Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, and author of Why Marriage Matters
Posted March 30, 2009 11:27 AM (EST)
Will the California Supreme Court Strike Down Prop 8, or "Willy-Nilly Disregard" Its Duty?
If the March 5 oral argument before the California Supreme Court was any guide (which oral argument isn't always), Chief Justice Ronald George may be on the verge of making a terrible, heartbreaking mistake.
The Court is due to rule soon on a set of challenges to Proposition 8, the November ballot-measure that stripped the freedom to marry away from committed same-sex couples. The challenges are supported by preeminent African-American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific civil rights organizations; cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles; teachers and child-welfare professionals; religious leaders; businesses and labor unions; and advocates for same-sex couples and their families. All of them have asked the Court to uphold the bedrock principle of American constitutional government that a simple majority may not selectively vote away a fundamental right from a minority targeted for invidious, suspect reasons.
Most who saw the oral argument perceived Chief Justice George and Justice Joyce Kennard as straining to justify their apparently likely votes to uphold Prop 8. Their barrage of hostile questions and comments suggested that the civil rights advocates were asking the Court to, in Justice Kennard's words, "willy-nilly disregard the will of the people." But in fact the Constitution — itself the "ultimate expression of the people's will," as Chief Justice George recalled in 2008 — spells out two separate procedures for change: one for ordinary "amendments," the other for more significant "revisions" such as Prop 8. Revisions, the Constitution says, require a more deliberate, careful process including review and a greater-than-mere majority vote by the Legislature before a measure is placed on the ballot. The Prop 8 forces chose not to follow the rules, including the constitutional safeguard against willy-nilly votes mandated, yes, by the people themselves. Indeed, shortly before the argument, the Legislature passed a resolution urging the Court to strike down Prop 8 because the Prop 8 forces in their zeal deprived the Legislature of its constitutional responsibility to review the measure.
The Court has the duty to strike down Prop 8, a measure that, while it received a narrow majority, should not have been on the ballot in the first place. The Court should explain that the interests of all of us, even a temporarily disgruntled majority, are better served when the rules are upheld. The Court should remind the public that, as the U.S. Supreme Court has said, "There is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally." That restraining principle is an essential pillar of equal protection. The very idea that the Court would permit a simple majority to even inadvertently discard such a defining element of the Constitution is distressing.
But, shockingly, the Chief Justice spoke as if his hands were tied by the mere fact of the November vote, the legitimacy of which is the very issue before the Court. He did not explain that equal protection at a minimum obliges the majority to itself abide by whatever treatment it imposes on a minority — a core structural principle eviscerated by Prop 8, which removed the fundamental right to marry for the gay minority alone while retaining that precious right for the majority. Rather, Chief Justice George appeared to profess helplessness in the face of precedents on how to distinguish a revision from a mere amendment. However, it was the Court itself that set those precedents, which themselves did not preclude logical extension should an unprecedented situation require further vigilance. As Justice Kathryn Werdeger and other justices noted, Prop 8 is exactly such an unprecedented assault. To build on and beyond precedents where warranted is why we have judges, not just law books.
Never before has the Court allowed a fundamental right to be voted away from a targeted minority. Never before has the Court taken the invitation of a lawyer, such as Prop 8's Ken Starr, to set a precedent that, as Starr repeatedly conceded, would put no state constitutional limitation on a future majority's ability to vote away protections against race or sex discrimination or cherished freedoms such as speech, worship, or, yes, the freedom to marry — the "essence" of which, the California Supreme Court explained in 1948 when it became the first court in the U.S. with the courage to strike down race restrictions on marriage, is the right "to join in marriage with the person of one's choice," the person who to you may be "irreplaceable." Imagine what California and our country would look like today had that court flinched in the face of the 90% disapproval of the then-majority. Imagine what the Constitution would look like if a mere majority could always cement inequality or a selective denial of fundamental rights into it, without even the procedural protection of the deliberative revision process the people themselves set forth.
As destructive and tragic as a new precedent upholding Prop 8 would be, however, that's not even the potential mistake to which I referred at the beginning. Chief Justice George's and Justice Kennard 's exchanges at oral argument suggested that they may be about to minimize their own ringing and legacy-shaping 2008 Marriage Cases opinions, apparently as a way of avoiding the obligation to follow through and strike down Prop 8. They seemed to suggest that the selective stripping away of marriage was not all that significant, that because same-sex couples still would have partnership rights, their forced exclusion from marriage was a matter of mere "nomenclature." This was the most unkindest cut of all.
