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Prop 8 Trial: Mormons Sought “Plausible Deniability”

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2010

And when you seek “plausible deniability,” we know that’s code for denying what is true. In this case, it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ extremely heavy and essential involvement in their successful efforts to strip LGBT Californians of their right to marry.

During this afternoon’s session in the suit to overturn California’s Proposition 8, Dr. Gary Segura of the Stanford Center for Democracy read some key memorandums from LDS leaders to the Prop 8 campaign. According to Prop8TrialTracker:

S: Reads document from Jansen who says since first Presidency of LDS church wrote letter, what will be our role? “As you know from the First Presidency this campaign is entirely under the direction of the priesthood…”

“What is the next step in this campaign? I understand all grassroots organizing efforts in OC will be led by Gary Lawrence, who will report directly to the Protect Marriage.com Coalition leaders. He has also been hired…

That was interrupted by objections from the Prop 8 defense team. And while they argue, let’s review some background. Gary Lawrence was the State Grass Roots Area Director for Prop 8. He also said that to get a sens of what the war in heaven was like (in which Satan was expelled), you need to look no further than the Prop 8 campaign. “That battlefield is now California and the parallels between that pre-mortal conflict and the battle over the definition of marriage are striking,” he wrote. Part of the Prop 8 defense in the trial is that their campaign wasn’t driven by animus against gay people. Comparing the battle to cast gays out of marriage with the battle to cast Satan out of heaven looks like, well, animus to me, don’t you think?

After Judge Vaughn Walker overruled the objection, Dr. Segura continued:

S: Reads document. Says Brother Jansen said LDS not to take lead, but to work through Protect Marriage. SLC had teleconference with 159 of 161 stake leaders in CA. Goal is $5million at $30 minimum donation per head.

S: Director Holland highlighted the luxury of having Mark Jansen key committees and that eh will received direct communicate (sic) from him.

S: With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show that church is directly involved. We might look at religious belief as source of opposition and think that some folks would vote their religious conscience, but we would not know that this sort of direct church power is engaged. I have never seen this level of coordination in a political campaign.

…S: “You may know that Mormons have been out walking neighborhoods with about 20,000 volunteers.” Speaks to breadth and size of power arrayed against gays and lesbians.

Julia Rosen calls this revelation “explosive.” While these transcripts are rather crude and catch-as-catch-can, they give a sense of how deep the LDS was involved in Prop 8, and how anxious they were to hide their tracks.

Comments

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Jeff
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

I was not aware the US government was under the spell of any religion at all, much less the cult of Mormonism.

homer
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

The Mormon Church in Arizona did the same thing. Here is a blog entry I wrote back on December 5, 2008:

Dons Evans is the spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Temple in Mesa, Arizona and he was “surprised it is being singled out by protesters. He says the [marriage] amendments were also supported by the Catholic church and various evangelical denominations.”

This appears to be the tactic the Mormon Church has decided upon- try to divert attention onto other religious or racial groups while downplaying the role of the LDS Church in the anti-gay marriage amendments.

What Mr. Evans was surprised about was a peaceful protest that was held outside the Temple last Friday during the Mormon’s annual Christmas display lighting. Somewhere between 150 and 200 supporters of gay marriage held signs that said “Peace” and “Acceptance.”

So what is the truth about the LDS Church’s involvement here in Arizona?

The Arizona Secretary of State has placed PDF files of the campaign filings for the pro-Amendment group, “Yes on 102″ and the anti-Amendment groups “No on 102″ and “Arizona Together.” I examined the report filed for August 14, 2008 to September 22, 2008. It is very easy to search each file by keyword, so I searched for the words “Phoenix,” “Tucson,” and “Mesa.” According to Wikipedia, the population of these three largest communities in Arizona in 2007 is as follows:

Phoenix- 1,552,259
Tucson- 525,529
Mesa- 452,933

Mesa is the location of the Mesa Arizona Temple, completed in 1919 and has a very high number Mormon population. It has been reported that LDS Church leaders asked members to contribute money and volunteer time to the anti-gay marriage amendment- although since I am not a member, I cannot confirm this directly.

However, it is relatively easy to examine a community’s support for the Yes or No campaigns. Let’s examine how many people/families/businesses in these three communities gave to the campaigns, using the filed reports:

Town- Pro Anti
Phoenix 138 125
Tucson 333 289
Mesa 739 4

Mesa has less than one-third the population of Phoenix and yet more than five times as many people contributed to the Yes campaign. And a total of four (four!) gave to the two No campaigns. Note the disparity with the numbers reported for Tucson, the second largest community in the state. The overall ratios of Anti/Pro contributors is close for Phoenix and Tucson (87 and 90) and is very different from Mesa (.05).

I am not a statistician, but there is clearly something different going on in Mesa.

I didn’t bother to look at the actual dollar amounts per contribution, but according to the campaign filings, one Mesa family and a Mormon-owned business based in Phoenix gave $100,000 each to the Yes campaign (as did the Crisis Pregnancy Center, although how gay marriage and crisis pregnancies relate to each other is very confusing to me).

And LDS spokesman Don Evans, who was so “surprised” that people would be protesting outside his Temple, he gave $10,000 cash to the Yes campaign.

