Tuesday, October 21, 2008

California's Proposition 8: Open Season On Mormons?

[Dear readers: The following is an excerpted version of a piece at Article VI Blog, where I also post.]


"Open season on Mormons." Does that sound like an exaggeration? Read on. If you're like me, you'll be amazed and disgusted at the attacks on people of faith who are only expressing their religious consciences through the ballot process, and are doing so in the most all-American ways: Grassroots organizing and small financial donations.

The LDS Church and Proposition 8

According to the 2007-2008 Almanac of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Church") there are about 770,000 Church members in California. In a letter dated June 29, 2008, the Church's leaders asked members to "do all [they] can to support [California's Proposition 8] by donating of [their] means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman."

Proposition 8 would enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the State Constitution. Traditional marriage had been the only kind recognized in California since 2000, when another statewide ballot initiative passed with 61% of the vote. In May 2008, however, by a 4-3 vote, the California Supreme Court held Prop 22 unconstitutional, thus opening the door to same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

By amending the Constitution, Prop 8's supporters hope, once and for all, to settle the issue in California.
A coalition of religious groups, including all the Catholic Bishops in California, virtually all the Evangelical churches, the Orthodox Rabbis, and many others, are supporting Prop 8 with grassroots volunteers and financial donations from their members. The Mormons, however, are most visible because of their geographic distribution and lay ministry, which lend themselves very well to grassroots organizing.

Unfortunately, Prop 8's opponents, having achieved through the courts what they could never have achieved by the ballot box, have now chosen to attack not the ballot proposition, but its supporters. And because California Mormons have been so prominent in the "Yes On 8" campaign, they have become the chief target. Here's a report on some ways in which that personalized opposition has manifest itself.

Smearing Prop 8 Donors Because They Are . . . Mormons?

Maggie Gallagher at National Review Online points us to this Daily Kos post, which she calls "disgusting." (I must agree.) Here's the key excerpt:

[T]he No on Prop 8 folks told me recently that the "Protect Marriage" campaign has raised $30 million dollars--over half of it from the Mormon Church. Now, I have nothing personally against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. . . .

But when the church and its members invest millions of dollars in an attempt to write discrimination into my state's constitution . . . there will be hell to pay.

So what am I asking you to do?

Some distributed research.

There is a list of a bunch of Mormon donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign (in case that one goes down, here's a mirror with slightly worse formatting.

Here's what I'm asking for:

This list contains information about those who are big donors to the Yes on 8 campaign--donors to the tune of at least $1,000 dollars. And, as you can see, there are a lot of them. It also indicates if they're Mormon or not.

If you're interested in defeating the religious right and preserving marriage equality, here's how you can help:

Find us some ammo.

Use any LEGAL tool at your disposal. Use OpenSecrets to see if these donors have contributed to...shall we say...less than honorable causes, or if any one of these big donors has done something otherwise egregious. If so, we have a legitimate case to make the Yes on 8 campaign return their contributions, or face a bunch of negative publicity.

There are a crapload of donors on this list--so please focus on the larger ones first. $5,000 or more is a good threshold to start with.

Feel free to use Lexis-Nexis searches as well for anything useful, especially given that these people are using "morality" as their primary motivation to support Prop 8...if you find anything that belies that in any way...well, you know what to do.

If you find anything good, please email it . . . .

Here's the bottom line for me: if someone is willing to contribute thousands of dollars to a campaign to take away legal rights from some very dear friends of mine, they had damn well make sure their lives are beyond scrutiny--because I, for one, won't take it lying down.
Translation: If you are a Mormon and you donate to Prop 8, thousands of strangers will try to smear you, in the hope of intimidating you and others into not exercising your right to freedom of speech.

In other words, they want to silence you.

I wonder what level of care and caution the "distributed researchers" will apply to their efforts? Will they be sure that any embarrassing information they find about Mormon donors is accurate? Don't bet the farm on that one, folks.

And About That Web Site that Makes This Possible?

In his exhortations to smear and embarrass Mormon donors to Prop 8, the Daily Kos post relies heavily on a web site that is deceptively named "Mormons for Proposition 8." The casual reader might think the site favors Prop 8, but he would be wrong.

This is a site, run by members of the Church who oppose Prop 8 and who are unhappy about the Church's support for the ballot measure. The site's purpose? Identifying members of the Church who have donated to Prop 8 by posting the names of all donors to Yes On 8 and asking readers to identify those who are Mormons.

In what I consider a monument to sophistry, the site's sponsors have claimed it is "neutral." That would be funny if it were not such an outrageous lie. Just review the site for 2 or 3 minutes and decide for yourself whether that is true. While you're at it, look at the "FAQ" page and ask yourself if the answers given are sincere, or disingenuous and downright snide.