Hearing dismissive characterizations such as "nomenclature" during oral argument, it was hard to believe that here was the same courageous judge's judge who less than a year ago wrote the following in Marriage Cases [emphasis added]:
"Because of the long and celebrated history of the term "marriage" and the widespread understanding that this term describes a union unreservedly approved and favored by the community, there clearly is a considerable and undeniable symbolic importance to this designation. Thus, it is apparent that affording access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples, while providing same-sex couples access to only a novel alternative designation, realistically must be viewed as constituting significantly unequal treatment to same-sex couples."
"[P]articularly in light of the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay persons, there is a very significant risk that retaining a distinction in nomenclature with regard to this most fundamental of relationships whereby the term "marriage" is denied only to same-sex couples inevitably will cause the new parallel institution that has been made available to those couples to be viewed as of a lesser stature than marriage and, in effect, as a mark of second-class citizenship."
"[R]etaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples."
"[A]lthough the meaning of the term 'marriage' is well understood by the public generally, the status of domestic partnership is not. While it is true that this circumstance may change over time, it is difficult to deny that the unfamiliarity of the term 'domestic partnership' is likely, for a considerable period of time, to pose significant difficulties and complications for same-sex couples, and perhaps more poignantly for their, that would not be presented if, like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples were permitted access to the established and well-understood family relationship of marriage."
The Chief Justice was right in Marriage Cases when he wrote these and other similar passages, and would be horribly wrong now to trivialize or turn away from them. It is no answer to say that Prop 8 changed the Constitution; the very question before the Court is whether such a profound revision withdrawing equal protection and a recognized fundamental freedom is permitted.
At various civil rights moments in American history, the courts' vital role in enforcing equal protection, and judges themselves, have come under tremendous pressure. Recall, for instance, the "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards following Brown v. Board of Education, the vitriol against the California Supreme Court when it had to strike down a 1964 constitutional change that undermined protections against race-discrimination, and the Rovian campaign of intimidation waged against so-called "activist judges" these past 8 Bush years. Its shining moment in standing up against such intimidation, in addition to its right result on marriage and equal citizenship for lesbian and gay Americans, was why I and millions cheered the Court's courage and clarity in 2008. In Marriage Cases, we saw a court do its job, and do it right.
Unlike right-wing opponents of equality, who denounce and seek to punish courts for doing their job, I criticize only when they flinch or fail to do it. If the Court, and if this Chief Justice, vote to uphold Prop 8's damaging blow to American constitutional principles, it will be a terrible mistake, failing their obligation under and to the California Constitution. If in so doing, they compound that mistake by selling short, or sidling away from, the truths set forth so powerfully in Chief Justice George's 2008 ruling — the fundamental nature of the freedom to marry, the way in which exclusion from marriage itself denies equality and imposes the stigma of second-class citizenship — they will do a powerful disservice to the people, to the Constitution, and to history, which for the moment still ranks them alongside the judges who struck down race discrimination and the subordination of women in marriage in the face of the passions of the moment, and were vindicated. Failure of judgment and duty now will tarnish their own legacy, wreak real harm on gay people and their loved ones, and shatter the faith of millions in the courts and their legitimate and crucial role in our constitutional system.
To be remembered, after all, for these missed stakes, would be heartbreaking.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Legislatures in Vermont and New Hampshire are poised to legalize same-sex unions.
March 28, 2009
Vermont and California appear to be sliding in opposite directions these days, and we're not talking about tectonic plates. As the institution of marriage undergoes seismic shifts, Vermont is moving from civil unions for same-sex couples toward full marriage, while the California Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold Proposition 8, which stripped marriage rights from gay and lesbian couples.
The court also will decide whether to uphold the marriages of an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who tied the knot before Proposition 8 passed in November. It's generally unwise to place bets on rulings based on what's said during a hearing -- justices are notorious for playing devil's advocate as a way of testing their leanings -- but during the arguments on Proposition 8, no real support was voiced by the court for ending marriages that were entered into legally and in good faith. Though the constitutional amendment says simply that the state will recognize only marriages between a man and a woman, it does not make the requirement retroactive.