So should Don Evans be so surprised? I don’t think so. It is very clear to me that the LDS Church in Arizona had a major role, if not The Major Role, is fundraising for the anti-gay marriage amendment here in Arizona, despite whatever the leaders of that church claim.

Eddie89
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

And yet, same-sex marriage was ALREADY banned in Arizona!

They just wanted to write discrimination into the State Constitution! Like in California and other states!

Dennis
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

Mabey thats another reason why they didnt want to brodcast the trial.

David C.
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

I seem to remember that the story of the war in heaven was waged because Satan was determined to force everybody into salvation and the other (ultimately winning) side wanted people to choose (or not) salvation, that is, free will and choice was more holy than trying to force belief or righteousness. Gary Lawrence would seem to be on the side of Satan in the analogy, seeking to force people to believe and act in a particular way.

Timothy Kincaid
January 20th, 2010 | LINK

Ah yes, Mark Jansson.

He was one of the signatories on the letter that went out to No on 8 supporters shaking them down for an equal contribution to Yes on 8.

The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published. It is only fair for Proposition 8 supporters to know which companies and organizations oppose traditional marriage.

cowboy
January 21st, 2010 | LINK

O what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive…

So, we get a glimpse of the inner-workings of an organization…a powerful, astute politically-savvy organization. We see a cadre of mindless members obey the admonitions of their leader(s).

Do we deem it as hate against the homosexuals or is it being part of a cult?

Probably both.

David Scott
January 21st, 2010 | LINK

It should go without saying that a person should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. Until the right-wing, religious fanatics in this country stop trying to control everybody else and force their “morals” down the throat of the country, there can be no real freedom in the United States. Civil rights cannot simply be “voted away,” that is the purpose of the Bill of Rights. Religious activists should be left out of these decisions completely. I invite you to my web pages devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on our freedom: http://freethegods.blogspot.com/2009/06/san-franciscos-gay-pride-parade.html

John
January 21st, 2010 | LINK

cowboy,

I could be wrong, but I think this the first time that you have referred on this site to the Mormons as a cult.

I know that is a particularly grating thing for TBMs (True Believing Mormons). What I find interesting about it is that the folks who are most likely to use the term cult to describe the Mormons are former Mormons. Some non-Mormons use the term, but most neverMos (Never been Mormon) seem more reluctant to use the term.

I personally have gone from more or less neutral on the Mormons to about the most anti-Mormon person I know as a result of their behavior here in CA during the Prop 8 campaign.

I sense some evolution in your relationship to the Morg (Mormon organization).

cowboy
January 21st, 2010 | LINK

Evolution is probably the right word, John. I resisted in using a loaded word like “cult” when I was referencing Mormons. It is an offensive term most of my Mormon friends/family would say is hostile. And since I have to live amongst them and are affected by them in my daily life I try to be circumspect about my adjectives and terms for and about Mormons.

And, like you, I’m seeing more light on the subject. The seed of doubt about the true nature of Mormons and Mormonism is germinating and growing. My attitude is evolving…but I might revert back to my old ways. I don’t like the term “cult” to describe everything about Mormons…it’s far too simple and a gross generalization. They’re far more complex than just a cult.

But…(here’s where I get a little unnerved): You noticed?

cowboy
January 21st, 2010 | LINK

May I expand a little bit. Mormons are told through a formal letter and a intranet broadcast from their private satellite service to all Stake Houses in California to do all they can to pass Proposition 8. The Saints are not to question the dictum. It’s like they did not want to question the Proposition and they just go whole hog in getting involved in the political process…because the Prophet had spoken.

What surprised me…and probably a lot of Mormons themselves: Was just how effective they were. And how politically powerful they were (in this instance in California politics). They knew they would not be a power in a state like Maine and they knew they couldn’t get the same results on that side of the country. Therefore they channeled the major part of the thrust through NOM and let the Catholics take some of the heat in that region of the Country.

Another surprise: The ordinary run-of-the-mill Mormon was truly shocked to see the reaction after November 2008 passage of Proposition 8. The rather impromptu protest march around the mother-Temple in SLC was a wake-up call. Maybe some Saints needed to READ the Proposition 8 before going whole hog and blindly supporting this issue.

Many good and upstanding Mormons (Mrs. Steve Young, for one) took a position against Proposition 8 and they’re still probably carrying a Temple Recommend in their purse/wallet. So…it’s not all Mormons. I believe when the LDS Church gave their official blessing at the Salt Lake City Council meeting the other night (to treat the LGBT as equals in housing and employment), it was because all the amicus towards homosexuals was being largely associated with the Mormons. The Kiss on Temple Square did not help this perception of Mormons and the gays.

SundanceWig of Shame
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Sundance Wig of Shame will showcase in a drag queen wig all worms who opposed gay equality. Equality for all citizens of the United States.
http://www.utahgaycommunityfreeequaldeserving.blogspot.com

Evan Tilton
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

“Plausible deniability” was the characterization given to the Mormon church’s efforts by one of the plaintiff’s experts not the words from an email from the Mormon church, as has been widely (and erroneously) reported. I invite you to correct the record.

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan Tilton,

While it is unfortunate that the supporters of Proposition 8 fought to keep any recording of the trial from reaching the public, the livebloggers are doing a good job.

