Update: I’ve tweaked the headline after some further reflection. Blame of any single group isn’t a great idea. I’ll leave the rest of the post intact because it represents my own frustration in how to handle religion-based arguments in public policy debates. I also recognize that religion-based arguments often support my own positions, so it’s not a simple either or. The primary point of this post was to point out the extremely well-financed and organized efforts on behalf of the Yes team by the Mormon church. The secondary point was to vent about how people use religion to deny equal rights. Ok, back to the post and your discussion!

From the New York Times. Check this part out first.


As proponents of same-sex marriage across the country planned protests on Saturday against the ban, interviews with the main forces behind the ballot measure showed how close its backers believe it came to defeat — and the extraordinary role Mormons played in helping to pass it with money, institutional support and dedicated volunteers.

“We’ve spoken out on other issues, we’ve spoken out on abortion, we’ve spoken out on those other kinds of things,” said Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormons are formally called, in Salt Lake City. “But we don’t get involved to the degree we did on this.”

The California measure, Proposition 8, was to many Mormons a kind of firewall to be held at all costs.

“California is a huge state, often seen as a bellwether — this was seen as a very, very important test,” Mr. Otterson said.

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.

Then check out this


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.



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.


It’s worth reading the entire article, but I’ll just comment here on a couple things.

First, black folks as a block did not organize to systematically revoke human rights the way religious, and especially Mormon people did. Black folks didn’t develop talking points and canvass neighborhoods and contribute half the funds to the Yes On 8 war chest. So everyone who’s still peddling that false and divisive line needs to stop in light of this information.

Second, this makes me sick.

All of these “religious” groups are really just anti-human rights hate groups. This is the problem with mixing religion and public policy. People who believe in magic underwear and virgin birth have the power to influence the recognition of equal rights under the law. I’m not questioning your beliefs, but I am questioning the sway your peculiar beliefs have on the recognition of civil rights in our democratic society.

On the one hand, I’m furious at how professional an operation the hate groups (aka churches) ran. On the other hand, I have a perverse sense of respect for the strategy. It worked, and this is a powerful reminder that no policy nor right, no matter how sensible or obvious, can be taken for granted.

I find it insulting that I would be forced to argue with people over the law because they believe in a mythological texts and interpretations. However, that is the world in which we live, where science or law must battle with fear and hate disguised as morality and marketed as “faith.”

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