- (Photo: AP Images / Gus Ruelas)
A pro-gay rights group published a full-page ad in The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday to respond to an earlier ad by a religious liberty group that condemned the mob "violence and intimidation" directed against the Mormon church and other Proposition 8 supporters.
Truth Wins Out, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., ran a counter ad, entitled "Lies in the name of the Lord," stating: "Noting could be further from the truth. Those demonstrations across the country were remarkably peaceful and were a vivid example of Americans exercising their free speech rights, and we think it's inexcusable for anyone to misrepresent these protests for political gain."
The pro-gay ad was in response to a full-page ad by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty that ran in The New York Times last Friday. The ad, entitled "No Mob Violence," deplored the violent protests that have ensued following the passage of a California ban on same-sex marriage.
It was signed by over a dozen over religious leaders, lawyers and theologians, who decried "the violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) or 'Mormon' church, and other religious organizations - and even against individual believers - simply because they supported Proposition 8."
In the concluding paragraph of the Becket Fund ad, the group acknowledged although there were "fundamental disagreements" among them, they were willing to unite across faith lines to commit "to exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry - against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason."
Signers of the letter included Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson of the Becket Fund of Religious Liberty, Richard Cizik of National Association of Evangelicals, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and William Donohue of The Catholic League.
The Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund concurrently launched NoMobVeto.org, a website where readers could endorse the ad and take a stand for the right of religious people to participate in the electoral process without fear and intimidation from anti-religious bigotry.
In weeks following the passage of Proposition 8, opponents of the measure held numerous protests targeting supporters of the ban. While many of the protests were peaceful, some evidenced hate and intimidation.
Over 2,000 Proposition 8 opponents protested outside the Mormon temple in Los Angeles, chanting "Mormon scum." Another group picketed at megachurch Saddleback Church, holding signs reading "Purpose-Driven Hate," a play on Pastor Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Life. Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted and the members' cars were vandalized.
"There was not just one instance of vandalism," Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, told the Salt Lake Tribune.
"I was there in Westwood, [Calif. at the LDS temple protest]. I saw signs saying, 'Mormon scum,' and others encouraging the sort of hatred and violence we condemned. There have been fairly widespread attempts at intimidation, like calling Proposition 8 supporters at 2 a.m. and screaming into the phone."
The Mormon church has been a target by gay rights protesters because its members have donated tens of millions of dollars toward the Yes on 8 campaign.
The Becket Fund has maintained that their ad doesn't denounce "peaceful" demonstrations.
"Some folks claim we’ve attacked legitimate protests. Not true," the group said Thursday on the NoMobVeto.org blog site. "Our ad is about violence and intimidation, which is what mobs commit. It explicitly condemns violence against 'believers, gay people, or anyone else.'"
Gay rights advocates have been charged with running an intimidation campaign against individuals who donated toward the measure's passage.
Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, was blacklisted by the gay community in Hollywood after his $1,000 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign was disclosed.
"Hairspray" composer Marc Shaiman pledged to never allow anything he wrote to play at the theater again. Protest from Shaiman, who recently created a Web video satire entitled "Prop 8: The Musical" that mocks Christians as hatemongers and Jesus as a Bible critic, and other gay rights activists pressed Eckern to resign in November.
Los Angeles Film Festival Director Richard Raddon, a Mormon, was also pressed to resign after his $1,500 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign was disclosed.
The latest "blacklist" example was noted on Thursday by Greg Gutfeld of Fox News' "Red Eye" program. Margie Christoffersen, who fills pitchers at El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles, was forced to resign after gay rights advocates picketed outside her workplace, Gutfeld reported. Although a supporter of gay marriage, Gutfeld chided the protesters for their treatment of Proposition 8 supporters.
Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento based Christian law firm, has offered to defend those threatened because of their support behind the California marriage amendment.
"Californians have been shocked by the aggressiveness of radical homosexual activists who have ousted several individuals from their jobs and livelihoods based solely on their support for traditional marriage," PJI president Brad Dacus stated this week. "These tactics of fear and intimidation in retaliation for supporting a lawful ballot measure are completely unacceptable."