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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “14 – Prop 22”

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14 – Prop 22, Stuart Matis


“The Brethren have encouraged us to oppose attempts to weaken marriage and family ties.…

We are in full support of the First Presidency’s counsel and encourage Church members to let their voices be heard on this important issue in California.…

It has been brought to our attention that Assembly Bill 1982, that would prohibit California from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized in other states, has been favorably reported out of committee in the California Legislature and will be coming forward for a full vote on Wednesday, January 31, 1996.  Any effort that members, acting as individual citizens, can make to contact their own legislators in support of this measure would be in harmony with the Church’s proclamation on the family.…” (North America West Area Presidency, Loren C. Dunn, C. Max Caldwell, Cree-L Kofford, to “Dear Brothers and Sisters,”, January 26, 1996)


“California members have been organized to write and call their legislative representatives to support legislation that prohibits recognition of same-sex marriage.  Thousands of letters and calls have been received by their representatives.…

Should Hawaii legalize HLM, and that question is far from being answered, then California and some other states at this point, would be unprotected. It should be noted, however, that with the appeals process, we could be two years away from a final decision in Hawaii.

If the legislation dies on the floor of the California Senate, one alternative would be to organize an initiative to bring the issue before the people of California in a general election.  Judging from past initiatives, it would take about $1 million to get the necessary signatures to get the initiative on the ballot and another $2-3 million to help insure its passage.  At the present time, the polls show that anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of the people of California are in opposition to HLM.

In the past, our efforts in California have been hampered because of information that turned out to be inaccurate, some of that coming from well-meaning members.  Now that we have William Campbell in place and our Sacrament organization, we are receiving accurate information for the first time.” (Loren C. Dunn to Neal A. Maxwell, August 20, 1996)


January 31, 1996: Assembly Bill 1982 passes the California Assembly by a vote of 41 to 31 and is transmitted to the California Senate.  The author of the bill is William J. “Pete” Knight.  After amendment in the California State Judiciary Committee, the bill is placed in the inactive file, and dies at the end of the legislative session.  Knight is the author of Proposition 22 in 2000.  (David Combe Compilation)


“28 Jan 1996: North America West Area Presidency (Loren C. Dunn, President) sends a letter to be read in all California wards, urging members to express their support for legislation against recognition of same-sex marriages being considered in the state.” (Richley H. Crapo, “Chronology of LDS Involvement in Same-sex Marriage Politics,” 1997)


“I spoke today with Monsignor William Fry, Undersecretary to the National Catholic Conference on Bishops. He immediately put in a call to Bishop Cummins in Oakland, and has paved the way for you to contact Bishop Cummins and arrange for an audience to speak with him concerning HLM.

It was the suggestion of Monsignor Fay that you talk to Bishop Cummins about inviting Monsignor Jim Peterson to the meeting. He is the current state Catholic Conference director, and would be a key figure in whatever is done in California. By the way, Bishop Cummins is a former state Catholic Conference director and is very knowledgeable in political matters, and is certainly the right man for us to contact in the beginning.” (Marlin K. Jensen to Loren C. Dunn, February 6, 1997)


“California:  Elder Richard Wirthlin’s survey indicates passage of an anti-HLM referendum is feasible.  Elders Dunn and Wirthlin will meet soon with Catholic leaders in California to assess the possibility of forming a coalition.” (Marlin K. Jensen to Domestic Area Presidents, February 7, 1997, “Status of Anti-HLM Legislation in Ten Targeted States, February 7, 1997”)


“In California, the Public Affairs Committee has suggested I meet with a key Catholic Bishop in Oakland to get a coalition started that could result in a State Referendum in 1998. I will report more on this later to get the wishes of those above me.

There is also a loose coalition forming in California that has the potential of doing what Hawaii’s Future Today has done. The potential advantage of this group is that they also appear to have the resources to raise money which would lessen the Church’s financial involvement. The disadvantage is that at least for now, they are being driven by some prominent Republicans and one highly visible Evangelical. However, they all seem willing to step back in order to make things work. If the leadership could be reorganized with the right people, it could have potential.” (Loren C. Dunn to Gordon B. Hinckley, February 11, 1997)


“It is my understanding that Public Affairs would like us to organize in California along the same lines we organized in Hawaii.

Bishop DeLorenzo, in Hawaii, has contacted Bishop Cummins about our coming to see him regarding HLM. Marlon Jensen has also spoken to monsignor William Fay who is Undersecretary to the National Catholic Conference on Bishops. He, in turn, called Bishop Cummins in Oakland and has paved the way for Bishop Cummins to speak to us concerning HLM. Bishop Cummings is the current state Catholic Conference director.

With your approval, we will start preliminary discussions with Bishop Cummins, the same that we did with Bishop DeLorenzo in Hawaii.” (Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard, February 11, 1997)


“Anti-H.L.M. legislation through both Houses of the California Legislature appears virtually impossible at the present. There is a consensus that a referendum is the only route. While expensive, there are at least two coalitions coming together with one of them showing promise as to raising money.

Richard Wirthlin has run a survey which shows public support for our position in the mid–fifty percentile. As in Hawaii, his survey also shows the public image of the Catholic Church higher than our church. In other words, if we get into this, they are the ones with which to join.

With your permission, Stuart Reid, Richard Wirthlin and I met recently with the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference in California, Bishop Cummins.  He had with him the Secretary of the Conference, Monsignor Petersen and the Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco. It was a cordial visit.  They are prepared to join with us on this issue.  Bishop Cummins told us the California Catholic Bishops are united in their opposition to H.L.M.  Ricahrd and Stuart and I are meeting to determine what kind of arrangement we might recommend to you.  If the right people can be found, we may end up with a coalition who will work in the background assisting other coalitions where we can agree on what they are doing.” (Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard, March 4, 1997, “H.L.M. Strategy for California and Hawaii”)


“As we watch to see what the Legislative Conference Committee is going to do with H.L.M. in Hawaii and as the first overtures to the Catholic Church in California have been made, it is a good time to see what has been learned and to review strategy.

(Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard, March 4, 1997, “H.L.M. Strategy for California and Hawaii”)


“In case you didn’t see the newspaper report of a recent poll in California about same-sex marriage, I enclose a copy.  (I think Wirthlin polls are considerably more accurate, but its nice to know that even the others are seeing the same general picture—if not so clearly and in such detail.)

San Francisco, March 3 (UPI) – A new poll indicates Californians are becoming increasingly tolerant of gay rights, though they remain opposed to same-sex marriages.

The Field Poll says today (Monday) that two-thirds of the respondents favor a law providing domestic partners with legal family benefits, but 56 percent object to laws that would allow homosexuals to marry.

The survey found the public leaning slightly in favor, 49-43 percent, of legislation mandating that California not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.…

Pollster Mervin Field says the poll shows a huge change for California from 30 years ago, when there was far less compassion towards gays and lesbians.…”

(Lynn D. Wardle to Marlin K. Jensen, Stuart Reid, Loren C. Dunn, Richard B. Wirthlin, March 10, 1997, “Field Poll of California”)


“I am also in correspondence with Bishop John Cummins of the Oakland Diocese of the Catholic Church and Chairman of the California Bishops Conference as we explore ways to approach opposition to H.L.M. in California.”


(Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard, March 19, 1997)


“Gordon Hinckley, the leader of the world’s 10 million Mormons, said last night that his church will do all it can to stop the recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States.

Hinckley, the 86-year-old ‘president, prophet, seer and revelator’ of the Mormon faith, was in Santa Clara to speak before the World Forum of Silicon Valley.  In an interview with The [San Francisco] Chronicle, Hinckley was asked about reports last year that Mormon leaders had asked church members to begin a letter-writing campaign to legislators in California and other states—but not to mention they were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ‘We believe that marriage of a man and a woman is ordained by God for the procreation of children,’ Hinckley said.

‘We have gays in the church—good people,’ he added.  ‘We take no action against such people, provided they don’t get involved in transgressions.  If they do, we do just what we do with heterosexuals who transgress.  We have a very strong moral teaching concerning abstinence before marriage and total fidelity following marriage.’

Asked if that means gays and lesbians must lead celibate lives, Hinckley said, ‘Yes, essentially.’” (Don Lattin, “Mormon Leader Pledges to Fight Same-Sex Marriages,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 1997, p. A8)


“These are items related to the same-gender marriage issue in California:

  • There are currently in the California Legislature nine bills that have been introduced which promote homosexuality.  Occasionally we hear from a priesthood leader or member who wants us to mobilize our efforts in California in opposition to one or more of these pieces of legislation. I am having Bill Campbell follow this legislation and to date, he tells me that it looks like none of it will get passed into law.  I am in touch with him in case we have to mobilize some opposition.
  • We have reports that one of the anti-H.L.M. coalitions is doing some focus groups in preparation for a proposed state-wide referendum.  They are seeking some financial help through the anti-H.L.M. Public Affairs network that we have established. Richard Wirthlin and I have been doing some work in California in order to develop names that could head a coalition established by ourselves and the Catholic Church.…

(Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard, March 25, 1997)


“Governor Pete Wilson’s legislative assistant called yesterday and offered to fly Lynn Wardle to Sacramento to testify before a committee in support of A.B. 911 (HLM non-recognition).  The assistant felt the vote would be close and Brother Wardle’s testimony would make a difference.…

Since they have offered to pay Brother Wardle’s way and since for the record, he can make some important input, we will give our approval unless you feel that this would be inappropriate.” (Loren C. Dunn to Richard G. Scott, April 18, 1997)


“I concur with Lyn Waddle [sic] testifying.” (Richard Scott to J. W. Larsen, April 18, 1997)


“We give our approval for you to go to California to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of A.B. 911 (non-recognition).” (Loren C. Dunn to Lynn Wardle, April 18, 1997)


“Last Wednesday (I believe), I received a telephone call from Mr. Andy Pugno, legislative assistant to Senator Pete Wilson.  I have never met or communicated with Mr. Pugno or his office before, but he had read the written statement I prepared for the California Senate Judiciary Committee last year…

Nevertheless, (1) I think it is important to support our allies when they ask for help in a good cause, (2) the bill is certainly in a good cause, (3) if the legislation were passed that would avoid a very costly alternative task to get such a bill passed, and (4) the effect of an overwhelming defeat for this bill could harm later efforts to get a nonrecognition law adopted.…” (Lynn D. Wardle to Loren C. Dunn, April 22, 1997)


“I write to briefly report on my appearance before the California Senate Judiciary Committee to testify regarding S.B. 911.…

It was not an apparently successful effort. Mr. Pugno, the Legislative Aide to Senator Knight, wanted me to testify mostly about the constitutionality of S.B. 911 and about the need for it. I was able to do very little of either. The committee chair, Democrat Burton of San Francisco area, was hostile and heavy-handed…

The vote was 5-4 to add in the hostile amendments.  Later the committee voted 2-2 (with 5 abstentions, which count as negative votes). I have been told that some newspapers in the state have reported the vote and commented that it appears that it will not be possible to get nonrecognition legislation through the legislature.  So perhaps this has laid the foundation to proceed with an initiative or referendum.…” (Lynn D. Wardle to Loren C. Dunn, April 24, 1997)


We have now completed the focus group research which test various wordings of the proposed defense of marriage ballot initiative to be placed on the June 1998 ballot.…

The wordings we tested ranged from the lengthy and complex to the straightforward and simple. Our goal was to find the best wording which would appeal to the most voters and yet withstand the inevitable court challenges.…

From the focus group findings and after numerous discussions with legal experts such as Prof. Lynn Wardle of BYU to distill and polish the concept, the initiative language we propose submitting to the Attorney General for ballot title and summary is: 

Only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California. [Note that this is the exact wording later used in Prop 22 and Prop 8, and that it came out of Gary Lawrence’s group.]

We are told by our legal experts that this wording will establish California’s public policy and will allow California to refuse to give full faith and credit to Hawaii’s expected same-sex marriage ruling, and we believe from a marketing viewpoint is that it has the best chance of winning support during the political campaign.…

So we are now ready to pull all interested parties together and organize the formal committee and we invite your organization to be part of this important effort.… (Gary Lawrence to California Defense of Marriage Leadership Group, May 12, 1997.  This memo was transmitted from Loren C. Dunn to Marlin K. Jensen on May 13, 1997.)


“In reflecting further on our conversation Wednesday, I don’t see how things can function smoothly without the involvement of the new Area Presidency.

The committee that has been appointed to oversee HLM in Hawaii and California is Marlin Jensen, who heads up the national effort, Richard Wirthlin, David Sorensen and myself.  From what Richard tells me, he and I have the ‘laboring oar.’

Let’s get things organized and functioning and then work out the reporting procedure.  Personally, I could do without this, but I also recognize what a mis-step could mean at this time.…” (Loren C. Dunn to Robert D. Hales, June 19, 1997)


“I had a short telephone conversation with Loren Dunn about (1) transition of the SGM [Same-Gender Marriage] matter to the new Area Presidency, (2) moving forward on the immediate need of the name gathering initiative for the referendum in California, (3) formulating some ideas for options to raise monies locally from our interested Church members and the California community for the name gathering and the subsequent campaign, (4) formulating ideas on the development, composition and LDS interaction with the ‘California Family Values Coalition.’” (Robert D. Hales to M. Russell Ballard, June 20, 1997)


“Governing Principles on Church Involvement in Social and Moral Issues from President Faust

  1. We never fire the first shot or throw the first punch.  We become involved only when others have initiated action which the Church must stand against.
  1. We do not go into battles by ourselves.  Whatever the Church does, it does not do it alone.  An authentic coalition where the Church can remain in the background is the way we should become involved.
  1. The Church stands for marriage being defined as one man married to one woman.
  1. It is important that we not become involved on two major fronts at once. We should see Hawaii through to its conclusion and consider becoming involved in California, should the need [arise?].
  1. We need to prepare for the California battle in case the church needs to become involved.”

(Memo dated June 26, 1997, in Loren C. Dunn files)



The beginnings of a coalition exist in California and initiative language has been submitted to the California Attorney General. That office has 45 days (to July 28, 1997) to prepare the initiative petition and then there are 150 days (to November 13, 1997) to gather approximately 700,000 necessary signatures to qualify the initiative for a June 2, 1998 vote.

It is our recommendation that the Church assist the effort to pass the initiative.  This will require considerable expenditures of time and money and may expose the Church to unfavorable publicity.  The California homosexual and lesbian communities are well-organized and well-financed and can be vindictive.

On the other hand, the current political circumstances in California, including a supportive Governor, the advantages of a June ballot, the existing level of public support, and the momentum of the fledgling coalition all make the timing of the present initiative seem quite favorable. Indeed, to wait would, in our opinion, reduce the probability of winning so severely that a future initiative would be very unlikely.

If a decision is made to proceed, the ‘costs to be counted’ include:

  • Having Elders Dunn and Wirthlin (and possibly a volunteer coordinator) work during July and August to expand and strengthen the existing coalition.  We are confident this can be done.
  • Organizing Church members using the priesthood structure to gather a major portion (70 percent) of the required signatures. This equates to each of the 1,000 California wards tapping 25 individuals, each of whom would gather 20 names. If it should be decided not to use this option, then we would recommend that the Church cover 20 percent of the million dollars ($200,000) needed to have paid signature gatherers perform the task.
  • Participating in the campaign itself would involve both the volunteers (organized down to the block level) and funding.  The estimated total cost is $7,000,000-$10,000,000, of which the Church might raise $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 as its fair share.”

(Marlin K. Jensen, Loren C. Dunn, Richard B. Wirthlin to Public Affairs Committee, “Same Gender Marriage Initiatives: Hawaii and California,” July 1, 1997)


“This is a first pass at the title and mission statement.…


Mission Statement

Californians For Traditional Marriage seeks to preserve and reaffirm the definition of marriage in society bypassing a ballot initiative firmly establishing the public policy of the State of California regarding marriage. This initiative states that only marriage between one man and one woman is recognized or valid in California.…

The campaign will NOT be negative or attack any other types of relationships. The coalition will confine itself to the beneficial effects of marriage between one man and one woman and the subsequent strengthening families and our communities. The coalition will not deal with issues having to do with other rights that lawmakers may or may not provide to any individuals in different types of relationships.