Opponents of same-sex marriage could bring another initiative forward to end those marriages, but considering that Proposition 8 passed with a modest majority, it is unlikely that California voters would be willing to rescindthe marital status of lawfully wedded couples.
State recognition of those marriages, though, would open doors to complicated new lines of argument. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for nearly five years, and for a much shorter time in Connecticut. Those marriages also were conducted legally and in good faith, and until Proposition 8 passed, they were recognized here. Can that recognition be withdrawn retroactively? If more such couples move into this state, as a practical matter Proposition 8 will be weakened, as well as being seen as conflicting with reality.
Two groups already have permission to gather petitions for initiatives to overturn Proposition 8, though polls show that these might be politically premature; the state is nearly evenly split on the subject, numbers that will surely change as more young people, who strongly support same-sex marriage, become voters.
The Vermont Senate passed the new gay-marriage legislation on a commanding 26-4 vote, and the House is expected to approve it as well. Gov. Jim Douglas says he will veto it; it is unclear whether the two houses have enough votes to override. But the New Hampshire Legislature quickly followed its neighbor, with the state House voting narrowly Thursday for same-sex marriage. No matter which way the California Supreme Court rules, the campaign to give equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples -- and the slow but building acceptance of these couples -- is inexorable.
Friday, March 27, 2009
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Thursday, March 19, 2009
New charges made over LDS Church role in Prop 8
Gay rights » Group bases claims on leaked church memos
By Tony Semerad
Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 03/19/2009 07:23:40 PM MDT
A California group is urging election authorities to widen an ongoing probe into whether the LDS Church failed to report the full extent of its financial involvement last year in supporting a successful ban on same-sex marriage.
In new charges filed Thursday with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the Los Angeles-based Californians Against Hate accuses the church of creating the National Organization for Marriage in California as early as summer 2007 as a front group for its agenda, while failing to report the costs as required by California law.
The amended complaint also adds six other charges that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delayed disclosure or vastly under-reported other nonmonetary contributions to the campaign, including the costs of compensated staff time for senior church officials and production of 23 sophisticated TV and Web commercials.
What the church has disclosed "seems just to be the tip of the iceberg as far as what they spent in support of Prop 8,'' Californians Against Hate spokesman Fred Karger said.
The amended charges are the latest development in a backlash over Utah's heavy role in California's Proposition 8 campaign.
As many as 1,025 individuals and businesses in Utah donated $3.8 million to Proposition 8 efforts, with 70 percent going to campaigns supporting the measure. The proposition banning same-sex marriage passed narrowly in the Nov. 4 election and is now being challenged before the California Supreme Court.
A church spokesman on Thursday said the new charges "have no basis in fact.''
''The church did not establish the National Organization for Marriage,'' LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said, adding that the church has disclosed its entire contribution to the pro-Proposition 8 effort. Karger, said Trotter, ''is entitled to his opinion but not to his own version of the facts.''
The head of the National Organization for Marriage bristled at the new charges, describing the group as a multifaith coalition and calling the allegation it was a LDS Church front group "outlandish.''
''There was no interaction between me and Salt Lake City with regard to us going to California at all,'' executive director Brian Brown said.
In a campaign disclosure filed Jan. 30, the LDS Church claimed at least $134,774 in previously unreported nonmonetary expenditures in support of Proposition 8, for activities it said it conducted between August and November. The disclosure, which brought the church's total reported spending to $189,904, also itemized $20,550 in travel costs to send church officials to California and $29,269 in audiovisual production services and equipment costs.
The Fair Political Practice Commission, which enforces California election laws, is already investigating the church's activities in the Proposition 8 campaign. Roman Porter, the commission's executive director, confirmed Wednesday the probe "remains active,'' but declined further comment.
Karger's initial complaint, filed Nov. 13, alleged that the LDS Church's unreported costs included the operation of phone banks in Utah and Idaho; direct mail efforts; volunteers walking precincts; lawn signs; a speakers bureau; and production of high-quality audiovisual materials.
The new allegations are based, in part, on what Karger in his sworn affidavit to the commission says are leaked internal LDS Church documents showing similarities between church efforts in California and an anti-same sex marriage campaign conducted in Hawaii 12 years ago. The group has released the 11 documents, dated between Oct. 31, 1995, and Jan. 8, 1998, on the Web site mormongate.com
Church officials declined to discuss the documents or confirm their authenticity.
