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LDS Battle Plan for California Anti-Marriage Amendment

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2008

The message below, by public relations leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, a.k.a “the Mormons”), was sent to Orange County LDS Public Affairs personnel and other church leaders in California.

A brief introduction of some the names mentioned below is in order. Elders Russell M. Ballard, Quentin L. Cook, and Dallin H. Oaks are members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second highest presiding group under the direction of the First Presidency. Elder Lance B. Wickman is a member of that church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, a leadership group beneath the Quorum of the Twelve. L. Whitney Clayton is also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy as well as the Presidency of the Seventy.


To: All OC Public Affairs Personnel
Cc: Other Interested Persons

By now many of you serving in Public Affairs may have been invited by your Stake Presidency to join other stake priesthood and auxiliary leaders in attending a special meeting. That was to discuss points that originated last Sunday, June 29, with a historic live interactive telecast emanating from SLC among Elders Ballard, Cook, Wickman and Clayton with CA Stake Presidents.

We have been asked to study out the above issue -– starting with the First Presidency letter that was read in Church last Sunday and the Proclamation on the Family. [That letter is available here (PDF: 1,08KB/2 pages) — ed.] You should all have copies of these items. As the year goes on, Public Affairs is apt to get ever more involved, under proper Priesthood direction. This will be especially true after Labor Day, when getting out the vote will be crucial. Meanwhile we are asked to use “our best efforts” and to do “all we can” to support this initiative with both our “means and time.”

To help you get prepared, here are some pertinent materials I have gathered on this issue, for your summer reading.

1. In Re Marriage Cases. See attached PDF summary of these consolidated cases, as issued by the Cal Sup. Ct. on 5-15-08. The majority decision is 121 pages long plus concurring and dissenting opinions. Essentially, the court has determined that any classification based on sexual orientation is a “suspect classification” that requires “strict scrutiny” under the “equal protection” clause of the CA Constitution. It also found that the CA Constitution has granted a “fundamental right to marry.” In 1948, that enabled the court invalidate statutory restrictions on interracial marriage. On these grounds, the court then proceeded to invalidate the existing statutory restrictions on same-gender marriages that were passed as Proposition 22 in 2000.

2. The Protectmarriage.com website. This is the key website of the central coalition of churches and other organizations that have been promoting what is now Prop. 8 for over a year. You will first see a list of member organizations and sponsoring individuals belonging to this coalition. Also see links on the left-hand side for “FAQS” and some good talking points under “Why it is needed.”

3. LDS.org Website. See this long but exceptionally important and well articulated 2007 interview by Public Affairs with Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman on “Same-Gender Attraction.” It is at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ ldsnewsroom/ eng/ public-issues/ same-gender-attraction

4. Meridian Magazine. “What difference will same-gender marriage make to you?” See this link: http://www.ldsmag.com/ familyleadernetwork/ 080627marriage.html Also see http://www.ldsmag.com/ familyleadernetwork/ 080619ignore.html These articles explore some of the possibly unintended consequences of this recent Cal. Supreme Court decision.

5. NB Stake Talking Points. See attached PDF with some key talking points created by my own Newport Beach Stake President Weatherford Clayton. More official talking points will are being prepared and will be provided through proper channels by LDS Church HQ in Salt Lake City.

6. Church News Article. From 2004 issue on the benefits of families raised within male-female marriages

HISPANICS AGAINST PROP 8. See first email attached above.
HISPANICS WHO SUPPORT IT. See email #3 attached above.

As the June 20th First Presidency letter said, more information will be made available to you from time to time through local priesthood channels.

You may also be aware that the new Managing Director of LDS Public Affairs in SLC will be Michael Otterson. He has been serving as assistant to Bruce Olsen and is originally from Australia. Brother Olsen will be the new San Diego Temple President.

Most sincerely,
Joseph I. Bentley, Director
Orange County Public Affairs
[Personal contact information redacted — ed.]

[Hat tip: Nick Literski]

Comments

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Paul
July 5th, 2008 | LINK

Jim,
Might you be able to supply some refutations to their various talking points?

cowboy
July 5th, 2008 | LINK

I haven’t had time to read all the links. It’s a holiday weekend after all, and there is so much more to do than refute straw-man arguments such as those from the Meridian (ldsmag.com). But…

Adoption agencies sponsored by religious organizations, parochial school teachers, clubs at California’s religious universities need not worry. Author RoseMarie Briggs is drawing up specious arguments to incite fear. Besides, why should Mrs. Briggs worry herself about parochial schools and religious universities…that’s not a big issue for Mormons…especially in California. You don’t hear of Mormon parochial schools do you? There aren’t any (as far as I know) in California. Most Mormons who hate public schools use Home Schooling or indoctrinate using the various LDS Seminaries they have arranged to be located near public schools and not one of them take public tax dollars so they would not be affected by a threat of losing their revenues. Besides, the LDS Church has plenty of money and prefers never to take government assistance.

It surprises me that Mrs. Briggs would bring up these argument topics…except to say they’re sounding desperate. She has broad experience in public affairs and this certainly has a Karl-Rovian feel to the tactics; bring up the thought and the gullible will deduce a fear where no fear exists.

If the Mormons only want certain types of ideal parents to adopt, then they should pay for it themselves. Their arrogance is showing, though. This is much like when Mormons took Native Indians from their families and reservations to place in the Indian Placement Program with Mormon families and culture. That proved to be a BIG mistake for obvious reasons.

cd
July 5th, 2008 | LINK

Besides, why should Mrs. Briggs worry herself about parochial schools and religious universities…that’s not a big issue for Mormons…especially in California.

