October 30, 2009
Mr. Jonathan Wayne
Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices
135 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
Dear Mr. Wayne,
I am writing you concerning misleading and inaccurate statements made by Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, at the Commission’s October meeting pertaining to the disclosure of the organization’s 990 federal tax form. As you are aware, nonprofit organizations such as NOM are required by law to provide a redacted 990 upon request. This requirement is such a basic and widely accepted part of nonprofit management that there is rarely any sort of controversy surrounding the disclosure of 990s. NOM, however, is an exception.
The issue of NOM’s 2008 990 came before the Commission due to testimony by Fred Karger, founder of Califorians Against Hate, and Danielle Truszkovsky, a Florida-based political columnist. Both testified that NOM had refused to provide a copy of the 990. Mr. Brown, in response, categorically rejected the claims of Mr. Karger and Ms. Truszkovsky and testified that NOM had faithfully complied with federal disclosure requirements. However, the facts simply do not support Mr. Brown’s testimony.
NOM, according to Mr. Brown, filed its 2008 990 with the IRS on August 14, 2009 — one day before the August 15 deadline for groups, including NOM, that filed for an automatic extension. Per IRS regulations, the 990 “must be made available from the date it is required to be filed” — in this case, August 15. Yet when Lou Chibbaro, a veteran political reporter for the Washington Blade, interviewed Mr. Brown the following week and requested the 2008 990, Mr. Brown “promised to release to the Blade NOM’s 2007 IRS 990 finance reporting form and said the group would also release its 2008 990 form as soon as it completes its processing.” On August 28, Mr. Chibbaro visited NOM’s DC office and delivered a written request for the 990s. Mr. Brown called him back that day and informed him that his staff was still at work “processing” the form.
However, there is no such thing as a “processing” period beyond the filing deadline during which time an organization can refuse to disclose its 990. Furthermore, Mr. Chibbaro never received the 2008 990, nor was he notified when NOM suddenly posted the 990 on the web in the days leading up to the October Commission meeting.
Ms. Truszkovsky had a similar experience. She visited NOM’s DC office on September 1 and met personally with Mr. Brown. When she requested the 2008 990, she was told that it was not available. Ms. Truszkovsky never received the 990 from NOM and was also not notified when the form was posted online. Additionally, a representative of Californians Against Hate submitted a request via certified letter to NOM’s offices for the 990s, with the same outcome.
The experiences of these three individuals — and most likely others — directly refute Mr. Brown’s testimony. Mr. Brown said in response to Mr. Karger that it “is simply not the case” that “we refuse to disclose our financial records.” In response to Ms. Truszkovsky, he said “in fact, when journalists have asked, we’ve gotten [990s] out to them. At the time that some have requested our 2008 990, it wasn’t filed. So we cannot provide something that has not yet been filed.
“Then, when asked by Commissioner Walter McKee whether NOM’s 990s had been “provided every time it’s been asked for,” Mr. Brown said the following: “Many of these requests, if not all of them, included our 2008 990, and so once we had filed that, we would get all of the documents to them. Could some have been a little later than the 30 day window? Yes, if we did anything like that it would just have to do with the amount of processing.” He continued, “whenever we’ve been asked, we’ve attempted to comply, and mail them out, we’re not trying to hide them, we know our obligations, and we follow them.” Finally, in response to a question from Commissioner André Duchette, Mr. Brown replied that NOM was continuing to “comply if people write us letters before that time in sending them the 990 through the mail.
“But NOM did none of the above in response to multiple requests for the 2008 990. Ms. Truszkovsky and Mr. Chibbaro personally requested the 990 from Mr. Brown, and Mr. Chibbaro and Californians Against Hate requested the 990 in writing. Yet they never received the form, nor did NOM even notify them when the 990 was posted online. This does not appear to be an accident or an isolated instance of carelessness on the part of NOM. Indeed, the evidence clearly points to a concerted effort to conceal the organization’s finances for as long as possible and then to conceal the effort from the Commission.
