Gay Advocates Angry about Mormon Political Activism

The Christian Century, December 16, 2008 | Go to article overview

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.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In response to the online petitions and protests outside LDS temples and meetinghouses in California and other states, Catholic bishop William K. …

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