(Loren C. Dunn to Richard B. Wirthlin, July 1, 1997)


“I was thinking after our telephone conversation how we all got involved in this in the first place. As you know, the Public Affairs Committee targeted ten states (it has been enlarged to a great many more, as you are aware) to make sure that there are appropriate laws in place that could deal with same-gender marriage in case there was a challenge with full faith and credit or in case there was movement in the states to get same-gender marriage recognized. California was one of those target states.  At the time, Elder Maxwell and Elder Ballard called us in and gave us the commission to go to work.  We were also told that President Faust said we cannot lose California.

Suddenly, we are in the position of defending ourselves with the Public Affairs Committee for something they asked us to do in the first place.  We didn’t buy this fight, but as you know, we see a reason to be there.”

(Loren C. Dunn to Robert D. Hales, July 18, 1997)


“I am informed that a proposal rejecting same-sex marriage has been drafted for submission to voters in California. It provides that same-sex marriage is not valid or recognized in that state. If a sufficient number of signatures is obtained, this proposal will be placed on the ballot, and if pass by the voters, it will become law. I am informed that the proposal will not amend the California Constitution, but if passed, will become a type of law which cannot be repealed by the legislature alone without a referral to the people for another ballot vote.…

If the proposal were to amend the state constitution, then it could not be judicially nullified under the state constitution. However, the US Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans indicates some judicial hostility against anti-homosexual policies that are written into state constitutions. From that perspective, it may be advantageous to not amend the state constitution.” (Lynn D. Wardle to Loren C. Dunn, July 31, 1997)


“Dear Brothers and Sisters:

California Defense of Marriage Initiative

The Proclamation on the Family issued in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve states that ‘marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God [and] is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.’ The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have also encouraged Church members to oppose every effort to weaken marriage or family ties.

The guidance these statements provides is very important because a vigorous campaign is now being pressed in several states to legalize so-called same-gender marriage. Legalizing marriage between two people of the same sex is a perversion of true marriage and threatens to undermine the concept of marriage and family, which is at the very heart of the plan of salvation.

In light of the foregoing, we wish to make you aware of that currently the California Defense of Marriage Coalition is gathering signatures for an initiative on marriage to be included on the June 1998 primary ballot. The proposed initiative reads: ‘Only marriage between one man and one woman is recognized as valid in California.’

We encourage you to support this initiative by signing petitions that are now circulating, by encouraging others to do likewise, and by offering your assistance to the coalition in any other way you deem appropriate.” (North America West Area Presidency—David E. Sorensen, John B. Dickson and John M. Madsen—to church members, August 19, 1997)

Elder Lance B. Wickman and Elder David E. Sorensen will meet with a select group of LDS attorneys in Pasadena on Sunday, October 12, to organize a lobbying effort designed to dissuade the board of governors of the California State Bar from promoting legislation legalizing SGM. (10/7/97)


“My understanding, if it is correct, is that the First Presidency and Twelve want to stand back and watch this matter.…” (Loren C. Dunn to Marlin K. Jensen, October 9, 1997)



Bill Campbell reports that the California legislators don’t intend to do anything on the SGM issue until at least after the election results in Hawaii are on record this fall.  If the constitution change fails, he doesn’t think California legislators will do anything—just let SGM happen. If Hawaii makes the constitution change there may be a possibility of passing some legislation.

(“SGM Report,” January 26, 1998)


“… California is not as liberal as Hawaii or Washington. The voters and the volunteer base here alarms the opposition and increases our chances for success.  In 1996, our anti-gay marriage legislation fell just one vote short of passing in our Democrat-controlled Legislature.  We believe California is very ripe for a successful ballot initiative.…

For these reasons, as well as the reasons outlined in my previous correspondence, I believe it would be very worthwhile and helpful to Hawaii (as well as California and the nation) for LDS leadership to fund a ballot initiative in California.” (Randy Thomasson, Assistant Director, Capitol Resource Institute, Sacramento, CA, to Loren Dunn, January 30, 1998)

Bill Campbell reported this morning that Sen. Pete Knight is going ahead with the legal matters that need to be done in preparation for gathering signatures for an initiative.  Bill doesn’t think Sen. Knight has enough backing to get the signatures.… (2/12/98)


“Andy Pugno called me late yesterday afternoon and told me that the people he is working with are going ahead to refile the Initiative Petition. The wording they propose is attached (they probably will substitute ‘a man an a woman’ for ‘one man and one woman’). They will not try to get the initiative petitions signed in time for the 1998 general election, but will plan to get the petitions signed and the initiative qualified this Spring/Summer for the next election (2000 Primary election, unless the governor calls a special election before then).

One risk of early qualifications and long delay is that the political situation is hard to predict that far in advance.  For example, if Hawaii or some other state legalized same-sex marriage now, a couple of gay residents of that state got married there and then moved to California, and then file suit, it is possible the suit could be decided by the trial court well before the next election. If the trial court ruled that under the existing state law the same-sex marriage nee not be recognized, that might take the wind out of the sails for the Initiative, even though the case were still pending on appeal.  Thus, the initiative might fail; then the court of appeals or supreme court of the state might read the statute to require recognition of same-sex marriage.  Andy believes the benefits outweigh the risks, and he believes that having an initiative qualified might nudge the legislature into enacting a nonrecognize [sic] statute to make the initiative unnecessary.” (Lynn D. Wardle to SGM Committee Members: Marlin K. Jensen, Loren C. Dunn, Lance B. Wickman, Richard B. Wirthlin, Arthur S. & Jan Anderson, Von Keetch, Eric Andersen; “California Initiative,” February 27, 1998)

“The proposed new section is as follows: ‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California.’” (Andy Pugno to Lynn D. Wardle, “Urgent – please review this DOMA initiative text for California,” February 26, 1998)


“We urgently need you to review the proposed text and respond to two key questions before the close of business tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 27).

As you know, current California Family Code 308 already reads: ‘A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in this state.’ The proposed new section is as follows:

308.5. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California.

Issue #1: Would the limitation of ‘one man and one woman’ have any possible legal effect of limiting the ability of divorced persons to re-marry after a dissolution? Would it be safer to use the term, ‘a man and a woman’?…

Issue #2: Is there a better way to draft the text of this initiative, considering California’s long history of recognizing any marriage legally contracted elsewhere (even if it would have been invalid if performed in this state)?…

Once that language has been submitted, we are stuck with it.  Therefore, it is vital that we get it right the first time.” (Andy Pugno to Lynn D. Wardle, February 26, 1998)

Lynn Wardle received word from Sen. Knight’s office that they are going ahead with the refilling of the initiative petition. They will not try to get the petition signed in time for the 1998 general election, but will plan to get the signatures and the initiative qualified this spring and summer for the next election (the 2000 primary election unless the governor calls a special election before then). (3/12/98)


“I enclose for your information a copy of Curran v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the recent California Supreme Court decision permitting the Boy Scouts to refuse to permit homosexual men from serving as adult Scout leaders.

The Curran and Randall decisions vindicate Elder Wickman’s diagnosis of the California court situation very well, and I am very grateful for his perceptive insights.  If the state supreme court had ruled the other way, it would have likely emboldened the advocates of same-sex marriage, and increased the immediate pressure to safeguard the institution of male-female marriage in California.…

I thought that you might also be interested to know did Andy Pugno, Sen. Knights aid[e], called me about the Initiative petition this week. He wondered whether, in light of how the Alaska Superior Court had interpreted the privacy position of the Alaska Constitution, I thought and Initiative Petition amending the state constitution would be wiser than an ordinary legislative change by Initiative petition. I told him Yes, that I thought the possibility of a judicial circumvention of the ordinary law by interpreting the state constitution was substantial, and that risk could be eliminated by amending the state constitution. But I noted that that would be a tougher task to accomplish for several reasons.

I also suggested the timing was critical; and that despite the absence of specific language prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage, the California marriage recognition law might be interpreted (and should be interpreted) as implicitly incorporating a public policy exception which would exclude recognition of same-sex marriage (and the Curran decision might suggest the possibility of that interpretation); we discussed the fact that it would take several years for a marriage recognition case to work its way up to the California Supreme Court, and that ‘waking the sleeping giant’ of gay advocacy in California with the direct confrontation of an initiative petition ought not to be undertaken unless and until supporters of the petition are sure of latent grassroots support as well as sure of the actual financial support sufficient to successfully overcome the tremendous campaign the advocates of gay rights would mount against the Petition.

I had the impression, however, that Andy still wants to go ahead now with the Petition, though now he seems to be leaning toward amending the constitution.” (Lynn D. Wardle to Some SGM Committee Members: Marlin K. Jensen, Loren C. Dunn, David E. Sorensen, Lance B. Wickman, Richard B. Wirthlin, Arthur S. & Jan Anderson, Von Keetch; “California Supreme Court Boy Scout Ruling & California Initiative,” March 26, 1998)


“In Tuesday’s Public Affairs Committee meeting, Elder Maxwell conveyed the decision of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve that the Church may participate in the coalition of supporting the California initiative. He also shared the following counsel which we need to observe as we proceed:

  1. If possible, a nonmember ought to chair the coalition.
  1. Maximize monetary contributions from California members.
  1. Don’t convey the impression that the church will step in if local efforts to provide financing fail.
  1. Don’t create high expectations regarding what we will do it at Church headquarters.
  1. Elder Cecil Samuelson was approved as project officer.
  1. Approbation was given for Elder Richard Wirthlin to work with the coalition and help develop strategy. His pro bono involvement may be in Lou of heavy financial contributions by the church.
  1. The bottom line is that we may now sit at the strategy table and begin to explore what are vote may be. We (Elder Wirthlin, Elder Samuelson, and I) need to talk with the other coalition members and then bring further recommendations back to PAC.”

(Marlin K. Jensen to The California SGM Referendum File, “California Definition of Marriage Initiative,” December 17, 1998)


“The three of us have met and discussed the status of the California campaign. We wish to share the following information:

  1. A coalition in support of the initiative has been formed…
  1. Elder Richard B. Wirthlin will serve along with six or seven others as members of the coalition’s executive committee…
  1. The coalition will also have finance and steering committees are LDS members might serve. Only the names of members of the steering committee will need to be publicly disclosed.
  1. The Catholic Church is committed but is considering the scope of its support for the campaign… We have a very good relationship with Ned Dolesji, the secretary of the California conference of Bishops, and he appears sympathetic to our position.
  1. Thus far, no financial commitments to the coalition have been made. The impression has been conveyed to the coalition that the Church carried Hawaii and Alaska and it is now time for others to step up financially. Moreover, Elder Wirthlin’s pro bono services are recognized by the coalition as being of substantial value as is our ability as a church to mobilize our membership.

At this time we feel a need for guidance of the Public Affairs Committee on the following questions:

  1. To what extent should we use the existing California Public Affairs organization in the campaign?
  1. Who should be the Church’s spokesperson for the campaign in California?…
  1. May the Church’s efforts be coordinated through the priesthood line using Area Authority Seventies, stake presidents, bishops, etc.?
  1. What may we undertake now and later educate leaders and members as to the Church’s position on this issue?
  1. At some point, financial support from our church will need to be considered. Should this come solely from California members or from a combination of member and institutional contributions? What timing should be observed? What amounts should be considered?
  1. With Elder Cecil O Samuelson is the project officer and committee chairman, we recommended the establishment of a headquarters committee to oversee the churches efforts in California consisting of Elders Marlin K. Jensen, Richard B. Wirthlin, Loren C. Dunn, Lance B. Wickman, and Donald L Hallstrom, together with Gary Lawrence and Richard Richards. May we have approval to proceed?
  1. As advised in our last public affairs meeting, a letter from the First Presidency to Archbishop Mahoney in Los Angeles would be most helpful. Would you please have them consider our proposed draft?”

(Marlin K. Jensen, Cecil O. Samuelson, Richard B. Wirthlin to The Public Affairs Committee, “California Definition of Marriage,” February 25, 1999)


“If the Church does not hire a lobbyist that spends $5000 for more in a calendar quarter to influence legislation it will need to report as a lobbyist firm. Accordingly, unless the Church is willing to file reports it should donate less than that amount each quarter. Further, if the Church becomes a member of a lobbying coalition the amount of its contributions will be reported on a quarterly basis. In view of these reporting requirements the church may not wish to act formally and legislative matters involving same gender marriage. However, individual church members could participate in these activities.… [IS THIS WHERE THEY SHIFTED GEARS BECAUSE OF THE BACKLASH IN ALASKA?]

We have also consulted with the Secretary of State’s office, on a no name basis, to inquire if the value of the volunteer’s time was reportable. They informed us that it was not. Based on the above considerations, it is our opinion it is not necessary to report the value of the volunteer’s time to support or oppose a legislative measure.” (Richard G. Johnson, Jr. to Boyd J. Black, “Lobbying Laws – California,” March 1, 1999)


“Organizational Issues

Establish officially the California Same-Gender Marriage Headquarters Committee consisting of the above. [Present: Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Elder Loren C. Dunn, Elder Richard B. Wirthlin, and Elder Lance B. Wickman. Possible Other Members: Donald L. Hallstrom, Gary Lawrence, Richard Richards]” (“Agenda: California Same-Gender Marriage Headquarters Committee,” March 4, 1999)


“… to be read in the priesthood and Relief Society meetings of each ward and branch by a member of the stake presidency or high council on May 23 or May 30, 1999.

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

Preserving Traditional Marriage

On Mary 7, 2000, Californians will vote to affirm that the union of one man and one woman is the only form of marriage that will be legally recognized in California.

This traditional marriage initiative provides a clear and significant moral choice. The Church’s position on this issue is unequivocal. On February 1, 1994, the First Presidency wrote to all priesthood leaders:

The principles of the Gospel and the sacred responsibilities given us require that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints oppose any efforts to give legal authorization to marriages between persons of the same gender.

Therefore, we ask you to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and is essential to His eternal plan. It is imperative for us to give our best effort to preserve what our Father in Heaven has put in place.

A broad-based coalition is being formed to work for passage of the traditional marriage initiative. As details about the coalition become available, we will provide you with information on how you might become involved.” (North America West Area Presidency, John B. Dickson, John M. Madsen, Cecil O. Samuelson, to Area Authority Seventies, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, Bishops, Branch Presidents, and all Church members in California, May 11, 1999)


“To the Stake Presidents in California

Dear Brethren:

We are grateful for your willingness to support the request of the First Presidency that we assisted in every proper way to assure passage of the Traditional Marriage Initiative on the March, 2000 California ballot. This letter contains further instructions in connection with the raising of support funds as follows:

  1. I have been asked to supervise the raising of the funds. I will be assisted by Elders Merrill Higham in Floyd Packard. Within a few days one of us will contact you.
  1. In every instance the contribution of a church member will be voluntary and in his capacity as a private citizen. No undue pressure of any type should be applied.
  1. No fund raising may take place on Church property, through use of Church letterhead, or by virtue of general announcement in Church meetings.
  1. An education process will be required so that those approached will understand that this is a moral issue, rather than political, fully justifying the support of LDS families.
  1. All checks should be made payable to ‘Defense of Marriage Committee’ and mailed to Post Office Box 10637, Glendale, CA 91209-3637. We will keep appropriate accounting records and make these available to you for your individual stake.  For each donor we need the name, address and occupation.
  1. Please advise the donors that contributions are not tax-deductible.
  1. We are pleased to accept contributions from any donor, whether or not a member of the Church. There is no limit on the amount of contribution, although any donor who contributes $10,000 or more must file a simple campaign report. (I can help with this). We may also accept checks from businesses.
  1. Experience shows that it is generally more successful to begin with the more affluent members, suggesting an appropriate contribution and thereafter extend the invitation to those of lesser means. We desire that as many as possible be invited to contribute in order to increase their awareness of the Initiative and develop a personal attachment to the project. Many of these members will be asked to provide telephone and other grass roots efforts near election time.
  1. Our objective is to raise this money in 60 to 90 days.

We recognize that this is a large assignment. It is evidence of our continuing commitment to traditional families as the fundamental unit of society. Thank you for this and boundless other service you so faithfully offer.” (Douglas L. Callister to Stake Presidents in California, May 20, 1999)


“It is with a heavy heart that I feel compelled to write you this letter.  I can’t begin to express to you the disappointment I felt when I saw you as a signatory to the letter [May 11], a copy of which I have enclosed, addressed to all church members in California sent by the North America West Area Presidency.  How are church members with gay children or gay siblings to respond?  Millie and I have two gay children who are among the finest individuals I know.  Are we supposed to donate our means and time to assure our two gay children that they are to be denied the very same rights as our four straight children?

