Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Heritage Foundation Report Entitled "The Price Of Prop 8" Discloses Scope Of Retaliation Against Mormons And Others Who Supported Proposition 8

Although the furor over California Proposition 8 has long since died down during the past year, there are those who continue to analyze its effects. On November 2nd, 2009, nearly one year after Californians passed Proposition 8, the Deseret News reports on the Heritage Foundation's analysis of the targeted backlash directed against Mormons and other supporters of Proposition 8 during and immediately after that campaign. Story also picked up by KSL Channel 5, the Catholic News Agency, and was also previously reported by the LDS Newsroom blog on October 23rd without editorial comment.

The report, entitled "The Price of Prop 8" (an abbreviated executive summary is available HERE), was published on October 22nd and documents how supporters of Proposition 8 in California have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, at least one death threat, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry. It shows how arguments for same-sex marriage are based fundamentally on the idea that limiting marriage to the union of husband and wife is a form of bigotry, irrational prejudice, and even hatred against homosexual persons. As this ideology seeps into the culture more generally, individuals and institutions that support marriage as the union of husband and wife risk paying a price for that belief in many legal, social, economic, and cultural contexts.

A section entitled "Mormons in the Crosshairs" describes the price that Mormons paid for the support of Proposition 8. The highlighted numbers are direct links back to the report's footnotes:

"Mormons in the Crosshairs" [56]

Mormons were particularly and systematically targeted for supporting Prop 8. One leading gay-rights activist in West Hollywood said, "The main finger we are pointing is at the Mormon church'"[57] Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, echoed this sentiment on the Dr. Phil show when, in response to a question from a Mormon audience member asking why his church was being targeted, he reportedly declared, "We are going to go after your church every day for the next two years unless and until Prop 8 is overturned."[58] At least one of the Web sites targeting Prop 8 donors focuses specifically on Mormons.[59] And one anti-Prop-8 activist has filed a complaint asking California officials to investigate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its support for the marriage amendment.[60]

The "Home Invasion" television ad, in particular, sought to exploit anti-Mormon bigotry for political gain. The ad depicts two Mormon missionaries invading the home of a lesbian couple, ransacking their belongings, and tearing up their marriage license. "Hi, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," says one of the Mormon missionaries. "We're here to take away your rights," says the other. The ad concludes with script and a voiceover stating, "Say NO to a Church taking over your government. Vote NO on Proposition 8."[61] This manifestation of undisguised religious bigotry undoubtedly caused great concern to many people. The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, lamented that same-sex marriage activists had failed to air more "hard-hitting" ads like it.[62]

After Prop 8 passed, crowds of same-sex marriage activists congregated for protests at Mormon houses of worship throughout the nation.[63] One video shows same-sex marriage activists massed outside the Mormon temple in New York City crying "fascist church" repeatedly.[64] Another video appears to show angry activists rattling the gates of the temple in Los Angeles and chanting "shame on you."[65] Images from various protests show signs like "Mormon Scum,"[66] "Get your filthy church off me,"[67] and "Keep your hate in Salt Lake."[68]

Anti-Mormon malice reached a new level when someone mailed packages containing suspicious white powder to Mormon temples in California and Utah.[69] At least one of those incidents triggered a domestic terrorism investigation by the FBI.[70] Meanwhile, in Colorado, perpetrators placed a Book of Mormon on the steps of a Mormon church and lit it on fire.[71] Police reportedly investigated the incident as a "bias-motivated arson" related to the church's position on Prop 8.[72]

But non-Mormons were targeted as well. Here are examples of some of the retaliation directed against a variety of supporters of Prop 8:

-- An elderly couple who put a Yes on 8 sign in their yard had a block thrown through their window.
-- A senior citizen who placed a pro-Prop-8 bumper sticker on her car had her car's rear window smashed in.
-- One man who placed signs in his yard and stickers on his cars and motorbike reported that someone egged and floured his home three times and egged, floured, and honeyed his car twice. Someone also pushed over the man's motorbike and scraped the bumper stickers off the back glass windows of his cars.
-- Two women painted an arrow and the words "Bigots live here" on the window of an SUV and parked the vehicle in front of a household that had supported Prop 8.
-- An individual who supported Prop 8 found himself the subject of a flyer distributed in his town. The flyer included a photo of him, labeled him a "Bigot," and stated his name, the amount of his donation to Prop 8, and his association with a particular Catholic Church.
-- Because blacks supported Prop 8 more than other races, one black man reported he was called a particular racial slur twice and said the anti-Prop-8 protest he attended was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks.
-- In Fresno, the town mayor received a death threat for supporting Prop 8. The threat stated, "Hey Bubba, you really acted like a real idiot at the Yes of [sic] Prop 8 Rally this past weekend. Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter.

Other acts of retaliation weren't necessarily terroristic, but constituted targeting nonetheless. Same-sex marriage activists also targeted the places where Prop 8 supporters work. Businesses and other institutions that employ individuals who personally donated to Prop 8 were threatened with and in some cases subjected to picketing, protests, and damaging boycotts. Some Prop 8 donors resigned from their jobs or took a leave of absence to protect their employers and colleagues. Most notably, Fred Karger, executive director of Californians Against Hate, tracked donor information on Prop 8 supporters and publicized the names of significant donors, exposing them to retaliation, although Karger tried to cover his ass with the disclaimer "Any acts of retribution — toward either side — are deplorable and should not be tolerated."

There was also targeted retaliation in Utah. In February 2009, the Salt Lake City-based Ken Garff automotive dealership empire was targeted with a boycott in retaliation for $100,000 donated by the CEO's wife to the Prop 8 campaign. And on November 7th, 2008, an estimated 3,500 anti-Mormon protestors rallied at Temple Square.

In contrast, there were no known incidents of targeting of anti-Prop 8 partisans by Prop 8 supporters. So it is obvious where the real hate and bigotry originated. The Heritage Foundation report was authored by Thomas M. Messner, who is a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

No comments: