that members worldwide could give him, he said without a moment’s hesitation, “Find someone who is having a hard time, . . . and do something for them.” (Read the entire talk here.)

Elder Cook was followed by President Monson, who was the concluding speaker of the conference. Following the closing prayer it is tradition for the congregation to stand and wait for President Monson to leave the Conference Center. As we stood waiting, President Monson went to his right to speak with Elder Cook, instead of exiting to his left. They spoke for a few seconds and Elder Cook pointed towards the first couple of rows to the left of the podium. I watched as President Monson went down the steps off of the rostrum and onto the plaza level. He stood there for a few minutes and appeared to speak with two women in the front row.

I don't know exactly who he was speaking with, but think it was probable that it was the two women whom Elder Cook had referred to in his talk. I remembered President Monson's words, 'Find someone who is having a hard time and do something for them'. I also remembered the counsel the Savior gave to the multitude gathered to hear him speak two millenia ago regarding identifying a true prophet. "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16)

President Monson's actions were evidence to me of the fruits of a prophet of God - those same actions were also the best 'talk' I heard at the October 2008 General Conference.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance

In today's 'politically correct' (PC) environment, (a term that comedian Dennis Miller has commented is actually neither) people often invoke the term 'tolerance' when debating moral issues. They throw around the words tolerant and intolerant as though that is the end of the debate. If I say that I am tolerant and you are intolerant, then I win the debate without further discussion. Idiotic.

In the Christian world a similar argument is used. That being, 'the Bible says that you shouldn't judge'. Actually, Christ did not say we shouldn't judge. He taught, rather, that we should be cautious in our judgments, 'for with that same judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged' (Matthew 7:2). In fact, prudence and wisdom require us to make judgments continuously.

The 'gospel of tolerance' attempts to remove morality from any discussion of the issues. In the name of tolerance we attempt to assign all opinions, actions and choices the same morality. This moral relativity eventually leads to a position of not only accepting, but embracing ideas and practices held to be immoral by the majority. Ironically, the PC world labels those who teach absolute morality to be 'intolerant' -- promoting the belief that tolerance is only acceptable if you agree with their agenda.

Maybe it's just because of my involvement with a coalition to secure passage of Proposition 8 in California this November that I am more aware of the inconsistencies of the tolerance agenda. Following the passage of legislation in Massachusetts to permit same sex marriage the intolerance of those supporting same sex marriage towards those who were opposed reached new heights. Unbelievably, a parent's presumed right to see that his children were not taught that same sex marriage was the moral equivalent of traditional marriage in public school was met with jail time. Click on the link to see a video exposé of this case, Parker v. Hurley.

Further evidence of the hypocrisy of tolerance reached new heights this week. In the first television ad in support of Proposition 8, a law professor at Pepperdine University, Richard Peterson, outlined some of the legal ramifications that California would face if Proposition 8 fails. In response to his advocacy for Proposition 8, he received literally hundreds of emails, some violent and very threatening from various gay activist individuals and groups. Evidently, those who preach tolerance have none for those who hold opposing views.

One final evidence. This past week proponents of Proposition 8, exercising their First Amendment right to free speech in support of traditional marriage, placed signs along the 101 Freeway near Santa Maria, California indicating their support. On Friday evening vandals, obviously intolerant of an opposing point of view destroyed the signs by painting over them.

Many good people may have a good reason for opposing Proposition 8. Promoting tolerance, however, is not one of them.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

And There Were Few

Chronologically, the first ordinance recorded in the scriptures was the marriage of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. Marriage is, perhaps second only to the atonement of Jesus Christ in importance in God's plan for the salvation of His children.

There are three things that strike me as significant in this event. First, it was our Heavenly Father who sanctioned and ordained the marriage. He commanded Adam and Eve to be one flesh and to multiply and replenish the earth. Second, the marriage took place in the Garden of Eden at a point in time before death had been introduced to the world. It happened before the fall of Adam. Evidently God intended for marriage to be unaffected by death. It was meant to be eternal, as He is eternal. Finally, the covenant was between a man and a woman. In years past, that final point would have been a 'well duh moment' for most people. Today, sadly, there a some who fail to see the significance of marriage being between a man and a woman.

This post will be a defense of marriage from a Christian religious standpoint. That God performed the first marriage should be evidence enough, not only to Christian's but those of other faiths as well.

In three places within the synoptic gospels of the New Testament Christ makes a statement similar to the following. ""If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34 and Lk. 9:23) In Luke, however, there is one crucial word added to this statement. There we read '"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Our discipleship and commitment to the Lord is not a singular event. Every day we are confronted with situations and
decisions. I guess it is most accurate to say that if we are true disciples then when faced with a situation, we made the decision long ago. One that is in total alignment with God's will.

