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 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.