We were in Salt Lake City a couple of weeks ago and spent a lot of time with some of the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, getting to know the religion and its wonderful people. The people were fantastically nice and welcoming to us.
As in all religions, there is some debate surrounding the LDS, however. We heard there was going to be a protest against the LDS involvement in the California state proposition to to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. Frankie, Craig, Madeeha and I went downtown to Temple Square to see what was going on and saw a protest much more intense than what we had imagined. There were thousands of people in the street protesting, holding signs, and marching. The crowd, made up of both gay and straight protesters, were peaceful and polite, and it made me, for the second time in a week, realize how proud I am to be an American. One of the things we’ve heard over and over from the people across the country, when we ask them about America is the pride that people have in the 1st Amendment. The right to free speech and to congregate and protest peacefully is part of the American Identity, people from every ethnicity, religion, age and gender say proudly.
There were some LDS supporters as well, which made things interesting as we watched the debate unfold. We were able to talk to both sides of the issue. While in Utah the protest was directed at the LDS, there were a lot of other religious groups and denominations that supported the proposition as well.
We flew to San Francisco last week and saw, once again, protesters in the streets. San Francisco has been at the heart of the battle for same sex marriage and many have already married.
I was impressed by the clear and articulate message of the protest. At most protests that I’ve attended, there always seem to be groups of people who are there just because they like to protest. Some seem to have no idea what exactly it is that they are asking for. These protesters were different; knowledgeable, intelligible and brimming with conviction.
Many of the protesters and counter protesters were young and passionate and had interesting things to say. Whatever side you are on, you have to be thrilled to see people getting involved.