At baptism we make a covenant "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death, that [we] may be redeemed of God." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:9) That admonition certainly extends to situations where we risk being labeled as 'bigoted' or 'intolerant'.

In the Book of Mormon there is an allegory about a Lord of a vineyard who plants olive trees. (Almost every child in the LDS church He takes great care and concern for the vineyard, but it doesn't always produce fruit as he would like. He tries several ways to save his vineyard and finally as a last resort he sends his servant 'one last time' to reclaim the vineyard for himself.

In Jacob 5:70 we read,"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few." So in the grand finale, the servant of the Lord gathers other servants to complete the Lord's work and it ends up that 'they were few'.

The last time I read that verse of scripture i was struck by how sad it was. At one time I considered labeling that verse in my scriptures as 'the saddest verse' in all of holy writ. I may still feel that way; but the good news is that even though 'they were few', they were successful in their labors and the reclaimed the vineyard for the Lord.

Tonight this seems especially pertinent to me. Earlier as I was traveling home from a meeting I heard a news report about a recent poll taken of 'likely voters' in the November general election. It purported that of likely voters 55% were opposed to California Proposition 8 and only 38% were in favor. I didn't catch the source of the poll and believe that as voters become educated as to the reasons to vote for Proposition 8 that the tide will turn.

Hopefully we will be able to say as Elisha "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." (2 Kings 6:11)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Peoples Republic of America?

I was born in the United States of America. A nation founded with a guiding principle, as stated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg, 'that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'

Sadly, some people in assumed positions of power apparently don't subscribe to this principle. I am referring to appointed lawyers who take it upon themselves to legislate from the bench. The Constitution places the role of the judiciary in a function similar to a baseball umpire. An umpire calls balls and strikes, rules batted balls fair or foul and determines if batters or runners are out or safe. They are not entitled, however, to change the rules of the game based on whim, arguments from players or to placate the opinions of rabid fans.

The Founding Fathers of the United States crafted the constitution to assure that the judiciary would only rule on laws, not make them. These early Americans had just gone through a period where they had been governed by appointed rulers without representation. This was so egregious to these people that they waged a war with the most powerful nation on earth of that day.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, although I have read most novels written by John Grisham. I do, however, consider myself a 'Reader's Digest' student of the law. I took classes in business and constitution law in college and have always been intrigued by history and political science.

In March of 2000 California voters (government of the people) passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, with fourteen words. It read "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." My wife and I worked on that campaign as grassroots coordinators for passage of the initiative. When the final vote was tallied, 61% of Californian's agreed that marriage should be defined exclusively as between a man and a woman. The overwhelming will of the people had been recorded.

In gauging political victories this was a landslide. In presidential elections since 1872 (the first election for which popular vote counts are available) only the 1936 election of Franklin Roosevelt had greater than 61%. He got 62% of the vote in that year.

On May 15, 2008, the California state supreme court voted 4 -3 to overturn Proposition 22. With a stroke of the pen, four appointed lawyers (decidedly not government by the people) momentarily silenced the voice of the people. These things are supposed to happen in other countries, ruled by despots - not the United States of America.

A new ballot initiative, Proposition 8, has been qualified for the election on November 4, 2008. (see This time it is a constitutional amendment with the exact same words contained in Proposition 22 eight years ago. In another post I may discuss the issues pertinent Proposition 8. Today, however, I am working not only to preserve and protect the institution of marriage in California, but in a broader sense I am working to tell appointed lawyers that this is not the Peoples Republic of America. Rather, it is the United States of America - based on a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

That is only one reason that I am encouraging a vote for Yes on Prop 8.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On Touching Oral Membranes

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people probably know us as the 'Mormons', based on our belief in a book of ancient scripture called 'The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ'. One of the unique features of the church is the absence of a paid clergy. Leaders are 'called of God, as was Abraham' (Hebrews 5:4), to serve in various capacities.

Several years ago i was serving as the bishop of our ward (local congregation) and was counseling with a young woman. She had attended a church youth conference during the summer and one of the speakers in a workshop she attended encouraged them to go ask their bishop when they returned home what their policy was on kissing.
The question caught me off guard. I wasn't certain that I had specific policy on kissing, but since she asked I decided to formulate some guidance. I told her my guidance was as easy as 1-2-3.

1 - only ONE kiss per night. I felt that a kiss could be a fitting end to an enjoyable evening, but more than one would send confusing signals to a teenager.

2 - between the kissing participants at least TWO eyes should be open. This would help ensure that thoughts and actions were kept within proper boundaries. I told her that either they needed to agree on who kept both eyes open, or coordinate which one eye each person should keep open while kissing. My suggestion was, if the latter option was chosen, to each keep the same eye open. Right eye staring at left eye might be a little unnerving. Then again, maybe that wouldn't be so bad after all.

