← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Gay Rights & Mormonism Index

Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “15 – Amendment 3”

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “15 – Amendment 3.” You can view other topics here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.

15 – Utah Politics 2.0 – Amendment 3


“On Wednesday the Utah Legislature passed a bill re-enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage, and any day it will pass a resolution asking voters to amend the state constitution by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.…” (Holly Mullen, “Utah’s petty little stand can’t stop gay-marriage avalanche,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 19, 2004)


“If one took the arguments at face value, you would think that if a gay couple were allowed to get ‘married,’ all marriages would dissolve like sugar in water.

How this would happen is never explained by the opponents—they just say that if two people of the same sex are allowed to legally commit to each other and have that commitment acknowledged by the state, civilization will come to an end.…” (Tom Barberi and Laurie Wilson, “Gay marriage: Will it really upend society?” Salt Lake Tribune, February 22, 2004)


“For a second and third time, Utah lawmakers stated their revulsion for gay marriage—first with another law barring the state from recognizing same-sex unions legalized in other states, then by proposing a constitutional amendment defining legal marriage.…

West Jordan Sen. Christ Buttars and Draper Rep. LaVar Christensen, both Republicans, joined forces to defend Utah from the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling that gay marriage could be performed in that state and the actual gay and lesbian marriages that have been performed in California and other states.…” (Dan Harrie, “With 90 legislative seats up for grabs in November, lawmakers seem to be looking ahead to the campaign trail,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 5, 2004)


“The second clause prohibits recognition of common law marriages and civil unions. ‘No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent effect.’

WordPerfect founder Bruce Bastian has donated $250,000 to the as-yet unformed political interest committee and another $1.3 million to the national Human Rights Campaign.  He says Utah’s amendment goes beyond the proposed federal amendment, which only defines marriage.…

But the rest of the amendment, [Scott] McCoy says, poses far-reaching, unintended consequences. If Utah voters approve the amendment, it could throw into question civil unions, domestic partnerships and even heterosexual common-law marriages and the resulting legal rights and contracts.…

The LDS Church is staying out of the fray—for now. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged its members to vote for similar constitutional amendments in California and Hawaii.

But church spokesman Dale Bills said Wednesday, ‘The church has taken no position regarding the proposed state gay marriage amendment.’…” (Rebecca Walsh, “Amendment to ban gay marriage hits opposition,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 2004)


Utah’s Existing Marriage Policy

Utah has long prohibited same-sex marriage. In 1977 passed a law banning same-sex marriage. In 1996, Utah led the nation in passing the first Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. Finally, this year, Governor Olene Walker signed into law yet another bill that makes clear that Utah will not recognize same-sex marriage or any other same-sex relationship entered into in another state. The law in Utah is clear and unequivocal; it is the public policy of the State of Utah NOT to recognize same-sex marriage or gay and lesbian relationships.

Why We Should Oppose this Amendment

… There simply is no need for the amendment. Utah’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage has never been challenged and there is no reason to believe that it will be anytime soon.…

The Amendment is not the answer because it goes too far.  Even if one opposes equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, the Amendment does much more than define marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman. The Amendment also prevents the granting of even basic rights and protections to gay and lesbian couples and families, such as hospital visitation rights, medical decision-making rights, domestic partner health insurance benefits, inheritance rights, or tax and pension benefits. Moreover, the Amendment is so overreaching that it will prevent Utah from recognizing common law marriages and domestic partnerships entered into in other states by heterosexual couples.

The Amendment is an insult to good government. The Amendment was rushed through the Legislature in the final hours of the 2004 Session without full and careful consideration. If passed, the Amendment will be the only proposed substantive amendment to the Utah Constitution that was not first considered by the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission.…

The Amendment ties the hands of future Utah Legislatures to effectively address social change in Utah. The Amendment would prevent the Legislature from ever recognizing or protecting gay and lesbian families by granting even basic rights and legal protections now granted to married couples.  As society changes and evolves, the Legislature needs the ability to adapt the laws of Utah.  The Amendment eliminates such flexibility.…” (“The Proposed Anti-Gay Amendment to the Utah State Constitution,” Pillar of the Gay and Lesbian Community, June 2004, p. 24)


“The statewide poll of 909 registered voters showed 62 percent of those surveyed would vote for the amendment.…

Janice Houston, director of research at Utah Foundation, said the state’s predominant LDS faith will likely play a factor in November. While the church has not spoken publicly on this legislation, ‘the message has been made abundantly clear’ that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes gay marriage on moral and religious grounds.

