Dissertation Abstracts

Exploring the LDS Church’s Wins in Two Same-Sex Marriage Elections: Mobilizing Members, Election Strategies, and Message Framing

Author: Alexander, Tamara D, proftamalexander@gmail.com
Department: Interdisciplinary Studies: Public Policy and Social Change
University: Union Institute & University, USA
Supervisor: Mary Ann Steger, Ph.D.
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: moral authority , religious dogma , same-sex marriage , election strategies
Areas of Research: Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management , Political Sociology , Religion


This dissertation examines the actions that the LDS Church took during two elections, Proposition 22 and Proposition 8, to shore up its dogma concerning same-sex marriage. By completing this important case study, I clarify the factors upon which a religious institution, specifically The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, relied in making strategic choices within the political arena and acted as an interest group to exert itself as a moral entrepreneur in advancing its religious dogma on an issue of public policy. The period of time under study includes the Church’s political entrance strategies prior to the California Proposition 22 (2000) campaign in the early 1990’s and extends to the Church’s involvement in the California Proposition 8 (2008) campaign in 2008. Using a historical research approach, I offer a single-case study design that investigates the convergence of evidence in order to understand, and tell three interrelated stories of, the phenomena of member mobilization, election strategies, and message framing, and their location within the context of the Church’s actions. Using a content analysis, I pay attention to the manifest and latent themes of message content reflective of the Church’s dogma that was used by the Church as a means to influence policy decision-making. Data was collected from personal collections – including letters, memos, reports, agendas, instructions, and broadcast transcripts – Internet blogs, newspapers, interview transcripts, and published reports.