Lakers-Jazz: The Prop 8 Series

This weekend, a series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz will kick off. Not too long ago, it was Utah matched up against Los Angeles in another battle — California Proposition 8. Prop 8, passed in last year’s general election, restricted marriage to heterosexual couples and eliminated homosexual couples’ right to marry.

What the hell does this have to do with the Lakers-Jazz opening round NBA Playoffs series? Everything. In my opinion, the state of Utah was responsible for the passing of Prop 8. Don’t agree with me? Then check out this excerpt from Wikipedia:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are commonly known as Mormons, also publicly supported the proposition. The First Presidency of the church announced its support for Proposition 8 in a letter intended to be read in every congregation in California. In this letter, church members were encouraged to “do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time.” Local LDS leaders set organizational and monetary goals for their membership — sometimes quite specific — in order to fulfill this call. The response of the LDS membership to their leadership’s appeals to donate money and volunteer time was very supportive, such that Latter-day Saints provided a significant source for financial donations in support of the proposition, both inside and outside the State of California. About 45% of out-of-state contributions to ProtectMarriage.com came from Utah, over three times more than any other state. ProtectMarriage, the official proponents of Proposition 8, estimate that about half the donations they received came from LDS sources, and that “eighty to ninety percent” of the early volunteers going door-to-door were LDS.

Those of us who have lived in and loved Los Angeles, celebrate the diversity and open-mindedness of the city. L.A., along with San Francisco, is arguably the most progressive city in the country. The City of Angels has always been ahead of its time, and that’s one of the reasons I love the city so much.

Salt Lake City, on the other hand, is more close-minded than just about any other major city in the U.S. Jazz? Yeah, right. There is nothing jazzy about Utah. Jazz is a beautiful art form all about experimentation, fusion and improvisation. Those things don’t exactly describe Salt Lake City, now do they? When I think of Utah, I think of the Mormon community (58% of the state, a majority) — a community as unwilling to accept and adapt to the changing world around them as any I’ve ever seen.

Since Jazz obviously doesn’t work, here are my top ten suggestions for a new team name:

  • Utah Polygamists
  • Utah Smiths
  • Utah Stockton Shorts
  • Utah Salty Lakers
  • Utah Uncle Karls
  • Utah Decaf
  • Utah Romneys
  • Utah Delusionals
  • Utah  Mountain Mormons
  • SLC Punks

Now, this post is bound to piss a whole lot of people off, because anything that challenges religion in this country always does. You know what? Religion pisses me off, too.

It pisses me off that along with color and creed, we use religion to discriminate against and ostracize each other. I’ve always believed that all of humankind is more alike than it is different. Religions like the Church of LDS challenge that belief. Believe what you will, it’s totally your right; but if everyone accepted that we are more alike than we are different we wouldn’t have many wars, now would we?

Additionally, I love gay people. Some of the nicest, most-outstanding human beings I have met during my lifetime have been homosexual. What gives the people of Utah the right to get all up in their business, especially in a state they don’t even live in? Not to mention that some of these folks have polygamous marriages. So, let me get this straight, a man can marry three women, but another man cannot marry another man? That’s the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard in my 30 years on this planet. Besides, you don’t see gay Californians spending money to prove that LDS claims are erroneous (like Native Americans being the lost tribe of Israel, which DNA testing has debunked).

My apologies to Andrei Kirilenko (who apparently was a real friend to John Amaechi, the first gay NBA player to come out), Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and the rest of the organization. I apologize to all the non-Mormons and open-minded Mormons, if they exist. I know you guys had nothing to do with Prop 8 passing. But I also know that about 60% of the fans sitting it EnergySolutions Arena were some of Prop 8’s biggest backers. People directly responsible for setting the work of equal rights pioneers like Harvey Milk and Martin Luther King Jr. back years and years.

It’s not just the fans either — its the organization and state. Ex-Jazz owner Larry Miller once banned Brokeback Mountain from his theaters. Coach Jerry Sloan has used anti-gay innuendos. Worst of all, Utah employers can actually discriminate against employers on the basis of sexual orientation. Amaechi must have felt like a crippled wolf under Sarah Palin’s helicopter during his stay in Salt Lake City.

I am already a Lakers fan, but because of the bigotry of a lot of Utah I will be rooting twice as hard for my Lake Show to sweep, humiliate and obliterate the unjazzy Jazz. The Lakers represent L.A. as much as any team represents any city anywhere. It’s the only way to exact revenge for now. That is, until Prop 8 is inevitably overtuned. As San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said about gay marriage, “it’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.”

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