2010 or 2012?

Yesterday, the largest organization involved in 2008′s failed campaign to defeat Proposition 8 in California announced that it would be waiting until 2012 to make another attempt at legalizing gay marriage. While some other groups, such as Courage Campaign, have indicated that they will continue to push for a ballot measure in 2010, this decision by Equality California, which was based at least in part on feedback from many of the largest donors/contributors to the No on 8 campaign, could determine what actually happens, and for the purposes of this post, I assume that it does. Because I live in California, I personally am grateful for the possibility of not seeing this fight again next year. However, there are implications of this delay for everyone with a stake in this issue, politicians included.

In particular, how does this delay affect the 2012 Presidential race? While it may be too early to know who will ultimately be involved, one individual–Mitt Romney–will almost certainly be on the scene. For Romney, it is reasonable that a highly public same-sex marriage debate would have some meaningful impact–either positive or negative–on his electability. During his failed attempt in 2007-2008, Romney’s membership in the LDS Church caused nearly constant commotion in media outlets, political debates, and other public forums.

However, it is important to note that almost all of this focus on his personal beliefs was exactly that–a focus on Romney’s personal beliefs. In other words, the focus was more about the fact that he believed in Mormonism, and less about the institution behind that set of beliefs, as well as the public activities of that institution. Indeed, by the time the LDS Church officially and publicly became involved in marshaling efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California, Romney had thrown in the towel.

Every candidate in 2012 will likely face questions about same sex marriage and gay rights in general; however, these questions could, in my opinion, carry a different tone and focus for Romney, who will almost certainly be asked about his religion’s role in the passage of Proposition 8. In the event that the LDS Church is anxiously engaged in another high profile campaign, the combination of such an effort with Romney’s presence as a Presidential candidate could have lasting implications on both outcomes.

I am no fan of Mitt Romney, but this delay raises a few questions that are interesting nevertheless. Does a highly visible and highly controversial presence from the LDS Church in same sex marriage campaign bode well for Romney in 2012? Likewise, does Romney’s presence as a legitimate Presidential candidate spell disaster or success for a same sex marriage campaign? Does Romney’s own stance on the issue even matter to independent swing voters, as long as his religion is involved? How does this affect Romney’s electability in the primaries relative to the potential general election?

In particular, how will Romney be able to convince voters that he is an independently thinking political candidate in light of the LDS Church’s now–extremely visible and effective –demonstrated (via Prop 8) influence among its members? I.e., If the LDS Church is actively engaged in a political issue, is it possible for Romney to appear unswayed without alienating key constituencies?

_________________

2010 or 2012?

Comments

  1. Has the 2012 Bloggernacle Political Debate already started? This bodes certain to exceed the exhaustion of Christmases that begin before Halloween. :)

  2. Oh Ardis, don’t hate on me in the first comment. :)

    News happens when it happens–I don’t want to start the political debate any sooner (or later) than anyone else; however, the fact is, this has been a big issue for the Church, and this is a fairly large announcement.

    That said, people are free to not engage the topic, and I will not be bothered by that. Being a resident of California, I admit that this issue affected me more than it probably did a person in, say, North Carolina.

  3. Chiming in from North Carolina to say that though it may not have affected us here as much, the whole “Mormon-for-Pres?” thing was much more the issue around here than Prop 8.

    Seeing as how I will no longer be an NC resident as of next week, I’m afraid I can’t stick around to give live reports from the Eastern Front in either 2010 or 2012. If you need updates live from Provo then, I’m your man.

  4. Okay, so I’ve missed the mark with Ardis and North Carolina. Perhaps I should throw in the towel now.

  5. I think it depends on the economy more than anything else. If things are looking good economically than the Prop. 8 debate will probably rise in importance. If not — if the economy is still sluggish after four years — then Romney may have a real shot at the presidency.

  6. Jack, I agree–however, the state of the economy has more to do with a general election outcome against Obama; the more relevant question is how Romney would fair against other Republican nominees, none of which could claim any credit for a strong economy in 2012.

  7. I guess I am wondering, after the Prop 8 experience in California, if the church will take such a high profile role next time around (2010 or 2012).

    Here in Washington, there is a campaign going on right now to put on the ballot an initiative to roll back a law passed earlier this year granting same sex couples most of the rights of married couples, often called the “Everything but Marriage” bill. Some other religious leaders and conservative groups have been heavily involved, but the LDS church presence is totally missing. There have been no organized efforts that I have seen in the stake where I live, but I can’t discount that many church members may have chosen to contribute financially. At this point, the backers of the initiative have only raised $32,000, so it seems to have little momentum, and it is beginning to look like there may not be enough qualified signatures to get it on the ballot.

