Mormongate: The Mormon Involvement in Prop 8

The Mormon Church disclosed that they donated $190,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California last year. To some this would seem to be just catching up on accounting, but it is actually the latest in a 2-decade campaign by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to eliminate any same-sex marriage that has harmed many lives in the process.

The Church’s campaign to “preserve traditional marriage” as a marriage between a man and a woman began back in 1988 when President Gordon B. Hinckley hired “the Hawaii marketing agency, Hill and Knowlton, to monitor and promote the Church’s stance on gay issues in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.” The Church remained quite throughout most of the following Hawaii court case of Baehr v. Miike, but on the same day that the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled “that the state’s refusal to issue marriage licenses constitutes sex discrimination under Hawaii law” Elder Boyd K. Packer stated that the church members face three main threats, “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.”

For over 20 years now the Church has been actively and somewhat secretly planning political strategies with PR firms, hiring lobbyists and setting up lobbying organizations as a front designed to disguise Church involvement, taking and making financial contributions, hiring teams of lawyers, and holding confidential overturn court decisions, push and influence statutory and constitutional legislation, all in an effort to prevent not only same-sex marriage but even civil unions in some cases.

Then the First Presidency issued a letter urging support for Proposition 8 and for many California Mormons that letter was the first they’d ever heard of such efforts by the Church and in their innocent faith some thought “Well, this is the prophet speaking, it must be the will of the Lord, we have to support it. After all the prophet can not lead me astray, ‘it is not in the programme [sic]’”

Photo Taken outside of the LDS temple in SLC, Utah on 11.9.2008 as protesters rally enforce against the Mormon Church’s invlovement in Proposition 8.

What causes much confusion for members of the Church who also happen to be gay is that they are torn between condemning a part of themselves. They are forced into a position where they feel they have to choose between the Church, the society that they have been raised in, and this innate part of them that feels right and natural to them. This dichotomy of choice, and the Church’s ambiguity concerning this history of the political campaign against same-sex marriage where the letter from the first Presidency concerning proposition 8 appears to be just the next step on a political agenda spanning 20 years rather than divine revelation.

Gay protesters and their allies demonstrated at the Mormon Temple in Oakland days after Proposition 8 was passed last November. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently acknowledged that it spent $190,000 more than previously reported in working to pass the measure, which eliminated same-sex marriage in California. Photo: Lydia Gonzales

This uncertainty that seems to exude from a church organization inputs just the smallest part of doubt that sadly too often leads to suicides like that of Stuart Matis who killed himself on the steps of his stake center during California’s Proposition 22 because he felt that he could not reconcile his religion and his homosexuality anymore.