(By the way, I donated $1,000 to Yes On 8, and although some helpful soul has identified me on this list as a Mormon, I see lots of individuals on the list whom I know to be members of the Church, but who haven't been identified yet. Obviously, the supporters of "Mormons for Proposition 8" need to work harder.)

A lawyer friend e-mailed the site's sponsors:

Disclosure of religious association is a matter of constitutional protection and a privilege held by the congregant against disclosure. (Church of Hakeem v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. App. 3d 184 (1980)). Your forced outing to intimidate others would be a violation of civil rights if committed with the color of authority. That you are private and anonymous doesn't make what you are doing any more commendable.
Make no mistake: These people want to shine the spotlight on Mormons who donate to Yes On 8. By doing so, they hope to discourage Mormons from donating by exposing them to smear efforts like those urged by the Daily Kos.

In other words, these people are just like the Daily Kos writer: They no doubt consider themselves very progressive, but nevertheless want to silence their opponents in the public square.

That sounds an awful lot like this political system.

Harassing Members of A Church - Because of Their Membership

Apart from those repulsive efforts, how else is the opposition to Prop 8 playing out in the lives of ordinary Mormons? Well, here's a story you won't read about in the mainstream news media. I received it in a private e-mail:

This weekend we have stake conference. [Ed.: A "stake" is a geographic unit of LDS congregations, and is the rough equivalent of a Catholic diocese.] Our stake conference always begins with a stake temple session on Friday or Thursday night. Early Friday morning I received a call from the second counselor in our bishopric to let me know that there would be numerous protesters outside the temple, and to remind everyone to stay calm and to drive carefully. The beautiful Oakland Temple is located right across the bay from San Francisco, very close to the city of Berkeley. Apparently the opposition to proposition 8, the amendment that seeks to make marriage in CA between a man and a woman again, has realized the deep involvement of the [LDS] church and begun to protest right outside of the temple and harass temple patrons. The fastest way to get to the temple from our house is to take the 680 freeway, but the exit is a bit tricky. The off ramp is extremely short and straight uphill. You then make an almost blind left turn, an immediate right and another left into the parking lot.

As we approached the off ramp, I realized there would be trouble. There was a backup onto the freeway from cars stalled on the off ramp. As we moved forward inches at a time, we realized this was due to a large group of loud protesters who were standing on both sides of the street, yelling, screaming and waving signs. When we got to the top of the offramp, ready to make our turn, one protester jumped out right in front of our car. It took my husband all his self control to carefully maneuver around him to the left and proceed to the temple. I tried not to listen to all they were shouting at us, but I was shaking as I got to the temple front door.

Several of the sisters, especially the ones driving on their own, were crying . . . .
Another e-mail correspondent tells me the Oakland police did not respond to requests for help.

Keep in mind: Not everyone in the Church actively supports Prop 8. There is no way the Prop 8 protesters at the Oakland temple knew whether or not the members they were harassing had anything to do with the Church's efforts in support of the measure. They were harassing those people simply because they were Mormons.

As one of our readers notes, "It is more than a little frightening how much the Left is so much enamored with the tactic of attacking the messenger rather than engaging the substantive issues."

Yes, it is.


Full disclosure: I am a Prop 8 grassroots worker myself. My wife is Deputy Communications Director for the Yes On 8 Campaign. She had no awareness of this post prior to my publishing it, and the views expressed here are my own.

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Blogger emily said...

this is a great post.

can i repost it on my blog?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 8:44:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Your church is interfering with their families.

How would you feel if somebody spent as much energy trying to outlaw your family?

If you can't accept dissention, keep your church out of politics.

They had every right to confront you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

The people at the Daily Kos are inciting hate crimes against Mormons. The people who stopped Mormons from going to the temple are COMMITTING hate crimes and trying to prevent citizens from exercising their First Amendment Right to Freedom of Religion, simply because they had the audacity to exercise another very important First Amendment Right, Freedom of Speech.

To Scott, Please get educated about how our country works, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights.

Also understand that tolerance is a two-way street - it means, in a nutshell, allowing others to have their say even if you don't agree with them. Tolerance is not a synonym for agreeing or condoning. Free speech is for EVERYONE, Scott. Including YOU.

The CHURCH is not interfering. People who believe in this Church are acting upon their own beliefs.

Dissention is not about threatening, intimidating, attacking, vandalizing, stealing, and many other illegal and shameful actions.

We can agree to disagree and let the votes speak for themselves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger Lowell Brown said...

Emily, go right ahead. Just link back to this post so people know where it came from.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:30:00 PM  
Blogger MainTour said...

Both the state Teachers Union and Nurses Union are making major donations to the No on 8 Campaign.

Union members who support Prop 8 are asking how they can file a protest or get a refund on their union dues.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:50:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Hey Julie, what part of the California Constitution don't you understand?


