Monday, October 27, 2008

Prop8 2nd most expensive campaign in U.S., Protests at Oakland Temple

Excerpts from an SFGate article by Matthai Kuruvila entitled "Mormons face flak for backing Prop. 8"

(10-26) 14:40 PDT OAKLAND -- Christine Alonso's body trembled and her lips quivered as she walked up and spoke to a few of the 50 protesters in front of the Mormon Temple in Oakland on Sunday.

"Don't think they're all against you," said Alonso, 27, explaining that she was Mormon and that despite her religious leaders' support of a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, she was actively opposed.

As she walked away, she said, "I'm afraid that a gay or lesbian friend might hear that I'm Mormon and think that I want to tear their marriage apart."

Alonso's solitary act came as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members are increasingly under fire for their support of Proposition 8, which would take away the right of gays and lesbians to marry. In addition to increased protests, online campaigns seek to identify and embarrass Mormons who support the ballot measure.

The church largely stays out of politics. But in this case, the Salt Lake City-based church has sent letters, held video conferences and in church meetings asked for volunteers to support the campaign. In response, some church members have poured in their savings and undertaken what may be an unprecedented grassroots mobilization for the effort.

Prop. 8 is on pace to be the costliest race in the nation, except for the billion-dollar presidential election. The Yes on 8 campaign estimates that up to 40 percent of its donations come from Mormons. Some others estimate that Mormons account for over 70 percent of donations from individuals.

All of California's Catholic bishops have all come out in favor of the measure. So have many evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews. Yet it is Mormons, who account for 2 percent of the state population, who are catching the most heat.

"We seem to be the symbol of the Yes on 8 campaign," said Rand King, 60, a Walnut Creek resident who is Mormon and who was watching Sunday's protest from inside the temple's gates.

Prop. 8 opponents are increasingly narrowing their focus on Mormons, harnessing technology and open-records laws in their efforts. One Web site run by a Prop. 8 opponent,, identifies the name and hometown of every Mormon donor. On the Daily Kos, the nation's most popular liberal blog, there is a campaign to use that information to look into the lives of Mormons who financially support Prop. 8.

Atkins said his goal was to "embarrass the opposition by pointing out and publicizing any contributors they may have." He said focusing on Mormons made sense. "If one religious group is putting close to the majority of the money and the effort into passing this proposition, it is fair to single them out."

Michele Sundstrom .. and her husband gave $30,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign and put a sign on their home. But in response, two women parked an SUV in front of their home, with the words "Bigots live here" painted on the windshield.

Sundstrom believes such responses must come from deep places of pain - and that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, just not the word marriage. Any animosity toward gays or lesbians is wrong, she said.

"There must be such deep, deep, deep hurt; otherwise there couldn't be so much opposition," she said. "They've lived with this. I guess we're getting a taste of where they live."

Mormon Issues / Mormon Chronicles

1 comment:

MainTour said...

This does not surprise me. What surprises me is that there are not more of these rallies.

At our Yes on 8 Ward Street rallies - the support from the community has been overwelming positive. Counter-protesters try to show up but so far we have them greatly outnumbered.