Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Letter to Tom Hanks

Dear Mr. Hanks,

I'd like to start off by saying what a fan I am of your work. My husband and I recently watched "Castaway," and your talent to captivate an audience all by your lonesome is astounding. "Big" is one of my all-time favorite movies. And no one can deny that "Forrest Gump" is a classic.

I have a deep respect for the art and entertainment that you create, and also for you and your obvious care in honing your craft. That being said, I was highly disappointed to read your remarks regarding the Mormon church and what you believe was their involvement in the passing of Proposition 8 in California. I am a member of that church and I believe that there are several misconceptions floating around regarding what exactly was my church's involvement, which I'd like to clear up for you at this time.

You said, "...the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen." I would assume that the church to which you were referring in that sentence is, in fact, the Mormon church. If my assumption is accurate, then please allow me to correct you. No money was donated to my church "to make Prop-8 happen." Similarly, no money was donated by my church "to make Prop-8 happen." Individual members of my church, acting as citizens with the right to donate funds to the campaign of their choice donated money "to make Prop-8 happen." Was the amount of money donated by these individuals a significant chunk of all funds accrued for the campaigning of Proposition 8? You bet. Is their right to donate said money protected under the law of the United States of America? Absolutely.

I think a lot of people are confused as to why my church is such an ardent supporter of Proposition 8. The reason is not because we are a homophobic, narrow-minded people who believe in denying all rights to anyone who does not believe the same thing as us. Well, first, let's be honest: there are some very outspoken members of my church who seem to indeed believe that. But let me assure you that they are a vocal minority and do not represent the quieter majority. The real reason my church supports Proposition 8 is because of our religious beliefs. We believe that "...marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God..." and that "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." ("The Family: A Proclamation to the World," par. 1 and 2). Isn't our right to believe this protected under the very First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America?

My church does not want to deny all rights to homosexuals or to force them all to live like us or anything like that. Our intent in supporting Proposition 8 was to protect what we believe to be the definition of marriage. It was not about taking away the rights of anyone in a romantic relationship outside of what we believe constitutes a marriage. On the contrary, we support legislation that would grant more rights to unmarried couples, such as visiting a sick loved one in the hospital. We do not want to discriminate against anyone! Our church faced a lot of discrimination ourselves, back in the day, and I don't think any one of us would wish that treatment upon anyone else.

You went on to say, Mr. Hanks, that "There are a lot of people who feel that [the Mormon church's involvement] is un-American, and I am one of them." At this statement, I am a little confused. Our involvement in Proposition 8 included passing out fliers and calling individuals to encourage them to vote yes on Proposition 8. The way I see it, most people have a strong opinion on the issue of gay marriage: for the most part, everyone is either for it or against it. A phone call from a member of my church probably swayed very few people one way or the other. The most these phone calls and fliers and posters did was inform the voters of California about Proposition 8 is and what it entails. And then everyone was allowed to go on their ways and do whatever they wanted with that information. At the most, all the campaigning from the members of my church did was get people to vote, and then they voted whatever way they felt was right. Heck, those phone calls probably garnered a good number of votes against Proposition 8 as more people were informed about what their vote would mean. And isn't the right we all have to vote and to have each of our voices represented the very foundation of this great nation? What, I ask you, is more American than that?

Patriotism runs deep in my family. I wish I could say that no one can call me un-American and get away with it. But your right to express your opinion about my church is protected under the very same Amendment that gave me my right to believe in my religion. And I'm not going to take that away from you. That would be un-American.


Alyssa Young


Laura said...

I'm glad you brought it back. I love the letter!

Cassie said...

Wow, Lu. I like this a lot. I kind of want to post it all over the internet. :) I won't, though.

jenalih said...


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