By Jeff Walsh
Watching "8: The Mormon Proposition," it's hard to get past the central irony of the Mormon church fighting against alternative marriage, given the church's polygamist roots. But this documentary covering the Mormon's church's fight against gay marriage does make you almost sorry for people who can put such questionable religious teachings above their own family members, friends, and loved ones.
The documentary sheds light on one of the core problems the Mormon church has with gay marriage, which is related to their concept of an afterlife. I will write it out without editorial comment for the sake of brevity. In a nutshell, when you die, you go to your own planet, are reunited with your spouse, and you then have babies and repopulate your planet. I can't watch such nonsense twice to see if I'm missing any details here, but suffice it to say if they allow gay marriage, then their afterlife doesn't work because you have two guys sitting on a planet alone, OK?
In any event, the Mormon church has been behind the scenes in a lot of work opposing gay marriage, starting with Hawaii in the 90s. Usually, they created a coalition and stayed behind the scenes, specifically to not bring the church into the debate. Proposition 8 changed all that, because the influx of Mormon money into the campaign drew attention. Mormons are 2 percent of California's population, but represented Mormon donors represented 71 percent of the donated money opposing gay marriage.
The documentary begins with a cute, young couple of guys who came to San Francisco City Hall the day marriage became legal. They didn't have an appointment, but someone let them in anyway, and they ended up married. Both guys are Mormon, and throughout the film we see what they went through to get to those vows, and the repercussions afterward. It is heartbreaking to see families turn their back on people in love just radiating joy toward one another.
We also learn that the Mormon church went above and beyond the call of duty to oppose this, showing up in church member's houses with tithing records and determining what they felt a family could donate to the cause, and then sitting there until they wrote a check. Families with young children and almost no college fund nearly gave the church everything they owned.
The documentary also looks into the high suicide rate among gay Mormon youth and the underground scene of kids kicked out of their homes by their families after coming out. And older men recall tales of coming out at Brigham Young University years ago, where the school would try to change them, by stripping them naked and making them look at naked men, and attaching electrodes to their bodies and making them jolt electricity through their body whenever they were attracted, in hopes they would change. These experiments did change everyone involved. The ones who didn't commit suicide led shattered lives that were hard to piece back together.
Any doubt of the Mormon involvement in Proposition 8 is eradicated watching this documentary narrated by Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winning screenwriter of Milk, who also grew up Mormon. It does make you wonder what exactly a church would have to do to lose its tax-exempt status, since the Mormon church has seemingly violated every letter of the law in this regard.
Watching this documentary may have given me human faces going through these problems, more statistics, and more proof of what I already believed, but the fundamentals remained the same.
To be clear, I'm not against Mormons over any other religion (I dislike them all), but to hear judgmental language coming from people who believe The Book of Mormon is, admittedly, a bit over the top.
You can get a history of the Mormon religion here (the background starts 4 minutes in): http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/103933
I realize it could seem to weaken my argument to have South Park explain the Mormon religion, but honestly, this stuff is so ridiculous, South Park didn't have to embellish a single thing to make its point. The Mormon back story is just that stupid.
That said, I'm not doing anything to try and prevent them from believing this nonsense. All I want is the same from them.
In any event, 8: The Mormon Proposition is available in select theaters and on-demand on June 18, with the DVD release scheduled for July 13. You can get all the information you need here: http://www.mormonproposition.com/