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Is Judge Norman Randy Smith a Mormon? And does it matter?

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Prop 8 trial

Cross-posted from LGBTPOV.

This is cross-posted with permission from the California Faith for Equality website. In the blog, Laura Compton of Mormons for Marriage mentions Mormon football hero Steve Young, a direct descendent of Mormon hero Brigham Young. It is important to remember that Young and his wife strongly opposed Prop 8. Additionally, right-winger Glenn Beck says gay marriage makes no difference to him. So being Mormon may make no more difference in someone being antigay than being Catholic, Christian or Jewish. A more reliable determining factor would be judicial decision, which Syd Peterson noted earlier. – Karen O.

Is Judge Smith a Mormon?

By Samuel Chu and Laura Compton

So is Judge Smith a Mormon?

The answer – I don’t know and it is none of my damn business.

Almost immediately after the announcement of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel reviewing the Prop 8 challenge, questions popped up regarding the religious background of one of the three judges named. The speculations around Judge Norman Randy Smith stemmed from the fact that Smith went to Brigham Young University for both his undergraduate and law school education.

A friend of California Faith for Equality, Laura Compton, who is herself Mormon and heads the website shares her thoughts:

I think that anyone crying foul/unfair due to a judge’s religious views makes the same amount of sense as crying foul/unfair because of a judge’s orientation. Just as it was absurd to question Judge Walker’s ruling because he’s not straight, it is absurd to question the ability of any judge based solely on his/her religious beliefs.

Any judge worth his salt knows better than to judge civil law by the tenets of the Book of Mormon/Bible rather than by the requirements of the Constitution. It’s not like this is the first time they will have been asked to review a sticky moral-political issue, and I’m sure that if they feel they cannot sit in judgment without a conflict of interest they will step down and let another judge sit on in their stead.

Would we question a judge’s ability to hear the case if she were Catholic? Orthodox Jew? Southern Baptist? Unitarian? Atheist? What about if he’s quoting Star Trek in his judicial opinions (as happened recently in Texas)?

If N. Randy Smith is Mormon, which seems likely given his degree from BYU’s law school, and if the LGBT community raises a fuss because he’s on the case, all they will do is feed the monster of misunderstanding that’s grown from the Prop 8 fight. You won’t make the monster go away by feeding it. You make it go away by starving it. Examine Smith’s judicial record, not his religious record.

Harry Reid and Glenn Beck and Steve Young are all Mormons – there’s a pretty broad spectrum of belief and practice within the religion and usually just because a judge is religious doesn’t mean religion is the primary motivating factor in writing judicial decisions.

Laura Compton



  • 1. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:40 am

    I agree with Laura – I'm a Mormon, too, and the same question had crossed my mind. But I do believe in most judges' ability to put aside their opinions and beliefs and focus on case law and its merits. I think Judge Smith is no exception. It shouldn't make any difference. Let's hope for the best outcome in this case (equality for all).

  • 2. olterigo  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I'm not a Mormon, and I agree. His opinion should be criticized because it's weak, not because he may be a Mormon.

  • 3. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:39 am

    "Feeding the monster"? It was Mormons who spent millions to get prop 8 passed, it isn't for nothing that it is called, "The Mormon Proposition". It is a fair stereotype to say that Mormons are heavily anti-gay, and have spent money and time canvasing Californa proving it.

  • 4. Mouse  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:42 am

    It is one thing to say that the Mormon church financially backed and drove this discriminatory proposition, that is a fact.

    It is entirely another to prejudge someone based on his being Mormon.

  • 5. David in Maine  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I agree. We don't like to be stereotyped. (I don't like people to assume I'm all about Barbra and Prada just because I'm gay). And I don't like it when NOM and their ilk blast Walker because he (might be?) is gay.

    We're a big country with lots of different people.

    Dave in Maine

  • 6. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:04 am

    More Mormons are becoming more open to same gender unions, despite the official policy of the LDS church. I hope this trend continues! 3 examples of varying support:

    Mitt Romney, Mormon, was governor of 1st state to offer Same-gender marriage…but after digging deeper (including visiting with Boston MA PFLAG president as part of my research) is apposed to same gender marriage, and could quite possibly be our next president. Mitt Romney re-affirmed his stance when visiting in UT to back the Republican Utah Governor candidate this fall. I was disappointed to hear his stance.

    John Huntsman, Mormon, former Utah Governor, now ambassador to China, was much more favorable to Same-gender unions which caused much criticism of him locally.

    Bill Marriott of Marriott hotels, active Mormon, vocally opposed prop 8.

  • 7. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Not really – we're talking about how opponents of Prop. 8 need to be better than the tactics used by supporters of Prop. 8. We need advocate better tolerance and respect for all people – that's what we're doing, aren't we? By trying to get respect for marriage equality for all people.

    There are plenty of Mormons who are pro-SSM, like me, for instance. So the stereotype isn't always accurate.

  • 8. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I agree that the stereotype isn't "always accurate". But there is a reason this stereotype exists. But what is a church if not the composition of it's members?