We do not know what NOM hoped to gain by its actions, but this incident raises serious questions about NOM’s operations and leadership. We would therefore encourage the Commission to review and investigate the veractiy of Mr. Brown’s testimony.
Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way
CC: Commissioner Walter McKee
Commissioner André Duchette
Commissioner Michael Friedman
Commissioner Francis Marsano
Commissioner Edward Youngblood
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2009
Fred Karger 619-592-2008
NOM Heads — Brian Brown (right) Administers a Lie Detector Test to NOM Chairman, the Infamous Maggie Gallagher (left)
NOM Must Report Contributors
AUGUSTA, MAINE – Californians Against Hate applauds the Federal Court and Justice D. Brock Hornby for its decision today upholding the Maine election law, and ruling in favor of truth and transparency.
The Washington, DC based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) challenged the law while it is under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for financial improprieties, reporting violations and money laundering. NOM is the biggest donor by far to Yes on 1, which would ban the recently enacted same-sex marriage law in the Pine Tree state. NOM gave 60% of the $2.6 million raised so far, but wants to keep its contributor’s names secret. Question 1 will be voted on next Tuesday, November 3rd.
NOM Shows Its True Colors
“In over 30 years in politics, I have never seen such a blatant disregard for the law as Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown are doing in Maine,” said Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate. “They are up to their old tricks. They did the same thing in California when their apparent creator, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) became the target of an investigation by that state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The FPPC began an unprecedented investigation of the Salt Lake City based Church (Case #08-735), and the National Organization for Marriage nearly one year ago. NOM sued every top election official in California in order to keep the contributors to last year’s Proposition 8 secret as well.”
Californians Against Hate asked the Maine Ethics Commission to investigate NOM in a formal request sent on August 24, 2009 to investigate the National Organization for Marriage. NOM had failed to disclose the names of any of its contributors as required by state law. Fred Karger and political columnist Danielle Truszkovsky testified in support of an investigation at the commission hearing in Augusta on October 1, 2009. The Commission voted to investigate NOM at that meeting. NOM’s reaction: sue Maine!
Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner represented the Ethics Commission before Justice Hornby stated, “The compelling interest for the public is to know whose spending money to influence their vote. Voters may want to know whether they are being lobbied by people from within or outside Maine.” Gardiner said the lawsuit is the first challenge of the state’s requirement for ballot question committees to register and report contributions.
The state law requires anyone raising or spending more than $5,000 on a ballot question in Maine to disclose anyone who contributed more than $100 for that purpose. All other organizations are complying with the law.
“The statute doesn’t restrict in any way what they can raise or what they can spend. It doesn’t restrict political speech in any way. It’s simply about reporting after the fact how much you spent or raised for the purpose of influencing the vote in Maine,” Gardiner says.
Violations can lead to fines, and, in the most extreme cases, a small amount of jail time.
Concluded Karger, “NOM was well aware of Maine’s longstanding reporting requirements and election law before it went charging up there to put this referendum on the ballot. From day one they tried to hide the source of their funds, and then sue the state when they got caught. They think that they are above the law, and today we saw that is not true.”
From The Salt Lake Tribune:
Harry Reid: A Mormon in the middle
Politics » Some say his liberal stands clash with his LDS faith.
By Thomas Burr
Washington » Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon in his office just off the chamber floor. There’s a second copy handy to give away to someone in need of spiritual guidance.
“I’ve had more than that,” says the Nevada Democrat, pulling the extra edition from his desk drawer. “I have one left.”
The Temple-recommend-carrying Reid is very active in his church, say fellow members in the Washington area. But that may come as a shock to some Mormon critics who contend that the Senate leader’s political stands put him at odds with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The latest round of religiously charged criticism came after Reid told gay rights groups in a private meeting that the LDS Church’s efforts to back the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California was a waste of resources and hurt the faith’s missionary efforts.
Utah Republican Party Chairman Dave Hansen posted a news story on that subject on his Facebook page, prompting several conservatives to challenge Reid’s Mormon credentials.
Conservative activist and Utah blogger Holly Richardson said she found Reid’s comments disconcerting and doesn’t see how Reid’s far left political beliefs can align with the LDS Church.
