Impact Humboldt

Promote love and equality in our community.

"Help A Sister Out" Benefit for Lesbian Hate Rape Victim

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 25, 2008

Our hearts were broken when we read what happened to you, some of us cried, some of us cursed, and others became filled with a raging desire to find the monsters responsible, and destroy them, utterly. Still many of us reached out to each other, to find a way to help you carry this grotesque, and unfamiliar burden. Far too many of us understand something of what you might be experiencing, we have learned a great deal about what it means, and what it takes to live with a knowledge none of us wanted or asked for. We’re here for you, with whatever resources we can spare, with our prayers, with our warmest wishes, and our kindest regards, because the help we gather and offer to you, is the salvation that community offers to us all. We offer our strength, we offer our tenderness, and we hope that there can be for you, at least some small measure of comfort in knowing, with certainty, that we’re here for you.

On December 13th, a twenty-eight-year-old California woman was brutally raped by four men because she is a lesbian and had a rainbow sticker on her car. See the story at SFGate.

Please also read this article 4 men sought in rape case and invite all your friends.

Event: Help A Sister Out
“Benefit for Hate Rape Victim”
What: Fundraiser
Start Time: Tuesday, December 22 at 5:00pm
End Time: Thursday, December 31 at 5:00pm
Where: From Your Heart

The woman will need months to recover physically and years and years to recover psychologically. She needs our emotional and financial support.

If you would like to send a card, please mail it to:

Richmond Police Department
Attn: Sgt. Brian Dickerson
1701 Regatta Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804

If you can send a financial contribution (even a few dollars) to help her pay her medical bills and other costs associated with her recovery, please mail a check payable to Community Violence Solutions to:

Community Violence Solutions
2101 Van Ness Ave.,
San Pablo, CA 94806
Attn: Mrs. Joanne Douglas

In the memo section of the check please write: Richmond Jane Doe.
For details and to show support join the Help A Sister Out Facebook group.

I’m asking our community to help if you can, and to pass this information on to EVERYONE you know, because the more people willing to share the weight of this, means that it won’t be too heavy for anyone. For those of you who are shy about asking people for help, or are worried about annoying them with this kind of email, please know that sending this information to them is not putting a burden upon them, but giving them a gift, an opportunity for them to experience community, and make a HUGE difference in someone’s life. Please explain to them, and know for yourself, that we would do the same if this horrific thing had happened to you, your child, your sister, mother, be loved, etc.

Our Richmond sister lives near where the attack happened and does not want to go back there, so she is staying in a hotel room, paid for by the RPD, until sunday. I would like to get her suitable housing for her, her partner,and their 8 year old little girl (so it needs to be 2 bdrms), and they can afford $900 a month. If we are unable to find something in that range of rent, then I would like to raise enough money to make up the difference on a place that is suitable, but more expensive, for at least 6 months, to a year. It doesn’t have to be in Richmond, the Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito, Albany areas would be good as well.

I thank you profusely in advance for your generosity, and compassion, and I say to you, do not doubt that I (and all of us) would do the same thing for you and yours.

Happy Holidays to those of you who celebrate. : )

Visit www.TrueHateCrimes.com to learn more about hate crime victims watch the movie True Hate Crimes or request a free DVD.

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Please don’t divorce…" Courage Campaign community photo project

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 24, 2008

Please don’t divorce…” Courage Campaign community photo project

Infamous prosecutor Ken Starr has filed a legal brief — on behalf of the “Yes on 8” campaign — to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California between May and November of 2008.

It’s time to put a face to Ken Starr’s shameful legal proceedings. To put a face to the 18,000 couples facing forcible divorce. To put a face to marriage equality. Because, gay or straight, YOU are the face of the Marriage Equality Movement.

