Gay-rights activist Fred Karger, who turned his anger over the Mormon Church’s advocacy of California’s Proposition 8 into a presidential bid, will kick off his Utah primary campaign on Friday during an 11 a.m. press conference in Salt Lake City.

Karger plans to discuss his plans for the next two weeks before facing Mitt Romney in Utah’s primary on June 26.

He will also implore leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to stop spending money on anti-gay marriage campaigns and to embrace all church members equally.

Earlier this year, Karger criticized a campaign group run by Romney for donating $10,000 to an organization fighting to overturn legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

The Human Rights Campaign, a group dedicated to pressing for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, announced that Romney’s Free and Strong America political action committee (PAC) donated to the National Organization for Marriage. Romney’s donation came on Oct. 14, 2008, weeks before Californians voted to pass Proposition 8.

The National Organization for Marriage was deeply involved in the Prop 8 campaign in California, which amended that state’s constitution to limit marriage as solely between a man and a woman. The LDS Church joined with a group called the Coalition to Protect Marriage to push the constitutional amendment.

Utahns donated $3.8 million to both sides of the Prop 8 campaign — more than 70 percent of it in support of the measure. Included in that total was at least $134,774 in in-kind contributions from the LDS Church for such things as air fare, lodging and audiovisual production services and equipment.

In encouraging passage of Prop 8, LDS Church leaders urged members to get involved in the campaign.

Karger, who founded the group Californians Against Hate, investigated the Mormon influence in the Prop 8 battle and asserts that Mormons provided the majority of the money for the “Yes on 8” campaign.

Karger’s stop in Salt Lake City follows a stop in St. George and an appearance at Brigham Young University, where he spoke to a student group about understanding same-sex gender attraction. He dubbed his appearances in Utah this week the “Utah Express” and drove a mini-bus from his home in southern California.

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