Who gave money to Proposition 8? Insights from the LA Times

Who gave money to Proposition 8? Insights from the LA Times

The Los Angeles Times recently released a database of donors for and against proposition 8. Even though I’ve followed issues relating to the referendum with a great deal of interest, some of the data in the article was actually new to me.

First of all, I was aware that those opposing proposition 8 had raised about 5,000,000 Dollars more than the prevailing side in favor of proposition 8. What I had not realized is that the anti-prop 8 side actually raised more money from both in and out of state. The idea that Mormons uniquely influenced the race from out of state is simply unfounded. Indeed, donations from Utah for Proposition 8 (The biggest pro-prop 8 state after CA with $2,774,809) and New York against Proposition 8 ( The biggest anti-prop 8 donor state after CA with $2,885,815) almost cancel each other out. Yet, we don’t hear discussion about ‘activists’ from NY subverting the will of the people of California.

Secondly, many of the top states donating for prop-8 can hardly be said to be Mormon strongholds. #3 is Connecticut with $1,422,854 and #4 is PA with $1,206,877. These northeastern and mid-Atlantic states do not have a very strong Mormon presence. Conservative and heavily Christian States such a Texas and Colorado place #5 and #6 (1,122,925 and 721,440) respectively. Mormon strongholds such as Idaho, Hawaii and Arizona rank high but a bit further down the list ( #10, #11 and #12)

Utah was both the second biggest donor for proposition 8 and the seventh biggest donor state against prop 8 (With a sizeable $1,086,845 against Prop 8). Unless all of that money ( Unlikely) comes from the non-Mormon population of Utah, this should conclusively shatter the perception of Mormons as marching in lock step and single mindedly donating money for Proposition 8 Other states that fill the top of both lists are typically larger states such as Michigan ( #8 Pro Prop 8 and #6 Anti-Prop 8), Texas ( #5 and #10). Utah seems to have a disproportionate impact per population on both sides of the race with a few states such as Colorado ( #6 and #9) having a similarly disproportionate impact on both sides. It seems that Utah is a state filled with voters particularly concerned with the Issue of Gay Marriage and with citizens willing to donate to the issue. Thus, we find Utah represented highly even as the issue strongly divides donors in the state.

Interestingly, my home state of Florida was relatively low on both sides (#18 For and #12 For) given its large size. This is likely explained by the fact that there was a concurrent ballot measure similar to Proposition 8 in Florida and most of the donations and contributions on either side likely went to that effort.

So what say ye? How does this date change the narrative about Proposition 8 being “The Mormon Proposition”?

**Update**: I’ve been reading the insightful comments that have made me look at the data in a new light. Commenters are correct in suggesting that in states such as Connecticut and Pennsylvania the majority of funding comes from certain organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or the Templeton Foundation. My second point is certainly impacted by this although certain states such as Texas or Colorado do not really fall into the pattern of merely having one or two large contributions.

The pattern of states such as CT or PA is however NOT what we find on the anti-prop 8 donation side in Utah. It is true has as been pointed out that one donor contributed over $1,000,000 dollars to the anti-prop 8 side. ( It is also true that there is a $1,000,000 pledge on the pro prop-8 side and several pledges over $100,000 that impact that side strongly as well) However, of a total of 1,041 donations that came from the state of utah 821 were Pro-Prop 8 and 220 were against Prop 8. Thus of the people that donated in Utah %21 percent were donating in favor of gay marriage. I’d of course note that donating to a cause is a much more drastic action than merely speaking against an issue or voting and shows a higher degree of activism. This does not suggest the type of lock step uniformity that reports on Mormon involvement have shown.

It is of course true that the ground work in California and the donations from California Mormons made a big difference in the campaign. That was not the focus of this post. I am interested in the out of state funding because that is the source of a narrative that formed after Prop-8 that the ‘Mormons were coming.’ Mormons living inside the state of California have just as much of a right to protest, advocate and organize as those non-Mormon residents of the state.


4 thoughts on “Who gave money to Proposition 8? Insights from the LA Times

  1. Looking at the state totals without looking at individual donors is misleading. For example, you said that the large amount of donations against prop 8 “should conclusively shatter the perception of Mormons as marching in lock step and singe mindedly donating money for Proposition 8.”

    If you look up Bruce Bastian (a gay former member of the LDS church) in the database, you will see that he provided $1,010,000 of the funds used against prop 8 that came from Utah. Suddenly Utah doesn’t seem so divided anymore.

    The large amount of pro-8 funds coming from CT can actually be blamed on another religious group, the Knights of Columbus ($1,400,000). You can thank Focus on the Family for the pro-8 funds coming from Colorado (roughly $640,000).

    And so on and so forth. Were Mormons the only ones who donated large amounts to support proposition 8? Obviously not., but they are still responsible for a large amount of the donations.

  2. What about the Mormons inside California? And the significant contingent of Mormons in New Mexico and Texas?

    Not all Mormons live in Utah, making it silly to assume that all, or even most of, the Mormon money came from outside the state.

    And remember that $1,000,000 of Utah’s $1,086,845 anti-8 donation was from one person, Bruce Bastian, just as $1 million of the almost $1.5 million from Connecticut was from one organization – the Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus.

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