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Mormons working to overturn Md. marriage law

Church denies direct role, but leaked email details efforts

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LDS Temple (photo from wikimedia by Joe Ravi)

Members of the Mormon Church in Maryland are working to overturn the state’s recently passed marriage equality law, according to an email obtained by the Washington Blade.

In the message dated March 29 sent to D.C. and Southern Maryland-area church members, the writer states that a coalition of inter-denominational Maryland churches has joined to place a referendum before voters in November on the marriage law before it goes into effect.

“We need to collect approximately 200,000 signatures by the end of May,” the email states. “We are looking for people to gather signatures within the LDS community.”

LDS refers to the church’s formal name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those involved with the effort have told the Blade the message isn’t an official message from church leadership either at the local level or from its headquarters in Salt Lake City, but is rather part of a local ad hoc effort to challenge Maryland’s marriage law.

The email says the “important effort” is being led by Martha Schaerr, an LDS member who’s organizing signature collection within Montgomery County and within the church. Another named organizer in the email is Teressa Wallace.

An informed source said the email was sent to the entire congregation in D.C. and Southern Maryland, which consists of between 500 and 1,500 church members and former members. According to the source, the author is Wallace, one of the named organizers in the email and wife of one of the junior pastors of the congregation.

Only 55,736 valid signatures are needed to force a ballot measure in Maryland. The stated goal of obtaining 200,000 signatures is likely an attempt to over deliver in case the validity of some signatures is challenged.

According to the email, church members interested in organizing training sessions are required to attend a 30-minute training session, “due to the stringent Maryland laws concerning referendums.”

“There will be several training sessions offered, but if transportation to them is a problem for you, a trainer would be happy to meet with you at a more convenient time and location,” the email states.

The email says the Mormon Church is “neutral on matters of party politics,” but asks that members take an active role in civic duties.

“The Church does encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections, and becoming engaged in the political process in an informed and civil manner,” the email states. “Please consider helping with this very important effort. Every signature is important and every little bit helps!”

In an email to the Blade, Schaerr said she’s organizing against the Maryland marriage law not out of any guidance or pressure from the church, but on her own accord.

“My understanding of the religious principles taught by  the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in ‘The Proclamation on the Family,’ the scriptures and numerous statements by church leaders has informed my conscience, and I am seeking to follow my conscience,” the email states.

Schaerr also expressed concern that the same-sex marriage law in Maryland would stifle those who want to speak out against homosexuality.

“I believe the Maryland law extends beyond providing rights to gay couples and actually seeks to silence religious objections to same sex relationships by changing the definition of marriage,” she said.

A history of anti-gay politics

The LDS member named in the email as leading the effort, Schaerr, who failed in her bid to win a seat in 2010 on the Montgomery County School Board, isn’t a stranger to anti-gay activism.

In 2007, Schaerr was reportedly a board member of the Fairfax, Va.-based Family Leader Network, an organization that — along with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays — led the effort against a Montgomery County law instituting lessons for 8th through 10th grade students on safe-sex practices that included gays.

According to the Gazette, Schaerr downplayed her involvement in the lawsuit against the curriculum while pursuing a seat on the school board two years ago, reportedly saying other board members wouldn’t support efforts to change the curriculum.

In an op-ed submitted to the Washington Post at the time she was running for the seat, Schaerr disputed the notion she’s anti-gay. However, she said she disagreed that schools should teach homosexuality is “inevitably innate” because she said there are other views to the contrary — even though those views are disputed by major medical and psychiatric professional associations.

“If we’re going to talk about anal sex in a health class or a condom video, it’s irresponsible not to warn students — especially gay students — about the medical evidence showing the heightened health risks of anal sex compared with vaginal sex, even with a condom,” Schaerr said.

Wallace, the other named person in the email, was also involved in the fight against the curriculum. According to an LDS publication called Meridian Magazine, Wallace objected to the gay-inclusive Montgomery County sex ed curriculum, and attended a school board meeting while holding a sign expressing her opinion. The article is no longer on the magazine’s website, but has been reposted on a Mormon online forum.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said she isn’t surprised that Mormon Church officials are playing a role in the effort to rescind the Maryland marriage law, but doesn’t think the LDS Church is the lead organization in the effort.

“We were not aware of this email, however the Mormon Church has been very vocal in its opposition to marriage equality so it is not surprising,” Evans said. “We have no reason to believe they are taking a lead role in efforts to overturn the Civil Marriage Protection Act in Maryland.”

Church disavows involvement

The Mormon Church is disavowing any involvement in the organizational effort proposed in the email.

Dale Jones, an LDS spokesperson, said the church has no direct involvement in the effort to overturn the marriage law in Maryland.

“While the Church’s position in support of traditional marriage is well established, the effort in Maryland is not being organized through the Church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City,” Jones said. “Members, of course, will make their own decisions regarding their involvement in local issues.”

But the message recalls the Mormon Church’s lead role in passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008. The First Presidency of the Church, or its governing body, publicly backed the initiative and reportedly encouraged members during church services to take an active role in contributing money and get-out-the-vote efforts to support the ban’s passage.

According to the New York Times, Protect Marriage, the organization responsible for Prop 8, estimates that nearly half of the $40 million in donations to the initiative came from LDS members and made up 80 to 90 percent of the volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts.

The Mormon Church has maintained that its direct involvement with the initiative was minimal — its total contributions amounted to nearly $190,000 — and church members were supporting Prop 8 on their own accord.

The Mormon involvement in Prop 8 was largely seen as public relations setback for the church in terms of public perception.

An LGBT rights supporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he’s spoken to senior church leaders and was told they want no involvement in future initiatives on marriage.

