The LA Times has been following the money trail in California to find out who supports the ballot initiative to ban same sex marriage and who supports marriage equality. And it's no surprise that the money trail is pretty much identical to the funds raised during the Prop 22 campaign back in 2000.
Another thing that won't come as a surprise is that the Mormon Church is heavily involved in the fundraising efforts this go around, much as they were during the 2000 campaign. According to the website Mormons for Proposition 8, Mormons have contributed more than $5 million dollars ban same-sex marriage in California:
There are about 770,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, according to the most recent statistics published in its 2007-2008 Almanac. These LDS Church members account for about 2% of California's population. In a letter dated June 29, 2008, Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City called for church members to work hard to pass Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 is a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would change the state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Many, if not most, Mormons have responded to the church leaders' request for assistance on this matter by actively campaigning for and donating to protectmarriage.com.
According to the Provo Daily Herald, Mormons aren't limiting their efforts to simply giving money, although they are certainly opening those checkbooks.
"I suspect that when this is done, probably 80 percent of the money [from individuals] will be from Mormons," said Hansen, who describes her site as a neutral place to simply show who is donating. . . .
LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Monday that donor questions should be directed to ProtectMarriage, a coalition trying to pass the proposition. Coalition spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said the church has played a significant role in support of the proposition, but that the coalition does not keep track of donors' religions.
There have also been 25,000 volunteers going door to door each weekend to inform voters about their point of view.
"A good portion of those have been from the LDS Church," Kerns said.
When I was growing up in the Mormon Church, I was always told that the Church would never get involved in politics, and that a person's political views were between them and God. That, of course, was a big fat lie. The Mormon Church has always had it's hand in politics. And whether we're talking about individual members pumping money into bigoted hate campaigns, or the Church itself funneling money from its huge coffers to these campaigns, that's a lot of cheddar. I stopped paying tithing to the Mormon Church back in 1998 after Matthew Sheppard was killed. And while I haven't had my name officially removed from the Church's membership records, I completely cut my mental and emotional ties in 2000 when the Church asked out of state members to support Prop 22 in California. Separation of church and state my ass!
Want to know where the pro-marriage equality camp stands? The LA Times reports that as of September 17, we have raised $10,847,114 compared to the anti-marriage camp's $16,231,781. Alex already gave a break down of this funding that shows most of that money is from out of state. So where do the rich, Hollywood A-gays stand on the issue? Karen Ocamb dishes that dirt in this week's IN LA Magazine:
[C]lose scrutiny of the California Secretary of State's Campaign Finance website indicates that DeGeneres has not contributed to the fight against Prop 8 . . . So while their visibility as openly LGBT celebrities and entertainment power players is important, their financial absence from the specific fight to save the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry is hurting.
Also missing (as of Sept. 10) from the rolls were: Rosie O'Donnell, whose Feb. 27, 2004, marriage to Kelli Carpenter was nullified; Sir Elton John, who tied the civil partnership knot with partner David Furnish in England; rock star Melissa Etheridge, whose domestic partnership/wedding to actress Tammy Lynn Michaels Sept. 22, 2003, was celebrated in In Style magazine.
Other producers and directors not on the list include Paul Colichman (here!TV) Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Bryan Singer (Superman Returns), Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin), and Gus Van Sant, though Bruce Cohen, who produced Milk, directed by Van Sant, was recently married and did contribute. Max Muchnick (Will & Grace) also contributed, as did David Geffen, partner in DreamWorks, who gave $50,000, and Bryan Lourd, managing partner of Creative Artists Agency who contributed $5,000.
How is it that rank and file members of the Mormon Church can open their pocketbooks for this campaign, but wealthy A-gays aren't doing the same? It's time to pay up, Ellen. A few weeks ago you asked the world to celebrate your fancy wedding to Portia. And you even gave viewers a tour of your fancy house on your show. What I want to see is you spending some cash to protect your marriage to your beautiful wife. Because if you can afford a lavish wedding, you can afford to support marriage equality.
The same goes for Rosie, Elton, and Melissa. You made your careers pandering to an LGBT audience. I say it's time to pay it back. If middle class Mormons with one income and 5 kids can afford it, so can you. Straight folks like Brad Pitt and Fran Drescher have coughed up cash to fight this initiative. Get on board already!