WASHINGTON — Activists working to overturn same-sex marriage have had to get used to one surprising absence from their religious coalition: Mormons.
A huge amount of Mormon money and foot soldiers and the support of church leadership were credited with an epic win for traditional marriage in 2008 when California voters approved Proposition 8, which said that only marriage between a man and woman would be recognized in the state.
And the Washington region has one of the largest communities of Mormons outside the West.
But Mormon leaders in Maryland have been silent on the ballot measure to affirm or toss the state’s new same-sex marriage law. Activists in other states voting next month on the issue (Maine, Minnesota, and Washington) say they see the same thing. The dramatic turnaround from 2008 reflects the tightrope the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is walking as it tries to maintain a generally apolitical church culture while in the global spotlight of a presidential campaign.
‘‘It’s surprising they haven’t been in the lead on this,’’ said Mike McManus, head of the Marriage Savers marriage counseling and advocacy group and an organizer for Question 6, the November ballot measure that requires voter approval of Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law.
Some Mormons are relieved to see the church publicly stay out of politics, particularly on an issue that has such strong partisan overtones. Mormon scripture calls it ‘‘unjust’’ to mingle ‘‘religious influence with civil government,’’ and politics is generally a taboo topic in church. Mormon leaders’ decision to become involved in campaigns in California and, earlier, Hawaii, was deeply divisive. Most Mormons can name measures on which church leaders have taken clear public positions against key issues — same-sex marriage in California in 2008, a missile defense system in the 1980s, the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
But Mormon officials say they are being especially cautious this year because of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and the danger of their strongly evangelical faith becoming too closely associated with one party. ‘‘It’s the political climate we’re in,’’ said Michael Otterson, a church spokesman. - WASHINGTON POST
Bill Clinton plans another N.H. visit
CONCORD, N.H. — Former president Bill Clinton is planning a visit to New Hampshire this week to campaign for President Obama.
New Hampshire is on a list of battleground states he plans to visit. Other stops are in Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia. The exact date and time haven’t been announced yet.
Clinton was last in New Hampshire on Oct. 3, when he addressed students at the University of New Hampshire. He has been one of the president’s most effective surrogates, from his acclaimed convention speech last month to filling in for Obama in Florida on Monday, when the president returned to the White House as Hurricane Sandy moved northward off the coast. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Charity trust offers Romney a tax deferment
NEW YORK — In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money.
Individuals who had already set up these vehicles were allowed to keep them. That included Mitt Romney, then the chief executive of Bain Capital, who had just established such an arrangement in June 1996.
The charitable remainder unitrust, as it is known, is one of several strategies Romney has adopted over his career to reduce his tax bill. While Romney’s tax avoidance is legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become an issue in the campaign. President Obama attacked him in their second debate for paying ‘‘lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less.’’
In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity — the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing — to defer taxes for more than 15 years.
At the same time he is benefiting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires, according to tax returns obtained by Bloomberg this month through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In general, charities don’t owe capital gains taxes when they sell assets for a profit.
The Romney campaign declined to answer written questions about the trust. - BLOOMBERG NEWS