I recognize the right of the church to oppose same-sex unions on moral grounds, but am puzzled by the efforts of the church to encourage its members to actively support legislation that would deny homosexuals the legal right to marry or form domestic partnerships.…

Why does the church lobby and support legislation which on the surface seems to deny equal moral and political status to homosexuals?…

That homosexuality is experience honestly and involuntarily by a small percentage of the human family is no longer in dispute.  It is time for the church to acknowledge that fact and begin to treat these individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve.  As a respected physician, you are in a position to begin now to make a difference.…” (Gary Watts to Cecil O. Samuelson, June 2, 1999)


“A California church member reported on a Mormon internet list on Monday, 21 June, that the day before, Sunday the 20th, that at the beginning of Sunday School he and several ward members were invited by a counselor in the bishopric to visit during Sunday School with the bishop in his office The Bishop talked with them about the fundraismg campaign The bishop told them that gay activists were prepared to spend 10 million dollars to defeat the initiative and that it needed to pass to protect the world that their children would live in.… The post further reported the specific dollar amount that was being assessed the Stake, as well as the specific amount that had been assigned to his ward, but, to protect his identity, I have declined to state those dollar figures The bishop also told them that he could not say anything about this over the pulpit.” (David Combe compilation, June 21, 1999)


“On 24 June, a priesthood leader in the greater Los Angeles Area reports that his ward had been given an assessment of $ 10,000.  He also reported that the Stake President told the bishops that the direction to become involved had come directly from Gordon B. Hinckley, the President of the Mormon Church.” (David Combe compilation, June 24, 1999)


“In a post to an online group, one writer on 28 June described a conversation with a relative who is a bishop in California. He reported that the bishop said that the goal for funds to be raised from the stake required an average donation of $250.00 from each family, with the better-off being asked to donate more, the less-well-off less. (David Combe compilation, June 28, 2000)


“Asked about the Mormon church’s support of the March ballot measure against recognizing same-sex marriages, Elder Douglas L. Callister said that traditional marriage between a man and a woman is at stake.

‘It’s whether or not marriage means anything at all,’ Callister said.  ‘This is very painful for us.  We do not get involved in these {issues} unless we think it is a moral issue, not a political issue.’

‘We are not anti-gay. We have many fine friends that are in the gay community and do not wish to be their adversaries,’ he said. ‘But our concern is the thing we believe we are defending—traditional marriage.  This is a moral issue and we wish we did not live in a society in which we felt it was being attacked.’” (Larry B. Stammer, “No End to Dissent: Recent events suggest that, at least in the nation’s churches, the battle over rights for gays and lesbians is a long way from being resolved,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 1999)


“The Mormon Church has quietly instructed its California followers to offer financial and political support for a ballot initiative banning gay marriages – a move that mirrors the church’s $1.1 million effort in Alaska and Hawaii.

A “Dear Brethren and Sisters” letter sent several weeks ago asks 740,000 California Mormons “to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote” on the March 2000 ballot measure, which is expected to be one of the most divisive of the next election season.

The letter was authorized by the highest reaches of the Mormon Church and should be considered as “inspired and coming from the Lord,” said church spokesman Dan Rascon in Utah. Individual members, however, aren’t absolutely required to support the ballot measure or give money to the campaign, the spokesman said.

California family law already defines marriage as between “a man and a woman.” But the ballot initiative takes the law further by deeming heterosexual marriages as “valid and recognized.” The measure’s backers fear the courts may soon validate gay marriages as constitutional, and they believe the ballot initiative would short-circuit those potential rulings.…

“Yes, a statement from the first presidency we believe is inspired and comes from the Lord,” said Rascon. “But it’s up to the members as to how to proceed. This is the direction that is coming from the church, but they still have the option. Nobody is going to be disciplined.”

For some gay Mormons and ex-Mormons, however, a letter from high-level church leaders is akin to marshaling armies in support of the initiative. Some found it significant that the letter instructed “a member of the stake presidency or high council” to read the letter instead of other lower-level church leaders.

“There really is an attitude of the hierarchy as really being able to direct your lives and telling you how to live,” said Kathy Worthington, a gay activist and former churchgoing Mormon who lives in Salt Lake City. “They’ll see this as a serious request from the man representing God.”

Gay rights groups opposing the initiative believe the letter is the first sign that the church will have considerable influence in California, whether through members here or large contributions to the campaign from Utah headquarters.…

“We’re very pleased with their part of the coalition,” said Defense of Marriage Act campaign manager Rob Stutzman. The initiative is sponsored by state Sen. Pete Knight, R-Palmdale. “They’re a significant piece of this coalition, but this is certainly not a “Mormon campaign.’ In fact, the Mormons had nothing to do with getting this initiative qualified for the ballot.”…

One fear of the gay rights community is the church’s instruction to donate “means” to the campaign. That would essentially hide the source of financing for the initiative, since individual Mormon donors would not be required to cite their religion on disclosure forms.

In Alaska, however, the church had many fewer members to donate individually. When its $500,000 check landed in Anchorage, it sent a shudder through the gay rights community, already struggling with a conservative legislature.

That kind of money in Alaska allowed the measure’s supporters to dominate the airwaves early with TV ads showing gay couples walking on the beach and scenes of ancient Rome crumbling under the crush of immorality.

About 68 percent of Alaska voters supported the constitutional amendment.

“It was just incalculable,” Allison Mendel, manager of the No on 2 Alaska campaign, said of the influence of the Mormon money. “It put the campaign so far out of our reach, it really wasn’t possible for us to duplicate. We were frantically raising money, but we didn’t have that kind of money at a time when we could actually buy media.”

In Hawaii, Mormon money accounted for about 40 percent of the contributions to the anti-gay-marriage initiative, which garnered 69 percent of the vote.” (“Mormons now target California,” SFGate.com, July 4, 1999)


“A church member in Central California reports on 5 July that members in his area received letters in the mail, with previously addressed and stamped envelopes enclosed, over the signature of a member of the Stake Presidency. He was asked to donate $ 150.00, and one other friend who he specifically asked, also received the identical letter with a request to donate $ 150.00.” (David Combe compilation, July 5, 1999)


“San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno called on local and state legal officials yesterday to investigate ending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ tax-exempt status because of a letter it sent to its member telling them to support a California initiative banning gay marriages.…” (Edward Epstein, “Supervisor Hits Mormons for Politicking,” SFGate.com, July 7, 1999)


“The Mormon church says it regrets a protest by dozens of dissident members trying to quit the church because of its campaign in California against gay marriages.…

Saturday’s church statement also quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley saying, ‘Our hearts reach out to those who struggle with feelings of affinity for the same gender.  We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and sisters.  However, we cannot condone immoral practices on your part anymore than we can condone immoral practices on the part of others.’” (Paul Foy, Associate Press, “Mormon church ‘regrets’ exodus by gay members,” Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ), July 25, 1999)


“The Mormon church has quietly instructed its 740,000 adherents in California to give money and other support to a March 2000 state ballot initiative that it hopes will ban gay marriages.…

The Mormons spent $500,000 on a successful, similar Alaska proposition last November, and another $600,000 on a second 1998 effort in Hawaii, which carried by a 69-31 percent margin. Mormon money allowed backers to dominate the airwaves in those states with pro-initiative, anti-gay commercials at every stage of the campaigns. Church spokesmen declined to reveal how much they have donated to other ballot proposition campaigns, and no agency tracks such contributions.

In Alaska, ads paid for with cash from the church, which has 4.1 million members in the United States, showed gay couples holding hands on a beach and scenes of dissolute behavior in the crumbling Roman Empire.

“We see this as a moral issue, not political at all,” said Mormon spokesman Dan Rascon, based in Salt Lake City.

“It’s politics,” said Republican political consultant Allen Hoffenblum, based in Los Angeles. “Anytime you’re involved in making law, that’s the essence of politics. If they want to make law, they should become a corporation, not use money that is not taxable to achieve their ends. Making law is the very aim of politics.”

“Of course it’s political. It’s on the ballot,” said Los Angeles attorney Roger Jon Diamond, whose 1970 lawsuit revived the modern initiative movement. “I don’t think they can do this legally. They have a right to speak out however they like, but not with tax-exempt dollars.” …

No one disputes that the letter, similar in nature to a Roman Catholic encyclical, was more than just a written communication to the presidents of all 159 stakes, or church regions, in California. It contained instructions asking “a member of the stake presidency or high council” to read the letter publicly.

“A lot of Mormons will see this as a serious request from the man representing God,” said Kathy Worthington, a gay activist and former Mormon.

Gay activists in California expect the church headquarters to pump at least as much into the California campaign as it did in Hawaii and Alaska. And San Francisco City Supervisor Mark Leno, who is openly gay, called on state and local government officials to investigate the Mormons’ tax-exempt status. He called the letter “a gross abuse of their tax-exempt status.”

But both church officials and campaign finance experts assert the letter does not jeopardize that status.…

But the Mormons actually spent just $52.47 mailing the letter, a trivial amount compared to the Internal Revenue Service standard, which limits charities to spending 5 percent of their annual budgets on lobbying activities. The sum is so small it won’t even have to be reported.” (Thomas D. Elias, “Mormons join political fray. Church urges members to vote for California ballot issue that could ban gay marriages,” Atlanta Constitution, July 29, 1999)


“Beth James have been out of town for several weeks, so she and her husband missed the church announcement on Sunday. When they got home, however, a letter from the bishop was waiting for them.

’When I first read it, I couldn’t believe how political it was,’ said Ms. James, who asked the Observer not to use her real name. She and her husband are members of the Fair Oaks Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, near Sacramento, California.

‘The letter said there was a gay lobby group that was willing to spend $20 million to defeat the Knight Initiative (a ballot measure that would ban gay marriage in California),’ she said. ‘It went on to state the church’s position against gay marriages and said our stake has a goal to raise $37,500 in support of the initiative.’

The letter urged Mr. James to attend a meeting at the bishop’s home to discuss this ‘moral issue’ and asked that he be prepared to make ‘a significant financial contribution,’ one that would not be tax deductible, to the Protection of Marriage Committee.…

This is not the first time the LDS Church has waded into the fray of a political battle over homosexual rights. Last year the Church made a $500,000 direct cash contribution to a coalition that opposed same-gender marriage in Alaska. It gave $600,000 to a similar push in Hawaii.

Why, in the case of this more high-profile measure, in a state that has more Mormons and more gays and lesbians than either Alaska or Hawaii, would the church choose to prod its members for donations, instead of decisively and discreetly writing out another big check?…

In May, a California official of the Church issued a letter to 740,000 members statewide, asking them ‘to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote’ on the measure.

Douglas Callister, an Area Authority Seventy for California and Hawaii, told the Observer that he is aware only of this one letter from his office being read at women’s Relief Society and men’s priesthood meetings on May 23 or May 30 in California.

‘There may indeed be instances where the content of the letter was shared with individuals along the way,’ he said, in response to assertions that bishops and stake presidents are adding their own pressure for members to give money.

‘No one is being asked to give a particular dollar amount, nor is any assessment being made of anyone,’ Mr. Callister said.  ‘People are simply encouraged, as their circumstances and inclinations may dictate, to participate.’” (Maria Titze, “Mormon Letter vs. Letter of the Law,” Salt Lake Observer 11(4), July 30-August 12, 1999)


“In May the Mormon (LDS) church in California started an organized effort through church leaders to raise funds for the Knight Initiative, an initiative intended to keep California from recognizing same-sex marriages should such marriage ended up being legalized elsewhere.

Rumors and reports about organized fundraising by Mormon leaders have been flying around the Internet via email and on news list since May, but church leaders and spokes people had repeatedly denied any fund raising was happening. ‘If it is,’ they would say, ‘it is just spontaneous efforts by individuals, not organized efforts by the church.’ In two instances those denials were recorded by reporters, including one denial by Elder Douglas L. Callister that was published in the Salt Lake Observer in late July.…

In late July, Kathy Worthington of Salt Lake received solid evidence that the fund raising had been started and was being supervised by California leaders of the church. The most decisive proof of the church fund raising was a May 20 letter, on the official church stationary [sic], from Callister to all stake presidents in California.

THAT’S RIGHT! It was mailed on May 20, two months before he claimed he had no knowledge of any letters except the May 11 one we all heard about in the media. The May 20 letter, written from the ‘North America West Area’ of the church, outlined fund raising plans and announced that Elder Callister would be supervising the raising of the funds, with the assistance of Elders Merrill Higham and Floyd Packard.  That letter went out in May, yet in June and July Callister was denying any fund raising was being done ‘by the church.’

Worthington, a gay activist and former Mormon, also received other evidence from California, including text copies of two letters from bishops to their ward members and a photocopy of a third bishop’s letter, this one with signature and all.  Worthington also obtained proof that at least one bishop is using his ward directory (a list of church members with their addresses and phone numbers) for his fund raising efforts.…

Also among the evidence gathered are several signed and sworn statements from members of the church in California about visits by ward members who are collecting funds and about conversations between bishops and other priesthood leaders regarding the fund raising efforts. Those conversations make it clear that bishops are using their positions as ward leaders to pressure those below them to do direct fund raising among members.

One of the statements Worthington obtained also indicates that one bishop said he had been told by his stake president that he was expected to raise $4000 for the initiative. The bishop said he’d been ‘assessed $4000.’…

Jenny Brundin of KUER radio in Salt Lake was the first to report the story of the church fund raising in California, in a story that aired on Wednesday Aug 4 on NPR (National Public Radio). After that story aired, just before this publication was due to go to print, the story was expected to hit all the major news outlets in Utah and California – and possibly across the nation.  Worthington had given Brundin an exclusive on the story because Brundin and Kat Snow, also of KUER, had been able to obtain an hour long interview with a church spokesman in Salt Lake just before the best of the evidence came in. In that interview the church spokesperson was asked several times about the reports of church involvement in fund raising in California.  He denied any such fund raising was being done.

On August 2, when Brandin told the PR department at the church that she had a copy of the May 20 letter from Callister, they reluctantly acknowledged that the church HAD been organizing some fund raising for the Knight Initiative.  There comment was that ‘it’s a moral issue’ and said there is nothing wrong with the church doing fund raising for it.…” (“Utah, the Mormon Church and Same-Sex Marriage. Proof that California Mormons Have Been Raising Funds for the Knight Initiative,” Pillar of the Gay and Lesbian Community, August 1999)

1677, 1660, 636:

“Putting aside concerns about its tax-exempt status, the Mormon Church is putting its check-writing muscle behind an initiative to ban gay marriage.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California are answering the calls of church leaders to back the measure financially.

“It’s not going as fast as I hoped it would, but it’s happening,” said Merrill Higham, a Mormon from Belmont who serves as spokesman for the church in the Bay Area.

The measure, which voters will decide in March 2000, would affirm that only heterosexual marriages are recognized in California.

To many gay couples, the initiative is seen as a direct attack. But to Higham, an accountant who contributed $2,000 to the campaign, it’s an issue of biblical law.…

The Mormon Church signaled its interest in the campaign in a May 11 letter, signed by three church presidents, to be read to the state’s 740,000 Mormons by local church leaders. The letter urged members “to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote” on the measure.

This week, a former church member released a second letter, dated May 20, from a top church official detailing how the leaders of California’s Mormon congregations can solicit donations to the campaign.

The letter gives detailed instructions on a fund-raising operation, including urging leaders not to raise funds on church property, through use of church letterhead or at church meetings.

In the past three months, however, it’s unclear how much money Mormons in California have given because campaign disclosure reports do not require donors to state their religion. The most recent reports, filed this past week, show the campaign for the Definition of Marriage Initiative had raised about $840,000 through June 30.

But anecdotally, church members say they have been urged to give and have responded.…

Contributions have been spurred on by a well-orchestrated effort by church elders in Utah and California to solicit money from members.

The effort has drawn sharp criticism from opponents of the initiative, including San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno. He drafted a resolution, passed by the Board of Supervisors in July, calling on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Mormon Church violated its tax-exempt status by getting directly involved in raising money for the initiative campaign.

This past week, Kathy Worthington, a gay activist and former Mormon in Utah, released the May 20 letter from elder Douglas L. Callister to 159 stake presidents in California, who represent the roughly 1,000 Mormon “wards” or congregations in the state.

