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The Mormon Church's role in Proposition 8.
| || Mormon Church on Prop 8: We Oppose Civil Rights (But Don't Tell) |
Thursday, Nov 6, 2008, at 09:56 AM
Original Author(s): Huffington Post
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From The Huffington Post:
President-Prophet Thomas Monson, the leader of the Mormon Church, clearly does not read history. If he did, he'd know that he and his apostles could not stand behind the stone walls and parapets of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, shoveling cash and lies into California without consequences. The Mormon Church's members have contributed some $22 million into Prop 8, a vicious campaign here in California seeking to strip fundamental marriage rights from same-sex couples, making them permanent second-class citizens.
The Mormon Church and its very junior partners in California owe all of us an apology. They seek to use the constitution to strip fundamental rights -- in this case of same-sex couples to marry -- away from millions of people. They lie in television ads. They blackmail. And then they invoke their religion to say that they are allowed to lie and hurt people, but not if they are caught.
| From the LA Times:
Top officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed reports today indicating that they donated more than $180,000 in in-kind contributions to Proposition 8, the November ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
The contributions included tens of thousands of dollars for expenses such as airline tickets, hotel and restaurant bills and car-rental bills for top church officials such as L. Whitney Clayton, along with $96,849.31 worth of “compensated staff time” for church employees.
The church said the expenditures took place between July 1 and the end of the year. The church’s involvement has been a major issue in the campaign and its aftermath. Individual Mormon families donated millions -- by some estimates more than $20 million -- of their own money to the campaign.
On top of that, some Prop. 8 opponents say church officials violated election law by failing to file campaign disclosure reports outlining church funds being spent on the campaign. Fred Karger, who filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission after the election alleging that church officials had not properly disclosed their involvement, said he thought today’s filing proves that his complaint has merit.
“They said they reported all their travel ... now, when there is a [complaint filed] they disclose 25 Southwest tickets just in October,” he said. “They were required to report this” in an earlier filing, he said. Church officials could not be reached for comment this evening.
| || Mormon Church Admits It Spent 100 Times More For Prop 8 Than Reported |
Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009, at 08:39 AM
Original Author(s): 365gay
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From 365Gay:
(San Francisco, California) Six weeks into an investigation by California's Fair Political Practices Commission, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has admitted that it spent nearly $188,000 more on the campaign to approve Proposition 8 that it had initially stated.
The Mormon Church previously insisted that it spent only $2,078 to support the ban on same-sex marriage, something LGBT leaders said was implausible in light of a number of visits to California by high ranking church officials, ads allegedly produced with church funds and the large number of church staffers working on the campaign.
In a new filing with the state, the church now admits that among other expenses were $96,849 for "compensated staff time" for church employees who worked on the campaign, $20,575 for the use of facilities and equipment at its Salt Lake City headquarters, $26,000 for audio-visual production and travel expenses for church leaders to go to California.
he Church put an estimated $25 million into the battle to end gay marriage in California.
Last week in a separate case, a federal judge has denied a request by supporters of Prop 8 to keep secret the names of donors. The group behind the measure said public disclosure of their financial supporters put the donors at risk of personal harassment or boycotts to their businesses.
In denying the motion, the judge said the public had a right to know who gave money to state ballot measures.
| From the Salt Lake Tribune:
With all the controversy surrounding the LDS Church's involvement in the Proposition 8 election in California last fall, a more subtle dust-up was brewing at the Hawaii State Legislature last month, pretty much over the same thing.
The exchange began with an e-mail she got from Frank Lueder, also of Hawaii, that informed her of HB444, a bill before the Hawaii Legislature that "is attempting to once again legalize same-sex marriage but under a new term, 'civil union.' If you wish relay your OPPOSITION to it, you could do so by [calling or e-mailing] your representative. You could access the list of ... House of Representatives from the e-mail address I just gave."
| || Man Who Organized Prop 8 To Protect The "Sanctity" Of Marriage Is Divorcing His Wife Of 43 Years |
Friday, Aug 14, 2009, at 08:20 AM
Original Author(s): Everandanon
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Ironic divorce - Protector of traditional marriage Doug Manchester leaving wife of 43 years.