The memos -- 10 of which appear to have been written by the late Loren C. Dunn, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the time -- reveal key aspects of the LDS Church's strategy in fighting same-sex marriage in Hawaii. Karger contends they also reveal a kind of electoral blueprint that the church modified for use in California.
Whether the documents bear any relevance to the Prop 8 efforts, they offer a glimpse into what appears to have been a major effort by senior church leaders at the time to battle same-sex marriage in a number of states, including Hawaii.
The memos focus on formation and operation of Hawaii's Future Today, the main group championing Hawaii's constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, and the church's desire that the group's members be drawn from diverse religious faiths.
''One reason I wanted us organized in Hawaii the way we are is because President [Gordan B.] Hinckley wanted it that way,'' Dunn supposedly wrote to the late Neal A. Maxwell, then a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, in a March 6, 1996, memo. ''A coalition is hard to attack ...''
The same memo refers to a desire to publicly distance the LDS Church from the group while maintaining direct influence. "The ideas are introduced but the Church is not visible,'' the memo says.
The documents also outline efforts to keep church financial support secret. "... We have shielded previous donors from recognition because of how the funds were used in the preparation of this project,'' said a Dunn memo to Maxwell on March 21, 1996, ''but in the worst case scenario, current donors might be ferreted out.''
On June 5, 1996, Dunn supposedly wrote to Maxwell again, reassuring him that "[w]e have organized things so the Church contribution was used in an area of coalition activity that does not have to be reported.'
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Chairman Ross Johnson
Fair Political Practices Commission
428 J Street, Suite 800
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Chairman Johnson:
Re: Fair Political Practices Commission Complaint
FPPC File No. 08/735; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah
note: Click on links below for more detailed as well as contact information for names
Many additional items have come to my attention regarding the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) since I filed my complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) on November 13, 2008.
My sworn complaint alleged that the Mormon Church made significant non monetary contributions in support of California’s Proposition 8 which they did not report as required by California election law. The FPPC sent a letter to me on November 21, 2008 stating that “the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the allegation(s) under the jurisdiction of the FPPC of the sworn complaint that you submitted.” That investigation is ongoing (FPPC File No. 08/735).
The Salt Lake City Deseret News reported on November 14, 2008 that Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the allegations are "false" and the complaint — filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate -- has "many errors and misstatements." Trotter said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "has fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act. Claims that the church has violated the act and failed to report political expenditures made by the church are false. The church has, in fact, filed four reports with California authorities; these reports are a matter of public record. A further report will be filed on or before its due date, Jan. 30, 2009," Trotter said.
Then on January 30, 2009, the Church filed a campaign report indicating that it made $190,000 in non-monetary contributions. The Mormon Church claimed that most of its contributions occurred in the 2 weeks prior to Election Day.
This information supplements my complaint, and I hereby request that the FPPC consider those additional allegations as part of its investigation of Mormon Church campaign activities in support of Proposition 8.
The supplemental information is set forth in two parts. The first part includes official Mormon Church documents detailing the Church’s involvement in creating a “front group” in Hawaii to fight same-sex marriage in a very similar election 10 years ago. The Mormon Church did the same thing in California. In 2007, the Mormon Church set up another front group, the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to qualify and pass Proposition 8.
Secondly, I dispute the veracity of the January 30, 2009 campaign report filed by the Church. Attached is the full transcript of the Mormon Church’s much publicized October 8, 2008 simulcast to Church members throughout the Western United States. This satellite broadcast served as a call to arms for the Church member action during the last 4 weeks of the campaign to pass Proposition 8.
In 1995, at the request of then Mormon Church President Gordon Hinckley, Church leadership identified the type of committee they wanted to create to stop same-sex marriage in Hawaii, and they set it up.
The attached documents tell the story of how the Mormon Church established their front group in Hawaii to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in that state after the Hawaii Supreme Court heard the case. The Mormon Church established its front group called Hawaii’s Future Today (HFT) in the fall of 1995, 3 years before the election to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
They hired lobbyists, consultants, campaign managers, attorneys and had one very high ranking Mormon on the Board, Jack Hoag, the recently retired Chairman of the Church-owned First Hawaiian Bank. They were able to get money into Hawaii’s Future Today (HFT) that would go unreported (documents attached to this complaint and on our web site:
Mormongate.com). These actions hid their direct involvement while creating a coalition to lead the effort.