    Speaking as a non-LDS who lived in Utah for 10 years, I found Mormons who were raised in Utah to be more . . . stereotypical . . . than Mormons who were born in other parts of the US.

  • 9. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:54 am

    You could say that, yeah. In most places, though, there's a wide diversity – I remember the British Mormons being very different from the Utah Mormons. And I appreciated their outlook and political opinions better than many of the Utah Mormons'. It's tough being a LDS Democrat in Utah myself.

  • 10. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:27 am

    My "inlaws" originally from Chile, now living in UT nearly 20 years, were quite surprised to recently learn recently most Mormons in Utah identify as Republicans…as they see the Republican party anti-humanistic and major focus on money. They were also surprised to learn that Boyd K. Packer's talk was edited before printed in the Spanish edition of the official church magazine "The Ensign" …yes, Utah Mormons do not represent all….

  • 11. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:41 am

    They are arguing that Judge Reinhardt is obligated to recuse himself because of where his wife works…

  • 12. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Honestly, I don't see either Smith nor Reinhardt recusing themselves unless they have been *personally* involved in the Prop 8 case. And since they are federal judges, I just can't imagine that happening with either of them.

  • 13. Alex  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Funny the Pro Prop 8 tyrants would even say Reinhardt is obligated to recuse himself. Clarence Thomas' wife Virginia Thomas most recently was head of the tea party group I guess he needs to recuse himself from a lot of case loads!!

  • 14. dtwirling  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Excellent points. But now I'm quite curious. Who quoted Star Trek in their judicial decision and in what context?

  • 15. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:47 am

    I believe this:

  • 16. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:51 am

    It's this case:

    I've already stated my opinion on the Judge Smith. I expect him to act professionally and rule based on the law, not his personal religious beliefs – the same expectation I have of any judge.

  • 17. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:34 am

    I have similar feelings. Expect the same.

  • 18. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Even if he had 10 children and two wives…it still wouldn't make a difference.

  • 19. Sagesse  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:48 am

    The issue with Prop 8 is, and has always been,organized religion, not individual people of faith.

  • 20. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Sagesse, I read you point, and I think I see what you are saying, but I strongly disagree. What is religion if not it's individual people of faith? Evil done in the game of religion (and I belive the prop 8 campaign in CA to be base evil) didn't magically happen. Individual members of the church (lots of them in fact) gave money to the campaign. They gave their time going door to door, and putting up signs, and working for the campaign.

    Steve Young is a very important exception, because he was vocal in his opposition. I thank him for that. But I think most "pro-SSM" Mormons in California, and even more in Utah, were silent in the pews about their opposition. This silence gave support to the H8ers, as did their tithes.

  • 21. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Than the same could be said by the other side against LGBT people…..SOME LGBT persons ARE pediphiles, ARE all about sex, ARE all about destruction of religious freedoms,and on and on….do we want the entired LGBT community judged by those few? No we don't, so why would we judge all LDS by what some in the LDS leadership have done and frightened their followers into doing?

  • 22. LostBoyJim  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:20 am

    The difference is that the MAJORITY (not ALL, as many posts here have shown), but a MAJORITY of Mormons oppose SSM. And they oppose it because they are Mormon. A teeny-tiny percentage of gays are pedophiles, and it is not because they are gay. See the difference?

    And saying that Mormons were "frightened" into giving money to and campagning for Prop 8 is a pretty big stretch, IMHO. I think they gave their money and time freely.

    More to the point, in state-by-state polling for SSM, Utah is DEAD LAST, and not by a little, but by a large margin.

    That isn't "a few people frightened by their leaders." Statistically, Mormons oppose marriage, and oppose it strongly. I still am happy to hear individuals who are LDS support marriage equality, but the fact is that the vast majority of LDS oppose marriage equality. But the vast majority, not "a few outliers" are very strongly anti-equality. Why can't we accept that as a fact?

  • 23. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Let's suppose it is a fact. That still tells us nothing about this particular judge.

  • 24. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:29 am

    It doesn't matter if statistically Mormons are anti-equality. We have to have faith in the law and in the system, in our Judges and especially in Boies and Olsen.

    This is about law and the constitution and not about religion.

  • 25. Steve  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:33 am

    The Mormons are a cult by every definition of the word. Their leader claims to be a prophet from god. So everything he says is basically god's word. That gives him immense power and he can command his followers to do whatever he wants.

    People aren't obligated to follow him, but there is certainly a lot of social and religious coercion and emotional blackmail going on. People can be barred from attending church or receiving certain rituals if they aren't good Mormons who toe the line. So they'll donate just to be part of the herd.

  • 26. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Where is your proof that a majority of LDS oppose SSM?
    My point was and is that regardless of the percentage of who is what it is nothing but blatant stereotyping to assum that just because someone belongs to a certain group or organization they will behave in a certain manner.
    'They' do it against 'us', I will NOT do it against 'them'

  • 27. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:53 am

    ditto mark : )

  • 28. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Steve – I very much disagree with what you say, but whatever makes you happy. There are certain cultural pressures within the church, there's no doubt – but you're making a stereotype, as others have warned in other comments.

    It bothers me that some fellow Mormons are "sheep" but at the same time, it's good to know that some do have thinking minds!

