iOS app Android app More

Will the Mormon Church Sit Out Hawaii's Gay Marriage Vote?

Fred Karger   |   September 16, 2013    8:44 AM ET

On September 23, 1995 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) released "The Family, A Proclamation to the World."

The landmark Mormon one-page document is often framed and hangs in Mormon homes all over the world. It was issued that day by the The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church. Since the First President of the Mormon Church is a living prophet, Gordon B. Hinkley at the time, The Family Proclamation came directly from God.


Mormon Church Declares War on Gay Marriage

It turns out *The Family Proclamation to the World was actually the Mormon Church's declaration of war on gay marriage in this country by the politically savvy, wealthy and extremely powerful religion.

Paragraph six says it quite clearly: "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

The next paragraph is the first indication that the Mormon Church would become the leader in the fight to stop same-sex marriage in state after state for the next 13 years. The Family Proclamation to the World says: "We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

I did not discover just what the Mormon Church had been doing since 1995 until its massive involvement in California's Proposition 8 campaign in 2008. It was well on its way to raising over $30 million from its California and Utah members, when I figured out just what they were doing. I turned my discovery over to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story on September 20, 2008.

This amazing investigative piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Schoofs detailed just exactly how Mormon Church leaders raised all that money.


Mormon Church Investigated and Prosecuted in California

I later filed a sworn complaint against the Mormon Church with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) 10 days after the November 5th election when I realized just how much money the Mormon Church itself spent to pass Prop 8. I discovered that the Church produced 23 slick commercials, developed elaborate web sites, organized 25,000 door-to-door volunteers for the nine Saturdays leading up to election day, ran massive phone banks out of Utah and Idaho and bused in thousands of Mormon Church members to California during the final weekend before the election to hold up "Yes on Prop 8" signs all over the state.

The Mormon Church had only reported spending $2078 directly on Prop 8, so the FPPC decided to investigate my charges. It prosecuted the Mormon Church, conducted an 18-month investigation into all its activities and in the end the Mormon Church pled guilty to 13 counts of election fraud for all it spent to pass Prop 8 and never reported. Taking unprecedented action, the State of California fined the Mormon Church for all its election law violations CLICK HERE

Mormon Church Began in Hawaii

Soon after issuing its September 23, 1995 Family Proclamation, the Mormon Church hit the ground running in Hawaii to stop the first state that was about to consider legalizing gay marriage. The Aloha State began looking at the issue after the Hawaii Supreme Court opened the door to the possibility two years earlier.

The Mormon Church has a large presence in Hawaii. The Church-owned Brigham Young University -- Hawaii (BYUH) and the Polynesian Culture Center are there, along with enormous real estate holdings and thousands of Church members.

The Mormon Church assembled the coalition which soundly defeated Hawaii's effort to allow gay marriage by placing Amendment 2 on the ballot. On November 3, 1998, Hawaii voters approved the amendment by a vote of 69.2-28.6 percent. The Mormon Church reported spending $400,000 of Church money on that campaign, for which it received a huge black eye.

As a result of that experience the Mormon Church went underground and got others to "front" the campaigns in the next 28 states that voted to ban gay marriage. Instead of giving Mormon Church money directly, it coerced its Church members to give the necessary campaign cash in each and every state that subsequently voted to ban gay marriage just as it did in California.

I know, I received boxes full of secret Mormon Church documents to prove it. These official documents detail exactly how the Mormon Church qualified, ran and funded the elections to ban gay marriage all across the country. We have posted just some of this treasure trove of Mormon Church evidence on our web site at Rights Equal Rights: CLICK HERE

Will the Mormon Church Sit Out Next Hawaii Gay Marriage Vote?

Last week Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie called for an October 28, 2013 special legislative session to move forward on a bill that would legalize gay marriage.

What will the Mormon Church do now? It appears that post Proposition 8 the Church has backed away from leading the fight to stop gay marriage at any cost, because its public image received such a shellacking. Take a look at this Washington Post story from May 29, 2009 "The Mormon are Coming" as a prime example.

In the story the Church's own pollster Gary Lawrence admits that the Mormon Church was badly hurt because of all it did on Prop 8, "We're upside down in our image," he said. "The Church's favorability ratings declined for Mormons over the last year, from 42 percent to 37."


Mormon Church has Changed

The Mormon Church has taken steps to end the discrimination and mistreatment of gays and lesbians in the Church and elsewhere. Through the tireless work of several prominent gay former Mormons, meetings have taken place and the Church has softened its anti-gay rhetoric. It finally now uses the word "gay" and even lunched a web site recently, MormonsandGays.org

The Church led the effort to have the Salt Lake City Council pass workplace and housing non-discrimination laws, even having Michael Otterson its Public Affairs Director, testify at the meeting. Both laws passed unanimously. The Church-owned Deseret News reported on it.

Romney Campaign Kept Mormons on Sidelines

However, I believe that the Mormon Church sat out most all of the gay marriage elections over the last four years because it had a far more important political cause to embrace, the election of the first Mormon president of the United States, Mitt Romney. The Church definitely did not want to become an issue in the Romney campaign. They did not want to do anything that would harm his chances to capture the White House.

Now Mitt Romney is no longer a consideration, and a gay marriage vote is coming back to the state where it all began, Hawaii. What will the Mormon Church do now? Can its leaders resist temptation and sit out next month's special legislative session? Only time will tell. I know that we at Rights Equal Rights http://www.rightsequalrights.com/ will be watching very closely. If the Mormon Church gets back in the game, we will make sure that this time they do so without hiding their involvement and obey all state election laws during the process.

*The Family Proclamation to the World was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

What Drives NOM Now? Greed!

Fred Karger   |   January 9, 2013    3:00 PM ET

The founder and former president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher has recently thrown in the proverbial towel as the freedom to marry marches on to become the law of the land. Maggie sees the writing on the wall and recently said that even her beloved Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court this year. Even NOM's last line of defense, "the people" has collapsed. Last November voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state all voted against NOM's campaigns of lies and distortions, and for the first time supported gay marriage in popular votes.

Every public opinion poll now shows marriage equality enjoying well over 50 percent and gaining every day. Younger people support gay marriage 2 to 1 and in some regions 3 to 1. Many more prominent Republicans have even come out in support of gay marriage. Seems like the limb that Maggie Gallagher has been standing on is about to break.

Why continue the battle if they lost the war?

Maggie along with her sidekicks, NOM president Brian Brown, NOM chairman John Eastman and NOM's fulltime political hack Frank Schubert, all collect hefty six figure salaries from NOM and various other front groups year after year. No wonder they keep marching on. It's the money, stupid!

NOM's fundraising is way down to its main 501(c)4 operation, and it was outspent 4 to 1 in the four November elections. The Catholic Church pulled out of the Maine election last year after leading the opposition to the gay marriage vote there just three years ago.

The biggest news of all is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) "didn't get involved in any of the four races [gay marriage initiatives] that were on the [November] ballot -- not one volunteer, not one dollar," according to Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis, a prominent former Mormon and current Democrat State Chair of Utah. He said this recently in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. This was in spite of the fact that the Mormon Church has three prominent members on the NOM Board of Directors, author Orson Scott Card and wealthy Mesa, Arizona partners Broc Hiatt and Craig Cardon. The Mormon Church even launched a web site two weeks ago: MormonsandGays.com which urges compassion toward its LGBT members.