Please click through the photos in the slideshows below and then submit your own photo, as an individual, a couple or in a group (perhaps with your family over the holidays). Take a picture holding a piece of paper that says “Please don’t divorce us,” “Please don’t divorce my moms,””Please don’t divorce my friends, Dawn and Audrey,” “Please don’t divorce Californians” or whatever you want after “Please don’t divorce…” and send it to: pleasedontdivorce@couragecampaign.org.

  • No matter your marital status or sexual orientation, will you share your photo with us, as part of a community photo project?
  • If so, please take a picture with a plain 8.5″ by 11″ piece of paper that sends a special message, like “Please don’t divorce us,” “Please don’t divorce my mothers,” “Please don’t divorce my friends, Name and Name,” or “Please don’t divorce Californians.” Print it out, or write it clearly in big, block letters.Then send your pictures to us at:
  • PleaseDontDivorce@CourageCampaign.org
  • We’ll put all of your pics together in one place and make sure all the right people get the message — the lawyers behind the effort, the press, our friends and neighbors.

If you like this slideshow, please tell your friends about it by clicking here to use our simple and easy invite page.

To support this project or our campaign to repeal Prop 8, please consider making a contribution to the Courage Campaign. Click here to make a timely donation.

Pictures Shared with signs

Pictures shared without signs

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More awesome videos from my buddy Sean Chapin

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 24, 2008

His YouTube Page

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Protect the planet from gays, Pope says

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 24, 2008

24/12/2008 7:00:00 AM
Saving humanity from homosexuality and transsexuality is as important as saving rainforests, Pope Benedict XVI says.

In his end-of-year address to the Curia, the governing body of the Catholic Church, the Pope said man needed protecting ”from the destruction of himself” and that ”an ecology of the human being” was needed. And the pontiff added that when the Church defended God’s creation ”it does not only defend the earth, water and the air … but [it] also protects man from his own destruction”.

”If tropical forests deserve our protection, humankind … deserves it no less,” he said.

He defended the Church’s right to ”speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected”. Gender theory, which explores sexual orientation and gender identity, could potentially lead to the ”self-destruction” of the human race by blurring the lines between men and women.

The Pope’s comments drew criticism from within church circles and outraged gay groups. A spokesman for the Australia Coalition for Equality, Rod Swift, described them as ”arrant nonsense”. ”It shows the level of desperation in the Catholic Church to try and get its message across, demonising same-sex couples and comparing us to a global man-made environmental disaster. Homosexuality hasn’t destroyed humanity up until now and the rate of homosexuality is not increasing or decreasing.”

Catholic commentator and writer Paul Collins, a former priest, said the comments were ”quite out of character for such an intelligent man”. ”It’s neither fair nor accurate. Climate change and the destruction of rainforests is something that impacts on everybody. It is the most important issue we are facing. To equate homosexuality with it seems to me to be silly,” he said.

Dr Collins said the message might have been aimed at homosexual priests within the Vatican itself. ”If he was addressing his comments to them, well, there are better ways to do it.”

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but that homosexual acts are. Auxiliary Archbishop for Canberra and Goulburn Pat Power said it was important that people understood the Pope’s comments in the context of Catholic teaching which says homosexual people deserved ”respect, compassion and sensitivity”. ”Every sign of unjust discrimination should be avoided.”

The managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace, defended the Pope, saying he could ”understand where he is coming from”. ”Without putting other people down, we need to make sure the demands of strident minority groups don’t challenge the health of the family in the same way that greed has challenged the health of the environment.” with agencies

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FIRST EVER GAY CHIEF OF MILITARY BRANCH URGED BY NATIONAL GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 24, 2008

Contact: Paul Sousa
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FIRST EVER GAY CHIEF OF MILITARY BRANCH URGED

BY NATIONAL GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN:

— Equal Rep Seeks Appointment of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum President

William White as Secretary of the Navy —

BOSTON, Mass. (December 24, 2008) – Equal Rep recently organized a nation-wide campaign in six days time to urge President-elect Obama to appoint Mary Beth Maxwell as Secretary of Labor which garnered over 1,200 confirmed participants in 39 states, the District of Columbia, and 7 other countries. Equal Rep is now putting on a follow-up campaign to urge President-elect Obama to appoint William White as the next Secretary of the Navy.

