Mormons join Alaska campaign to ban gay marriage

from Reuters, October 1, 1998
By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Salt Lake City-based Mormon church has donated $500,000 to the campaign for an amendment to the Alaska constitution that would ban same-sex marriages, a group seeking passage of the measure said Thursday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made the pledge last week and the money arrived Wednesday, said Kristina Johannes, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Family Coalition, a group campaigning in favor of the constitutional amendment.

Alaskans will be asked in the November general election to consider an amendment to the state constitution that would limit state-recognized marriages to unions between single men and single women.

The campaign to pass the constitutional amendment has solicited and received support from many organizations outside Alaska, Johannes said. "What we're discovering is there is a lot of interest in this issue nationally," she said.

So far, including the donation from the Mormon church, the Alaska Family Coalition has raised about $600,000, more than half of the $1 million targeted when the group formed earlier this year, Johannes said.

The total includes a $25,000 donation, plus a pledge of $25,000 to match other donations, from the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Working Families, a conservative group headed by Christian activist Gary Bauer, Johannes said.

Other Christian and secular group have been asked for their support, Johannes said. "We're thinking of every organization that we think has an interest in the family," she said.

But no non-Christian religious organizations have been tapped, she said. "I can't think of any organizations that meet that criteria," she said.

The Alaska Family Coalition will soon start television advertisements and other efforts to promote the amendment, Johannes said. "We plan a full media campaign," she said.

The push for a constitutional amendment grew out of a lawsuit pressed by two Anchorage men who are seeking the right to marry each other.

The Republican-controlled state legislature approved the amendment in May after a state judge refused to dismissed the men's lawsuit against the state.


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