Mormon Church backs Nevada DOMA

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 09 2002 11:00 PM ET

As it did with similar initiatives in California, Hawaii, Alaska, and other states, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is actively promoting Nevada's Protection of Marriage Act. "We are part of that coalition" backing the proposed ban on recognition of same-sex marriage, church spokesman Dale Bills confirmed.

Many states already define marriage as a union between an adult man and woman, so the main effort has been to pass federal law and state constitutional amendments to ensure that states would not be required to recognize gay or lesbian marriages licensed elsewhere. Vermont has a civil union provision that grants to same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as marriage. The church made direct contributions of $500,000 and $600,000, respectively, to "protection of marriage" ballot measures in Alaska and Hawaii. Both were passed by voters.

Nevada's ballot drive for the Protection of Marriage Act began two years ago and passed its first general election vote with 70% support. Amending Nevada's constitution requires approval in two consecutive elections, so the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage is gearing up again for the November 5 election. By the end of August, the group had $523,000 in the bank and was busy raising more.

The proposal has received little opposition. A group called Equal Rights Nevada spent about $30,000 opposing the initiative in 2000 but has reported no contributions or spending this year. The Progressive Leadership Alliance--an umbrella group of unions, civil rights groups, and environmentalists--opposes the initiative but is not actively lobbying against it.

"I have barely seen anything this time" from opponents, Katherine J. MacKenzie, a Reno resident and lesbian, told The Salt Lake Tribune. MacKenzie said the likely passage of the amendment will have no practical impact on her life because of legal contracts she has used to protect her family. "It's just unfortunate it turns into pure bigotry," she said. "The blatant discrimination disturbs me as it would any group."

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