In January, a statement affirming marriage should remain between one man, one woman was reportedly read to Mormons in Minnesota as the state prepares to vote on a marriage amendment this fall. But according to Affirmation, a gay Mormon group, the statement was also read on an ad hoc basis and not under direction from church leadership.

Moreover, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — a Mormon — looking like he’ll be the GOP presidential nominee, many suspect the church doesn’t want to take an active role in politics to avoid the perception that Mormon officials will tell Romney how to govern if he’s elected.

Randall Thacker, senior vice president for Affirmation, said his group intends to oppose efforts within the church against same-sex marriage — whether they’re part of a church effort or an ad hoc initiative.

“Our main stance is that we’re very, of course, pro-marriage [equality],” Thacker said. “We will take a stand wherever we have to, including even ad hoc groups, but we typically are more focused on directing and confronting the church when it acts officially.”

The email comes just weeks before the Open Stories Foundation conference is set for LGBT Mormons in Washington, D.C., called “Building Bridges of Understanding,” from April 20 to 22. Guest speakers will include Carol Lynn Pearson, an author who writes about gays in the Mormon Church, and Mitch Mayne, a gay Mormon who serves as the executive secretary in his congregation.

The full text of the email message follows:

Attention Registered Voters who are Residents of Maryland: 

As you have probably heard, the Maryland legislature passed a same sex marriage bill last February. A coalition of inter-denominational churches throughout Maryland has joined together to try to get a referendum on the November ballot that would allow the residents of Maryland to vote on this bill before it becomes law. Martha Schaerr, who is a member of the LDS Church, is organizing signature collection within Montgomery County and within the LDS Church.

We need to collect approximately 200,000 signatures by the end of May. We are looking for people to gather signatures within the LDS community. If you are willing to help with this important effort please contact Martha Schaerr as soon as possible at [email protected] or Teressa Wallace at [email protected].

If you would like to volunteer, you must attend a 30 minute training session due to the stringent Maryland laws concerning referendums. To register for a session please contact us as soon as possible. There will be several training sessions offered, but if transportation to them is a problem for you, a trainer would be happy to meet with you at a more convenient time and location.

The LDS Church is neutral of matters of party politics. The Church does encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections, and becoming engaged in the political process in an informed and civil manner. Please consider helping with this very important effort. Every signature is important and every little bit helps!

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75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. Mary

    April 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Now is the time for people to come out and ask for this Churches and any other Churches Charitable Status members need to remember this country was founded on Seperation of Church and State and more and more in this day and age we are finding out how entangled things are and politics are being preached from the pulpit which must stop. This is from a former member of this Church like said it does not matter which Church it is HATE AND POLITICS MUST STOP BEING PREACHED FROM THE PULPIT THIS IS NOT THE SAVIOURS WAY.

    • John

      April 7, 2012 at 12:28 am

      This isn’t about hate. It is about recognizing marriage between a man and a woman.

      • Rin32

        April 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        It is most certainly about hate. Denying two consenting adults the ability to have their relationship recognized and protected under civil law is completely un-American, not to mention ridiculously unfair and unjust. The main arguments against same sex marriage are religious and that has no place in secular law. This isn’t about “redefining” marriage, it’s about the 1300+ rights that go along with civil marriage. The key word here is ‘civil’. Nobody wants to force any religious institution to marry gay couples against their will, but that lie is used to deny gay couples their civil rights on a regular basis. Our relationships are just as valid as anyone else’s and marriage equality will happen, it’s only a matter of time. History will judge the actions of these churches and anti-gay organizations harshly, they will be seen in much the same way as we view racism today; as a stain on America and as a barrier to achieving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    • chipndale

      April 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Yes indeedy

  2. John B.

    April 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    The opposition to same-sex marriage is coming almost exclusively from churches, who want to impose their religious beliefs about marriage on all residents, even those who don’t share them. How on earth is this not religious discrimination???

    • John

      April 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

      Marriage should be defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. Churches are simply trying to help society maintain that standard. They aren’t imposing any religious beliefs.

      • Jonboy

        April 8, 2012 at 2:52 am

        Churches are interfering into the rights of others who do not share that belief. Until they accept that there will always be a conflict. It is simple………’mind your own business.’

      • Thomas

        April 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

        Congrats on being a bad person!

    • WILLEM

      April 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      you are right the church poisons everything it touches, look at that dude in rome in that pretty red dress in his youth he was in the nazi hitler jugend and he wants to tell us gays how to live our lives!! what a scam!

  3. Max

    April 6, 2012 at 11:34 am

    It is not unusual how the Mormons are attacking the same sex-marriage legislation. They put millions of dollars, without the membership permission, into the attack of proposition 8 in California and they lost royally; because of that they chose to not get involved in the issue anymore. They created an uproar for getting involved, as a Church, without the authorization of the membership, and many members left the church, because of it. Please, “LDS” is an acronym of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints, also nicknamed Mormons (for the Book of Mormon), so your quote “LDS refers to the church’s formal name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is incorrect; there still keep the name and they use the acronym or nickname as they fit it. The reality that the Mormons and other faiths are experiencing is that what they believe as a dogma is not necessarily what the members believe and that is creating in Christianity, in general, a lot of dissension of the membership that are opting to remove themselves silently or openly for these organized religions. Let be clear, the Bible, the central book of Christianity was recorded for several men (many of them not well educated) and the lectures and thoughts of the Master were recorded by these men in their own personal interpretation, which they contradicted each others on the same passages. The Bible is mostly a guidance to Christianity, but it is not exactly as the word of God, as it intended, plus the translations from the originals are quite deformed and inaccurate over time. God loves his children equally and He wants for us that we love ones another and that is all that count…the rest are only interpretation of men that divide instead of unify the human race.