3 - no more than THREE seconds long. I loved playing basketball as a kid. If three seconds in the lane was a violation in that sport, then three seconds for a kiss was certainly long enough.

Given a few more years experience and seeing the difficulties that youth can encounter in dating I have added two more 'guidance'.

4 - make certain there are FOUR on the floor. I don't even know if standard transmission cars are referred to any more as having four on the floor -- probably not as my last standard transmission was a five speed. However, the four I suggest on the floor are feet. If between the two participants they have four feet firmly planted flat on the ground, it would make it very difficult to get into a position that is too compromising. I would extend this guidance to all dating situations - not just kissing.

5 - finally I would suggest that there not be a kiss until they had gone on FIVE official dates. I know that kids today don't 'date' the way us old folks did in our youth, but if kisses are to mean anything special, they certainly shouldn't be doled out before the relationship has had a chance to develop a meaning.

Well, that's it for this post. Well, almost. I came across this topical comic strip a short while ago. (If the comic strip is blurry on your screen, just click on it and it will open in a new window at the correct size.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Right Change, but a Steep Price

I have mused over the Barack Obama campaign message focused on change. The more I read of the things he wants to change, the more I believe that we spent 45 years from the end of WWII until 1990 fighting the 'changes' he is putting forward. Mainly his change is to turn the US into a socialist society. While I would be the first to admit that change is needed in the way our country is run, he is going exactly the opposite direction of where we need to be. More government is not the answer. It never will be. Our current need is for statesmen (not politicians) to come forward with ideas to lead America. Which reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently.

I was very surprised last week at John McCain's announcement that he had selected Gov. Sarah Palin (R. - Alaska) to be his vice presidential running mate. I had hoped for Mitt Romney as he is probably the smartest and most qualified person to really change America for the better of any candidate from any party since Ronald Reagan. He is also an adequately fiscal and social conservative. When I read up on Gov. Palin's background I was relatively impressed and felt she represented the type of change needed -- not a Washington insider, someone willing to buck the status quo to effect change, one with true conservative values.

The one thing that bothered me most about Gov. Palin, was one of the things that I admired about her credentials. She is a mother of five children. She understands intimately the issues and challenges facing families in today's world. One of those challenges involves mothers 'being there' for their children as they grow up. This, unfortunately, is a paradox that faces families in modern society. Most people with family values are so busy with their family obligations that they don't have time to participate in the political forum.

And as a society, we need more active participation from them.

This paradox was illustrated vividly with the revelation over the weekend that Gov. Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. While in most respects it is not the public's business, it does show the price that is paid by families where the mother is involved heavily in activities outside the home. I don't know what type of mother Gov. Palin has been. By all accounts she is very attentive to her family and strives to teach them correct principles. Yet I wonder if this situation would have been different with a mother in the home full time.

Again, it is a paradox that has no easy answer. We need more Sarah Palin's in public service. We need more Sarah Palin's at home with their children.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Time to Revoke My Parent License?

I've done it now four different times. The first time was in 1999. Then again in 2002 and 2004. And again today when I dropped my son Cody off for his first day of high school.

Each time I did it I thought to myself, "Are you nuts?" So far everything seems to have worked out okay for my older kids, but I still have to wonder if I am doing the right thing.

Watching my kids grow up and move on doesn't bother me. It's the environment that they are subjected to that causes me concern. Each year it seems that the standards of the high school deteriorate a little more. I was appalled at what I saw the girls at school wearing (or not wearing, as the case may be) when I dropped my oldest daughter Brittny off at Thousand Oaks High School in 1999. I know that the school has a published dress code, but increasingly it is being ignored. Maybe the administration has just given up.

I am more concerned, however, about what is being taught in the public schools. Today when I opened my email there was an item informing me that a bill passed by the California legislature earlier this month was awaiting the governor's signature. The bill "would require the Governor to proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, and would designate that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions and would encourage those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date."

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay publicly elected official in the United States. He spent most of his time campaigning for LGBT causes and this piece of legislation would encourage public schools to remember and honor his efforts on the anniversary of this birthday. Idiotic at best. Devastating at worst. I've emailed the governor asking that he veto that piece of legislation.

Finally, the budget for our high school got cut again this year. This one is real perplexing. Every year, when the state legislature completes their annual ritual of passing a budget several weeks or months late, the total budget for education increases. In the past four years the number of students in the public schools has decreased (even with the influx of children whose parents are 'undocumented'). Maybe math is different today than when I was in high school, but it seems to me that if we have more money allocated for fewer children in school that the budget should increase, not decrease.

Cody was real excited for his first day of high school. He has hopes of playing basketball and baseball for the school -- which he will probably do as he has some terrific skills in those sports when he chooses to apply himself. The school itself does a reasonable job of preparing most kids for further education. I am increasingly skeptical, however, on the value a public school education when balanced against the negatives associated with it.