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For week ended January 09, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

"> Religious Coalition Attacks LDS Church on Knight Initiative
Sacramento CA Bee Capitol Alert 6Jan00 N1
By Aurelio Rojas: Bee Capitol Bureau

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA -- 77 religious leaders throughout California released a letter Wednesday that they sent to LDS Church officials December 23rd asking the Church to reconsider its support of California's Proposition 22, also known as the Knight Initiative. The proposition, titled the "Limit on Marriage" act, would bar California from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples, regardless of where they originate. The initiative goes to the voters in March.

The religious leaders want to meet with LDS Church officials to discuss their support for the initiative. "If they are really concerned about supporting marriage and families, there are many other things that are a threat to marriage and families," said the Rev. Ed Hansen, pastor of the Hollywood United Methodist Church. "That includes wages too low to enable both parents to be home as much as they need to be. It includes a lack of good child care, a lack of a support system for troubled families and many others. Why spend all this time and money to support an initiative that does literally nothing?"

In the letter, which the coalition released to the public on Wednesday, the leaders claim that the initiative would "foster a climate of hate toward gay and lesbian persons." In a news conference held Wednesday to release the letter, the Rev. Don Brown, dean of Trinity Cathedral Church, said the campaign is "deeply divisive and discriminating" and will jeopardize the "safety and well-being of gay and lesbian people and their families."

"Here in Sacramento, we are no strangers to hate violence," continued Brown, "Local synagogues were torched in the name of hate. And the same men implicated of this hate crime have also been charged in murdering a gay male couple in Redding -- simply because they were gay."

At the news conference, the leaders also charged that the amount of money contributed by the Church exceeds the amount raised by other religious groups and threatens to subvert the democratic process.

The funds raised include money solicited by the Church from church members. Opponents of the Initiative estimate that church members accounted for a large share of the $3.1 million in the Yes on 22 campaign bank account at year end. Exactly how much isn't known because those making donations don't have to list their religious affiliation. A new financial filing by the campaigns is due on Monday.

Rob Stutzman, director of the Yes on 22 campaign, says that the coalition's letter is a "political stunt by religious leaders who are clearly out of the mainstream of religious consensus in California." He says that it is "disingenuous" to single out the LDS Church when the Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists also made donations. Stutzman said that the influence of the LDS Church in the campaign was "negligible," and said that Yes On 22 had received support from 10,000 contributors from a cross-section of religions.

Stutzman also took issue with Rev. Brown's comments linking the initiative to violence against homosexuals, calling the statement "insulting." He says that the measure simply says "that marriage should be between a man and a woman."

LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills told the Sacramento Bee that he hadn't seen the letter and declined to comment.

Also at: Religious Leaders Question Mormons on Prop 22 Money Denver CO Rocky Mountain News (Scripps-McClatchy) 5Jan00 N1 By Aurelio Rojas: Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau

Religious leaders ask LDS to halt support of initiative Deseret News (AP) 5Jan00 N1,1249,145016821,00.html 77 Californians worry act would foster hate of gays Associated Press


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