We’re Changing Our Name

http://www.rightsequalrights.com
It’s been just two years since a small group of friends and I started Californians Against Hate to draw attention to the mega-donors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign. It’s been a busy 23 months.

We began on July 18, 2008 by helping to assemble a coalition of LGBT organizations and labor in San Diego to boycott Doug Manchester’s three hotels. Doug Manchester had contributed $125,000 in very early money to quality and pass Proposition 8, which took marriage rights away from millions of Californians. Why should we support his three hotels, only to have that money used against us?

The Manchester Hotels boycott exceeded our wildest expectations. According to their own admission, the boycott is costing the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel alone approximately $1 million per month. This is due to dozens of canceled large meetings and conventions at Manchester’s flagship property, and thousands of individuals and businesses who refuse to cross our picket line.

Manchester also sold his Idaho hotel, and now rumors abound that his brand new $400 million Grand del Mar Resort in San Diego is in receivership. It has recently been reported that Global Hyatt Corporation may be buying a majority interest in his Manchester Grand Hyatt. The sale was just approved by the San Diego Port Commission.

We have led three other boycotts against the biggest donors to Proposition 8. We have settled two; one against Bolthouse Farms and another against Garff Automotive Group. Both had family members who contributed $100,000 to pass Prop 8. Now both companies are generous supporters of a variety of LGBT organizations.

Our one remaining boycott is against Terry Caster’s A-1 Self Storage Company. Terry Caster and his family gave a whopping $693,000 to Prop 8. Caster was even quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune saying that gay marriage “would create a sick society.”

During the summer of 2008, we discovered the active involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) in Prop 8. The Mormon Church had taken over virtually every aspect of the Yes on 8 campaign.

Mormon families contributed approximately $30 million of the $40 million raised, the Church produced 27 slick commercials, put up an expensive web site, bussed in thousands of volunteers from Utah, had massive phone banks yet only reported a mere $2078 in non-monetary contributions three days before the election. Two weeks later I filed a sworn complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the Mormon Church for not reporting its vast financial involvement in the campaign.

The Commission prosecuted the case, and conducted an unprecedented 19 month investigation of the Salt Lake City based Church’s finances. Three weeks ago the FPPC found the Mormon Church guilty of 13 counts of late reporting and they were fined $5539. That was the first time a religion was found guilty of election irregularities in the 36 year history of the FPPC.

I also have done battle with the Mormon Church’s front group, the infamous National Organization for Marriage (NOM). I have challenged all of their false and misleading actions for the last two years. It was all of their arrogant and illegal campaign activities last fall in Maine that was the final straw.

NOM contributed over $1.9 million to take away that state’s recently passed right to marry for all, and completely disregarded Maine’s long-standing election law in the process. NOM was required to report all its contributor names of $100 and more to election officials. NOM refused, and continues to refuse to turn over their records, even after being ordered to do so by three federal judges and the Attorney General of Maine. I have attended three separate Commission meetings in Maine to make sure they comply with the Maine election law.

As a result of all my efforts, I was subpoenaed by the National Organization for Marriage last September as part of their federal law suit, ProtectMarriage.com v. Bowen. That law suit was filed in California by the official Yes on Prop 8 committee and NOM to invalidate all campaign reporting laws in California. They subpoenaed me strictly to harass me and make me spend a lot of money. Thanks to the generous support of so many of you who contributed to my legal defense fund, Five for Fred, most all of the legal costs have been covered.

Now as we take on new challenges and go in new directions, we have passed a Board resolution to officially change our name. From this day forward, Californians Against Hate will be known as Rights Equal Rights.

Our new name reflects our new direction and makes us more national in scope.

Rest assured, that I have never been more determined and motivated to help lead the LGBTQ community in our fight for full equal rights in this country.

Younger people who begin to realize that they might be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual transgender or queer will soon be afforded all the same rights as their brothers, sisters friends and neighbors.
That is what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

We will settle for nothing less.

