Serena Freewomyn

Mormon Church Pumping Money into California Marriage Initiative

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | September 18, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gay marriage, LDS, marriage, marriage equality, Mormon, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

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

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!

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 18, 2008 9:18 PM

The news today said Brad Pitt just donated $100,000 to the No on 8 effort. Good for him!

And our side is ahead in the polls, 58% to 38%, which at this late date is significant.

We have to keep up the fight! But I do feel heartened.

It came out late yesterday that Ellen and Portia will be holding a huge fundraiser soon. The invites went out yesterday. I'll blog it later today.

Does anyone know if the Mormon church can get involved in this way? I mean, wouldn't their tax-exempt status prevent them from advocating policy, or is it just that they can't endorse specific politicians?

The Church itself can't send money, but that hasn't stopped it from telling members to do so. They've sent letters to be read at the pulpit. I'm not sure how that affects their 501c3 status, but something tells me they just don't care.

The Mormons are standing up for their beliefs, similar to how you are, but in a different manner and opinion. If they want to donate money to fight gay marriage that is 100% fine and should not be condoned in a negative light.

Guess what? My mom's church is FASTING so that this ballot will get passed. Religious folks!!!!!

Ballot - I meant, bill, you know what I mean. :) Craziness.

The Mormon church has constitutional rights and rights of free speech just like the rest of us do. They do not tell people who to vote for; only encourage them to vote. They are well within their rights in getting involved in moral issues and this is definitely a moral issue.

i don't see how utah and the people there should have any business with the creation of laws in california.

we had this problem with a special interest group in virginia, pouring money into laws for road projects here in maryland. now, it's maryland who's stuck with the bill and the bad plans, all of which were based on lies and deception.

can i even mention that there are mormons who are against this sort of involvement in politics? it's not the church, its the crazy church leaders, and it's hypocrisy on their part.

I am LDS (Mormon is a nickname and incorrect just as an fyi) We as members were only 'encouraged' to support Yes on 8 AS IT IS forbidden in the bible. The SAME bible that ALL Christianity reads whether you're Baptist, LDS or Protestant and so on. It is no different for us to obey this law as with any other laws that were written- treat your body as a temple- thus we do not drink, smoke or engage in any other harmful substances. Let us remember, these laws are not laid down by our leaders but by the Lord himself.

'Mormons' were not the ONLY church supporting this campaign. Where was the passion for NO on 8 while it was time to compaign? I saw street corner after street corner day after day leading up to the election with dozens of people campaigning with signs for Yes on 8 and I only saw 1 group ONE day with No on 8 signs.

Since we only make up 2% of the Calif population I guess we should take it as a compliment that the rest of the world thinks we are SO powerful that we alone actually moved mountains... hmmm

Anyhow, when our church donate MILLIONS of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to help when there is a crisis- ANYWHERE around the world such as the Tsunami, earthquakes, hurricanes etc- nothing is said, thats fine but if the church as a whole decides we will do our best to HONOR the words of the Lord, then we're heathens

Well, Shelly. I was raised Mormon and was married (sealed)in the Los Angeles Temple. I came out of the closet at the age of 35. Yes, Shelly, I am a lesbian. I still hold the strong values the church has taught me to be Christ-like and honest. I have 4 children whom I have shared these values with. I feel lied to and cheated by the church that I loved so much. Christ would not have hated me. Christ would have accepted me and another child that his father has created. I knew that I was different when I was 6yrs old. I remember my first crush and my first kiss. Yes, It was the little girl that lived across the street from me. I tried to force myself to live a lie and I almost killed my self rather than disapoint my family and parents and tell them I was a lesbian. How sad. 1 in every 3 teen age suicides is a gay teen afraid to come out to thier parents. I at the age of 35 almost killed myself and left 4 beautiful kids with out a mother. This hateing has to stop. Read a great book by Carolyn Pearson about accepting our gay youths. She is sick of seeing beautiful gay mormon teens end thier own lives because of the fear that the church has placed on them. Before you attack another person, walk around in their skin and look at the world through their eyes. Christ would never pass a law saying that I could not be married to the person I loved. God made me too.

What in the WORLD does Matthew Shepherd have to do with the author leaving the LDS church? Was there some kind of LDS conspiracy there??? This is ridiculous. And the LDS church has the right to support whatever it wants. That's protected by the constitution of this country.

First off, the church itself didn't contribute a dime. It isn't allowed to by law. The church's members gave the money, so I think the headline is misleading a little. The member's themselves had personal views that are obviously held by the church too that they used in support of this amendment. I don't think there would have been anger like this shown if it didn't pass. It is just a view held and when a vote is available to someone to stop something they see as immoral, then a person should vote their conscience. Imagine if you had a brother addicted to crack and there was a law you could vote for to stop the legallization of crack. Would you not vote to stop it? Doesn't mean you don't love your crack-loving brother, but you are trying to do right for him. From a morality standpoint, this is the same. You might disagree (which I can respect), but that is the point of view. This isn't an issue of denial, but morality for all (including the millions of people who are not LDS) who voted Yes.

it's a little disingenuous to say that the Mormon Church didn't strong arm its members into donating money to the Yes on 8 campaign. Ya'll had multiple letters from the Brethren read to you from the pulpit about this. Many people received phone calls from church authorities telling them the specific amount of money they should donate. And the church had a live broadcast for all the Arizona stakes on the Sunday before the campaign that was all about Prop 102 and Prop 8. President Monson's hands are just as dirty as the individual members.

All the Mormon church said was "this is a chance to stand up for what we believe in, we don't get involved with political issues, it doesn't matter what political party you are, this is a moral issue. We believe marriage is a sacred covenant between a worthy man and a worthy woman, and God. You are entitled to your views on this, but we encourage you to help protect marriage by donating money, or your time for the cause."

What is wrong and about that? You teach moral family-centric values forever, and then when the time comes to actually stand up for them, you let the people know its time to stand up for them. Haha, I just don't see whats so wrong about that. The people willingly donated whatever money they could and their time. Also, its basically a moral no-brainer from the churches standpoint. Its a double win situation, protect the sanctity of marriage, and denounce sinful behavior.

Remember Prohibition? Moral no-brainer aswell. Could have saved countless lives. But people love to make money. In the world, money always wins. Good thing Prop. 8 wasn't about money, but about morality, and good always wins =D! (I'm especially happy to see this in a world where sex, violence, destruction, and acceptance of it is fed to us everyday, especially in the media.)

Also, what in the world happened in Florida and Arizona? Same-sex marriage bans passed no problem. Whats going on?? The Mormons, they are everywhere!?

P.S. I got sprayed with a water bottle from some lesbians who had their car all marked up with "I'm a lesbian" and "Obama 08" writing (for all I know, it could have been you), while I was holding up signs on the street corner the day before the vote. Basically, I got assaulted while peacefully picketing on public property (try saying that 5 times fast, ha). All I see from the opponents of prop 8 is animosity, hate, and intolerance towards the supporters of prop 8, and it even continues after the vote has taken place. Wow, talk about voting for the right people for once in my life haha.

the no campaign raised more money and more of it came from out of state than the yes campaign. pot calling the kettle black situation here.