We know that “plausible deniability” is not the language the Mormon Church used to describe its own strategy, but it is, nonetheless, a very accurate description. If you read above you’ll see that we don’t claim that this is the language used by the Church, so there is no record to set straight.

John
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan Tilton

There is no need to correct anything. The Mormons tried to hide their involvement in Prop 8. They lied about the extent of their involvement. Your post here (since you are most likely posting as part of the Mormon Church Internet monitoring group) is just further indication that the Mormon Church continues to lie about its activities with regard to Prop 8. Their secret underhanded dishonest tactics really should give all Amercans great pause about the political activities and goals of this secretive organization.

Evan Tilton
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

John,

I am not a “part of the Mormon Church Internet monitoring group” nor am I aware of any such group. At a bare minimum, the post above is misleading and mimics identical langauge that multiple other blogs have used–some of which have since retracted.

Nor does this blog state that the words come from a plaintiff’s expert. By using quote marks around the words “plausible deniability” in the article headline it attributes those words to the Mormon Church not to the words handpicked by the plaintiffs’ witness.

I give you one example of a blog that has retracted the original story:

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2010/01/a-correction-on-the-purported-plausible-deniability-quote.html

It is beyond dispute that the “plausible deniability” quote comes directly from the plaintiff’s own characterization of the alleged thoughts/motives of another, and not the Mormon Church as this article’s headline asserts: “Mormons sought ‘plausible deniability.'”

If the intent of those involved in the debate (or at least on this site) is to have a meaningful discourse then a retraction is warranted. Attributing words to another that were not uttered by that individual is unethical and a cheap substitute for true debate.

Journalistic integrity demands factual reporting. What has or has not been said during these proceedings is fully disclosed in the trial transcripts and can be verified by simple fact checking.

Is there no room left in this country for people to disagree completely regarding truly important issues without demonizing one side or the other? Is it no longer possible to make our points or argue our side without misquoting those who advocate against our positions? At a minimum, we owe it to ourselves to discourse in a fair manner.

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan Tilton,

You are mistaken. The site you linked was not a “retraction” but was instead a criticism of another site for inaccurate reporting.

Again, we did not claim that this was the wording of the church. We did not imply that this was the wording of the church.

That you infer that the title of the thread refers to the language of the church rather than the language of the witness does not make it so.

Further, it is not demonizing to report that the witness said that the Church’s efforts as an attempt to create plausible deniability.

The more important question is “was he right”?

My question to you is this: was this effort by the church an attempt to mask its involvement in Proposition 8?

Because that is the real issue, Evan, not who said the words.

The Mormon Church sought to involve itself in the Proposition 8 campaign but to do so in a way that allowed the Church a great deal of influence but which also made it more difficult to observe and measure that influence.

Don’t you agree?

Evan Tilton
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

Perhaps you prefer this link:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/the-mormon-hierarchys-plausible-deniability-ctd.html

I disagree–the post, and its title, does infer that these were the words of the Mormon Church.

My comment regarding demonization refers to the comments to many of the posts above. Is there really a rational debate contained in the vast majority of the comments?

The use of the term “plausible deniability” infers that the Mormon Church attempted to shroud its involvement in the Prop 8 debate and deceive the public at large on its stance as to the issue.

The fact that the Mormon Church encouraged its followers to support Prop 8 is and was well known. I don’t even think that is debatable. “Plausible deniability” means that you want to be able to claim after the fact that you were not involved if your potential involvement is ever questioned and to be able to do so with a straight face. The Mormon Church has never denied that it encouraged its members to support Prop 8. As such, in my opinion the plaintiffs’ witness was “wrong.”

Moreover, the term “plausible deniability,” as most people understand it, is a pejorative phrase that questions the integrity of the indvidual who wishes to maintain it.

One can legitimately debate why Californians passed Proposition 8 and which demographic group (race, sex, religion, etc.) had the biggest impact on that race. There is no question that Mormons individually donated a large amount of time and money in an effort to pass Proposition 8. Having said that, my guess is that the overwhelming majority of those who voted in favor of Proposition 8 were not members of the Mormon Church.

The real issue in California is whether gay or lesbian couples should be permitted to refer to their state recognized domestic unions as a “marriage.” Rather than debate that, we spend way too much time debating who hates who the most. Again, I yearn for the day when we can simply debate our differences without assigning horrific motives to those who don’t see things the way we do.

Is an honorable debate, including the correct attribution of people’s words to the parties that uttered them, too much to ask for? Perhaps only when making our point is more important to us than having a meaningful discussion.

Scott P.
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Don’t you love it when semantics become the only talking point? “Gee, your Honor, I only strangled the guy until he was dead, but I didn’t MURDER him!”

Ben in Oakland
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

“Is there no room left in this country for people to disagree completely regarding truly important issues without demonizing one side or the other? ”

The campaign, funded, promoted, and advanced in large part by your church, as you admit, called me and mine– without any objection from your church that I can recall– a threat to family, children, marriage, morality, god’s plan, religion, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and a host of other apple-pie American virtues.