    • JamaicanJewel

      April 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Max: The history is worst that your view makes it out to be. While the originals of many religions remain murky, anyone who can read about what happened at the Councils of Nicea would know that christianity was made up whole hog by a bunch of old men (Jewish scribes) with ulterior motives, led by a converted pagan. There is a reason why the christian Gnostics were slaughtered after Nicea: they believed that Jesus’ true teachings were more in line with eastern philosophies, that Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven was inside each and every one of us and it was up to is to find our soul and ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ and ‘do unto other as you would have them do unto you!” But, of course, that would have meant that you didn’t need priests and scribbles and edifices and the (mostly Jewish) priests and scribbles weren’t having any of that.

  4. Loren

    April 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    My heart is so saddened. For the prior century plus us Mormons were persecuted for our position on polygamy among other things. Now that the church has become more mainstream the tables have turned and the Mormon church has become the persecutor. Like inter-racial marriages 50 years ago, all us gays want is to love who we choose, have that love recognized and bound by society, and our families protected. How can you persecutors become so full of hatred and bigotry and put so much energy fighting love for others? I firmly believe God is love. Whereas, fear emanates from the devil/satan. Hatred and bigotry springs from fear. Who are you folks following God/Christ and his teachings or… ? You fill in the blank.

    • dave

      April 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Would it be too obvious to point out that the persecution of today is being aimed at the gay community by the Mormon Church?

  5. AMW

    April 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    If I remember correctly, will still have the right to freedom of speech and assembly. This article’s headline is very deceptive in respect to making it look like a collective of Mormons are heading this effort. And there is a repeated inference that church leadership is somehow involved. Ms. Evans also states that she “isn’t surprised” the church officials are involved when they are clearly not! Mrs. Schaerr and Wallace are not “church officials or representatives”. They may however have violated a church policy to not use church membership lists to notify local members for political purposes or any other unauthorized use. If you are too afraid to print the truth then don’t print anything at all.

    • LDSRevelations

      April 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      “And there is a repeated inference that church leadership is somehow involved.”
      Well the LDS Church is involved. Every time LDS General Authorities (viewed by Mormons as spokesmen for God) say that God is against gay marriage in General Conference talks and then encourage the membership to vote they become involved. The LDS hierarchy knows that the membership will do virtually what ever the Brethren ask of it and the Churches opposition to gay marriage is clear.

      With the Prop 22 and 8 campaigns in CA, the efforts in Hawaii and everything else since LDS Church leadership has made it clear to the rank and file that God expects them to oppose gay marriage. The idea is repeatedly reinforced in LDS meetings and lessons.

      To pretend otherwise is to be ignorant or duplicitous.

    • bob

      April 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      TYPICAL MORMONITY! As if the church was not behind it ……… And even if you swallow that, remember that NO Mormon would remain in good standing if they organized a petition FOR equality.

    • Timothy Lee Unrine

      April 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Whether officially acknowledging the Mormon cult’s involvement or not, it is involved. The email lists belong to the church, even when I was a member, the emails are available to other members of the Wards/Congregations to see and use – for official church business only – not for selling MLM garbage, or recruiting – so YES, the Mormon cult leaders are as involved in this attack on same-sex marriage and civil rights, as they were in Prop 8.

      The Mormon leaders have discovered plausible deniability, it comes in handy at the White House to keep clean hands in dirty operations. But is doesn’t mean they can pass a lie detector test.

      I’d love to hook Boyd K Packer, the Mormons biggest homophobe to a lie detector test and question Prop 8 – only spent 190,000 dollars – I really don’t believe that figure. Since the Mormons feel that same sex marriage is the biggest threat to Mormonism/American – or should I say the biggest threat to a Romney Mormon America.

      Yes Utah knows of this action, and orchestrates the action. But just like scholars have yet to find Hitler’s signature or journal entries to prove Hitler KNEW about the extermination of Jews, it happened, Hitler was the leader; paperwork or no paperwork. The Mormon prophet is behind this push against same sex marriage also now in Maryland.

    • Bob

      April 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      TYPICAL MORMONITY — they trash anyone who catches them at their tricks

  6. Carlos

    April 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I am straight and member of the LDS church. I cannot believe that the Leaders of my church continue on this stupid campaign of hatred. The great amount of people that are leaving the church over this and they don’t learn the lesson. I stopped attending church after the hateful speech by Boyd K. Packer on the conference of October in 2010. Why do we always have to be on the wrong side of controversy!! I cannot believe my people are doing this!!

    • Bill

      April 7, 2012 at 1:05 am

      Dude. Read this part again:

      Those involved with the effort have told the Blade the message isn’t an official message from church leadership either at the local level or from its headquarters in Salt Lake City, but is rather part of a local ad hoc effort to challenge Maryland’s marriage law.

    • Timothy Lee Unrine

      April 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I left the church after being confronted by a gay man who was recovering from a suicide attempt – yes, I was in the hospital doing the same for a different reason.

      I was reading the Book of Mormon, and he politely, but firmly told me how the Mormon church’s position and attacks on the gay community has contributed to a number of suicides and referred me to the Affirmation website.

      I started to question more than just the Mormons cult’s position on gays and lesbians; but that isn’t for this forum.

      But to be fixated on a person’s sexual orientation, to the point of putting pressure on gay Mormons to give up the life style, send them to Evergreen, and just pray the gay away. Not the kind of club I want to be a member of.

      Romney is trained as a Mormon – Stake President, Bishop, Missionary – America’s attitude towards tolerance won’t work with Mormons, especially the Gay Mormons at BYU policy that says “Do Ask, Do Tell, Don’t Do.” You can be gay, or lesbian – just have to adhere to the laws of abstinence/chastity.

      Bigotry/Tolerance?