    I suspect that there may have been some retrospection going on about how much the church should be involved in these kinds of things going forward. My own opinion is that I don’t think we will see the kind of energetic and enthusiastic involvement like we saw in California on this issue again.

  8. In the interest of full disclosure, I am supportive of the Washington “Everything but Marriage” bill, and have not signed nor contributed to the campaign to roll it back.

  9. kevinf,
    I’m not really sure what will happen either–for the purpose of discussion, I have assumed that the Church will remain in the spotlight here. Whether it does or not, no one can say for sure right now. My interest for this post is not about the Church’s actions _per se_, but about the impact those possible actions might have on political outcomes for prominent Mormons.

  10. Any freedom-loving and observant member of the church would see Romney for the wolf in sheep’s clothing he is.

  11. 2012 will be about the economy. I doubt that SSM will play much of a role. I personally suspect that the economy will be 12 months into recovery at a minimum by 2012. Advantage BO.

  12. Dave P., come on. I think you can do better than that.

    BBell, again, I’m trying to not talk primarily about Mitt v. BO. While that is an interesting question, it only becomes relevant if Mitt can defeat others in his own party. I want to know how the perceived influence of the Church over its members, vis a vis Prop 8, will influence Mitt’s electability relative to other Republicans.

  13. Scott B, then under those constraints, assuming that there will be high profile anti-SSM campaigns that the church is involved in (of which I am doubtful), then the church’s position will not hurt Romney in the Republican primaries, but outside of the core GOP voters, I suspect that it hurts him.

    I think it is highly likely that Romney will be the front runner and probably win the nomination in 2012, should he choose to run again (likely, I believe). The previous folks listed as front runners include Sarah Palin, imploding in front of our eyes; Mark Sanford of South Carolina, ditto; and Mike Huckabee. While Huckabee has credible conservative bona fides, I think he does not have the broad appeal to GOP leadership that Romney does. The dark horses are Bobby Jindal, and Newt Gingrich, and who knows who else will pop up over the next two years?

    If the debate is still about the economy, then the SSM debate probably goes to the background. If things have improved, then SSM will likely be a bigger issue and I think it will be to Romney’s detriment.

  14. The tide of public opinion looks good for pro-gay marriage groups and individuals, particularly in places like California. They would be wise to wait until 2012 to get a big of a victory as possible. Anti-gay marriage groups should just hope this does not come back in CA (though it will). Prop. 8 was likely the high water mark.

    I do not see a big connection between this issue and Mitt, though he has used it to show himself as more conservative.

  15. How this would effect Romney’s campaign is an interesting question.

    However, Mitt Romney aside, I have been told by various stake officials in who were involved in this proposition fight that they are sure the church will not officially get involved again. The church made their point and now it is time to step aside.

    Obviously they can’t speak for the first presidency, but I get the feeling they really don’t think the church is going to officially get involved again. Only time will tell however.

  16. I agree with kevinf. Attention to Romney’s religion in 2008 depended on who his competitors were at any given moment — it came up when he was perceived as competing with ol’ what’s his name Huckabee, but not (as I recall) particular when Rudy Giuliani was considered a contender. His Mormonism may be a permanent factor in the thoughts of voters, but it didn’t get consistent play from the journalists.

    I’m guessing that the nature of the competition will control how much a Mormon candidate’s religion is mentioned as much as or more than the economy or whatever other major issue is on top.

  17. I think it’s worth noting that Mitt steered well clear of california in 2008, despite his opposition to SSM and his desire to position himself as the conservative idea man of his party. It’s not the substance of the position — whether Mitt or the Church is for or against some public policy — it’s the impression that Mormons take marching orders from SLC. During the primary season and general election, nearly as much ink was spilled by mormons trying to argue that Mitt was not a CoB puppet as by those arguing about the need to unquestioningly follow the prophet in California. Mixed message to say the least, and every publicly circulating text that makes the case that faithful LDS must obey their leaders by voting or campaigning will spread more virally in evangelical circles than mormon ones.

  18. Dustin Huntsman says:

    I don’t think Prop 8 will be the issue that defeats Romney. His dabbling in Progressive ideas, such as his health care policy, means he doesn’t have full support from Conservatives. The fact that he is a Mormon means he is going to lose some support from anti-Mormon Republicans. I see more a repeat of his last run, but I don’t think Prop 8 will be the deciding factor.

  19. Latter-day Guy says:

    I hope that if Mitt runs, he won’t feel the need to swing so hard to the right (as in 2008). In MA, he was (from what I understand) fairly moderate, and I would love to see him take a whack at healthcare and the economy.

    That being said, he’ll have to tread very carefully on the Prop 8 issue, being between a rock and a hard place.

  20. @ChrisH

    Actually, according to recent polling, the tide has slowed to a crawl for pro-gay marriage forces from the legislative angle. Support for gay marriage dropped 7 – 10 points over the time period before and after Prop 8 agitation, according to several major polls. While there is no indication that this is a long term trend, it is important to note that it appears the strategy of intimidation and vilification post-Prop 8 actually had a negative affect on the electorate as a whole. My guess is that the reason to push back to 2012 is to find out if they can regain lost ground. Then again, here in Washington, there is a ballot initiative to approve gay marriage, and gay marriage activists have attempted to put the names/addresses of those who signed online. So far ballot proponents have a temporary injunction to stop this, but it seems to me that advocates have not yet learned their lesson that intimidation isn’t the best way to win people to your cause.

    My sense is that that pro-gay marriage activists believed they had the wind at their backs, and reacted poorly when the reality of the pace of changing attitudes didn’t reflect their desires. This has cost them.

  21. Reading my comment, one thing is unclear. Opponents of gay marriage are putting the question on the ballot as a response to the legislature that passed de facto gay marriage through the state legislature. So, pro-gay marriage advocates are seeking to put the names of those who are calling for a public vote online, presumably to embarrass them, and/or encourage some form of retaliation. The ballot sponsors allege in their suit that this is a form of voter intimidation and that there is no public good served by putting a “hit list” online of those who support a vote.

  22. Dustin Huntsman says:

    I hope he doesn’t tread lightly on Prop 8. I would rather see him take a bold stand on every issue on the table.

    I would like to see politicians in general say “This is what I believe and this is why.” Then stand behind what they say regardless of the impact to their political futures. I would have respect for a person that does that and fails then the one that tries to play both sides or avoids the questions all together and wins.

  23. If the issue is how this affects Romney in the primaries, I would have to say it would be for the better. Anything that makes Romney look more conservative will only be to his advantage in the primaries.

    And once things move on to the general election, Obama can’t really attack Romney on the issue since he has taken the same basic stance (though I believe he somewhat quietly came out against Prop. 8).

  24. Brad, thank you for directing this to the discussion I intended/hoped for.

  25. Last Lemming says:

    The Republican primaries will be effectively over before the SSM debate heats up. The winner will be one of those with a legitimate claim to being heir-apparent (something that Republicans seem to respect)–i.e. Romney, Huckabee, Palin, and…wait for it…Jeb Bush. Bush won’t run, Huckabee and Palin will split the social conservatives vote and Mitt will inherit much of the McCain vote (unless he decides to pander to social conservatives again). He’s got to be the favorite and the SSM thing in California will play no role in the primaries.

  26. Last Lemming (and others), this is not just about SSM; this is about about whether the Church’s highly public, and highly effective, role in SSM campaigns will impact Romney’s electability. If Romney says he will think independently, and as he is saying that, 1,000,000 Mormons are waging a Church-endorsed crusade against (insert-a-public-policy), then how can non-Mormon voters reconcile the two? Why is Mitt somehow different that the rest of the Church’s membership? If so, how can he communicate that?

  27. I’ve considered moving to California within the next couple of years, but I really don’t want to deal with the Proposition 8 thing. Think I’ll look elsewhere to settle down, at least for now.

  28. I actually think a re-newed prop 8 debate would help Romney considerably in the primary. He would simply come out in defense of prop. 8 on moral grounds, and continue to defend the right of religious organizations to weigh in on moral issues. It would be hard to accuse him of waffling in such circumstances, and would likely endear him to much of the religious right, I think.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about Romney at this point. I live in California, and I thank God we don’t have to do this prop 8 thing again for a little while.

  29. I meant “continue on to defend the right…” That little word “on” makes a big difference…

    I don’t think he’d be particularly outspoken on prop. 8, just quietly supportive. Mostly, he’d be outspoken that religious organizations can and should stand up regarding moral issues.

  30. It is interesting to note that the Church has not taken a highly public role in states besides California since the Prop. 8 victory. I’m not sure anybody on this blog can accurately predict what the Brethren will do if Prop. 8 returns to the ballot in 2012, but I would not take it to the bank that the Church will again mobilize the troops. Such a result means a Romney campaign is less about SSM and more about other issues where he feels more comfortable, such as the economy.

    Btw, without a tax cut or major spending cut, expect the economy to dip back into a recession by 2011. This economic cycle is more like the 1930s and the 1970s than anything else.