Equal Rep is coordinating a national 3 day campaign of phone calls and emails to President-elect Obama’s transition office from December 31 to Jan 2.

“With the whole Rick Warren fiasco ensuing and the fact that gay Americans were completely shut out of Obama’s cabinet, this is the perfect opportunity for our President-elect to show gay Americans they have not been forgotten and he truly is committed to equal representation.” said Paul Sousa, Equal Rep founder. “William White is not only the most qualified candidate, but appointing him would also send a strong message that change is coming and the antiquated, discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be repealed soon.”

In more than 200 years, the United States military has never included an openly gay chief. Growing national focus on GLBT civil rights, especially the call to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which bars openly gay members, has therefore made the Secretary of the Navy appointment a national issue in the struggle for equal representation.
Retired general Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said White “would be phenomenal.” He added that White’s extensive background as a fund-raiser for veterans’ and military causes would be helpful in the job. Congressman Jerrold Nadler said White is “very capable” on the basis of observing his work at the Intrepid. Nadler added that White has been a friend of service members and their families through his work with the museum and philanthropic efforts, according to The Washington Times.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy would not apply to William White since the Secretary of the Navy is a civilian position. However, there is already those saying White should not be chosen simply because he is gay. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, which opposes gays serving in the military said, “It would be very demoralizing to the troops” which is why this campaign is needed.

Equal Rep is a grassroots political organization working toward equal rights for the GLBT community. It is committed to full representation of GLBT identified people in all facets of government. The “Let Diversity Fly” campaign works toward a government representative of all people it serves. The facebook event for the William White campaign is where the bulk of organizing takes place. More information on Equal Rep’s latest events and campaigns can be found at http://www.equalrep.com .

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HIV Big Deal

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 23, 2008


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Transgender – What Does it Mean?

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 23, 2008

The following is a great video explaining what it means to be transgender and covering many terms related to the gender-variant community. Great resource, for trans people and allies.

VideoJug: Transgender: What Does It Mean?

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Thousands attend nationwide candle-lit vigils to decry rights lost through Prop. 8

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 22, 2008

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Eureka Times Standard, Join the Impact press release, Examiner, Ithaca Journal

Candles flickered in the night throughout California and elsewhere in the country as tens of thousands gathered in quiet vigils designed to highlight the rights lost after passage of Proposition 8, which stripped from gay and lesbian couple the right to marry there, and which its backers now hope will be used to invalidate the marriages of 18,000 couples in the state.

“Today we shed light on this hypocrisy while also educating the masses about our struggle,” said Amy Balliett, co-founder of JoinTheImpact.com, the online activist group that helped organize the vigils. “Tonight’s vigils helped to show the honest side of the LGBTQ community and the truth of our struggle.”

Helen Winfrey, candle in hand, spent Saturday evening in Eureka, Calif. standing in the cold rain hoping to protect her son’s marriage, Eureka Times Standard reports.

Winfrey said her son, Joseph Marclin-Sampson, was the first Eureka High School student to bring a member of the same sex to the school’s senior prom. Then, after the California Supreme Court’s ruling last spring cleared the way for same-sex marriages, Winfrey welcomed a son-in-law to her family.

She was joined by what the Eureka Times Standard counted as about three dozen supporters of marriage equality in one many similar vigils throughout the state.

To the south in Santa Cruz, several hundred LGBT people and friends gathered to hold hands, sing, and sign petitions to revoke Proposition 8, Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.

Members of San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performed a five-song set under the Town Clock in Santa Cruz, looking out over what the Sentinel describes as “a sea of candles.” Their set included “This Little Light of Mine” and the social justice anthem “We Shall Overcome”.

