And during the past week, two of them suddenly decided they were experts on marriage and homosexuality. Both Tom Hanks and Sean Penn took swipes at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over its support of California Proposition 8. The lead-in story was published by the Deseret News, attracting 188 public comments. Other media reports by KSL Channel 5.
Tom Hanks was first up. On Wednesday January 14th, during the premiere party for HBO's polygamist series "Big Love", he characterized Proposition 8 supporters as "un-American". Hanks said, "The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop. 8 happen. There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process." The rest of this story was posted on the FOX News Channel. KSL video embedded below:
Video Courtesy of KSL.com
Mens News Daily sharply condemned Tom Hanks. Marc H. Rudov characterized Hanks as a mercenary who believes that speaking out on this issue will sell more tickets and fatten his wallet. Rudov also wonders if Hanks would have the stones to walk up to Barack Obama and tell him he's not American (and since Obama has yet to produce a birth certificate, that might not be completely out of line).
Then it was Sean Penn's turn at bat. The L.A. Weekly reports that the L.A. Times Gold Derby blog presented a video clip of Penn at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, where his portrayal of gay icon Harvey Milk had won the Best Actor Award. Penn was not initially in the mood for a political discussion, but when asked by Tom O'Neil and Scott Feinberg about the passage of Proposition 8, Penn didn't hold back. "The Proposition 8 thing was a fiasco in California. Mormon movement should be ashamed of itself, the black constituency that supported Prop 8 should be ashamed of itself." Penn was less certain of whether or not a pre-election day release of Milk would have helped beat Prop 8. YouTube video embedded below:
Ironically, back on December 30th, the Miami New Times reported that Mickey Rourke trashed Sean Penn's performance in Milk and called him a homophobe, so perhaps Penn was trying to get Rourke off his back.
Wisely, the LDS Church chose not to respond to these airheads.
Update: On January 23rd, Tom Hanks issued the following statement of clarification and apology on People magazine:
Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.
Fair enough. I've got no further beef with him.