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The Mormon factor in marriage fight

by Dan Aiello
Thursday Feb 5, 2009

The Mormon factor in marriage fight

by Dan Aiello

Ever since Proposition 8 passed last November, leaders involved with the No on 8 campaign have insisted they were unaware of the role of the Mormon Church in trying to eliminate same-sex marriage rights. No on 8 officials were also caught unaware until after campaign finance reports released last October showed that proponents of Prop 8 received a windfall of contributions from members of the Mormon Church.

But documents unearthed by the Bay Area Reporter show that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a consistent strategy to fight same-sex marriage that dates back more than two decades.

A not-so-secret history

Along with the 1997 LDS internal memo describing the Mormon's political same-sex marriage strategy for California and Hawaii, reported on by the B.A.R. late last year, the B.A.R. has discovered two 11-year-old documents authored by Utah State University professor Richley Crapo, Ph.D., which describe the genesis of the church's HLM (defined by Crapo as "Homosexual Lesbian Marriage") strategy.

While the Mormon leadership had no difficulty passing the nation's first state defense of marriage act in Utah in 1995, they found their earlier efforts in Hawaii more difficult, according to Crapo's document, "Chronology of Mormon/LDS Involvement In Same-Sex Marriage Politics."

Crapo's timeline begins in 1988 when the LDS, under then-President Gordon B. Hinckley, hired the marketing firm Hill and Knowlton to "monitor and promote the church's stance on gay issues in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress."

Crapo, who is straight and Mormon, explained that when three same-sex couples sued the state of Hawaii for the right to marry in December 1990, in a case known as Baehr v. Miike, the Mormons already had Hill and Knowlton on payroll for two years helping to develop the HLM strategy.

On May 5, 1993, the same day that the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of the same-sex couples' right to marry, LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer gave an address at a meeting of the All-Church Coordinating Council that called homosexuality one of the three major social problems that represent a danger to members, according to Crapo. Packer said the other two perceived "dangers" to the Mormon Church were "feminism and intellectuals," according to Will Carlson, Equality Utah's chief lobbyist.

Following the ruling, Hawaii's legislature became embroiled in competing measures, and the LDS leadership expanded the role of Hill and Knowlton, a firm known for legislative lobbying and consulting, before eventually changing to another firm, Edelman Worldwide, for its external public relations work.

Crapo also described how the LDS first reached out to Catholics at the genesis of its HLM strategy in Hawaii, inviting then-Honolulu Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo to vacation with Hinckley at the palatial LDS estate on the island. This was the beginning of a dialogue that eventually recruited the U.S. Catholic bishops to the LDS cause, according to Crapo, whose chronology calls into question the recent assertion by San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer that he invited the Mormons to become involved in the Yes on 8 fight.

In fact, the 1997 LDS memo from Elder Loren C. Dunn to M. Russell Ballard noted the church, under direction of LDS elder and political pollster Richard Wirthlin, polled California voters and determined that the Mormon Church didn't have the social stature necessary to win an initiative in the Golden State, but the Catholic Church did.

Catholic involvement has increased over the years. One East Coast Catholic university continues to provide facilities to house LDS attorneys who have worked as volunteers on amicus briefs for organizations opposing same-sex marriage, according to one LDS church member, who asked not to be named.

Next: Lots of 'volunteers'


  • , 2009-02-05 23:47:58

    (from - My goodness. I try hard not to equate the Mormon church with individual Mormons, but the more I learn about the church, the less I like it. To say the least. And the less I like it, the harder it is for me to understand how anyone can adhere to its teachings. I wouldn’t actually care, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about it .. or probably even thinking about it .. if they hadn’t (successfully) hijacked the political process to strip a right from my community in California.

  • , 2009-02-06 11:14:53

    To be truly educated on this subject and not just a partisan hatemonger on our side, it would be helpful for critics of the LDS to study the central role of marriage in their religion. It is as central to their entire belief system as transubstantiation is to Catholics and the eucharist to Protestants. Mormons fear that the full faith clause of the Constitution will be forced upon them if nearby states alter the definition of marriage and so fight against it. Rather than simply dumping a lot of hate on the Mormon Church, learning WHY they believe the way they do is of much greater value. That is, if one isn’t just addicted to circling the wagons and pretending anyone who is against one part of the radical’s agenda hates homosexuals. That’s fine as a level of thinking for children, but it is irresponsible and dishonest.