I spoke to a young mormon, a tongan American, holding a blue and yellow sign printed by the campaign, saying obldly Prop. 8=Freedom of religion. He said, and I quote “I don’t want that filth being taught to my children.” I listened to the dean of Pepperdine Law School, whom i believe is a mormon, promise that churches would be sued by the fags (my word, not his) if prop. 8 wasn’t passed. This so called lawyer apparently is an expert on the ugandan constitution, not ours.

And on and on and on.

So maybe you could explain a bit about what demonization means.

Evan Tilton
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Ben in Oakland,

Your response confirms my point. If your story about your interaction with a “tongan American,” who you believe was a Mormon, is in fact true, it is further evidence of what I’m stating. Obviously, his statement does nothing to advance legitimate debate. That’s my complaint–how long will we engage in the who hates who more ridiculousness rather than discuss the issues? I note you did not reference your response to him in your post or what, if anything, you said to him that elicited the comment you assert he made.

What evidence do you have that “the campaign” was financed in large part by the Mormon Church? Again, I don’t dispute that members of the Mormon Church donated significant amounts of time and money to the Prop 8 debate as did a lot of groups on both sides of the debate.

The current dean of the Pepperdine Law School is Kenneth Starr who is not a Mormon. According to this website, he is the son of a Chruch of Christ preacher and currently worships with an Evangelical Bible church.

http://www.adherents.com/people/ps/Kenneth_Starr.html

No one side owns demonization. True dialog requires both sides to act with integrity. Justifying what I do by arguing that it isn’t as bad as what the other side is doing accomplishes nothing. And being careless with accusations or the statements of others (my original complaint about the article) actually prevents meaningful dialog.

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan,

You need to learn the difference between “imply” and “infer”. You also need to learn the difference between fact and spin.

The fact that the Mormon Church encouraged its followers to support Prop 8 is and was only well known because someone looked at the donors and noticed a pattern. They tracked contributions and asked for additional help and eventually found over $20 million from otherwise unidentified Mormon contributors.

The church denied making any contributions and implied (look it up) that their involvement was minimal.

Although individual Mormons made up 80% to 90% of the volunteers, they NEVER self identified as Mormon in any press or in any way. It was only careful searching that found that they were Mormon. In the same way, it was only because we looked at the faces on the ads and did internet searches that we discovered that virtually everyone in every anti-gay marriage ad was Mormon.

This wasn’t public because the Church made it so, rather it was public despite the Church’s efforts to keep it secret.

The Mormon Church actually filed fraudulent contribution statements which they amended AFTER observers pointed out that they could not possibly be true.

Your church sought in every way possible to deceive and allow for plausibly deniability in their involvement in Proposition 8.

Those a facts. Not spin. Not demonization. Not, as you are doing, attempting to change the subject or the focus.

Any effort to reconstruct history to a more favorable view of your church will not work with Box Turtle Bulletin readers. We followed this endeavor far too closely and with far too much care to be fooled.

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

What evidence do you have that “the campaign” was financed in large part by the Mormon Church? Again, I don’t dispute that members of the Mormon Church donated significant amounts of time and money to the Prop 8 debate

From the trial:

Reads document. Says Brother Jansen said LDS not to take lead, but to work through Protect Marriage. SLC had teleconference with 159 of 161 stake leaders in CA. Goal is $5million at $30 minimum donation per head.

When you ask your parishioners to give $30 per person and they end up giving almost half of all of the funds raised, that is “financed in large part by the Mormon Church”.

And don’t try the “oh, but it was the members, not the Church”. That sort of quibbling doesn’t work here.

Evan Tilton
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

Again you lead with a personal attack further proving my point that as a nation we have lost our ability to engage in meaningful dialog without resorting to insults–regardless:

1. How much money did contributors who were opposed to Prop 8 spend? What was the religious, sexual, or racial makeup of those contributors? And how is any of that relevant to the real issue (whether state sanctioned domestic unions should be called “marriage.”)? And why does any of that even matter–can’t we agree that people of all religions, races, ethnic groups, political persuasions, and on and on supported both sides of the issue?

2. If an individual of any religious persuasion wished to contribute for or against Prop 8 or volunteer on either side of the issue why should they be required to disclose their religous preference (or race or creed or ethnicity)?

3. I find your comments about the additional 20 million in contributions “that was found” and the “fraudulent contribution statements” to be interesting and would like to review them. Please provide links that back up either of those assertions (i.e. direct evidence rather than someone making the assertion). We don’t even need to debate whether in America citizens should have the right to donate money anonymously to causes they believe in or whether they should be required to declare their religious, ethnic, political, etc. status when they make a contribution.

4. What evidence do you have that the Mormon Church told its followers who chose to particpate in the Prop 8 debate that they were not to disclose that they were Mormons or that the Mormon Church did not have a position on Prop 8? And when has the Mormon Church ever denied (plausibly or otherwise) that it did not encourage its members to oppose Prop 8?

This entire thread started when I simply pointed out a factual error–that no document from a representative of the Mormon Church produced in the Prop 8 trial asserted that the Mormon Church wanted to retain “plausible deniability,” a fact that you now agree is not debateable. And in the spirit of fair debate I requested that the misperception the article creates by infering or implying (you can choose) otherwise be corrected. Pretty straight forward request if the point is to have an honest debate. I’ll concede that perhaps I’m missing the point.