Of those who identified themselves as LDS, 68 percent said they’d support both parts of the amendment. Fewer than half of those from every other religious group identified in the poll—Catholic, Protestant, other, or none—supported the amendment.” (Deborah Bulkeley, “Most back marriage amendment,” Deseret News, June 27, 2004)


“The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement today. This is a statement of principle in anticipation of the expected debate over same-gender marriage. It is not an endorsement of any specific amendment.

‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.’” (“First Presidency Issues Statement on Marriage,” Newsroom.LDS.org, July 7, 2004)


“Several Utah church leaders have voiced their opposition to a July 6 [sic] LDS Church statement in favor of banning same-sex marriage in state and federal constitutional amendments. The statement from the church’s governing First Presidency read: ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.’…” (JoSelle Vanderhooft, “Local Religious Leaders Oppose LDS Statement,” SLMetro.com, July 2004)


“With a single-sentence statement, the LDS Church on Wednesday endorsed amending the U.S. and state constitutions to reserve marriage for unions between a man and a woman.…

The LDS Church broke its silence on the subject days before Congress renews discussion on how and whether to amend the U.S. Constitution.…

Michael Otterson, an LDS Church spokesman, said there was no commitment at this point to do anything beyond making a public statement.

In Utah, where 70 percent of the population has at least nominal ties to the faith, that may be more than enough.…” (Brooke Adams, “LDS backs amendment against gay marriages,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 8, 2004)


“While the statement said the church isn’t endorsing a specific amendment, spokesman Michael Otterson said it shows support of all proposed constitutional amendments banning gay marriages.…

Church sources said the timing of the statement indicates LDS leadership wanted to express its general support for traditional marriage, without endorsing a specific amendment. The sources said the church wanted to avoid the political debate and not get involved in the semantics of specific legislation.…” (Deborah Bulkeley, “LDS Church supports gay-marriage bans,” Deseret News, July 8, 2004)


“Michael Otterson, spokesman for the nation’s fifth largest Christian denomination, said the statement is for public consumption and does not encores any specific initiative.

‘The reason is fairly simple, when you anticipate what we’re looking at in the next couple of months,’ said Otterson. ‘It’s where this institution stands on principle no matter what happens at the federal or state levels. We don’t want to get into the fray.’…” (Kevin Davis, “Mormons endorse gay marriage ban,” PlanetOut.com, July 8, 2004)


“The amendment presents voters with the ultimate civil rights issue for our time. How can we call ourselves a moral and decent people while denying civil rights to those outside the heterosexual sphere of power? If religion must be brought into the discussion, let us not be misled by isolated quotes from Scripture that mask a bigoted agenda. Instead, recall the prophetic tradition of our Judeo-Christian culture that compels us to transform society to a just and moral place.”  (Rev. Tom Goldsmith, Salt Lake City, Letter to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, July 9, 2004)


“Legal training trumped political self-interest when three candidates for attorney general issued a rare joint statement Friday against a proposed amendment to the Utah Constitution meant to block gay marriage.…

The statement said ‘because proposed Amendment 3 goes far beyond simply defining marriage, and would prove unnecessarily hurtful to many Utahns and their families, we oppose the amendment.’…

[Mark] Shurtleff says Utah’s amendment is equally problematic. ‘It potentially deprives a bunch of Utahns—not just same-sex couples, but heterosexual common-law couples as well as their children—a set of basic, fundamental rights,’ he said. ‘It could forever deny to a group of citizens the right to approach its legislature to seek benefits and protections.’

[Andrew] McCullough’s campaign manager and law firm partner Rob Latham added: ‘This thing is so flawed, it’s difficult to find an attorney practicing in Utah who thinks it’s a good thing.  It just creates a mess.’…” (Rebecca Walsh, “A.G. candidates unite against gay marriage amendment,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 2004)


“Part 1 of the amendment defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Although this definition is already enshrined three different times in Utah law, most Utahns would vote for Part 1, if it were by itself.  Unfortunately, the amendment has two parts.

A number of prominent legal authorities, including all three candidates for attorney general, agree that Part 2 would deny a substantial group of Utahns many basic rights and protections.

Elderly heterosexual couples who can’t get legally married without losing retirement benefits, common-law married couples and same-sex partners would all be denied many rights.

