Tuesday, November 11, 2008

California and Proposition 8

Members of the Mormon church, who were strongly urged by church leaders to contribute to the Proposition 8 campaign, had an undeniable role in the measure's victory. Opponents of Proposition 8 have accused the church of discriminating against homosexuals, but the backlash against the denomination has also sparked accusations of discrimination.

During the campaign, a website established by Proposition 8 opponents used campaign finance data and other public records to track Mormon political contributions to the Yes-on-8 campaign. Opponents estimated that members of the church had given more than $20 million, but the amount is difficult to confirm since the state does not track the religious affiliation of donors.

Leaders of the No-on-8 campaign said they did not believe they were engaged in Mormon-bashing. "This is not about religion," said Jacobs. "This is about a church that put itself in the middle of politics."

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said she had grown up in the Mormon Church and thought it was "very disappointing what the church has done and the alliances they have made with churches that don't even like them and have called the church a cult."

More than 40 people demonstrated in front of a Mormon church in Seattle's University District on Sunday morning, expressing anger at the role the national church played in the passing of Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California.

They lined the sidewalk, chanting slogans such as "Tax the church!" and holding signs saying "Shame on the church" and "All marriages are equal."

"I don't tell them what to do in their religion. They shouldn't tell me what to do in my life," said Chris Campfield, 27, of Seattle.

Matthew Wilson, 26, of Seattle, who organized the protest, said: "We want to make it very clear to this church that Washington will not accept divisive or discriminatory actions."

Proposition 8 defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and overrides a California Supreme Court ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. It passed with 52 percent of the vote and throws into question the status of about 18,000 same-sex couples who wed in California.

Proposition 8 drew a range of opponents — including some Mormons. Proposition supporters, in addition to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), included the state's Roman Catholic bishops, some evangelical churches, and others.

But the Mormon church drew special attention after its top leaders issued a letter in June read in every congregation in California, asking members to "do all you can to support" the proposition by donating "your means and time." The church's position, the letter said, was that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the formation of families is central to the Creator's plan for His children."

During the campaign, a Web site created by Proposition 8 opponents using campaign-finance data and other public records estimated that members of the LDS church had given more than $20 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. That amount is difficult to confirm, though, since the state does not track the religious affiliation of donors, the newspaper said.

Similar protests occurred Sunday around California — at the state Capitol in Sacramento and outside the enormous Saddleback Church in Orange County. In Oakland, a protest at the city's Mormon temple prompted the California Highway Patrol to close two highway ramps.

There are calls by gay leaders to boycott Utah and an online effort to challenge the church's tax-exempt status.

Section 501(c)(3) of US Code Title 26, which governs tax-exempt organizations, reads (emphasis added):

(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

(The “otherwise provided” clause does not apply, as the LDS Church, being a church, is a disqualified entity as described in subsection (h).)

The LDS church, through inciting its members to donate time and means to support Proposition 8 (resulting in millions of dollars of cash contributions from its members and countless volunteer hours), and in-kind campaign contributions to a group that supports Proposition 8, has now made a substantial part of its activities attempting to influence legislation.

(Wanna Help? File a complaint with the IRS and protest the Church's involvement!)

Gay-rights supporters, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, along with cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have filed lawsuits asking the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. (YaY)

(oh, and listen to this crybaby)

"As a member of the LDS church we have known [and still do] the feeling of being ridiculed and mistreated because of our faith."

***My Thoughts***

Are you f**kin kidding me? Cries of persecution against YOU because you are persecuting the GAY community by stripping them of the rights to marry, have families, and be HAPPY!!?
Poor persecuted Mormons, getting picked on again for their faith. Maybe if you didn't overtly exercise your voting bloc power to make laws forbidding freedoms to those who don't share your particular views and faith, you wouldn't get "persecuted" in return. Haun's Mill Massacre was a great example of how Mormons brought persecution upon themselves by threatening to exert political voting power to control and limit the freedoms of the neighboring population, especially because they didn't share the same beliefs and faith. When will Mormons ever learn?

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" made this topic the centerpiece of his nightly Special Comment segment. I really liked what he had to say. Even brought a tear to my eye. This guy is a giant of a man, over 6 feet tall, very menacing if he wants to be. But his emotional appeal to the folks who oppose spreading Happiness to all men (and women), because of their personal religious faith, really set him apart in my eyes. I admire him greatly for making a stand against Prop 8, and I sincerely hope that the California Supreme court does overturn it. A right that was once enjoyed by all has been selectively restricted and removed from some, based soley on religious beliefs of others. Church and State should remain separate, not infiltrate every aspect of our lives. And the Mormon Church should DEFINITELY loose their tax-exempt status for using their church as a political platform.

Transcript of Keith Olbermann's comments, as aired on November 10, 2008:

A Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics.

This is about the... human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not... understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them -- no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights -- even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.

If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry...black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are... gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then spread Happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of...love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know...It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow **person...

Just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.