“Singing is a great way to bring people together,” said associate artistic director Carl Pantle. “It promotes harmony among people.”

Dubbed “Light up the Night for Equal Rights”, the vigils organized by Join the Impact were held in what organizers say was “hundreds of cities”. Most were held in heavy trafficked shopping areas with the goal of reaching 1 million people with the message of equality during the holiday season, according to a statement from Join the Impact.

In downtown Chicago, several dozen LGBT support joined together on crowded State Street in front of Macy’s (nee Marshall Field’s) to spread the word about the passage of anti-LGBT measures with a silent candle light vigil, the Examiner reports.

Despite the crowded sidewalks and extra-large snowflakes spilling from the sky, the supporters were able to pass their message along to the holiday shoppers and collect non-perishable food that will be donated to “The Night Ministry” and “The Greater Chicago Food Depository”, according to the Examiner.

In Ithaca, New York, local organizers emphasized the vigil’s connection with another of Join the Impact’s projects — the Food Drive for Equality. As happened in Chicago, volunteers in Ithica and elsewhere in the country planned to bring the donated food items to faith-based organizations, Ithaca Journal reports.

“We are explicitly reaching out to organizations and individuals that have historically opposed us,” Ithaca co-organizer Christin Munsch told Ithaca Journal.

“We want to demonstrate the power of the LGBTQ community and the positive impact we can make,” Munsch said. “We are demonstrating our willingness to bridge the gap between creeds and political philosophies. At the very least we are beginning a conversation between these two groups.”

Cole Machado, director of Join the Impact Humboldt in Eureka, told the Times Standard that Eureka’s vigil was just one of more than 400 held worldwide Saturday.

It became even more important for Winfrey and others like her after learning Friday that proponents of Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote in November had filed a motion with the California Supreme Court seeking to invalidate her son’s marriage, as well as about 18,000 other same-sex unions.

“I’m here because I think it’s very hateful and hurtful for a majority to deny the rights of a minority and, for my family, it’s very personal,” Winfrey told Eureka Times Standard.

The night’s theme was also deeply personal for at least 10 married members of the 30-year-old chorus that sang in Santa Cruz. Like Winfrey’s son, they could lose their legal status if the high court declines to throw out Proposition 8.

Those attending the Eureka vigil were encouraged to make or purchase T-shirts with emblazoned with messages like “Second Class Citizen,” “Friend of a Second Class Citizen”, or “1st Class Taxpayer, 2nd Class Citizen.”

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performed in Santa Cruz two hours before a previously scheduled concert at First Congregational Church.

Teresa Macedo and husband Brady Umfleet of Live Oak, who are members of the church, attended the vigil to oppose what they see as discrimination, they told Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“It makes our marriage less valid if we have more rights as a heterosexual couple,” said Umfleet, who is working on his master’s degree in social work at San Jose State University. “It puts into practice Christ and being spiritual and living to see interaction between straight and gay friends and colleagues.”

Macedo, a sociology instructor at Cabrillo College, told Santa Cruz Sentinel, she supports rights of same-sex couples and families because “it’s just fundamental equality.”

“I don’t want to live in a society where equality isn’t sanctioned, especially by the government,” she said.

Like the November 15th National Day of protest that Join The Impact also orchestrated, Light up the Night was described by organizers as an opportunity to turn the negative affects of Proposition 8 into something positive.

“This movement will not end until full equality is achieved,” Balliett said in a statement from her group. “Proposition 8 awoke a sleeping beast. Our community is more united than ever as our base and allies continue to grow.”

Source: Hundreds attend Santa Cruz same-sex marriage vigil | Santa Cruz Sentinel (via Mercury News)
Prop. 8 protesters hold Eureka vigil | Eureka Times Standard
Early Numbers Show Join The Impact’s Light Up the Night Illuminates 1 Million Lives! | Join the Impact press release
Photo Essay: Join the Impact ‘Light up the night’ | Examiner
Food drive aims to link gay rights, faith-based charities | Ithaca Journal

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Prop. 8 protesters hold Eureka vigil

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 21, 2008

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_11282288
Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 12/21/2008 01:22:28 AM PST

Helen Winfrey, candle in hand, spent Saturday evening standing in the cold rain in an attempt to protect her son’s marriage.

