September 17th, 2008
A huge dust-up exploded on the front page of the Arizona Daily Star this morning. According to the Star, Kyrsten Sinema, campaign chair for Arizona Together, characterized Proposition 102 as a “mostly Mormon-backed attempt to rectify what it calls a ‘polygamy problem’ in the eyes of voters”:
The opponents’ argument against the ballot measure also rests on convincing voters that Mormons and other religious groups are seeking to “impose their views on people.”
Sinema said the ballot measure is a reflection of the Mormon church “working hard to convince the public that they are mainstream.” She said her background, being raised Mormon in Tucson, gives her the credibility to make the charge.
“I don’t think Arizonans are interested in having the Mormon religion dictate public policy to them,” Sinema said.
Sinema contends that at least three-quarters of the individual donors to the campaign are with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based on her group having Googled donor names along with “LDS” or “Mormon.”
While that method of verifying the religion of donors may be questionable, Sinema points to top backers with ties to the Mormon church: $100,000 from philanthropists Rex and Ruth Maughan, and $40,000 from Kristen Cowley, an organizer of the LDS Easter pageant.
Last June, just as the Arizona Legislature voted to place Prop 102 on the ballot, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) sent a letter to California churchesto be read during Sunday services which asked its members to “do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time.” I have it on good authority from Mormon colleagues that a similar campaign has been underway in Arizona since July.
Proponents of Prop 102 charge that questioning the LDS’s heavy involvement in the marriage battle in Arizona amounts to bigotry:
Michele Baer, spokeswoman for the campaign pushing the amendment, calls the focus on
Mormons a “political scare tactic from the opposition.”
But Baer — herself a Mormon singer — could not explain why voters would be scared of such involvement by Mormons.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just saying that there is such broad-based support across all political, religious and ethnic backgrounds that support this proposition.”
And Baer wouldn’t comment on where the bulk of the funding is coming from, calling that “campaign strategy.”
“I can’t share,” she said. “They can look at public records.”
It certainly is a matter of public record. A look at the Arizona Secretary of State’s web site reveals that “Yes For Marriage” collected some 190 contributions of $10,000 or higher. Four individuals contributed $100,000, 6 contributed $50,000, and 25 contributed between $20,000 and $50,000. The site, of course, does not list religious affiliation, so it’s difficult to know how many of these contributors are LDS members.
Does anyone have time to google 191 names?
But there is this interesting fact: of the 190 contributions of $10,000 or higher, 70 came from Mesa Arizona — home to Arizona’s oldest LDS Temple and a very significant Mormon population. Mesa contributors include three of the four $100,000 contributors. In fact, the temple is located on a street named for the family of one of those $100,000 contributors — David and Nancy LeSueur.
I fully expect this line of questioning to be very controversial. My email inbox is already full about this. But I do think it is newsworthy that one religious denomination appears to be bankrolling a serious public policy initiative under the guise of a broad-based grass-roots organization. If that doesn’t send a chill down the spines of everyone who cherishes religious liberty, I don’t know what does.
The campaign to defeat Prop 102 is desparately outfunded. We’re struggling to afford radio ads, while the “Yes” side already has ads on television. Please give today, whatever you can.
[Updated at 7:20 PM PDT to include additional information about Mesa, Arizona contributors]
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.