Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Thurston Paper: Mischaracterized in 'No on 8' Press Release

LDS Lawyer's Commentary Mischaracterized in 'No on 8' Press Release

ORANGE COUNTY- A press release dated October 19 from a public relations firm representing 'No on 8' is inaccurate and misleading," says Morris A. Thurston, an LDS lawyer who was erroneously cited as having "debunked" new California Prop 8 ads.

More than a month ago, Thurston wrote a commentary on a document titled "Six Consequences ... if Prop 8 Fails." That document, unsigned and anonymous, had not been approved by the LDS Church, although it was being circulated by some local church members. "It contained certain misstatements about the consequences of Prop 8's failure," Thurston said, "so I wrote my commentary to correct these errors. To the best of my knowledge, the church has since discouraged its members from using anonymous documents such as this. It has never been posted on the official LDS Church website."

"The 'No on 8' press release is inaccurate in a number of respects," said Thurston.

"First, the release implies that I have 'debunked' a new television ad recently released by the Prop 8 campaign and that my commentary 'clearly states the Prop. 8 ads are based entirely on claims that are not true.' This is incorrect. I have never contended that all claims in television ads released by Prop 8 supporters are untrue or misleading and I have not seen the new ad.

"Second, the release says that I have 'confirmed that Prop 8 has nothing to do with education.' This is also untrue. My commentary merely stated what the Los Angeles Times confirmed in its editorial published today -- that Prop 8 will not require teachers to promote gay marriage or to make any value judgment regarding the morality of same-sex marriage compared to traditional marriage.

"Third, the release links my commentary to a claim that 'the Mormon Church has asked its members to fund a campaign based on these lies.' I have never contended that the LDS Church or its leaders have lied in this campaign. In fact, I took pains to point out that the church had not authored or approved the 'Six Consequences' document that my commentary discussed.

"Finally, the release refers to me as a 'professor at BYU Law School.' I am not a full professor, as the release implies, but an 'adjunct' (or part-time) professor. An early draft of my commentary listed my adjunct professorship among my qualifications, but I subsequently removed that reference from the authorized version of the commentary. The 'No on 8' campaign has posted an unauthorized early draft. I want to emphasize that I removed the reference to my BYU Law School affiliation on my own volition and that I have not been asked by the LDS Church or the Law School to do so. I removed it because I considered it irrelevant. What I teach at BYU Law School has nothing to do with equal rights, religious freedom or California education law. In writing my commentary I was doing so as a lawyer who has spent considerable time researching the issues, not as a law professor.

"The primary reason I wrote my commentary was to help keep the campaign honest. I am an active member of the LDS Church and a strong supporter of equal rights for gays and lesbians. It is regrettable that the 'No on 8' campaign has issued a release that mischaracterizes my commentary and my views. I assume that the mistakes were inadvertent and that steps will promptly be taken to remove the website posting."
SOURCE Morris A. Thurston

No comments: