Members of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) continue to donate money against
gay marriage in California at a breakneck pace. Mormons, whose
members only make up about twelve percent of California's population,
have donated an estimated 75% of the $25 million raised to pass
Proposition 8, said Fred Karger, campaign manager for Californians
Against Hate. Proposition 8 is the ballot initiative that would
forbid gay marriage in California.
“It appears that at least 75% of the
$25 million raised by Yes-on-8 is from members of the Mormon Church,”
wrote Karger in an email.
Last month, Mormon contributions were
estimated at only $6 million. But recently updated figures by
ProtectMarriage.com, the primary backer of the gay marriage ban,
revealed a $25 million bankroll – a $10 million advantage over gay
activist who seek to keep gay marriage legal in California.
Anti-gay marriage foes have used that
money to blanket California's airwaves with negative advertising that
appears to have soured some voters on gay marriage. A new
CBS/SurveyUSA poll released Monday shows a majority of Californians
supporting the gay marriage ban by five percent (47% to 42%).
Previous polls had shown the gay marriage ban failing. Analysts say
the race remains too close to call.
The Yes-on-8 (Proposition 8) commercial
begins with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a May 15th
rally at City Hall, where he is seen celebrating the state Supreme
Court's decision legalizing gay marriage.
“This door's wide open now. It's
going to happen – whether you like it or not,” Newsom declares to
a cheering crowd.
The reason for Newsom's inclusion in
the video is obvious: He appears self-satisfied and smug as he
declares, “Whether you like it or not.”
Producers of the 30-second spot
immediately pounced on the cocky image of gay marriage's most ardent
ally, using it freely throughout. When a female announcer says, “We
don't have to accept this [gay marriage],” Newsom reappears and
boisterously declares, “Whether you like it or not.” The ad
warns that without Proposition 8, people would be sued over personal
beliefs, churches could loose their tax exemption, and gay marriage
would be taught in public schools.
Gavin Newsom is often credited with
opening gay marriage in California. In 2004, he ordered San
Francisco clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples against
state law. Those marriages were eventually invalidated by the state
Supreme Court. But a May decision by the court found a 2000
voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Since then
thousands of gay couples have wed in the Golden State.
“It [Gavin Newsom's sound bite]
showed the arrogance of this measure on the part of those and the
four justices who essentially want to cram it down everyone's
throat,” Tom Loarie of the Yes-on-8 campaign told KPIX.
Top Mormon leaders, known as the First
Presidency, sent out a letter in June to be read at all California
congregations asking members to “do all you can” to support the
gay marriage ban.
“The church's teachings and position
on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a
woman is ordained by God,” Mormon leaders said. The leaders also
urged members to donate their “means and time” in support of the
gay marriage ban.
Mormon leaders say gay marriage is
incompatible with Mormon theology. According to church doctrine,
Mormons must be married to achieve “exaltation” – the ultimate
state in the afterlife – where they retain their gender and give
birth to spirit children.
“This all explains the Mormon
difficulty with homosexuality,” Terryl Givens, a professor of
literature and religion at the University of Richmond told The
Wall Street Journal.
Mormons believe homosexuality is a
moral issue. While the 13-million member church has issued a
statement saying that being gay is not a sin, non-celibate gays and
lesbians face possible excommunication if exposed.
Mormons quickly heeded the church's
invocation, making donations large and small and even setting up a
website allowing outsiders to track their giving at Mormonsfor8.com.
Other religious organizations have also
contributed heavily to the anti-gay measure. The Knights of
Columbus, the political arm of the Catholic Church of New Haven,
Connecticut, gave $1.2 million, and organizations representing
Evangelical Christians – American Family Association, Focus on the
Family and Concerned Women for America – have given a combined $1.4
On the Net: Californians Against Hate
website at www.californiansagainsthate.com.