    • Orlando

      April 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      I am so totally with you. I was a member of the Church, I was a Missionary who faithfully executed what was expected of me and I do not believe that Heavenly Father created anyone or anything that he hates. He is a God of love and understanding. The Church leaders need to look deep into their souls and their self-righteous bigotry and make sure that this is what Heavenly Father wants. I do not believe it for a moment and I know the Church is losing many members and will continue to do so until it may not exist in the future. Wake up and be a true “Christian” love they brothers and sisters as they self. Judge not as ye will be judged by the words in which you have judged. The LGBT community is loving, caring, accepting, spirititual, religious and just wants to have love and compansionship in this life as everyone deserves.

  7. dk

    April 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    The lds church disavows any involvement. But the article also states — “An informed source said the email was sent to the entire congregation in D.C. and Southern Maryland, which consists of between 500 and 1,500 church members and former members. ”

    Are the emails for the lds congregations public? Can anybody get this list? If I’m a member, can I use this email list for my own personal use (I’ve got a bridge, some swampland, or a MLM product to sell)?

    Sound like the church is trying to cover its butt. However, unless the emails are available for general use, this doesn’t pass the smell test. And believe me, the mormon church thinks its better than you and its s$!t doesn’t stink.

    • palerobber

      April 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      see my comment below.

    • JamaicanJewel

      April 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Exactly. So, if you give them the benefit of the doubt that there are about 8,000 members in Maryland, where will the other 192,000 signature coming from? Catholics, African-Americans and whoever else they can rope in. It’s is amazing the coalitions that we can coalesce.

    • JT

      April 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      Yeah, anyone with in the congregation has access to it. People sometimes use if for purposes not related to church business and are asked not to. This would violate that policy. A member of my ward sent out a mass conservative email and besides generating a few angry replies from liberal members, he was also called out by the bishop and told to use it for official church reasons only.

  8. Jeff

    April 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Given the involvement by the LDS (Mormon) Church and its members with California’s Proposition 8, this development is not surprising.

  9. JR

    April 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    This is a coalition of churches but not *one* of them is named except “the Mormons”. We only find out later it is really just one woman and not the Mormon Church at all. It wouldn’t be difficult to spam the membership. Everyone is given a stake directory that states on the cover “Information in this directory SHALL NOT be used for commercial, political or other purposes unrelated to Church business or given to others that might do so.” The SHALL NOT is in caps and underlined. This woman is out of line if she did that. But why miss a good opportunity to go after “the Mormons” if even one of them goes rogue?

    • dk

      April 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      The lds church can discipline its members. It does it all the time and for offensives less than this.

  10. palerobber

    April 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    if this personal political email really was sent out to the entire congregation, then these individuals were violating LDS church policy.

    the church’s administrative handbook states in 21.1.15:
    “Leaders should not distribute directories outside the stake or ward boundaries or permit their use for commercial or political purposes.

    in my experience, this is a very well known rule even among lay members.

    • Timothy Lee Unrine

      April 14, 2012 at 11:49 am

      The Mormons have a history of “blaming” renegade members when caught with the hands in the cookie jar. The holocaust victim baptisms are a prime example – it wasn’t sanctioned, it was a rogue member.

      Too many Mission Impossible movies – if caught you will be disavowed, but guaranteed a free pass to Mormon heaven.

  11. Tim

    April 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Every time these damn churches start butting into our lives and trying to take away people’s rights, I think we should bring up the suggestion of taxing churches and taking away their tax exempt statuses. If they have money to waste attacking us and our rights, then they need to give it up in taxes. As for the Mormons, I think their past and current actions justify the need to tax their churches heavily. We don’t tell them how to think or interfere in their churches’ crazy beliefs, so they should back off and stop telling us how to live our lives.

  12. Willy Braxton

    April 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    The Maryland Marriage Alliance not the LDS are behind this. Similar petition training has been held at other churches (including PG County Mega Churches) according to Maryland Marriage Alliance website/Facebook.

    Where is the decline-to-sign campaign in Maryland? Even with the light turnout for the Primary this week. Several thousands of signatures were gathered outside of the polling places.

    • Timothy Lee Unrine

      April 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Sure, and the Mormons weren’t coordinating the Prop 8 campaign either. Does Romney really think the American voters are that dumb?

  13. seattleman

    April 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Tax them. Now.

    • Timothy Lee Unrine

      April 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Agree – tax all religious institutions, they are just tax-exempt, for-profit businesses.

      If you tax them,then the Joel Osteens, Creflo Dollar, and all those other TV ministers will go away, once the tax man starts taking it’s share.

      Nothing in the Constitution says that churches are tax exempt – just that we can’t establish a National Religion, or prohibit a religion. Most churches, including LDS, inc. is nothing but a business of making money.

  14. Referendum My Arse

    April 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Let ’em try! If they gather the signatures that’s only the first step. These church freaks are sick. Why else would someone obsess over what someone else does in their sex/marriage life? The morons are a money grubbing outcast religious group trying to gain acceptance because they believe in this bizarre vision of Joseph Smith, an unstable young kid in the woods.

  15. John

    April 7, 2012 at 12:20 am

    The question is how society defines a marriage. This isn’t an attack on anyone or hatred toward anyone.

    • WILLEM

      April 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      you is wrong!!! its hatred towards gay and lesbian, very simple!

