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8: The Mormon Proposition Follows the Money Trail to God

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Back in 2008, during the wave of hope ushered in with the election of the country’s first black President, another huge decision was made that night which was equally historic. The now infamous Proposition 8 was passed in California that by the power of popular vote removed the rights of gay couples to get married in the state. Four years ago the opposition to same-sex marriage was much stronger than it is today, but still no one saw the so-called liberal bastion state of California as a place where this could happen, which is partially why it did. Yet the major reason was not positive apathy on the part of the voters, but an unprecedented financial and social push by the Mormon Church to push their religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

8: The Mormon Proposition movie poster

8: The Mormon Proposition follows the lead up to and the immediate aftermath of the passage of Prop 8. As with most political campaigns, one of the most important facets in making your decision on where you stand is to follow the money trail back to the supporters. The financial green mile for Prop 8 led back to the very doorstep of the Mormon religion, the vaulted and ornate doors of the flagship cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The problems with this situation are many, but let’s hit just the biggest ones. First off, one of our most valued and necessary protections is the Freedom of Religion. While many who currently wave this banner above their heads screaming that it is being destroyed, their real problem is the realization that it also protects people from religion. That same set of words that protects them from being discriminated against also protects everyone else from being forced to believe in the same religion as they do, or any religion at all. An overwhelming amount of the arguments against same-sex marriage inevitably end up with the defense, “It isn’t what God intended”, which quickly falls apart if someone believes in a different God (or none at all).

Then comes the fact that any church does not have the right to rally their forces and turn themselves into a political party since that inherently crosses the line between the separation of church and state. Churches don’t make laws, the state and the federal government do and they are meant to be separate for a very good reason (as laid out by the Founders). Now anyone with an eye on the realm of politics knows this line has been badly blurred and in some cases is patently impossible to enforce, but in this instance the Mormon Church crossed over farther than most would even dare.

They funneled millions upon millions directly from parishioners in Utah down into California because they felt if they could stop same-sex marriage from staying legal there, it would fall across the country. They shipped volunteers in droves into the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco to tell everyone there how they should be living their lives and what restrictions they should levy on their neighbors.

The proponents of same-sex marriage were caught woefully unprepared for the financial and social onslaught led by the Mormon Church and because of that they lost the fight against Prop 8 by a 4% margin.  

This movie documents all the steps the Mormon Church took to pull together the campaign cash as well as the intricate and elaborate web they needed to weave in order to not be directly connected to the effort. In the end, they did win the Prop 8 battle, yet it will likely be heard in front of the Supreme Court this session and could in fact be overturned, not only opening the door back up in California, but setting the stage for a federal statute recognizing same-sex marriage in all fifty states. What the Mormon Church lost in terms of respect from the public (and even members of their own congregations) I believe will far outweigh any perceived damage gay marriage will bring when the day finally comes for equality across the nation.

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About Luke Goldstein

A writer, movie junkie and political nerd. Basically anything that tells a good story is enthralling to me.
  • Peter Marlow

    Traditional marriage is not discriminatory. In fact, it brings opposites together. It helps integrate men and women. And it doesn’t take away anyone’s civil rights. Couples don’t have rights by our constitution. Individuals do. And laws protecting traditional marriage treat every individual the same, with gays and straights facing the same limitations on marriage. These laws don’t say homosexuals can’t marry. They don’t prohibit anyone from marriage. No man, straight or gay, can marry another man. But any man, straight or gay, can marry a woman. What man or woman then is being treated unfairly?

    A man may want to marry another man, but that is another issue totally unrelated to civil rights, equality or discrimination. A man may also want to marry several women or a close family member. We are not obligated as a society to give everyone anything they want. No such right to anything a person wants is enumerated by our U.S. Constitution.

    Society, by the voice of the majority, has consistently indicated that same-sex marriage is unacceptable. Who can say that society is wrong, rather than same-sex marriage? Society finds it morally unacceptable to allow people to torture animals. So we create laws to protect animals. Society similarly finds it morally unacceptable to define marriage as anything other than the union of one man and one woman. So we create laws to protect marriage.