NOM leadership making millions.

What else now drives Maggie, Brian, John and Frank except the money? It's very difficult to determine exactly how much money and benefits these four greedy NOM leaders make, but rest assured that it will undoubedly put them in the new highest tax rate, those making over $450,000 per year. According to the New York Times, Frank Schubert alone was making between $40,000 to $80,000 per month for running the four losing campaigns, plus untold hundreds of thousands more in commissions he earned off all his media buys.

Washington, D.C. City Councilman David Catania discovered that in addition to their six figure salaries Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown were both given free housing in Washington, D.C. when NOM moved its office down there. New NOM Chairman John Eastman must be paid a salary like his two predecessors were, and undoubtedly gets legal fees as NOM's Special Counsel in the Prop 8 case, which NOM is defending before the United States Supreme Court.

Defections and more defections.

Several of NOM's staff and high level supporters are dropping like flies. One of its top staffers Louis Marinelli now supports marriage equality, and NOM's star witness in the Prop 8 trial David Blankenhorn recently kissed NOM goodbye and said that he now supports gay marriage.

So with defectors from NOM and other anti-LGBT organizations outnumbering its shrinking staff what else could motivate these four but all that money? How sad that bigotry and money trump human happiness and equality.

How to Help the GOP Survive: Saw Off the Far Right Hate Groups

Fred Karger   |   December 21, 2012    5:52 PM ET

As a lifelong Republican who believes in the key principals of the Republican Party like smaller government, a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, tough on crime, an independent judiciary, keeping government out of our lives and personal empowerment I am deeply concerned about the survival of today's Republican Party. One of the major reasons for the GOP's potential demise is that it has been hijacked by dangerous, bigoted and self-serving organizations like the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association. These are all "hate groups" who seem hell-bent on cleansing the Republican Party of minorities, moderates, women and anyone who supports full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

I had the honor of working for President Reagan for seven years as a senior member of his political team. While a true-blue conservative, Ronald Reagan felt strongly that the Republican Party should be inclusive, not exclusive. He embraced a "Big Tent" belief and practiced it regularly both as governor of California and president. He almost singlehandedly brought back the Republican Party from the ashes after Richard Nixon nearly destroyed it with Watergate and his eventual resignation in 1974.

President Reagan reached out to Democrats, Independents, minorities, labor and women and built a coalition that helped defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980 just six years after Nixon resigned. As president, he grew this coalition to help him win his 49 state landslide reelection victory in 1984.

The Republican Party used to be the party of civil rights. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, unified a divided nation and ended slavery. One hundred years ago Republican Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to appoint African Americans in his administration, all of whom were fired by his Democratic successor Woodrow Wilson. This is the GOP that we long for, a party that welcomes everyone, grows the economy, balances the budget, leads on civil rights and provides for those who are not able to care for themselves.

In a recently unsealed secret memo from a federal lawsuit, one of these third party hate groups, the newly formed National Organization for Marriage (NOM) talks openly about using its influence in last year's GOP presidential primary to get all the candidates to sign its anti-LGBT "Marriage Pledge." Additionally, its strategy to "go after any pro-gay marriage Republicans in primaries and destroy them" was backed up with a $1 million budget and led by NOM leaders Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown.

NOM's "Marriage Pledge" was signed by six of the leading Republicans running for president this year Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich. Only Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and I withstood the pressure from NOM and refused to sign its hateful pledge. Congressman Paul was brutally attacked by NOM in paid ads in Iowa and press releases for refusing to cave into its demands.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, took great pride in the fact the he wrote the anti-women, anti-LGBT and basically anti-everybody section of the Republican Party Platform at this year's GOP Convention in Tampa. His toxic language further served to drive away centrist, fair-minded Republicans and Independents from November's election. Several political experts and pundits blame this year's GOP platform for Romney's lopsided loss to President Obama.

Bryan Fischer of the Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA) spews hate daily on his radio show. He is very influential with Republican Party leadership and many members of Congress because of his 190 radio station network and all the money the AFA gives to candidates and causes. He bullied Mitt Romney to fire openly gay foreign policy spokesman Ric Grenell and gloated when Grenell resigned. Fischer said that "Mitt Romney will never hire any more homosexuals again."

Mainstream and inclusive Republican Party leaders across this country should take back the GOP and repudiate these third party organizations. Tell Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Bryan Fischer to take a hike. Let's reshape the Republican Party in the image of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Let's roll out the red carpet and let young people, women, minorities and everyone know that we are the party that will grow this economy, help them become prosperous, support immigration reform, guarantee their freedoms, protect them from foreign enemies, support full equality for LGBT Americans and stay out of our lives.

With these positions and strong independent leadership that distances itself from these outside hate groups, Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Bryan Fischer may well go the way of the dinosaur to extinction instead of the Republican Party.

Where Have All the Mormons Gone In the Fight for Marriage Equality?

Fred Karger   |   November 12, 2012   12:12 PM ET

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 will go down in history in our political fight for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington voters stood up to the usual campaigns of bigotry and hate and a majority in each state voted for the freedom to marry for the very first time. Before last Tuesday we had lost 33 marriage votes in a row and most by very lopsided margins.

Since the first gay marriage vote in Hawaii in 1998 we have always been vastly outspent by our opponents in every election until we finally evened the score in fundraising after 10 years and 29 losses on California's Proposition 8. We even outraised our opponents $44 million to $40 million. Our narrow defeat on Prop 8 was the turning point in our civil rights movement. Never again would we be outraised. Never again would we watch as the Mormon and Catholic Churches and some of their wealthiest members spent millions and millions of dollars to take our rights away. We were now beginning to fight back aggressively against our adversaries. My favorite sign from a post Prop 8 demonstration in Los Angeles was "No More Mr. Nice Gay."


Boycotts do Work

I ended up as the bad guy in the Prop 8 campaign. I organized and led boycotts of four businesses owned by the largest donors to the Yes on 8 campaign. We settled two of those boycotts and a third, the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel owned by centimillionaire Doug Manchester, admitted to losing $1 million per month from the boycott. Mr. Manchester had given $125,000 to qualify and pass Prop 8, so we partnered with Unite Here Local #30, the San Diego Hotel Workers Union to send a message to him and perspective donors. You can give massive amounts of money to take away our rights, but we in turn may not want to spend our money at your businesses. Mr. Manchester has since sold his hotel.

So boycotts work. The two we settled Bolthouse Farms and Garff Automotive Group led to both companies giving the same amount of money to LGBT organizations to offset their owner's six figure contributions to pass Prop 8.


Mormon Church Busted

During the summer of 2008 we were monitoring all the money coming into the Yes on 8 campaign. That is when I discovered the massive involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) in Prop 8. I shared the information with the Wall Street Journal which broke the story. It turned out that Mormons were not only running the entire Yes on Prop 8 campaign, but they had contributed $30 million of the $40 million raised.

Since the Mormon Church did not report its vast involvement in Prop 8 to California election officials, and instead claimed to have only spent $2078, I filed an unprecedented sworn complaint against them with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Several top Mormon Church leaders attacked me, called me a liar and even subpoena me in their federal lawsuit in California they had filed to strike down our 35 year old campaign reporting law so they could keep all the money they spent secret. That backfired and the Mormon Church not only lost its federal lawsuit, but the FPPC prosecuted, investigated, fined and found the Mormon Church guilty on 13 counts of election fraud because of my ethics complaint.