“No undue pressure of any type should be applied,” to gain donations, Callister wrote, but church leaders should explain to members that “this is a moral issue, not a political issue, fully justifying the support of LDS families.”…

Asked why he directed church leaders not to raise money on church property, Callister explained, “I felt our church meetings had been dedicated for worship and prayer, and in large part we should use them solely for that, and this could be more comfortably discussed in homes and other settings.”

Callister, a tax lawyer in Glendale, reacted sharply to Leno’s accusation that the letter violated the church’s tax-exempt status.

He said IRS rules allowed churches and other tax-exempt groups to get involved in political issues on two conditions: Their involvement is not a significant part of their overall activities, and they do not back any particular political candidate.

“(The church’s) involvement with political issues is rare and does not involve a significant fraction of its total activities and assets when one considers the substantial resources committed by the church to missionary work, temple and meeting house construction and maintenance, family history, education and so forth,” he said. “Further, the church maintains strict neutrality regarding political candidates.”

It is not unusual for religious groups to get involved in politics. The Catholic Church has weighed in heavily on issues from abortion to San Francisco’s domestic partners ordinance. But the IRS in June revoked the Christian Coalition‘s tax-exempt status after ruling the group’s support of Republican candidates and causes was too overtly political.

Callister, whose firm gave $4,000 to support the initiative, called Leno’s attack “a distraction away from the true issue, which is: What should the definition of recognized marriage in California be?”

Contributions from Mormons have helped power the initiative campaign, known by the name of its author, state Sen. Pete Knight, R-Palmdale, to an almost 4 to 1 early fund-raising advantage.

The No on the Knight effort, opposing that campaign, released a memo Thursday charging that the initiative campaign and the Mormon Church had conspired to hide the church’s support.

The memo cited several examples of the church’s role, including:

  • The campaign paid $32,400, its single largest expenditure, to Wirthlin Worldwide of Maclean, Va. The company is a Republican polling firm headed by Richard B. Wirthlin, an elder in the Mormon Church who advises the church on public relations.
  • The concentration of contributions to the campaign – $69,150 – from four nearby towns in Southern California: Temecula, Murrieta, Vista and Fallbrook, which have large Mormon communities. One donor, Roger Connors, a stake president for the church in Murrieta, gave $10,000.

“What are they afraid of?” said Mike Marshall, manager of the campaign against the initiative. “Why aren’t they disclosing that the Mormon Church is actively raising money?”

Rob Stutzman, spokesman for the initiative campaign, said the campaign had acknowledged the role of the Mormon Church, which joined the effort after the initiative qualified for the ballot in November.

Last year, the Mormon Church gave $500,000 to a successful ballot initiative banning gay marriages in Alaska, and $600,000 to another winning effort in Hawaii. But to date, the church has not reported spending any money on the California measure.…

The church’s support of the initiative has driven some Mormons away from the church. Worthington, the Utah activist, has collected 50 letters from Mormons around the country asking their names be removed from the church’s membership.” (Zachary Coile, “Mormons raise funds to stop gay marriage,” SFGate.com, August 8, 1999) [This also appeared as a front-page article in the Sunday, August 8 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle]


“Politics is a tough game for Latter-day Saints.  Criticized for pouring cash into battles against same-sex marriage in Alaska and Hawaii, the Mormon Church apparently decided to organize its rank and file to support California’s Definition of Marriage Initiative. Letters went out encouraging the state’s 750,000 Mormons to donate privately.  But some contained appeals for specific amounts, which some local church leaders say went too far. ‘This is byond the bounds of anything I’ve been asked to do,’ said one. A Salt Lake City authority called the appelas ‘unfortunate’ and against church policy.” (“Mormon Money, Newsweek, August 9, 1999, p. 6)


“In an e-mail post to a public internet list dated 9 August the poster stated that his bishop [in a ward in the greater Los Angeles area] told him at church the day before, the 8th, that the ward had raised about $2000 of the goal of $3000 in support of the Knight Initiative. He also reported that the bishop was trying to go by the rules—members who tried to hand him the contributions in the building were taken outside to the street so that the transaction did not take place m the church building.” (David Combes compilation, August 9, 1999)


“On 4 September, an internet poster reported that she had examined the reports from the state of California regarding campaign donations.  She copied all donations from the area covered by the Los Altos Stake, and compared the donors names with the printed Stake Directory.

I checked all of the donations in the Los Altos, California Stake. I added up the money in my head (I might have counted wrong) and it came to $32,150, 100% of which was from Mormon contributors.  I know from a friend in the stake that at some point, a guy asked the SP how they were doing, and the SP said they had all but $2,000.  The guy wrote out a check to complete the fundraising. That guy, R— P , is listed on the sheets.” (David Combe compilation, September 8, 1999)


“On 8 September a Los Angeles area priesthood leader mentions in an e-mail post that in a leadership meeting the men present were told that the stake was not even close to meeting the dollar assessment given by the Area Authority Seventy.” (David Combe compilation, September 8, 1999)


“On 17 September, at 7 00 pm in the Saltair Auditorium in the Student Union at the University of Utah, a panel discussed The Church, Gender, and Politics – From ERA to DOMA.…

Nadine Hansen reviewed the LDS Church involvement with the Knight Initiative in California About the same time as the 11 May letter there was a telephone conference between the Area Presidency, Stake Presidents, and Elder Neal A Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during which Elder Maxwell stated that this involvement had the support of President Hinckley The assessments or goals for the amount of funds to be raised in each stake were given orally and not in writing.” (David  Combe compilation, September 17, 1999)


“On September 24th, stake presidents were invited to meetings throughout California where they were given packets of material that include a video and a discussion guide about the Knight Initiative. The stake presidents were told to instruct their bishops to hold a combined Relief Society and Priesthood meeting (meaning, all adults) to explain the church position in favor of Knight, and to request that members be more politically involved, including lawn sign display, and participation in door-to-door precinct work.  The video consists of three speakers, Elders Maxwell, Scott and Ballard, from the church’s Quorum of the Twelve, who explain that it is the 1995 church proclamation to the world on the family that requires the church to oppose same sex marriage. Over the next few days, scattered reports of the meetings appear on LDS-related internet lists from across California.” (David Combe compilation, September 24, 1999)


“In May, officials of the Mormon Church in California received a letter on Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints letterhead reminding of the church’s commitment to ‘assist in every proper way to assure the passage’ of the Knight Initiative. It said no fund raising should be done on church grounds, but it specified where and how checks from members should be sent.…

The IRS says churches cannot use a substantial portion of their resources for political lobbying.  [Deputy City Attorney Mario] Kashou said the Mormon Church’s resources are so vast that percentage of wealth should not be the only criterion.

‘The circumstances to me suggest you have to look at their impact (on an election),’ Kashou said. ‘The impact in Alaska and Hawaii was huge.  It actually shifted poll numbers.  To me, that would suggest grounds for denying their tax-exempt status.’…

[Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund] ‘We’re not saying that religious organizations shouldn’t speak out on public policy matters,’ Pizer said, ‘But it’s a matter of proportion. In Alaska and Hawaii, the church came in and dwarfed the resources that either side had put in.’” (Elaine Herscher, “Mormon Church Assailed On Gay Marriage Stand,” SFGate.com, September 24, 1999)


“I have time to discuss one other question: “Why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?”

I hasten to add that we deal only with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature or which directly affect the welfare of the Church. We have opposed gambling and liquor and will continue to do so. We regard it as not only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of society. Much of our effort, a very great deal of it, is in association with others whose interests are similar. We have worked with Jewish groups, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and those of no particular religious affiliation, in coalitions formed to advocate positions on vital moral issues. Such is currently the case in California, where Latter-day Saints are working as part of a coalition to safeguard traditional marriage from forces in our society which are attempting to redefine that sacred institution. God-sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman has been the basis of civilization for thousands of years. There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God.

Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality. Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out.

Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference address, October 2, 1999)


“After three similar proposals failed to pass in the California Legislature, proponents gathered more than 700,000 signatures to qualify the matter as a referendum in March.” (Carol Morello, “Mormons back anti-gay marriage measure,” USA Today, October 4, 1999)


“My father [California State Senator ‘Pete’ Knight] has authored and pushed a number of anti-gay bills in the Legislature. According to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Center, it is a political and legislative campaign unparalleled in California history.  Why is he doing this?

I believe, based on my experience, that his is a blind, uncaring, uninformed, knee-jerk reaction to a subject about which he knows nothing and wants to know nothing, but which serves his political career.

How can I say this? For one thing, he has never discussed my homosexuality with me, and I know that he never discussed the issue with his gay brother, who died of AIDS three years ago.

As far [as] I can determine, he’s made no attempt at understanding the issue.  Therefore, I have a hard time with the fact that someone in his position is attempting to legislate discriminatory restrictions on a significant group of people that he has clearly rejected.

Three years ago, I told my father I was gay and that I have a life partner, Joe.  From that moment on, my relationship with my father was over. I can’t begin to explain the hurt that has come from this rejection.…” (David Knight, “My Father is Wrong on Gays,” Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1999)


“20 October – Based on a number of e-mail reports from all around California, following the canceled combined Priesthood/Relief Society meetings, ward ”firesides” were organized instead, meeting in church members homes. Summarizing these posts, the following seems to be the new approach from the LDS Church: Those conducting the meeting state that the coalition supporting the Knight Initiative approached the church because the church is organized geographically and is organized in a way to generate large numbers of volunteers. At the meeting, the video made for stake presidents was shown. The organization is each ward has a Knight coordinator, who reports to a stake coordinator. Each ward has a goal of 50 volunteers, each of which is supposed to find a partner who is not Mormon. Instructions for the precinct walkers are available, as is a survey, designed to determine levels of support. A person who states that they are opposed to the initiative, are to be thanked without attempting to change their mind. Those who agree are to be asked if they could give financial support, though none is to be collected, and phone numbers or e-mail addresses are collected for those who want further information or who might be willing to work in favor of the initiative. The information that this door-to-door survey collects is to be entered into a statewide database by one of three LDS church members with internet access in each ward who are being recruited to assist with tabulating the data.” (David Combe compilation, October 20, 1999) [NOTE THAT THIS IS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL TO THE GAME PLAN FOR PROP 8, EIGHT YEARS LATER.]


“Currently, voter reaction is running 50% to 41% in favor of the Definition of Marriage initiative, which would add a provision to the state’s Family Code providing that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California.…

A number of churches have taken a stand in support of the initiative, and in some cases have made campaign donations to the Yes side. An announcement was made earlier this month that eight of the twelve California Catholic dioceses have contributed more than $310,000 toward backing the initiative.  The Church of Jesus Christ of The Latter-Day Saints also favors the initiative.…” (Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field, “Voters Currently Inclined to Favor Definition of Marriage Initiative, But Are Opposed to Repeal of Tobacco Tax,” The Field Poll, October 27, 1999)


“Geneva, Switzerland – The Second World Congress of Families opened yesterday with organizers expecting 1,000 delegates to attend.  The four-day congress, sponsored by BYU’s World Family Policy Center (formerly NGO Family Voice), the LDS Church’s Relief Society and the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society of Rockford, Illinois, has received extensive support from the LDS Church. LDS Church authorities Mary Ellen Smoot (General Relief Society President), Margaret Nadauld (Young Women General President) and Elder Bruce Hafen of the First Quorum of the Seventy will address the congress.…

The congress represents a triumph for BYU law professor Richard Wilkins, founder of the World Family Policy Center. Wilkins got the idea for the program after speaking to the 1996 United Nations’ conference in Istanbul, and says he was inspired by the LDS Church’s 1995 Proclamation on the Family.…” (Naomi Koppel, “Groups Defend the ‘Natural Family,’” Associated Press, November 13, 1999)


“The California campaign hopes to woo voters through an upbeat, positive campaign that capitalizes on the simplicity of the ballot language. They maintain that the initiative does nothing more than preserve traditional notions of marriage and will have no effect on anti-discrimination policies, domestic partnership provisions, and other strides gay rights advocates have made in the California Legislature.

But when the race to win in March begins in earnest, the campaign will have to answer to the opposition’s portrayal of Proposition 22 as an anti-civil rights measure, one that will forever deny gay couples the financial and social benefits of marriage and relegate their relationships to second-class status.…

But even conveying a simple message costs money. While the campaign tries to pitch itself as a bottom-to-top operation, a closer look at finance reports reveals a campaign that is well-connected to wealthy donors and strategists from the Mormon church and the more conservative side of the Republican party establishment.

Much of the $3,115,241.48 in individual contributions is reported to have been donated by 740,000 members of the California Mormon church. Leaders of 159 churches received letters last spring from both the Latter Day Saints church headquarters in Salt Lake City and from Douglas Callister, a Glendale lawyer and Mormon elder, asking members to donate.

The campaign has also hired Richard Wirthlin as one of its top consultants and has paid his survey research firm, Wirthlin Worldwide, over $60,000. Also known as Elder Richard B. Wirthlin in the First Quorum of Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wirthlin served as one of Ronald Reagan’s pollsters and now works for U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Wirthlin’s close association with both the Mormon church and Reagan suggests that he functions as a nexus between Mormon leaders and the Religious Right, two groups that historically have had an uneasy alliance, sources close to the opposition said.

On September 21, 1998, Sen. Knight held a press conference in Los Angeles to announce that the initiative, then called the Defense of Marriage Act, had gathered 650,000 signatures. Two months later, the initiative qualified easily for the March 2000 ballot with 482,044 signatures deemed valid by the Secretary of State.

This moment served as a happy culmination to Knight’s two-year struggle to pass a ban on same-sex marriages through the legislature. When Knight was an Assemblyman in 1996, he tried to pass AB 1982, which like Proposition 22, would have acted as a preemptive strike against favorable court rulings for same-sex marriages in other states.

Co-sponsored by 30 of Knight’s fellow Republicans, the bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate when Democrats added an amendment which would have created a statewide domestic partnership registry, giving same-sex couple benefits associated with marriage.

Democrats knew that Gov. Pete Wilson would veto the bill if it arrived on his desk with domestic partnership legislation attached.

Sure enough, Wilson killed AB 1982, but it was Lieutenant Gov. Gray Davis who dealt the fatal blow. Acting as the Senate president, Davis cast the tie-breaking vote to keep the domestic partnership provisions in the bill, gutting it of its original purpose and outraging its sponsor.

Knight tried again later on in 1996, with AB 3227 and lent his support to SB 2075, a measure sponsored by Sen. Ray Haynes (R-Riverside) which sought to bar recognition of not only same-sex marriages, but of common-law unions as well. None of these measures got very far in legislature dominated by Democrats.

It was with these defeats in mind that in early 1998, Knight decided to circumvent the Legislature entirely. Shortly after the measure qualified, Knight spokesman Andy Pugno told the San Francisco Examiner that his boss was using the initiative process because the Legislature “refused to protect California’s current definition of marriage.”” (Archana Pyali, “Proposition 22 Campaign Wants to Preserve Marriage With 15 Simple Words,” Journalism.Berkeley.edu, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, ca. January 2000)


“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has given $3.6 million to support Proposition 22, slated for the March 2000 ballot. The initiative would add these words to the California Family Code: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Both the Mormon and the Catholic Church, which has contributed more than $300,000 towards the initiative, have argued that as religious organizations, they have a right to speak out on moral issues.…

“We believe that sex is sacred,” said Brother Brent Collette, director of the Berkeley Institute of Religion, a Mormon Church. “Sex is like a sacrament, proper only between a married man and woman.”…” (Victoria Mauleon, “A Thin Line Between Church and State,” Journalism.Berkeley.edu, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, ca. January 2000)


“A Southern California poster reports that in his ward Sacrament meeting on 2 January, the bishop announced that because they did not get enough precinct walkers two months ago, that the entire stake was to report to the stake center the next two Saturdays (8 and 15 January) to knock doors. The bishop stated that Gordon B. Hinckley has called the Area President with this request, and the area president had called the Stake President .The people were told to NOT to wear white shirts and ties.” (David Combe compilation, January 2, 2000)


“Religious leaders from more than 70 California churches are asking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reconsider its support for an anti-gay marriage initiative.

Proposition 22, the ‘Limit on Marriage’ measure, won’t solve problems facing families, said the church leaders, who planned to release a copy of their letter to the Mormon church Wednesday.” (Mormons Asked to Drop Support of Measure Banning Gay Marriages,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2000, p. A17)


“A California church member reported on 9 January that her stake president visited her ward’s Sacrament meeting. He told those attending church that the church’s involvement is a directive from the Twelve and President Hinckley, and therefore church members should consider it as having come directly from Jesus Christ. He invited anyone with questions about the church’s involvement to call him directly and he will explain why this is the right thing to do. He told them that next Saturday (the 15th) is the last day to walk precincts. After that, volunteers will start phoning voters. In response to a question about the other churches included in the coalition against the proposition, the stake president admitted that it was really just Mormons, for the most part. He stated that when he walks precincts he does not tell people that he is Mormon and that that is OK because he is a volunteer. He stated that the news reports about a letter from other churches wanting to meet with LDS church leaders about Proposition 22 was a misquote and that it was really just one minister from West Hollywood that wanted publicity. He stated that he had received more calls and attended more meetings about this issue then any other thing in the two and a half years he has been stake president.” (David Combe compilation, January 9, 2000)


“To All Stake Presidents and Bishops in California, to be read in Sacrament Meeting Sunday January 16.…

On March 7, members of the Church in California will have the unique opportunity to promote a measure that will help ”maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

By voting and urging family and friends to vote YES on Proposition 22, which limits legally sanctioned marriage in California to a man and a woman – the divinely established institution of marriage will be protected.…

Now with only 45 days remaining until voters go to the polls, we urge all members to redouble their efforts in this noble cause.…” (North America West Area Presidency – John B. Dickson, William R. Bradford, Richard H. Winkel, January 11, 2000)


“A letter from a Bishop in Westwood to members of his ward begins circulating on Mormon e-mail lists on January 12.…

President Fairclough [Los Angeles, California Stake] called an emergency meeting last Sunday to relay to bishops and stake leaders important instructions he received in a conference call with the Area President concerning the Defense of Marriage Initiative. The Area President had received a challenge from President Hinckley to increase our efforts in support of the initiative.…

This is not just about an election. Our effort to support the Marriage Initiative is a test of our faith and our willingness to keep the covenants we have made to follow the prophet In some ways it is like Zion’s Camp, an important and difficult assignment given to early church members to help the Saints m Missouri.… In the meeting yesterday, President Fairclough said he was as concerned about the corrosive effects on our souls of failing to follow the Prophet as he was about the outcome of the election.”

(David Combe compilation, January 12, 2000)


“A poster on 18 January reported that his stake president told him that President Hinckley is unhappy because the California church members have only provided 51% of the amounts assessed the wards and stakes to support Proposition 22.

An 18 January report shows that as of 31 December 1999, the group supporting the initiative has raised $4.8 million and those opposed have raised just over $2.5 million.” (David Combe compilation, January 18, 2000)


“To All Stake Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents in California 

To be read in Sacrament Meeting, February 13, 2000

The divinely-established institution of marriage will be protected as we vote YES, and as we urge family and friends to vote YES on Proposition 22. The proposition would close a loophole in the State Constitution that presently allows other states to determine whether or not same-gender marriages are recognized in California. Because of the ”full faith and credit” clause of the US Constitution, if same-gender marriages are legalized in other states, they would most likely be recognized in California. To close this loophole, Proposition 22 would add 14 words to the State Constitution ”Only marriage between a man a woman is valid or recognized in California.”…

In the remaining weeks between now and the election, there is much to be accomplished. We pray that all members of the Church will redouble their efforts in this noble cause. It will require telephoning, placement of yard signs, and contact with neighbors and other individuals to help them understand the urgency and moral nature of this matter. Above all else, we invite every individual, family, and ward to unite with us in fasting and prayer as we call upon the Lord to help us protect traditional marriage and maintain a morally safe environment for our children.…” (North America West Presidency – John B. Dickson, William R. Bradford, Richard H. Winkel, January 21, 2000)


“A e-mail poster to an internet list reported that in sacrament meeting on 23 January the bishop said that ten families from each ward [and they were named from the pulpit] were to attend a special meeting in the stake center that evening to raise money for a new assessment to support Proposition 22. The families named were told to bring their checkbooks.” (David Combe compilation, January 23, 2000)


“In a dramatic challenge that underscored sharp divisions among churches over homosexuality, Southern California bishops from three major mainline Protestant denominations joined rabbis and other clergy on Sunday in denouncing the anti-gay marriage initiative on the March 7 California ballot.

Speaking to an estimated 600 people who turned out for a teach-in that was part religious revival and part campaign rally, bishops from the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church charged that Proposition 22–known as the Knight initiative–is the result of fear and the bearer of bigotry.

The meeting at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena marked the first concerted response by clergy from mainline Protestant and Jewish denominations to an unfolding campaign in support of the measure by the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, independent evangelical and Pentecostal churches and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.

The great divide within and between religious groups was underscored by the Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr., rector of All Saints Church.

“My sisters and brothers, we are people of God. It is a tragedy that the good leaders of the Mormon Church and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese have allowed themselves to be hijacked by the forces of intolerance and bigotry that gave birth to this hate-filled initiative.”…

Speaker after speaker Sunday night urged voters to compare the struggle for equal rights for gay men and lesbians with the 1960s civil rights struggle.

“This Knight initiative is not about saving the sacred rite of marriage, saving the family, or saving traditional values. Proposition 22 is about fear–fear of something Mr. Knight doesn’t like, doesn’t understand or doesn’t agree with,” said the Rev. Mel White, who is gay.…” (Larry B. Stammer, “Clergy Attack Initiative on Gay Marriage,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2000, p. B1)


“He is told that the stake president had a phone call the day before from a member of the Area Presidency. The member was told that the Area President told the Stake President that President Hinckley and the general authorities would like members to donate more money so they can make a big push with TV ads. The member was told that stake president was asked for and committed to collect $ 15,000 to $20,000 to be sent by the stake by Monday the 28th of January.” (David Combe compilation, January 24, 2000)


“When the Vermont Supreme Court ruled December 20 that denying the statutory benefits and protections of marriage to same-sex couples was discriminatory, conservatives began frothing at the mouth. “The End of Marriage,” screamed the cover of The Weekly Standard, while the Christian right’s GOP presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, proclaimed the court’s decision “worse than terrorism.” But the religious ultras are waging their cultural war most fiercely right now in California, where voters will be asked to approve the gay-bashing Knight Initiative when they cast their presidential primary ballots on March 7.

The fourteen-word initiative–“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” it says–was named after its principal sponsor, extremist GOP State Senator Pete Knight (it has been denounced by Knight’s openly gay son, a Gulf War combat veteran). If the initiative is approved, it will be thanks to a lavishly funded campaign spearheaded by the Mormon Church, which counts 740,000 adherents in California, including four Republican members of Congress. Two years ago, the Mormons poured $1.1 million into the successful passage of anti-gay-marriage initiatives in Hawaii and Alaska. This year, in the Big Enchilada, they are expected to cough up three or four times that amount. As a result, separation of church and state has been at the forefront of the debate. Since the Mormons used church letterhead to raise funds and to provide instructions on raising money locally–and because such instructions, when signed by church elders, have the force of “divine commands” in the Mormon faith–the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed unanimously a resolution calling on the IRS to investigate whether to revoke the church’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption, which carries with it a ban on “substantial” political or lobbying activity.…

The Knight Initiative would have an insidious impact far beyond prohibiting same-sex marriage. Similar laws passed in Florida, Illinois, Virginia and Washington have been used by religious extremists and hard-right legal groups to invalidate domestic-partnership ordinances (with their attendant economic benefits) adopted by local governments in those states. The University of Pittsburgh is arguing that Pennsylvania’s anti-gay-marriage law invalidates dependent healthcare benefits for the school’s heterosexual as well as gay employees. And in Idaho and North Carolina, such laws have been used by courts to try to nullify gay adoptions and visitation rights by gay and lesbian couples.…

says [Mike] Marshall, [No on Knight campaign manager], ‘the Mormons have been going door to door every weekend for three months–it’s a huge effort, given the number of people we know who’ve been approached by them.’” (Doug Ireland, “California’s Knightmare,” The Nation, January 27, 2000)


“To All Bishops and Branch Presidents in California 

To be read in Sacrament meeting Sunday, February 6, 2000…

Your support of this effort to date has been most gratifying. Tomorrow, February 7, is the last day to register to vote. If you are eligible but have not registered to vote, we urge you to do so tomorrow. Some of you have been blessed already by responding to a request to contribute funds to support Proposition 22, Protection of Marriage Initiative. Many others have asked if and how they might also assist this effort financially.…” (North America West Presidency – John B. Dickson, William R. Bradford, Richard H. Winkel, January 28, 2000)


“A Central Valley member reports that his ward’s priesthood and Relief Society met together for the third hour on 30 January. After the opening prayer, the bishop gave 10 minutes to the ward coordinator for the Yes on Knight effort. The coordinator announced that he had taken the printed ward directory and cross-referenced it with a list of registered voters he had obtained. He then created a list of names and numbers for each family in the ward to call about voting yes on Proposition 22. The list given the poster’s family consisted of six pages of names and numbers printed front and back and a cover letter thanking him for volunteering. The writer notes, ”This was conducted during official church meeting time with the bishop’s full approval and direction Ward lists were used in express prohibition to the General Handbook. I was not given an option to accept or decline ’volunteering.’”

An e-mail poster on 30 January reports that it was announced in his ward, in Sacrament Meeting, over the pulpit, that all ward members aged 15 and over were encouraged to meet on the evening of the 30th in the bishop’s law office to do phone banking in support of Proposition 22. The list given the poster’s family consisted of six pages of names and numbers printed front and back and a cover letter thanking him for volunteering. The writer notes, ”This was conducted during official church meeting time with the bishop’s full approval and direction. Ward lists were used in express prohibition to the General Handbook. I was not given an option to accept or decline volunteering.’” Members were asked to being cellular phones if they have one. It was announced that it was an official teen service project.  Pizza will be served.” (David Combe compilation, January 30, 2000)


“In many areas very few Prop 22 signs were to be seen at all.  Ward leaders were asked to call or visit families to see who had signs and who didn’t. Local leaders were instructed to tell members it was important that they ‘support the prophet on this issue’ and that their response to the call to support the Knight Initiative was a test of their ‘faith and willingness to follow the prophet.’

In early February, stake and ward leaders were told to ask members to fast on Sunday February 6 for the passage of Prop 22. Local Relief Society and Priesthood leaders and home teachers and visiting teachers in each ward and branch made phone calls and mailed letters to all families to tell them about the instructions to fast for the Proposition. Members were also asked to fast for those less-diligent members who were not heeding the call to work for the passage of the measure.” (Kathy Worthington, “California’s Knight Initiative Vote is March 7,” Pillar of the Gay and Lesbian Community, February 2000, p. 6)


“One of the delicious ironies of the current political campaign concerns the role of the Mormon church in the California Defense of Marriage crusade, also known as the ‘Knight Initiative.’

Proposition 22 states, in its entirety, that ‘only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ It is on the March 7 ballot as a rear-guard action against persistent attempts to legitimize same-sex marriage in church and state.

If one takes a somewhat longer view, the most notorious sexual outlaws in American history are not today’s gay rights’ crusaders, but the founding fathers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or the Mormon church.…

In previous campaigns against same-sex marriage in Alaska and Hawaii, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has publicly and collectively contributed as a major financial supporter to those efforts. In California, the emphasis on individual, private Mormon donations makes it hard to trace where the money comes from, but some estimate that half the Prop. 22 money may be from members of the Mormon church.” (Don Lattin, “Mormon Church: The Powerful Force Behind Proposition 22,” SFGate.com, February 6, 2000)


“A poster reports on 6 February that in a ward in Southern California stake leaders told members in Sacrament meeting that the prophet wants them to vote yes on Prop 22, and that if they are true believers, they will follow President Hinckley’s wishes. People are during Sacrament meeting recruited for yes on Knight phonebanks, that if they loved the Lord, they would stand up for Him by putting up a lawn sign. The stake leader also told people over the pulpit that the LDS church is not to be implicated in the effort because the church does not get involved in politics. So they are not to say that they heard about Knight in church, and if asked about their religion, they are not to say that they are LDS.  The poster is aware of six families in the ward that have stopped attending church since the yes on Knight push began because they have family members who are gay.” (David Combe compilation, February 6, 2000)


“A poster to a Mormon-related e-mail list on 11 February reports that the evening before, her bishop refused her request for baptism into the Mormon Church because of her public opposition to Proposition 22.” (David Combe compilation, February 11, 2000)


“After a couple of days of reports of rumors about a seminary lesson on Proposition 22, more firm information becomes available on 17 February. Seminary is an early morning before school religion class available to Mormon high school students, usually held in church buildings. A mother reports that her child’s seminary teacher told her that seminary teachers attended an inservice meeting to assist them in teaching this lesson.  The inservice was reported by two posters in different parts of California to have been led by Institute directors, who are full-time employees of the LDS church.  One poster states that the Institute Director leading the inservice stated that he did so at the direction of the Area Presidency. One poster states that the ward bishops were asked to attend the special lesson to help answer questions.  One other poster states that the ward bishop actually attended. One parent reported that their child came home upset because the seminary teacher suggested that those who do not put up yard signs are not following the prophet of God, and, that those who do not follow the prophet will not live with God in the Celestial Kingdom.” (David Combe compilation, February 17, 2000)


“The religious right has been quick to respond to what it perceives as a threat to the traditional institution of marriage, and the Church of Latter-Day Saints—with its large, loyal, and easily mobilized membership base—has led the charge. Though donations from individual members cannot be tracked, some estimates say the funds coaxed from California Mormons total at least half of the $5 million raised so far in support of the proposition.” (Marina Wolf, “Knight Time,” Sonoma County Independent, February 17-23, 2000)





Arcadia Foothill Chapel



Campaign Communications Director, Yes on Prop 22. 

He is an exciting speaker and will have a keen insight on the latest polls, how the media effort is going and what they have in store for the final days before the election.

A great date idea! Invite your friends.” (David Combe compilation, February 18, 2000)


“Tribune: President Hinckley, will the church continue to use its influence to fight moral battles, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, same-sex marriage?

Hinckley: What’s a church for if it isn’t to fight for values, to take a stand and face up to these moral issues? Now those are the only things with which we deal politically. What we classify as moral issues are those things which directly affect the welfare of the church. But where we see forces at work that are undermining society we feel we have to do something. But we do it as part of a coalition, we’re not out there alone. This present thing that’s going on in California we’re with the Catholics, the Protestants, many other people. We’ve put no institutional funds into that effort.  That effort has all been financed by the contributions of local Californians. We hope for a victory.  We know that we are up against some very formidable forces, but we’re at least going to know that we did our best.” (“Transcript of the Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 2000, page A1)


“Last June and July the same media folks were doing stories about how LDS church spokespeople were adamantly saying they weren’t doing any organized fundraising for the Knight Initiative in California. Church representatives were insisting that if any pro-Prop 22 stuff was being done by Mormons, it was just individuals deciding to do it, not happening at church meetings, in church buildings etc. Yeah, right.

The media reported it that way for nearly two months.  Mormon-owned KSL TV even sent reporter Nadine Wimmer to California two days to do any investigative report and she was ‘unable to find any evidence of fundraising by the church.’ It was two months before we obtained proof of the blatant and organized fundraising and support of Proposition 22 by the church.

When we provided copies of the evidence to members of the media, did the press confront the church about the cover-up and lies? The very person who had written and mailed out the fundraising letter had spoken to media people several times in two months and had denied any fundraising was being done.” (Kathy Worthington, “Knight Initiative Not Why Matis Killed Himself,” Pillar of the Gay and Lesbian Community, March 2000, p. 9)


“Sid Price, a Mormon and volunteer coordinator for the Protection of Marriage Committee, said that Mormon financial support had come almost exclusively from individual members rather than the church. He said the church’s financial involvement was limited to the cost of a letter mailed to 159 church leaders.” (“California Votes On Marriage,” Chicago Tribune, March 3, 2000)


“An e-mail from Elder Richard B. Wirthlin, a Seventy, and an LDS General Authority was distributed to local LDS church Prop 22 coordinators. Copies sent to other LDS volunteers eventually ended up on public LDS-related internet lists. I have removed the e-mail addresses.