SEC. 7.

(b) A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges
or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.
Privileges or immunities granted by the Legislature may be altered or

Why do Mormons hate the constitution enough to amend it to destroy the equal protection outlined above?

They funny thing is that Prop. 8 doesn't change the clause above, the Mormon church may just be ending marriage for everyone in this state. The "activist judges" have to figure out the effect of Prop. 8 if it passes and equal protection is still equal protection so it may be domestic partnerships for all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Per his website - the bloger goes by the handle fo "hekebolos"

This info is per his site

Website: http://www.hekebolos.com
Email: hekebolos-at-gmail-dot-com

Dante Atkins

CA DSCC elected delegate, AD-42

Member, CDP Platform Committee

Vice-President, Los Angeles County Young Democrats

There in a nutshell is his ID. For those of you wondering who was putting out the "hit"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt Keyser said...

Scott, you have no idea how wrong you are... Have you even taken the two seconds it requires to read the proposed amendment? For your lazy carcass, the entire text of Proposition 8 is as follows:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

This neither adds to nor nullifies Sec 7. Marriage is a religious rite (ceremony), not a civil right. The civil right happens when you apply for the license to marry. Civil Unions are granted this same civil right and are recognized as equal in the State of California in terms of "privileges and immunities". I fully understand that some federal laws are not as progressive, but THEY should be changed, not the definition of Marriage!

Why redefine a religious rite when you can and should get equal rights through legislation? Oh sorry, no one wants to look at it that way - "Marriage is a civil right", right? ;)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

No Kurt,

Apparently YOU haven't been paying attention. Here is what the CHIEF JUSTICE of the CA Supreme Court had to say back in June:

"George: If this amendment to the constitution passes, it would prevent gay people from being married, but it would not remove this protection that we put in our analysis. ... We're saying that if you look at a classification of gay people, you must treat it just as if you are classifying on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion. And that is probably the most important thing in the whole ruling, even though the population's attention understandably has mostly been on the "M word" of marriage."


It's your "lazy carcass" that doesn't have a clue what you're backing.

But hey, what the heck does the Chief Justice know right? I also think that writing a religious ceremony into a state constitution violates a few federal things as well.

Nice try Kurt but I think I'm well aware of what the law says.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:18:00 AM  
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:10:00 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Funny that the gay-marriage prpononents accuse those who support proposition 8 of hate--when it is their own tactics that demonstrate hate!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Chino Blanco said...

A6 (Sonja Eddings Brown): As a respected long-time member of the Christian ministry, how do you feel we are doing as a country when it comes to the actual separation of Church and State?

Reverend Murray: I think the separation of Church and State is a basic policy that we simply must follow. Not to follow that separation, that line in the sand separating church and state is to flirt with danger. Now of course when you separate church and state that doesn’t mean that you weed religion out of those who are in politics, not that you weed politics out of those in religion, but you can’t customize it, you can’t structure it, so that you have the bully pulpit dictating to Congress. You can’t give God a stick and you be God’s agent and you are whipping people into line in your religious context.

You have your religion, your religion is personal. And even though religion is personal but never private, it cannot be public to the extent that it’s “my way or the highway.”

It isn’t American and it isn’t sensible to make the bully pulpit the bully. The bully pulpit at best deals with conscience and conscientiousness. Not consensus and not control. People have the right to believe as they believe. The Pure Charity Trust says that 87% of Americans believe in God but now when we look at how these Americans look at God, you have the Abrahamic faiths. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. You have the faith that comes out of the Mormon Church, you have Bhuddist and Daoist. These people have the right to their individual beliefs, but no one has the right to a collective belief that sweeps and demands and says you believe as we believe ... or you get hurt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it seems as though it is easy to get 'entrenched' in lots of different opinions and side-issues. It is most unfortunate that people go to this length to persecute others (Mormons) in this case, because they view an issue differently than the persecutors. I hear alot about the need for 'tolerance', but for some reason it seems to come from the No on 8 side referring to the Yes on 8 side...but, what I see is INTOLERANCE toward supporters of Prop 8 from those who oppose this measure....paradox, don't you think?

Usually, intolerance comes from misunderstandings. If there is understanding, respect can thrive. We can agree to disagree agreeably?

I think this link may help to clarify the issue...whether or not you support Prop 8.


Dissension is not a positive thing.

We thankfully each have an equal vote, and no matter how you think/feel about this issue, it is great to remember that we all have equal opportunity to voice our opinion, we then must respect (whether we like it or not) the voice of the majority.

Four Supreme justices overturned the voice of the people from the vote on Prop 22 in 2000.

The rights of the Consitution provide for government by the people. This will put the voice of the people paramount and beyond the pervue of the justices.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger Briana said...