They raised nearly all of the money from Utah and other mainland Mormons. Eventually the Mormon Church gave $400,000 directly to the campaign committee close to the election, but received much criticism for that large contribution. They switched strategies after that campaign and in subsequent elections, did not contribute directly to campaigns opposing same-sex marriage. Instead, they sought contributions from their members directly as they did last year in California.
The attached documents reveal exactly how the church created Hawaii’s Future Today. They recruited the Chair, Debi Hartmann (see recent Bay Area Reporter story by Dan Aiello), and Co-chairs, Jack Hoag and Father Marc Alexander and other Board members, got the funds to HFT, and ran and funded it from Salt Lake using many top Church officials. Its stated mission was to fight casino gambling, prostitution, and same-sex marriage, but defeating same-sex marriage was its sole objective.
Mormon Church Establishes California Front Group to Qualify Proposition 8
The Mormon Church appears to have done the identical thing in California 12 years later. The Church established the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in the summer of 2007 for the sole purpose of qualifying and passing Proposition 8.
In 2006, two separate and competing groups tried unsuccessfully to qualify constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in California. Both failed. Sensing an impending ruling by the California Supreme Court that could allow same-sex marriage, the Mormon Church decided to take matters into its own hands. So as it did in Hawaii, the Church created (established) a front group to qualify a constitutional amendment in California and attempted to hide its involvement.
As in Hawaii, it had a loyal Mormon on the Board of this new organization. Matthew S. Holland, son of Jeffrey R. Holland who is one of the 12 Mormon Apostles, and the former President of BYU, served in that capacity. The younger Holland teaches political science at BYU. He received his BA in Political Science from BYU and a Masters and PHD in Political Science from Duke University.
Matthew Holland had served as a fellow in 2005 and 2006 under Princeton McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Professor Robert P. (Robby) George , a very well known and controversial national advocate against same-sex marriage. Matthew Holland’s official biography quotes his mentor, Professor George on Holland’s book. “Bonds of Affection,’ is an exemplary piece of scholarship,” said Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University. “It is thoughtfully conceived and rigorously argued. Readers will be impressed by the exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge displayed, as well as by the author’s philosophical sophistication and interpretive skills.”
Professor George was the moderator of a panel at the November 2007 Mormonism and American Politics Conference held at Princeton. This was immediately prior to the campaign to qualify Proposition 8. George refers to his former fellow as “Matt” (Holland) and gives the impression that they are very close. Click on: view
Currently, Robby George serves as NOM Chairman. He is on the Board of the Institute for American Values alongside fellow NOM Board members Chuck Stetson and Kenneth Von Kohorn and mega Yes on 8 Mormon donor from Mesa, Arizona Broc Hiatt. George is also a Board Member of James Dobson’s Washington, DC based political operation Family Research Council
Robby George organized NOM and put the staff and board in place. They are all connected to him. He hired Maggie Gallagher to be the President, and recruited friend, and leading fellow anti-gay activist, Brian S. Brown away from the Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC) as the day-to-day Executive Director. George serves on the FIC National Advisory Board along with fellow NOM Board Member, Ken Von Kohorn who is Chairman of the Board of the Family Institute of Connecticut.
Another NOM Board Member, Luis Tellez is President of the Witherspoon Institute also located in Princeton, NJ. Robby George serves as a Senor Fellow at Witherspoon.
Then the Mormon leadership went to their two most reliable coalition partners; The Catholic Church and its leadership and James Dobson and his Focus on the Family. They requested $2 million in funding for NOM in order to qualify this all important constitutional amendment, with the promise that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would provide the $20 to $30 million needed for the November election. That is exactly what happened.
Focus on the Family contributed its first $50,000 on November 30, 2007 and made monetary and non monetary contributions throughout the campaign. They gave a total of $539,643.66 in cash and another $83,000 in non monetary contributions.
Wealthy Catholics gave the bulk of the early money to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). San Diegans, such as hotel owner Doug Manchester gave $125,000, Terry Caster and his family who own A-1 Self Storage gave $283,000, and several others including car dealer Robert Hoehn gave $25,000 and Roger Benson gave $50,000. The Knights of Columbus, the political arm of the Catholic Church based in Connecticut gave NOM $250,000 on January 30, 2008 and the California Knights gave another $25,000 on April 8, 2008.