  • 29. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Um, LostBoyJim? Stakes and ward were given financial *quotas.* Bishops came calling personally, telling people how much they were expected to give — and that they were "called" to do so. In the Mormon church, callings are *never* to be refused. Period.

    I call that a shakedown, just as much as if it were the mafia showing up demanding protection money.


  • 30. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Fiona – "quotas"? They didn't ask for any of that where I live. That's shameful behavior for a bishop to go around and ask for donations. It's a private matter. Yes, the leadership can request donations in a letter, but not in person.

    And you can refuse a calling. I have, in the past.

    I'm assuming that your local units were pretty tough to work with. Not all are like that. My parents' units are pretty good about being flexible and stuff like that, and that's in the east part of Salt Lake, too.

  • 31. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Scott, the special comment to CA Mormons prior to the 2008 election "called" people to "go viral" in promoting voting "Yes on 8." There were numerous first-person reports of bishops coming to peoples' homes to tell them how much to donate. Laura Compton herself reported that donation cards were prepared with ward and stake numbers on them that were sent to a clearinghouse for counting before being passed on to Yes on 8.

    Just one of many articles on the donation coercion:… . I will post more in separate notes, as more than one link in a post holds things up for moderation.


  • 32. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Unfortunately, the My Girl Bill blog, which told of a stake president coming to the writer's home with a pre-completed donation card for him to complete, and waited while he wrote the check, is no longer up.

    However, here is a link that refers to the aforementioned quotas:


  • 33. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:30 am

    And another first-person report of being told how much to donate to Yes on 8 by the church leadership:


  • 34. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:32 am

    That's appalling – that bishops would go to homes and ask for donations.

    Fast offerings is one thing – but political donations is another. If a Mormon refused, does that mean they're "wrong" to do so? The bishopric would now know who to watch for in their congregations, by sussing out who was not supporting the donation process.

    Politics is a private matter – if someone wants to donate, they'll find a way. They don't need someone to knock on their door, and thus reveal political leanings.

    Counting is necessary, however, from an accounting perspective. There are a variety of ways that a member could donate to where and to whom. But setting up quotas is a different matter, and inappropriate.

  • 35. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:33 am

    PS to Scot re: callings:

    My mother was told that she was not to refuse a calling to play piano for Primary (even though it made her horribly uncomfortable as she has awful stage fright and is very shy) because "God is asking you to do this, and you cannot refuse God."

    Just one more reason why I want nothing to do with my parents' church. And yes, my mother is (miserably) doing as "God" told her to and playing piano for Primary.

    (My parents keep begging me to be baptized and sealed to them in LDS, and I keep refusing — because I could never join a church that was so hateful to so many of my friends. My dad's response? "That's okay. We'll just do it after you're dead." So very respectful … my dad is wonderful in many ways, but this isn't one of them.)


  • 36. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Scott, the My Girl Bill blog (which I wish was still up) said that the bishop told this gentleman his "immortal soul would be imperiled" if he did not donate the large sum of money requested of him.

    The Sacramento Bee had an article about an LDS family that donated $50K — their childrens' college fund — at the behest of their stake president. They were told that it was "the right thing to do to protect the future." 🙁


  • 37. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Fiona – I find it very disheartening to hear about your parents – we do have insensitive leaders. Not all of them are like that. But nevertheless, they're there.

    Where is the compassion that Christ had? Have they forgotten what it means to be Christ-like? And that goes for your dad, too. "We'll do it after you're dead" shows insensitivity and a lack of respect for your free agency. They don't remember that you will always have the ability to choose and say no.

    Your mother needs to request that she be released – or stop coming until she has been released. It's not worth the mental health issues she may incur.

    Regarding the Sacramento Bee and "imperiled soul" comments – that's just seriously wrong.

  • 38. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Scott, why would counting be necessary? I do not believe election laws require this. I think it's only necessary if the LDS church wants to track it.

  • 39. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:50 am

    If you look at the regular donation form that Mormons use for tithing, there's also options for temple work, missionary work, fast offerings, and others. It's purely a measure to make sure monies go where they should be going to. A honest way to keep track of money – yes, no election laws require accounting, but the Church does need to keep track which monies go where and what for.

  • 40. Alyson  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I get mark and others point about not stereotyping but I also don't think it's way off base to develop suspicions and curiosities about people based on group membership. We do it all the time with 'positive stereotypes'. I tend to go for the butch girls and when I meet a girl who knows her way around a tool box Among other cues I don't assume she's lgbt or not but I can hope and look further and more frequently than not I might be right. Not that their aren't plenty of straight girls in that bunch too but it seems a good place to start looking for sisters. Or if I meet a tiger in a dark alley I'm not going to assume it's not like other tigers. It might not be, but my experience with tigers now tells me to be careful and look for more info. Stereotypes can be based on limited personal experience – whether it's directly with the group being stereotyped or with the lies people tell about them. Whenever I meet people with lgbt stereotypes I always ask what there sources are. If it's nom and church that's different (sort of) than extrapolating from their 100 closest 'gay friends'

  • 41. Alyson  |  November 30, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    This analogy doesn't hold at all in this context. Lgbt leadership aren't all these things and no one in our community would stand up with pride and defend a pedophile? And the majority of them are straight but still not even a big enough number to be a majority of straight people. I get your point about not judging the many by the few but this particular example is inflamatory in different ways than the points you are countering in my opinion.

