Date: Sun, 04 Oct 1998 15:54:18 -1000
From: Martin Rice

Aloha auwinala kakou.

And this from the church whose leader, Hinckley, said not two weeks ago on Larry King Live! that the Mormons do not get involved with politics.

There are two articles here.

October 1, 1998

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Salt Lake City-based Mormon church has donated $500,000 to the campaign for an amendment to the Alaska constitution that would ban same-sex marriages, a group seeking passage of the measure said Thursday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made the pledge last week and the money arrived Wednesday, said Kristina Johannes, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Family Coalition, a group campaigning in favor of the constitutional amendment.

Alaskans will be asked in the November general election to consider an amendment to the state constitution that would limit state-recognized marriages to unions between single men and single women.

The campaign to pass the constitutional amendment has solicited and received support from many organizations outside Alaska, Johannes said.

"What we're discovering is there is a lot of interest in this issue nationally," she said.

So far, including the donation from the Mormon church, the Alaska Family Coalition has raised about $600,000, more than half of the $1 million targeted when the group formed earlier this year, Johannes said.

The total includes a $25,000 donation, plus a pledge of $25,000 to match other donations, from the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Working Families, a conservative group headed by Christian activist Gary Bauer, Johannes said.

Other Christian and secular group have been asked for their support, Johannes said. "We're thinking of every organization that we think has an interest in the family," she said.

But no non-Christian religious organizations have been tapped, she said. "I can't think of any organizations that meet that criteria," she said.

The Alaska Family Coalition will soon start television advertisements and other efforts to promote the amendment, Johannes said. "We plan a full media campaign," she said.

The push for a constitutional amendment grew out of a lawsuit pressed by two Anchorage men who are seeking the right to marry each other.

The Republican-controlled state legislature approved the amendment in May after a state judge refused to dismissed the men's lawsuit against the state.


Anchorage Daily News, October 3, 1998
Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Same-sex marriage foes given $500,000
Mormon gift infuriates opponents
By LIZ RUSKIN, Daily News reporter

The Utah-based Mormon Church has given $500,000 to the campaign working for passage of an amendment to the Alaska Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, the campaign announced this week.

"We're pretty bowled over," said Kristina Johannes, spokeswoman for the Alaska Family Coalition.

The colossal contribution dwarfs the $100,000 the group had previously collected and catapults the Alaska Family Coalition into the big leagues of this year's political campaigns. It has angered the campaign working to defeat the ballot measure.

"It's outrageous that a group based in Utah would flood our state with money to try to purchase a change to our constitution," said Allison Mendel, an Anchorage attorney who is co-chair of the No on 2 campaign. "We're not supposed to have religious institutions dictating our civil law."

Mendel said the No on 2 campaign has raised almost $100,000, and all but $8,400 has come from Alaskans. The campaign plans to air television ads in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election, she said, but she fears the message will be drowned out by the kind of media campaign the other side can now buy, thanks to what she called "Outside money."

A provision of Alaska's new campaign finance law sharply curtails the amount of out-of-state contributions a candidate can accept, but the provision does not apply to ballot measure campaigns.

Anyway, Johannes said, she doesn't think of the church's contribution as Outside money. "There are 24,000 Mormons in Alaska," she said. "They're all citizens that are interested in the ballot proposition as well."

And, she said, the issue has national implications. Brent Wadsworth, an Anchorage stake president in the Mormon Church, said he wasn't involved with the donation but wasn't surprised that the church decided to make it.

"This represents the kind of moral issues that the church has taken a stand on for as long as I've known," added Wadsworth, who emphasized he was not speaking as a church official.

The Republican-led Alaska Legislature decided this spring to put the measure on the November ballot. Legislators worried that the courts would rule in favor of two Anchorage men who filed a lawsuit challenging the 1996 law forbidding couples of the same sex from marrying.

If approved by a majority of Alaska voters, Proposition 2 would add a sentence to the state constitution: "To be valid or recognized in this state, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman."

Without the amendment, the Anchorage couple may succeed in getting the 1996 law declared unconstitutional, the Alaska Family Coalition fears. Then, Johannes said, other states would be required to recognize the Alaska marriage licenses of same-sex couples.

"I think there's a lot of people watching Alaska right now," she said. "I guess (the church contribution) underscores that it's just not a state issue but it's a national issue as well."

The No on 2 campaign says that an amendment restricting civil rights has no place in the constitution and that it's premature to adopt an amendment when the courts have not yet ruled.

Calls to the Salt Lake City media office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went unanswered Friday afternoon. The church, on its web site, says it has nearly 5 million members in the United States. The members are expected to tithe a portion of their income to the church.

"Ten percent is expected of our people and they pay it faithfully," said Gordon Hinckley, president of the church, in an interview last month on CNN's "Larry King Live." Hinckley said the church does not get involved in politics but speaks out very strongly on moral issues.

Proposition 2, if approved by voters, would also serve as a constitutional ban on polygamy, a few of its proponents have pointed out.

In the early years of the Mormon church, Mormon leaders encouraged Mormon men to take more than one wife, a practice that put the church at odds with federal law.

Brigham Young, when he was church president in the 1800s, believed that freedom of religion guaranteed the right to take more than one wife. And in 1879 church president John Taylor said that polygamy "emanated from God and cannot be legislated away." But 11 years later, in 1890, the church renounced polygamy. "That's 118 years ago," Hinckley said in the Larry King interview. "It's behind us."

*Reporter Liz Ruskin can be reached at*


----- End of forwarded message from Martin Rice -----


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