Secret Mormon Church Documents Unearthed

A few months after filing my charges against the Mormon Church I was given hundreds of official Mormon documents that showed how they had run and funded every single anti-gay marriage campaign going back to Hawaii in 1998. That was the very first voter approved ban on gay marriage. The Mormon Church directly gave that campaign $400,000 which was enough to defeat marriage equality in Hawaii 70% to 30%. We've posted some of these documents on our web site www.RightsEqualRights.com. The memos and letters show just how devious and involved the Mormon Church was in that first marriage vote. Other documents in my possession show the Mormon Church's leading role in all other gay marriage campaigns throughout the country.

No Mormon Involvement in 2012?

So imagine my surprise when for the first time in 14 years the Mormon Church appears to have sat out the five anti-gay marriage elections this year (including North Carolina's in May). Why you ask? Well, while SSM (same-sex marriage) as they refer to it in their documents is extremely important to the Mormon Chuch, having the first Mormon President of the United States trumps gay marriage any day. They did not want to become an election issue again, especially in Mitt Romney's campaign.

The Mormon Church is extremely political. They admit to having 220 people in their "Public Affairs" department alone. Records from the California investigation against them show that they had 77 full time Mormon Church employees in their Salt Lake City office working to pass Prop 8. Yes 77 Church employees! They even had to provide their names for the investigators.


Mormon Church Established National Organization for Marriage

The Mormon Church created the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2007 to qualify and pass Prop 8 in California. They had Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland's politically savvy son Matt Holland do that and serve on the NOM's first Board of Directors. Now the NOM Board has grown and three wealthy and prominent Mormons have taken Matt Holland's place. Mega donors Broc Hiatt and Craig D. Cardon have joined Orson Scott Card on the board, so the Mormon Church has control of NOM which ran and funded all the losing campaigns on November 6th.


NOM Vastly Outspent This Year

For the first time members of the LGBT community, our organizations led by the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, as well as so many of our allies were able to vastly outraise NOM and its supporters. Not just by 10% like in Prop 8, but 3 to 4 times the money than NOM was able to raise. This huge monetary advantage enabled the campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington to do a lot more and do it much earlier. A big early money advantage in a political campaign is often insurmountable. With more and more early voting in the states, the last two weeks of TV and direct mail from NOM was too little too late. NOM's commercials of fear and hate designed by its political hack Frank Schubert were run late because they were low on money. So late in fact, that they were lost in the last minute barrage of other political ads. NOM was even called out on its lies and tactics this time.

Has the Mormon Church Left the Fight?

So this raises the question, what will the Mormon Church do now? Will they do the right thing and leave the anti-gay campaigning to others like the Catholic Church and its political arm the Knights of Columbus? Will they pass the baton to the likes of Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed and the American Family Association? Or will they come riding back in on their White Horse and use all their money and political acumen to try and turn the tide in future gay marriage political and legal battles? I for one certainly hope not.

We know for a fact that the Mormon Church has been bleeding members since its role in Prop 8 was unmasked. Let's all appeal to the Church President Thomas S. Monson, a living prophet, to do the right thing and hang up his spurs. Let all Americans be happy and live their lives honestly, openly and without the heavy hand of the Mormon Church.

Where's the Outrage? National Organization for Marriage Out to Destroy Lives

Fred Karger   |   October 31, 2012   12:42 PM ET

The LGBT community and everyone who cares about fairness and equality face four crucial votes next Tuesday in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington State. All four elections are the doing of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

NOM has an unlimited amount of money at its disposal and is hell-bent on hurting millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans every conceivable way possible, especially at the ballot box.

In 2009 the Maine State Legislature passed and the Governor signed a historic bill allowing marriage equality in the Pine Tree State. On the first day possible NOM hired professional signature gatherers to qualify a referendum to repeal it. NOM was successful.

This year as soon as Washington and Maryland passed marriage equality, NOM hired professional signature gatherers in both states to place referenda on their November ballots to repeal those newly passed laws.

In Minnesota NOM lobbied heavily and got the State Legislature to place a Constitutional Amendment on its November 6th ballot to enshrine discrimination into that state's Constitution banning gay marriage there.

The fourth state voting next week on the freedom to marry is Maine once again. This time the LGBT community placed Question 1 on the ballot to overturn NOM's last vote and finally allow gay marriage to be the law just as it should have been three years ago.


NOM Costs Us Dearly

So NOM has cost the LGBT community and our friends at least $30 million and counting in these four states this year alone. NOM heads Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown are determined to fight equality every step of the way no matter what the cost or the consequences. Once again they appear to be getting off scot free in their never ending attempt to demonize and harm the LGBT community whose only desire is to have the same marriage rights as their brothers and sisters, friends and relatives and to be able to marry the person they love.

NOM Under Investigation in Two States for
Election Irregularities

The Maine Ethics Commission has been investigating NOM for over three years on a complaint that I filed against them for money laundering in the election of 2009. In spite of federal and state lawsuits filed by NOM to try and stop that investigation, NOM has lost its battle to break state election laws and not disclose its donor's names. Earlier this month the United States Supreme Court denied NOM's second appeal to skirt the Maine law, yet NOM refuses to obey this ruling and continues to hide the identity of its donors. Just who are they trying to protect?

In 2008 NOM raised $345,000 including $10,000 from Mitt Romney to qualify and pass California's Proposition 8 and did not disclose this money at the time. The California Fair Political Practices Commission has been investigating NOM on those charges I filed as well.

This very shady organization that sprung up out of nowhere just five years ago to do battle against the LGBT community has raised and spent tens of millions of dollars and is at it again. NOM is determined to destroy lives and while doing so do everything in its power to avoid the very election laws of transparency put in place to protect us.

We should be angry and fight back against NOM with all our might.

You Can Give, But You Can't Hide -- The Amway Boycott

Fred Karger   |   August 9, 2012   12:36 AM ET

I was deeply disturbed to read recently that Doug DeVos the owner and CEO of Amway had given $500,000 to a known hate group, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

NOM has been one of the most virulently anti-LGBT organizations in the country since its formation five years ago; I know, I have been closely following NOM and its donors for over four years. I was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of NOM by both the California (FPPC Case #12/294) and Maine ethics' offices. NOM led both states' anti-gay marriage elections in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In those elections, it appears clear that NOM did not obey state election laws. NOM remains under active investigation in those states.

NOM has funded and run anti-gay marriage campaigns throughout the country since California's Proposition 8 in 2008. Now NOM and its political operative Frank Schubert are at it again. They are funding and running most aspects of the four marriage equality state elections this November in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. NOM's goal appears to be harming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Americans.

NOM Promotes Corporate Neutrality?

NOM has recently taken harsh action against Starbucks and General Mills for supporting full marriage equality in the states where each is headquartered. NOM constantly defends anti-LGBT companies like its ally Chick-fil-A and its owner for hateful and bigoted comments and actions. NOM has that right under our First Amendment and so do we.

We strongly feel that the LGBT community and our families, friends and allies should not support companies like Amway whose owners gave $500,000 to the nation's leading anti-gay marriage hate group, the National Organization for Marriage. We do not want the money that we spend to be used to take our rights away.