In July 2008, hotelier and developer Doug Manchester donated $125,000 to help gather signatures for a proposition that would ban same-sex marriage in California. The early money was crucial to getting the initiative–which ultimately passed–on the ballot. At the time, he told The New York Times that he made the donation because of “my Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church,” which preferred that marriage remain between a man and a woman. Indeed, the Catholic Church has vehemently opposed gay marriage. Then again, it’s also not too keen on divorce.
On Oct. 9, 2008, Manchester ended 43 years, eight months and nine days of marriage to Elizabeth Manchester by moving out of their La Jolla abode. The couple spent the next several months trying to reach a quiet settlement on how best to distribute millions of dollars in cash and other assets. In July, those talks totally broke down, and Doug started playing financial hardball with Elizabeth, allegedly draining the couple’s shared accounts and stealing her mail. On Aug. 6, Elizabeth filed a petition for redress in family court. All of the information in this story comes from those petitions. CityBeat contacted attorneys for both parties, but neither returned calls by press time...
| || National Organization For Marriage (The LDS Church) Launches Blitz Into Iowa; Now Being Investigated |
Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009, at 08:17 AM
Original Author(s): Someone In Iowa
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| The National Organization for marriage has been flooding Iowa's airwaves this week with nearly $90,000 in ads in support of Stephen Burgmeier, a candidate in a special election for Iowa House District 90. NOM has not disclosed the source of its contributions.
Iowa law requires organizations accepting more thant $750 for political activities to disclose its contributors to Iowa activities.
The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board recently sent a warning letter to NOM indicating that its independent expenditure statements were not acceptable as it would mean that "that your organization is not raising more than $750 from outside sources for such purposes."
A formal complaint was filed yesterday detailing NOM's elections violations. According to the complaint "Iowa voters deserve to know who is secretly funding NOM’s agenda in our state. Disclosure is the bedrock of campaign finance laws of our state."
| || Karger: Proposition 8 Film Explains Mormon Gay Marriage Involvement, Article |
Thursday, Oct 22, 2009, at 08:44 AM
Original Author(s): Jw The Inquizzinator
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
By Carlos Santoscoy
Published: October 21, 2009
Director Reed Cowan's documentary on the Mormon Church's decades-old involvement in the fight to ban gay marriage in the United States is ready for its premiere screening. And Californians Against Hate Founder Fred Karger says the film will “undoubtedly change history.”
While still in production the film drew fire when Cowan released several controversial audio clips in February.
Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, a practicing Mormon, lost his chair of the powerful Judicial Committee after the Republican was heard in a Cowan interview calling the gay rights movement “probably the greatest threat to America” and gay folks “mean.”
“They're mean. They want to talk about being nice. They're the meanest buggers I have ever seen.”
“It's just like the Muslims,” he adds, moments later. “Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it's been taken over by the radical side.”
Not surprisingly, Cowan's trailer for his film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, begins with a tight close up of the senator.
In a series of interviews with Mormon Church leaders, gay activists and Utah politicians, Cowan shines a bright light on the church's profuse involvement in banning gay marriage throughout the nation since the early 1990s. A revelation no more since Karger began meddling in the church's affairs.
“It tells my story,” Karger told On Top Magazine. And it will “knock your socks off,” he added.
Cowan first interviewed Karger in San Francisco. The pair met in front of the Castro Theater on Wednesday, March 4 just as a huge gay marriage vigil was about to step off. Karger spoke to the filmmaker two more times over the course of the next year.
What is the Mormon proposition? The film is expected to showcase the major gay marriage battles the Mormon Church has backed since Utah became the first state to ban gay marriage in 1995. And how church officials attempted to conceal their deep involvement in the issue. Is the Mormon Church the mastermind puppeteer of the anti-gay marriage movement?
In a blog post, Cowan said the film had divided his family.
“My determination [to finish the film] has been tested. At this writing, I have lost communication with my sisters and my mother and my father. They are wonderful people and they are Mormons. The fear they have over what this film will say has worn thin to the point that our relationships are stressed and I fear broken forever,” he said."
| || Mormon Backed "National Organization For Marriage" Group Seeks Restraining Order To Prevent Disclosure Of Money Sources |
Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009, at 07:45 AM
Original Author(s): Wgme
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From WGME:
Some opponents of same sex marriage are locked in a legal battle to keep the sources of their war chest a secret.
The National Organization for Marriage is asking a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the State Ethics Commission.
