So desperate are the foes of marriage equality in California that Project Marriage, the umbrella coalition of groups trying to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-gender marriages has resorted to blackmail to get businesses to donate money to "protect marriage":
Leaders of the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California are warning businesses that have given money to the state's largest gay rights group they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too.
ProtectMarriage.com, the umbrella group behind a ballot initiative that would overturn the California Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, 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."
The letter was signed by four members of the group's executive committee: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com. A donation form was attached. The letter did not say where the names would be published.
Now, I'm not a lawyer and I don't even play one on TV. But I'm pretty sure that's blackmail, extortion, and criminal conspiracy. Maybe all three. I have absolutely no doubt that the letter (and the campaign to inject discrimination into California's constitution that it's intended to support) is merely the latest disgusting spectacle put on by a dying breed of haters who simply can't adapt themselves to the fact that the world is changing in ways that they don't like or understand. The individuals who signed that letter, and everyone associated with writing it or sending it out, should be hugely ashamed of themselves. And the lawyer should probably be disbarred for even lending his name to this pathetic attempt to coerce businesses into donating to his cause. He, at least, should know better.
I have to say, too, that the IRS should take a very long, very careful look at the participation of the LDS Church in this campaign. Everything I've heard suggests that they're the major movers and shakers--and providing the majority of the money--for the project. It's not exactly clear to me why people from Utah have any business trying to tell people who live in a different state and who do not subscribe to their faith how they should have to live their lives. But it seems reasonably clear to me that the activities of the LDS Church in pushing to overturn the ruling of the California Supreme Court are uncomfortably close to the line that circumscribes what churches and other charitable organizations are legally permitted to do in the political realm.
And really, that's what this campaign boils down to: attempting to foist religious beliefs on others who do not share them, and attempting to write religiously based discrimination into government policy. The former is reprehensible both morally and legally. The latter is just plain unconstitutional. The Mormons (and the Catholics, and any other flavor of religion that is opposed to recognizing same-gender marriages) have every right to believe as they do. But they can't make everybody else follow suit. They should all shut up and go home, and let Californians take care of themselves. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of it, all things considered.