Boycott Amway

After much consideration and discussion, Rights Equal Rights has decided to declare a global boycott of Amway and its parent Alticor. We will work with individuals and other organizations to conduct a world-wide boycott of Amway, Alticor and its sister companies Quixtar Incorporated, Access Group LLC and all of their subsidiaries and other DeVos family owned companies including but not limited to:


Amway - Family of Brands

Atmosphere
Artistry Skin Care Products
Beauty Products Sold Through Amway
Fragrances
iCook
Jewelry and Apparel
Laura Mercier®
Legacy of Clean Home Care Products
Nutrilite Health Products
RéVive
Ribbon
Water Systems Sold Through Amway
XS Food and Beverage Division
Real Estate
DP Fox Ventures, LLC, a diversified management company with interests in real estate, transportation, and sports and entertainment
Access Business Group LLC
Alticor Corporate Enterprises
Interleukin Genetics
Gurwitch Products
Metagenics
Hospitality & Fitness
MVP Sports Clubs in Michigan and Florida
Amway Hotel Corporation
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
JW Marriott Grand Rapids
Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Grand Rapids
Peter Island Resorts
RDV Sportsplex
Professional Sports
Orlando Magic - National Basketball Association (NBA) Orlando, FL
Grand Rapids Griffins - American Hockey League (AHL) Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Automotive Group
Delta Imports - Porsche, Audi and Subaru, Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Acura - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Buick GMC - Comstock Park, MI
Fox Ford Mazda - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Honda - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Hyundai Kia - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Nissan - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Saab - Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Powersports of Kentwood - Aprilia, Arctic Cat, Piaggio, Qlink, Vespa,
Genuine Scooter, MotoGuzzi, Yamaha, Grand Rapids, MI
Fox Shawmut Hills - Can-Am, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, Suzuki, Yamaha,
Honda Powersports, Honda Power Equipment, Kawasaki, Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Harley-Davidson - Hudsonville, MI
Fox Collision Center - Grand Rapids, MI
Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center - Kentwood, MI
Fox Ford Lincoln of Cadillac - Cadillac, MI
Fox Toyota of Cadillac - Toyota, Scion, Cadillac, MI
Fox Grand Traverse - Ford, Lincoln, BMW, Mazda, Traverse City, MI
Mercedes-Benz of Traverse City - Traverse City, MI
Fox Collision Center - Traverse City, MI
Fox Charlevoix - Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler , Dodge , Jeep, RAM, Gem, Charlevoix, MI
Fox Charlevoix Ford - Ford, Lincoln, Charlevoix, MI
Fox Collision Center, Charlevoix, MI
Fox Negaunee GM - Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Negaunee, MI
Fox Negaunee Chrysler - Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Negaunee, MI
Fox Collision Center - Negaunee, MI
Fox Marquette - Ford, Lincoln, Marquette, MI


You Can Give, but You Can't Hide

We at Rights Equal Rights have conducted four previous boycotts against major donors to NOM and California's Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. We successfully settled two of these boycotts when the companies gave an equal amount to LGBT organizations and changed certain corporate policies. Bolthouse Farms, which was just sold to Campbell Soup for $1.55 billion, was the first to settle. They contributed $110,000 to LGBT organizations to offset its founder's $100,000 donation to Yes on Proposition 8.

Later, Garff Automotive Group of Salt Lake City, Utah which owns 56 car dealerships around the country and has $1.4 billion in annual sales, pledged to contribute a like amount of money to Utah LGBT organizations to offset the contribution of $100,000 from the family of company president Robert Garff to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. Both companies have continued their support of LGBT equality.

Our two ongoing boycotts are Manchester Hotels in San Diego and Texas due to owner Doug Manchester's $125,000 early contribution to qualify and pass Proposition 8, and our nearly four year boycott against A-1 Self Storage because of owner Terry Caster's $691,000 in contributions to Yes on Proposition 8.

As we have with our four other boycott targets, we at Rights Equal Rights remain open to a possible settlement of the Amway / Alticor Boycott at any time. We encourage all companies to be a good corporate citizen and work toward full equality, fairness and respect for everyone in our great country.

Open Letter to Mormon Church President Thomas S. Monson

Fred Karger   |   June 14, 2012    4:00 PM ET

June 14, 2012

President Thomas S. Monson
The Office of the First Presidency
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150


Dear President Monson:

I was honored to be placed on the June 26th Utah Republican Presidential Primary ballot by State GOP Chairman Thomas Wright. I have competed in other state primaries this year, Utah is my sixth.

I hired a small Utah campaign staff and made my second visit as a presidential candidate to the state last week.

We campaigned all over in our "Utah Express" mini-bus and had an official kickoff press conference last Friday, June 8th at the Salt Lake City Downtown Marriott. That is when I released my June 7, 2012 letter to you requesting a meeting.

On Monday I had a wonderful meeting in the Southern Utah city of St. George with the Washington County GOP Chairman Willie Billings. Then a few hours later I received this mean-spirited email from Nanette Billings, his wife.

From: nanette Billings (email address removed) Subject: running for president


Message Body:

you are an idiot. You met with my husband Willie Billings today about you being on the Utah ballot. He brought your frisby, and tshirt home and it is now out in the trash. I never want to hear from such a radical idiot again. you think you are conseritave? conseritave means you beleive in the values of founding fathers and God. Do you know you cant procreate right? Well thank goodness for that. Nanette Billings

This mail is sent via contact form on Fred Karger for President http://www.fredkarger.com

It felt like a knife had been twisted in my stomach. Was it real? Was she serious? Two journalists called Mrs. Billings and what she said about me to them was even nastier. Here is some news coverage:

Yahoo News by Chris Moody: Gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger gets a rough welcome in southern Utah
CLICK HERE

Huffington Post by Alana Horowitz: Fred Karger, Gay GOP Candidate, 'Only Running To Find More Partners', Says Nanette Billings
CLICK HERE

Los Angeles Times by Mark Z. Barabak: Requiem for a candidate: 'I could have been the gay Herman Cain!'
CLICK HERE

St. George Spectrum by Samantha Sadlier: GOP presidential candidate promotes equality CLICK HERE

I have been campaigning full time for the last 2 ½ years and am well aware that many people around the country are not happy with the fact that the first openly gay candidate is running for President of the United States.

Two years ago I was threatened in a late night email from Steve Scheffler, the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance.

Des Moines Register by Jason Clayworth: Iowa GOP committeeman to gay candidate: I'll sink you CLICK HERE

But I forged ahead from that experience and have not been attacked quite like that until this week. I am 62-years-old and can take the hate better now, but for so many millions of LGBT Americans it takes a far greater toll.

We must stop this Religion-based bigotry. I once again appeal to you as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) to sit down face to face and find common ground.

We all need to work together toward mutual love, respect and equality for everyone in this great nation.

Thank you very much.

Best personal regards,


Fred Karger

Alana Horowitz   |   June 13, 2012    6:20 PM ET

Openly-gay GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger was greeted with a less-than-friendly welcome when he began campaigning in Utah this month. As the L.A. Times reports, Karger received a harsh email from the wife of a Republican official.

Nanette Billings, whose husband is Washington County Republican Party Chairman Willie Billings, wrote him to tell him she thought he was "a radical idiot."

"Do you know you cant[sic] procreate right? Well thank goodness for that," she wrote, according to Yahoo's Chris Moody.

She defended the email to Moody, explaining that "my feeling is the only reason he's running for president is to find more [sexual] partners."

Of course, Karger probably isn't too shocked by Billings' language-- he's received his fair share of push-back over his gay rights-focused campaign. One of his web ads was temporarily pulled from YouTube after it was flagged for inappropriate content. Even gay conservative group GOProud has said he is "not a credible candidate" and accused him of "running around the country with a rainbow flag" without actually making a case for why he'd make a good president.

Read Karger's HuffPost blog from earlier this month to find out more about why he's still running.

Openly Gay Republican Wins Round 1 Against Conservative Group

Sam Stein   |   May 30, 2012    2:42 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Fred Karger, an openly gay Republican presidential candidate, has won the first round of the discrimination complaint he brought against a leading conservative organization. And in the wake of that victory, he is floating the idea of escalating his fight with the American Conservative Union Foundation to the courts.

In a little noticed ruling last week, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights denied the ACUF's effort to throw out a complaint alleging that it had discriminated against Karger on the basis of his sexuality. Karger has said he was deprived of a booth and speaking spot at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which is a project of the ACUF, because he is gay.

The ACUF tried to have the complaint dismissed, arguing that it doesn't run CPAC -- rather, the related but separate American Conservative Union does -- and has a First Amendment right to chose who speaks at its events. The group also argued that its disagreement with Karger was over his support for gay marriage and not his own sexual orientation. Gustavo Velasquez, the Office of Human Rights' director, rebuffed that argument, and found that "an investigation is warranted" into the causes of Karger's exclusion from CPAC.

"Good news," Karger said in a phone interview, "they stood up to the bullies."

A spokesman for the ACUF did not return a request for comment.

ACUF does have a right to apply for reconsideration, which it is poised to do in the near future. But Elliot Imse, a spokesman for the Office of Human Rights, said it had not yet received such an appeal. Even if one was filed, Imse said, it might not be enough to avoid a formal mediation process. The reconsideration process will take place in the next week or so, if it fails, a formal investigation will be conducted over the subsequent three to four months. If a resolution is not reached, the D.C. Commission on Human Rights could be brought in to determine if there was "probable cause" for Karger's exclusion.

The resulting proceedings could prove uncomfortable for the conservative movement at a time when the debate over gay rights is at the forefront of the public consciousness. Karger is hardly alone when it comes to feeling excluded from the Republican Party because of his sexuality. GOProud, a pro-gay rights conservative group, was also barred from CPAC this year. Its executive director, Jimmy LaSalvia, told The Huffington Post that the group "will cooperate with any government investigation we are asked to participate in."

Karger himself has turned over the evidence he has to the Office of Human Rights. He said he expects that the next step in the process will be mediation, and that he has a list of 10 demands that he wants met before he will drop the complaint.

"I don't want to tip my hat," he said, "but obviously they will have to allow people who are openly gay to participate or sponsor [CPAC] ... I'm not looking for monetary damages but more access and ability to communicate."

Should those demands not be met, he added, he would explore alternate vehicles, including taking the matter to the courts. That would be a much higher bar to clear, as there are several legal precedents allowing groups like ACUF to choose its membership (chief among them Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale). With the Republican primary essentially over, however, Karger is in need of a new stage from which to push his message. A highly public legal proceeding could be the answer.

"They will either have to allow people like me who are openly gay to participate," he said, "or they are going to have to move to a state like Virginia that has no anti-discrimination law."

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. -- An ACU official, requesting anonymity to speak about pending legal matters, sent over the following response:

"We can't get into the details of an ongoing matter, but the notion that the American Conservative Union is required to invite to its key political event a man who proclaims he is to the left of Obama on many issues is absurd on its face. Mr. Karger's publicity stunt is baseless and will fail."

What Will History Say? An Interview With Fred Karger, the First Openly Gay Man to Run for President

Justin Sedor   |   May 29, 2012    7:19 PM ET

Fred Karger is a man to whom life has been very, very kind.

You can see it in the way he shows all of his teeth when he smiles, feel it in the way he squeezes your hand when he introduces himself, hear it in his easy yet firmly composed laugh. You can't help thinking it, bitterly, as you pull up in front of his beach house off Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. The pictures in the little frames in his living room are meant to drive the point home, and they're certainly impressive -- there he is with Dianne Feinstein, and Jake Gyllenhaal, and the Clintons, way back before Chelsea learned how to work her own toothy grin.
It's not surprising, upon meeting him and taking in the meticulously crafted package that is Fred Karger, that he is running for president of the United States.

At time of writing, Fred Karger is one of the three remaining candidates participating in the Republican primary. It's Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Fred Karger. Never heard of him? Fred doesn't mind. His campaign's main catchphrase is "Fred Who?" It's on his T-shirts and bumper stickers; it's the title of his 2011 memoir.

Karger has a sense of humor about it. "I'm not delusional," he says. "I know it's a long shot."

A very long one. While Karger looks every bit the presidential candidate, with horn-rimmed glasses and short-cropped sand-colored hair and that infectious smile, he's not exactly Mitt Romney. For starters, he's never held public office. He's 62, but he's never been married. He describes himself as an "activist." He's also an out gay man.

Running for president. Of the United States. On the Republican ballot.

But he's not delusional. Fred Karger is on a mission.

* * *

Unlike his opponents, politics isn't Karger's motivation for running for president. Nor is it the prospect of the presidency itself. For him, it's about telling his story as an out gay man, and the stories of thousands of others like him. It's about using the considerable attention that comes with a presidential campaign to effect the change he believes our country needs. It's also about the gravity of being the first openly gay person to run for president. His memoir is punctuated by letters from supporters young and old, Republican and Democrat, voicing their admiration and gratitude for running -- a fan named "P." thanks him for "paving a way politically for the LGBT community, and what I believe to be the human race in general."

Karger sees his campaign largely as a platform to improve visibility for the LGBT community. Take his latest campaign ad, produced to kick off his California publicity push in advance of the June 5th primary. "'Sexy Frisbee' Viral Video" features the candidate on the beach with a group of fitness models in bathing suits doing crunches and tossing Fred Frisbees, and ends with a kiss between two attractive, shirtless Caucasian men in Ray-Ban shades. It ran on several major networks in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles, and made headlines when it was removed from YouTube for "inappropriate" content.

"Every commercial I've done, there's a subtle gay reference," Karger says. "It was a ballsy thing to do, but I think we need to tell our stories. I think we need to get same-sex couples in mainstream advertising, not just in the Advocate or Logo. I want to normalize LGBT life so it will become like interracial marriage. It's just normalizing who we are, and that is one of my major goals."

Over the course of four hours, Karger used the terms activist or activism a total of six times to describe himself and his experience. Coming from a political world run by men and women who balk at the A-word -- these days it sounds more Occupy, not Oval Office -- it certainly casts him in a different light. Somehow, though, it's difficult to picture Fred Karger in a tent in Zuccotti Park. Maybe this is what activists look like in Laguna Beach?

It began in 2006. Karger had retired two years earlier from a 30-plus-year career as a partner at the Dolphin Group, a political consulting firm in Los Angeles. "I didn't want to just sit around and be a dilettante," Karger recalls. "I wanted to do something significant." So he did what any aspiring activist would do: He found a cause. The legendary local gay bar, The Boom Boom Room, was on the chopping block after the property was bought up by a conservative billionaire.