  • 42. John  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Excellent point.. Moreover, some of Coopers arguments look like they are photocopies of legal product from BYU about the social goods of heterosexual marriage. Some Mormons (not all) believe TRUTH is a registered trademark of the LDS church membership. It would sure speak to judicial integrity if rulings are based on constitutional law. To be fair, some judges like other BYU graduates can put their religion aside in their work place. There are however, some rulings on marriage equality (NY State Supreme Court) that may indicate otherwise.

  • 43. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:41 am

    I guess we must know a different crowd of Mormons, because some of the folks in my circle were excommunicated. Some others, like Laura (whom I am honored to know) are putting their ecclesiastical standing on the line in order to stand up against their church's stand.

    When you have been reared to believe a certain way, and told that the "prophet" "speaks for God," it's hard to put that aside. Critical thinking is not a popular thing to employ in certain churches.

    Fiona (who has nice Mormon parents — and whose father, despite his opposition to same-sex marriage — wrote a letter to the Quorum of the 12 to tell them that the church says it stays out of politics, and that it therefore do so in *all* matters)

  • 44. Sagesse  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Organized religion has money and resources and the 'moral authoritiy' to take political positions and influence outcomes. Individuals may decide to go along, and the power of the LDS church over its members is almost cult-like, but it does not necessarily follow that all Mormons follow their church's lead.

    The 'enemy' in the fight for LGBT rights is organized religion, not individuals. Just my opinion.

  • 45. Richard A. Jernigan  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:52 am

    Yes, and Laura Compton makes a very valid point. We are focusing more on Judge Smith's religion than on his judicial record. This makes as much sense as those who in 1960 were questioning the loyalties of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in his successful run for POTUS simply because he was Catholic. Then 40 years later, they were questioning John Kerry's fitness for POTUS because they did not think he was Catholic enough. Granted, John Kerry is no John Kennedy, but as a Jew, whose husband is a Lubavitcher rabbi, I say it is time we go beyond someone's supposed religion to look at his or her judicial record, and which direction any given judge has ruled on the issues that are so important to us. Surely, if Judge Smith were known to base his rulings on other than the Constitution and good common sense, there would have been an outcry raised long before now. And even if Judge Smith is a Mormon, those of us here at P8TT know enough Mormons that we should be above the NOMish tactic of tarring them all with the same brush.

  • 46. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:54 am

    Very well put Richard!

  • 47. John  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Simply put, either there is cause for concern or there is not.
    If not, we should have faith in constitutional law, due process and equal protection.

  • 48. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:59 am

    ditto! Beautifully said Richard A. Jernigan! : )

  • 49. Alyson  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Yes. So how do we find out more regarding how this individual thinks. We know he might be Mormon which could expose him / predispose him to strong and ingrained anti lgbt stances and we know he's republican which leads us down same general path – but what do we know about this specific individual's beliefs, rulings, or writings?

    Has he ever had any lgbt issues in front of him in court to comment on? I don't think the strip search case gives any clues at all to this one.

  • 50. Joe  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:55 am

    I wouldn't be opposed to Judge Smith purely on the fact he's Mormon. (At the risk of overusing a phrase, some of my best friends are Mormon, even supporters of civil marriage equality.) However, would Judge Smith be barred or influenced from making a judgement in favor of marriage equality because his law degree from BYU, i.e., could BYU make a case against his very livelihood should he rule in opposition to Prop 8? BYU specifically has a policy in favor of Proposition 8.

    One instructor was already dismissed from BYU after speaking out in opposition to Proposition 8.

  • 51. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:58 am

    What one does after getting a law degree from an institution is none of the school's business. It's up to the state to determine if the law degree and related licensing is invalid or inappropriate. BYU has no power over this matter.

  • 52. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:55 am

    I agree that we should judge Judge Smith on his decisions, not on his faith. I'm afraid I also wonder about Judge Reinhardt's wife's affiliation with an organization with some involvement in this case. I do realize that Justice Thomas's wife was, until quite recently, heavily involved in a conservative political group — and if we don't like that, we should also dislike Reinhardt's wife's appearance of involvement.

  • 53. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:56 am

    (and it helps to check the box)

  • 54. anonygrl  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I don't CARE what Judge Thomas' wife does. Likewise Judge Reinhardt's wife. Their wives are not on the bench making rulings.

    It would be perfectly legal for one of the wives to be a LAWYER on the case. Let's not make ourselves crazy with all of this, please?

