Gay presidential candidate stumps Utah with message for LDS Church leaders

Presidential candidate Fred Karger visits Judd's Mercantile in St. George, Utah, June 7, 2012 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News
Presidential candidates as listed on the ballot of the Washington County Republican Party to be voted upon in the June 26 primaries. | Image courtesy of the Washington County Republican Party.

ST. GEORGE –  Three weeks before Utah’s Republican primary election on June 26, including a GOP ballot yet offering a choice between Mitt Romney and four other nominee hopefuls, one such came to St. George today to begin a three-week pointed campaign in Utah.

Fred Karger distinguishes himself as the first openly gay candidate, from one of the two major parties, to seek the U.S. presidency.

He told St. George News that although he has obviously been eliminated from the presidential race with Romney having clinched the nomination in Texas 10 days ago, he has been asked by the Republican Party chairman to be on this ballot, he is on the ballot, and he wants to campaign for three weeks.

Message and objectives

“I have an important message I want to talk about,” Karger said.

His focal point is not the White House; it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which he said is significantly influential and powerful.

“I am going to request a meeting with President Thomas S. Monson to search for common ground; and I’m going to make the centerpiece of my campaign here for the next three weeks, encouraging – in a nice positive way – everything I can for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do two things.”

1. Karger wants the LDS church to back away from the 33 campaigns he says that it has really run in this country to take away marriage equality, gay marriage.

2. Karger hopes to persuade the church to treat all Latter-day Saints equally.

Regarding his first objective, Karger said that the church has been involved in every state.

“I have all these secret documents from the Mormon church that go all the way to North Carolina, … they were involved in a significant way in 33 different elections, now we have four more coming up this fall … I am saying,” Karger said, “(I want them to) completely disengage themselves.”

Regarding his second objective, “I want them to treat all LDS members equally and with respect, not to teach that if you’re gay or lesbian that you are worse than a rapist or a murderer or incest or any of the terrible things they say are better than being gay; and that needs to change.” Karger added, “in all religion, not just the Mormon religion, but in all religion.”

Presidential candidate Fred Karger, meeting a mother and children at Judd's Mercantile, hands out frisbees labeled "Fred who?" St. George, Utah, June 7, 2012 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

Appeal to youth

Before he gains Monson’s audience and before he appeals to people of the Salt Lake City area tomorrow, Karger will address students at Brigham Young University tonight. He said that they are younger people who are LDS and that they don’t go along with the belief system of their church. He said they believe that gay and lesbian Latter-day Saints should be able to remain, should not be pariahs and should be allowed to act out their sexuality.

History of engagement with the LDS church

Karger acknowledged that the LDS church has “loosened its stance,” and he said he takes some credit for that.

“I’ve been very aggressive against them,” he said.

And he has. Karger said he persuaded the state of California to prosecute the Mormon church on violations related to its involvement in the 2008 Proposition 8 anti-marriage equality initiative.

“They were prosecuted, investigated for 18 months, pled guilty to 13 counts … it was big news – no church had ever been investigated for election fraud, and they were found guilty on 13 counts,” Karger said. The offense, as he explained it, pertained to the church providing some 75 employees to work on the campaign, giving staff time, paying salaries, all of which is required to be declared as a non-monetary contribution.

According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission’s enforcement decision of June 10, 2010, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to timely report making late non-monetary contributions totaling $36, 928, in connection with the November 4, 2008, General Election. $5,539 fine.”

Motivation from the LDS church’s support for anti-discrimination

Despite his self-characterized aggression against the Mormon church, Karger is enthusiastically motivated by success he had in recent years in helping to persuade the church to support the passage of the Salt Lake City anti-discrimination ordinance, affording protections in housing and employment. Multiple similar ordinances followed Salt Lake’s lead, as the Equality Utah got its footing.

Karger referred to the church’s October 2010 statement issued through its spokesman, Michael Otterson. In that statement, the LDS church maintained its love-based doctrinal position opposing same-sex marriage, distinguished between feelings and behavior, admonished kindness and love towards others and, instrumental to the passage of anti-discrimination laws, affirmed its support for “other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.”

Karger said that the support for the anti-discrimination ordinance went from 30 percent, before Otterson delivered the statement, to 70 percent one week later, so strong was the church’s influence.

Distinction between same-sex marriage and plural marriage

In what may be seen by some as a disconnect, Karger opposes legalization of plural marriage. He does not think that legalizing same-sex marriage should lead to legalization of polygamy.

He does think it is government’s place to deny the right of polygamy:

“I’m a big libertarian and tell people that government should not interfere with their lives,” Karger said, “(but) I think that there are certain things that government should do – I just – there is a part of me that wants to say if someone wants five wives,” pausing, “but I just don’t think that that is workable and it is not how our society is set up.”

Curious that Karger used, on the one hand, societal history as a basis for his opposition to polygamy, while on the other hand advocating activism to change the way this society has traditionally defined marriage, we asked him to explain what he meant by polygamy not being workable.

“I think it’s been illegal for … over 120 years, and I think the law is appropriate and there is no place in this country,” he said, while continuing to dismiss the argument that opening the door to same-sex marriage will open the door to legal polygamy.

“We’ve said that about the Civil Rights Act, we’ve said that about interracial marriage, things do change – prohibition didn’t work, we took it off – I think you’re seeing as a country that we do change.”

Opportunity Utah

“That’s why I am here,” Karger said. “I just couldn’t pass this up, … if this had been New Mexico or something as the last primary I maybe wouldn’t be here, but this is Utah and I put this timeline together that I’ll release tomorrow of all my activism in doing what I’m doing, trying to persuade the Mormon church.”

Although his first step was today in St. George, Karger will kick off his Utah Primary campaign tomorrow at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, in the Alta Room – 2nd floor, 75 South West Temple, Salt Lake City .


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright 2012 St. George News. 


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  • Tina June 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    “Curious that Karger used, on the one hand, societal history as a basis for his opposition to polygamy, while on the other hand advocating activism to change the way this society has traditionally defined marriage, we asked him to explain what he meant by polygamy not being workable.”


    “I think it’s been illegal for … over 120 years, and I think the law is appropriate and there is no place in this country,” he said, while continuing to dismiss the argument that opening the door to same-sex marriage will open the door to legal polygamy.”

    That NOT an answer to the question AT ALL. Not even close. Homosexuality has been “illegal” for MUCH longer than polygamy, and there are plenty of historical stories that show that polygamy IS workable, though not easy. (I’m not an advocate of polygamy, BTW).

    • Dr Alto June 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      What the he*#+ does that mean? ‘Homosexuality has been “illegal” for much longer than polygamy’. Uhhh, er, wrong Tina. Homosexuality is not illegal in any tense of the word. Maybe to the mormons it is, but I don’t see any mormon police officers macing gay couples on the street and booking them. Polygamy is illegal because it is practically a form of slavery, promotes inbreeding, and is an unstable family enterprise. There is not such thing as ‘workable’ form of polygamy, no matter how many canned TLC reality shows you watch. You claim you’re not an advocate of polygamy but it’s obvious what your agenda is here.

      • dylan June 17, 2012 at 1:00 am

        I may be wrong but idt she meant to be homophobic or whatevr . I was thinking the same thing . I wanna say that i dont go for “polygamy” but i DO think people should have the right to do what they want if they arent hurting nybody. So , even tho im prbly voting for him , he comes off just as hipocritical as the bigot homophobes that hes against .

        For the record im gay but im just stating my opinion on how hes presenting himself through my prespective of it and my interpretation of that tina girls comment .

        Ps i think she used thequotes around illegal to show that neither polygamy nor homosexality is illegal it just isnt legal . . . Yet …………

      • urbanboy June 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

        Really, It’s ok….you can spell “hell” lol

  • Carla White June 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    In the law of Moses, which Christ practiced, those practicing homosexual behaviors were stoned. The founding fathers outlawed any such practices and until 1979 it was listed as a mental illness in psychology textbooks. People call this information mean spirited, ,but they are the facts. Who is changing what?

    • I think you need to re-read your New Testament. Christ did not practice the law of Moses. In fact, Christ gave a NEW commandment to his followers. It was that little thing called “love one another.” Christ also stood up for prostitutes and kept them from getting murdered — something that would have never happened by Moses’ law. By the way, people who were schizophrenic in the 17th and 18th centuries were usually thought to be possessed by demons. It was fact until we all gained some knowledge. So, by that logic (the same logic you use when you say “people call this information mean spirited, but they are facts), then we should be throwing all medical knowledge out the window, start using leeches to releve us of our ills, and burn our neighbors at the stake if our milk turns sour.