P.S. Distinguishing between the organization and its members is not quibbling. Unless you are also willing to state that since there were Mormons who contributed and volunteered against Prop 8 then the Mormon Church also financed those who opposed Prop 8.

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan,

Your comment is an exercise in prestidigitation. Pay no attention to the Mormon Church behind the curtain, look over here instead. Hey Presto, it’s no longer about the Church.

Sorry, it won’t work.

You may also find this illuminating.

John
January 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Evan Tilton is engaging vigorously in “lying for the Lord” (a practice that Mormons consider acceptable whenever defending the Mormon Church).

First, he claims that there is no internet monitoring group run by the Mormons, yet our intrepid commentator who has never shown up on this site before, presto appears to defend the Mormon Church. Further, any other time there is a post critical of the Mormons, the same occurs. On exmormon.org, they talk about this as one of the duties assigned to some Mormons.

I live in California and was subjected to the despicable campaign of hate that the Mormon Church launched on gay people in California. Now, Evan complains about some lack of civility. Evan, implying that I am some sort of threat to kids is about as incivil as it goes. Yeah, never heard any apologyies about that, so forgive me for feeling more than little incivil towards the Morg (the Mormon organization).

The Mormons lied throughout the campaign about everything, including their own involvement. There behavior has been so consistent that they no longer have much if any credibility.

Your ongoing attempts to twist words to somehow make the villains (the Mormons) into the victims is laughable on its face.

After Prop 8, non-Mormons have good reason to be very suspicious of the political goals of the Mormon Church.

Also, Evan, because the Mormon Church has lied so consistently, there is no reason to believe any denial they or you make.

Eric in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Evan Tilton said:

“And how is any of that relevant to the real issue (whether state sanctioned domestic unions should be called “marriage.”)? And why does any of that even matter–can’t we agree that people of all religions, races, ethnic groups, political persuasions, and on and on supported both sides of the issue?”

Oh, so NOW that is the REAL ISSUE?! How come during the campaign your side claimed the REAL ISSUE was about children and schools? The only reason the measure passed was because of an intentional campaign of lies (supported by the LDS), so don’t try to claim now that you want honest discourse and fair debate! Those horses have well and truly fled the barn.

Ben in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Evan– I have a few things to say on this, but on’t have a lot of energy for it right now.

First: you were right about the mormon dean. I did some research, and I was getting two different people mixed up. So I apologize for that. I believe in accuracy. however, I’m almost certain that there was a mormon professor of law at pepperdine wo was spouting all of the legal lies. Perhaps timothy could remind us of his name.

Second, regarding the group of tongans. Yes, they were mormons– they told me so, and also, that they had gotten the materials at the temple, which is, unfortunatley, right next to me.

I’ll deal with the rest if this later, though a few people have already started commenting in the approrpiate direction.

I got a rant coming on.

Ben in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

regarding ken starr, this is what I wrote to the Chrnicle:

Ken Starr, Dean of Law at Pepperdine University, and staunch defender of Prop. 8, has filed a lawsuit to invalidate the legal marriages of gay and lesbian citizens. The ironies of Prop. 8 abound, not the least of which is an attack on the 18,000 marriages of committed, loving couples– mine included– in the name of somehow protecting someone else’s marriage.

It reminds me of Gen. Westmoreland’s claim that he destroyed a Vietnamese village in order to save it. Lucky villagers! Saved! Like them, I don’t feel saved, just attacked.

But it doesn’t stop there. Mr. Starr must surely know that using Prop. 8 to invalidate those legal marriages makes it an ex post facto law, something expressly forbidden by Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution. But then, Mr. Starr also thinks that the State should prefer and enforce the beliefs of religious conservatives regarding homosexuality over those of others, both religious and not, who don’t share them. In his view, these beliefs, and not equality before the law, should determine the availability of the civil contract known as marriage to people those denominations consider especial sinners.

Perhaps Pepperdine should look at the quality of its School of Law, because these are the same people who were falsely claiming that my civil marriage is a threat to their freedoms of religion and speech. As any high school student could tell them, those two rights are also guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and are absolutely inviolate.

Kudos to Jerry Brown for having the courage to stand up and say that liberty, freedom of religion, and equality of all citizens before the law, are the values the State of California must defend, not the narrow religious and social agendas of a bare majority of the voters.

Timothy Kincaid
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Ben,

You’re thinking of Richard M. Peterson, the face to Prop 8’s “look at me, I’m a professor so believe my lies” ads.

Ben in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Timothy: thanks. that is exactly whom I was thinking of. My memory is not what it used to be, but i knw I had the basics down.

So, to you, evan, I might have been wrong on a detail, but I certainly was not wrong on the principle.

And if you decide you can stand the heat, you might want to come back to the kitchen and face your accusers. Because i do have a rant coming on, and I will not let you and your church claim innocence in the great damage you have done to people you do not know, know nothing about, and who have done you no harm.

But preparatory to writing my rant, I will say this much. This is not a disagreement. This is and always has been an attack– one of a long series of attacks on gay people by organized religion. Numerous articles detailed how the former archbishop of salt lake city approached his good friends the Morg (love that– thanks John) and involved them in the prop 8 campaign– so much for your claim your church wasn’t involved.