Best regards,

Fred Karger
www.RightsEqualRights.com

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News Coverage: Fines Proposed Against Mormon Church for Prop 8 Campaign Finance Violations

From the Human Rights Campaign:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fines Proposed Against Mormon Church for Prop 8 Campaign Finance Violations

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today hailed a proposal by the California Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) that would fine The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) for failing to report all of its late non-monetary contributions in its efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008. While the recommended fine of just more than $5,500 for the unreported late contributions of $36,968 to the Yes on 8 campaign may seem inconsequential, it represents a pattern of blatant disregard for California election laws and provides ongoing evidence that the Mormon Church was a significant leader in the campaign to repeal marriage equality, even while it evaded standard reporting requirements and denied its involvement.

HRC President Joe Solmonese also commended the efforts of Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, for filing the initial FPPC complaint that has shed light on the anti-equality activities of the Mormon Church. The issue, scheduled to be discussed at its June 10th meeting, follows the January 2009 admission by the Mormon Church to the FPPC that it failed to report in-kind contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign of $190,000. Previously the Mormon Church had failed to disclose its real involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign, as California law required it to do.

“Thanks to Fred Karger’s dogged pursuit of the truth, we now know the Mormon Church not only violated the law in its election work to pass Prop 8, it most likely did so purposely” said Solmonese. “It’s just not credible that a multi-billion dollar, sophisticated organization like the LDS Church didn’t know or understand the election law requirements. California requires early disclosure so voters know who’s behind these referendum fights and clearly, the Mormon Church worked overtime to keep their full involvement hidden from the people of California.”

A copy of the FPPC complaint is available at the link.

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News Coverage: NOM Ordered to Hand Over Donor Information

From the Maine Public Broadcasting Network:

NOM Ordered to Hand Over Donor Information
06/08/2010 12:03 PM ET

The National Organization for Marriage has been fighting the state’s efforts to find out who bankrolled the group’s $2 million contribution to last year’s successful campaign to overturn the Maine’s gay marriage law.

A federal appeals court in Boston has ordered the National Organization for Marriage to hand over information about its donors to the state.

The group, known by its initials “NOM” contributed nearly $2 million to last year’s successful campaign to overturn Maine’s gay marriage law. Opponents say NOM has failed to comply with the state’s financial disclosure law, a claim that is nowunder investigation by the state Ethics Commission.

NOM, meanwhile, has filed its own constitutional challenge of the state law, and Kate Simmons of the Maine Attorney Generals’ office says Monday’s ruling will help the state defend itself.

“NOM must reveal to the state how they raised the money, for what purpose and who it came from,” she says. “They were the largest single contributor to Stand for Marriage Maine, and as a part of Maine’s campaign finance laws, the state is working to find out how they raised that money and for what purpose.”

The court has ordered that any information handed over by NOM would have to remain confidential. Still, NOM president Brian Brown said Tuesday that his group will appeal the latest ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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News Coverage: Magistrate Judge says NOM Should Turn Over Donors’ Names

From The Maine Public Broadcasting Network:

Magistrate Judge says NOM Should
Turn Over Donors’ Names

A federal magistrate judge has ordered the national group that provided most of the funding to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law to turn over information about its donors. The magistrate rejected claims by the National Organization for Marriage that the donor names aren’t relevant to the issue before the court, and that releasing them would have a chilling effect on the group’s future fundraising efforts.

(Listen to the audio at the link)

The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, contributed $1.9 million dollars to last year’s successful campaign to overturn Maine’s gay marriage law. But NOM has refused to comply with demands from state elections’ officials to hand over the names of donors, as required by Maine law.

While challening the Ethics Commission’s case, NOM has issued its own challenge in federal court, claiming Maine’s elections law is uncontitutional. In a preliminary ruling on evidence in that case filed on Sunday, federal Magistrate John H. Rich III ordered NOM to provide the Maine Attorney General’s office with donor information dating back to January 1st of last year.

“And we’re pleased with the federal magistrate’s preliminary decision that as a part of this litigation, NOM must share information about their donors with the Office of the Attorney General,” says AG spokeswoman Kate Simmons.