    Another btw, Mitt’s biggest challenge may be defending his Massachusetts health care initiative, not SSM.

  31. Gauging the 2012 sweepstakes is practically useless, it’s so early. Anything can happen between now and the election. At least wait until next month or October.

    I wonder if waiting until 2012 is a smart move for the pro-gay marriage activists. Mormons may have provided the money and a lot of the organization but blacks and hispanics and Obama-motivated constituencies helped Prop 8 succeed. With Obama running for reelection, they may be motivated to vote again the same way again in 2012.

  32. I want to thank Mormons again for the restraint they showed during Prop. 8. Sincerely. You could have aired the good stuff: the kinky S/M leather daddy, the bull dyke on her hog, the twink in heels. Mercifully for our mutual dignity, this did not occur.

    I assume you all realize that this innate decency of Mormons is not widespread among Evangelicals (who form a large majority of the Republican Party). When (if?) Romney runs again and if he gets to a front-runner status, your “dirtiest secrets” will be cast in the most negative light possible and publicly ridiculed. Picture Big Love meets Karl Rove.

    Romney should be so lucky to be able to frame the debate around socialized health care or SSM. I expect he will not be able to.

  33. I would like to see politicians in general say “This is what I believe and this is why.” Then stand behind what they say regardless of the impact to their political futures. I would have respect for a person that does that and fails then the one that tries to play both sides or avoids the questions all together and wins.

    Heh, sounds like Romney’s your man!

  34. I think in regards to Romney, the inability of the evangelicals in the South to accept him will be his biggest problem.

    I can’t see Huckabee being the candidate – but I suspect the evangelicals will offer more than one possibility. Who will it be …

  35. Last Lemming says:

    If Romney says he will think independently, and as he is saying that, 1,000,000 Mormons are waging a Church-endorsed crusade against (insert-a-public-policy), then how can non-Mormon voters reconcile the two?

    So the question is, which would be more damaging to Mitt in the Republican primary:

    * opposing SSM, thus falling within the mainstream of the Republican party but risking the appearance of being a Monson puppet, or
    * supporting SSM, thus being conspicuously independent of the church leadership but alienating the vast majority of Republican voters.

    If I were Mitt, this would be a no-brainer.

  36. Last Lemming,

    Actually, since both possibilities are fatal flaws in a Republican primary, he might as well go with the one he really believes in.

  37. My thought is that in North Texas, it will be more about Mitt’s “christianity” than anything else. All it takes is for a few high-profile North Texas ministers to give speeches assailing his stance on Jesus.

    Ultimately, Texas will vote GOP in the general presidential election (although it is being a much more purple state) in 2012, so it will go Romney, Christian or not, if he gets the nomination. SSM won’t even be a consideration.

  38. I hope he doesn’t tread lightly on Prop 8. I would rather see him take a bold stand on every issue on the table.

    Being fairly open about my distaste for Romney the last time around, I’d just like him to take bold and *consistent* stands on issues.

  39. I don’t know if I should admit this, but even as a member of the church I wonder about the influence the church would have if Romney was president. Not that I think Romney would consult with church leaders or take orders or even suggestions from them; I think it would be much more subtle than that. But it’s hard to deny that there is pressure to put the prophet’s counsel ahead of one’s personal conscience. I would be concerned about that in a president.

  40. Mytha, I totally agree, and that is the point of debate I’ve hoped people would address in this thread.

  41. Btw, without a tax cut or major spending cut, expect the economy to dip back into a recession by 2011. This economic cycle is more like the 1930s and the 1970s than anything else.

    Indeed, and it is things like this that mean that there is not the force of history many think of there being.

    Which makes Mitt/Salt Lake JFK/Rome still an interesting comparison, as well as the muting. The issue may be over by 2012 if the economy dips into recession by 2011.

  42. Bush “met” with President Hinckley several times. This may not be viewed as “consulting,” but I think it is important for any president to meet with and solicit advice from the leaders of any prominent constituent groups, Mormons included.

  43. Even without Prop 8, I don’t think the negatives for his Mormonness will be as strong during the 2012 nominations because I think more Republicans will come to his defense more quickly (rather than too late like 2008). And the significant Republican block that really cares about Prop 8, ie, the evangelicals, will not be too upset about the Church’s involvement in Prop 8. But I don’t think that would make them vote for Romney. They’d still vote for another Repub candidate. So I don’t think it’s a big deal for the primaries.

    Should he win the nomination, the Church’s Prop 8 stance will generate a lot of negative from the far left, but they would have been negative on him anyway. Just another thing for them to hate.