It always amazes me that your various religions can “disagree’ totally about the nature of God and his message to the world, the “history” of god’s peoples (if you know what i mean, and i think you do), what constitutes his words, and so on. The history of those “disagreements” is written in blood– mormon blood, catholic blood, jewish blood, islamic blood, protestant blood.

But the one thing you have no trouble agreeing on– get the fags, and keep them down as much as you can. Extra points for claiming how much you love us while you have your jackboots on our necks.

cowboy
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Quick little note:
The LDS Church has a group that monitors the internet. They are vigilant in correcting submissions to Wikipedia when it references the Mormons. I can only speculate about Mr. Tilton, but there are people who work at Mormon HQ 24/7 to keep abreast of what is said about Mormons on the internet.

It is Roman Catholic American bishop George Hugh Niederauer who made a pact with the Mormons. He served amongst the Saints in Salt Lake CIty from 1994 to 2005. It’s a well known fact of his (and Catholic) cooperation on the Proposition 8 campaign.

There is a gentleman’s agreement between graduates of BYU and Pepperdine. It has been gently suggested that BYU Alum consider going to Pepperdine for their graduate studies (especially in law).

It may not really be important but I think it was strange to see a phone bank set up at BYU in Utah to work for Proposition 8. They had to require only California residences in Utah to work the phones, though. And just as quickly the phone bank was set up it was summarily torn down. Methinks something was amiss with doing that at BYU?

Private citizen Fred Karger is being legally pestered by the million dollar resources of NOM (or is that really the Mormons?) for his inquiry about possible irregularities in how Proposition 8 was campaigned.

Can I help with anything else with your rant, Ben?

cd
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Evan, we have the documentation that the LDS was involved in the 1990s in efforts to influence the outcome of the Hawaiian same sex marriage lawsuit.

We know that Mormonism is uniquely sensitive, among American religions, to demonstrations that gender is a human trait but not a human or spiritual absolute. The fiction of gender being a spiritual and absolute quality is what is core to the continuation of Mormonism. I’m afraid that is not a fight you can win in the long run.

As for the injustices your group perpetrate on others, Evan, in the name of preserving itself- that course of action bears the fruits of morally discrediting your organization among non-Mormons and your own young.

Ben in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Thanks, cowboy. I was aware of all of those points. The BYU one is especially telling. Such a geographically specific and contained spontaneous outpouring of energy for a the politics of a not even neighboring state is indeed unlikely– unless you want to claim divine intervention.

But my rant was going to be on the nature of a disagreement with the idea of calling this a mere “disagreement”: an active ideology of pursue and persecute, seasoned with a little bit of love-the-sinner and tell-a-lot-o-whoppers, leavened with we’re-the-victims and hey-it’s-just-our-religious-belief-and-they’re-just fags.

See what these people do to me? They make me write in run-on sentences.

All right, in sum– and yet another run on: how many millions of dollars must be spent, how many gay kids must commit suicide, how many people starve to death or die in earthquakes for lack of care and food, how many Ted Haggards must ruin the lives of innocent women, how many children must live without the protection of married parents, or in orphanages, how many American soldiers must unecessarily die in our highly preventable wars…

how much misery, waste of treasure and energy, destruction, and death are you willing to tolerate while you obsess over what makes my dick hard?

Ben in Oakland
January 23rd, 2010 | LINK

CD- you said it much more nicely– morally discrediting is so much more polite.

Eric in Oakland
January 24th, 2010 | LINK

Ben, I certainly sympathize with your desire to rant on this issue. My earlier post was rewritten several times before I decided it was toned down enough to share. It makes me very angry when people who are unaffected by this issue claim that it is a mere dispute over words on one hand, but on the other hand is vital to the welfare of children. Well it IS vital to the welfare of children (at least in part), but not in the ways they are propagandizing. Children of gay or lesbian parents deserve the same protections and securities that children of straight parents are afforded. Also, children who are gay or lesbian themselves deserve to grow up in a society that does not treat them as second class citizens or demons. My younger brother tried to commit suicide when he was a teenager, so I am very sensitive to the harm that can result from this truly evil disregard for the wellbeing of real people.

In ordinary circumstances I am very tolerant of people’s religious beliefs, but I cannot abide by malice paraded as religious virtue. Faith is no valid excuse to trample on the rights and dignity of fellow citizens.

Ben in Oakland
January 24th, 2010 | LINK

Eric:

“My younger brother tried to commit suicide when he was a teenager, so I am very sensitive to the harm that can result from this truly evil disregard for the wellbeing of real people.”

My older brother was a homo-hating-homo, and though he did not kill himself, he tried to at least once, and his untimely death/murder was certainly his final, successful attempt.

“In ordinary circumstances I am very tolerant of people’s religious beliefs, but I cannot abide by malice paraded as religious virtue.”

I absolutley agree with this.

That being said, I don’t think we’ll be hearing from Evan again. But I am just as sure that he is reading this. I wonder how people like this can live with themselves, If he knows he is representing a falsehood as truth? And if he doesn’t know, but if he has been presented with the truth, why would he not care enough to verify the truth?

Lyin’ in the name of the Fount of Truth: what a concept.