  • W.E. Smith June 7, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    To make legal the marriage of same sex couples. I believe is the question.
    This could really be the thing edge of the wedge. What is next, adoption of children into such relationships?

    As a father of three and with over sixty years of life experience I know that all children need the input of both normal parents one of each sex. This fact is well documented. If not then why in divorce cases the courts mostly seem to promote this in future caring for the children. .

    Of course the adopted children of same sex couples could be schooled by private tutor to avoid the ridicule and stigma they could receive in the public or even the private school system. What happens when other children can’t understand why they have two mothers or two fathers.

    In later life they could seek out people from similar backgrounds. What a minefield to launch young lives into. The welfare of the children by the two contemplating this sort of “Non Christian” relationship should be important to all.

    Remember the following is true and will never change. “Marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”. This will always be the same. Of course there is always the other side; Christians such as myself will not vote for a government that takes a Non Christian stance on any such matters.

    Any church that marries same sex couples will cease to be a Christian church. This alone will divide the community. A couple in a same sex relationship are not Christians.

    Of course we all have agency, freedom to choose but remember with choice comes consequence for somebody once said “before you tear down the fences find out why the fences were put up”. I am told that gay people can with praying and counseling could leave a normal life.

    • Good for you for speaking for God! I’m sure he totally loves that. If only there were a way to stop all you straight people from having gay babies. Then the problem would be solved.

    • Erin June 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

      I think that until you personally know a couple who has adopted beautiful children, you have no right to judge. Your Jesus would be very disappointed in you for spreading such hate.
      There are gay couples who are Christian. I personally know same sex Christian couples who have raised wonderful children. It is disgraceful how you assume that they will turn out to be terrible human brings. You my friend, are a terrible human. You need to think about it and really evaluate your thoughts on acceptance and love and you need to teach those things to your children.
      If your child grows up with your hatred and unacceptable they will be the ones shunned and disliked by those who are more Christ-like than you will ever be. You should be ashamed.

    • dylan June 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

      You seem a well educatedand intelligent man aswell as a good person and good christian . But your close mindedness stops you from being able to look at BOTH sides thus limiting your intelligence . And i hate to sound cruel but your closemindedness , bigotry and lack of knowledge about the bible (old testament andd new from the look of it) quite frankly not only offends me but also disgust me . After my insulting you im not sure that you will but i ask you to please review john 3: 16-18 and luke 7: 1-10. Iemplore you to look at these two verses of the bible aswell as apologize for any offence you will take by this comment as that is not my aim.

      In the actual original scripture the centurion and the servent were described as male lovers through the word pais in reference to the slaves relationship to the centurion . In the hebrew (original) version of the old testament he actually blessed their non-plutonnic relationship . And cause i have a feeling nobody who reads this will believe it , it only reinforces that you should look up luke 7: 1-10 thanks for reading my little splurge (to everyone who actually does) 😀

  • Taco Time June 8, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Do you have a point with your post, Carla? Back in those days they also smoked a lot of weed and used hemp to make everything and anything. By the way, you need to update your psychology textbook- it shows.

    • Delwin June 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

      A psychology textbook that refers to homosexuality as a mental illness is in fact correct. Homosexuals engaging in such behavior will not reproduce their genes in offspring barring activities such as sperm donation, hence this ‘orientation’ is a mental disorder impeding the function of the organism.

  • ron June 8, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Homosexuality is biologically-determined. It is NOT a lifestyle choice. (If you think it is, when did you make your choice? I don’t recall ever having an option) Given that fact–yes, fact–it is clearly wrong to deny gays the rights that the rest of us enjoy and, further, treat them with scorn, ridicule, and outright hatred just as it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of any other biological anomaly. And Christians, how about paying more heed to your founder’s teachings on love and acceptance?

    • daman June 8, 2012 at 7:41 am

      I don’t want to get in the middle of anything (I guess I am), but his argument that homosexuality is biologically determined is the weakest argument on the planet. True there are a few studies indicating they have found a genetic correlation, but it is fairly week. Environmental factors influence sexual orientation much stronger. Look up some identical twin studies on this subject. I believe only 20% of identical twins in which one identifies as homosexual the other also identifies that way.