    The question is how it would affect the middle. And here it is not clear given that the country is pretty divided on SSM. So overall, I see a lot of buzz, but I’m not sure it will sway many voters to or against him. Even more so because, for now, SSM is a state thing not a federal thing (though we’ll see if that changes).

    But you’ve counted out Huntsman entirely… You must think he’s too far away in China.

  44. As for Huntsman – being an ambassador isn’t the best position to prep a campaign from. Obama was probably counting on this when he named him – taking a strong contender out of contention for 2012.

    As for Huntsman, I think from his point of view he didn’t really want to run against Obama anyway. He’ll possibly have a better shot at 2016 when Obama steps down (assuming Obama doesn’t implode before then). And he’ll have a bonus aura of bipartisanship.

  45. #42 – “Bush “met” with President Hinckley several times. This may not be viewed as “consulting,” but I think it is important for any president to meet with and solicit advice from the leaders of any prominent constituent groups, Mormons included.”

    Sure, but Bush didn’t believe that the President of the Church is THE spokesperson for God. Romney, presumably, does. That would put Romney in a different position than other presidents. About the only comparison I can think of would be having a very devout Catholic president. How much would he be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the opinions of the Pope?

  46. Mike M., naturally I’ve assumed in my model that Romney will make his bid with Huntsman as his VP running mate. This is all part of the natural process of Mormons taking over the world.

  47. Why not? The Catholics have taken over the Supreme Court. Isn’t anyone concerned about that?

  48. It occurred to me that I didn’t really state my own opinion here–which is that Romney is going to have a really tough time of it. Certainly others can disagree with that, but my opinion is that, as long as the events of last fall are remembered, any conservative Mormon will have a tough shake of things in national politics. Until that election, concerns over a religiously-controlled government were far less defined and more hypothetical in nature; of course “Christianity” has had widespread influence over politics, but this is decidedly different. While I don’t have any particular concerns about Mormons in government–although I’m not a fan of Mitt, or Harry Reid, for that matter–if I were not LDS, I would be really itchy about electing a Mormon after seeing the organization and influence we have.

    And like Brad said above–any attempt to distance oneself from SLC necessarily puts one at odds with what so many other LDS people are saying, and it will only alienate the precise base of Conservative non-Mormons that would be needed for electoral success.

    I think he’s hosed, personally.

  49. According to me, its 2012 !

    http://allainjulesblog.blogspot.com/

  50. evangelicals only mildly care the church supports prop 8…coming from texas, there is a ton of constant anti mormon sentiment. It would vastly increase in 2012. This is not mild dislike. The south won’t go Mitt’s way…they would stand by some idiot(Hi huckleberry!).

    I’m just hoping for a real option in 2012…one that isn’t big government.

  51. Eric Russell says:

    California is old hat. The question is Utah: 2030 or 2040?

  52. Last Lemming says:

    But it’s hard to deny that there is pressure to put the prophet’s counsel ahead of one’s personal conscience. I would be concerned about that in a president.

    But what evidence is there that Mitt’s conscience and the prophet’s counsel are at odds? The real conflict is between Mitt’s conscience and the opinion of the voters, with the latter apparently holding the greater sway. In the case of SSM, all three happen to converge, making that an odd choice of issues on which to pursue the question.

    At any rate, it’s the liberals who are concerned about the Church’s political influence, and they don’t vote in Republican primaries. Evangelical voters are more concerned that a Mormon president would legitimize Mormon theology, even if he agrees with them down the line politically. Mitt would have to denounce the entire D&C to satisfy them.

  53. If I were Romney, I wouldn’t run at all. I would continue on with my PAC and try and pull in money hand over fist, and then use that to influence who gets elected. That is real power.

  54. RE #2

    That said, people are free to not engage the topic, and I will not be bothered by that. Being a resident of California, I admit that this issue affected me more than it probably did a person in, say, North Carolina.

    Actually, Prop 8 is mentioned fairly regularly in my ward. Yes, 9 months after it passed.

  55. I should have clarified that I live in NC. Which is why my last comment is (supposed to be) relevant.

  56. Forget Romney. He was a road death by trying to run from one side of the road to the other in 2008, and that will happen again, if he runs in 2012.

  57. Last Lemming (52), you said: “But what evidence is there that Mitt’s conscience and the prophet’s counsel are at odds?”

    This is precisely the point! If his opinion is _not_ at odds with the Prophet, then he’ll be accused of being a puppet for the Prophet. Unless he can prove otherwise, that will be a huge issue–but proof otherwise would be a huge issue for the voter base he needs.

