When I heard rumours of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints financial involvement to pass Proposition 8, last November’s ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California, I assumed they were lies spread because of malice toward the institution. Though I felt repulsed by the Church’s aggressive position, I thought it acted within its rights to encourage members in voting to strip away the rights of same-sex couples.
I also thought that the church was wise enough to respect the separation of church and state and refrain from actively funding the campaign.
It turns out, I was wrong.
In a campaign filing, amid an investigation by Fair Political Practices Commission—a California state campaign watchdog agency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has revealed it spent nearly $190,000 since September to help pass Proposition 8.
While many church members had donated directly to the Yes on 8 campaign—some estimates of Mormon giving range as high as $20 million—the church itself had previously reported little direct campaign activity.
But in the filing made Friday [January 30, 2009], the Mormon church reported thousands in travel expenses, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals for the campaign. The church also reported $96,849.31 worth of “compensated staff time”—hours that church employees spent working to pass the same-sex marriage ban.
For all the crying about how the church has been unjustifiably targeted it’s incredible that it would have opened itself up to such a huge legal blunder and a public relations nightmare. I don’t know what the implications for class action suits by the 18,000 people who had their marriages annulled by the passing of Proposition 8 might be, but I hope it is a wake up call to those that think the church is legitimate in the way it went about robbing the rights of same-sex couples.
To be clear, all same-sex marriage rights were stripped using legal means.