Winfrey’s said her son, Joseph Marclin-Sampson, was the first Eureka High School student to bring a member of the same sex to the school’s senior prom. Then, after the California Supreme Court’s ruling last spring cleared the way for same-sex marriages, Winfrey welcomed a son-in-law to her family.

Friday, Winfrey learned that proponents of Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote in November, effectively outlawing same-sex marriages, filed a motion with the California Supreme Court seeking to invalidate Marclin-Sampson’s marriage, as well as about 18,000 other same-sex unions.

”I’m here because I think it’s very hateful and hurtful for a majority to deny the rights of a minority and, for my family, it’s very personal,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey joined about three dozen same-sex rights supporters Saturday night, lining Broadway in front of the Bayshore Mall.

Eureka’s demonstration, dubbed “Light up the Night for Equal Rights” and organized by members of Join the Impact, was designed to shed light on the rights lost with the Proposition 8’s passage on Election Day.

Proposition 8 enacted a constitutional amendment explicitly stating that only marriages between a woman and a man will be valid or recognized in the state, effectively nullifying a California Supreme Court’s spring ruling.

Just weeks after Proposition 8’s passage, the court agreed to hear several legal challenges to the measure.

According to Cole Machado, director of Join the Impact Humboldt, Eureka’s vigil was just one of more than 400 held worldwide Saturday, in which more than a million people were expected to participate.

Those attending the Eureka vigil were encouraged to make or purchase T-shirts with emblazoned with messages like “Second Class Citizen,” “Friend of a Second Class Citizen” or “1st Class Taxpayer, 2nd Class Citizen.” But, Machado said, they were almost barred from wearing the shirts into the Bayshore Mall, where the group planned to go socialize at a pair of businesses after the street-side vigil.

Machado said local mall management told him that protesters would have to turn their shirts inside out or leave them at the door if they wanted to enter the mall. But after contacting a lawyer, Machado said he later received an e-mail from Wally Brewster, a senior vice president with General Growth Properties, which owns the mall, saying protesters were welcome to wear whatever they liked.

”I apologize that it ever came into question,” Brewster wrote in an e-mail to Machado, a copy of which he provided to the Times-Standard. “Thank you for also understanding that we are a gathering place for all people of all views and cultural backgrounds.”

Saturday’s vigil came amid the backdrop of some major developments on both sides of the issue.

In addition to the brief seeking to nullify the state’s 18,000 existing same sex marriages, California Attorney General Jerry Brown also filed a brief Friday, arguing that the Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, as it denies a minority group of a fundamental right. Brown, who voted against Proposition 8, initially said he would defend the ballot measure as the state’s top lawyer before announcing Friday night that reflection on the Constitution had caused him to change his mind.

”It became evident that the Article 1 provision of guaranteeing basic liberty, which includes the right to marry, took precedence over the initiative,” Brown said in an interview with the Associated Press Friday. “Based on my duty to defend the constitution, I concluded the court should protect the right to marry even in the face of the 52 percent vote.”

Kenneth Star, dean of Pepperdine University’s law school, co-wrote the brief seeking to nullify the existing marriages, and argued that Proposition 8 is the will of the voters, and is quite clear in its intent.

”Proposition 8’s brevity is matched by its clarity,” the brief reads. “There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions or exclusions.”

The California Supreme Court could reportedly hear arguments in the litigation in March.

Margot Gallant, of McKinleyville, who stood in the drizzle of Saturday night, clutching a candle, said she has faith in the California Supreme Court to do the right thing, but added she’s disheartened that the issue has even made it this far.