  58. Last Lemming (52) and Scott B (57) I have been asking the same question. It seems that the argument is that we have Mitt’s conscience on one hand and the prophet’s counsel on the other. But why must we create a false dichotomy? I would argue that Mitt has already established that he is a Mormon because he agrees with the Church’s teachings, not that he agrees with the Church’s teachings because he is a Mormon. It is a fine distinction that is probably lost on most, but it is an important one all the same.

    The best way to avoid the appearance of taking marching orders is to make sure that he does not meet with Pres. Monson exclusively. Arranging meetings with several religious and social leaders would be great.

    As far as how the Prop 8 issue affects his electability, I really think it will be a moot point in 2012. I don’t think the economy is going to turn around by then, and if it does, the nation’s deficit/debt is going to be so astronomically high anyway that Romney’s selling point is going to be his ability to take large organisations that are heavily in the red and turn them around in record time. By the time 2012 comes around, folks are going to be far more anxious to find a man (or woman) who understands the economy than someone who cares about SSM.

  59. It was interesting to me after the votes were counted for Prop 8, that everyone was saying “the proposition won because of the influence and organization of the Mormons”, and there was even talk about what a “black eye” this would give the church in public opinion.
    The truth in fact turned out to be quite the opposite. It was advocates of SSM that looked bad (especially after the occasionally violent demonstrations that occurred outside of some Temples). I think people of all religions involved in the coolition to protect marriage, and those in the public who may not be religious but opposed SSM, appreciated that the Mormons were so effective, and were infuriated that we were singled out for protest.
    Missionary work in my area improved after the vote, not the opposite. People who previously wouldn’t give Mormons the time of day were going out of their way to say “thank-you for standing up on this issue”.
    If any of that sentiment still exists when the issue comes around again, I think there could be a small bounce for any Mormon politicians on the ballot. I definitely don’t think it having same sex marriage and their name up for a vote at the same time will be a detriment to them.

  60. How Romney fairs in the primary, I think, depends largely on whether the Independents vote. If they registers Republican and show up to the GOP primaries, Romney will be in trouble. If the vote is limited to true-blue (or red) right-wingers, I don’t think any Prop 8 style debates or questions about the church’s influence could really derail him. I’m not a big Romney fan either, but I don’t think any of the other potential candidates (is Palin really still in this conversation-really???) can pull it off.

  61. I think it depends a lot on who else is running in the GOP primary. As of now Romney has the advantage because he’s the most recognizable name. If there are no GOP candidates that appeal to independents and moderates (who can vote in Republican primaries in some states, which is what gave McCain the advantage in 2008), then Romney has that much more advantage.

    Hopefully, he’s learned the lesson that you can’t out-Jesus the evangelicals. If there isn’t a strong evangelical candidate running, he could probably persuade more of them to vote for him on the basis of shared values, rather than trying to convince them that his theology is not so wacky. To the extent that social conservatives believe he shares the Church’s values, that will probably help him in the primary.

    How he would fare in the general election will depend almost entirely on how well Pres. Obama’s administration does over the next couple years. I don’t think the SSM issue will make enough of a difference among social moderates and liberals to affect the outcome of the election. It will come up, but not enough people will care to tie Romney’s position to the Church giving him marching orders. Too many people agree with the Church’s position on SSM to hold his own agreement against him.

    Personally, I’m hoping for a more appealing candidate in 2012. Romney still doesn’t toast my bread.

  62. Nick Literski says:

    #21:
    Opponents of gay marriage are putting the question on the ballot as a response to the legislature that passed de facto gay marriage through the state legislature.

    Rather, Referendum 71 is an attempt to overturn the Domestic Partnership Expansion Act of 2009, which was not “de facto gay marriage,” nor any other kind of “marriage,” though the petition circulators have been claiming this is about “marriage.” Just to be clear, this legislation is the same as the post-Prop 8 situation in California, wherein domestic partnerships are supposed to share the same legal rights and obligations as civil marriage. The LDS church public affairs people notably claimed that their church did not have a problem with California domestic partnerships, but only objected to applying the title of “marriage” to same-sex relationships. Therefore, it would be entirely inconsistent for the LDS church to oppose Washington State’s domestic partnership expansion.

    So, pro-gay marriage advocates are seeking to put the names of those who are calling for a public vote online, presumably to embarrass them, and/or encourage some form of retaliation.

    This is misleading. Washington State law requires that initiative and referendum petitions, once submitted to the secretary of state, become public record. This is the law, no matter what the subject of the petitions, or who has circulated them. The petition organizers for Referendum 71, however, have committed themselves to being above the law, claiming that if they are subject to the same legal requirements as anyone else would be, they might be embarassed or “retaliated against.”