  • 55. Ronnie  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:57 am



  • 56. JonT  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

  • 57. Polydactyl  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Dude I don't care if he's Catholic, Jewish, Mormon or Scientologist. (Well, maybe Scientologist, but only because I know entirely too much about Sea Org.) So he could possibly be Mormon? So what? There are anti-gay sects and movements in most Judeo-Christian religions. Attending a Mormon congregation makes him somehow potentially more anti-gay than a Catholic or conservative Jew? Gimme a break 😛

  • 58. Mike M  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Judges are charged with making rulings based on facts, laws, and precedents. The initial hearing judge based his findings strictly on those bases.
    To assume that a judge would substitute their own religion or political slant into the appellate ruling is like a straight person assuming all gays get together for group child rape. If the ruling denying Prop 8 is so thin that it can not withstand review then it was a bad ruling.
    The point to keep in mind here is, we all go thorough our days asking not to be judged by who we love, if you judge this man based on where he prays you are no better. Until you have direct proof he puts his religion above Equal Justice Under Law, back off.
    Nothing would suit the opposition more than our side becoming shrill and unreasonable before the first words are spoken in court. Sometimes being in the majority of public opinion as same sex marriage now is, you need to step back and choose the best course for your arguments. We are anticipating a sea change in how the entire nation views sexuality and commitment, if that change comes at the hands of those we would assume are our enemies it makes that change more solid. I actually would prefer it be three right wing appointees because it becomes harder to call the judges "activists" if they are formerly on the other side of the debate.
    Let the arguments take their course. When an ideas time has come it will take root.

  • 59. Polydactyl  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Ye gods, a voice of reason!

  • 60. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:00 am


  • 61. Alyson  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:38 am

    I do agree with what you all are saying, and there are only est 760,000 Mormons in ca so of the 12 million votes cast they couldn't be responsible for the outcome in terms of votes. But to continue to compare peoples religious bias when they sit on the bench to an assumption of sexual violence perpetrated by gay people makes no sense to me. These types of assumtions aren't even in the same realm and they are inflamatory. Religion does influence people and Catholic leadership and recently Mormon leadership in this country have been attempting to influence the political debate among others. And they have sone mainstream respect and people consider their opinions however misinformed. I don't know anyone who would seriously be influence by violent sex offenders so I think you lose the power of your point when you make these analogies.

    Judges like Thomas as biased ideologues no matter what influence we blame it on (wife, church, whatever…he is a rigid thinker who already has his mind made up). Now what to we know about smith's decisions?

  • 62. Jason  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Lets not stoop to their level. A proper judge should rule based on law and not opinion, whatever that opinion may be.

    Sarcastically – if he rules against prop 8, he's an activist judge. If he rules for prop 8, he enforces "The will of the people!TM"

  • 63. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Live video of press conference on DADT repeal (Mullins, et al)

  • 64. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Gates and Mullen off podium. Now Gen Ham and Jay Johnson.

  • 65. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Gates: Any policy which requires someone to lie is a problem.
    Also, bottom line of the report, no separate facilities.

    Asked about McCain's claim that this report doesn't get at the real questions re: DADT, Gates: On this he is mistaken.

  • 66. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Woot! Go, Gates!

  • 67. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Gen Ham: Coupled with prompt implementation of recommendations, risk to appeal of DADT to military readiness and effectiveness minimal. Some limited and isolated disruption to cohesion, etc., but will not be widespread or long lasting.

  • 68. Kathleen  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:53 am

    strong leadership, education
    education and training of leaders
    underlying theme, fair and equal treatment of all

    if repeal comes, g&l must be treated same as others
    heard moral and religious objections – make clear no one is expected to change views, just treat all others with dignity and respect. This concepts are not new for military, as diversity of views already exist

    concern about inappropriate conduct – many concerns already regulated – not necessary to establish extensive set of new regs. But all standards of conduct apply uniformly

    Benefits – recommend for time being, people single if not in a federally recognized marriage.

    CAn't keep up with typing – I'm sure someone will report these recommendations.

  • 69. JonT  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:17 am

    🙂 Watching as well, though I missed the first 45 minutes. Interesting stuff. Downloaded the reports too, will peruse them later today 🙂

    I'm not even trying to transcribe the press conference 🙂

  • 70. Bob  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:00 am

    great job Kathleen, I enjoyed the press conference, no real surpirzes,,,,,

    this puts the Miltitary in charge in a very obeservable way, makes them look like the initiators and the good guys, great play on Obama's part, loved it when they admitted to being nervous about open discussions with large groups on the ground, and that they found profresionalism, and civility in face of differences, go figure eh

    loved when Ham said, if the law changes so will we, and they are behind it…. I'm just a tad uncomfortable with the mention of phasing it in, and training. but this is a great step forward,

    Ham said once repeal is in place the success would depend on quick implementation.

    Another concern, medical benefits wouldn't automtically flow to same sex partners, (didn't undrstand that) but hospital visitiation, notification of next of kin, and death benefits would flow automatic.

    This is all good, if the repubs stall this now in congress, for political reasons, it just provides the courts with ample evidence to prove it's unconstituional and they would stike down the law, but in a way that would make it more risky to implement on the ground i.e resentment from leaders being told what to do as opposed to deciding for themselves.

    So Obama's plan may work, repubs better vote to repeal, or they will be seen as the bad guys, and the court is the big stick.

    woot woot, hey ho, DADT has got to go…..