    • Jon

      April 23, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Way to spew out the propaganda… Talk to people who can’t visit sick relatives in the hospital because they aren’t “family” or are just seeking EQUAL treatment under the law. People said similar things about segregation, seperate but equal, its not an attack but good for everyone….. come on….. This is a direct attack on people’s rights. Define marriage however you want, such a stupid comment, we aren’t arguing semantics over here, its about freedom…

  16. been there, done that

    April 7, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Having lived and worked in Salt Lake City, in the “shadow of the Temple,” I can say with certainty that the Church and its living prophets (yes, that’s what they called themselves) are not simply homophobic but also anti-Catholic, anti-semitic, racist, and worse. The physical and psychological violence both within and outside of the Church is well known. They are ruthless with anyone crossing them, even their own children. (The continued existence and warring between the polygomous communities in Soutthern Utah are common knowledge in Utah.) Here in DC, for example, the Church has encouraged its members to spread hate-filled propoganda, including distributing leaflets to the membership with instructions to leave them in public places such as Metro. The Mormon faith is hate-filled and xenophobic. Do not have any illusions about this. They consider themselves to be superior to all Gentiles (i.e., non-Mormons). They are mesmerized with money and will fund all kinds of businesses, even those that are antithetical to their beliefs (e.g., the development of Las Vegas). They feel no compunction in betraying their ideals when dealing with Gentiles. Look at the well-documented lies of Romney. It is simply amazing to me how they (often well-educated people) have convinced themselves of the righteousness of their hate, duplicity, and self-righteousness.

    • WILLEM

      April 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      wow moi couldnt write it any better , merci !!!

  17. Margaret Whitestone

    April 7, 2012 at 2:59 am

    They want to impose their antiquated religious beliefs on everyone. Maybe it’s time to vote on their marriages.

  18. cambodiana

    April 7, 2012 at 4:49 am

    You are all so filled with your deviate desires that you cannot see how blatantly repulsive it is to be homosexual. You are so willing to demean anyone or anything that brings forth God’s laws that you are willing to risk your lives (AIDS) to defend something that simply will not last beyond this life. Do you actually think that God has homosexual, deviant behavior going on his courts on high? No. I think the Mormons are brave and courageous. If I believed in some of their teachings I would become a member. They seem to be willing to walk the talk. I don’t think they are being hateful, they are sticking up for the truth that marriage should ONLY be between a man and a woman. Most of the Gay community want to shove their behavior down our throats, not the other way around. Anyone who disagrees with them needs to watch out because they lash out and cause damage to property and lives as was seen in California. I have yet to see any Mormon or any other church for that matter vandalize property of any gay institution. The congregation I belong to teaches me to work along side others of my values and so I have no problem working along side a Mormon to defend truth. Our children do not need to be “educated” on the deviant behavior that accompanies a homosexual lifestyle. Truth about marriage cannot be snuffed out by bullies like yourselves. Let’s see how you rail against this post. Go ahead, rear your ugly head!

    • jerryball

      April 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Such hate in the name of God. May the God of forgiveness grant you peace for your wayward ways.

      • cambodiana

        April 8, 2012 at 6:28 am

        What are you saying that the Gay and Lesbian community does not lash out against anyone who contradicts or disagrees with them? I think you better think again!

    • REGINA MCQUEEN

      April 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I agree completely. It is time that these political bodies that go by as churches should be taxed. They are the worst of all when it comes to bigotry and the first to claim themselves as victims of bigotry. The mirror is there. Look at yourselves with honesty and ask yourselves why you are go determined to disallow gays to get married. Look at the state of marriage in the United States. Why are so many people no longer marrying? It has nothing to do with gays. It has to do with the demands marriage places on couples who find it impossible to remain faithful to one person the rest of their lives. They have fallen out of love and no ceremony can hold these unions together. There are myriads of reasons that marriages fail. If there were no gays marriage in our country would still be in disarray. We have had presidents who have divorced or who have married people who were divorced or who have children who have divorced. Divorce affects almost everyong in some way or another and it has nothing to do with gays. Why are gays their scapegoats? I just don’t understand it. Who elected you the judges of the planet? It’s about time you read the first amendment:
      CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.
      Mormons and members of other faiths are determined to ram their bigotry down our throats. Yet, they are the first to squawk whenever anyone reminds them that they have limits.
      What I never can understand is the fact that there are members with gay children. How can they stand aside as these organizations villify their children and do everything possible to strip them of their rights that are, according to Declaration of Independence, unalienable. Look it up..

  19. o dear

    April 7, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Why oh why are mormons always on the wrong side of history? Fifty years from now they’ll change their views about this too…just like they did with blacks being able to hold the priesthood. As far as women’s power in the church goes? Forget it, that’ll never happen. Ask a mormon woman about this (believe me i’ve asked plenty) and she’ll say the reason men have the ultimate authority in the church is because women are actually the more sensible sex. They say men have more to learn therefore they need these leadership opportunities. Hmmm anybody see anything wrong with this logic? Funny little mormons…maybe one day they’ll learn…but i doubt it.

  20. Fausto Fernandez

    April 7, 2012 at 8:41 am

    “If we’re going to talk about anal sex in a health class or a condom video, it’s irresponsible not to warn students — especially gay students — about the medical evidence showing the heightened health risks of anal sex compared with vaginal sex, even with a condom,” Schaerr said.
    Wrong. Unprotected anal sex transmits HIV more readily than unprotected vaginal sex, but proper use of a condom wipes out the risk. I am an MD, and I used to work in a STD clinic.

  21. TampaZeke

    April 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I call BULLSHIT!

    This is clearly a new tactic from the Mormon church to get individual members to organize and rally against gay rights while claiming no “official” involvement. The Mormon and Catholic Churches are more and more becoming the greatest promoters of evil in our time.

  22. Brian

    April 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Martha:

    I read with regret your decision to lead the fight against gay marriage in Maryland. Gay marriage is an important issue to me because referring to my husband as my ‘husband’ communicates very effectively my domestic situation and relationship to third parties. It saves me lots of awkward, long, convoluted discussions where colleagues aren’t sure whether to extend a brunch invitation to me and my (business?) partner. The word marriage is a communications tool. It succinctly communicates my relationship to a third party. I am not seeking your endorsement, nor your permission to use the word. Nothing you do legally or otherwise will change this reality. Frankly, my relationship with my husband doesn’t affect you in the least. Your actions do however, affect me and other gay people in a harmful way.