    According to their own finance reports, 43% of the money raised by “Protect Marriage Washington” (the initiative backers) has gone to pay salary (over $11,000 for two months) to Larry Stickney. Another $1050 has been paid to Stickney’s son, for a combined total of 45% of all donated funds. While we’re on the subject of these finance reports, Washington law requires that the name and address of each person donating a total of $100 or more be listed. So far, they have listed exactly eight contributors, using only their initials for names and only state or state/city for address. Now they’re trying to retroactively seal the information for their previous reports.

  63. Nick Literski says:

    #42:
    Bush “met” with President Hinckley several times. This may not be viewed as “consulting,” but I think it is important for any president to meet with and solicit advice from the leaders of any prominent constituent groups, Mormons included.

    The difference, however, is that Romney admitted to meeting with Hinckley to ask “whether it would be a good idea” for him to run for POTUS. Hinckley allegedly said he couldn’t give him an answer on that, but that it would be an “interesting” experience.

  64. #59 CMC says “The truth in fact turned out to be quite the opposite. It was advocates of SSM that looked bad”.

    Truth is a strange thing, especially when it is based in fact. The earth must be flat. It sure looks flat from my vantage point. Dissembling is a great tactic, but never believe your own propaganda. It leads to suboptimal strategy.

    In the California that I live in, ordinary people’s reaction to SSM was/is like their reaction to health care reform: either all for it, or else willing to give it a try…almost, but maybe not yet, and maybe not so radical, and maybe let me get used to the idea first, and please not in front of the children, and can we go back if it doesn’t work out?

    Everyone I know thought it was good for gays to get married. They just didn’t know for sure if it was also good for everyone else that we do so.

    And I enjoyed your claim that “people of all religions…were infuriated that we were singled out for protest.”

    Which presumably is why, after the victory, they surrounded your places of worship in solidarity and defense against a possible backlash the way they did the mosques after that poor Sikh was murdered? That is why they wrote endless blogs and newspaper opinions praising the new coalition between “fellow Christians”? That is why Mitt Romney’s popularity has skyrocketed in the polls? Why investigators are flocking now in great numbers to the Church, moved by the sincerity of its position on SSM? Why your new-found “friends” have at last had an epiphany and no longer think you are going to hell?

    No. That is why you were left to fight alone, on the hook, hated by gays and their friends, still despised by Evangelicals, out another $40 million, no victory party, no new “Christian” coalition. Gays get sympathy for their loss, Mormons got…nothing. You were used. Again.

    But never mind, you stood up for what you believe. To thine own values be true, and let that be good enough. Expecting (and self-deluding on) adulation from those who think you are going to hell is just an exercise in masochism. As a gay man, I know firsthand, and all too well.

  65. Dan (#64)
    I’m not surprised that as a gay man you had an entirely different experience during and after the Prop. 8 vote than I did. It may also be based in part on what area of the state you live in. In Southern California, in my circle of friends and co-workers (who are mostly straight), my experience was as I described it.
    Mormon interactions with two large evangelical churches (which prior to our interactions leading up to the proposition were strained at the least) have improved considerably. There is a mutual trust and understanding concerning social and moral issues that was not there before. I’m not saying that they cheer when our missionaries come up the drive, but many of their members who worked side by side with me and others on that measure, and were leery of mormons before, will be more open to the idea of Mormon politicians because they understand us better than before.
    As Nick said in #62 that the church’s stance is not against “equality” under the law for gay couples, it’s for the traditional definition of marriage. And that in my experience and belief is a majority position which will not hurt Mormon politicians.

  66. Mormon interactions with two large evangelical churches (which prior to our interactions leading up to the proposition were strained at the least) have improved considerably. There is a mutual trust and understanding concerning social and moral issues that was not there before. I’m not saying that they cheer when our missionaries come up the drive, but many of their members who worked side by side with me and others on that measure, and were leery of mormons before, will be more open to the idea of Mormon politicians because they understand us better than before.

    CMC, I can’t fault you for being an optimist–there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, while I agree that _anecdotal_ evidence in my neck of the woods (South OC) indicates that missionary work is going well, I see zilcho of this “mutual trust and understanding” you speak of.

  67. Hate to rain on the parade, but it looks likely that the prop 8 repeal campaign with happen in 2010, http://lovehonorcherish.org/images/stories/PDFs/blueprint.pdf.

    My prediction is that the church will officially not participate in the campaign, and all the angst will be for nothing. But then there wouldn’t be anything for the bloggers to moan about.