"It was a place that meant a lot to a lot of people," Karger says. "People would come out from miles and miles away. It was a place where people could go to be themselves. No one wanted to see it go."

So he "took on the Goliath." With the help of some good press and political wrangling, the fight became international news. Though the bar eventually closed, it was this first very public fight on behalf of the LGBT community that led Karger, then 55, to his new calling: gay activist.

The transition challenged Karger, who had spent most of his career in the closet. "All of a sudden, there I was, out in the world, publicly proclaiming that I was gay. It was scary."

Scary though it may have been, Karger didn't go back into the sleepy, shadowy closet of retirement in Laguna Beach. In the months before Proposition 8 passed in California, Karger found his next opportunity to do something significant for his community. He organized large-scale boycotts of various businesses whose bosses had made large contributions to Yes on 8.

The boycott movements were an unqualified success, costing the offending companies millions. Once again, Karger received widespread media attention, garnering profiles of Fred Karger, Gay Activist, in the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times and many others. "Suddenly, I became a hero," Karger said. "Suddenly, the LGBT community said, 'This guy rocks.'"

In his book, Karger writes, "I've become an activist so that younger people don't have to go through what I went through."

Clearly, he's not referring to his "idyllic" childhood in an affluent Jewish family in suburban Illinois. He's referring to the double life he led until he was 56 years old.

He describes being "afraid" of walking down the street with his boyfriend, of "panicking" when he thought he would be outed by someone who knew his secret. He tells a story of lies and fear, stomach-churning turmoil and self-hatred. It's a story that's all too familiar -- and still poignant.

In a recent interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Karger talks about the "rainbow glass ceiling" faced by today's gay men and women in politics, a "glass box" that prevents gay people from dreaming big and achieving their potential.

It's something that held him back in his career, as the fear of coming out (or of being outed) stopped him from running for office until now. He told the L.A. Times last August, "When you're gay and in the closet, you learn there are a lot of things you can't do."

* * *

Most of the profiles of Fred Karger the presidential candidate focus on his role as pioneer, while almost completely ignoring his policy points. It's a disservice to a man who has worked hard to be more than a "one-issue candidate."

Indeed, he's built a solid set of policy fundamentals that define him, a must for any candidate. He's got the requisite well-formulated plan to fix the economy, revolving around his "Jobs Now!" plan that would help connect businesses with qualified applicants, wherever they may be, in the hope of filling the 3.1 million jobs that remain unfilled around the country. With the help of a privately run entrepreneurial fund, he hopes to create a microlending system that would fundamentally change the way small business works in America.

Like many Republicans, he wants to balance the budget, and isn't afraid to cut Social Security and Medicare to do it. But unlike many Republicans, he wants to raise taxes -- except he's careful to call it "revenue enhancement."

He's in favor of providing a Bush-style "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants, "to help them assimilate and pay taxes, and make them a part of this [country]." At the same time, he's "not opposed to deploying troops and drone technology to secure both our borders."
The main focus of his campaign, however, has been the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"Marriage is symbolic," he says. "It sends the loudest, clearest message to anyone who's LGBTQ that you are equal. You can have the same rights as your brother, or your cousin, or your best friend. A lot of people say, 'I don't want to get married, I don't care.' Well, it's not about your personal position, it's about what that message says. And I know because I had such a struggle, and I see so many people having struggles, and when marriage is the law of the land, that is the most important thing we can do."

While his LGBTQ policy also includes getting ENDA passed and making DOMA history, the gay marriage fight is the keystone of his platform, and indeed, of his presidency. It is what has shaped him into the man he is today.

* * *

Over the course of a four-hour interview, the perpetually positive and energetic Karger seemed to consistently ignore one very large elephant in the room: The extent to which any of this means anything depends on how many people know who Fred Karger is -- and how many of those people end up voting for him.

Karger attributes the relatively low impact of his campaign to the fact that he was kept out of the Republican debates, for reasons both legitimate (low poll numbers) and questionable (Fox News kept him out of one of the debates for which he qualified). He thinks things could have gone a lot differently, had he had at least modest support from LGBT organizations. Their support could have translated into large amounts of money, he said, that could have qualified him for certain debates and bought airtime, increasing exposure.

Groups like Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have been largely silent since Karger began his campaign. Again, he's not exactly surprised. "My first trip to Washington, D.C. in February 2010, I met with the heads of all the organizations. I told them I was thinking of running for president. I asked for two things: Watch what I do, and keep an open mind... basically, I didn't want them to badmouth me. And they've been very good on that. My unhappiness is from the fact that they haven't taken it any further. I am disappointed, especially with the Victory Fund. What a difference [their support] would've made."

The Victory Fund, an influential organization that backs gay candidates based on their background in public service and their chances of winning their races, passed on Fred Karger, the first openly gay man to run for president. "I'm a big supporter and I love what they do, but I think they should have been a part of this. What is history going to say?"

And it's not just the movers and shakers. The reception from regular LGBTQ folks has been lukewarm, as well. "I knew that 'gay Republican' makes for an awfully good headline," he says with a chuckle and a hint of smug satisfaction; unfortunately, it hasn't won over the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ voters who remain firmly in the Democratic camp. "The LGBT community has become so partisan," Karger says, the vaguest hint of frustration escaping his command. "I think it's a little short-sighted. We have that attitude in this country, and it's destroying our ability to get things done."

But today, a few weeks after President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage, and as gay men and women in state after state win the right to marry, the fight "to get things done" feels almost as if it's already been won. A majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. It's a matter of when, not if.

In many ways, so many people in this country have moved past gay marriage. The debate over Prop 8 has given way to genuinely productive discussions, in the media, in legislatures, and in schools, on the rights of trans individuals and school bullying, on the unique and complex needs of queer people of color. It's not about marriage anymore -- not completely, not really. For so many people, it's not about "normalizing who we are" -- it's about finding ways to achieve real respect, real justice, that means something to real individuals, not all of whom are as meticulously put-together as the gay men of Laguna Beach.

So maybe it's not just the Republican thing. Maybe some people feel that the first gay man to run for president should stand for more than marriage equality. Maybe they feel he should fight for the issues faced in communities that don't look like his, for people who don't look like him. Maybe it's Fred Karger's mission to "normalize" LGBT life that keeps him from being embraced by those who would otherwise find his bravery and vision inspiring.

For so many people in our community, whether because of their skin color or their gender identity or simply because they don't look like the men and women in Karger's campaign ads, marriage equality doesn't even scratch the surface of the equality they desperately need. They don't want to be "normal" -- they never will be, not from Karger's definition, and not from society's.

And for them, that's okay. As David Halperin wrote, "Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. 'Queer' then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative." Many would argue further that those who aspire to normalcy perpetuate exactly that which they are trying to fight -- while working for equality, for "normal" status, they grant their permission for society to continue to treat gay people as sub-normal, as sub-human.

In many ways, Fred Karger represents something larger than himself. He represents a choice that is facing the LGBTQ community. As more and more gay people gain a foothold in politics and respect from society, they must decide what to do with the power they've been given. As the community continues to make history, the question becomes ever more difficult to avoid: will Karger's "normal" get us where we need to go?

This piece previously appeared on OutWrite.org.

FPPC Sworn Complaint Filed Against NOM

Fred Karger   |   May 17, 2012    2:01 PM ET

This week I filed a sworn supplemental complaint against the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The 37 page document accuses (NOM) of not reporting $345,400 in contributions that it received from 11 donors in 2008 including GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. NOM was the single largest contributor to California's Proposition 8 campaign that year.

