25 years ago today - 03/04/1997

Memo from Loren C. Dunn to Elder M. Russell Ballard discussing SSM in Hawaii and California and the Church's strategy for dealing with same. The first letter in this series is dated October 31, 1995 and specifies the urgent need for immediate fundraising. Elder Neal Maxwell, a member of the Church Public Affairs Committee, took Dunn to meet with the 1st Presidency on the matter; Pres. Hinckley said "move ahead....the Church should be in a coalition and not out front by itself." [Pres. Hinckley headed the Special Affairs Committee (later the Public Affairs Committee) in campaigns regarding "moral issues" such as the ERA since its organization in 1974, and had experience with honing the Church's image.] Preliminary meetings included Dallin Oaks, Lynn Wardle (BYU) "a top scholar on this subject", Richard Wirthlin (not yet a GA) and Church public affairs. Oaks identified that some rights, such as hospital visitation, would be necessary concessions. The memo noted that in Hawaii in 1997, "A carefully crafted letter approved by the First Presidency and Twelve was read in Sacrament Meetings in Hawaii restating the Church's position on traditional marriage and urging support for the coalition." [This would be the coalition set up by the Mormon and Catholic Church, Hawaii's Future Today.] Two of its three leaders were LDS and its PR firm was the firm that worked for the Polynesian Cultural Center at the time. In Hawaii in 1996, "Our position was helped by intense lobbying, increased media awareness and a barrage of letters and faxes from HFT members to legislators." Donald Hallstrom was the Area Authority 70 over Hawaii at the time, and the memo states, "The success of Hawaii's Future Today is based on its ability to be an independent voice representing the Hawaiian people. (emphasis mine) The Church's input to the coalition (HFT) is from myself (Dunn) to Don to Jack Hoag (an LDS officer of HFT) Wirthlin did some surveying and found that the Catholics had a better image, so "if we get into this, they are the ones with which to join." Accordingly, Dunn, Wirthlin and Stuart Reid met with CA's Catholic Bishops Conference Chair. Dunn, Wirthlin and Reid then met to "determine what kind of arrangement we might recommend to [Ballard]. If the right people can be found, we may end up with a coalition who will work in the background assisting other coalitions where we can agree on what they are doing." The folks cc'd on the memo were: Elders Dallin H. Oaks, Robert D. Hales, W. Eugene Hansen, Marlin K. Jensen, Lance B. Wickman, Richard B. Wirthlin and Stuart Reid.

[Mormons for Marriage: A Prop 8 Timeline, http://mormonsformarriage.com/?page_id=68]

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