  68. Rich, you are not raining on anyone’s parade.

    The blueprint you cite is dated July 30, 2009, and is just that: a blueprint (which may change). Of course signatures will be gathered for 2010 under the leadership of smaller grassroots organizations such as Courage Campaign. If they should fail either in gathering signatures or winning the proposition, Equality California will move in in 2012 with a much bigger operation, much more money, and more preparation.

    Success favors the lucky and the prepared. Why not try both?

    The real question is, if gays win in 2010, will Mormons fight back in 2012? Now that will be the more interesting question.

  69. I don’t believe the church will officially fight in either 2010 or 2012. I think the leaders badly misjudged the post prop 8 blowback we received and will not want to repeat it. there will also be no way to raise even near the money that was raised the last time, and I raised about $10,000 last time visiting members homes. Nobody is on record, but I think this subject is beating a proverbial dead horse.

  70. #65 – “As Nick said in #62 that the church’s stance is not against “equality” under the law for gay couples, it’s for the traditional definition of marriage. And that in my experience and belief is a majority position which will not hurt Mormon politicians.”

    So does that mean that the church has not been involved in any campaigns in the past that were aimed at preventing gays from gaining domestic partnership rights?

  71. My understanding is that in California, the official LDS line was “civil unions ok, marriage bad”. But then, in Utah, when SSM activists tried to pass civil union protections (which failed miserably), the unofficial LDS line was “we don’t tell our members or their political representatives how to vote”.

    Is this a fair understanding of the Church position?

  72. Dan, fwiw, I think the more accurate way of interpreting this seemingly contradictory stance would be, “We won’t argue about already-existing civil unions, but that doesn’t mean we support the creation of new civil union legislation elsewhere.”

  73. I think it’s in Romney’s best interest to find some mildly public issue and publicly disagree with the Church on it.

    - It will show he’s not a Mormon clone, and that he obviously doesn’t take orders from SLC.
    - It’s not like it’s going to harm his standing with Mormons. Or Utahns.

  74. Does anyone know if the Church is doing anything in Maine, where SSM is on the ballot in November?

    I haven’t read anything to indicate so (although obviously the Church is quite small in that state). The Catholic church has been heavily involved, however, and seems to be the major faith-based organization behind the referendum.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see the Church playing a lead role in any effort in 2010 or 2012; last year was an unusual situation, where the Church was one of the few that had the ability to mobilize in a short period of time. If there’s a truly broad-based effort to defend Prop 8, I can see the Church participating as one group among many. But I just don’t see it being front and center this time around.

    Of course, like everyone here, I could be wrong.

  75. And yet, as Aaron Sorkin tells us, “politics is perception”. This is the first line of an e-mail I just received from Equality California:

    “The same people who ran the right-wing effort to take away our rights here in California have a new target: Maine.”

    It lists explicitly Frank Schubert, who ran the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, and the National Organization for Marriage as the two primary forces behind this.

    If as Eric says it is now the Catholic Church bankrolling NOM, the fact is that everyone who has ever heard of NOM thinks of it as a front group for Mormon donors (which, quite frankly, it was in California). Do not expect that people will spontaneously discover that the donors have changed. Fame is fleeting, but infamy is forever.

  76. Justmeherenow says:

    Ardis said: “Attention to Romney’s religion in 2008 depended on who his competitors were at any given moment — it came up when he was perceived as competing with ol’ what’s his name Huckabee, but not (as I recall) particular when Rudy Giuliani was considered a contender.”
    ____
    Also, do people with life-long anti- Mormon prejudice of a subtle sort tend to say one thing to pollsters and another thing in a voting booth? Would some in the Bible Belt feel more love for Mike Huckabee than they would for Mitt Romney? yet might like “golly gee” Romney more than “cheated-on-his-wife” Rudi Giuliani?

    ey don’t feel toward Romney? (Yet might prefer a socially conservative Romney to a socially liberal Giuliani?)

    ***
    Do people with life-long anti- gay marriage prejudice of a subtle sort tend to say one thing to pollsters and another thing in a voting booth? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_effect (And: Bradley is a California politician.)

  77. I think Mitt’s Mormonism will be a huge factor if there are candidates that appeal to the Christian Right like Palin or Huckabee. Obama wouldn’t need to make it an issue, Palin would make sure from the beginning that polygamy, Satan’s brother, funny underwear, etc all somehow popped up in the media.

    Romney can’t out-Christian an evangelical Christian, better for him to ignore the SSM stuff as much as possible and go more moderate like he was as Governor.

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