“I just don’t get how his politics translate to somebody who has LDS beliefs,” Richardson says. “He’s an embarrassment to me as a Mormon.”
Reid, who in 2007 became the highest ranking elected Mormon in the church’s history, says he’s faced this for years. And he’s not offended.
“I think some of the most unChristian-like letters, phone calls, contacts I’ve had were from members of the [LDS] church, saying some of the most mean things that are not in the realm of our church doctrine or certainly Christianity,” Reid said last week during an interview in his office.
Reid converted to Mormonism his senior year in college and attends church just outside the District of Columbia when in Washington or in Boulder City when in Nevada.
He recalls a time when his grandchildren were trick-or-treating at a local LDS ward event and came upon a poster featuring a picture of the Devil and Reid, and asking “Can you tell the difference?”
“I remember it,” Reid says when asked how he deals with the criticism, “but I try not to let people who do not represent the teachings that I have learned interfere with my basic beliefs.”
Religion and politics » Reid isn’t the first and likely not the last political leader to face fire for personal religious beliefs.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the Vatican earlier this year, an anti-abortion Catholic group hand delivered a letter calling for her to be ousted from the faith for her pro-abortion rights stand. A few Catholic bishops said during the 2004 presidential campaign that they would refuse Democratic Sen. John Kerry communion for his position on abortion.
Questions were raised during John F. Kennedy’s bid for the presidency about whether Rome would call the shots because of his Catholic faith and similar questions arose with Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during his White House bid last year.
“Having Mormons criticize Harry Reid, Catholics criticize Nancy Pelosi — George W. Bush got criticism from Methodists — it’s not an uncommon experience at all,” says John Green, senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
“There are disputes within almost every religious community about what it means to be a strong supporter of the faith. What is it to be a good member?” Green continues. And because much of that dispute deals with controversial subjects, it spills over to politics.
“It is a very tough spot that Sen. Reid is in,” Green says. “It ought to be tough enough to represent Nevada [and be majority leader] without the religion angle and the religion angle just makes that much tougher.”
Washington lobbyist William Nixon, who is also the church’s Arlington Stake president, says Reid is in politics’ most precarious position.
“Serving as a majority leader in either party is always difficult for politicians,” says Nixon, a Republican. “You need to be the spear carrier for your party even on issues that are in the extremities and that often is at odds with what’s good politics at home or even how you may worship personally.”
The LDS Church declined comment for this story but pointed to its statement on relationships with government.
It says that elected officials who are LDS make their own decisions “and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated church position.”
And the church has made efforts in the past to dispel the notion that it sides with conservative politics. In 1998, church General Authority Marlin Jensen stressed that good Mormons can also be good Democrats. The late James E. Faust, a Democrat and then a member of the First Presidency, the church’s top governing body, said it was in the church’s best interest to have a two-party system.
Still, Mormon faithful remain overwhelmingly conservative. A survey released in July by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showed that 65 percent of Mormons aligned themselves with the Republican Party or leaned that way, while 22 percent sided with the Democratic Party.
There are 14 members of the LDS Church in Congress. Ten are Republicans and four are Democrats.
But even some of the well-known Republican elected Mormons defend Reid as a faithful church member.
“He has the right to voice his opinions but I would under no circumstances challenge Harry’s credentials as a member of the church,” says Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.
Bennett’s Utah Senate colleague, Orrin Hatch, says it’s not fair for fellow Mormons to disparage Reid as anything but a devout Mormon. Hatch says he didn’t agree with Reid’s statement on the gay marriage ballot question but said he’s entitled to speak it.
“I can personally tell you that Harry is a good member of the LDS faith and he was expressing a personal opinion that his side feels very deeply about,” Hatch says.
Reid says church leaders have never complained about his political statements.
Reid’s calling » Shortly after being elected in 1986, church leaders summoned Reid to their Salt Lake City headquarters.
“It was a pretty short meeting,” Reid says. “They said, here’s your assignment: Be the best member of the church you can be. That was it.”