March 3, 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we come to the final four days of the campaign, I want to thank each of you for your tremendous efforts and diligence in doing what President Hinckley has asked of us. It was not an easy task. You had to come out of your comfort zones to follow the prophet, but that is what you willingly did, and what an accomplishment it has been.  I’ve been in campaigns for 35 years and have never seen such a volunteer effort of this magnitude and commitment. Thank you again for all you are doing

We have one final goal. President Dickson has asked each stake to call 20,000 voters by Monday night.…

(David Combe compilation, March 3, 2000)


“Election results published in the papers after the election on 7 March show the following results for Proposition 22:

YES       4,140,706    61.4% 

NO       2,617,838    38.6 %” (David Combes compilation, March 7, 2000)


“Gordon Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said yesterday that voters had upheld a ‘moral issue of great importance.’

‘We are not anti-gay,’ Hinckley said at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. ‘We are pro-family. We want to emphasize that.’” (Elaine Herscher, “Gay Marriage Ban Pleases Leader of Mormon Church,” SFGate.com, March 9, 2000)


“Church involvement began in May 1999 when a letter signed by the North America West Area Presidency called on California church members to “do all you can by donating your means and time” in support of the Knight initiative. Later that month, a follow- up letter to California Stake Presidents by Elder Douglas L. Callister, informed them that efforts should not use church property, letterhead, or general announcements in church meetings.…

These instructions to leaders were not widely reported in the media until July, when the San Francisco &miner began an investigation of LDS backing for the proposition.…

Mormon- related e-mail discussion groups soon filled with complaints from liberal Latter-day Saints that the 1 Church was exercising undue influence. Rumors circulated—soon confirmed by anti-Knight initiative priesthood leaders privy to discussions in stake leadership meetings—that various church leaders were asking
wards and stakes to set specific fundraising goals.

Although Elder Lance B. Wickman, member of the Second Quorum of Seventy and general counsel for the Church, told National Public Radio in early August that requests for specific dollar amounts were against Church policy, the same news broadcast cited letters from stake presidents asking for specific amounts ranging from $30 to $250. Individual members reported being told by their leaders that their wards had been given specific “assessments,” and others said their leaders had mentioned a desired average donation of $250 per family. In an Orange County stake, as well as in others throughout the state, members of the stake presidency visited selected families and asked for donations of $500 dollars. One Los Angeles church member reported in August to the Salt Lake Tribune that a letter from local church leaders suggested donations, tailored to each member’s assumed income, from $1,200 to $10,000. “I just feel they have pushed it too hard,” the member complained.

A solicitation letter from a singles’ ward bishopric in the Long Beach East stake indicated that the coalition supporting the proposition hoped to raise thirty million dollars: four million coming from California Mormons; $30,000 from their stake, and $5,000 from their ward. The letter requested $15 from full-time students, $30 from full-time workers, and indicated that a donor had agreed to match the ward’s fundraising up to $2,500. When Newsweek first covered Mormon involvement in August 1999, the brief report quoted an unnamed local church leader who believed the requests for specific amounts were “beyond the bounds” of appropriate church involvement. 

Despite church leaders’ initial instructions not to spend church meeting time on the campaign, by June, some members reported discussion of the initiative in ward meetings or private interviews with bishops at which couples were invited to donate to the fundraising efforts. Following the October 1999 General Conference, during which President Hinckley forcefully defended the Church’s participation in the campaign, reports of meeting time and buildings being used to further the “Yes on 22” effort increased dramatically Church leaders released a video on the issue. Featuring Elders Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Ballard, and Richard G. Scott, the video was initially to be shown in combined Relief Society and Priesthood meetings, but was later redirected toward separate fireside meetings in members’ homes. By late October, reports circulated that in some areas church callings were being issued for ward and stake coordinators for the campaign; each ward in California was asked to meet a goal of fifty volunteers working to support the measure. Some stakes held youth firesides to enlist teens. The pro-Knight coalition even advertised in a December issue of BYU’s Daily Universe a credit-bearing internship available to students willing to spend their winter semester canvassing in California. 

By January 2000, when the North America West Area Presidency issued another letter encouraging members to “redouble their efforts” in support of the initiative, discussion of the issue was, by many accounts, the dominant subject of church meetings. Some members reported that bishops were instructing entire wards to report to stake centers on Saturdays to walk precincts; others indicated that in certain cases, ward leaders would call from the pulpit the names of specific families and instruct them to report for campaign activities; some reported special meetings following the three-hour block on Sundays to focus on the measure’s progress. Members distributed hundreds of lawn signs at church meetings and used ward phone and e-mail lists to pepper one another with reminders of campaign activities. In one Orange County ward, the bishop stood at the comer of the parking lot (technically not on church grounds) and handed out “Yes on 22” signs as cars left the ward parking lot after Sunday meetings.…” (“Proposition 22 Dominates California Wards’ Attention, Divides Members,” Sunstone, April, 2001, pp. 86-92)


“In April 1999, a friend from a neighboring stake sent me an e-mail reporting on a priesthood meeting he attended in his stake. He wrote

I heard something that disturbed me. Near the end of the meeting our stake president shared the notes he took during a teleconference he participated in with the Area President, his counselors and all the stake presidents in southern California. The Area President was reporting what had been said in a post-General Conference summary meeting held several days after Conference with the First Presidency, the Twelve, and all the 70s, including the Area Presidents. One item he passed on to us was that the church will be marshaling substantial resources to fight laws supporting ”the gay lifestyle.” Our stake president felt this included same-sex marriage, adoption by homosexual men and women, and domestic partner laws and benefit packages.

This was the first warning shot about the Mormon church’s efforts in support of what became Prop 22 in California. I began collecting news reports, e-mail records, copies of letters from the North America West Area Presidency and other materials to document the Mormon church’s involvement in support of Prop 22, mostly because no one seemed to be doing it, and I thought the documentary record was important. I have reported on that effort publicly at both the Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake and at Sunstone West. When the Mormon Church expanded its efforts in Nevada, and then Nebraska, and as we speak, in Texas, I continued the compilation. My chronology of Mormon Church involvement in support of anti-gay political activities is at present 427 pages of typed materials, covering church activity in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Nebraska, and Texas. My informants include reporters, e-mail reports from many Mormon-related e-mail lists from the orthodox to the most heterodox, and church members, some of who are unhappy, or embarrassed by the church activities. Some have publicly opposed the activity, some are afraid to do so as one wrote me recently, some fear to oppose the church activity because they fear they will be treated the way gays and lesbians are by the church if they do so.…

Brother Callister’s instructions that ”in every instance the contribution of a Church member will be voluntary and no undue pressure of any type will be applied” was by the reports of many church members violated repeatedly. E-mail posters and informants commented repeatedly how they were contacted by bishopric members in church meetings and private interviews in church classrooms and offices. By the very nature of a bishop’s calling and authority, such an interview in his office falls in my opinion into the area of ”pressure.”

Brother Callister’s instruction that ”no fundraising may take place on Church property, through use of Church letterhead, or by virtue of general announcements in Church meetings” likewise was repeatedly violated. Numerous reports from church members in my chronology report announcements in Sacrament meetings, letters from the Area Presidency of the North America West Area being read in Sacrament and priesthood and Relief Society meetings, the use of adult meetings to organize precinct walking, phone banks, distribution of voter registration lists for members to call, with phone scripts provided, and other similar activities. In some cases, in California as well as the later anti-gay efforts in Nevada, stake presidents and bishops canceled Sunday block meetings to allow members to walk precincts and participate m phone banks, and lawn sign distribution. Reports in California documented three instances where numerous Yes on Prop 22 signs were displayed on the lawns of stake centers and ward buildings during stake and ward conferences.

But most damaging to church credibility as it initially denied using church facilities and meetings to conduct fundraising to support the anti-gay initiative in California was Brother Callister’s denial in the Salt Lake Weekly in July of 1999 that fundraising was taking place, despite the letter, under his signature to stake presidents six weeks earlier that where he wrote, ‘I have been asked to supervise the raising of the fund.’” (David Combe, “A Mormon Anti-Gay Theology,” Sunstone West symposium paper, April 21, 2001, David Combe compilation)


“[p. 80] The Proposition 22 fight in California was not initiated or even encouraged by our church.  But when that issue got on the ballot our church had little choice other than to participate. What brought that issue to the ballot and thus brought our church into the fray were the aggressive efforts of a particular group to establish a new definition of marriage.  That controversy was not sought by the church but was placed on its doorstep by others.” (Dallin H. Oaks, interviewed by John Pottenger on July 14, 2000; in John R. Pottenger, “Elder Dallin H. Oaks: The Mormons, Politics, and Family Values,” Jo Renee Formicola and Hubert Morken, eds., Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics: Ten Profiles (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2001)


“During the 2000 fight over Proposition 22, the ballot measure to outlaw same-sex marriage in California, church leaders urged members to donate money and volunteer. A letter from one church leader, Douglas L. Callister, outlined the LDS strategy: Participation was voluntary, he wrote, but “this is a moral issue, rather than political.” Solicitation of funds, he added, should begin with more affluent members, and “many of these members will be asked to provide telephone and other grassroots efforts near election time.” Timothy Cavanaugh, development director for Equality California, served as finance director in the unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 22. He recalls, “On Sundays, in church bulletins and publications, it was a high priority to get Mormons to work to ensure that the ballot initiative passed. It was preached from the pulpit. And there were huge amounts of money.”

The considerable LDS effort on Proposition 22 prompted gay state legislator Mark Leno of San Francisco to call for an investigation into the church’s tax-exempt status with the IRS. It also proved so painful for one gay Mormon that he committed suicide. Stuart Matis, 32, shot himself in a walkway behind an LDS church building, leaving a suicide note saying, “I am now free. I am no longer in pain and I no longer hate myself. As it turns out, God never intended for me to be straight. Perhaps my death might be the catalyst for some good.”  (Lisa Neff, “Mormons on a Mission,” Advocate, March 22, 2005)


“Several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, ‘Far be it from me to suggest that we don’t have the same values and the same objectives’” (Mitt Romney, interviewed by Collin Hansen, Christianity Today, September 26, 2007)


“The Church was quite involved in the campaign process supporting Proposition 22.  In my ward and stake, members were organized to walk precincts and call voters. This electioneering was incorporated into our mid-week youth and Relief Society activities. People were called in to bishop’s offices and asked to donate to the campaign, messages were read from the pulpit and signs supporting the proposition were passed out from the Cultural Hall after church meetings. At first, it was not quite clear whether the church’s involvement was coming from regional leaders or from Salt Lake City. By the time the election rolled around, though, nobody wondered any longer. We were told the direction was coming from the prophet himself.” (“Hera,” guest blogger, FeministMormonHousewives, August 21, 2008)


“Here’s what led to the filing of the complaint. On Wednesday investigative reporter Robert Salladay published an article on Pugno’s involvement in the Prop 22 campaign while on the payroll of the California State Senate. Specifically, it was alleged that Pugno used public resources of the State Senate – phones, faxes, stationery – to vet the proposed initiative with Mormon leaders. Salladay included a letter Pugno wrote on February 26, 1998 to BYU law professor Lynn Wardle. The letter was on California State Senate letterhead and asked Wardle to review proposed ballot language with an eye toward ensuring it could pass at the ballot box. It was also reported that Pugno may have used public funds to travel to Arizona for a ‘strategic consultation’ meeting with LDS leaders that same year.

That appears to be in violation of the Political Reform Act, which governs issues such as this.…” (Robert Cruickshank, “Did Andy Pugno Break State Law In Support Of Marriage Ban?” www.EqualityonTrial.com, January 29, 2010)


In re MARRIAGE CASES – Amicus brief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, California Catholic Conference, National Association of Evangelicals, and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (September 25, 2007)

“[p. xx] The [LDS] Church teaches that marriage between man and woman is ordained of God and that the traditional family is the foundation of society. (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (September 23, 1995).…”

“[p. xxi] The [LDS] Church opposes changing the traditional male-female definition of marriage because of the harm such a change will cause to marriage and the family.…”


[84] “In California, where state law already explicitly limited marriage two unions of a man and a woman, a voter initiative called Proposition 22 sought to clarify state policy with regard to marriage is lawfully performed elsewhere that would not have been permitted in California. The measure read, ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ The two sides of the campaign together spent about $16 million. The Mormon Church, the Catholic archbishops of California, and an orange county banking magnate made sizable contributions in support of the initiative.…

On March 7, 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. The losers took heart from exit polls showing that voters age 45 and under had been closely divided on the issue. One openly gay assemblywoman said, ‘it’s hard to be jubilant today but the time will come.’”

(Michael J. Klarman, From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013))


“So it was with quite a bit of discomfort that I learned my church was going to be actively involved in advocating Proposition 22, the precursor to Prop 8 that was passed in 2000 (and later found by California’s Supreme Court to be unconstitutional). In one particularly upsetting Sunday meeting, an entire hour of Sunday School was devoted to recruiting pro-22 volunteers and handing out campaign packets and yard-signs. I didn’t think church was the appropriate place to discuss a political issue. My husband and I both considered ourselves to be liberal Democrats—a rarity in Mormonism, but not altogether unheard of. 

As the more vocal one, my husband made a show of loudly sighing and watching the clock throughout the meeting. He bellowed a loud, ‘Pass!’ when the campaign materials headed down our row. I slid down lower in the pew. I was relieved to not have to put forth any effort in a cause I didn’t believe in. But I also didn’t want to draw any undue negative attention. I’d heard there were some Mormons who had put anti-Prop 22 signs in their yard and subsequently underwent church disciplinary action.” (Lara Cleveland Torgesen to GAP, July 15, 2014; Gmail Proposition 8 file)


Blanchard: [Prop 22] wasn’t really something I felt comfortable with supporting.  In our ward—we were in the Oakridge Ward of the San Jose Stake—we weren’t really being pressured at that particular time for huge involvement, but they encouraged us to go door-to-door and to post signs in our yards.  Of course, the mantra was, “Please vote according to the dictates of your heart and your beliefs.”  My husband and I elected not to post any signs or go door-to-door; that just wasn’t our thing.

Prince: Was there any stigma because you didn’t?

Blanchard: No, not at that time.  I was a young mom, so I was highly involved in the kids and there really wasn’t a big push in our particular ward.…

It wasn’t really until Prop 8, for me, that it became really ugly, as far as I could see.  I didn’t like hearing about it, with Prop 22, but there wasn’t really a lot of the ugliness amongst members that I saw in Prop 8.

Prince: After Prop 22, there was no blowback against the Church or anybody else, because it won by about 60%.  So between 2000 and 2008, was there a period of calm?

Blanchard: It was in the area that we were in.  We lived mostly in San Jose.  We were moving to Pleasanton in 2006.  That’s when it really became a bigger issue.  But I didn’t really get a sense that it was a huge deal in the wards in the area we live in, in San Jose, as far as the Church being a part of it.

Prince: Prop 22?

Blanchard: Prop 22, right.  There wasn’t the pressure that I felt; but Prop 8, yes.  When we moved to Pleasanton, of course it became a bigger issue in the news.

(Cosette Blanchard, June 11, 2015)

Jeff: I’ll preface this by saying that experience—full disclosure, we are not your typical orthodox Mormons.  We are still affiliated, but we have lots of issues with the Church.  I almost resigned my membership over the Prop 22 thing.  This is coming from a person who is seventh-generation.  I was on a high council, I’ve been a bishop, I’ve been High Priests Group leader, I’ve done all the stuff.  The behavior on Prop 22—now Prop 8 was bad, but I actually think Prop 22 was worse.

Greg: Really!  I have not heard anyone else say that.

Jeff: Let me explain why.  I’m on the high council—and the other thing is that we have very good friends who are homosexual.  Our daughter went to school with a child that was adopted by a couple of women that we knew, fantastic people.  In our experience, all the people we had ever interacted with that were homosexual, we were always quite impressed with them.  Not that everybody is like that, and this is a selection bias because these are private schools.

Brenda: But they are great parents, very active in the community.

Greg: And they never get to be parents by accident.

Jeff: Yes.  They are well off.  We had always had a very positive experience with people that were homosexual.  We’re not activists; it wasn’t the primary issue in our lives at all.  It was just in the course of interacting where we lived.

So anyway, one day after high council meeting, maybe one year before the actual election, the first counselor in the stake presidency, to whom I had a direct report, pulled me aside after high council meeting and said, “I don’t want to take a lot of time right now, but I just want to make you aware of an issue that is coming up on the California ballot in the future.  I’m talking to you right now as a private citizen.  I’m not talking to you as your ecclesiastical leader, but I just want to let you know that I feel strongly about this issue.  It would be great if I could have your support.”  Then, he just briefly explained the initiative for Prop 22.

