From May 1857 until July 1858 there was what was known as the Mormon Uprising in the Utah territories that was an armed confrontation between Mormon settlers who wanted a “theodemocracy” and armed forces of the United States government. The so-called Mormon War was eventually settled through negotiations, but not before 126 mostly non-Mormon civilians were killed including the slaughter of 120 men, women, and children. Historians attribute “hyperbolic Mormon teachings against outsiders” as the impetus for The Utah Territorial Militia (Nauvoo Legion) to massacre the travelers because they passed through Mormon territory while emigrating from Arkansas in what came to be known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Over the weekend, Republicans and conservatives gathered in Utah to issue a “call for an uprising” against same-sex marriage to oppose a federal district court ruling striking down Utah’s biblical law banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
The gathering was headlined by Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association. According to Mack, the county sheriff is the arbiter of what is Constitutional, and his determination is that the court overstepped its authority in ruling according to the Constitution. The threat of another “uprising” may have influenced the Supreme Court to block same-sex marriages “pending final disposition” of an “orderly appeal” slated for late February in federal appeals court. However, Utah Mormons and Mack already ruled the Constitution does not afford same-sex couples their due process or equal treatment under the law, and they were prepared to enlist sheriffs “to defend the county clerks in saying, ‘No, we’re not going to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals.'” Fortunately, the High Court’s ruling temporarily averted any potential aggression towards county clerks who adhered to the district court’s decision, or gay couples who sought a marriage license while Utah’s biblical law was unconstitutional.
At the “call for an uprising,” Mack railed on homosexuals and said he and the people of Utah (Mormon people) were sick of “the homosexuals shoving their agenda down our throats.” He also warned that since “Utah Governor Gary Herbert has failed at his job, it is now up to law enforcement and everyday citizens to deny gay marriage to anyone seeking a license.” The former sheriff cited the bible as the source of his anger at same-sex marriage because according to him the Constitution was written to protect God-given, innate rights. “You’re never going to convince us that homosexual marriage is one of those innate, God-given rights. It’s not,. If you read the Bible, you will plainly and simply see that it’s not.” Mack, like many conservatives is deluded in believing the bible supplants the Constitution when it fits their agenda, especially to set a precedent that Utah’s biblical law supersedes the Constitution.
To prove his point Mack took on the role (again) of the Supreme Court and ruled that federal law does not take precedence over Utah law despite Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Mack said, “That’s a lie. That’s an absolute lie. We have a right to raise our kids without homosexuals being part of the Boy Scouts, the schools and teachers and doing everything. Don’t shove your agenda down my kid’s throat. We have a right to raise our kids how we want not how you want.” Besides not presenting any cogent argument for state law superseding federal law, Mack failed to cite how allowing gays to marry is shoving an agenda down his kid’s throat, or abridges his right to raise his “kid” as he sees fit; but when one is raging to incite an uprising, giving reasons for absurd statements is not required.
The district court ruling sent Mormons into such a frenzy that it “forced” one Mormon politician affiliated with Utah’s extremist Constitution Party to take a stand and stop eating until the legislature reinstated its biblical ban on same-sex marriages by passing a nullification law. The man, Trestin Meacham, wrote “I cannot stand by and do nothing while this evil takes root in my home. It is time for the State to stop wasting time. Our so-called conservative lawmakers need to show some courage and stand against this judicial tyranny. They need to exert the will of the people.” Meacham said he will not eat until the state legislature nullifies federal law and passes a new biblical ban on same-sex marriages that were ruled unconstitutional, not a violation of federal law. However, there is little doubt that with the level of outrage and hate permeating Utah for same-sex couples it is possible that Meacham, like former sheriff Richard Mack, supports nullification of the U.S. Constitution if the Circuit Court rules against the bible.
Americans have heard that word “nullification” often since an African American man was twice-elected President, and nullification is what prompted another “uprising” that killed three-quarters-of-a-million Americans during the Civil War. As an aside, the Supreme Court has ruled that nullification is unconstitutional, but in a state leaning toward rule by “theodemocracy” and a former law enforcement officer stating categorically that a sheriff has purview over the Constitution, it is likely nullification is in the works if the appellate court rules the bible is not the law of the land.
It is important to note why Utah Mormons banned same-sex marriages in the first place according to the state’s argument before the federal district court while defending the bible’s ban on same-sex marriages. Besides claiming same-sex couples marrying destroys opposite-sex couples’ marriages, the Mormons argued that same-sex couples cannot procreate. However, that is a bald faced lie because there is no Utah statute or constitutional amendment mandating fertility tests for opposite-sex couples applying for a marriage license, and there is no ban on post-menopausal women marrying.
If the state’s lawyer was not a coward, he would have told the court the ban on same-sex marriages was a biblical edict, but instead he chose absurd reasons for why two people who love each other could not marry, and why the Constitution’s 14th Amendment does not apply to homosexuals. By the time the Supreme Court ruled that Utah’s bible amendment was still in effect pending an appeal, over a thousand same-sex couples had married and the Mormons cited the hard work ahead if the High Court did not stop same-sex marriages before any more gays wed. In their request for a stay, Utah argued that the district court’s decision should be put on hold “to minimize the enormous disruption to the state and its citizens of having to ‘unwind’ thousands of same-sex marriages.”
It appears that there is going to be another “uprising” in Utah if the appellate court rules that the biblical ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, or if they rule the thousand-plus same-sex marriages can stand in a decision upholding the biblical amendment. The level of rage at gays wanting to marry is troubling enough, but calls for law enforcement to interfere with county clerks doing their job, and demands that the Utah legislature nullify a federal law, court decision, or the Constitution based on religious fervor informs that calls for an uprising cannot be taken lightly. It is possible the Supreme Court took the escalating anger toward same-sex couples into account in granting a stay to prevent another Mormon “uprising” because the level of hate and vitriol targeting same-sex couples and the federal government sounds as if it is driven by “hyperbolic Mormon teachings against outsiders” that did not end well for 120 Arkansas “outsiders” in 1857.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.