Jake
January 24th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. Do none of you read the Comments Policy?

Evan Tilton
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

A few final thoughts:

John–Again, I am not “part of the Mormon Church Internet monitoring group” nor am I aware of any such group. I simply noticed that this blog site was one of several that ran, what was in my opinion, a deceptive story. As an individual interested in true debate regarding the issue, I simply noted the error (read my original post) and invited this site to correct the record as other blog sites that ran similar stories have done. In your responses you repeatedly accuse me of lying. I maintain that the inability to discourse without demonizing prevents meaningful exchange.

Ben in Oakland,

I respect the fact that you openly acknowledged that you incorrectly believed that the Pepperdine Law School Dean was a member of the Mormon Church. As to your self-described “rant” I respect your desire to vent and as such will not respond to the feelings you expressed other than to note that I appreciate you sharing them.

Cowboy–Please see my response to John. No need to speculate as to how I came to post on this site as I have clearly stated how that came to be.

To all: Civility in discourse does matter. Perhaps Eric in Oakland is right–the horse has already left the barn. So where do we go from here? Does the fact that the “horse has already left the barn” justify the use of distortion by either side? I submit that it does not.

One last thought: I believe, based on my personal experience and interractions with individuals on both sides of this issue, that indivduals can hold different views on this topic without hating the other side. To attach a single (hateful) label to literally millions of people that hold an opposing view is too easy and a cheap substitute for meaningful exchange. If I’m swimming upstream by requesting civility in the debate of this and other important issues facing our country then so be it.

cowboy
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

Duly noted, Mr. Tilton. I, too, appreciate a civil exchange of ideas especially at this opportune time with many gay-related Mormon news hitting the media/internet. Such as: The Prop 8 trial and some Sundance Film Festival excerpts that have hit YouTube.

Timothy Kincaid
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

Evan,

First, please don’t accuse this site of applying the label “hateful”. This is a term we very seldom use here, though anti-gay activists employ that accusation incessantly in their efforts to be perceived as martyrs so I can see how you could make that mistake.

Second, based on my personal experience with and interactions (which are not minimal), those who oppose marriage equality do so because they believe that gay couples are inferior to straight couples and almost all of them believe that gay individuals are inferior to straight individuals.

Indeed, that is what defines whether one support equality for anyone: whether one thinks of them as equal. (This is at the core of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.)

So while I encourage civility, I do not think that there is a moral parity between those who argue on either side. One side argues for equality and the other argues for inequality, superiority, privilege, and advantage.

While I don’t think that this is necessarily a “hateful” position, It is a position based in arrogance and prejudice.

Ben in Oakland
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

“As to your self-described “rant” I respect your desire to vent and as such will not respond to the feelings you expressed other than to note that I appreciate you sharing them.”

In other words, your viewpoint is not worth my time to respond to, and your concerns really don’t mmatter. We’re God’s chosen and you are not. See, it says so in this book right here……

honey, it’s not a desire to vent. I am sick to death that the course of my life, and the lives of millions of people whom you and your church do not know, know little about, and have done you no harm other than to flout your theology–

that our lives and our happiness are subject to your theological whim-du-jour.

As I said clearly, this is not a ‘disagreement’. This is the latest in organized religions relentless 2000 year old attacks on gay people.

John
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t remember any calls for civility by Evan Tilton when Mormons were painting gay people in California as a threat to children and families. I’m sorry, Evan, but that train has already left the station.

If Prop 8 isn’t overturned in the courts (which I doubt given the current Supreme Court), I think that a campaign to repeal Prop 8 should be launched in California in 2012.

Given Mormon behavior, I think that in addition to appealing to basic fairness towards gays from the non-Mormon California population, the Mormon Church should be the primary focus of the campaign.

We should aire ads questioning the Mormon Church’s secretive, dishonest campign to pass Prop 8 to begin with. We should question why a church would seek so much power. We should question what the Mormon goals are and are they a threat to the freedom of non-Mormon Californians. We should highlight Mormon interference in politics and some of the church’s higher profile commercial interests. Many are already very suspicious of the Mormons, and that could work for us.

Further, if Mitt Romney runs for president, we will have the questions about whether it is in this country’s best interest to put a Mormon in the White House, given the underhanded, secretive meddling of the church in American politics. Was Prop 8 a dress rehearsal to see just how well Mormons could marshall their forces and make a big push when they got the chance to grab the White House?

While many will find this distasteful, this is how you play hardball. I think that it is more than deserved and could actually work to mobilize people. Mormons exploited and inflamed bigotry in order to pass Prop 8, while all the time trying to hide their hand in this from the public. It would be interesting to see how many people are more threatened by Mormons than gays.

The Church would be on the defensive from the start, rather than pro-marriage equality forces. Also, frequent large protests in front of temples would keep news cameras focused on the link between Mormons and Prop 8.

That is how I would like to respond to
Evan Tilton’s calls for “civility” on limiting my rights as a US citizen.

Ben in Oakland
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

“So while I encourage civility, I do not think that there is a moral parity between those who argue on either side. One side argues for equality and the other argues for inequality, superiority, privilege, and advantage.

While I don’t think that this is necessarily a “hateful” position, It is a position based in arrogance and prejudice.”