Well, behind the scenes the LDS and some other evangelical groups run the Boy Scouts national organization. Gotta give the kids a clique for squares and a career ladder, after all.

The concern about universities and such is basically that SSM could get legalized in Utah via lawsuit, and Mormon businesses and Brigham Young U might then get into legal hot water almost immediately. They’re almost more concerned about the strict scrutiny determination made by the California courts spreading than marriage legalization. But more immediately, this sort of argument could consolidate other major reactionary Christian groups’ votes- the Seventh Day Adventists with their university and medical school in Loma Linda, the Roman Catholic Church with its various institutions.

The logic of this coming out into the open is that SSM legalization has to be stopped in California, because it and the strict scrutiny determination really do present a near-mortal threat to the LDS. No legal dodge exists to freeze gay people and gay couples out of their institutions, that’s what they’re hoping to generate in the course of these delaying tactics. Because if their younger adherents see that the traditional LDS gender doctrine is not Higher Wisdom, that’s close to fatal. It is the distinctive theological feature of Mormonism, after all- without it, they’re just a more organized and wierder form of Baptists.

I doubt that attempt to hold off the world will be effective in the long run. Trying to be conservative LDS in a society in which SSM is mainstream and successful is going to create the cognitive dissonance in their Faithful and obloquy they’ve worked around for a long time. They’re going to have to liberalize sooner or later, and that means begin to disintegrate. As it is, their numbers are holding roughly constant in the US, so young people must be leaving or turning passive.

It’s mildly ironic that votes cast in Los Angeles and San Diego might determine the long term prospects of the LDS in the USA. Maybe there’s a chance to wage an underground campaign along those lines- Vote No on 8 If You Want To Make A Mormon Missionary Cry. ;-)

cowboy
July 5th, 2008 | LINK

The one remaining fact: same-sex marriage will have no effect on any marriages. None. Why invent illogical and irrational fears that Mormons and their ideology are being threatened in any way? I just don’t get why they’re doing this.

And, yes cd, I do believe the younger generation of the Latter-Day Saints are well aware of this illogic and if we are to wage an underground campaign we must appeal to their sense of right and wrong. I do believe a majority of those at BYU can see the mistake in what this letter and the ramifications of actions they are being asked to do. They know this is taking a dangerous turn in history. Young Saints know they most likely will have to address this episode in Mormon history sometime in the future when their old General Authorities are dead and gone. You just can’t justify discrimination and that’s what Proposition 8 is all about.

Some will try to portray the Mormons as victims but deep down inside they know this proposed change to California’s Constitution is nothing less than making a segment of society unequal. That goes against everything they have been taught.

Honest and fair Mormons’ biggest dilemma will be how to defy something their Prophet has asked them to do.

The LDS letter was not suggesting to pray and study the issue. This letter was a call to action. There is no debating the issue on a personal belief…this is a mandate from the General Authorities and the Prophet T. S. Monson to do the utmost to derail same-sex marriages.

This is personal. I have to deal with family who know this hurts me. I can’t ask them to publicly stand and leave the meeting…that’s tantamount to being shunned and in a small town this could have business/career ramifications. I can only hope that deep inside they silently protest the words being read from their pulpit. I know I will stand tall and I know I am on the right side.

Until I get some tangible evidence that my desire to be treated equal is hurting Mormons…I will fight them on this issue.

I stood watching fireworks last night. I had to think those rockets red glare for the 4th of July celebrations are for MY freedoms and equality in this great country.

Todd
July 7th, 2008 | LINK

Cowboy, I am right there with you. I think my father read this letter to his ward as a member of the bishopric and I was (am) living in the Newport Beach Stake and know President Clayton very well. I woner what he said, but could not find a link to his comments. In my case, my family has pretty much ignored the gay issue since I came out and that is turning out to be worse then the outright disowning that I feared before telling them. At least then I would know where I stand. I will probably bring up the issue when we are all together and see what reaction I get.

Protect Marriage Equality » LDS Battle Plan for California Anti-Marriage Amendment
July 8th, 2008 | LINK

[…] the entire blog post by Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin. posted by Equality Blogger at 5:34 am filed under Analysis, Strategy, Research, Marriage Equality […]

cowboy
July 8th, 2008 | LINK

Todd,
You’re not alone. I have a very good buddy who recently had a difficult time in explaining to his family why a man is coming to live in his new house. He was a basket case for a while.

I was surprised at the tactics my family did on me. It was almost scripted. Like they knew I was gay and individual members rehearsed (verbatim) how to respond when I eventually had to tell my family I was going to the other side…the dark side. It was like they had a special Sunday School class in the Ward on: “How To React When a Family Member Comes Out.” It was as if I was in a poorly scripted play.

I have found the reaction by loved ones come in phases. First there is denial: “You can’t be gay!” Then, there is anger: “I wish you were never born.” Then, a bit of tough-love: “You’ll be shunned or ostracized.” And then, there will be a period of uncomfortable silence. There are times when anger overrides rational conversation but a large part of that is due to frustration. And then there is the blame game. It continues with my family and me to this day.

Just continue to show, by example, how good you are. Eventually they will recognize the evil-boogie-gay-man characterization is a bunch of hype.

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