Part 2 would restrict these Utahns from visiting sick partners in the hospital or making emergency medical decisions. They would lose the ability to receive or share health insurance benefits. They would lose the safety provided by domestic violence protective orders.

They would be denied family and bereavement leave, inheritance rights, tax benefits, child custody rights and even the right to carry out a partner’s wishes for funeral arrangements.…

The amendment’s sponsors say we shouldn’t worry about unintended consequences and let the courts decide how to interpret the language. They ignore the expert opinions of our attorney general and ask us to support broad and vague language that was never studied by the Constitutional Revision Commission.…” (Gary and Millie Watts, “Changes would harm families,” Letter to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, August 15, 2004)


“Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he public opposed the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage after giving ‘a heads up’ to an official of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.…

Shurtleff said the official, whom he refused to identify, was ‘not speaking to me as a representative of the church.

‘I called to give him a heads up,’ he said. ‘There was some confusion about the church’s position.’…

Shurtleff said the official didn’t clarify the LDS position to him, but ‘I felt comfortable in going forward after the conversation.’…

LDS spokesman Dale Bills said the church could not confirm Tuesday that Shurtleff’s conversation had taken place. Bills did say ‘the church has not endorsed Amendment 3’ but declined further comment.…

The LDS Church hasn’t been actively involved in efforts to pass Amendment 3 in Utah.…” (Deborah Bulkeley, “Shurtleff checked with LDS official,” Deseret News, August 25, 2004)


“On moral issues, LDS Church leaders routinely make their feelings known – in sometimes sweeping statements that often leave details open to interpretation.

And as expected, the church’s First Presidency two months ago issued a statement backing constitutional amendments blocking gay marriage. But they stopped short of mentioning Utah’s Amendment 3.

Mormon leaders’ relative silence since that short news release has led some to speculate that perhaps church officials are uncomfortable with Utah lawmakers’ attempts to define marriage. Others say church leaders – who have nearly monolithic religious and political power in a state where about two-thirds of residents are members – don’t have to do anything else.

And church officials, so far, refuse to say much more.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ previous political activism in support of marriage amendments is undisputed. In 1994, the church’s ruling First Presidency made its opposition to gay marriage a rallying point and urged members to appeal to lawmakers “to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.”…

In Alaska and Hawaii, the church contributed more than $1 million to bolster campaigns for successful “protection of marriage” ballot initiatives. Four years ago, church leaders stepped into the fight over California’s Proposition 22, issuing a letter asking members to volunteer and spend their money in support of the so-called Knight Initiative. And in 2002, the church joined the coalition backing Nevada’s constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

But with a new round of amendments on the ballot in up to 10 states, the LDS Church is taking what seems to be a more passive approach.

On July 7, just before the U.S. Senate was scheduled to vote on a proposed federal amendment defining marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor Thomas S. Monson and Second Counselor James E. Faust released this two-paragraph statement: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.” They called it a “statement of principle” and cautioned that it should not be read as an “endorsement of any specific amendment.”…

Supporters of Amendment 3 have used the LDS Church leaders’ statement to their advantage, implying that they have the church’s backing on Web sites and in radio appearances.…

LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills backs up Buttars’ version of events. “The church was not involved in any way in the drafting or passage” of Amendment 3, he said.…

While conservative politicians quietly tiptoe around or tout the LDS Church’s tacit support for Amendment 3, opponents of the amendment are encouraged by the church’s continued quiet.…

But Jan Shipps, a scholar in Mormon history, said observers shouldn’t read too much into that correction or the church’s subsequent silence. Shipps says the gay marriage fights in Alaska, California and Hawaii were tossups because of the political makeup of those states. Staunchly conservative Utahns, on the other hand, need little prodding to vote for Amendment 3. And church leaders don’t want to appear too heavy-handed.

“It’s a practical approach,” said Shipps, emeritus professor of history and religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. “An institution, even one as powerful as the LDS Church, has a limited amount of political capital. Their position is clear. It’s not as necessary for them to ask people to talk to their neighbors and spend their money.”

Beyond church officials saving their political capital for another fight, Rick Bickmore believes the apparent ambiguity in the First Presidency’s statement may be deliberate. Bickmore, director of the Wasatch chapter of Affirmation, a social and educational support group for gay Mormons, figures church leaders have done all they need to in order to rally conservative voters while appearing to be above politics.