Earlier this month the Commission voted to investigate N.O.M because they did not name the sources of its money.
NOM sued in Washington, but they have not yet succeeded.
The Supreme Court blocked the release of the signatures until they can hear the merits of the case.
"This week the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the release of names of people who signed R-71 petitions. The High Court will now consider whether to hear the merits of the case - whether people signing petitions are engaging in protected political speech."
"When contributions of $1,000 or more are made during the final days of an election–the time between the last campaign report required to be filed and the end of the election–late contribution reports must be filed within 24 hours of making or receiving the “late” contribution. The following failed to file a late contribution report as required by law
I wonder what the "non-monetary contributions" were? no matter what, what is the church doing contributing to political elections?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to timely report making late non-monetary contributions totaling $36,928 in connection with the November 4, 2008, General Election. $5,539 fine."
| || Judge Hands Victory To Proposition 8 Opponents, Gay-Marriage Ban Overturned |
Thursday, Aug 5, 2010, at 07:34 AM
Original Author(s): News Source
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Wednesday that the California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, in a case that will almost certainly go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is "unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses." The court, therefore, "orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement."
Here's the full conclusion by Judge Walker:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result, see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings. Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8.
| Here is a quote from the ruling, included in the court's Findings of Fact:
18. Protect Marriage is a "broad coalition" of individuals and organizations, including the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints (the "LDS Church"), the California Catholic Conference and a large number of evangelical churches.
a. PX2310 About ProtectMarriage.com, Protect Marriage
(2008): Protect Marriage "about" page identifies a
"broad-based coalition" in support of Proposition 8;
b. PX0577 Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint, Passing Prop 8,
Politics (Feb 2009) at 47: "We had the support of
virtually the entire faith community in California.";
c. Tr 1585:20-1590:2 (Segura: Churches, because of their
hierarchical structure and ability to speak to
congregations once a week, have a "very strong
communication network" with churchgoers. A network of
"1700 pastors" working with Protect Marriage in support
of Proposition 8 is striking because of "the sheer
breadth of the [religious] organization and its level of
coordination with Protect Marriage.");
d. Tr 1590:23-1591:12 (Segura: An "organized effort" and
"formal association" of religious groups formed the
"broad-based coalition" of Protect Marriage.);
e. Tr 1609:12-1610:6 (Segura: The coalition between the
Catholic Church and the LDS Church against a minority
group was "unprecedented.");
f. PX2597 Email from Prentice to Lynn Vincent (June 19,
2008): Prentice explains that "[f]rom the initial efforts
in 1998 for the eventual success of Prop 22 in 2000, a
coalition of many organizations has existed, including
evangelical, Catholic and Mormon groups" and identifies
Catholic and evangelical leaders working to pass
g. PX0390A Video, Ron Prentice Addressing Supporters of
Proposition 8, Excerpt: Prentice explains the importance
of contributions from the LDS Church, Catholic bishops
and evangelical ministers to the Protect Marriage
h. PX0577 Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint, Passing Prop 8,
Politics at 46 (Feb 2009): "By this time, leaders of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had endorsed
Prop 8 and joined the campaign executive committee. Even
though the LDS were the last major denomination to join the campaign, their members were immensely helpful in early fundraising, providing much-needed contributions while we were busy organizing Catholic and Evangelical fundraising efforts."
| According to the website showing donations to Prop 8 here is the breakdown on which of the LDS Apostles gave to support Prop 8.
Note: This database was updated 2/4/2009 with new records. These include itemized contributions donated between 10/19/2008 and 12/31/2008 as reported to the California Secretary of State.
Each name was entered and not a single one came up with donating a penny. Spread the word to your TBM friends and family. Let them check for themselves.
- Henry B. Eyring $0
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf $0
- Boyd K. Packer $0
- L. Tom Perry $0
- Russell M. Nelson $0
- Dallin H. Oaks $0
- M. Russell Ballard $0
- Richard G. Scott $0
- Robert D. Hales $0
- Jeffrey R. Holland $0
- David A. Bednar $0
- Quentin L. Cook $0
- D. Todd Christofferson $0
- Neil L. Andersen $0
Their leaders will not sacrifice themselves put demand it of their followers
| || Ten States Including Utah Sent Opposition In Regards To Proposition 8 |
Monday, Sep 27, 2010, at 07:27 AM
Original Author(s): Angeleer8, Stray Mutt
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, and Virgina have filed amicus brief with the 9th circuit US Court of Appeals which states that the Constitution doesn't require marriage to include same-sex couples, and that individual States, not the Federal Courts, have the final say in whether to allow same-sex marriages.