Thank you for the post! I appreciate the information and I really enjoy your blog. I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It brings me so much peace!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 8:20:00 PM  
Blogger jenni said...

I know you probably will just look past this, but Hey. I just wanted to share this link.


I'm from LA, and it's pretty miserable at times over here too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would also like to add, if people hate mormons for at one point practicing polygamy and then turn around and hate them for expressing their support for prop 8 are contradicting themselves. Marriage isn't a free for all, you can't marry your sibling no matter your sexual attraction to him or her, you can't marry your mom, if you are 40 you can't marry a 12 year old. You can't have more than one spouse. So, what about those "people" who are denied "equal rights"?

don't forget that civil union is everything marriage is without it being called marriage. Why isn't it called marriage? it. just. is. not. the. same. They have all the same political rights in terms of fiscal, tax etc etc as straight married couples. (At least in california)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Reuven said...

Some Evangelicals are telling people to Vote NO on Proposition 8

Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

The Kosher Hedgehog smells something treif (not kosher) in the post by Reuven. The link he provides is to a website, www.baytzim.com, that has only one page, an anti-Prop. 8 message. The author is supposedly a Christian minister named Joe Baytzim, of the "Church of Eliyahu Ha-Navi" supposedly in Orange, California. The word "baytzim" is Hebrew for "eggs," or, colloquially, for "balls" (i.e., testicles). The slang use in modern Israeli Hebrew of "baytzim" is exactly the same as in English, such as "you've got some baytzim to post that sort of anti-Mormon bigotry. The name of the Church is Hebrew for Elijah the Prophet. Directory assistance has no listing for a Church of Eliyahu Ha-Navi in Orange, California. Since "Reuven" is also a Hebrew name, and "Reuven" is posting this link all over the internet, I strongly suspect that there is some association between Reuven and the probably fictional Reverend Joe Baytzim. In other words, this is a hoax perpetrated by an opponent of Prop. 8, and an anti-Mormon bigot as well. Sort of what we have come to expect from the anti-Prop. 8 crowd.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous CarlH said...

The Kosher Hedgehog's suspicions were spot on. There has been an "Update" added, and the small link to "Chino Blanco" at the bottom of the page, removes all possible doubt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 4:52:00 PM  
Blogger Reuven said...

As JESUS said on the cross: "גוייִש משוגעת"

Friday, October 24, 2008 5:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My goodness folks. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. Unless Im not mistaken, the first amendment is quite clear on ones right to be able to have an opinion, even if it is not in agreement with others. I support prop 8 as a voting American, regardless of my religious affiliation. I truly pity Scott and others who take offense to anyone who expresses themselves and their beliefs in the correct format (Voting). We are a society of Laws and rules. If you dont like it, you can vote for what you think is right and the legislative process will go forward and sort it out. Its alwasy been this way in the USA, and it will continue to be so.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

It has been eight years since Proposition 22 (the California Defense of Marriage Act) passed with 61%. How many new voters have been indoctrinated by California’s liberal public education system since then? And how did Attorney General Jerry Brown get away with changing the name of Proposition 8 from, “California Marriage Protection Act” to, “Elliminates Right of Same Sex Couples to Marry?” Of course, the Superior Court of California ruled in favor of the change. If Proposition 8 passes, it will be a miracle–but then so was the passage of Proposition 22. I noticed my parents are on the list of donors, so the attempts to attack these donors is personal for me. They have also been going door to door in support of Proposition 8. I have to say, though, that even if it passes, as long as children are being indoctrinated by California’s liberal public education system, we are only hacking at the branches. The long-term solution to the problem? School vouchers

Sunday, November 02, 2008 6:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the dust settles after this election, I am going to begin collecting signatures for a proposition to ban same-party marriages between Republicans. That is, I am going to set out to amend the California Constitution to prohibit two members of the GOP from marrying one another. The point is that the values of Republicans (e.g., pro-discrimination, anti-equality under the law, pro-torture, pro-warrantless wiretapping, etc.) are contrary to the values that made this country great and are un-American. Moreover, there has obviously been too much inbreeding among Republicans. As such, I don't even want them to have the right to form a "civil union," which would be an oxymoron in the case of two Republicans anyway.

I hope my fellow Democrats will join me in this noble effort. We're in a majority in this state. So, we should have no problem trampling all over the rights of the Republican minority. Moreover, after the Proposition 8 campaign, they will have no arguments to make in opposition to my proposition. What are they going to say, that their 14th Amendment right to equal treatment under the law has been deprived them, or something? The simple response to that argument would be that we cannot have our children taught in school that the marriage between two Republicans is of the same value as a marriage between two Democrats.

I hope you will stand up for American values and support me on this important proposition.

Sunday, November 02, 2008 11:34:00 AM  

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