    Your actions divide and alienate Mormon families from each other, they drive self-hating teens to suicide, they drive gay men to marry straight women and lead to inevitable divorce. I have had very close personal experience with each of these consequences, I guess from your naiive actions that you have not. Your actions also create a lot of inconvenience for us gays when it comes to home ownership, taxes, inheritance, funerals, insurance, pensions and citizenship. If your aim is to be spiteful and mean, congratulations, history has taken its notes and your reputation will be scorched into the unforgiving lines of history. I pray that you do not have gay children or grandchildren, if so, I weep for them to have such a hateful mother or grandmother. I feel sorry for you that one day your grandchildren will be ashamed of your actions taken today. My personal belief is that your actions are more deserving of ostracism than the thousands of disowned gay Mormons now estranged from their families. You want to pick a real social problem to channel your energies? How about starting with that one? They organize nationally under the umbrella of a group called Affirmation http://www.affirmation.org.

  23. Ray

    April 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    It’s time churches paid taxes – if they expect to participate in political debates.

  24. jerryball

    April 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    The Mormon Cult has always had their Magic Panties in a wad about gay issues. They have caused more suicides among their young gays who are members. I think that the “Gods” that are called “Elders” are gay pariahs.

  25. jerryball

    April 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Typical political action by the state Utah to involve themselves in overturning other sovereign state’s rights. This cult is unAmerican and should lose their tax-free status for their devious political campaigns. They are a Political Group and are NOT a Church nor Religious Entity.

  26. WILLEM

    April 8, 2012 at 12:08 am

    MORE PROOF THAT RELIGION IS THE ENEMY OF ALL GAYS AND LESBIANS, IT POISONS EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES.

  27. Mousemess

    April 8, 2012 at 12:51 am

    The next time the Mormons missionaries show up at my door, I will show them the sidewalk and tell them they are not wanted, not welcome and best they leave immediately up that sidewalk. I also treat the Jehovah’s Witnesses the same way. I don’t allow homophobes one minute of talk with me. I always find a way to let them know they are not welcome and to leave.

  28. cambodiana

    April 8, 2012 at 6:27 am

    “My (God’s) ways are not your ways and your ways are not my (God’s) ways. Though the heavens and the earth shall pass away, my laws will not pass away.” To all those who affirm same sex behavior your day will come where you will have to face God. You have utterly and willfully maligned the truth for your deviant behavior and lustful ways calling it ‘natural’. I’m so sorry for you. Your ways will not last. Call God and his laws what you will, call people who stand for truth and virtue what you will (homophobic, etc.) but truth will always be truth. Nothing you say or laws you pass will change the truth. They will only deny the next generation of knowing the truth and then the sin will be on your heads. I feel sorry for the children who will grow up in confusion and disbelief.

  29. cambodiana

    April 8, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Oh my God, I just realized I am commenting on a “Gay” News source. No wonder there is so much hate and vile commenting. I am laughing out loud now realizing that I am inside the Lion’s Den!!!! LOL!!

    • WILLEM

      April 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      darling pleeze you are welcum gay or straight this is not a prop h8at group,

    • chipndale

      April 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Correct, it’s called your mind!

  30. Mousemess

    April 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Willem,
    I don’t agree. I tried your atheism and it was a fail for me. It left me “spiritually hungry.” I am more comfortable going to a gay-friendly, welcoming and diverse liberal Episcopal church of very nice and friendly people of all ages that is run by a gay priest on Sunday mornings than I am sitting at home by myself with tea and newspaper.

  31. Mark Thomas

    April 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Why don’t the gay equal civil rights groups put up a ballot initiative that the Mormon church must pay federal and state taxes, and that Mormons can’t have the civil right of civil marriage? Why isn’t there a discussion in the mainstream media of what Mormons believe (alien planets, protective underwear, destruction of our planet), and how if (God forbid) Mormon Mitt is elected the Mormon church leaders will control (and no doubt destroy) our country?

  32. rainbowreacher

    April 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    This whole religious defense of the so-called “sanctity” of marriage has become an over-exaggerated 3-ring circus of jokes and outright lies!

    Same sex marriage has been legalized in how many states now? And just how much of the alleged devastation and societal breakdown all these right-wing whackjobs have been babbling on about has actually happened? Has any of their precious marriages been affected by all of these same-sex weddings? Has heterosexual marriage come to a complete and utter stand-still because same-sex couples, some of whose relationships like mine have lasted nearly 20 years, are tying the proverbial knot?

    The answer to all those questions: NO!

    Civil marriage has absolutely not the single slightest minuscule thing to do with ANYBODY’S religious beliefs. Any bigot, and let’s call them what they are, who believes otherwise is an uneducated and ignorant ass!

    Am I angry about this, you ask? Yes, I damn well am, mostly because I am so completely sick and tired of hearing religious zealots run their mouths and carry on as though this entire country and the overall way of living revolves solely around them and how they feel everybody should live! You all need to come off your overused soapboxes, put your OWN personal affairs in order and, ultimately, stop minding everybody else’s business!

    “God’s Law” is in the Ten Commandments, which incidentally says absolutely nothing about condemning homosexuals. All these annoyingly steadfast bible-thumpers, who always seem to love crawling out of the woodwork whenever the topic of same-sex marriage arises, never take that into account. They would all rather cling to the flawed writings of the small handful of imperfect flesh and blood mortal men who compiled the bible thousands of years ago for a completely different culture that no longer exists!

