Utah philanthropist kicks in $1M to fight California gay-marriage ban

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Posted: 1:44 PM-

With the LDS Church prodding its members to give of their "means and time" to help eliminate same-sex marriage in California, many Utahns have funneled cash to the Golden State's Proposition 8 campaign.

And not all of them favor the constitutional amendment.

Close to 40 residents and businesses in Utah have made donations totaling $120,550 to support the marriage-between-a-man-and-a-woman ballot measure, according to public finance records for ProtectMarriage.com, which shows up as a link on the official Web site for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But in one fell swoop, Orem resident and WordPerfect co-founder Bruce Bastian has trumped their efforts - almost tenfold. He gave a whopping $1 million to the Human Right Campaign's "No on Prop. 8" committee.

Bastian, a former Mormon and openly gay man, said he, too, was prompted by the LDS Church to donate - but to the other side. He gave a more modest $5,000 check to the cause in May, but upped the ante in July after the church issued a formal statement, backing the ballot measure.

"The LDS Church has no business stepping their big nose in something that's a legal matter, not a religious matter," Bastian said. "Constitutions are meant to protect minorities - not to take rights away from people."

Of course, many more Mormons in California and other states have kicked in cash to support Prop 8. The Web site, Mormonsfor8.com, tracks contributions to ProtectMarriage.com daily and tries to determine whether donors are LDS by scouring the Internet and asking visitors to the site to help identify any Mormon donors.

So far, the Web site has determined that about a third of ProtectMarriage.com's donors are LDS, with their contributions totaling close to $5 million.

"If we could identify every Mormon, I think that probably 85 to 90 percent of the donors would be Mormon," said Cedar City resident Nadine Hansen, creator of Mormonsfor8.com. A member of the church herself and a former Californian, she considers the site to be informational and neutral on the issue of Prop. 8.

In its June 30 statement, the LDS Church said its position on the "moral issue" of marriage is "unequivocal."

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the creator's plan for his children."