MARCH 26, 2009
There has been a lot of coverage given to the additional complaint that we filed last week with the Californian Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). Along with the complaint, we released and posted 11 secret Mormon documents on our new web site:
www.Mormongate.com These documents detail how the Mormon Church operated using a “front group” in Hawaii to lead the effort to pass that state’s Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, just as they did in California with Prop 8 last year.
We have included (below) an excellent column in today’s Salt Lake Tribune by Rebecca Walsh and wonderful story by Susan Ferriss from the Sacramento Bee, and links to many more newspaper, TV, radio, wire service and blog stories.
Also below, are two nasty attack pieces against the media and me by the #1 and #2 top people at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). One is a Blog posting by NOM President Maggie Gallagher and the other as part of a fund-raising email from NOM Executive Director Brian S. Brown.
He refers to me as “sad, pathetic and disturbing,” because I am trying to help determine the truth about how much money the Mormon Church put in to pass Prop 8 – there is no telling how much they actually spent. He then accuses me of living in a “sad, strange, narrow world.” Thanks, Brian. Think the personal attacks are uncalled for, particularly after earlier calls by you and your client, the Mormon Church, for “respect and civility,” and to “rise above the hate.”
Brian, let’s please have that “civility and respect” and an apology for all your mud-slinging would be nice.
And, Maggie, you blogged some pretty harsh words about our fight for equality and civil rights. And your mean-spirited words directed at our fine and honest leaders were uncalled for. I would hope that you would join Brian and apologize as well.
NOM AS MORMON CHURCH FRONT GROUP
We believe that we have solved the puzzle of where in the hell the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) sprang up from. NOM suddenly appeared in the summer of 2007, just in time to qualify Prop 8 for the ballot, where two years earlier, two separate attempts to qualify a similar Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage in California failed. The brand new start-up NOM raised an impressive $2 million to hire all the professional signature gatherers necessary to collect the 1.1 million signatures to put Prop 8 on the ballot.
Now NOM is leading the charge to defeat same-sex marriage in 7 Northeast states. They still refuse to tell us where all the money is coming from. Brian Brown left a six figure job and free car as Executive Director of theFamily Institute of Connecticut to run the day-to-day operations at NOM. Is the Mormon Church paying you directly, Brian? Or is one if their affiliates?
The Mormon Church just got caught in Illinois, see Box Turtle Bulletin story by Jim Burroway (click here), for having its members lobby state representatives directly to defeat a Civil Unions bill. Now it sure appears that they are having NOM do it for them around the country to try and salvage their reputation.
The Salt Lake Tribune
Walsh: LDS elders showed seasoned political savvy on California's Prop. 8
03/26/2009 10:43:44 AM MDT
At post-election rallies in California, protestors passed out IRS complaint forms.
The paperwork for reporting a tax violation by a nonprofit was already filled out -- with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' name and address. People simply had to sign the bottom.
The Internal Revenue Service ultimately will decide whether the Mormon church crossed a line in U.S. tax law when it funneled at least $190,000 of its own resources and directed individual members to give and give often in the $83 million campaign to ban gay marriage in California.
I doubt it. South Temple and their attorneys are too careful for that.
Documents leaked to Californians Against Hate show in fascinating detail the calculated way Mormon spiritual leaders spearheaded Hawaii's gay marriage fight 10 years ago. The handful of memos from then-Elder Loren C. Dunn to various members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reveal a political machine within a patriarchy of faith:
Richard Wirthlin, not yet a general authority, polled the relative popularity of Mormons versus Catholics. When results showed Catholics had a better image in Hawaii, Mormon leaders decided to stay in the background. They hired a Hawaiian advertising firm, McNeil Wilson, on a $250,000 retainer. They tacked on gambling and legalized prostitution to give the anti-marriage front group "room to maneuver in the legislature" and "broaden our base and appeal," Dunn wrote. They searched for an "articulate middle-age mother" who was neither Mormon nor Catholic to be the face of the campaign.
The documents are old -- mostly updates and memos dated between 1995 and 1998. And the church won't say they're real or acknowledge they were leaked.
"We are unconcerned about these documents," says spokesman Scott Trotter. "The Church's position on the importance of traditional marriage has been consistent over the years."
There's no reason to think the internal political organization built by Dunn and Wirthlin and others has been dismantled. If anything, the political fight to amend California's constitution shows LDS elders have learned from their mistakes and honed their campaign strategy. Rather than financing the crusade themselves as they did in Hawaii, giving $400,000 in church funds, leadership decided to call on members nationwide for financing.
Californians Against Hate Director Fred Karger is trying to make the case that the Mormon church violated California's Political Reform Act by obscuring the institutional money spent on advertising, phone banks and sending elders to the state to supervise and rally the faithful.
"They started this in 1988, putting together this plan to bring the church into a major role in opposing same-sex marriage," he says. "You kind of have a boilerplate."
Aside from financial disclosure discrepancies, the IRS is another matter. U.S. tax code prohibits churches and other nonprofits from spending "substantial" amounts of money on lobbying. Ultimately, IRS investigators will decide whether the Mormon role in Yes on 8 qualifies as substantial.
Watching from a distance, Salt Lake City tax attorney Bill Orton doesn't think so.
"I can't imagine that [church attorneys] Kirton & McConkie would miss something in tax law," says the faithful Mormon and former congressman. "I would not have injected the church into [the Proposition 8 fight] to the extent that they did. But I don't see that they've done anything unlawful. I don't think the church is in any trouble whatsoever."
Legal or not, the handful of documents Karger has posted at CaliforniansAgainstHate.com reveal the dual roles played by Mormon leaders. For faithful church members who still see the apostles as simple grandfatherly gurus of the spiritual, this is an awakening.