California isn't part of the States mentioned in the list above, so why is it that other States, the Mormon Church, and the Roman Catholic Church thinks they can control the State of California. I wonder how the States mentioned in the list above, the Mormon Church, and the Roman Catholic Church would feel if California controlled them.
Ah, but it's not about ALLOWING same-sex marriage.
It's whether the states have the right to PROHIBIT same-sex marriage.
First you have the 9th Amendment to the US Constitution:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
It's not up to the government to "grant" us rights, since the power, authority and right to govern originates with the people. We have many rights not specified in the Constitution. Some would argue we have ALL rights.
Then you have the 14th Amendment with its Equal Protection clause. Over and over, in various ways, the US Supreme Court has ruled states can't restrict the rights of various subgroups of citizens. One of the more directly relevant decisions was Loving v. Virginia that unanimously overturned state laws against mixed-race marriage. Quoting the decision:
"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."
Substitute "gender" for "race" and you have the fundamental argument.
The ten states are hoping federal courts will overturn long-established constitutional precedent.
| Yet more twists and turns...
The Federal Appeals Court has asked the California Supreme Court "to advise it on whether the group behind the state's same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8 can defend the anti-gay law in the federal courts."
Whatever the outcome or what the California Supreme Court says, The Federal Appeals court retains jurisdiction as to how to proceed.
The appeals Court has said that Imperial County does not have standing to bring this issue to appeal.
This will certainly delay the whole process by a few months.
| || LDS Church Hints Opposition To Marriage Equality In Minnesota |
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012, at 08:08 AM
Original Author(s): Affirmation
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From Affirmation:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints read a letter to all Minnesota wards on Sunday, Jan. 15 reminding church-goers that “the family is the fundamental unit of society” and urged them to re-read the “Proclamation of the Family,” which begins, “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
Church members were also asked to “prayerfully consider how to get involved,” according to a Minnesota Blogger.
The letter “concluded with a reminder that church buildings and directories are not to be used for political purposes – with this caveat: unless otherwise directed,” the article continued.
| || More Holland - This Time At Harvard Fibbing About Proposition 8 |
Friday, Jun 1, 2012, at 07:42 AM
Original Author(s): Rollo Tomasi
Topic: PROPOSITION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| This past March, Elder Holland spoke at Harvard Law School. At the end of his speech, he engaged in a QandA session. Here's the link to watch the video of his speech and to hear the later QandA session (for some reason the QandA is just audio, not video):
There was one part of the QandA (about two-thirds of the way through) when someone asks about the Church's influence in passing Prop. 8 in California (it's very hard to hear the actual question, but I think that was the subject). Here is my transcript of Elder Holland's response (I have edited out the many "uh's" and repetitive words; capitalization is used where he emphasized words by his tone; bold font are the parts I wish to discuss here):
All we asked in Proposition 8 was the right to exercise OUR vote. We just asked for religious privilege to cast a vote. We did not want to be disenfranchised. Institutionally, not a single dollar, not one red cent, of money from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went into Proposition 8, or any other comparable proposition that I know of. Now, a lot of Latter-day Saints got involved, and a lot of Latter-day Saints, particularly in California, donated their own time and money to do it, so I’m not being coy, I’m not dodging the fact that there was a terrific involvement and a fairly heavy price to pay – people being fired from their jobs, and people being blackballed in services that they had rendered and were no longer asked to render, and so forth, but that’s ok, that’s the price you pay fora lively democracy. So we choose very carefully what we see those moral issues to be, and we saw that as a moral issue. We saw that not as a political issue, and NEVER, EVER, EVER did we say that somebody could not express his or her vote in a contrary way. Nobody was blocking the ballot box, nobody was slashing tires, you know, as you approach the precinct. I’d really be disappointed if there was some kind of effort to deny somebody their free exercise. But, again, all we we’re asking for is the chance to have our free exercise, and some seem to think that was not right, that we oughta sit down and shut up, and we sit down and shut up quite a bit, but on some things, on that one, we chose to be a little more vocal, a little more visible, and by “we” I just emphasize totally this is a voluntary, lay participation with no money and no formalization institutionally, but something we all cared about, I’m not minimizing that we cared about it. And we’ve taken issues on gambling, we’ve been quite visible when legislation comes along to put casinos in places and various kinds of gambling, we just … that flops over from political to moral for us, and so we’ve been kinda visible on that. We have this quirky -- quirky to you … quirky – we have this health code where we see some of the damage that comes from alcohol and drugs and whatever, so we’re pretty visible about that; that doesn’t tend to get down to legislation as much as we are just kinda vocal about it, we talk about the damage that does to homes and families and parents and kids. So, yeah, there aren’t a lot of them, but where we have them we haven’t been shy, and we hope it’s always appropriate, we hope it’s always allowing everybody else exactly what we’re asking for and that’s the freedom to express an opinion and cast a vote and we’ll all go wherever democracy takes us, but we do feel pretty obligated to stand up for what we believe, and then you kinda let the chips fall where they may.
