(full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign)
Last night, news broke that the the Prop 8 campaign -- after first denying it -- admitted to sending certified letters to companies that donated to "No on 8" and Equality California (one of the major funders of the No campaign) demanding that the companies provide a matching donation to Yes on 8, or they would be "outed."
ProtectMarriage.com, a group that includes Mark Jansson, a self-described member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
sent a certified letter this week asking companies to withdraw their support of Equality California, a nonprofit organization that is helping lead the campaign against Proposition 8.
"Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error," reads the letter. "Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published."
Ballsy no? And verging on illegal. Unfortunately, it is just the latest in a series of lies, smears and distortions from the Prop 8 campaign and in particular the Mormon Church.
The story broke just hours after the Courage Campaign launched a petition to Church of Latter-day Saints President-Prophet Thomas Monson to cease funding the misguided "Yes on 8" campaign.
The Mormon Church has spent the last three months intimidating their members into giving money to "Yes on Prop 8" -- which would take marriage rights away from same-sex couples -- telling Mormon families that their "souls will be in jeopardy" if they do not contribute portions of their income.
Members of the Mormon Church have contributed a whopping $8 million to the "Yes on 8" campaign -- about 40% of the total amount raised as of October 13 -- to pass a ballot measure that removes basic civil rights from our state constitution.
And what has this money bought? A pernicious pack of lies, broadcast dozens of times a day into California homes. A church whose ninth commandment reads "thou shalt not bear false witness" is helping fund false ads that claim California parents do not have the right to remove their children from sex education classes -- a right they have and that courts have repeatedly confirmed.
Yesterday, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell expressed his strong opposition to Prop 8 in a hard-hitting TV ad, emphatically reminding voters that "our schools aren't required to teach anything about marriage." In fact, every education authority in the state has rejected the lies and distortions of the Prop 8 campaign, including the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association.
It's time for Californians to fight back against these dishonest attacks by the religious right. On Tuesday, we will deliver a letter to President-Prophet Thomas Monson at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple, demanding that his church stop funding the blatant lies of the "Yes on 8" campaign.