They're also canny political hands.
Gay-marriage supporters lodge new complaint against Mormon Church
By Susan Ferriss firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, March 21, 2009
An additional complaint about the Mormon Church’s support for Proposition 8 rolled into the state's Fair Political Practices Commission this week.
Roman Porter, the FPPC's executive director, confirmed Friday receiving a request for more investigation -- with links to alleged Mormon insider documents -- from Fred Karger of the group Californians Against Hate.
Karger's complaint, dated Thursday, asks the commission to look more deeply into whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spent far more staff time and money on Proposition 8 than officially disclosed. The complaint will be added to the original complaint Karger filed last November about the Mormon Church, Porter said.
Karger accuses the Mormon church of setting up the National Organization for Marriage in 2007 to work to qualify Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot in California. The group "came out of nowhere," Karger said, "and all of a sudden it began raising big, big money."
Karger said the alleged insider documents he obtained -- he would not say from where -- reveal a pattern of the church setting up "front groups" to hide church financing to stop gay marriage. He includes in his complaint alleged correspondence between Mormon Church members in the 1990s who were involved in lobbying against gay-marriage proposals in Hawaii. The letters bear the signatures of then high-level Mormon representatives, and describe the need to lower the profile of the church in the Hawaii effort by working in coalition with figures from other religions.
One June 1996 letter purportedly shows a Mormon Church representative was aware that media were interested in probing church donations to the coalition in Hawaii.
"We have organized things so the Church contribution was used in an area of coalition activity that does not have to be reported," the letter reads.
In an e-mailed statement, Mormon church spokeswoman Kim Farah denied establishing the National Organization for Marriage and said the church has reported its entire contribution of $190,000 to Proposition 8.
Farah said the church has not tried to verify the authenticity of the documents related to the Hawaii campaign against gay marriage.
Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage's executive director and a Roman Catholic, said, "The only way to respond to Fred Karger is one word: ridiculous."
Brown said his group includes a Mormon board member and people of many other faiths. The early money that was used to get enough signatures to put Proposition 8 on the ballot, he said, came from mostly well-off Catholic individuals.
Jeff Flint, a Proposition 8 campaign manager, accused Karger of "irrational hatred" of the Mormon church. "I'm not exactly sure how to answer the latest conspiracy theory," Flint said.
Fred Karger’s Wacky Pro-Hate Campaign!
I cannot tell you how precious your prayers and your support are to me. God's blessing be upon you and your family, Brian S. BrownExecutive DirectorNational Organization for Marriage20 Nassau Street, Suite 242Princeton, NJ email@example.com
COPY OF MAGGIE GALLAGHER’S ATTACK BLOG
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Amazing Power of The Culture (Part 6) [Maggie Gallagher]
What will happen to marriage once the government and the law insist that same-sex unions ARE marriage, “whether you like it or not”?
First, this set of ideas about marriage will necessarily be privatized: that male and female point to each other, that marriage has deep roots in the necessity of bringing men and women together, because society needs babies, and babies need their mother and father in one family.
Next, because the prime argument for gay marriage is an equality argument, this traditional view of marriage will also be stigmatized: that is, treated as a discarded and discredited relic of bigotry that we have happily overcome.
I remember most vividly — it's just an anecdote, yes — a very smart young Harvard law student asked me, her voice dripping with suspicion and disdain: “Why are you so upset about same-sex marriage; how is it going to affect you anyway?”
When I pointed out to her how the law treats people who oppose interracial marriage in our society — professional licenses at risk, school accreditations potentially denied, state and federal tax-exempt statuses put into play — I watched her eyes open wide. She had never thought of this at all. And then I watched her turn on a dime and say, “You’re right. That’s how bigots SHOULD be treated in our society.”
Ideas are powerful things.
Evan Wolfson, one of the lead architects of the gay-marriage movement, understands this very well. That’s why he told National Journal, according to Neil Munro: "Once same-sex marriage is accepted across the board, he said, there won't be any need for a term to distinguish gay or straight couples who marry to raise children from those who wed to love and help each other."
It's quite an interesting article. Among the other folks quoted is my old pal, Fred Karger, who founded Californians Against Hate. He's right now in the middle of trying to prove that the National Organization for Marriage was secretly founded by the Mormon church as a front group — good luck with that one Fred — as part of a broader personal campaign to harass, threaten, and intimidate members of the LDS church who exercize their core civil rights to support marriage. He's very open about it. 'That is my goal . . . We're chasing them now, and they don't like it,' he said. "They better get used to it.'"
"The word 'marriage' needs to be used to describe all relationships of two people who are loving and committed to each other," says Sara Beth Brooks, the lead organizer of a march in San Diego on November 15. "To deny that semantic attachment to our relationships is the exact same thing as denying an African-American person the right to attend the same schools as a white person."
Right. Why do they keep saying that? Because they mean it.
Gay marriage will not leave marriage undisturbed. If gay marriage becomes the law of the land, then this thing called marriage that I care about, and that most human societies have specially protected, will become nameless in the public square — also, unmentionable in polite society.
(Will polygamy be next? For me, this is a side issue. But Evan Wolfson would say — he said this one time when I debated him on Long Island — that’s up to the polygamists to launch a movement and find out. I say: Don’t ask me, ask the guys at Harvard Law school. Because as far as I can tell they work these things out for themselves and let us know afterwards.)
(To be continued . . .)
LINKS TO MORE MEDIA COVERAGE OF MORMONGATE
Air America Jon Elliott Show March 18, 2009 Exclusive Announcement
Sirius Radio -- The Michelangelo Signorile Show
Fox 13 Salt Lake March 20, 2008
Deseret News Salt Lake City
San Jose Mercury News