LDS Church woos Californians in Utah to back gay marriage ban

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The LDS Church's active support of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage so far has been mostly confined to California.

But during a special satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City tonight to LDS chapels in Utah County as well as in California, LDS authorities are expected to ask Brigham Young University students and other Californians living in Utah to participate in phone trees in support of Proposition 8, which would define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

The broadcast will feature Apostles M. Russell Ballard and Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton, of the Presidency of the Seventy, discussing the LDS Church's doctrine of marriage and describing the church's participation in the Protect Marriage Coalition, which wants voters to approve the initiative.

At the coalition's request, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making arrangements for Californians living in Utah "to call friends, family and fellow-citizens in California to urge support of the effort to defend traditional marriage," spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday.

Although many members other than Californians have expressed a desire to help, the effort in Utah for now will focus on Californians living here, Trotter said. No calls from Utah have yet been made, but a small test of the phone-call system is "anticipated soon."

"We are looking at options to fulfill a request from the coalition to help with phone calls to encourage support of Proposition 8. We're also responding to the many requests we have had from students and others who want to help," Clayton said. "Making phone calls is something they can do."

Keith Kuder, a Mormon from Southern California who lives in Provo, heard about tonight's meetings from Facebook and from fliers circulating in his neighborhood. He plans to attend.

"This is going to set a precedent," said Kuder, who is in favor of the initiative. "The church has not been involved with politics in this way for a very long time. The church doesn't want to make a statement in favor of Prop 8 but it wants members to be in favor."

California Mormons have already contributed heavily to the campaign, according to a report by, which tracks campaign contributions to ProtectMarriage .com and identifies which donors are LDS. As of Oct. 1, that group had identified individual LDS donors who had given $7.9 million, or 41 percent of all large donations, making LDS members the largest group of ProtectMarriage contributors, said a release from Affirmation, a support group for gay Mormons.