    There is no credible or valid reason for this Maryland law to be overturned. These arrogant, single minded people who are so rabidly against homosexuality need to get that drilled into their thick skulls and stop worrying about things that do NOT affect their lives!

    Live and let live!

    • WILLEM

      April 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      wow well said, they should worry about their 55% divorce rate and leave us gays alone the bastards.

      • Timothy Lee Unrine

        April 14, 2012 at 11:55 am

        Let us not be “Mormons” and invent statistics – Mormon divorce rates are 24%, the same as the national average. Utah’s leads the nation in anti-depressant use, internet pornography, 14th in suicides – – they have some severe problems to houseclean, before worrying about other bedrooms.

    • chipndale

      April 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Two thumbs up!!!!

  33. Beaglesgonewild

    April 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Why doesn’t the blade make a petition to revoke the morman churches non profit status due to hate? I would sign it. Have it posted under the re- election of President Obama.

  34. Zaidi

    April 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I agree with Tim. We should tax these churches into minding their own business if they insist on shoving down the public’s throats their so-called religious beliefs. It’s funny how these bigots perceive the proponents of Marriage Equality as trying to stifle dissent, when their own homophobia has, for centuries, persecuted gays into deathly silence and into the closets. Which is why we all need to come out and show them WE ARE EVERYWHERE!!!

  35. John Williams

    April 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    From here in the heart of a Mormon stronghold, Phoenix Arizona, I can tell you this disingenuous “do your civic duty” but don’t implicate the LDS church approach is nothing new. And it’s a lie. The LDS church, its money, and its minions are behind it, and are going to flood MD with millions of dollars to buy petition signatures and votes. It’s a dangerous cult, and I’m sorry to hear that it’s wreaking its evil in my beautiful state of Maryland. Fight them with everything you have, Maryland!!

    • Adam

      April 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      What do the Mormons want now? The want to change the Maryland Law so that the can have POLYGAMY?

  36. Bob

    April 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    NO ONE BELIEVES THAT THE CHURCH DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS TREACHERY — morholes are very clever, and learned from Prop 8 that the image and the tax status of the lds church were threatened by their actions, so it is “the members acting on their own”
    EVERYONE SHOULD BE PICKETING MORMON MEETING HALLS, TEMPLES, AND BOOKSTORES

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McAuliffe participates in Virginia Pride roundtable

Gubernatorial candidate highlighted plans to keep Va. ‘open and welcoming’

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Terry McAuliffe, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Monday met with Virginia Pride in Richmond to discuss his plans to keep the state “open and welcoming” for the LGBTQ community.

“Great opportunity to speak with @VA_Pride in Richmond this AM,” McAuliffe tweeted following the roundtable that took place at Diversity Richmond’s headquarters. “VA is the #1 state for business because we are open and welcoming — but that’s all at risk this November. Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda would harm LGBTQ+ Virginians and send our economy into a ditch.”

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running a close race for the governorship, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday that shows the former Virginia governor leading by a 50-47 percent margin among likely voters.

The Human Rights Campaign endorsed McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, for his record of supporting LGBTQ rights, including supporting marriage equality and signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees as his first action in office. 

“LGBTQ leaders in Richmond had a great meeting with Gov. McAuliffe where he was able to lay out his agenda for building on the tremendous progress Virginia has made towards equality,” said Virginia Pride Program Director James Millner in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor talked extensively about his record on LGBTQ issues and promised to work with us to ensure that every LGBTQ Virginian is able to live openly and authentically.”

McAuliffe’s legacy includes welcoming businesses turned off by North Carolina’s passage of its anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” 

When North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificates, took effect in 2016, McAullife recruited CoStar, a real estate information company that operates databases for Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com and similar companies, to move its headquarters to Richmond. This recruitment brought 730 jobs to the state.

David Dorsch, a senior vice president at Cushman and Wakefield, which represented CoStar nationally, told the Charlotte Business Journal that CoStar’s primary reason for choosing “Richmond over Charlotte was HB 2.”

Youngkin is a former business executive who previously ran the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm named by the HRC in 2019 as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC, however, has called out Youngkin for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his current campaign.

McAuliffe in April released an LGBTQ rights platform that includes a call to repeal the so-called “conscience clause,” which allows religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Governor Ralph Northam, who was McAuliffe’s former lieutenant governor and has signed historic LGBTQ-inclusive legislation during his time in office, also endorsed McAuliffe for governor.

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McAuliffe: School boards should make ‘own decisions’ on trans students policy

Former Va. governor debated Republican challenger on Thursday

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Terry McAuliffe, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Thursday hotly debated Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin at the Appalachian School of Law in southwestern Virginia on a variety of issues that include vaccine mandates, economic development, abortion access and policing. The former Virginia governor’s support for a law that protects transgender students, however, seemed less clear.

When the moderator asked if local school boards should be allowed to reject Virginia Department of Education “model policies” developed as part of a state law passed last year to protect trans and non-binary students from discrimination, McAuliffe said school boards “should be making their own decisions.”

This soft support for the law that Gov. Ralph Northam signed is in contrast to the Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement this week for his work as governor that includes signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees and vetoing anti-LGBTQ bills.  

HRC called out Youngkin, a former business executive and vocal Trump supporter, for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his campaign. (HRC in 2019 named the Carlyle Group, the private equity company that Youngkin previously ran, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.)

Younkin has supported Tanner Cross, a Loudoun County elementary school teacher who was suspended in June after he spoke against the Virginia Department of Education policy known as Policy 8040. The Virginia Supreme Court last month supported Cross’ reinstatement on First Amendment grounds.

“As governor, I will stand up for teachers like Tanner Cross,” the Republican candidate tweeted.