Bravo, timothy and john. civility is what they ask for right after they have called us threats to all that is good and holy.

Ben in Oakland
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

And i should have added:

If you AND your church want to be respected, maybe you should start acting respectably– and respectfully.

If you want civility, maybe you should start acting civilly, and stop attacking gay people as threats to marriage, family, children, and freedom.

In short– repudiate the lies instead of supporting them.

Ben in Oakland
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

Meanwhile, Evan tilton, there is this:

http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2010/01/prop-8s-smoking-gun-revealed.html

apparently, if this is true, your plausible deinability may be reduced to undeniability.

nenner, neener, neener

cowboy
January 25th, 2010 | LINK

John and Ben,

There was a premier of a new documentary about the Mormons and California Proposition 8 at the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend. Though, I cannot comment on it because I haven’t seen the documentary. I just hope the documentary answers a lot of our questions and provides some hard evidence of Mormon duplicity.

The three producers of the documentary are: Reed Cowan (a former TV reporter in Salt Lake City), Stephen Greenstreet (who produced a rather uncomfortable-to-view video of how Mormons treated Michael Moore when he debated Sean Hannity at Utah Valley University), and Oscar-Winner writer (MILK) Dustin Lance Black.

I wasn’t able to drive the short distance to Park City for the viewing of the documentary but I intend to see it before the Film Festival ends.

I will not attempt to discuss the film as some of my co-workers tried to do today. The Cowan film is the topic du jour today at work and in the news. Most of my co-workers believe the film to be biased. (The three men mentioned above are all Mormon…or former Mormons).

What gets me, is when even the LDS Church hasn’t seen the documentary their spokesman Scott Trotter said:

“Judging from the trailer and background material online, it appears that accuracy and truth are rare commodities in this film.” – from Salt Lake Tribune

We’ll see. We’ll see.

Ben in Oakland
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

And much to no one’s surprise, Evan is gone. Very difficult to defend the indefensible, I guess.

“I respect your desire to vent” indeed.

cowboy
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Totally off topic but I have been curious, Ben:

Do you or will you do wedding photography for LDS Couples at the Oakland Temple?

Ben in Oakland
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I have debated the same question. I have done a number of Morg weddings there.

On the one hand, such discrimination would be both illegal and unconscionable, though I have been tempted to say, should someone call, that a portion of any fee would be donated to return marriage equality to california.

On the other hand, the wedding photography business has pretty much collapsed, and so the question hasn’t really come up.

BTW– another argument for full marriage rights for gays. Since I have no income to speak of, my husband is now supporting me– one of the things that marriage is supposed to do is create a safety net. Otherwise, i could be on the dole.

Meanwhile, no Evan.

cowboy
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks Ben.

I would suggest you continue to do LDS weddings. Show them the professional and decent person you are. Show them your portfolio with examples of same-gendered couple weddings. Keep a picture of you and your husband handy too. Take another stereotype down from the wall of demon attributes with your example and by being just who you are.

OH…and give a hug to the husband tonight.

John
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I also live near the Oakland Mormon Temple. I can’t bring myself to set foot on the property any more. I used to bring visitors up there, because there is a great view of the Bay Area and also the Christmas lights were really cool.

I wonder if it would be illegal to tell someone that you are willing to do wedding pictures for an LDS couple, but you don’t feel comfortable (? safe) being on Mormon Church property, given the extreme anti-gay bias of the church.

cowboy
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

What? John! You think a bunch of Mormon bridesmaids would come thrashing their bouquets at Ben just because he is gay? I mean…really now.

Even if it were roses and the thorns…they wouldn’t hurt Ben. He would be fine.

Ben in Oakland
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I actually thought of that as a plausible reason for not doing Morg weddings. but i tohught it oculd still be percevied as religious bias.

John
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I am not afraid of bridesmaids, I just don’t trust the church.

By going onto Morg property, you could be accused of doing something (vandalism, tresspass, etc.). Even though the charges would be false, it would still create legal, financial and personal problems that I would rather not have.

I am happy to stand out in front, protest, carry signs and make noise, but I am not going to put myself in a vulnerable position by going on Morg property. The Mormon Church has demonstrated rather well just how willing it is to lie about gay Americans.

Ben in Oakland
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Now, johnn. Evan spent literally minutes of his time assuring us that his church did no such thing, and wouldn’t do so, not in a million years.

cowboy
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Okay…John, I still think you’re safe to walk on the Oakland LDS Temple property.
Just be respectful of the Church’s private property. No smoking. No holding hands with your loved-one. I don’t even think I would dare to bend over…to smell a flower in the gardens there. But, take some pictures maybe.

But if you break those rules…be aware. There are former football linebackers dressed in dark suits and white shirts & ties that will seemingly appear from nowhere and will escort you off their property. Nicely or kicking & screaming…it’s your choice.

You are probably as safe as you would be going to a Catholic Cathedral or attending a Knights of Columbus meeting. You just don’t do certain things on their property.

Eddie89
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ben, if you do decide to work straight weddings, you could also wear a White Knot to show solidarity with marriage equality. Or perhaps an 1138 Bracelet!

I’m sure that any of these would be excellent conversation starters!

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