  • 71. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:27 am

    A different take on it, perhaps: if we assume some religion and politics enter into Judge Smith's decision, I think that after what seems to me was considerable anti-Mormon backlash after the passage of Prop 8, he might be under a bit more pressure to be as impartial as possible.

  • 72. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hmmm…interesting thought.

  • 73. Regan DuCasse  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Since the Prop. 8 defenders had such a weak case, virtually NO evidence and argued badly, THAT should be the deciding factor here, as it was in Judge Walker's ruling.

    The defender's of Prop. 8 had little standing and still have little, if any.
    Just because they WANT it, have the court's attention and that of the public as well, still doesn't mean they have a case. Not even a strong one.

    I don't take it for granted it's a slam dunk in favor of upholding the overturn of 8.
    But really, how can the court rule in their favor with so little of merit to make a case in the first place?

  • 74. anonygrl  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:38 am

    I am not at all sure why we are even dicussing this (NOT that I ever want to shut down a discussion here, mind you).

    We decry those who said that Walker's ruling should be overturned because he MIGHT be gay, how can anyone support the idea that Smith should be recused because he MIGHT be Mormon?

    Judges, as we all know, are, inside their robes, real people with differing opinions. There is no getting around that, but the best we can and must hope for is that when they put on their robes, they become people whose personal opinions are secondary to their study of the law and the cases presented to them.

    Even if a judge believed the bible is the ultimate word of truth, it is his job to set that aside and deal with the laws of our land, and the information presented to him in the court room.

    I believe that these three judges will do just that. I also believe that if we had any cause to worry that they would not, it would already be fairly obvious from prior rulings, and as of yet, no one has presented a lick of evidence to the contrary.

    Thus, this speculation is fruitless and counterproductive.

  • 75. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Amen! It just doesn't matter.

  • 76. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:45 am


  • 77. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:04 am

    doesn't matter in the sense presented…I feel judge will rule fairly…However, I'm glad its being discussed as gives each of us a chance to examine our own prejudices and perhaps learn better ways. Thank you for all of your comments! Love, Gregory

  • 78. John  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:09 am

    If proponents counsel Cooper were instead a federal judge would there be cause for concern? Legitimate speculation?

  • 79. anonygrl  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you mean if Cooper had presented the case to Walker, and was now serving as a federal judge? If so, then yes of course he should be recused as that would be a significant personal interest and involvement on the case itself that would prejudice him.

  • 80. Martha  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:41 am

    It does not bother me at all whether judge smith is mormon or not. What concerns me is whether the Judge indirectly gave money to prop 8 through the church. Since names of contributers are being withheld from the public… This does concern me..

  • 81. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Martha, I think they did release the donor list earlier this year…and someone in yesterday's post had looked up to see if Judge Smith and his wife had donated and they couldn't find them on the donor list.

  • 82. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:05 am

    every stone examined and uncovered…I love it! I appreciate all the "watch dogs" on alert for any foul play!

  • 83. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

    "every stone examined and uncovered…"

    Well, realistically, everyone just learned the judges' names yesterday, right?

    The world has a lot of stones in it.

  • 84. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Hi CC! Perhaps I exaggerated just a bit…."every stone"…. however, I am truly amazed and grateful for the resourcefulness/watchfulness and critical thinking/research abilities of the P8TT family : )

  • 85. Ann S.  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:17 am

    And on the subject of Judge Reinhardt — his wife will be in SF on Sunday, Dec. 5, appearing at the ACLU of Northern California's Bill of Rights Day event.

    Now, I hope as much as anyone that Judge Reinhardt can be on the panel and can render an impartial judgment in accordance with the law.

    I'm just trying to point out that we should not apply one standard to Judge Smith based on suspected affiliation, and ignore another Judge's family affiliations. That would be hypocritical.

  • 86. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I think a Name That Quote moment is appropriate here, re: our potentially Mormon judge:

    "Ya gotta learn to rooooooowwwwl with the punches. And believe me, in this business they come left, right, and below the belt!"

  • 87. Alan E.  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:29 am


  • 88. Michelle Evans  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I absolutely hope that Judge Smith renders his opinion based on law and not religion. As has been pointed out, that is exactly what he, and all judges, are supposed to do. The worry here is that precedent has not always shown that to be the case.

    Look to the Supreme Court and see the ideological differences that happen in so many of their cases. We've talked about it here many times that we can believe there will be a 4-4 vote on marriage equality, with a deciding vote from either side from Kennedy. When that vote is almost a certainty, even though the SCOTUS has yet to hear the case, it shows that we know that the law and constitution is unfortunately not always the deciding factor.

    And the difference between us and them, is that we have never attacked their religion just because it is a religion, whereas the church of which he is most likely a part has directly attacked us just for being who we are. Thus our justification for worry, no matter his previous judicial record.

  • 89. anonygrl  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I think his previous judicial record is EXACTLY what we should judge him on. Has he EVER been shown to rule based on his religion over the law? Is there any indication in his past rulings that this sort of impropriety is even an issue?

    People don't exist in a vacuum. If he is the sort to rule based on church doctrine, he will have shown that tendancy in the past. So far, no one has come up with anything credible to show that he has done so. I think it is rather rude to assume he will suddenly burst out as a religious nut over this one issue, if he has never done it before.