Greg: Pete Knight, the State Senator, had tried to push it through legislatively, but it was defeated.  That’s why they went the route of initiative.

Jeff: So he thought—and this is a typical Mormon thing that people think that if you are authority and you lay out a position and you state it with enough fervor and definitiveness, that you’re going to immediately accept it; but that was not my viewpoint.  Again, at this point I was completely uninformed.  I actually didn’t know the Church was doing the stuff in Hawaii.  I had a vague sense that the Church had this issue, but I had always erroneously thought that the Church was apolitical.  That’s what my father had always told me.  I’ve since gone back and looked at the Equal Rights Amendment and the MX Missiles, and it’s not that the Church has always been apolitical.  And when you go further back in history, it’s a bigger deal.  They were on the wrong side of the Civil Rights issue.

But in any case, he explained it to me and I said to him, “President Vranes, this is new.  My first reaction to what you are saying is that I don’t really understand the government is involved with defining marriage anyway.  Frankly, I really have to study this position before I can give you my support.”  So he gave me a bunch of literature and said, “OK, fine, go off and read about it.”

So I went back after that and kind of got educated on the issue, and I was just appalled at everything, from who was backing the organization in Southern California to try to support the initiative, and I just decided that I couldn’t support it.  I didn’t really think much of it.

A couple of months go by, and he approaches me again and asks me, “OK, can we get your support on this issue?”  I said, “No.”  We had a pretty friendly debate, and then he said to me, “Are you supportive of the homosexual lifestyle?”  That was actually the first time that I had been asked that.  I said to him, “I have to tell you that my own experience has been that the people that I know”—and I admitted to him that I don’t know tons of people and it’s not a representative sample—“are good people.  Frankly, if that’s the homosexual lifestyle and that’s what they choose, that seems perfectly good to me.  I know lots of heterosexual couples who have a lot worse problems.  But frankly, my bigger issue is that I don’t know why we are worried about this at all when we have single-parent families, we have sex trafficking, we have climate change problems.  We have all these bigger problems, and if people of your stature and wealth and connections are going to get involved in politics, why don’t you get involved with some of those things?”

So we kind of went back and forth, and then we just agreed to disagree at the end of that conversation.  But little did I know what would happen after that, because a few months later, in one of our high council meetings, the stake president basically read a letter.  This is where I think they crossed the line, and this is why I think Prop 22 was worse than Prop 8.  He said, “I am now going to communicate to you brethren not as the stake president, but as a private citizen.”

Greg: But in a high council meeting?

Jeff: After a high council meeting.  They closed the meeting, but you know how the Church works.  I suppose I could have tested it, but at that time I didn’t know what he was going to read.  He didn’t really say; he just said, “I have another matter I want to talk about.”  Up until this time, I had only had this one-on-one with the first counselor in the stake presidency.  So then he reads the letter, and this letter is on private stationery from an attorney affiliated with the Church.  It basically talks about how they feel strongly about this legislation and that it needs to pass, and then a lot of nonsense about how the family is being destroyed and that this is essential to maintaining the integrity of the Church—things that just didn’t make any sense to me.

So then he lets everybody know that he is asking them, as private citizens, to get involved.  After that meeting—Brenda was picking me up that day—

Brenda: I had to wait for a half-hour to an hour.

Jeff: The counselor in the stake presidency came up to me outside the building and said, “You realize that this piece of legislation is being supported by the First Presidency and all the apostles.  I don’t understand how you can’t get behind supporting this issue.”  We launched into one of the more heated debates I have ever had, at least with an ecclesiastical leader.  I told him, “First of all, I think what is happening here is just wrong.  You are playing this game about saying this is private citizens”—and I’ll tell you, I heard President Hinckley on a couple of occasions publicly say that he was happy about the grassroots efforts to support the legislation.  But that was not what was going on in California.  These guys were manipulating the ecclesiastical authority structure to get people to behave in a way that they would not otherwise do.  There are not a lot of people like me who are willing to go up against their ecclesiastical authority.  And again he said, “Do you support the gay lifestyle?”  I said, “That is not the issue!  This is a prioritization issue.”

Brenda: Were they trying to make it a membership issue for you?

Jeff: No.  He never said that.  I said, “From my perspective, whether I am supportive of the homosexual lifestyle or gay marriage is irrelevant.  The Church is a wealthy organization with limited resources.  You are asking people to use time and money to support something when I can name, off-the-cuff, five or six issues that I think are much more important, and much more important for family values and supporting the family.”  Obviously we never came to terms.

I later scheduled an interview with the stake president, who is a guy I have a fair amount of respect for, but super-conservative, a very authoritative, rank-and-file type of guy.  I said, “Is support of this legislation a condition of my membership?  If it is, I’m resigning right now.”  He told me, to his credit, “No, this is a private issue.”  Now, this was Prop 22, so the Church was never officially saying that this was something we should do.  But they then proceeded to put an infrastructure in place that they claimed—

Brenda: Using the churches—

Jeff: They were always walking this fine line.  They kept saying, “We are doing this as private citizens.”  My brother became the regional head of the political effort to do canvassing.

We had another meeting when Elder Dickson showed up.  Do you know who Dickson is?

Greg: Wasn’t he in the California North Area Presidency?

Jeff: Yes, he was.  I have zero respect for Dickson.  He would sit there in those meetings and basically say—in fact, I only went to one; maybe, in hindsight, I should have gone to more and videotaped them—he would go to these meetings, theoretically as private citizens, and if you look at the time, all of the documentation and letters that were sent out never had any church letterhead on it.  It was never signed by anybody in the First Presidency.  But Dickson would come and say, “This is supported by the First Presidency and the apostles, and we have to figure out how to get this passed.”

So then, they gave specific instructions.  They basically said, “We want you to go back to the ward that you are in charge of.  We want you to target the wealthier members to donate money to this organization.”  Then they gave us whatever the details were for that organization in Southern California that I think was also being funded by the Church.  “Then, we want fifty hours a month from more than half of your ward, canvassing, going door-to-door and handing out signs, and putting placards in peoples’ yards,” and all that kind of stuff.

Brenda: Basically, missionary work for Prop 22.

Jeff: In my entire life, except for missionary work, I have never seen that kind of coordinated mobilization in the Church before.

Brenda: I have to say that even in the Relief Society meetings, every single meeting, half the meeting seemed to be talking about this issue, organizing, signing up for what hours you could work on this proposition.  Among the women, I know there were a lot of women who were very upset by this, and we lost a lot of people over this issue.  They didn’t come to church anymore over this issue.  Every Sunday, though, I was there, listening to this.  It was really hard, as a member, to feel like this was an issue that was important enough to spend so much time of peoples’ lives on.

Jeff: So then we got approached by the bishop.  Over time, I became much more vocal.  In fact, I think that issue outed me as more of a progressive Mormon.  That bishop, who was a good friend of mine at the time, didn’t know I was having all this conflict with the stake presidency over this issue.  He went not just to me, but to all the active members that were full tithe-payers, and he said to me, “I want to encourage you to donate money to this organization roughly in line with how much you can afford to pay in tithing.”  I called him out on it.  I said, “Dave, don’t you have a problem with this?”

Greg: When you say in line with what you paid in tithing, do you mean the same amount?

Jeff: No, not the same amount.

Greg: But proportionate to it.

Jeff: Yes.  “If you have the resources to pay a lot of tithing, you should have the resources to donate a lot to this group.”

Brenda: But he was looking at tithing records, wasn’t he?

Jeff: I don’t know how much he was looking at tithing records, but he knew who had the resources.

Greg: And he knew the dollar amounts.

Brenda: Whether he looked at it then, he had looked at it.

Jeff: I said, “Dave, first the fact that we are having this conversation I think is problematic.  And secondly, the fact that you are even going around asking full tithe-payers to make these donations, don’t you have a problem with it?”

Brenda: And making it based on your tithing.  That’s the way he talked to us.

Jeff: Yes.  He admitted to me, “I am pretty uncomfortable with this.”  I said, “Well, I am absolutely not going to donate to this group.”  He said, “OK, fine.  I was asked to talk to the full tithe-payers in the ward.”

Greg: Do you know whether they were giving dollar quotas to wards and stakes?

Jeff: They were giving quotas for money and for hours.  They wanted reports back on the number of hours spent canvassing on the weekends.

Greg: Were the ward and stake monetary quotas adjusted for tithing revenue from those units?

Jeff: That’s what I don’t know.  I’m assuming that they were.  The impression that I got—every time Dickson would talk—and it was not just on this topic—he had this approach where he would make it sound like, “You are part of the inner group.”  I’ve read enough Mormon history to know that this is a common thing for church leaders: you say one thing publicly, and then there is a different conversation that goes on internally.

Greg: It sounds like multi-level marketing: “Get in on the inner group, early.”

Jeff: That’s exactly right.  It got increasingly ridiculous, the disconnect between what would come out of Salt Lake—“These are just private citizens united in some moral issue that are coming together.”  There was even a talk where President Hinckley said something like, “I’m so grateful to all these people for independently coming and supporting this issue.”  That was so far from the truth!  The only thing about Prop 8 that was better was that they didn’t lie about that.  That’s it.  Prop 8 was worse than a lie in a lot of other ways, but that’s why I think the Prop 22 thing was worse, because they did not come clean.   Nobody was saying that the Church was orchestrating, although people probably inferred that that was going on.  What I found so devastating personally is that I had grown up thinking the Church was apolitical, and all of a sudden you have this multi-billion-dollar organization that has the will to go after a political issue, and there are so many things that they don’t seem to care about.  To this day, I still have trouble with that.…

Greg: Let me ask you about Prop 22.  It passed by a 2-to-1 margin.  What was the reaction among church members?  Were they doing high-fives?

Jeff: It was like they won the football game.  They defeated Satan and they were so grateful that the Lord blessed them.  It was all the rhetoric that you would expect to hear after that, a lot of self-congratulation.

(Jeffrey and Brenda Bohn, September 1, 2015)

Evans: You have to go back to Prop 22 and understand that there were representations made to the Church.  The Brethren told them, during Prop 22 and with Prop 8, that we would not participate at signature gathering; but in the case of Prop 22 if the matter qualified for the ballot, then we would consider getting involved.

Prince: The Church told whom?

Evans: The signature gatherers, the organizers.

Prince: There was an organization for Prop 8, to which the church members were told to write their checks.  Was that the same organization that was in existence for Prop 22?

Evans: No.  It was different.  It was new, although there was one person, Andy Pugno, a Catholic attorney, who had been involved with Prop 22 and kind of stayed involved with the issues up until and including Prop 8.  He was on that executive committee for Protect Marriage, which was its legal name.

But the representations made to the Church for Prop 22 involvement were, in effect, “Get involved.  We’ll carry our end of it and you carry yours, but we’ll be in this thing together.”  The truth was that we carried essentially all of it in Prop 22. 

(William Evans, November 17, 2014)

Hansen: Let me tell you another story about Prop 22.  I got a call one day from Jenny Brundin, who was an NPR reporter at KUER.  She was trying to track down something she had heard, which was that the Church was officially involved in rallying the troops in support of Prop 22.  But she hadn’t been able to find any direction information about it.  I told her, “Yes, they absolutely are involved.”  By this time I had heard from someone who was on a high council who knew that a letter had come out from Salt Lake, directing them to be involved.  Jenny wanted to find out what I knew about it, but I didn’t have any hard evidence.

She was working on it over the weekend, and at some point she got a copy of the memo that had come out from Salt Lake.  She said that the guy who gave it to her was really scared.  He didn’t want to go on the record; he was afraid he was going to be found out just by the fact that they had the memo.  I suspect I know who she got it from but I don’t know for sure, and I don’t want to know.  When she was talking to Church P.R. they were just saying, “We’re not involved.”  But now she had the memo.  

I said, “Let me tell you how to cross-examine somebody.  If I had a cop on the stand, the first thing I would do is marry him to the report that he wrote.  I would say, ‘When you are trained to be a police officer, you are trained to make these reports complete.  Right?’  ‘Yes.’  ‘And accurate?’  ‘Right.’  ‘And the reason you do that is that later you may need to read it and refresh your memory when you testify in court.  Right?’

“Then, after I marry him to that police report, I am going to ask him a lot of questions that he didn’t say anything about and show how inaccurate his report is.  So when you talk to these guys, marry them to that position, that they are not involved, and then tell them you’ve got the document.”  And she did that.  I think the document was from Lance Wickman, and she was talking to him.  I’m not sure he signed the paper, but I think that’s who she was talking to.

Prince: Was he general counsel by then?

Hansen: Yes, and since Hawaii he has been involved in these anti-gay-rights things.  Those documents came out during the Prop 8 thing.

Prince: The Hawaii documents?

Hansen: Yes.

Prince: And they were a big part of the movie, 8: The Mormon Proposition.

Hansen: Yes.  So she called him up and he continued to deny the Church’s involvement.  Then she told him she had the memo, and he got really quiet.  He said, “I’ll get back to you.”  At that point, she called me and told me what had happened.  I said, “Well, I guess they have about three choices.  They can continue to deny, in the face of all the evidence.  Or, they can come clean.  Or, they can hang Lance Wickman out to dry and essentially say, ‘He did this and we didn’t know about it.’”  What they did, at that point, was to come clean, and admitted that yes, in fact, they were involved.

I listened to the report the next morning, and when she did the report it very much understated the Church’s denial.  She said something like, “When first asked if the Church was involved, they denied that they were.  However, later they acknowledged it.”  The underlying drama between the reality and the report was very much lost.

(Nadine Hansen, October 22, 2013)

Jansson: Inasmuch as the finances for Prop 22 weren’t where they wanted them, the only thing they could really afford was to go after a statute, not an amendment to the constitution.  As a result, the threshold for signature filing was lower, and the cost of actually conducting the campaign was lower, and that’s what they had elected to do with Prop 22.

Prince: So in 1999 they had contemplated doing a constitutional amendment, but then they ratcheted it down because of that?

Jansson: Yes, because of money.  There were two things.  Number one, it was money.  Number two was the threshold of signatures that was required, and recognizing that it would be a combination of two things, and that is volunteer work as well as paid solicitors going out and collecting signatures.  The cost of that is expensive and can be a killer, depending on how you fund or finance you contest. 

I was not involved in Prop 22.  I was aware of Prop 22 and voted on Prop 22, but I was not involved in the campaign at any level other than just the general support that came from being a Latter-day Saint and having people say, “Hey, you need to vote for this.”

(Mark Jansson, November 16, 2015)

Kendell: No one thought we were going to defeat Prop 22, but we wanted to put up a fight.

I traveled the state.  I was probably the primary media spokesperson.  It was probably 70% of my time in the last few months before the election.

This was the year 2000, so we did have the Internet.  There was a baby email thing, but communication still was not nearly as saturated as it is now.  I knew that the Church was telling people to support Prop 22.  I had definitely seen signs of that.  But you didn’t see the Salt Lake hierarchy getting involved.  Of course, they sent their bishops letters, but that was stuff I never saw.  It felt more organic.  It didn’t feel orchestrated, but now I obviously understand that it was much more orchestrated than was visible to me.  But it felt like the Church sort of stayed on the sidelines.

Prince: And that was the hand of Gordon Hinckley.

Kendell: Yes, absolutely.  And it was consistent with how the Church had approached any social issue.  The Church hadn’t weighed in on any one of a number of propositions where maybe they could have in California.  And why should they?  It was obvious Prop 22 was going to pass.  Even our own polling showed that.  Everyone doing any sort of polling could tell, “Why should we put resources into this?  We’re not going to go all-in on something that we think we aren’t going to win.”

Prince: And wasn’t it about a 2-1 margin?

Kendell: Yes, it was close to that.

Prince: And then—there was radio silence.…

Kendell: Gavin Newsom, the newly elected mayor of San Francisco, was in the audience.  He was appalled by this idea, came back to San Francisco and said to his staff, “What can I do as mayor?  I want to do something around marriage and gay people.”  They conferenced over the course of days, and hit on this idea that he would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Prince: In spite of Prop 22.

Kendell: Yes, in spite of Prop 22.  There is a DVD that I’ll send you that is focused on this, what came to be dubbed as the “Winter of Love.”  Newsom’s chief of staff, Steve Kava, is someone who I had met before, but I didn’t know him well.  His policy director was a woman named Joyce Neustadt.  I know her well.  She has been a longtime donor to NCLR.