Simmons says the magistrate rejected NOM’s claim that releasing the names would have a chilling effect upon future fundraising efforts, in large part because of the court’s requirement that the information be kept confidential. “The information about their donors would only be disclosed to this office, and would not be a public document nor able to be shared with the public at large.”

NOM has claimed that the donor information might be used by the Ethics Commission in its case against the group. Simmons says it’s true that the information could be viewed by the Commission, but the magistrate has ruled that it may not be used against NOM in other legal challenges.

That issue, and others are now under appeal in federal court. While the appeals continue to fly, critics of NOM see the latest ruling as a victory.

“This decision is in keeping with every other decision that we’ve seen, in that they are just crying wolf,” says Fred Karger, founder of the group Californians Against Hate, which has been actively challenging NOM’s refusal to disclose the names of its donors. Karger alleges that they are, largely, members of the Mormon Church.

Karger says he applauds the ruling in Maine as another step in forcing NOM to open its books. “The National Organization for Marriage has spent the last three years trying to avoid that; they’ve conducted their business in secrecy,” Karger says. “They’re under investigation now in two states, and possibly a third, for this very action, and so I just commend the judge magistrate for trying to get to the bottom of their financing, which is one of the great mysteries of the world.”

Ethics Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne declined comment on the magistrate’s ruling. A spokesman for NOM could not be reached for comment by airtime.

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Ads and Demonstration Set for Mitt Romney’s San Diego Book Signing

The banner ad ran online at the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the Boston Globe and the Salt Lake Tribune websites

SAN DIEGO, CA – Californians Against Hate will be asking Mitt Romney “to urge the Mormon Church to stop its nasty campaign to ban gay marriage,” in ads running throughout San Diego next week.

Another appeal will be made to Romney at a demonstration on Monday, March 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm at his book signing at the Deseret Bookstore. Californians Against Hate is organizing the friendly demonstration to welcome the former Massachusetts governor to San Diego.

WHAT: Demonstration at Mitt Romney’s Book Signing

WHEN: Monday, March 22nd at 5:30 pm

WHERE: Deseret Bookstore (Mormon Church Owned)
La Jolla Village Sq. Shopping Center
8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
(S. E. Corner of Nobel Dr. and Villa La Jolla Dr.)
Exit 28 off I-5 south — Exit 28A off I-5 north

858-535-1404

The Deseret Bookstore, where Monday’s book signing is being held, is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). Deseret Books is in the shadow of the San Diego Mormon Temple, which is located just across the 5 Freeway (Deseret Bookstore is on the west side of the Freeway).

The online banner ad (copy above) will begin running in four (4) San Diego publications beginning Monday, March 22, 2010. The ads will link to the full ad copy on the new web site, Rights Equal Rights home page.

Ads Will Run In:

Californians Against Hate began the Call Mitt Romney ad campaign in January 2010.  It ran the banner ad in the New Hampshire Union-LeaderThe Boston Globe and The Salt Lake City Tribune.  Washington, DC based, Politico was the first to report on this groundbreaking ad campaign, “Gay Group Targets Romney,” directed at presumptive 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The ad asks Mormon Church leaders to take a vow of political neutrality on gay marriage.

Rights Equal Rights

SAN DIEGO DEMONSTRATION

Monday, March 22nd – 5:30 pm

Ask Mitt Anything

Ask Mitt Romney to help stop the Mormon Church’s nasty campaign against gay marriage!

As a national political leader and influential member of the Mormon Church, Mitt Romney could persuade Church leaders to end their 15 years of active involvement, and massive financial support to oppose equal rights for Gay and Lesbian Americans.

The Mormon Church and its members have spent tens of millions of dollars in 31 states to ban gay marriage and hurt so many people.

Mormon Church Leaders should take a vow of political neutrality on gay rights, similar to their stated practice in partisan elections.

