l.thumbnail.jpgInfluential Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez wrote this sort of turgid tear jerker of a piece about Marjorie Christoffersen of El Coyote resigning over her Mormon faith-based donation to Yes on Prop 8. Here in part, is my response to him:

Marjorie Christoffersen never apologized to the many customers gathered there, never said she was sorry for a donation which took away their right to marry. Her action destroyed a trust, cutting her customers to the quick.

She never apologized for hurting her decades-long customers who honesty felt she liked them and cared about them. Her donation to end civil marriage equality in California showed she felt they were second-class citizens. That’s a tough enchilada to swallow.

She never acknowledged the hypocrisy of her church, which willingly took her tithe of ten per cent, and her donation of $100, earned from selling forbidden alcohol and coffee to gay customers….

I’m a straight woman, so technically I really don’t have a dog in the fight for civil marriage equality. By the powers vested in me by the State of California, I can perform weddings, though I have yet to perform a same-sex marriage. Being a right reverend has shown me an important point: Unless there is a paid, state-issued license correctly filled out, signed by the officiant, the participants and a witness, then mailed into the County Registrar Recorder, the marriage isn’t legal–even if Pat Robertson, the Pope, Mayor Villaraigosa or LDS president Thomas S. Monson performed it. Therefore, marriage is a civil contract. The anti-civil marriage campaign’s argument that churches would be forced to marry same-sex couples was specious: Any church can refuse any couple the use of their location–and many churches make their halls available only to their parish or denomination members.

Additionally, in California, civil unions are not available to opposite sex couples, therefore making the point that civil union is not equal to marriage…

Your article seemed to portray Marjorie as a victim. Well, she is: She’s a victim a rigid belief system that did not allow blacks into the priesthood until their Prophet received divine revelation in 1978. She is a victim of a faith that hypocritically allows its members to profit off the "sins" of the unbelievers. She, like so many religious folk of various denominations, is a victim of her faith’s training which prevents her look outside the box, the cage, of her "lifetime of faith" and examine how her own experience differs from her church’s teachings. So many religions deny their followers direct contact and gnosis–direct knowledge of their God–instead allowing hierarchy of hierophants to dictate thoughts, belief and action, leveraging salvation–and peer approval–through fear and control…

As a native Angeleno, I hope El Coyote does not disappear; I hope that its customer base returns to support the staff and this historic restaurant. It would be sad to lose a piece of history and have an ugly scar on Beverly Blvd in place of the low slung white adobe building with its iconic neon sign. And to have 89 more people unemployed in a city facing a massive economic downturn.

I feel for Marjorie, that her faith has so harmed her and those who thought of her as a truly compassionate friend. Her world has been shaken; she suddenly learned that her comforting religion rent asunder decades of friendships, her family’s legacy in Los Angeles, and perhaps even caused a chink in her own beliefs.

She and those who were used by their faiths to further a un-American agenda of stripping and denying rights to one set of citizens need our prayers that the scales will fall from their eyes. And those of us concerned about civil marriage rights need to continue to work on levels–practical, political, and spiritual–to secure and insure those rights for all.