While these contributions were all reported, any reporting by the Mormon Church of all of its activities in setting up NOM as its California front group is missing. Did they do polling as they did in Hawaii? Did the Church incur legal bills as they did in Hawaii? How about travel expenses, as in Hawaii? What about staff time, as they reported after the fact in California? These expenses should be easy to identify as a part of the current investigation.
The Mormon Church engages in extensive record keeping. All requests for funds are assigned an 11 digit Cost Center Number (i.e. 123-4567-899). Cost Center records should be readily available for 2007 and 2008, which would show all the money spent to create NOM. Additionally, the Mormon Church maintains records on its “Historical Material Management System” (HMMS).
Mormon Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton were all working on California’s Proposition 8 and their files and records should be able to substantiate these charges.
The Mormon Church should have disclosed all non monetary contributions made during the relevant reporting periods. Instead, on January 18, 2008 protectmarriage.com made a payment of $225,000 to Bader and Associates, the professional signature gathering firm hired to collect the 1.1 million signatures necessary to place Proposition 8 on the ballot. Coincidentally, NOM gave protectmarriage.com $225,000 on January 18, 2008. It looks like Manchester Hyatt Hotel owner Doug Manchester’s contribution of $125,000 to NOM that very day enabled NOM to give enough money to get the paid signature drive underway.
NOM was a pass-through committee. They raised nearly $2 million and gave most of it to protectmarraige.com and to Bader and Associates to pay for the qualification signatures.
The documents attached to this complaint show how the Church was duplicitous during its 3 year involvement in Hawaii. These never before seen Hawaii documents are also posted on our new web site: Mormongate.com.
Also, the Mormon Church contracted separately with NOM officers and directors Robert P. George, Maggie Gallagher and Brian S. Brown. The consulting contracts could have been with the individuals or with one or more of their organizations. If done by the Mormon Church, then the transactions should have been reported. Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown did not work for free. There were no payments made to Gallagher, Brown or George in any of the filings with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Maggie Gallagher also runs the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (MPP). Maybe the Mormon Church had a fee arrangement with MPP. Maggie Gallagher is best known for being in the center of a (George W.) Bush Administration scandal. She had a $21,500 contract with the Health and Human Services Department in 2002 to help promote the administration’s $300 million “healthy marriage” initiative, but did not disclose her contract and was using her column to promote the program. Gallagher attempted to withhold this information until she finally admitted the conflict four years later.
As part of its investigation, I hereby ask the Fair Political Practices Commission, to find that the Mormon Church helped establish and pay for the creation of NOM, and failed to report any of its non-monetary contributions.
The Mormon Church Finally reported $190,000 on January 30, 2009. According to their report, nearly all of the money the Mormon Church spent came in the last two weeks of the campaign. This is particularly odd since they announced their involvement in a letter from the Church President Thomas S. Monson on June 29, 2008. This letter was read to all Mormons, telling them to “give of their time and their means” to support Proposition 8, and was identical to what they had done in other states.
Though I am neither an attorney nor an investigator, I did spend 27 years as a political consultant and am very familiar with this field.
I have carefully reviewed the late filing by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed on January 30, 2009. It fails to disclose what they spent in support of Proposition 8. They have even admitted inaccuracies after their filing.
I have taken the liberty to prepare this week by week chart showing the inadequacy of this filing.
I will continue to forward information to the Commission as it becomes available to me.
Founder, Californians Against Hate
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
"I was in America yesterday and I know you will be sorry I didn't bring Barack Obama back. He is coming soon. But what I saw in America told me what we have to do. This Proposition 8, this attempt to undo the good that has been done. This attempt to create divorces among 18,000 people who were perfectly legally brought together in partnerships, this is unacceptable and shows me why we always have to be vigilant, why we have always got to fight homophobic behaviour and any form of discrimination."
It was the first such reception held at 10 Downing Street according to gay activists: "The Prime Minister spoke passionately about the fight for LGBT rights and paid tribute to the work of Schools Out. Harriet Harman, a long standing supporter of the LGBT community, said it was the best reception she had ever been to.
- ▼ March (7)