Youngkin also told Fox News the school board was trying to “cancel” Cross “simply for expressing his views that are in the best interests of the children and expressing his faith.”

But state Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told the Washington Blade in an earlier interview that the 2020 law passed with bipartisan support and most school boards are acting in accordance with the nondiscrimination law.

“Loudoun is catching headlines, but look at all of the other school districts who have adopted this without controversy,” said Roem, who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in a state legislature in the U.S. “They are acting in compliance with Department of Education best practices for how to humanely treat transgender kids in schools.”

McAuliffe, after stating that decisions regarding implementing trans student protections should be left to local school boards, said he hated seeing all of the “divisiveness” and “children being demonized.” He then pivoted to his talking points about increasing both teacher pay and broadband access for students.

Early in-person voting in Virginia is underway and lasts until Oct. 30. Election day is Nov. 2.

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Black gay man hopes to ‘shatter lavender ceiling’ in Annapolis

Keanuú Smith-Brown is running to unseat Ward 3 incumbent

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Keanuú Smith-Brown (Photo by David Hartcorn)

Keanuú Smith-Brown, who is affectionately called KSB by his friends, is running to unseat incumbent Annapolis Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles (D-Ward 3) and become the first out LGBTQ elected official in the city.

“Keanuú is on-track to shatter a lavender ceiling in Annapolis, becoming the first out LGBTQ person ever elected in the city,” Victory Fund Vice President of Communications Elliot Imse told the Washington Blade.

Smith-Brown, a 26-year-old substitute teacher, announced in February that he was challenging Pindell Charles, who has represented his ward since 2013. They will face off in a Democratic primary on Sept. 21, then the winner advances to the general election on Nov. 2.

The Annapolis native is the eldest of six siblings, raised by a single mother and a first-generation college graduate who describes himself as a proud Black gay man. His opponent, also a Democrat, stated on an Annapolis Pride survey that she supports the LGBTQ community, just “not overtly.”

“But his candidacy is about more than just making history,” Imse said. “When in office, Keanuú will ensure the interests of the LGBTQ community are considered in every policy discussion and every piece of legislation that comes before the council.”

Smith-Brown told the Blade he is running to represent “those who have been left out,” emphasizing that “there is an urgent need for change in our ward.”

The Annapolis native first came out as gay while still a senior in high school, the same year Pindell Charles was first elected as his Ward 3 representative.

“I grew up surrounded by drug addiction and witnessed domestic violence both in my family and in my community,” he told the Blade, sharing he was raised by a single mom while his father was incarcerated during most of his life.

He still lives in the home in which he grew up, and within five minutes of his partner’s house “if you’re driving fast.”

After graduating from the University of Baltimore in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in government and public policy, Smith-Brown began working with legislators and advocating for LGBTQ bills in Maryland.

As president of the District 30 Democratic Club, Smith-Brown advocated for House Bill 1147 and its companion Senate Bill 401, which were both similar to neighboring D.C.’s requirement for single-occupancy bathrooms to be marked gender-neutral.

Both bills died in committee during the General Assembly’s pandemic-shortened session in 2020, but Smith-Brown’s advocacy continued.

He marched during the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and he continued to be a public advocate for LGBTQ rights and visibility as a member of Annapolis Pride.

“I have led and joined LGBTQ+ marches, rallies and events, even hosting a campaign ‘Love with Pride and Unity’ Drag Brunch,” Smith-Brown wrote in response to Annapolis Pride’s first LGBTQ-issues survey. “I helped organize for Maryland’s Health Care Decisions Act which would extend the rights of partners when making medical or funeral decisions.”

Pindell Charles, by contrast, in her survey response stated she did not consider her advocacy for the LGBTQ community to be “overt.”

“My support for the LGBTQ+ community, and even other communities, usually revolves around me working with persons individually, which I prefer,” she wrote. “One-on-one, rather than as a group, or public displays.”

FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ rights organization supports public advocacy.

“It’s extremely important for LGBTQ community members to participate in civic engagement — especially as elected officials,” Executive Director Jeremy LaMaster told the Blade in an email.

FreeState Justice has encouraged LGBTQ Marylanders to speak out at public hearings in support of legislation such as the state’s “panic defense” ban, waiving the publication of name change petitions and the establishment of a state commission on LGBTQ affairs. All of these measures passed during the 2021 legislative session.

“There is such immense power for our community that can be built at the grassroots level. From leading neighborhood associations to sitting on city councils, or representing the community in the General Assembly,” said Smith-Brown. “As the world changes, so do the ways in which issues disproportionately or uniquely impact the LGBTQ community, especially for our youth, elders, trans and Black siblings.”

Pindell Charles, who did not respond to the Blade’s requests for comment prior to publication, is a retired Baltimore City prosecutor and chairs the Annapolis City Council’s Public Safety Standing Committee.

During her time in public service, her advocacy included a variety of “groups and communities considered to be ‘underrepresented,’” according to her Annapolis Pride survey response.

Smith-Brown said Ward 3 deserves better.

“She is saying this is in a position of power, that she’s not willing to get out of her comfort zone,” he told the Blade. “You may not be okay with seeing two men or two women together, but when you don’t allow yourself in your position to be inclusive of all people you are now failing in your position.”

“If someone said that about the Black community, it would not be taken in the same way,” he added. “Admit that you don’t need to be here in this way. We can all do our best to do better.”

The Capital Gazette in February reported Pindell Charles intends to run for a third term and welcomes Smith-Brown’s challenge.

“We need to win this,” Smith-Brown said, encouraging LGBTQ and all voters to get out and vote. “My being at that seat at the table means that we are all in that seat. What is it they say? If I eat, we eat. That is the impact on our future, and I’m in it to win it.”

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