‘They’ve got plenty of people in Utah ready to listen,’ he said. ‘Their original press release seems very clearly to support the Utah amendment. And the vast majority of Utahns took it that way. I don’t know how much [church leaders] really want to make it clear.’” (Rebecca Walsh, “LDS Church shuns political fight over Utah’s marriage amendment,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 30, 2004)


{An estimated 90 percent of Utah legislators are Mormon.…” (Travis Reed, “Analysis: Religion and politics in Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 30, 2004)


“Will the proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage please explain in concrete terms how, if the amendment passes, our marriage will be stronger in Utah than it would be in, say, Vermont? What exactly is the promised benefit? And if it comes at the price of denigrating and discriminating against the homosexual members of our society—as the amendment plainly does—on what moral basis can it possibly be justified?” (Ken and Kate Handley, “What is the benefit,” Letter to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, September 6, 2004)


“As conservatives rush to condemn gay marriage, let’s consider that in fighting for the right to marry, gays manifest their support for the institution. Far from undermining it, they affirm that gay cohabitation should be governed by the same rules and limitations that apply to heterosexual unions.…

Unfortunately, everything else, according to census data, is the more rapidly growing variety, with many couples opting against marriage because of the stigma of abusive, one-sided (patriarchal), conservative morality attached to it. Who is the real threat to the institution of marriage, those desperately wanting to be governed by it (gays) or those pillars of society wanting to reserve it exclusively for those who think and act the way they do?

Not long ago, the pillars of local society practiced polygamy. Conservative U.S. society refused to recognize their marriages and persecuted them for their “deviant” behavior, which was a threat to marriage, conventionally conceived, if there ever was one. Despite the fact that it now takes a different stance on polygamy, the dominant local religion ought to appreciate what it means to be called deviant when, in fact, their adoption of the language and legalities of marriage indicates that the reverse is the case.” (Edwin Firmage Jr., “The real threat,” Letter to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, September 14, 2004)


“As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.” (“First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage,” October 19, 2004)


“The statement by the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes two weeks before Utah voters will decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as the ‘legal union between a man and a woman’ and to prevent any other domestic union from being ‘recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.’…

While the latest statement did not specifically endorse Amendment 3, some observers said the statement is akin to approval of the marriage measure that will be on Utah’s Nov. 2 ballot.…

‘I think it’s probably about as strong as it gets,’ said Quin Monson, assistant political science professor at Brigham Young University. ‘In terms of an endorsement, this is pretty clear.’…” (Deborah Bulkeley, “Same-sex: LDS stand,” Deseret News, October 20, 2004)


“Breaking a three-month silence, the LDS Church issued Tuesday its second statement endorsing constitutional amendments to define marriage.

But LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors stopped short of endorsing Utah’s Amendment 3, leaving their meaning – and their timing – open to interpretation.

“We are not elaborating on the First Presidency statement issued today,” said spokesman Michael Purdy.…

Supporters of changing Utah’s proposed amendment see Tuesday’s statement as a de facto endorsement.

“The church favors measures that do not confer legal status on any sexual relationship other than a legal man-woman marriage. I believe that Amendment 3 is in full harmony with the church’s stated position,” said Yes on 3 coalition co-founder Monte Stewart. “It is wonderfully clear to me.”

Opponents note that the statement does not mention Amendment 3. Don’t Amend Alliance Director Scott McCoy points out the church endorsed by name amendments and initiatives in California, Hawaii and Alaska.

‘It leaves open the possibility that active, LDS people in Utah can believe in the goal of protecting traditional marriage, but at the same time, choose not to do it in a hurtful way like Amendment 3 does,’ McCoy said. ‘Utahns have minds of their own and consciences.’” (Rebecca Walsh, “LDS Church issues edict on marriage,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 20, 2004)


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement opposing gay marriage on Tuesday, two weeks before Utah voters decide on a proposed constitutional amendment on the question.…

The Mormon Church had said in July that it supported the idea of a constitutional amendment against gay marriage but wouldn’t speak specifically to the Utah ballot measure. The new statement could be a late push to sway Utah voters who will consider the amendment on November 2, though the church declined to elaborate on its motives.…” (“Mormon Church voices view on gay marriage,” Advocate.com, October 21, 2004)


“King: I know that the Church is opposed to gay marriage.

Hinckley: Yes.

King: Do you have an alternative? Do you like the idea of civil unions?

Hinckley: Well, we’re not anti-gay. We are pro-family. Let me put it that way.  And we love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem.

King: A problem they caused or they were born with?

Hinckley: I don’t know.  I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem.

King: Do you favor some sort of state union?

