California to investigate Mormon Prop 8 donations

California to investigate Mormon Prop 8 donations

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WSU.2974a - San Francisco, CA. California officials have begun an investigation into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to see if it broke the law during the campaign for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said it wants to determine if the Church accurately described its role in the battle over Proposition 8.

The Commission’s executive director, Roman Porter, said the investigation follows a complaint by Californians Against Hate which accuses the Mormon Church of failing to report the value of work it did to support Proposition 8.

Porter said that while the complaint merits further inquiry, it does not mean any wrongdoing by the Church has been determined.


Mormon Church at Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church was heavily involved in the campaign to pass Prop. 8. It encouraged its members to work to pass California’s Proposition 8 by volunteering their time and money for the campaign. Thousands of Mormons from across the country worked as grassroots volunteers.

The Church put an estimated $25 million into the battle to end gay marriage in California.

If the Commission finds the Church broke state election laws, it could be fined up to $5,000 per violation. The Commission also could file an additional civil lawsuit. Porter said, seeking remedies up to three times the amount that was misrepresented or misreported.

Since the November election, the Mormon Church has become a prime target of LGBT civil rights groups. There have been protests at Mormon churches in California; in Utah, a number of churches were vandalized; and hoax mailings containing a white powder were sent to church leaders in Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court last week accepted three lawsuits seeking to nullify Proposition 8, which overruled the court’s decision in May legalizing gay marriage.

All three cases claim the measure abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.

As is its custom when it takes up cases, the court elaborated little. However, the justices did say they want to address what effect, if any, a ruling upholding the amendment would have on the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that were sanctioned in California before Election Day.

The initiative’s opponents had also asked the court to grant a stay of the measure, which would have allowed gay marriages to begin again while the justices considered the cases. The court denied that request.

The justices directed Attorney General Jerry Brown and lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign to submit arguments by Dec. 19 on why the ballot initiative should not be nullified. It said lawyers for the plaintiffs, who include same-sex couples who did not wed before the election, must respond before Jan. 5.

Oral arguments could be scheduled as early as March, but a ruling would not be likely for months after that.

By Newscenter Staff

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