Even on the most recent issue of gay marriage, Reid says he doesn’t disagree with the church’s position on traditional marriage. The senator says he voted in Nevada for the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
But he says he’s expressed his concern for years to leaders about the church stepping into the debate and that the millions the church invested in the Prop 8 campaign was bad strategy.
Reid said he’s not suggesting the church change its position, just that it not speak out so strongly. “It’s just bad strategy to create so much ill-will in California.”
The Democrat, though, says he understands the backlash he gets over such statements. He notes that most of the church’s lay ecclesiastic leaders are conservative and he’s fine with that.
“I don’t think my faith is a hindrance to what I do and I’m sorry if people feel that I in some way embarrass them,” Reid says, “but I have to frankly say that even on this issue there are a lot of people that say ‘we agree with you.'”
On Sunday, Reid, with his security escort in tow, likely made his home teaching rounds after his ward’s three-hour service. Anyone who questions his Mormon credentials should see that, says Jim Vlach, his home-teaching companion.
“He’s got a tremendous burden with health care [reform] right now, but despite that, he finds time for home teaching,” says Vlach.
8: The Mormon Proposition, a film by Reed Cowan. View at YouTube.
By Fred Karger, Founder, Californians Against Hate
Producer Reed Cowan’s amazing new documentary is ready for its close-up.
This could well be the movie of the year. Take a look at the web site, read all about the movie and see who is behind it. You will be even more impressed.
I received a call from Reed earlier this year. He was coming out to San Francisco to film all the activities around the oral arguments being made before the California Supreme Court in San Francisco in the case to overturn Proposition 8.
Having played a very active role in uncovering the massive involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) in last year’s Prop 8 campaign, Reed asked me to be in his documentary.
I went up to San Francisco on Wednesday, March 4th to be a part of history, and see this filmmaker begin his journey. I met Reed and his partner Greg in front of the Castro Theater at 6:00 pm. That is the spot where the march to City Hall was about to begin on a chilly San Francisco night.
There were thousands and thousands of demonstrators gathering, ready to begin their solemn candlelight vigil to City Hall. We were recreating the famous nighttime march of 30 years ago, right after Harvey Milk was assassinated.
Reed grew up Mormon in Utah, and knows firsthand the inner workings of the Church. He knew that there was an incredible story to tell, and he spent the better part of a year putting every aspect of this documentary together.
All his hard work, and that of so many others who participated in this strong indictment of the Mormon Church and its leaders, will undoubtedly change history.
I have watched this filmmaker every step of the way over the last eight months. I went to Miami for a second interview in April, and this summer, Reed dispatched a film crew to my home for some final questions. He is very thorough.
8: The Mormon Proposition will explain once and for all just how the Mormon Church operates, and how they have led the fight against marriage equality all across the United States since Utah became the first state to ban same-sex marriage in 1995. 29 states have followed Utah’s lead, and the Mormon Church has made sure of that.
The film also goes into great depth about how the Mormon Church has destroyed so many lives and families in its desire to impose its will on others.
Please tell the world about this incredible documentary. It is a film for all to see.
Thank you Reed Cowan and everyone else who gave up so much and worked so hard to make Reed’s dream a reality.
Uncovering secrets in Maine
Anti-gay group rolls out scare tactics as referendum nears
By Danielle Truszkovsky
ON OCT. 1, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices met to determine if a complaint filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate against the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) would be investigated. In his complaint, Karger claimed that NOM violated campaign reporting requirements and that the group was actively participating in money laundering. Despite the evidence he submitted, which included NOM emails pertaining to fundraising specifically for Maine while alluding to donor anonymity, the commission’s staff recommended that no investigation be conducted due to lack of supporting evidence.
NOM had failed to disclose even its required IRS 990 filings to the public so it is not surprising that the evidence Karger possessed was limited. In my last Blade column published Sept. 18 entitled, “Follow the money: Why the federal gov’t must investigate NOM’s financial practices,” I detailed how the group has habitually hidden and revised its records. Uncovering NOM’s secrets has been the focus of my work for many months and as the title of my last column implies, I do believe an investigation into the group is warranted.
