The main reason the ban on marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples has been able to finance a massive advertizing campaign is that the LDS church is bankrolling the entire effort. Up to 40 percent of the financing comes from Mormons, who have also sent countless volunteers to the state to canvass door to door. It's all legal, and totally within their democratic rights, but it is striking that one single religious grouping could invest so much in attempting to strip civil equality from gay couples:
Pollsters say that fueling the rise in support for Proposition 8 is an advertising blitz heavily bankrolled by the Mormon Church, which suggests, among other things, that if Proposition 8 doesn't pass then schoolchildren will be indoctrinated about gay marriage.
Between 30% and 40% of the $25.5 million in donations raised as of last week by the "Yes" campaign has come from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of the measure say.
This strong alliance between the Mormon church and the Christianist evangelicals on the marriage issue in California goes back some way. Mitt Romney explained the Mormon-Falwell connection in Christianity Today:
[S]everal months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California.
The No on 8 side has made some errors: poor advertizing and the self-inflicted wound of Gavin Newsom. But watching one religious group swamp an initiative to remove civil rights from a minority is troubling to me. It appears to be based on religious doctrine, not secular argument. If you want to counter the influence of the Mormon church in California's democratic process, donate here.
(Photo: George Frey/Getty.)