    Same sex partners are free to call their relationships “marriage” among themselves and treat it as such, for example, with vows of monogamy and wonderful celebrations. Their supportive family and friends could also call it “marriage.” They can be with the one they love. Why do they need to make this such an issue? If they want the special tax benefits and other such privileges married couples enjoy, why not just ask for those? I would be supportive. But, they should also respect my right to not have to call such relationships “marriage.”

    So, why is it that proponents of same-sex marriage seek to force their redefinition of marriage on the rest of us? Unfortunately, it is because they hate those who feel that homosexual behavior and marriage are wrong. A law redefining marriage would give them a club with which they could shut up those with moral objections. With such a law, they could flood our culture with allusions to the “normalcy” of same-sex relationships, to try to drown out those supporting the traditional definition of marriage. They want the power of the state behind them as they seek to marginalize and punish anyone with a differing opinion. We see it happening already.

  • harrystamper727

    The LDS Church is not a political party. The LDS Church does cross “separation of church and state” by asking it’s members to pass Prop 8. The Church only speaks up when they consider it a great moral issue. What else is a church good for if it can’t speak regarding a standard of morals. Prop 8 did not prohibit anything, it defined marriage where no definition existed. Prop 8 inserted into the Constitution that marriage is between a man and woman. It did not overturn domestic partnership, which in California grants gay couples all the rights of marriage and has so since 2003.

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    Peter,

    Gay rights supporters, of which I am happy to say I am, do not want to punish people for their beliefs, we just want people who obviously don’t believe the same way to be treated equally.

    A gay couple being married in every sense of the word (both in language and in federal benefits) does absolutely nothing to denigrate the marriage of a straight couple. The only difference is now they get the same rights, an equal set of laws and statutes that protects them, including everything from their possessions to the ability to see each other in the hospital before they die.

    They are not asking for your marriage to get worse, only for theirs to get better.

    In response to “traditional marriage”, the term is completely overused and over-inflated. The definition of marriage has consistently and continually changed with the society. I agree that the norm has been for a long time one man and one woman, but not so long ago there was one man and multiple women (and in some places that is still acceptable). There were also laws blocking people of different races getting married because to do so wasn’t “traditional”. In many parts of the world there are still arranged marriages where the two people involved have absolutely no say in the matter, but to them that is “traditional”. The term “traditional” does not equal “right”, it only equals “right now”.

    When you say you see it happening already, where you are correct is in the sense of the social movement for gay marriage rights. The movement of society in favor of it in the last ten years has been quicker than any other national issue in history. If your defense of one man and one woman is based on majority opinion, how will you feel when the majority no longer agrees with you? Are you going to accept it then?

    Also, inherent in your comments when you talk about this not being a civil right, is you believe that gay people are just choosing to want to marry someone of the same sex out of some sexual need. This shows a profound misunderstanding of what it means to be gay. They don’t choose to be gay, they don’t wake up one day and suddenly feel gay, it is how they are born and who they were meant to be. With that fact in mind, and that is indeed a fact, gay people are deserving of the same rights and happiness that we as straight people receive.

    All the fears and scary nightmare scenarios that were shouted from the rooftops only a handful of years ago when gay marriage was first being allowed in individual states, none of that has come true. Six states already allow it and in at least three where it is being challenged in two weeks, the polling shows marriage equality will win. The tide is indeed changing, but towards equal rights, not away from it.

    Just so you know, while I may disagree with your stance, I don’t at all begrudge your right to have it. You just can’t force other people to live by it.

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    harrystamper727,

    Actually in CA the rights are not full for gay couples even under domestic partnerships. Plus, it still does not solve what happens when a couple gets married here and them moves to another state. Suddenly they aren’t married anymore?

    You’re correct, Prop 8 created definition where there wasn’t one before, but that definition was only how people wanted it at that moment. What happens when the majority changes their mind?