      As genetic research progresses we are finding more and more things have a genetic link from alcoholism, pedophilia, obesity, even chosen occupation. Although some of these are fairly weak. The point is that just because something has biological or genetic causes does not lean much evidence towards the gay rights movement. By that logic any trait which has a genetic link should qualify you a protected class. Man, if I am an obese, homosexual, alcoholic I should be the most civilly protected person in.

      By the way, I am actually fairly soft on my stance on gay rights, I do get annoyed by this argument though. Don’t get me started on some of the other arguments on this board, because there are some not even worth disputing they are so ridiculous.

  • It’s interesting when a story like this starts bringing certain people out of the woodwork. I swear every time I start to get the feeling that St. George is progressing toward a state of tolerance (not the same as agreement, mind you), people start quoting The Bible as if it’s something the entire world subscribes to. Telling another person who to love because you don’t believe in that love is like me coming to your house and demanding you stop listening to country music because I don’t like it. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean everyone believes it. And vice versa. I’ve never gone up to a straight couple and told them I think they’re sinning or that they make me sick or that it’s their fault there’s gay people in the world. (Like I said earlier, it’s straight people who make gay babies. There’s no other possible way to make a baby.) Oddly, the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to me or the people I love.

    By the way, this presidential hopeful is a little bit wrong on his assumptions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s not a sin to be gay. It’s just a sin to engage in gay sexual acts (according to the LDS church).

  • Oscar June 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Fred running for president is really a non-story. The next president will be either Romney or Obama. All the others on the ballots are just wasting their time. They don’t stand a chance of actually winning the election.

  • travis June 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Anything goes!!!! That should be our country’s new slogan…

  • tq2 June 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Joyce, you sure love reporting all this gay stuff don’t you; long, elaborate, photo filled stories on some irrelevant, insignificant gay thing. Would that you would give equal space to matters of substance.

    • Page June 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm


    • Greg June 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Joyce knows that in order to get people to read her tiny news website she has to put controversial news on here. In reality, all she had to do was write, ” Presidential candidate to challenge LDS church on gay marriage.” It would have produced just as many comments.

  • Firefly June 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

    “Can’t we all just get along?”….~Rodey King

    • Butch Tenaka June 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Oh…did you mean Rodney King the CONVICTED WIFE BEATER??

  • Page June 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Sherem, Nahor, Korihor…karger

  • First Admendment June 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    This is a news web site they report on news. If you do not like the news don’t read it.

  • Butch Tenaka June 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Boy, I’ll bet this guy really has the LDS Church on the ropes NOW, just like all the countless others who have tried (and FAILED) to do the same thing. Jerk!

  • urbanboy June 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    If you ain’t crossin the lines and touchin me or my boys…be who da hell you is, cuz NOBODY nor ANYTHING including religion, is worth being something you ain’t!!! #sexual preference is not who you are

  • urbanboy June 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Btw…Go OBAMA!! Way to go on pushing for the dream act of allowing illegal children to stay here! And if it were’nt for you, my sister Ashlee wouldn’t have health insurance and would be in great pain.

  • Big @$$ Bob June 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I’m so sick and tired of gay being an issue! It’s as annoying as smoking pot still being an issue. God, can we just worry about ourselves for once?! We have potentially catastrophic events taking place or forecast to take place around the globe, but here in beautiful St. George, Utah, USA, as usual, we can’t shut up and keep our noses in our own business! Who the hell cares if dude next door or down the block likes takin it up the a%#? He’s not hurting you, or me, he’s doing what he has every right to do! Holy s&%# balls!!

  • Jade June 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Great article, Joyce. I just came across it tonight being I was out of town for a while. Keep up the good work and unbiased reporting our ever growing, ever changing city/community vitally needs. STG online news is taking off and reminds me of a more urban, up-to-date media source like back home and unlike this area has ever seen before.
    Afterall, if you aren’t offending and turning heads from time to time, you are not doing your job, but rather shaping an artificail reality for the community and beyond…

  • Tyler June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Hahaha, love it, Bob!!

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