Here are my observations:
1. Elder Holland seems to incorrectly conflate the right of free speech (that all persons AND organizations (like churches) have) with the right to vote (that only PERSONS have). The Church institution does NOT have a right to "exercise a vote" or "cast a ballot." He seems to differentiate between "we" (i.e., the Church) and individual members (i.e., members, particularly in CA, who got involved).
2. He claims at least twice that the Church institution had NOTHING to do with the Prop. 8 campaign. We all know this is a lie. Based on official Church documents that leaked out, we know that GA's, all the way to the top, were involved in organizing the members in CA and elsewhere (particularly wealthy ones) to contribute big money and a lot of time to the cause of passing Prop. 8. These GA's, and the local authorities below them, exerted enormous influence in getting LDS members involved. To suggest that LDS participation was nothing more than some grassroots miracle wrought by a few local members, is disingenuous at best and lying at worst.
3. His reference to neither the Church nor members "blocking the ballot box" or "slashing the tires" is a pure strawman. He throws out such a ridiculous example, but ignores reports that some members who opposed Prop. 8 were singled out by local leaders in an effort to chill their taking a position contrary to that of the Church. I've heard some were told to return their temple recommends.
I found Elder Holland's comments on Prop. 8 very dishonest. If the Church chooses to take such an active role in a political campaign, then it should at least own up to it. Very disappointing.
| In conjunction with other religious organizations the LDS church has filed this brief to the Supreme Court. Thought maybe some of the Lawyers here would be interested in this.
This the heart of the fundamental fallacy -- a flat-out lie -- promulgated by the Church leadership and its shameful representation by Kirton-McConkie:
Amicus, page 2 wrote:
Proposition 8 is a measured response to the California Supreme Court's decision declaring traditional male-female marriage unconstitutional as a matter of State law.
California's Supreme Court did not declare traditional male-female marriage unconstitutional. The statement is patently absurd and false. California's Supreme Court declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Proposition 8 reads:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
The term 'only' constitutes a denial of rights to others, who choose to marry their life-partners, whether same sex or not. The California Supreme Court did not rule that marriage is unconstitutional, only that "no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry." Denial of rights is at issue here, not marriage. Nothing in Proposition 8 empowers or strengthens marriage, and nothing in the California Supreme Court denies rights of heterosexual couples from engaging in traditional marriage. The Amicus brief is a lie.
Further, if I am a devout gay Episcopalian or Unitiarian, then marriage, blessed by my church, is a religiously-sanctioned and supported option. Proposition 8 promoted a majority religion's doctrine of "marriage" in defiance of the religious rights of a minority of people, including Episcopalians and Unitarians. In so doing, Proposition 8 established a majority religious definition of marriage. While there is a precedent for this in the Supreme Court decision with respect to the Edmunds-Tucker act (1890), the forcing of one religious definition of marriage over another religious definition is clearly in conflict with the first amendment. The irony, of course, is that the only other Supreme Court decision regarding marriage is exactly the one that disenfranchised the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
And yes, this is a brief filed officially on the part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, dated three days ago. This is tangible evidence that the church continues to actively and officially pursue its crusade against gay marriage, even if it avoided doing so in the recent election.
I stand in opposition of this, wholly, and completely.