I previously filed a complaint against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) with the FPPC in November of 2008 for not reporting all the money it had spent to pass Prop 8. The Mormon Church was prosecuted, investigated for 18 months, pled guilty on 13 counts of election fraud and was fined by the FPPC. I am also responsible for the ongoing 2½ year investigation of NOM by the state of Maine for money laundering in that state's 2009 election to repeal gay marriage.

In the Maine case, the Attorney General's office subpoenaed 29 documents, including NOM's 2008 federal tax returns. Exhibit #10 is where these 11 missing large contributions appeared. The names were never reported to the California Secretary of State as required by law.

Was NOM Trying to Protect its Mega-Donors?

In 2008 the brand new NOM was trying to flex its muscles on Prop 8 and show what a great fundraiser it was, but its two leaders Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown somehow forgot to report over $345,000 in contributions that they received that year.

Missing from NOM's campaign reports was $100,000 from Sean Fieler of the New York based Equinox Partners who also serves as Chairman of NOM's American Principles Project. NOM also inadvertently left off the $150,000 that it received from "Delivery from Heaven Foundation" President Michael Casey. Casey and Fieler had each previously given $5,000 to NOM's legal arm ActRight.

The recently unsealed documents in Maine also revealed that NOM received $10,000 from Mitt Romney on October 14, 2008 through his Alabama PAC "Free and Strong America" which it did not report. That was only 3 weeks before the Prop 8 election. NOM board member Craig Cardon of Mesa, Arizona gave $25,000 that NOM did not report either. Elder Cardon is a member of the Mormon Church First Quorum of the Seventy and had served as a stake president, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency and bishopric, elders quorum president, institute instructor, and Gospel Doctrine teacher of the Mormon Church.

The "NOM Eleven" Secret Donors

Below is the list of the eleven contributors that the "National Organization for Marriage California -- Yes on 8, Sponsored by National Organization for Marriage" did not report to the California Secretary of State in 2008 and did not want us to see.

Michael Casey - $150,000
Jamestown, RI

Sean Fieler - $100,000
New York, NY

Craig Cardon - $25,000
Mesa, AZ

Free and Strong America (Romney's Alabama PAC) - $10,000
Belmont, CA

Charles Stetson - $20,000
New York, NY

Timothy Busch - $20,000
Irvine, CA
Reported $10,000 $10,000 Not Reported

Brian Harrington - $10,000
Newtown, CT

Brent Bowden - $10,000
Mesa PA

Jim Vargas - $10,000
La Jolla, CA

Kenneth Kremensky - $9,500
El Cajon, CA
Reported $9,100 $400 Not Reported

Mark O'Brien - $5,000
Swathmore, PA

NOM was formed in 2007 to qualify and pass Proposition 8. Ever since 2009, NOM appears to try and launder money through its national organization, its Educational Fund, one of its state PACs or numerous other entities it has established to defeat pro-marriage equality candidates and pass constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage across the U.S.

The statute of limitations on filing campaign ethic's violations in California is five years.

Fred Karger "Sexy Frisbee" Ad Pulled From YouTube Because Of 'Inappropriate' Content

Jason Linkins   |   April 25, 2012    5:08 PM ET

Fred Karger's longshot bid for the White House typically doesn't get much attention, primarily because he was deemed too unpopular in polls to compete at debates alongside such titanic presences as Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty. But he's running what campaign he can in his home state of California, and has managed to kick up something of a stir with the ad he released on YouTube, "Sexy Frisbee."

Karger has used his trademarked "Fred Who?" frisbee in ads before -- one of his first spots, "Demon Frisbee," gently spoofed an infamous Carly Fiorina ad. For the California effort, the spot features young and comely beachside frolickers, tossing the frisbee around as Karger discusses what his candidacy is all about.

However, not long after the "Sexy Frisbee" spot was placed on YouTube, the Karger campaign received word that the higher-ups had pulled it down, citing "inappropriate" content. If you watch the spot, I'm guessing you can pick out the moment that ran afoul of some YouTube watcher.

I find it hard to be surprised that the candidate most closely identified with supporting marriage equality included a brief kiss between two men in his campaign ad. Naturally, it's not shocking that someone out there in the world took offense, and flagged it for being inappropriate. What is surprising is that YouTube, a site that's supposed to be on the vanguard of some modern video content platform, got goosed by this, and took it down. But that's what they did, at least temporarily. Here's the notice that the Karger campaign received:

The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled:

"Sexy Frisbee" Viral Video - (fredkarger)
Your account has received one Community Guidelines warning strike, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the permanent termination of your account.

So, it was in the estimable judgment of the higher-ups that there was adequate cause to censor this video. The Karger campaign mobilized supporters and petitioned YouTube with a complaint. And Karger, who is better connected than most give him credit for being, emailed the lead lobbyist in Sacramento for Google, YouTube's owner, asking for a meeting. The wheels spun, and the spot was reinstated. (During this time, I am guessing a YouTube user could have found an abundant number of videos of people beating the crap out of each other.

How many years until we all look back in embarrassment at a time when we allowed ourselves to be bothered at the sight of two men kissing? Five? Ten? Twenty seems too long. But that's part of the reason Fred Karger is running.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup For April 20, 2012

Jason Linkins   |   April 20, 2012    1:27 PM ET

For as long a time as your Speculatroners have been dutifully cataloguing the damage that the primary process has been doing to Mitt Romney's brand, we have been cautioning you to underrate the long-term effects of the grueling primary season. And even as President Barack Obama has stacked up some occasionally gaudy results in various polls -- and Obama had what amounted to a banner week last week -- we've maintained that eventually the race would tighten. And the Obama campaign evidently felt the same way: for the past few weeks, it has been feeling waves of concern that its base of donors and supporters were settling into an assumption that the president's re-election was a done deal.

So, we're assuming that having said all that, all of you were among the least surprised people in America when the latest Gallup tracking poll had Mitt Romney ahead by two points, followed by a number of various poll results that suggested a wide variance as to who was up and who was down. All of which suggests a very close race is in the offing. Welcome to the general election, folks!

If you've a mind to follow the race closely, the shift to the general election means that you'll have new noise to detune as the contest escalates. Welcome, for example, to the period where pseudo-events dominate news coverage -- the time where a CNN pundit or a former rock star can say something that causes the media to stampede in the direction of Acid Canyon.

And if you follow the race closely, you're going to run up on a glut of polls and polling data from now until we all have to start preparing for the Mayan Apocalypse. There's a good chance that most of you have already encountered some useful guide on how to read polls and polling now that we've switched from the primary stage of the election to the general.

Nate Silver, for instance, offered a fairly comprehensive guide this week. His advice -- "be patient," remember the distinctions between registered voters and likely voters, keep an eye on economic indicators -- is well-heeded. We agree that keeping an eye on polling averages is the key to following the state of the race. One caveat: remember in these early days, some of the state averages won't be based on a lot of current polling, so don't draw conclusions too quickly.

Additionally, we'd remind you that even though you'll hear about nationwide head-to-head polls, you should remember that the election will be decided in the electoral college, and that a handful of battleground states will determine which way the race swings.