Hinckley: Well, we want to be very careful about that, because that—whatever may lead to gay marriage, we’re not in favor of.” (Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, “Larry King Live,” December 26, 2004)


“Beginning in 1998, a third and more serious line of defense was erected against the recognition of same-sex marriages across the nation: twenty-nine states amended their state constitutions to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages. First, voters in Alaska amended their state constitution to recognize only marriages between “one man and one woman” after a state trial court held that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples was subject to strict scrutiny under the Alaska Constitution. Next, in 2000, Nebraska and Nevada followed suit. These states represented the first “pre-emptive” marriage amendments; at that time, there was no same-sex marriage litigation in those states. They were also the first to expressly proscribe any recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, which became a common feature of these amendments. 

Then, following the advent of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and on the eve of the 2004 election, Republicans in Congress proposed a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), mandating a federal definition of marriage as [p. 731] limited to a man and a woman. In July 2004, a 48-50 procedural vote thwarted Republican hopes to bring the proposed amendment before the Senate. The House waited until September 30 to bring the amendment to the floor; it attained a 227-186 majority, but fell short of the constitutionally required two-thirds vote. 

Failure to adopt a marriage amendment at the federal level helped to inspire action in several states. In2004,thirteen states amended their constitutions to recognize only heterosexual marriages.… All of the initiatives passed by wide margins. In only two states—Michigan and Oregon—the amendments were passed with less than sixty percent of the vote. In 2005 and 2006, another ten states amended their constitutions to proscribe same-sex marriage, bringing the total to twenty-six. 

[p. 732] Still, as the wave of marriage amendments subsided after 2006, the pace of marriage equality victories picked up. Between 2008 and 2011, the Connecticut Supreme Court, the Iowa Supreme Court, the state legislatures of Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York, and the Council of the District of Columbia acted to require the recognition of same-sex marriages in their jurisdictions.” 

(Michael D. Sant’Ambrogio and Sylvia A. Law, “Baehr v. Lewin and the Long Road to Marriage Equality,” University of Hawaii Law Review 33:705-53, 2011)


“’One of the most incredible things he [State Senator Chris Buttars] did is he and LaVar [Christensen] working together doing Amendment 3,’ said [Gayle] Ruzicka, referring to the constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in Utah. ‘That is a legacy that will live forever.’” (Robert Gehrke, “Buttars Retires,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 10, 2011)


Christensen: Well, when I passed Amendment 3—when we passed Amendment 3—eleven states total, in 2004, did that.

Prince: Was Utah the first?

Christensen: We were all in session simultaneously, so I don’t know exactly where we fell.  But a really interesting one was that Nebraska, apparently a year or two—and we didn’t copy anybody—

Prince: And these were all state constitutional amendments?

Christensen: Yes.  By the time we were done that year, over thirty-five states had now passed laws saying no to same-sex marriage.  About half of them were constitutional amendments, and about half of them were just statutes.  It’s a lot easier to do the statues—a simple majority, just go run it in your session.

But I knew, my thought was, “If I pass it now as a constitutional amendment with two-thirds, it will take two-thirds to undo it”—unless you can go find an unprincipled judge who will treat the Constitution like wax, as Jefferson warned, which is what Judge [Robert] Shelby ends up doing.…

In the end, I boiled it down to just two sentences, thirty-three words: Marriage.  Article 1, Section 29 of the Utah Constitution today; I think it was HJR22 at the time, and I still have the tape recording of the debates: “Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.”  That was the first sentence.  That’s a no-brainer.  But we learned from watching California, with what happened with Prop 22 and them being trumped by the domestic partnerships, so we were probably the first state, if I remember right, we might have been the first state to add the second sentence, and to say, “We need belt and suspenders here.”  So the second sentence says, “No other domestic union, however denominated”—do you get the significance of that part?  We are saying no to domestic partnerships and civil unions.  I woke up one night with the impression, “There are no synonyms or substitutes for marriage.”…

About ten days before the election I’m at work, and my wife calls me and says, “Have you heard?”  I said, “What?”  She said, “The Church just issued a statement.”  I said, “Read it to me.”  I just wept.  I was just overcome.

 (LaVar Christensen, April 9, 2015)

We discussed two issues: Prop 8, and polygamy.  On the Prop 8-related front, she had two fascinating tales to tell.  One was that she heard a rumor from more than one source that after Utah passed the anti-gay-marriage Amendment 3 in 2004 (which was overturned by Judge Robert Shelby in December of last year), President Hinckley informed his fellow General Authorities that the Church was not going down that road again.  That will be an important lead to try to track down—Jennifer’s second-hand rumor is not sufficient documentation for something of such importance.