Kirton McConkie is a paid counsel by the Church on a number of matters, but specifically not on this matter, as I will show below. Nor did anyone other than Kirton McConkie invest in it -- they don't have to -- Kirton McConkie attorneys are quite well endowed.
Second, the Amici Curiae is written on behalf, officially, by the National Association of Evangelicals; the Ethics and Religious Liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Covention; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; et. al. This is official imprimatur -- and regardless of who paid, the Church is lending its name to the document, meaning that it is officially approved and sanctioned by the Church.
The mandatory first footnote of the Amicus brief states:
No counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part and no such counsel or party made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of the brief. Letters from all parties consenting to the filing of this brief have been submitted to the clerk.
First footnotes are to include how the brief was written, financed and approved. If I read this correctly, Kirton McConkie was acting on behalf of the consortium of consenting parties as a whole, and not as the specific counsel to the LDS church. Given that Kirton McConkie is indeed counsel for the church on a number of matters, it is saying that this specific document was not directly financed by the Church, nor 'authored' by the church. Given what I know of Kirton McConkie, they are doing their masters' bidding as a pro-bono activity.
The important take-away from the title page of the brief and the mandatory first footnote is that the LDS Church consented to the filing of the brief -- it's officially sanctioned.
| Before talking about the brief itself, consider the irony of what is going on here: the LDS Church vigorously opposing a challenge to marriage laws in the court system on constitutional grounds. Or as the way the Church and its cheerleaders prefer to characterize it, trying to get the courts to "redefine" marriage. It is difficult to see this stance as anything other than shameless hypocrisy, given that in the 1870's, the LDS Church did the exact same thing. (Note how the Church frames laws against non-traditional marriage as "persecution," but only when those laws are adverse to the Church, not gay people.) |
Church History In The Fulness Of Times Student Manual, (2003), 422-434
In June 1874, however, the Poland Law was passed. This act dismantled Utah's judicial system by giving the United States district courts (controlled by non-Mormon federal appointees) exclusive civil and criminal jurisdiction. Individuals could now be brought to trial for breaking the Morrill Law. Under the Poland Act, jury lists were to be drawn by the district court clerk (a non-Mormon) and the probate judge (a Mormon) in order to give equal representation of members and nonmembers of the Church on juries. Immediately the United States attorney tried to bring leading Church officials to trial but experienced problems. Many of the Brethren had married before the law was passed in 1862 and could not be tried ex post facto . Furthermore, the wives could not be required to testify against their husbands, and the records for plural marriage that were kept privately in the Endowment House were not public record.
Church leaders became anxious to have a "test case" brought before the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the anti-bigamy law. So when the U.S. attorney, William Carey, promised to stop his attempts to indict General Authorities during the test case, the First Presidency chose thirty-two-year-old George Reynolds, a secretary in the office of the President, who had recently married a second wife, to stand in for the Church in the courts. Reynolds provided the attorney numerous witnesses who could testify of his being married to two wives. When Carey did not keep his promise and arrested President George Q. Cannon, Church leaders decided that they would no longer cooperate with him.
In 1875 Reynolds was finally convicted and sentenced to two years hard labor in prison and a fine of five hundred dollars (later changed by the United States Supreme Court to imprisonment only). In 1876 the Utah Territorial Supreme Court upheld the sentence. In 1878 his appeal reached the United States Supreme Court, and in January 1879 that body ruled the anti-polygamy legislation constitutional and upheld Reynold's sentence.
That ruling, Reynolds v. United States, can be found here: http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal ... /case.html
Again, remember that when members of the LDS Church don't get to practice non-traditional marriage, it's persecution. From the lesson manual quoted above:
Thus, the crusade against the Church disrupted economic, social, ecclesiastical, and family life, and as the late 1880s drew near, darker clouds loomed on the horizon.
Despite the "storm" of the anti-polygamy crusade, President Taylor guided the Church in the early 1880s through continuing progress. He regularly toured the stakes of Zion, setting them in order, teaching, counseling, and encouraging the Saints with great energy.
Now compare that to when another group of people wants to practice marriage in a way the LDS Church doesn't like. From page 6 of the Church's amicus brief:
Proposition 8 hardly qualifies as the assault on civil rights depicted by the court of appeals. Honest disagreement among reasonable people of goodwill, not animus, explains why California votes adopted Proposition 8.