    We are better than that.

  • 90. James Sweet  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:19 am

    So being Mormon may make no more difference in someone being antigay than being Catholic…

    Did anybody else spot a bit of irony in this statement?

    In any case, I think to a certain extent it does matter, because if your religion teaches hateful beliefs (and I apologize to any LGBT or LGBT-friendly Mormons here, but please, wake up, the central church is rather clear on this point), well… I mean, do I have to continue the thought? Sure, there are plenty of Mormons and Catholics who eschew the more hateful teachings of the central church authorities, but it still does not exactly give one reassurance.

    That said, we are unfortunately at a time in the world where virtually all mainstream religions teach some sort of bigotry. If we went around disqualifying people from being judges because their church taught something hateful and nasty, we wouldn't have very many judges left. So my answer to whether it matters is "kind of", but in practice there's not much that can be done about it.

  • 91. James Sweet  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

    And by the way, even though I get the impression that Lesbians Loves Boies would disagree with the tone of a lot of what I said above, I have to say that she summed up much better what I was trying to get at in my second paragraph with:

    It doesn’t matter if statistically Mormons are anti-equality. We have to have faith in the law and in the system, in our Judges…

    That's pretty much the long and the short of it. Yes, it makes me highly uncomfortable that the majority of judges in this country belong to a religion which is either explicitly anti-gay at present, or was anti-gay at some very recent time in the past. Even though individual beliefs are not necessarily the same as the collective creed of their religion, it's still troubling.

    BUT, we do already have a process in place, and we can't just change the rules as we go along. And in any case, I don't really see a significantly better alternative at present to the process we do have in place (except that judges should never be elected, but that's a separate point and not really relevant here).

    Do I think it sucks he's Mormon? Well, frankly, kinda yeah. But that's the process, and we have to support the process. From a legal standpoint, it makes not one whit of difference, of course.

  • 92. Buffy  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Yes, he's Mormon. And of course it matters because more often than not Mormons follow the Prophet before they follow anything or anybody else, including the US Constitution.

  • 93. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Buffy, his religion is irrelevant. Period. He was chosen at random, as was Judge Walker.


  • 94. anonygrl  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Absolutely correct, Fiona.

  • 95. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:17 am


  • 96. Buffy  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

    He may have been chosen at random, but his religion is not irrelevant. Prop 8 was spearheaded by religious conservatives, largely the Mormons. Ignoring the fact that he's one of them in an effort to seem nicey-nice won't do us any good.

  • 97. Scot Ferre  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Does anyone talk about how Supreme Courts' religions make a difference when they hear cases? Particularly those cases dealing with religion? I haven't heard much at all – if anything, they usually focus on the law, and not on religion.

    Similarly, Judge Walker's orientation had little, if any, impact on his decision. Why can't we assume that Judge Smith will not let his religion play a role in his decision? His job is separate from his religion.

  • 98. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Exactly. To assume certain behaviors because of someone's faith is to ignore that individual's ability to reason and do his or her job.

    It is also just as prejudicial as though who insist that my GLBT friends are all pedophiles or some other such ridiculous assumption.

    I guess some people will only be happy when atheist, asexual space aliens are the only ones on the bench …


  • 99. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

    @fiona – they would scream activism then too!

  • 100. Jyo  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    There's another angle here that Laura Compton hasn't examined.

    One can be a fair judge and still have a conflict of interest in a case (say, because you once worked for a company which is a party to the case, or because you are related to a party in the case.)

    I agree with Laura Compton that it'd be unfair to accuse Judge Smith of being prejudiced because he 'might' be a Mormon. I believe, however, that it's worthwhile to ask this question: The LDS Church has used this ballot initiative for its own financial benefit, having used it as a scare tool for raising donations. Has Judge Smith or any of his relatives worked for this organization to an extent that it creates a conflict of interest? (This is a substantially different question than simply "crying foul/unfair due to a judge’s religious views".)

    Compton asks,

    Would we question a judge’s ability to hear the case if she were Catholic? Orthodox Jew? Southern Baptist? Unitarian? Atheist? What about if he’s quoting Star Trek in his judicial opinions (as happened recently in Texas)?

    and I believe that's a red herring, because none of these other organizations have entwined themselves in Proposition 8 fund-raising the way that the Church of Latter-day Saints has.

  • 101. fiona64  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Um, sorry … but the Catholic Church, through the Knights of Columbus, was also a big player.


  • 102. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

    "none of these other organizations have entwined themselves in Proposition 8 fund-raising the way that the Church of Latter-day Saints has"

    Hmmm….well, I believe Maggie Gallagher's National Organization for Marriage was first established as a shell organization to funnel both Mormon and Catholic funds against marriage equality without drawing fire to their churches….and though I don't have numbers or anything, I believe there was a lot of Catholic Church involvement alongside Mormon involvement in passing Prop H8…

  • 103. Dave  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Lets not forget that Maggie, and most if not all of the heads of NOM are members of the Catholic Church.

  • 104. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. I don't tend to think of them as being of a particular sect….merely Christianist.

