KFMB in San Diego was the first to report that the ProtectMarriage.com has been sending out letters to those who have donated to efforts to defeat the anti-gay marriage amendment in California, demanding that they donate thousands of dollars to the Yes on 8 campaign or else have their names and businesses publicly exposed. The AP has more:
Leaders of the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California are warning businesses that have given money to the state’s largest gay rights group they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too.
ProtectMarriage.com, the umbrella group behind a ballot initiative that would overturn the California Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, sent a certified letter this week asking companies to withdraw their support of Equality California, a nonprofit organization that is helping lead the campaign against Proposition 8.
“Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error,” reads the letter. “Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. … The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”
The letter was signed by four members of the group’s executive committee: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com. A donation form was attached. The letter did not say where the names would be published.
When asked whether ProtectMarriage.com planned to name businesses that have supported the No on 8 campaign, Prentice initially said he was unaware of any such effort.
“I’m not familiar of any organized attack against organizations that have given to No on 8,” he said Thursday.
But when asked about the letter to Equality California donors, Prentice confirmed they were authentic and said the ProtectMarriage.com campaign was asking businesses backing the other side “to reconsider taking a position on a moral issue in California.”
Prentice said it was his understanding it was intended for large corporations such as cable operators Time Warner and Comcast instead of small business owners like Abbott. Both Time Warner and Comcast are listed on Equality California’s Web site as corporate sponsors that gave $50,000 each to the group.
Companies that have contributed directly to one of the campaign committees collecting cash to fight Proposition 8, including one set up by Equality California, also were recipients of the letter, Prentice said. That list includes companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric, Levi Strauss and AT&T.
“I think the IDing of, or outing of, any company is very secondary to the question of why especially a public corporation would choose to take a side knowing it would splinter it’s own clientele,” he said.
Prentice is right that his threat to out companies is clearly only a “secondary” question about his letter – the primary question is why he was trying to blackmail people into giving donations to his organization.