    Also, yes the church is allowed to speak out on moral issues, but they are not allowed to organize and act like a political entity as they did in the Prop 8 case. Once they did, the very least of the repercussions should have the complete dissolution of their tax exempt status.

  • RPB

    Quote: “any church does not have the right to rally their forces and turn themselves into a political party … Churches don’t make laws, the state and the federal government do”

    Ok, I fully support gay marriage and I disagree with what the mormon church did, but they absolutely have the right to marshall their forces and turn themselves into a political party. They should probably lose their tax-exempt status, but I digress. Like you said, churches don’t make laws, but neither do political parties, legislators do. Legislators, who may or may not belong to a political party or a church, or a gun club, or whatever, are elected by the people.

    The rest of your article was good, a bit melodramatic and inflammatory, but good. Your closing argument that the mormon church has cost itself significant legitimacy in this debacle is spot on; it will haunt them for the next 20+ years.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The OPPONENTS of Prop 8 raised more mony for advertising than the supporters did. The pro 8 donations came from individuals, not tge Mormon church. This is what is called Democra.cy

  • fred e

    Peter Marlow; You are totally accurate and Luke Goldstein must not be aware of the natural laws that control manking both male and female on this natural planet. There are natural laws that control us against our will. It is natural for man and woman to reproduce something that the unnatural union of male to male or female to female can not. I have a family member who in his dying days told me that he was so wrong in chosing the course he had taken that being same sex relations and did so wish he had taken the natural course which would have blessed him with posterity. If one was to jump from a 100 story building they would naturally die cutting short their natural life. I have seen the misery of so many who have chosen the unnatural same sex course and ended up dying because of the drugs and booze etc which is just as unnatural. I have empathy for those who feel they have been given the wrong body at birth but do believe that it is unnatural for a hetrosexual or a homosexual to be envolved in sexual relations is unnatural without marriage and sooner or later one who chooses the unnatural course will ultimately have to suffer the natural law that applies.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Marlow isn’t totally accurate and presents similar to arguments as those who opposed interracial marriage. I only hope he’s around long enough to see his opinion to become the minority

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    Fred E,

    Marriage is not solely defined by the ability to create children. Once again, while the need to keep the human race going is indeed important, allowing gay people to have legally recognized marriages is going to do absolutely nothing to stop the continuing growth of the species. What about women who are infertile or men who are sterile, do they somehow matter less? Should they not be granted the same legal rights through marriage?

    Also, where is your proof about being gay leading to drug use and alcoholism? There is no direct link that has ever been proven, except maybe in those cases where the person in question turns to substance abuse to numb the pain of being exempted from society, the workplace and sometimes their own family, only for the fact that they are gay and want to be treated equally. This would be the same relevance in saying “being gay leads to teen homelessness”. It’s not the fact they are gay that makes them runaway from home, it’s the lack of acceptance from their families and society as a whole.

  • D M

    First I might say that any California which I am one allowing outside people from other states govern the outcome of their vote is not right. You don’t here much complaining about that for now but maybe if the gay community ruffles enough feathers from gay communities outside of CA we will see the ugly head of indignant rise in CA. Religious people choose homosexuality which is just one of many sins and concentrate their efforts and go on the attack. These very same people were not attacking Arnold when news of his infidelity came out. Straight people have been taught to think of homosexuality in disdain and fear. It is the prejudice your mother and father handed down. Marriage in its form came into existence to keep couples legally, financially and morally together. It is some god given right to straight people.
    Again we see religion entering the hallways of the justice system.
    The arguments handed out by Prop 8 supporters included that if gays were allowed to marry our children would in someway be affected in a negative way. There are thousands of gays married legally in the State of CA and to date, I have not read of one incident where the children have been affected. Laws should not be based on moral, religious beliefs. Simply all men (women) are created equal with equal rights. So either let gays marry or give up marriage as recognized by the state.

