Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which funneled millions into California and Arizona to pass Props 8 and 102, Torpedoed pro-equality legislation in Utah, now aims at state civil unions legislation in Illinois.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent a private e-mail to its members in Illinois urging them to contact state legislators and voice opposition to civil unions legislation currently under consideration. Mormons have notably utilized private networks to torpedo pro-LGBT policies in the past, most recently in their home state of Utah, where a package of fair-minded legislation called the Common Ground Initiative was systematically killed in the state legislature. Most notoriously, Mormons funneled millions of dollars into California last year to pass Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that stripped lesbian and gay couples of the right to marry in the state.
"It is irrefutably clear that the LDS Church is fighting an anti-gay crusade throughout the nation, targeting any form of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community," said Bruce Bastian, Board of Director for the Human Rights Campaign and former member of the LDS Church. "Church leaders want nothing more than to do their hateful work in secrecy, but the time has come to shine a light on their insidious efforts. If the LDS Church won't tell the truth, we will."
The e-mail, sent to at least one LDS ward in Illinois, was authorized by Bishop Chris Church, of the Nauvoo, Illinois 3rd Ward, and was sent out by that website's ward administrator. The messaging in the e-mail carries many of the same bigoted lies that were hallmarks of the LDS Church's campaign in support of Proposition 8 in California and Proposition 102 in Arizona. The e-mail misleads citizens in Illinois by blatantly misstating that the civil unions legislation would "empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise." It goes on to issue this incendiary and inaccurate warning - "it will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores." The e-mail was uncovered by BoxTurtleBulletin.com, a website that tracks and monitors anti-gay rhetoric. The contents of the e-mail are posted online at www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/03/03/9359.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (HB 2234) has been scheduled for a hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives Youth and Family Committee this week on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Springfield, IL.
In response to this secret action by the LDS Church, the Human Rights Campaign today launched a full scale, online grassroots call to action to its more than 35,000 Illinois based members and supporters. The take-action asks members to contact the Nauvoo, Illinois Mormon Temple and let them know these deceitful, fear-mongering tactics can no longer be done in secret. It also encourages pro-equality voters of Illinois to contact their state elected officials to voice their support of HB 2234. The full online action that was sent to over 35,000 pro-equality Illinoisans can be viewed at: http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/actioncenter/notice-description.tcl?newsletter-id=37929006
In the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that ended marriage equality in California, Elder L. Whitney Clayton responded to public backlash against their massive, coordinated efforts in support of the measure by saying the LDS Church is not opposed to civil unions and other non-marriage legal recognitions of same-sex relationships. State LGBT group Equality Utah then drafted five pieces of state legislation that extended basic legal protections for LGBT Utahns called the Common Ground Initiative. HRC sent Church President Thomas Monson a letter urging him to support the Common Ground Initiative and also launched an action alert asking members and supporters to contact the LDS Church to encourage it to publicly support civil unions and other pro-equality legislation in the Church's home state. When the Church blocked e-mails from HRC members and supporters, local members hand-delivered the nearly 30,000 communications.
But in a matter of weeks, all five pieces of legislation had been killed.
"Despite the Mormon Church's attempt to not appear publicly bigoted against the social justice issue of our time, it is perfectly clear that the church has in its cross-hairs any measure that recognizes the humanity and dignity of LGBT Americans," continued Bastian.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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