Gay Advocates Angry about Mormon Political Activism
Angered by the Election Day passage of Proposition 8, which reversed California's same-sex marriage ruling by amending the state's constitution, gay rights activists have taken their battle to the blogosphere and to the streets, targeting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for encouraging Mormons to bankroll the Yes on 8 campaign.
Discontent over passage of Proposition 8 resulted in clashes and protests outside LDS temples from Los Angeles to New York--and some non-Mormons have rushed to defend the church from what they call bigoted attacks.
The Mormon hierarchy did heavily support overturning a California Supreme Court decision granting gay marriage rights, but Mormons make up less than 2 percent of California's population. According to exit polls, most of the 52 percent of California voters who approved Prop 8 were white evangelical Christians, Catholics or African-Americans.
Nevertheless, numerous Web sites venting anger over Prop 8 have focused on Mormons, arguing that their church violated its tax-exempt status by urging its national membership to contribute to California's Yes on 8 campaign.
According to Mormonsfor8.com, a Web site founded by Utah attorney Nadine Hansen to match campaign records to church membership rosters, about half of the $36 million raised by the Yes on 8 campaign came from Mormons--a figure the Yes on 8 campaign has neither confirmed nor denied.
"Their members put the lion's share of the money into it," said Ron Oliver, 48, of Palm Springs, California, who launched a "Mormons Stole Our Rights" Facebook page. "On a fundamental level--and I don't use that pun lightly--they continually say they're for goodness and wholesomeness and love, and it strikes me that it's a tad hypocritical that it's 'except if you're this,' or 'except if you're that.'"
Oliver admits that getting the Mormons' tax-free status revoked is a long shot--churches are allowed to lobby on social issues and are only prohibited from endorsing individual candidates--but argues that the larger principle of separation of church and state warrants further discussion.
In response to the online petitions and protests outside LDS temples and meetinghouses in California and other states, Catholic bishop William K. …