For example, in the news this week, you'll hear that Romney is up by two in the Gallup tracking poll and up by two in New Hampshire. Which result is more revealing? At the moment, it's the Gallup. That one result in New Hampshire is an outlier poll that happens to be the only one in the field, so far, in April. But as more polling gets conducted in New Hampshire, that polling average will have more and more salience -- especially if the national tracking continues to predict a close race -- because New Hampshire is one of those key swing states whose electoral votes Obama will want to retain.

Similarly, when you're looking at Obama's approval ratings, remember that while the nationwide result tells a general picture, the approval ratings in places like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania tell you so much more.

And above all, remember that there's a lot of political action happening on the ground that doesn't get reported. How well is Mitt Romney doing getting people to show up and make phone calls? Are those Obama field offices packed with as many enthusiastic volunteers are they were in 2008? This is where the fervor for a candidate can be best measured.

Yes, we know that for a long while, the story has been about GOP infighting over who would eventually be the party's nominee. A ghost mailer in Iowa from the Rick Santorum campaign that went out this week serves as a last reminder of that era. "It truly frightens me to think what’ll happen if Mitt Romney is the nominee," the mailer -- which had been paid for and for which distribution was arranged before Santorum dropped out of the race -- sums up the argument that Romney's GOP competitors had been making all along. And as long as other candidates were in that race, providing voters with the dream of an alternative, everyone who was inclined to not like Romney had the leeway to do so.

But we're now in the part of the election cycle where Santorum's forthcoming communications will read, "It truly frightens me to think what’ll happen if Barack Obama wins re-election." And so, the formerly disaffected are coming home, and the "not-Romneys" are joining up to be part of the "not-Obama" movement. As our own Mark Blumenthal pointed out this week, the bases have aligned themselves behind their candidates. Remember all those primaries this past year, where pundits alleged that Romney's inability to win more than [x] percent was a troubling omen for the general? Yeah, you can forget that now.

In fact, the hot new wave of speculation is about whether the current election is going to be a "referendum" election or a "choice" election. Team Romney will hope for the former, and argue that a greater economic recovery would be possible under his technocratic management. Team Obama will make the latter case, and suggest that a Romney administration would take the country back to the bad old days. There are historical examples in which incumbents have successfully bucked the conventional wisdom on the "referendum" election, but basic political science favors the notion that this election is likely to be predicated on Obama's first term.

Of course, as the election season changes, so will your Speculatron. In the coming weeks, we're going to transition away from covering the dwindling primary contenders and get on a general election footing. That means that we'll also be providing coverage of key downticket races in the Senate, the House, and the states.

And we'll be sending readers to further flung places as well and exposing readers to the work of reporters who know their state's political culture like the back of their hand -- like Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun, Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times, and Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Naturally, if you've got a favorite political reporter or think a race in your area deserves more coverage, we want to hear about it.

But for the moment, we'll slowly wind down the primary season. This week, Mitt Romney struggled with secrecy, Barack Obama fought distractions, Ron Paul went to war with Alaska, Gary Johnson challenged the two-party frame and Newt Gingrich skirmished with Antarctic waterfowl. To find out who won their battles and who lost, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of April 20, 2012.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup For April 13, 2012

Jason Linkins   |   April 13, 2012    6:21 PM ET

This week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum decided that the time to quit his upset bid had finally come. He shuttered a campaign that had risen from the depths to become a surprising success and, for a time, a real burr in former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's side. But with the heavy risk of flaming out for a second time in his home state, Santorum opted to go out on as high a note as possible, and in so doing, he officially made the primary season a secondary concern.

Yes, Texas Rep. Ron Paul still has some leverage to wield, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has some shout left in him, but this race has ended up where we mostly thought it would, with Romney as the GOP standardbearer and President Barack Obama as the incumbent hoping to hold forth. Neither man is unprepared for this matchup. Romney has, almost from the beginning, spent more time looking past his fellow GOP contenders and kept his eyes on his eventual general election opponent. And the Obama campaign never indulged too heavily in the speculation that one of Romney's competitors was going to end up tripping Mitt at the finish line. Each has anticipated the other, and by and large, so have we all.

Now, the question that gets raised is what sort of race we should expect from here. On that regard, Politico's John Harris predicts that the coming campaign will be a model of "self-restraint in an age of rage."

The general election will pit one exceptionally self-contained, self-disciplined, self-motivated man against another with precisely the same traits.

Voters have a choice between two men whose minds gravitate to rationality and logic — both of whom have expressed disdain for the disorder and surliness that pervade modern governance.

There may be more than coincidence at work with this seeming paradox. During a time when politics is defined by media saturation and relentless attacks, there is a premium on politicians who live by an ethic of constant self-control.

It sure is pretty to think that this is what's likely to happen. But this week's "Rosengate" flap suggests otherwise. This is a matter we've already opined at length about, so we won't repeat ourselves. But the whole incident demonstrated that civility can go out the window entirely when the right buttons get pressed. In this case, we had Romney's yawning gender gap, and the vulnerability that poses for him, intersecting with the traditional "leave the spouses out of it" rule of decorum.

The result: a silly vendetta. The Romney team went full-teeth after someone who's got nothing at all to do with the campaign. The Obama team ordered its allies to go out with a baseball bat and not return until they'd managed to get a Hilary Rosen-shaped dent embedded in the wood. Whatever value there was to be had in a discussion about women or moms or the economy got lost. The only thing Romney gained was an opportunity to push the assassination joke by his new backer, Foster Friess -- and the sixth birthday of "Romneycare" -- out of the headlines. The only benefit to Obama was a cheap scoring of a "Sista Soulja moment." And in the end, the entire contretemps only really had salience with the cosseted elites of the Beltway and the media by which it is served.

But one of your Speculatroners' regular readers emailed in with a good point: If Hilary Rosen had made the same comments two months ago, no one would have said a blessed word about it. And that's the difference between the primary season and what we're on to now. We're no longer in the part of the process where Romney gets shot at and he has to abide by Reagan's 11th Commandment and stay his hand. It's open season on everybody now.

We'd like to believe in the fantasy that Harris is describing, but we don't. (In fact, we think that all Harris is doing is setting up the "I'm so disappointed in the direction the election has taken" article that he already plans to write.) This week's sharp turn into rage was predictable, considering last week's kerfuffle between Reince Priebus and Democratic rapid-responders, who bypassed arguing a substantive point and went straight to trying to score cheap points arguing Priebus' metaphor.

But here's all you need to remember. Obama is happy to wage a negative campaign. Romney has already calculated that lying will need to be a key feature of his campaign (and his surrogates have actually admitted this). And both of these guys will be backed by stacked super PACs, that only really exist to allow someone affiliated with the campaign to get elbow-deep in the dank.

So we're at a crossroads here, and the candidates have choices. They could wage a high-minded campaign, rooted in substance, and wage a valuable debate that edifies and empowers voters. Or they could choose a nasty, brutish, interminable slog to November. We'd love to see the former, but we predict the latter.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, the smooth road for Gary Johnson's quest for the Libertarian Party nomination hit a roadblock, Newt Gingrich expanded his fight with Romney to a fight with a former employer, Ron Paul's campaign waged an unseen battle in Missouri that could presage his future, Obama's campaign battled ts own sense of cockiness, and Rick Santorum had a surprisingly potent bid for respectability. For all of this and the rest of the news from the rapidly receding campaign trail, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of April 13, 2012.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]