But of course, honest disagreement among reasonable people of goodwill doesn't explain federal anti-polygamy laws in the 19th century. No, that is a "crusade against the Church." Or maybe it's just that which marriage laws the LDS Church self-servingly characterizes as persecutory depends on whom the laws are adverse to.
If you're reading this thread but are not familiar with the U.S. legal system, here are a few things (in very simplified form) that may help in understanding what the issues are. (Note to people familiar with constitutional law: remember that I said "very simplified.")
The United States is based on a concept of government called federalism. The U.S. Constitution gives certain specific powers to the federal government, and anything not delegated to the federal government is left up to the individual states (this is what the 10th Amendment to the Constitution is about). There are also limits to the federal government's power over individuals: that's what the Bill of Rights is. In constitutional law, a "right" essentially means a limit on the government's power over an individual.
Each state has its own constitution, too. State constitutions can give more expansive individuals rights than the U.S. Constitution. In other words, the U.S. Constitution is the floor, not the ceiling, for what legal rights a person has in the United States. It's up to each state's courts to interpret that state's law. So for example, a federal court cannot tell California or Utah or Rhode Island what California or Utah or Rhode Island law is. The federal courts have to defer to what California says California state law means, and so on. Similarly, a state court can't overrule a federal court on what federal law means. If the U.S. Supreme Court says the federal Constitution means "[x]," the Supreme Court of Nebraska can't say, "Nuh uh!"
However, there are limits on what states can do as far as individual rights are concerned, and many of these limits come from the 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War. Section 1 of this amendment says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
There are two primary aspects of 14th Amendment jurisprudence that are helpful to understand in the same-sex marriage/Prop 8 issue. One is something called the incorporation doctrine. Basically, this means that over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the due process clause of the 14th Amendment as incorporating the rights that are listed in the Bill of Rights. For example, the First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress cannot establish a religion. This doesn't apply directly to state governments. But the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that it applies to the states through the 14th Amendment.
The other primary aspect at issue in the same-sex marriage/Prop 8 case is the 14th Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection of law." What that basically means is that state law cannot arbitrarily deny a given category of persons the same rights as everyone else. That doesn't mean state law can't discriminate between groups of people at all, but that any discrimination has to have a valid basis. The Supreme Court has developed different levels of scrutiny for reviewing whether a state's laws violate the Equal Protection clause. Here is the U.S. Supreme Court explaining those levels of scrutiny (this is from a case called Romer v. Evans,):
The Fourteenth Amendment's promise that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws must co exist with the practical necessity that most legislation classifies for one purpose or another, with resulting disadvantage to various groups or persons. Personnel Administrator of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 271" 272 (1979); F. S. Royster Guano Co. v. Virginia, 253 U.S. 412, 415 (1920). We have attempted to reconcile the principle with the reality by stating that, if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, we will uphold the legislative classification so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end. See, e.g., Heller v. Doe, 509 U. S. ___, ___ (1993) (slip op., at 6).
If a law does burden a fundamental right or targets a suspect class, then federal courts look at those laws with "strict scrutiny." That means, basically, that the state government has the burden of proving that the state has a compelling interest that overrides individual rights. Fundamental rights generally mean rights like those listed in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court has determined in several cases that marriage is a fundamental right, but it has never addressed whether that fundamental right applies to same-sex couples. Suspect classes are generally based on things like race or religion (like if a state law discriminated against Latinos or Catholics, for example). The Supreme Court has not yet addressed whether sexual orientation is a suspect classification. The "rational relation" mentioned above is also called the "rational basis" test. If a state law is discriminatory, but doesn't affect a fundamental right or a suspect classification, then the party/parties challenging the law have the burden of showing that the discrimination against their group has no rational basis related to a legitimate governmental purpose. The courts are deferential to state law in a rational basis analysis, but much less so in a strict scrutiny analysis.
There's also something that is somewhere in between those levels of scrutiny called "quasi-suspect" classification, in which courts look at an equal protection claim with "intermediate scrutiny." This is more or less in between strict scrutiny and rational basis in how deferential it is to state law. The Supreme Court has never clearly stated whether or not sexual orientation is a quasi-suspect classification. There is some federal case law that does say that, though. One of those cases is Windsor v. United States, which is also currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court (Windsor has to do with whether certain provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional).