(Jennifer Dobner, August 10, 2014)

Evans: I was assigned fulltime to Prop 8.

Prince: You won the lottery!

Evans: I wanted it.

Prince: Really?

Evans: Yes, and I’m glad I got it.  It was a great experience, one of the great experiences of my working career here.  As you know, the Brethren haven’t been involved in every marriage issue.  In fact, if you line them all up, we have been involved in very few.  For example, in the November 2004 election there were about twelve marriage issues on the ballot across the United States.  If you take Prop 8 as a model for active involvement, we weren’t actively involved in any of them.  The only hint of involvement was a First Presidency letter that came out a couple of weeks before the election, affirming the Church’s commitment to marriage.  There were people pushing on us pretty hard in various states to get involved, and the Brethren said, “No.  We’re not going to do it.”  As you might imagine, they don’t ever give reasons; the answer is either yes or no.

(William Evans, November 18, 2012)

Evans: Frankly, after Prop 22 we mostly dropped it.  There was very little attention paid to what was going on.

Prince: Yes, although there was Utah Amendment 3, four years later.

Evans: The Church didn’t weigh in on Amendment 3.

Prince: At all?

Evans: Well, I think where you can see the finger on the scale quite deftly was maybe a week or two before the vote.  The First Presidency issued a letter that was pretty transparent in its support of Amendment 3.  But that was it.  The sponsors of the bill approached—they wanted the Church to do in Utah what it did in Hawaii and what it did in California; and more so what it did in California with Prop 22.  And the answer was, “No, we are not going to do that.”  The answer was not only no to Utah, it was no to every other state that year, and there were twelve or thirteen states that had marriage votes in 2004.  The answer was no to every one of them.

(William Evans, November 17, 2014)

Williams: Amendment 3 hit, and it was this awful orchestration by LaVar Christensen.  Gail Ruzicka, my old mentor, was there, and she was right there with him.  And there was Chris Buttars, who was this horrific senator.  I remember he passed out all this literature about gay sex acts.  He distributed it to every single legislator.  It was all about this really graphic fetish, disgusting things.  He talked about “pig sex” and how gay people like to smear feces over each other.  It was obscene, over-the-top propaganda.

I went crazy, and my first activist action was that I printed out a bunch of fliers that said, “Why is Chris Buttars obsessed with gay sex?” and I papered them all over the parking lots of the legislature.

Then, my friends and I got a computer program, and we had a recorded call go to every single legislator, with a voice saying, “Why is Chris Buttars obsessed with gay sex?”  They were getting these calls all day long.  Equality Utah at the time was saying, “Oh, my gosh!”  It was a new, baby organization that was only a couple of years old, and all of a sudden this upstart activist came in.  They were trying to be diplomatic and nice, and I was doing all these crank calls to the legislators to provoke them.

When Amendment 3 hit, the game was gone.  We were ready to fight, and I got bolder.

Prince: Were you aware if the Church had any real influence in Amendment 3?

Williams: Oh, yes.  I learned later—my understanding is that LaVar and [Chris] Buttars kind of went rogue, without the Church’s sanction of Amendment 3.  They probably would have liked to have handled it differently.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly served their overall agenda.  And at that point it was very clear that it was Mormons versus gays.  It was on.  I was severely angry at the Church.  I ran into Russell M. Nelson at a Smith’s parking lot, and I just yelled at him in the parking lot.  I said, “Who the hell do you think you are?  I served a mission for you.  I have dedicated my life, and you have lied!  You are attacking my families and you are attacking me.  Why?”  That was when the federal marriage amendment was going on, and he was the voice of the Church for the federal marriage amendment.  So when I ran into him, I just got in his face.  When you are shut out of the system, the only thing you can do is to disrupt the system.  I was a student of Queer Nation and ACT UP, and some of the more radical elements, so that’s kind of tactic that I deployed as an early activist.  And that’s why people were scared when I took over this job.  “How are you going to do this?”  But they wouldn’t hear anything else, so I wanted to get in their face about it.  I was never violent, but I wanted them to be a little bit scared.  But I saw the Church as the enemy and they saw me as the enemy, and it was a zero-sum game.  It was awful.  It was crazy.

(Troy Williams, March 30, 2015)