So Steve Kava called me on the Friday before Valentine’s Day.  I think it was February 6th.  I was picking up my daughter from preschool and he called and said to me, “Kate, I just want to let you know that on Monday, the mayor is going to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”  I kind of freaked out.  I did not immediately go to the “Wow!  That’s awesome!  What can I do to help?”  Instead, I swung the other way to the more fear and concern and said, “Whoa, whoa, Steve!  Wait a minute.  Hang on.  I love the Mayor’s sentiment.  I appreciate what he is trying to do.  But we still face the threat of a federal constitutional amendment.  People are really upset about the Goodrich decision and the dust really hasn’t settled there.  Can we just slow this down a little bit?  Can we talk about it and walk it through?  There are lots of things to consider.  I don’t think he has the authority to do it.  I appreciate the gesture, but I feel like we are just poking the bear.  I need to consult with our colleagues.  I really need to get a sense of what people think about this.” 

Steve listened to all of this every patiently, and then he said, “Kate, I hear you.  Go ahead and consult with your colleagues.  Do whatever you need to do, but I just need to tell you that on Monday the Mayor is going to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”  So the message was clear: “We are doing this.”

So there was a mad scramble.  I talked to people all over the country.  “What do we think about this?  How should we proceed?”

By Sunday, I was totally on board.  My view was, “You know what?  Game on!  Let’s just do this.  Let’s just blow this thing wide open.  Every civil rights struggle needs an accelerant moment.  This is ours, so let’s make it happen.”

We did get him to push back.  I was like, “He needs to know the law.  He needs to know the issues.  He needs to be able to have talking points.  We’re on board 100%, but let’s do this right.”

We called Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, very, very longtime activists since the 1950s.  I called them and asked if they would be the first couple to get married.  I said, “It will be sometime this week, but I don’t know when.”  We met with the Mayor’s staff Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; Thursday morning they were ready go to; and the wedding started with Del and Phyllis on Thursday morning, which happened to be Valentine’s Day—which happened to be their 51st anniversary.

The reason I am telling that is that was obviously a moment seen around the world, a huge amount of attention, lines ringing City Hall, flowers and coffee and donuts and socks sent in from all over the world, because it was raining the whole weekend.  It was a torrential downpour.  City Hall stayed open to do weddings, and for four weeks the weddings continued.  There were 40 or 50 satellite trucks parked in front of City Hall every day.

Finally, the California Supreme Court put an end to it and said, “That’s it.  We are issuing a stay.  No more weddings.  We’re going to have a hearing on whether the Mayor has the authority to do this.”  And they pretty much said, “If you want to challenge laws that exclude same-sex couples from the right to marry, there is a process for doing that; and that’s how this needs to proceed.”

So the next day we filed our lawsuit challenging Prop 22 in state court.

Prince: So all those marriages were just window-dressing marriages?

Kendell: Yes.  The Supreme Court issued a ruling about two months later, sometime during the summer of 2004, that the Mayor had no authority to issue those marriage licenses, and they were void.  I think it was 800 couples who had gotten married, and their marriage licenses were all voided.

That is all important background, because what it leads to is that the next four years were our marriage litigation, what was initially Strauss v. Schwarzenegger, challenging Prop 22 and other laws that did not recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry.  We won that.…

I do think Karl Rove continued to make it an issue during those four years.  But I think, looking back now with some perspective and just a few years of history, that what Newsom did was the beginning of the end of marriage being a wedge issue.  And it was the high-water mark of opposition to marriage equality in this country.  It started a precipitous drop from that point on.

We all know this: repeated exposure to an idea that you first are completely repelled by—thinking about it, marinating on it, something that is a value system—having that continually challenged through stories on the media, through images on TV, always, always will eventually move people to soften whatever the prejudice is.  I think it had a huge effect on moving public opinion—but not immediately.  Immediately it looked like, “Oh, my God!  It swung the other way!”

So we won our marriage case in May of 2008 and couples started marrying in June.  Prop 8 qualified for the ballot in July.

(Kate Kendell, December 3, 2014)

Wendy: What we were involved in with Prop 22 was pretty much just making phone calls.  They gave us a section out of the phone book.  I remember it was the letter “M” on a certain page, and my husband and I made roughly thirty or forty calls each, just reminding them of the date of the vote, and encouraging them to vote for traditional marriage.  It seemed to be on a much smaller scale than Prop 8.

Greg: Did your marching orders come from the local level?

Wendy: I think so.  There were the firesides and broadcasts like there were for Prop 8, at least from what I can remember.  I just remember that we had a Sunday School where they just passed out sheets, depending on where they were in the alphabet.  Our last name begins with “M,” so we were given “M” names in the phone book.  That was our assignment, and it was super-easy.  They expected us to win by quite a bit, which we did.  I just remember the Elders Quorum president and Relief Society president handing out these papers that had our assignment.  So it seemed like it was from the local level, but it was very organized.

Greg: Was there any fundraising?

Wendy: We had no money at the time.  There may have been fundraising, but I know we didn’t donate to it, besides just our normal tithing and fast offerings.  There may have been, but we didn’t participate in that.  That was about or extent with Prop 22.  We were just barely married for maybe four or five years at the time.

(Wendy Montgomery, July 16, 2014)

O’Donovan: I started to get really involved in Prop 22 and was trying to tell people, “Hey, this is the Mormons funding this and doing this, so we need to pay attention to that!”  I stood up and said that at a public meeting in Santa Cruz, and I was booed down and told, “You shouldn’t persecute a religion.  How dare you do that?”  So I just quit.

(Connell O’Donovan, January 18, 2015)

Carol: With Prop 22 there were, across the cultural hall, all these signs to put up on peoples’ lawns to oppose gay marriage and to pass 22.  When church let out, people went through the cultural hall and someone would hand them a sign.  They handed our son a sign—we felt so lucky to get him to come out to church—and he said, “Hell no!”  He left, and he never went to church again.

(Carol Oldham, January 14, 2015)

Carol Lynn: My major visual memory of everything around Prop 22 was the day that my home teacher who lived up the street, who was my former bishop, David Sutton, a good man, he was out canvassing, and I was just bringing groceries in from my car in the driveway and he came up the sidewalk and he said, “Well, Sister Pearson, I’m out canvassing, you know we’ve been told – I have been appointed to be our Ward’s point person on the Prop 22 thing, and we’ve been told to go out canvassing just to determine how the neighbors think.  I’m just canvassing to see what your feelings are about Prop 22.”  I said, “Well, David, you could guess that I’m not in favor of Proposition 22.  Actually, the deal is not that the leadership of our church does not want gay men to marry; it’s just that they want them to marry me, and they want them to marry my daughter, and that’s not okay with me.  And so as you’re looking over all of the data that you’re accumulating on your survey here, when you go to bed tonight David, I’d like you to consider, would you like one of your two daughters to marry one of our wonderful, fine, sensitive, young, gay returned missionaries who are this minute flying home from their mission?  Would you like for that to happen?  Because that’s really one of the major alternatives to allowing gay people to marry each other.”  I’m not sure what his response was but he knew me very well and he kind of smiled and he said, “Yes, yes, yes, thank you, thanks, Sister Pearson.”  

(Carol Lynn Pearson, January 12, 2014)

Schwimmer: I was going to mention my involvement in Prop 22 first.  I was raised in Southern California.  I must have been fifteen at the time and I had just moved to Redlands, California.  We later built a temple here.  I still live in Redland.  It is a very conservative, very artsy, friendly town.  Prop 22 was big.  I remember the announcement.  They brought us all in, in Priesthood Meeting.  They brought in all of the auxiliary officers to meet together, and they talked about Prop 22.  They were very passionate about it.  I remember our bishop, I remember our Elders Quorum president—they all testified to the importance of this being something that we needed to do, and that the Prophet asked us this directly, and that we were supposed to proselytize this concept of preserving the family.  We had the signs, we offered to all of our neighbors to put the Yes on Prop 22 signs up.  As a 15-year-old boy who happened to be gay internally, it was such a conflicting feeling and experience.  I honestly think that the Prop 22 scenario, the experiences that I had here in California with it, were the genesis of me compartmentalizing my sexual identity, and really separating any feelings that I might have had in correlating that to be evil, as opposed to being innate and natural and good and honest. 

So yes, that was a very difficult time for me, in particular because I was the most active of my family.  If there was ever a message to pass on to my parents, who were semi-active at the time, I had to fulfill the obligation of representing the Church even to my own parents about what Prop 22 was about.  So there was that, which was difficult, and then I served a mission.…

Prince: So staying on Prop 22 for a minute, you mentioned that the bugle call was to preserve marriage.

Schwimmer: Absolutely.

Prince: Did that register at that time, with you, as a coherent argument?

Schwimmer: Absolutely.  And that’s what’s really scary to think about in hindsight.  Yes, it totally was.  In fact, I want to say that I remember going down Fern Street, in Redland, California, with Prop 22 signs to offer our neighbors.  We were going hand-in-hand, like typical Mormons proselytizing.  I felt like we were constantly told that we were on the battlefront, that this was a big, decisive factor, that California was a state that sets the tone for the rest of the United States; and that if we lose this opportunity in California, if we don’t set the tone here, that the rest of the United States is going to be doomed.

When I heard that, when I heard the Brethren say that, I thought, “If course I’m going to follow!”  I think it validate the ego of a lot of members of the Church, that they felt like they were a part of something historic.  In truth, they were part of something quite historic, but I would almost equate it—although maybe it wasn’t as violent and as awful physically—with the Nazi Party and the movement that they had within that.  It was one of those things where people definitely believed in this cause, and we all drank the Kool-Aid and we all promoted it.

Of course, I felt conflicted to an extent; but in the same vein I thought, “Maybe if I help this process, life won’t be so tempting for me later on, in my adult years.”  That was a thought in the back of my mind.

Prince: That perhaps God would reward you by fixing something?

Schwimmer: I never knew about “fixing” altogether, but I thought maybe alleviating it, or maybe making me find a worthy, pretty girl that could be enough for me.  I always thought that if I just worked as hard as I possibly could at being diligent to what was being asked of me by my leaders, that I would be blessed and strengthened; and that if I didn’t overcome the trial, I would have enough strength to survive the trial, or find someone else to help alleviate that trial.…

Prince: Was there any backlash with Prop 22 like there was with Prop 8?

Schwimmer: No, at least in my hometown there wasn’t.  We would go door-to-door with people every other Sunday, and when we did most people said, “Yes, we support it.”  Others were like, “We don’t want to be involved with anything political.”  But there was never a moment where we were rejected, or where someone said, “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Prince: When you went out, did you say that you were LDS?

Schwimmer: Absolutely.  We wore white shirts and ties, and we were there to represent the Church whole-heartedly.  We couldn’t say that we were Mormon.  We couldn’t say that we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but we could say that we were concerned citizens, and that this was an important thing, that we needed to awaken the community to be aware of how to vote in order to preserve the integrity of the family.  That’s something that I specifically remember, that we couldn’t actually say that it was the Mormon Church doing it.  But nevertheless, we were still strongly encouraged—do you know what it reminded me of?  It kind of reminded me of a behind-the-scenes warning about the Law of Consecration.  It was like, “You can’t go out there and say this legally, but—wink, wink—those that are in the know, are in the know.”  I think it was the same thing that happened with Prop 8, where there were a lot of behind-the-scenes actions.

(Benji Schwimmer, March 25, 2015)

Prince: Was Prop 22 directed from Salt Lake?

Thurston: Yes.  Prop 22 was clearly directed from Salt Lake.  I don’t know, myself, how it got on the ballot, but I’m assuming that Salt Lake had a great deal to do with it.  But once it got on the ballot, the campaign was strongly orchestrated, but not on the surface like Prop 8 was.  It was behind the scenes.  People were called in and asked to donate money, but there was never anything in church, in open meetings, where they said, “Let’s mobilize.”  That came back to bite them, because obviously at some point people found out.  The news media found out that we were doing it, and it made it seem like we were underhanded for not acknowledging that we were involved—for pretending we were not involved, that we were neutral, and yet orchestrating it behind the scenes.

Prop 22 was a law that said that marriage would be defined as between a man and a woman.  Therefore, gay marriage would be not only improper, but unlawful.  The several years later, in 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that that law was contrary to the California Constitution.  That was what prompted Prop 8.

(Morris Thurston, January 17, 2014)

Waite: My memory of Prop 22 was similar to Prop 8.  We were organized in our wards to go out and canvass the neighborhoods.  We were given areas in town that we were to go to and knock on doors, and we had lists of peoples’ names and addresses.  We were supposed to go to the door and encourage them to vote for Prop 22.  That’s the thing I remember the most about Prop 22, just being organized in our wards by little areas.  Each family was given a list and we were to go out and knock on those doors.  I was young and we had young kids at the time, so we’d put our kids in the strollers and go and knock on doors.  That was my only involvement in Prop 22.…

Prince: At the time of Prop 22, were you aware if this was being done from Salt Lake?

Waite: It was pretty clear that this was coming from the top.  We were told at the local level, but they were just following instructions from Salt Lake.

Prince: Was there any fundraising component then, or was that just with Prop 8?

Waite: I don’t remember.  I’m sure there was, but I don’t remember any fundraising in Prop 22.  I just remember knocking on doors and putting up signs.  The ward had team leaders who were put in charge of organizing people in the ward.  I remember going to our team leader’s house, and that’s where it was organized: what areas people had and what they were supposed to say.  They gave us a bunch of brochures.

Prince: Was there much discussion, or was it mostly just, “Here are your instructions, so please go out and do this”?

Waite: My memory of that is that they said, “We can’t let gays marry, so this is what we are going to do.  This is what we have been told to do, so here is your stuff.  Go do it.”  That was it.  It was a little different than Prop 8.  Prop 8 seemed to be much more organized, more strategic than I remember Prop 22 being.  I think Prop 22 at the time looked like, “We’re going to win, but let’s just make sure we really win.”

(Sherod Waite, July 18, 2014)

Yates: Prop 22 came along in 2000.  At the time, I was in graduate school and I was working fulltime as a nurse, so I was extremely busy.  Often I worked on the weekends because I was going to school during the week.  So I worked a lot of Sundays.  I think at the time I thought, thankfully, I wasn’t at church a lot when things were going on as far as the Prop 22 campaign.  But I did hear that there was a lot of encouragement and discussion in Sunday School and Relief Society about supporting the effort against gay marriage.  I was really uncomfortable with it, but I honestly didn’t get too involved and didn’t say very much.  So I weathered Prop 22 without being very involved.  I wasn’t comfortable, but I didn’t do anything about it.  I felt kind of guilty that I just put my head down and was quiet about how I did feel.  I didn’t let people in my ward know that I was uncomfortable with it; I just kind of stayed away.  But since I wasn’t there a lot of Sundays, I kind of avoided the whole situation.

(Jennette Yates, January 16, 2015)

Young: For me, being a convert, before I joined the Church I had never encountered that type of—I hate to say it—hypocrisy.  There were LGBT people in my world, nobody really said anything.  I was completely oblivious to it.  I just thought that was something that happened in the 50s and 60s.  I didn’t think it was around anymore.

Prince: When you say “it,” do you mean homophobia?

Young: Homophobia, right.  I was completely blown away after I joined the Church and started hearing the vitriol.

Prince: When did you join?

Young: I joined in 1999, but I didn’t really start hearing it until 2000, because we were on the road so much.  Then, I started hearing people in the ward in Utah.  I was in Relief Society and a woman stood up and started ranting.  I just couldn’t believe it!  I sat there and shook!  I thought, “Wait a minute!  I just joined this Christian church that is all-loving, this ‘we love everyone’ church, and they are not practicing what they preach.  Oh, my gosh!  What is going on?  What did I just do?  What did I just join?”

I love religions.  I gravitate towards all kinds of religions.  I’ve loved going to different churches.  I’ve lived all over Europe and I’ve loved experiencing all different types of churches.  In general, I always avoid the fire-and-brimstone churches.  That’s just not my thing.  I’ve always gone for pure love, the pure love of Christ.  Even the churches that don’t follow Christ; wherever there is truth, follow the love and truth of all those churches.

So naturally, when I started researching the Mormon Church, I gravitated towards those things—the Mormon heart, the good heart, the kindness of love, the light of Jesus.

When I started hearing this discrimination, I was completely shocked and blown away, and wondering if I had done the right thing.

I got up out of class, and I walked away.  It was just a shock for me.

(Barbara Young, October 2, 2014)