1997 Mormon Memo Emerges, Revealing Longstanding Strategy

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2008

An eleven year old internal LDS memo has emerged which proves that the Mormon church has been plotting against same-sex marriage for more than a decade.

The memo, dated March 4, 1997, provides insight into the late LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley’s strategy for opposing same-sex marriage. It describes a meeting in which Hinckley gives the go ahead, but urged caution. According to the memo, “he (President Hinckley) also said the (LDS) Church should be in a coalition and not out front by itself.”

In fact, the LDS church has been way out front in its battles against gays and lesbians, both in California and in Arizona.

The memo was addressed to Elder M. Russell Ballard, who has played a central role in the LDS’s fight in Arizona and California. He appeared on several closed-circuit satellite broadcasts to Mormon churches with specific instructions on the California campaign for Prop 8. In one such broadcast in late October, he reminded the faithful that the central doctrine of Celestial Marriage was propelling the church’s drive to impose its theology on state constitutions:

“We know that it is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan,” Ballard said.

Parts of the 1997 memo were first published on the DailyKos web site on November 3. Those portions reveal that the LDS leadership has been strategizing for California even back then.

Update: You can see the entire memo by clicking here (PDF: 260KB/8 pages).


November 12th, 2008

It’s 1997, not 1977.

I have never thought that these efforts to ban same-sex marriage had anything to do with “protecting” anything. It’s an incremental approach to achieve the religious right’s ultimate goal: Erase any legal recognition of same-sex relationships and eventually send us back to the closet.

David C.

November 12th, 2008

I’d call this a particularly damming piece of evidence.


November 12th, 2008

It shows some planning, but not much else. We risk making out these people as more conspiratorial and more intelligent and fore-sighted than they are. After all, they cannot even see the functional difference between “it’s” and “its”. That’s what is truly damning.


November 12th, 2008

Okay Mr. T. S. Monson:

This pretty much says it all. You versus us. We homos are the antithesis to their whole plan of salvation, huh?

Well…My Heavenly Father created me this way. I was this way in the Pre-Existence before I was born. I will be this way in the next life.

Your plan of salvation sucks. It’s not inclusive for me and no matter how much you say I should try to “act” differently, I will still be me.

This whole “agenda” belongs to whom, again?

David C.

November 12th, 2008

Well, there’s that. Nevertheless, 1997 was long before intense uptake of the “Culture Wars”: they were ahead of the curve in that respect. The ERA died partly or precisely because of Utah’s fear that same sex marriage might be enabled, even enshrined in the US Constitution.

Irrespective of their collective intellect, they succeeded in outsmarting the No on 8 campaign. You could argue that they failed in their attempt to stay behind the shield of other organizations driving the passage of the measure thus indicating some lack of political sophistication. Still, they were able to achieve a long standing goal to eliminate the rights of same sex couples to marry in the 7th or 8th largest economy in the world (California).

Stefano A

November 12th, 2008

So, not only was the campaign marked by deliberate deceptiveness but so was the alliance now shown to be a manipulated calculated political maneuver.

However, I fully expect the Catholic Church will simply shrug off the attempt of the LDS church to hide under its robes to let them take the heat, if the RC even gives it any thought.


November 12th, 2008

AJD, 1977 would be the year before the then president Spencer W. Kimball had the revelation that black men were not just “clever animals” and could join the priesthood.

Perhaps we should be hoping for a similar revelation about same-sex marriage.

Jason D

November 13th, 2008

I see, so what do we have to look forward to next given the history of organized religion?

– A Crusade style slaughter?

– Inquisition style torture?

– Blame, torture, and murder akin to the Salem Witch Trials?

– Operation Rescue style bombings of gay bars, community centers, and churches?

– Burning crosses? Lynchings?

Timothy Kincaid

November 13th, 2008


We may be fortunate. We may have to look forward to something comparable to

– Dedication to the preservation of literature and history and even the craft of reading and writing during Dark Ages

– Commitment to feeding, clothing, housing and medical care for the less fortunate

– A place of solice and comfort for those who are in distress

– A voice against slavery and oppression (though they have not been given enough credit, in some counties in CA the campaign against Prop 8 was almost entirely the product of churches committed to equality and social justice)

– Patronage of arts providing great beauty

Yes, religion has its evil history. But without religion, the world would be a much much darker place. As much as I believe in the free market, there are some cultural benefits that are not driven by profit and quite often those exist out of the efforts of organized religion.


November 13th, 2008

That’s an interesting point, Elizabeth.

Jason D

November 13th, 2008

Tim, I’m sorry, but none of the things you mention make up for, excuse, or diminish the evil done in the name or organized religion.

It’s interesting that you jump from organized to religion to “the free market” as though no other possibilities exist.

So the absense of religion…is capitalism?

Timothy Kincaid

November 13th, 2008


It appears that your point is that all organized religion is bad. If that is your argument, I reject it.

David C.

November 13th, 2008

Everyone needs to keep in mind that there were a number of religious organizations that worked to defeat Prop 8. Those allies should not be tossed aside indiscriminately. Like most things, we are not dealing with black and white where it comes to faith.

Yes a prominent and powerful religious organization handed us our hats on this one, and yes they did so with allies of the same ilk and a lot of deceit. To condemn all religions for the acts of some would make us into the same kind of hypocrites we accuse that few of being.

It’s unlikely that we will achieve our goals by trying to unseat deeply held beliefs. Instead we should find just as deeply held beliefs that remind the faithful that they have an obligation to love their fellow man, irrespective of everything else.

We’re going to need to capitalize on those supporters we can find in faith communities, not alienate them.

It’s time to take a deep breath and think, not just react out of anger.


November 28th, 2008

Did the LDS Church ever deny having a longstanding strategy? Where is the scandal here?

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

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.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

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.

Paul Cameron’s World

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.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

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"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

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.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

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.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

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.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

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.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe 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.