WHAT: Demonstration at Mitt Romney’s Book Signing

WHEN: Monday, March 22nd at 5:30 pm

WHERE: Deseret Bookstore (Mormon Church Owned)
La Jolla Village Sq. Shopping Center
8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
(S. E. Corner of Nobel Dr. and Villa La Jolla Dr.)
Exit 28 off I-5 south — Exit 28A off I-5 north

858-535-1404

BRING SIGNS!

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Open Letter to Maggie Gallagher

Cross-posted from Fred Karger’s article at The Huffington Post:

Open Letter to Maggie Gallagher

Like millions of Americans, I was able to see the absolute joy experienced by hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who are now able to legally marry in Washington, DC. I wept when I saw television reports of couples who have been together, some for decades, finally able to share in the joy and happiness afforded automatically to their straight brothers and sisters.

Hooray for the Washington, DC City Council and Mayor Fenty for allowing all its residents full equality under the law just like our founding fathers intended.

I cried with joy for all the young LGBTQ Americans who can clearly see that they are not inferior, but equal. I am thrilled that kids growing up now know that they can marry the person that they love in five enlightened states, and in our nation’s capitol.

Hooray for our courageous leaders who stood up to bigotry and discrimination and did the right thing. They stood up to you and your army of paid henchmen who fight marriage equality tooth and nail every step of the way.

I don’t have words to express my disgust toward you and all those you are fronting for at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). You have spent at least $25 million in just the past few years to try and undo the happiness of so many people. Hundreds of couples lined up in the cold and rain of Washington last Wednesday in order get a license so they could finally marry the one they love.

Why are you, all your financial backers and all your high-priced attorneys across the country hell-bent on destroying so many lives and hurting so many people, just as they are about to experience the happiest day of their lives?

What is so wrong with your life, that you make your living attempting to hurt so many others?

You preside over two extremely well funded organizations that portend to “protect marriage.” You speak all over the county at marriage rallies. You are on TV all the time defending what you call the “sanctity of marriage.” You have written books on marriage, one of which is even titled, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better-Off Financially, yet NOM’s Executive Director, Brian Brown and you viciously attack anyone who gets in your way.

Are You Even Married, Maggie?

No one has ever seen your husband. You attend countless marriage events, chock full of married couples, celebrating marriage, yet you always, always show up alone.

I had the displeasure of attending your recent presentation at the CATO Institute in Washington, DC. I was amazed to see that you don’t wear a wedding ring. No rings on any fingers. Where is your alleged husband? Why no ring?

No rings on any fingers.

Just last year, NOM proudly said it spent over $8 million in a dozen states in your recently released “Investor’s Report.”

That doesn’t even include the millions more in attorney’s fees and money raised through your 501(c)3 charitable fund.

You fight people’s happiness at the ballot box, state legislatures and through too many law suits to count.

Recently, NOM has lead the effort to undo the Washington, DC law through every means possible, including going to Congress, the courts, all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Brian Brown’s angry email from Friday states, “Don’t believe the lies. It’s not over in D.C. by any means.”

Where Does All Your Money Come From?

You continually hide where all your millions come from on your extremely late or never reported federal income tax filings. You refuse to cooperate with the California and Maine Ethics Commissions (both of whom are currently investigating your National Organization for Marriage), and when these investigations began into your many campaign irregularities, you sued both states to stop their investigation in an attempt to intimidate those seeking the truth.

Anyone who dares to support equality becomes the victim of your venom and hate.

We will not be intimidated. We refuse to allow you, and all those paying your salary, to hurt any more young people.

We have enlisted our own army to fight NOM and you at every turn. We are dedicated to finding out the truth about you and the front group that you head. And we will not rest until your cover of secrecy and deceit is lifted.

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News Coverage: Gay group targets Romney

The banner ad ran online at the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the Boston Globe and the Salt Lake Tribune websites

From Ben Smith’s Politico column – January 20, 2010:

Gay group targets Romney

My colleague Ken Vogel reports that a California political operative whose hardball opposition to California’s 2008 anti-same-sex-marriage initiative generated controversy has set his sights on Mitt Romney:

Fred Karger, a prominent gay rights activist, later this week will launch a campaign urging Romney to lobby the Mormon Church to back down from its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Romney’s Mormonism hurt him during his unsuccessful 2008 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. And Karger’s campaign nods toward Romney’s 2012 presidential ambitions. Not only is it debuting roughly two years before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, but it will launch with an ad on the websites of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the Boston Globe and The Salt Lake Tribune.

The ad will link to the website of a new group called Rights Equal Rights, which is funded in part by Californians Against Hate, a leading opponent of the anti-same-sex ballot initiative. The website asserts that “as a national political leader and influential member of the Mormon Church, Mitt Romney could persuade church leaders to end their 15 years of active involvement, including their massive financial support, to oppose equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans.”

Kim Farrah, a spokeswoman for the Mormon Church, pointed out that the church itself “did not spend tens of millions of dollars in campaigns to ban gay marriages” — as Rights Equal Rights’ website claims — but also defended the church’s ability “to speak out on moral issues as part of the Democratic process.”

Though Romney holds no official role within the church beyond being a member, its leaders and membership strongly backed his 2008 presidential campaign and can be expected to align behind him if he runs again in 2012.

While reminders of Romney’s Mormonism won’t help him with the broader GOP electorate, reminders of his opposition to same-sex marriage might buoy his standing with social conservatives. In 2008, they held against him a pledge he made (http://www.politico.com/blogs/jonathanmartin/0807/Romneys_tonal_shift.html) during a 1994 Senate race to be a stronger advocate for gay rights than his opponent, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), a champion of the gay community.

A Romney spokesman declined to comment on Karger’s effort, though during the presidential campaign, his aides asserted that his stances never shifted on gay issues. They pointed out that he had long been on record opposed to same-sex marriage, as well as discrimination against gays.

But Karger charged Romney had “flip-flopped. The new Mitt Romney would be a disaster for the gay community as president.”

Still, Karger asserted the target of his campaign is not Romney but, rather, the Mormon Church, which supported the California initiative.

Posted by Ben Smith 02:34 PM

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News Coverage: Prop 8 screenings draw standing ovations, but no LDS officials

From Rosemary Winters’ blog in the Salt Lake Tribune, LGBT FYI:

Prop 8 screenings draw standing ovations, but no LDS officials

Last night, I attended the Salt Lake City screening of “8: The Mormon Proposition,” the Sundance documentary about the LDS Church’s role in overturning gay marriage in California.

The film, as has become a trend (see video below), enjoyed an extended standing ovation from the audience. But co-director Steven Greenstreet complained that LDS Church officials still have not accepted his offer for a free ticket to see the film and discuss it.

It’s doubtful an LDS general authority or public-affairs person will turn up at one of the remaining screenings and sound off in a Q&A.

But here’s what some others had to say after the film showed at the Tower Theatre.

  • Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate said he is getting ready to file a “supplemental complaint” with the California Fair Political Practices Commission alleging unreported LDS Church contributions to the Prop 8 campaign based on new evidence introduced during a federal trial going on now in San Francisco.
  • “This is not a gay issue,” said former Mormon Emily Pearson, who was interviewed in the film. “It’s very important that straight people get noisy and courageous.”
  • Tyler Barrick, who’s marriage to Spencer Jones is featured in the film, said he has achieved what his sisters have not: When Barrick was a child, he said, “my mom would go on and on and on about how my sisters would grow up to marry returned missionaries. And I was the first one to do it.”
  • Linda Stay, Barrick’s mom, said she picked her son over her Mormon religion, and she hopes to inspire other moms to do the same. Most of all, she said, she did it for her LDS grandkids. “Some day they will know that this mom stood on the side of her kids.”

LGBT FYI is a blog about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Rosemary Winters covers politics and LGBT issues for The Salt Lake Tribune. Since joining The Tribune in 2003, she has written about small business, global warming, city governments, sexuality and Utah’s involvement in California’s Proposition 8. During the 2009 legislative session, she outed former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. — as a supporter of civil unions.

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