So I flew to Maine specifically to attend this hearing but due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed the first portion of the proceedings. I arrived just in time to hear the testimony of NOM Executive Director, Brian Brown, and a member of his legal team, Barry Bostrom.
Both Bostrom and Brown lavished praise on the staff and the Commission for their professionalism. They insinuated that the entire proceeding was a waste of everyone’s time and it was obvious that Brown had thought he had already won. At that point, most of us in the audience believed NOM had won as well — it is rare that a Commission overrules a staff recommendation.
Then Brown made an egregious error, stating: “Mr. Karger refers to the fact that we refused to disclose our financial records … this is simply not the case. We have given our 990s to journalists. They are now publicly available — they’re available on our web site and we did that because we got so many calls and people showing up at the office asking for them that it became quite difficult to work.”
Apparently, Brown had no idea I had entered the room. If he had, perhaps he would have reconsidered that statement because I am one of only two journalists who showed up at NOM’s office requesting 990s — I know this because Brown told me so in person when I interviewed him on Sept. 1. (The other was the Blade’s Lou Chibbaro Jr.)
IRS regulations require charities to release the documents within 24 hours of an in-person request. Brown did not release the documents to me — ever. And his reference to the documents “now [being] publicly available” was laughable because popular blogger ChinoBlanco revealed that NOM had secretly released the 990s on the web within days of the Maine hearing, presumably to feign compliance in front of the Commission.
Brown went on to attack Karger’s efforts and made false claims against the gay civil rights movement in general. Although it was never my intention to speak at this hearing, by the time Brown was finished, I simply couldn’t remain silent and allow his false statements to go uncontested.
ALTHOUGH THE COMMISSION does not allow public questioning of witnesses, they did grant me a few moments to speak. Here’s what I said:
“My name is Danielle Truszkovsky … I’m a political columnist … one of the journalists who have visited the NOM offices to request the 990s. It’s been an ongoing process attempting to obtain the records. I know that the group Californians Against Hate sent an initial request in March and (NOM) had 30 days to release the records, which they did not do and as far as I know, they have still not sent the records to Californians Against Hate.
“I also personally visited their ‘national headquarters’ in Princeton three times to make an in-person request and no one was ever available at that office — it’s basically a barren, empty space. I did speak with Brian [Brown] at his Washington, D.C., office and they did not have the returns available at that point.”
I went on to explain that NOM has also amended its 2007 return numerous times even though it is extremely rare for charitable organizations to do so. I quoted an e-mail … from NOM to its supporters in which the group “takes credit” for the signature gathering and fundraising efforts in Maine. This is a direct violation of the campaign laws in Maine that require groups that fund these efforts to register as PACs (Political Action Committees) or BQCs (Ballot Questioning Committees). My testimony ended with, “Now, I ask, how is it possible that this group [NOM] is the largest contributor to Stand for Marriage Maine at $160,000 but they are the only one who is not registered as a PAC or BQC?”
BROWN AND BOSTROM were then given the opportunity to speak again and when the pair finished, the Commission had some very interesting questions about NOM’s activities and attempts to conceal its records from the public. Brown admitted that NOM released its 990s on the web only within the past week. It was also revealed that after NOM donated its initial $160,000, the group has since poured hundreds of thousands more into Maine. As they scrambled to defend their activity in Maine, their story seemed to simply fall apart.
Upon completion of the discussion, the Commission voted 3-2 to conduct an investigation into the National Organization for Marriage.
Prior to the hearing, Brian Brown submitted a sworn affidavit, which states, “NOM does not accept donations designated for the Maine referendum” and “NOM has not made expenditures exceeding $5,000 for the purpose of initiating or promoting the people’s veto referendum in Maine, other than by contribution to Stand for Marriage Maine PAC.” If it is determined that NOM did violate any of the points listed in the affidavit, Brown could face perjury charges.
It will be interesting to see what developments occur next. It is safe to assume that NOM will do everything in its financial power to prevent its records from being examined. In California, NOM lodged a lawsuit against the secretary of state, the attorney general and the five commissioners of the California Fair Political Practices Commission for allowing an investigation into the group. NOM has also initiated litigation in California that attempts to remove all disclosure of contributors to political initiatives and campaigns. Rather than comply with state and federal regulations, it seems NOM and its backers prefer to use their massive war chest to conceal records and intimidate the officials who seek to protect the citizens they represent. Will NOM resort to the same desperate scare-tactics in Maine?
On Oct. 1, the Maine Commission on Ethics & Governmental Practices made a courageous decision to stand up for fairness. This, however, is just one small victory. On Nov. 3, the citizens of Maine will decide if their gay and straight neighbors deserve the same civil rights. For more information on protecting equality in Maine, visit the No on 1 campaign www.mainefreedomtomarry.com.
News Coverage #26
San Francisco Examiner – Maine
WBZ CBS – Maine Finance Reports
KGTV – San Diego
Mike Tidmus – Subpoena
Mike Tidmus – Subpoena
On Top Magazine — Maine
Bilerico Alex Blaze Radio Interview
WGME TV – CBS
Pam’s House Blend – Maine
MPBN News Radio Maine
Bangor Daily News Longer Story
Pink News UK
Mike Tidmus Maine
Mike Tidmus – NOM Law Suit
KFSM TV – Maine Law Suit
AUGUSTA, MAINE — In one of the boldest attempts to circumvent a state election law in recent memory, the Washington, DC based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) filed suit in Federal Court yesterday to wipe out Maine’s campaign reporting law. NOM is the biggest contributor by far to Question 1, which would rescind Maine’s recently enacted same-sex marriage law. The Maine Ethics Commission voted on October 1, 2009 to launch an investigation of NOM for improper reporting and possible money laundering charges at the request of Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate. Karger filed a formal complaint on August 24, 2009 against NOM and the Yes on Question 1 committee, Stand for Marriage Maine.
“These people come into Maine from Washington, DC fully aware of the state election laws, pay $350,000 to professional signature gatherers to qualify their referendum to take away the rights of a minority, and then have the audacity to sue the state to change its years old election laws,” said Fred Karger. “They did the identical thing in California after that state’s ethics commission, the California Fair Political Practices Commission, launched an investigation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), and the very same National Organization for Marriage, whom many feel was created by the Mormon Church.”
“Do they think they are in Afghanistan or Iran?” asked Karger. “We have long-standing laws in this country which allow for free and open elections, but NOM continues to try and get around these state and federal laws at every opportunity. The State of Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices showed tremendous courage when its Commissioners voted to investigate the highly questionable finances of the National Organization for Marriage at its October 1st meeting. This was done under the threat of a law suit. They are to be commended for standing up for transparency and truth in Maine elections.”
Here is a copy of the AP story: Anti-gay Marriage Group Challenges Reporting Requirements
Copy of Law Suit: Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
The Actual Complaint – Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
The National Organization for Marriage has already contributed over $500,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine, Yes on Question 1, but refuses to file as a PAC in Maine. This is 100 times the $5,000 PAC requirement. It appears that all other committees raising money for Question 1 have complied with the law, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, that has given over $350,000 to the election.
Karger: Proposition 8 Film Explains Mormon Gay Marriage Involvement
By Carlos Santoscoy Published: October 21, 2009
Director Reed Cowan’s documentary on the Mormon Church’s decades-old involvement in the fight to ban gay marriage in the United States is ready for its premiere screening. And Californians Against Hate Founder Fred Karger says the film will “undoubtedly change history.”
While still in production the film drew fire when Cowan released several controversial audio clips in February.
Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, a practicing Mormon, lost his chair of the powerful Judicial Committee after the Republican was heard in a Cowan interview calling the gay rights movement “probably the greatest threat to America” and gay folks “mean.”
“They’re mean. They want to talk about being nice. They’re the meanest buggers I have ever seen.”
“It’s just like the Muslims,” he adds, moments later. “Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.”
Not surprisingly, Cowan’s trailer for his film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, begins with a tight close up of the senator.
In a series of interviews with Mormon Church leaders, gay activists and Utah politicians, Cowan shines a bright light on the church’s profuse involvement in banning gay marriage throughout the nation since the early 1990s. A revelation no more since Karger began meddling in the church’s affairs.
“It tells my story,” Karger told On Top Magazine. And it will “knock your socks off,” he added.
Cowan first interviewed Karger in San Francisco. The pair met in front of the Castro Theater on Wednesday, March 4 just as a huge gay marriage vigil was about to step off. Karger spoke to the filmmaker two more times over the course of the next year.
What is the Mormon proposition? The film is expected to showcase the major gay marriage battles the Mormon Church has backed since Utah became the first state to ban gay marriage in 1995. And how church officials attempted to conceal their deep involvement in the issue. Is the Mormon Church the mastermind puppeteer of the anti-gay marriage movement?
In a blog post, Cowan said the film had divided his family.
“My determination [to finish the film] has been tested. At this writing, I have lost communication with my sisters and my mother and my father. They are wonderful people and they are Mormons. The fear they have over what this film will say has worn thin to the point that our relationships are stressed and I fear broken forever,” he said.
The film is being considered for a Sundance Film Festival premiere in January.
National March on Washington — October 11, 2009
This is an amazing story in today’s Salt Lake Tribune by Matt Canham of the Tribune’s Washington, DC bureau. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the highest ranking Mormon elected official in the U.S.
Reid rips LDS Church’s Prop. 8 support
Politics » Majority leader calls it a waste of church resources and good will.
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune
Washington » In a meeting with gay-rights activists last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized the LDS Church for backing a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California, saying the leaders of his faith should have stayed out of the contentious political fight.
Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, is the highest ranking elected official who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He previously has not commented on the flood of Mormon money and volunteers who helped propel Proposition 8 to victory in November.
But three organizers of the past weekend’s National Equality March said Reid brought up the topic during a conversation in his office.
“He said that he thought it was a waste of church resources and good will,” said Derek Washington, a Nevadan who worked as the outreach director for the march. “He said he didn’t think it was appropriate.”
Reid spokesman Jon Summers would not discuss the private meeting, but he didn’t deny the conversation took place.
“While Senator Reid agrees with his church that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Summers said, “he also believes that the resources that went into the Proposition 8 effort could have been put to better use.”
LDS Church officials declined to comment Monday. But Frank Schubert, campaign manager for the pro-Prop 8 movement, said: “All churches have not only the opportunity to speak out on important public issues, but really a moral obligation to do so.”
The Mormon Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, repeatedly has fought attempts to legalize same-sex marriages. California’s Prop 8 was no different. Church leaders announced their support in a letter that was read during Sunday services in meetinghouses throughout the Golden State. LDS officials called for financial donations and volunteers. Members of the church did not disappoint.
More than 1,000 Utahns contributed either individually or through a business to the Prop 8 fight, giving $3.8 million. More than 70 percent of that cash went to groups backing the gay-marriage ban. Utah ranked second only to California in the amount given to the ballot battle.
The LDS Church kicked in nearly $190,000 in in-kind contributions to ProtectMarriage.com, the leading pro-Prop. 8 group. In the end, Prop 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote.
Marchers in Sunday’s equality rally, which drew tens of thousands to the U.S. Capitol, repeatedly referenced the Prop 8 defeat in signs, statements and even face paint. But when organizers sat down with Reid, it wasn’t a topic they intended to raise. They wanted to thank him for supporting the march and push him on their desire for federal action giving gay Americans the ability to get married, serve openly in the military and fight workplace discrimination.
Reid signed a letter supporting the march and encouraged a sustained lobbying campaign.
In the meeting, those present touched on issues most important to them. Dan Choi, a veteran of the Iraq War, who was booted from the military under the
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, thanked Reid for lobbying President Barack Obama on his behalf. Robin McGehee, of California, talked about her own family. Then, McGehee said, Reid brought up his LDS faith and discussed a recent meeting with Mormons in which he criticized the Prop 8 efforts.
“He personally said they needed to be focused on other things,” she said, “and he felt it was harmful for the church to focus on such a divisive issue.”