If you're not particularly familiar with how the U.S. legal system works, here's a little more that may be helpful in understanding what all is going on (sorry about this, but I kind of have the idea that this same-sex marriage debate and the involvement of the LDS Church make more sense if there is some context):
The U.S. follows a system of jurisprudence called common law that goes back hundreds of years in English law (since, you know, we started as English colonies). Basically, it means that as courts decide individual cases, over time a body of law develops that tells you general rules for deciding legal issues. "Case law" is what many people call this system today. Part of case law is reasoning by analogy: the more such-and-such case is similar to the case you are currently dealing with, the more persuasive it is that you should follow the reasoning in such-and-such case. Another part of case law is that the reasoning behind a decision is what justifies the outcome. Courts in a common law system don't get to just say, "Plaintiff says this, Defendant says that, so......Plaintiff wins!" (There are some people who feel that's the way it works, but that's not the way it's supposed to work.)
There are things in court opinions that actually have the force of law, and then things that don't. The part of a court opinion that is of legal effect is called the holding. The part that's sort of extraneous commentary is called dicta. (It's not always easy to tell which is which.) In terms that will probably make sense to a lot of people on this board, the holding basically means that a court is "speaking as a prophet," and dicta means that a court is "speaking as a man." Once you have determined what the holding is in a case that is analogous to the one you are dealing with, it is binding precedent on a lower court. Federal courts start with district courts. This is the lowest level, where you have a trial. If one of the parties doesn't like how the district court decided an issue, then that party can appeal to a circuit court. This is the court of appeals for a geographical area:
Here is what that means in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case. It started in a federal district court in California. The California Supreme Court had determined that under California state law, same-sex couples were entitled to the right to be married. Proposition 8 was a referendum to amend the California constitution to overrule the decision of the California Supreme Court so that only opposite-sex couples can be married (because a state supreme court is bound by that state's constitution). The plaintiffs in Perry sued the state of California in federal court, claiming that Proposition 8 violated their right to equal protection of law under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (this is an area where the U.S. Constitution trumps state law, which is why they were able to do this). After a trial on the purported reasons behind Prop 8, the federal district court judge ruled in the plaintiffs' favor. The State of California refused to defend Prop 8 on appeal (because the governor believes it is unconstitutional), but the 9th Circuit court of appeals allowed private parties to appeal the district court's ruling. The 9th Circuit upheld the district court in holding that Prop 8 violates the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection. The federal district court decision only affects the parties, because that is all the jurisdiction it has. The 9th Circuit decision is binding precedent on all the federal district courts in its area (see the map above) because it is higher than them, and the state courts in that area also as far as how the 14th Amendment would apply to similar cases. Now the 9th Circuit decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and all the federal courts in the U.S. will have to follow what the Supreme Court says (because it is the highest federal court). All of the state courts will also have to follow whatever the U.S. Supreme Court says, too, if they are dealing with similar cases that involve claims of equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
The LDS Church and the other religious organizations represented in the brief this thread is (eventually) talking about are not parties to the case. They're not the plaintiff or defendant (in the Supreme Court, the party appealing is the petitioner, and the party wanting the lower court to be upheld is the respondent). But because appellate cases tend to affect lots of people, not just the actual parties, an appellate court will sometimes allow non-parties to file a brief as an amicus curiae (friend of the court). This kind of brief basically means that even though you're not a party, you believe you will be affected by the outcome, so you're sort of cheerleading for one side or the other, and making an argument for why whichever side you like should win.
"By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates."
For example, the troubling question of resorting to popular vote to decide if a minority group is entitled to the same rights as everyone else. or the troubling question of self-appointed, unelected crusaders deciding for themselves that they represent the people of a state. Or the troubling question of filing an amicus brief that purports to speak on behalf of all religious people generally. Or the troubling issue of writing your denomination's sexual taboos into law.
Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.
And if that is true, then many Californians need to take a junior high civics class, where perhaps they will learn what "a republican form of government" means.
"In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.
"Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman,
Or, more accurately, the modern romantic version of marriage that conveniently no longer includes arranged marriages, dowries, polygamy, group marriages, legally-sanctioned wife beating, the wife's legal rights being subsumed in her husband, and so forth.
which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children.
See, e.g., the current marriages of Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks.
Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three fourths of the states."
Notably, if this isn't such a big deal, one wonders why the Bretheren were so anxious to eliminate same-sex marriage in California.
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