The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking Mormon says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday. Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers to gay marriage as an "alleged civil right" in remarks prepared for delivery at Brigham Young University- Idaho, a speech church officials describe as a significant commentary on current threats to religious freedom.
In an interview Monday before the speech, Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of Mormons in the election's aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.
"It may be offensive to some -- maybe because it hadn't occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era," he said.
Oaks said the free exercise of religion is threatened by those who believe it conflicts with "the newly alleged 'civil right' of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage."
It appears that it has not occurred to Elder Oaks that the Mormon Church may be in that category. At one time the idea of Black Civil Rights was a "newly alleged 'civil right.'" Personally I think Elder Oaks and the other General Authorities have got it exactly backwards. It continues to amaze me how a church that focuses so much on its own history of persecution should be so willing to persecute others. While I do not condone violence and intimidation of any sort against anyone I can understand how the Church's attempts to restrict the rights of another minority group might lead people to be filled with the kind of outrage that might lead to violent acts. However, it seems to me that Elder Oaks is just playing word games by turning on its head the the similarities that members of the gay movement have found between themselves and the Civil Rights Movement. They both may be wrong, but there is no question that any attempt by religion to pretend to make themselves out to be the victim is completely ludicrous.
"As such, these incidents of 'violence and intimidation' are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic," he said. "In their effect they are like well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation."