The fight over marriage equality is going very well, and has been going rather well for a bit now. The problem might be more than just that the anti-gay groups are starting to collapse. Part of this has to do with the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has largely abandoned the fight. After many years of funding anti-gay groups, the Mormon Church has pretty much pulled out.
Former Republican Presidential contender Fred Karger has been working to fight the National Organization for Marriage, a group that served largely as a front for the Catholic and Mormon Churches. He has uncovered evidence showing that the Mormons had 77 people working full time at their headquarters to get Proposition 8 passed.
Of course, the backlash was rather severe, and was more unexpected than the Mormons expected.
According to Mother Jones
The church, in fact, had been a crucial (if not always visible) player since the 1990s, when it helped fend off efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii and California. As far back as 1996, high-ranking LDS officials were coordinating behind the scenes and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to orchestrate what became the first state-level vote to ban gay marriage in Hawaii. Top church officials were also heavily involved in the creation of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the primary player over the last decade in the fight to outlaw gay unions.
For a long time it has been known that NOM, and the anti-gay movement as a whole, was top heavy. The Mormon Church has been largely absent in the battles in Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and so forth. The loss of the Mormon Church in organizing the anti-gay movement has left them rather in disarray.
They have also lost a lot of money. This past March, only 16 Utah residents donated some $1,264 to four state ballot committees fighting same-sex marriage legislation. This was down from the $2.7 million raised from the same group of people in order to get Prop 8 passed. While it is not possible to say if those 16 Utah residents are Mormons, it is a good likelihood.
We have also been reporting the lack of funds going into NOM for some time.
According to Karger, the departure of the Mormon Church has left the battle over same-sex marriage in the hands of the Catholic groups like the Knights of Columbus and, of course, NOM. None of them have much skill at grassroots organization, and at this point, NOM is getting about 90% of their money from just ten people, and they are running out of that fast.
According to Mother Jones “The rabidly anti-gay group Mass Resistance complained bitterly, calling NOM ‘clueless and ineffective,’ and noting, ‘NOM did no serious organizing or strategic planning. Meetings with activists would be set up, then go unattended.’ That’s the sort of thing that would never happen if the LDS church had been on board.”
Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, stated “NOM has always been a shell group, the purpose of which was to funnel money from a shadowy handful of funders directed by the Mormon and Catholic hierarchy. Now that the Mormon hierarchy seems to have pulled back, it exposes the weakness and lack of any real grassroots depth in the opposition.”
Wolfson, though, feels that the Mormons have decided to pull back because “In 2012, part of their tactical reason for pulling back was to avoid any muddying the waters for Romney. That was a higher priority for them than even attacking gay people.”
Still, Karger notes that “It’s a new day in the fight for marriage equality, with one victory after another. I’m convinced that all these wins would not be possible if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had not finally abandoned its 15-year battle to demonize all LGBT Americans.”
Of course, the support from the Catholic Church may end up drying out as well given that Pope Francis I has indicated a preference to pull the Church away from being involved heavily in politics.