With all the controversy surrounding the LDS Church's involvement in the Proposition 8 election in California last fall, a more subtle dust-up was brewing at the Hawaii State Legislature last month, pretty much over the same thing.
Hawaii resident Leonor Briscoe was fired up enough over an e-mail exchange with a neighbor that she forwarded copies to her friends, including some Utah residents she believed would be interested in the issue.
The exchange began with an e-mail she got from Frank Lueder, also of Hawaii, that informed her of HB444, a bill before the Hawaii Legislature that "is attempting to once again legalize same-sex marriage but under a new term, 'civil union.' If you wish relay your OPPOSITION to it, you could do so by [calling or e-mailing] your representative. You could access the list of ... House of Representatives from the e-mail address I just gave."
Briscoe, who is LDS, responded: "In the hierarchical, authoritarian structure of the Mormon church, there's no way you would be sending out e-mails about HB444 without the implied or expressed sanction of the leaders of the Mormon Church.
"You do not know me and I do not know you, so the only way you could have gotten my e-mail address is through your stake clerk's access to church stake records, which are not supposed to be used for political or commercial purposes."
The bill, by the way, passed the House but died in the Senate.
Meeting the challenge » BYU law professor Michael Goldsmith has been the subject of this column several times for his accomplishments, including his work years ago in New York on an organized crime task force and his involvement on boards and committees advising the justice system in Utah.
His most recent exploits have been related to his battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, with which he was diagnosed a few years ago.
He took it upon himself to lobby members of Congress to override President George W. Bush's veto of stem cell research funding. Then he almost single-handedly got Major League Baseball to set aside a day recognizing Lou Gehrig and raising money for ALS research in ball parks across the country this summer.
Despite physical challenges, he has continued to teach his law school classes at BYU and, by all accounts, his skills have not diminished a bit.
Goldsmith will be honored tonight at the Law School's annual awards banquet as "Law Professor of the Year," an award that is selected by a vote of the student body.
"(He) has been example of persistence, commitment and hope, always prepared and providing great learning opportunities," one student wrote of Goldsmith, who is receiving the award for the third time in four years and for the six time during his tenure at the school. "He always teaches us to be can-do lawyers. He teaches by his actions, (demonstrating) you can always find a way," wrote another.