  • , 2009-02-06 13:03:32

    It’s obvious you aren’t "on our side." This article is linked to Topix and you’re obviously straight. This story is detailed and technical and not the least bit inflammatory. Mormons need to be concerned about our rights. We had no problem with them until they began to attack us. If you want to read about dishonesty from a Mormon, go to:

  • , 2009-02-06 13:47:21

    Mormons, the defenders of traditional marriage? Now that’s funny. (from "Mormon Church feels the heat over Proposition 8" By Nicholas Riccardi) "...a raid on a polygamous breakaway sect in Texas last spring was a reminder of the church’s practice of multiple marriages in the 19th century, even though the Mormon Church has long renounced polygamy. "That whole story in Texas was probably much worse for the church’s image than Proposition 8," Monson said. Some have suggested that Mormons might have been eager to cement partnerships with other churches, especially because evangelical voters were particularly distrustful of Romney’s faith. " Mormons scapegoated gays and lesbians to improve their lot with Christian faiths. That’s bigotry and hate.

  • , 2009-02-06 13:48:04

    EVERY church that accepts the Bible as God’s Word accepts the fact that it repeatedly condemns all homosexual acts.

  • , 2009-02-06 13:48:30

    Are you saying the bible is God’s Word? You need to understand the bible. Are you saying the bible supports polygamy? You need to read the bible. Are you saying Mormons are Christians? You need to see the Vatican’s 2001 ruling.

  • , 2009-02-06 13:53:32

    Public opinion is trending toward equality. Hawaii shouldn’t compromise, Californians shouldn’t compromise. We must demand full marriage equality now!

  • , 2009-02-06 14:27:54

    Keep up the hatemongering folks. You can attack the Mormons, and it doesn’t matter much, but you’re showing your true colors and your us vs. them mentality against the vast majority of humanity. Good luck with that.

  • , 2009-02-06 14:34:59

    It’s obvious you aren’t "on our side." This article is linked to Topix and you’re obviously straight. This story is detailed and technical and not the least bit inflammatory. Mormons need to be concerned about our rights. We had no problem with them until they began to attack us. If you want to read about dishonesty from a Mormon, go to:

  • , 2009-02-10 13:25:38

    Interesting, Mormon marriage leader Debi Hartmann now supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, calling civil unions "invidious discrimination." related memo link:

  • , 2009-03-02 17:33:59

    A Utah Couple’s resignation letter to the Mormon Church... "... In our studies, we have found it impossible to ignore certain facts regarding this book, some of which include: impossible population growth, conclusive DNA proof that the "principal ancestors" of the Native American people were of Asian descent, zero archeology, wrong plants and animals, steelmaking, language issue, the eyebrow-raising translation process, etc... For a long time, we believed, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Perhaps we could have continued our walk with the Latter Day Saints had these been the only problems we encountered. Then we had to wrestle with the numerous "first vision" accounts, the Adam/God teachings, polygamy, racism, Joseph’s numerous affairs, magic, occultism, masonry/temple connection, and finally, his dying in a gun battle with the Masonic distress call on his lips and his magic Jupiter talisman still in his pocket. Despite the bleak picture this painted, we still believed. B.H. Roberts’s loss of faith in the Book of Mormon as expressed in his 400 page manuscript "Book of Mormon Difficulties" helped seal the book’s fate for us. Also, the fact that "Mormonism" or "the fullness of the gospel," is not even contained in the Book of Mormon. Doctrinal conflicts with the Bible came later as Joseph became bolder. We now reject all of the church’s non-biblical teachings. We especially reject any dilution of Christ’s’ sacred atonement, such as the offensive doctrine of "blood atonement," as if we could "add to" what the Savior has already done for us. When hanging on the cross, "He declared,’It is finished’(in Greek, literally meaning:’Paid in full...’"

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