”That there are people out there who think this country is run by the Bible and not the Constitution is just mind blowing,” she said. “We’re standing out here in the rain, and we shouldn’t have to be.”

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com

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The New Religious Right an Advocate article my friend James Ord is quoted in.

Posted by impacthumboldt on December 21, 2008

The New Religious Right
Does the organizational and fund-raising prowess displayed by the LDS church during California’s Proposition 8 campaign augur future political might?
By James Kirchick

In june the governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to every Mormon congregation in California asking that a message be read to members at Sunday services stating that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God,” and “local church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.” The cause was Proposition 8, and church members were implored to “do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time.”

Mormons heeded the call. Not only did they donate what appears to be a majority of the funds raised by the Yes on 8 campaign — an estimated $20 million, according to Prop. 8 opponents, much of it from out of state — but church members also volunteered thousands of man-hours in support of the amendment. Though the Mormon Church avoided a visible public role in the campaign, it did formally join the coalition of religious groups supporting the amendment, and a prominent member, Mark Jansson, served on the Yes on 8 executive committee. (Jansson was one of four signatories to a public letter threatening a boycott of businesses whose owners contributed to No on 8.)

Mormons make up only 2% of California’s population, so the fact that they played such an outsize role in the Yes on 8 campaign testifies to their rigid and efficient organization as a religious community. Because the church requests that members tithe 10% of their annual income, LDS leaders are able to gain an accurate picture p of how much their congregants earn. With this information in hand, bishops in local communities went from house to house in California asking for specific amounts of money for the Yes on 8 campaign — an incredibly effective fund-raising tactic. Mormons boast high rates of involvement in church-related activities, including commitments that can be quite demanding, such as missionary work, whereby members spend up to two years proselyting, often in far-flung overseas locations.

This individual discipline, obedience to hierarchical authority, and experience in exhorting people to join the faith comes in mighty handy for mass political organizing. Indeed, Mormons campaigned heavily for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid, especially in the key first primary state of New Hampshire. And it’s Romney’s potential future presidential aspirations, as well as Mormonism’s tortured history in America, that has led some to speculate that the church wasn’t just advocating for “traditional” marriage in the Prop. 8 fight. Perhaps it was also deliberately flaunting its power as a force to be reckoned with –showing both the broader religious right and the Washington political scene what it can do.

Ever since its inception in the early 19th century, Mormonism has been derided as a cult by other Christians, especially evangelicals. “They’re very insecure people,” says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. And the reaction to Romney’s campaign showed why this anxiety might be justified. From the start, Romney had difficulty attracting the much-needed support of evangelicals and was shocked at the level of anti-Mormon sentiment he experienced campaigning in heavily Protestant areas. “There’s a lot of resentment amongst members of the church,” says Clayton Christensen, a Mormon and professor at Harvard Business School, about the level of hostility that materialized during Romney’s candidacy. “Christ actually said you should love your enemies and do good to people who spitefully use you. And yet, with the evangelicals in the presidential campaign, those guys really showed that they are the ones that aren’t Christian.”

Mormons have expressed similar disbelief at the level of anger voiced by the gay community in the wake of Prop. 8’s success. In response to nationwide protests staged outside Mormon temples, the church released a statement bemoaning that it had been “singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.” Church members feel “genuine alarm” at the hubbub created by their efforts, according to Damon Linker, a former editor of the conservative Christian public policy journal First Things and the author of The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege. And that’s not surprising, considering that Mormons have long been involved in the movement to ban same-sex marriage — and yet are only now facing massive scrutiny for it.

Ascribing cynical motivations to the LDS church’s behavior is intriguing, but the contention that it became involved in the fight over Prop. 8 as a way to impress is belied by Mormon history. First, Mormonism has never been particularly welcoming of gays and its doctrine proscribes homosexuality as a sin. Nor is it the case that the church ignored same-sex marriage until this past summer. The day before Prop. 8’s passage, a seven-page internal LDS memo was posted online showing just how prescient the church was on the issue. Addressed to M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (men regarded as living prophets by LDS members), the memo presents a thorough argument for why and how the church should become involved in the movement to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

The memo, dated March 1997, was written in response to continuing developments in Hawaii, where in 1993, the state’s supreme court ruled that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples was discriminatory. Anticipating a national legal and electoral fight over the issue, its author supported the involvement of the church in fighting back attempts to legalize marriage equality. The memo not only stressed the importance of working with other religious groups but also cautioned that more mainstream Christian denominations ought to be the public face of the campaign due to concerns that Mormonism was still viewed with suspicion by the general public. Describing a meeting that then–LDS president Gordon Hinckley attended, the memo states that Hinckley “said the church should be in a coalition and not out by itself,” and cites a poll conducted by Richard Wirthlin, a former senior adviser and pollster for Ronald Reagan and a leading LDS figure, which found that “the public image of the Catholic Church [is] higher than our church.” The conclusion of the memo’s author: “If we get into this, they are the ones with which to join.” The church had been nominally involved in the marriage debate prior to the writing of this memo; in 1994 it issued a formal statement against gay marriage, and in 1996 local congregations across Texas urged members to join an antigay organization called the Coalition for Traditional Marriage.

A great deal of the intellectual work of the traditional marriage movement was done at Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Mormon Church. James Ord, a gay Mormon living in California who describes his status with the church as “inactive,” graduated in 2004 from BYU’s law school, where he worked alongside professors Richard Wilkins and Lynn Wardle. The two have been prominent players in the anti–gay marriage movement and, according to Ord, began crafting the legal strategy to oppose same-sex marriage almost immediately after Canadian courts in Ontario issued a series of rulings in 2002 that laid the groundwork for marriage equality in the province and, eventually, the country. For the next two years Ord “attended meetings, forums, and academic discussions where the language for these amendments was floated and debated.”

A rapprochement between mormons and the religious right at large does not appear to be in the offing, despite the LDS Church’s hard work on Prop. 8. With marriage, there is “far more at stake for Mormons than there is for a Catholic or evangelical,” Linker says. Ironically, in light of Mormonism’s polygamist history, he points to its contemporary emphasis on the heterosexual family structure as the primary reason for its involvement. “Mormons are different than other factions on the religious right because their theology emphasizes a traditional male/female family with kids in a way that goes far beyond most other groups, whether they be evangelical or Catholic,” Linker says. According to Mormon dogma, marriage extends into the afterlife and couples continue to have “spirit children” who populate extraterrestrial worlds.

The church is also selective in the battles it fights. For instance, Christensen says, the church stayed out of the dispute over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts because it didn’t think it could defeat the measure in one of the country’s most liberal states, even though then-governor Romney was leading the effort to do just that. Contrast the church’s judicious decision in the Bay State with its 2000 campaign in support of California’s Proposition 22, a statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman. That measure passed with 61% of the vote, its success was never in doubt, and it occurred a full three years before Massachusetts ruled in favor of marriage equality. Given the uphill environment activists faced then, their outcry was understandably muted compared to the devastating sense of loss felt in November’s bruising. And since the church didn’t face any backlash in 2000, according to Ord, its leaders felt confident about rejoining the fight this time around.

But while Mormons may be bewildered at the outrage directed their way now, it would be wrong to conclude that the church has been so chastened by the reaction that it will stay out of future political battles. For one thing, Mormon doctrine remains steadfastly opposed to same-sex marriage. “To allow gay marriage is to fundamentally misconstrue what [they] are ordained by God to become,” Linker says. And Mormons have suffered far worse in their history than mere protests or the occasional anthrax scare. “I think we attempted to work in the process to do what we think is right in society and in the eyes of the Lord,” Christensen says. “I don’t feel any kind of sense that we made a mistake.”

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