More than 100 people gathered outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in University City Sunday morning. "I'm here today to protest the Mormon church support of the ban on gay marriage. It's wrong, it's hateful," said Will Widdick. The protesters say Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California, was largely financed by the church members.
According to a published statement, Bishop William Weigand, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Sacramento, responded to the recent protests at California temples. "The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8 was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity," wrote Weigand. "LDS were included - but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Lations, Asians and Anglos."
Somewhere between 40 -70% of donations to The Yes on 8 campaign came from Mormons, according to an article in the SFGate which quotes Yes on Prop 8 campaign organizers. One website was organized to provide details on who donated to the Prop 8. The website, which identifies itself as a group opposed to Prop 8, claims the amount raised by the Mormon church stands at $14 million that actually lists the donors. An LA Times article provides more insight into the names and faces behind the Yes on Prop 8 movement.
"This is a civil issue and I feel very strongly about that. It's all about civil rights. It's not a religious issue. It's a civil issue," said Bonnie Debouter.
In an official release on its website, the Church responds to the question of civil rights, "The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches."
Many of the protesters suggested the church should lose it's tax exempt status. However, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego has said churches are, in fact, allowed to advise their parishioners on issues such as propositions, but not individual candidates.
At one point during Sunday's demonstration, a church member tried to talk to several demonstrators. He told the group marriage is a sacred institution. The protesters replied that they too were family.
The church issued a statement on the matter that reads in part: "While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.