  • Phillip C. Smith

    The issue is not one fundamentally of prejudice or discrimination but is rather one of cultural values. Are we to value traditional marriage or open to all alternatives? The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment grants to all equal rights. If this clause is applied to marriage, which by the way has never been stipulated in the constitution itself, then heterosexuals of all stripes, homosexuals, and variants such as pedophiles, polygamists, sexual sadists, the incestuous, etc. all can claim that they have the right to marry.

    As a social scientist it is clear that “valid” scientific research affirms the distinct superiority of traditional marriage of one man and one woman as the most effective venue for the raising of children. This along with the fact that, in order to survive, societies must reproduce, must bring children into the world, and give them the best possible preparation for life.

    Thus, when we approach the issue, let us put the children first, and give them the best environment for proper development. Traditional marriage, and extensions of these unions to those of all adult ages, thus deserve a special status.

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    Phillip,

    I believe as we see more and more states (and possibly the country as a whole) move more towards legalizing same-sex marriages it will begin to bring more evidence against this idea that children are somehow harmed by being raised in a loving family home with parents who happen to be of the same gender. The fact remains that at this point the evidence supposedly against it mainly exists because we have yet to have a full generation of children raised in households where this is legal.

    This argument also sub-textually devalues all those single mothers and single fathers who are raising their children and doing a damn good job at it. While having a dual-parent home is beneficial, it doesn’t make a single parent version an absolute negative.

    Where children benefit the most is in a home where they are loved and wanted. That is the key to a healthy childhood, not what gender and sexual preference their parents are.

    Also, I would like to try and understand why so many anti-gay marriage arguments always descend into pedophiles, polygamy other forms of illegal behavior. It shouldn’t need to be explained, but pedophilia, incest, bestiality and all the other horrors supposedly waiting right behind the door of marriage equality are all completely against the law and will remain so. The idea that granting gay couples the same rights and benefits as straight couples will somehow allow a man to rape a child or a woman to marry her son is foolish and nothing more than a fear tactic.

  • LindaSDF

    Raymond Takashi Swenson is absolutely right. This whole thing is sour grapes on the part of those opposed to prop 8.
    Yes, they raised $3-6mil MORE than those for prop 8. What happened to that money? Why didn’t they have a better counter attack?
    The Catholic church donated a good chunk of money to pass prop 8.
    Also, Barak Obama is indirectly responsible, too. Because a black man was running for POTUS, a lot more blacks and hispanics came out to vote, and 70% of those voted FOR prop 8.
    So, to vilify the Mormons for this is really not fair. It isn’t we who did it, the voters of California did.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “…why so many anti-gay marriage arguments always descend into pedophiles, polygamy other forms of illegal behavior.”

    Because they have no good argument, even if they are a social scientist from Stanford, a distinction that impresses no one.

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    LindaSDF,

    First off, I’m not vilifying every Mormon or the entire religion, just those at the top who run the LDS and control the money. You are correct the Catholics were involved as well, but they only got into the fight after the Mormon Church set the stage. In fact, the LDS Church brought them in solely because they knew if they were outed as the sole and major opponent to Prop 8, they would be marginalized, but with a coalition of other religious institutions in front of them, they could hide behind the wall of non-profits and PACs created only to fight this one law.

    Yes, there were a large amount of minorites who voted for Prop 8, but they did so under the constant false advertising and lies paid for by the National Organization for Marriage and the FRC (NOM was created by the LDS in order to shield them from direct connection to the attacks). I could agree that Obama could have come out against Prop 8 and that might have been enough to swing that 4% difference, but he didn’t. Yet now he is vocally supporting those propositions in states throughout the country, so at least he is doing what he can to remedy his previous mistake.

  • http://www.lunch.com/JSMaresca-Reviews-1-1.html Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    What is needed is a test case or cases in the United States Supreme Court coming from Ca. residents.
    The issue would have to be framed correctly so that the justices could make a decision to grant Certiorari.
    The religious aspects are quite clear. The 10 Commandments do not ban gay marriages in any way. Read
    them. They are quite clear.