Last week in a deplorable act, California's Yes on Proposition 8 campaign filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to permanently throw out the California Political Reform Act passed by the voters in 1974. The very group led by the Mormon Church that insisted the voters have the final say on the issue of gay marriage, now wants to change California's 35 year old election law to keep contributors to all initiative campaigns secret.
They claim that a handful of their over 64,000 contributors have been harassed since Prop 8's narrow victory on November 4th. This frivolous lawsuit is their latest publicity stunt in an effort to change their image and demonize the gay community which was just stripped of its freedom to marry in California, just as it has been in 29 other states.
This issue should not have been on the ballot in the first place. The proponents of this lawsuit spent over $2 million to hire hundreds of professional signature gatherers to qualify Prop 8 for the November ballot just as same-sex marriage became the law of the land. Now they want to change the rules.
Who is behind this lawsuit? The filing lists ProtectMarriage.com the coalition which managed Yes on Prop 8 from day one, and the Princeton, New Jersey based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) which raised most of the $2 million to qualify Prop 8.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative Christian legal organization based in Arizona filed the lawsuit. Guess who helped start the ADF? James Dobson who runs the Colorado based Focus on the Family for one. Focus on the Family gave $623,000 to Yes on Prop 8. Also listed as a founder of ADF is Donald Wildmon who runs the Tupelo, Mississippi based American Family Association (AFA) which gave $500,000 to Yes on 8. AFA is also the Boycott leader of the world. They have organized over 25 national boycotts against American companies who support equal rights for women and minorities. Now they are complaining about boycotts? Other big financial backers of AFA are Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, whose mother Elsa Prince gave $450,000 to Yes on 8, and her relatives Richard and Helen DeVos. And of course so is William Bolthouse, founder of Bolthouse Farms, who was a very early $100,000 contributor to ProtectMarriage.com.
But the real force behind this latest gay bashing attempt has got to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka the Mormon Church. Yes, the same Mormon Church which raised nearly $25 million from its members for their Prop 8 campaign.
The Mormon Church has recently embarked on a new rublic relations campaign to "redefine" its image," which it says is being "defined by others." They just hosted a press dinner at their Salt Lake City Temple for print and radio reporters as well as ABC's Nightline. Nightline did a very interesting segment last week on the Church's PR campaign and interviewed two of the twelve Mormon apostles, Russell Ballard and Quentin Cook.
In this first of a kind interview, these two top Mormon leaders defended the Church's role in Prop 8. Apostle Ballard even continued to gloat about their success by smugly saying "when something needs to get done, we know how to do it."
Does that mean that the Mormon Church is behind this frivolous lawsuit to try and redefine its image? Are they trying to hide behind others?
The Mormon Church has led anti gay marriage campaigns since Utah became the first state in the nation to ban same-sex marriage back in 1995. Next they funded campaigns in Hawaii and Alaska, but after taking too much heat over their direct involvement, the Church decided to have their members contribute the money directly to these costly initiatives. They also determined that others should "front" these campaigns. This recently came to light in a secret memo written by Mormon Church leaders on March 4, 1997. It specifically mentioned recruiting the Catholic Church to take more of a public role in future anti gay ballot measures. Here is the link to that memo as originally posted on Daily Kos.
Last year over 59,000 Mormon families contributed to Yes on 8, and did so after a lot of strong arm twisting by Mormon leaders. These Mormon families gave til it hurt. Many even have gay family members, but were required to give to this anti gay ballot measure by their Church.
The Mormon Church ran every aspect of the Yes on 8 campaign. They raised nearly 75% of the money, ran the advertising, which had church members in all of the commercials and did nearly all of the grassroots work. Mormon President Monson wrote a letter that was read in late June in every Mormon Church building, calling on members to "give of their time and resources to pass Proposition 8."
While the Mormon Church is not listed as a plaintiff in this lawsuit, which names all major California election officials including the Attorney General. Secretary of State and the Registrar of Voters of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento Counties, they are likely very much behind it.
The lawsuit also names as defendants, the Chairman and the four other Commissioners of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which is in the middle of an active investigation of the Mormon Church for its alleged lack of reporting of what could amount to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-monetary contributions to Yes on 8.
This vindictive lawsuit even asks that the contributors to Yes on 8 from mid October through year end be kept secret as well. There are presumably thousands more donors of between $100 to $999 who have yet to be reported. What are they trying to hide? The public should know the names of all those who contributed to this and every other ballot initiative in California. It is the law.
We at Californians Against Hate deplore any threats, violence and hate directed at anyone. The gay community knows only too well how painful this can be. But this lawsuit is merely an effort to turn on the fog machine and try and redefine the image of its promoters.