  • 105. Laura Compton  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the extra questions. Sorry I've missed a bunch of interesting discussion today. I regularly read what's happening hear, but rarely have time to comment.

    Some things to keep in mind about Judge Smith:

    1. He lives in Idaho. Southeastern Idaho. One of the least-Mormon towns in Southeastern Idaho. Not in California. This is important because most of the pressure on Mormons was directed to California. That's where stakes were given fundraising assessments and goals; that's where church members were trained on the ins and outs of political volunteering. Yes, there were some phone banks and volunteer efforts from Idaho, but they were quite small. If his local ward/stake was involved in the campaign at all, it was not involved the same way congregations in Orange County and San Diego were involved.

    2. The Mormon church was very careful to keep tithing funds out of the political donation pot. The church itself gave no monetary donations to the campaign, and it instructed every member to donate toward Prop 8 via Protect Marriage – not via official church channels. That's why they had to create special donation forms for Mormons to use. Yes, more than a few ecclesiastical leaders were gung-ho about soliciting political donations from their constituents, and yes, leaders in Salt Lake City called potential large donors asking for 5-figure contributions, to which very few members were able to say "no." But still, most members (even most members in California) did not make political donations.

    3. While the church donated a bit over $100k in non-monetary means (including the salaries of people who spent significant portions of their time on campaign-related matters), that amount of money is negligible compared to the budget of the church. Most church congregations (wards) have 150-200 families in them, and even if only half the families contributed 10% of their income in tithing, and if families made only $20,000 per year, that would still be $200,000 from one ward in a year. There are 30,000 wards in the church. And that's only tithing donations – Mormons often contribute much more than that to the church.

    3. A judicial code of conduct is in place which prohibits federal judges from getting themselves involved in political races/fundraising. That same judicial code encourages judges to be involved in their communities within acceptable parameters. Why would Judge Smith violate that code of conduct? Presumably he likes his job and doesn't want to give it up.

    4. Since Smith is not a high-level church authority, he never would have received compensation from the church, even if he'd been a bishop or stake president.

    5. While many Mormons do not support SSM, only a very small minority are opposed enough (or pressured enough) to donate money and time to the cause. Yes, when they got involved, they were overachievers and broke a bunch of records, but there are a lot more (at least in California) who didn't even bother to put up Yes on 8 signs.

    As for fundraising, the LDS church was the Goliath in the coalition, getting more people to donate money as individuals than probably any other organization. And it was sneaky in the way it involved itself so thoroughly and completely, hiding in plain sight as members knew full well that the church was involved, but non-members had no clue until the muckrakers came along.

    But other organizations, including religious organizations, did provide significant sums as organizations. It's just that the Mormons and their over-the-top response dwarfed everyone else once they jumped into the fray.

  • 106. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Wow, thanks for the research Laura. I believe that Judge Smith will do the write thing.

  • 107. Carpool Cookie  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Laura, thanks for your post and all the work you do. I appreciate all you've done throughout this : )

  • 108. Dave  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    The Catholic church was the biggest contributor to Prop 8, and the church made it very clear up to the election how it expects its followers to vote.

  • 109. Sheryl, Mormon Mothe  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Laura, nice to see you posting here. Interestingly enough, my first reaction to Judge Smith was "oh my, maybe not the best choice." LOL, this from a Mormon who supports SSM. However, all this fuss about how he should remove himself from the case really does seem hypocritical, as has already been pointed out by others.

    Scot, nice to have another Mormon posting here.

    Should know tomorrow if I will get Monday off. Sure hoping so.


  • 110. BK  |  December 1, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Yippee! I'm so ecstatic right now—even Focus on the Family says their side is in trouble! 🙂 A victory here is likely, but if prop8 is not dismantled, it'll be pretty bad. : But let's be thankful for the hardcore liberal & leftward-leaning justices on the case. Can't wait! Legal stuff always takes so long!

  • 111. James Sweet  |  December 2, 2010 at 2:15 am

    So, I made it clear above that I don't think Smith's religion ought to disqualify him from the case (even though I do think it "matters" in the sense that it probably makes him statistically less likely to issue the correct ruling).

    However, I think it's really funny that many people in this thread are making the point that the Mormon hierarchy is no more anti-gay than the Catholic hierarchy. Heh… I mean seriously, that makes me chuckle. You don't see the irony there? Really?

    "I don't know why you think the Courage Campaign is a pro-LGBT rights group. They are no more in favor of LGBT rights than the Human Rights Campaign…"

  • 112. Rhie  |  December 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Checkin the box

  • 113. Matt  |  December 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Judge Smith is a business law professor at Idaho State University, and I had the privelage of taking his class. I can tell you, as a person who knows him personally, that when it comes to interpreting the law, his opinion does not affect his decisions AT ALL. He explained to us thouroughly how he decides cases. He assignes a Standard of Review for every case based solely on the law, leaving out his own opinion entirely (makes sense since that is a judge's job)…. My guess is that he will rule in favor of gay marriage.

  • 114. Ann S.  |  December 16, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Thank you for the insight, Matt.

    Fingers crossed!

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