Pam Spaulding

How the Well-Oiled Mormon Machine Helped Pass Prop 8

Filed By Pam Spaulding | November 17, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: gay marriage, gay rights, LDS, marriage equality, Mormon, National Day of Protest, Prop 8, same-sex marriage

In the end, Protect Marriage estimates, as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons.

That was the statement confirming the extent of the financial involvement of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pass Prop 8. That is mind-blowing.

The extent to which this church felt the need to involve itself, not only with cash from its faithful, but by marshaling an army of Mormon volunteers to participate in phone banking, canvassing and disseminating propaganda and lies to remove a civil right from a group of citizens in California is beyond disturbing.

In the NYT article, "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage," the details emerge about the win-at-all-costs strategy that seems less about pure belief and faith than political activism and bullying.

First approached by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco a few weeks after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May, the Mormons were the last major religious group to join the campaign, and the final spice in an unusual stew that included Catholics, evangelical Christians, conservative black and Latino pastors, and myriad smaller ethnic groups with strong religious ties.

And the bottom line is that the full-frontal assault by Yes on 8 came down to the fact that the Mormons were willing to go door to door in a systematic manner-- to make the difference. See how they did it below the fold.

One has to marvel at the precision and drive.

Jeff Flint, another strategist with Protect Marriage, estimated that Mormons made up 80 percent to 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts.

The canvass work could be exacting and highly detailed. Many Mormon wards in California, not unlike Roman Catholic parishes, were assigned two ZIP codes to cover. Volunteers in one ward, according to training documents written by a Protect Marriage volunteer, obtained by people opposed to Proposition 8 and shown to The New York Times, had tasks ranging from "walkers," assigned to knock on doors; to "sellers," who would work with undecided voters later on; and to "closers," who would get people to the polls on Election Day.

Suggested talking points were equally precise. If initial contact indicated a prospective voter believed God created marriage, the church volunteers were instructed to emphasize that Proposition 8 would restore the definition of marriage God intended.

But if a voter indicated human beings created marriage, Script B would roll instead, emphasizing that Proposition 8 was about marriage, not about attacking gay people, and about restoring into law an earlier ban struck down by the State Supreme Court in May.

"It is not our goal in this campaign to attack the homosexual lifestyle or to convince gays and lesbians that their behavior is wrong -- the less we refer to homosexuality, the better," one of the ward training documents said. "We are pro-marriage, not anti-gay."

..."No work will take place at the church, including no meeting there to hand out precinct walking assignments so as to not even give the appearance of politicking at the church," one of the documents said.

The messaging and methods of these defilers of civil rights was spot on. I urge you to read the rest of this article to see the full extent of this holy war on civil rights. The Mormon-bolstered Yes on 8 campaign simply outgamed No on 8.

  • In response to a huge anti-8 fundraiser at billionaire Ron Burkle's house in Beverly Hills, an e-blast to 92K went out to save marriage from "cardiac arrest."

  • There was a concerted effort not to associate with fringe elements that wanted domestic partnerships rolled back or to protest when same-sex marriages began in June.

  • The flat-out lie campaign was prepared specifically to target voters on the fence, with ads claiming marriage equality would result in churches losing tax exempt status, or lawsuits slapped on people for their personal beliefs, and, of course, that positive views of same-sex marriage will be forced upon children.

The justification for this devastating blow to equality is still not seen as discrimination by these people; in fact, Frank Schubert of Protect Marriage is gloating:

For his part, Mr. Schubert said he is neither anti-gay -- his sister is a lesbian -- nor happy that some same-sex couples' marriages are now in question. But, he said, he has no regrets about his campaign.

"They had a lot going for them," Mr. Schubert said of his opponents. "And they couldn't get it done."

He's right about that -- our community couldn't get it done -- what do we plan to do about it -- besides finger pointing and marches? Don't get me wrong -- these Join the Impact rallies are essential to show our solidarity on the matter of equality to the nation, but that energy and drive then has to be harnessed effectively or we will continue to lose. The factions of hate are now ready to take their well-oiled machine and work it on the rest of the country. Are we prepared to beat the LDS ground game?

Hat tip, Rex.

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I think this is by far the most disappointing thing about Prop 8, though I'll hold off on serious finger-pointing until a full accounting of the Anti campaign comes through. It really does look terrible though. From the top to the bottom, Yes was a very thorough and well designed organizational effort. This despite the fact that they appear not to have had access to the sorts of voter files available to the RNC and DNC.

Er...more like "most disappointing aspect" of the Prop 8 campaigning. The worst part is pretty obvious.

Well I suck at commenting cogently. That much is clear.

Pam, for as much as we might want to finger point right now, I think the bigger mission here is to analyze the campaign strategies of the Yes on 8 movement to see which tactics worked for them and why. The reproductive rights movement has had to take a step back and analyze what has worked for the anti-choice movement. It's tough work. But I think the one thing we can all agree on here is that the right wing is extremely organized and they know how to get out the vote. I think we could take a page from their book.

Mormons are now a political organization out to take away our rights as married couples. They can no longer hide behind "faith". The Mormon church is based on superstition and ignorance.

That also means going after any megachurch that put money in thi, the TVC, the Hi Impact Leadership Coalition..

You get the drift.