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Catholic Church, NOM responsible for 60 percent of anti-gay marriage funding in ballot states

Knights of Columbus spent $15.8 million since 2005 to fight marriage equality
Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Catholic Church is funneling unprecedented dollar amounts into the four states where marriage equality is on the ballot this fall – Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington – and in many cases, parishioners may not even be aware that their dollars are being used to fund discrimination, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign.

The HRC report finds that the Church has spent at least $1.1 million as part of its broader effort to deny gay and lesbian couples committed couples the right to marry.

In addition, a close ally of the Church and past co-conspirator, the National Organization for Marriage, has spent nearly $1.4 million on the four ballot measures. In the aggregate, the Church and NOM are the single largest funders of discrimination, responsible for funding nearly 60 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington.

A significant portion of the Catholic-affiliated funding — more than $640,000 — comes from the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization within the Church, which has an established history dating back to 2005 of using their money to fight marriage equality, said the HRC.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations working toward equality for LGBT people, released a separate report called “The Strong Right Arm of the Bishops: The Knights of Columbus and Anti-Marriage Equality Funding.”

According to the study, Knights of Columbus has spent more than $15.8 million fighting against the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.

In Minnesota, the campaign to support a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has received more than $180,000 from Catholic dioceses across the nation. The Knights of Columbus also have made sizable contributions in Maryland and Washington State – contributing $250,000 in each state to fight November ballot initiates that would legalize same-sex marriage.

“The Catholic Church hierarchy has positioned itself as the leading religious organization funding discrimination against LGBT people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“Perhaps most disturbing is the number of local parishes redirecting the hard-earned dollars of its members in the name of discrimination. The majority of Catholics support equality for LGBT people – they want their dollars funding things like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and domestic violence programs; not discrimination against people several states away.

“The Church hierarchy owes the laity an explanation as to why they are spending this much money on discrimination, and at what cost to other crucial Church programs.”

The anti-LGBT activity of the Church’s hierarchy stands in direct opposition to the values of the majority of Catholics.

A 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that nearly 60 percent of Catholics support marriage equality. In fact, polling indicates marriage equality is one of the least important issues Catholics are currently concerned with. That same poll, from Belden Russonello, found that 83 percent of Catholics feel their bishops should not influence their vote.

The report, available at, breaks down publicly reported in-kind and cash expenditures from the Church hierarchy and the Knights of Columbus to the four ballot states.

In Minnesota, the Church has funded over 50 percent of the effort to write discrimination into the state constitution – spending over $608,000. That figure includes significant investments from the Knights of Columbus, as well as thousands of dollars from small parishes all across the country.

The hefty financial investments from the Catholic Church come as bishops in some of the largest faith communities in the country speak out with increasing frequency against LGBT people.

In San Francisco, the newly appointed Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was one of the chief architects of Proposition 8. Under his guidance, Catholic organizations in California led the charge in financing the Proposition 8 campaign, the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

In Newark, N.J., Archbishop John J. Myers has called on supporters of marriage equality to abstain from receiving Communion. And in Minneapolis-St. Paul, parishioners have walked out of services as pastors read letters against marriage equality from Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.

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26 more reader comments:

  1. I didn’t think the Catholic Church had any money left, what with all the lawsuits.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:05pm
  2. Isn’t this illegal?

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:06pm
  3. so insteadof the chuirch CARING for their people they WASTE their money all over thecountry spreading HATE…..while their church funded schools CLOSE for lack of funds…..

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:08pm
  4. Imagine if all that money was spent helping those in need as Jesus directed.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:10pm
  5. Where is the IRS??? They should be Taxed not only out of the Country but off of the Planet!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:10pm
  6. So the Catholic Church has over one million dollars to spend to attempt to deny all people equal rights? Thought they had no money. Maybe instead they should work on paying off the victims that were molested by their priests and help the poor and needy!!! How about the Catholic Church and every other religion that gets involved in politics PAY TAXES!! That would immediately help with the nations debt!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:10pm
  7. time to tax them

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:12pm
  8. why is this type of religious persecution of gay americans allowed to continue? When your religion becomes your politics you’ve crossed a line towards fascist behavior.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:12pm
  9. Catholics who support marriage equality, how bouot telling your Church leaders how you feel about them throwing away your money to make life miserable for gay people!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:13pm
  10. Raping kiddies… Good Idea! Same-gender marriages… Hell no! @Catholic Church #Prioritiesmuch???

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:13pm
  11. As a Latino and a former Catholic I can only hold my head in shame. They need to spend some money on cleaning their own house of pedophiles and other degenerates.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:13pm
  12. technically by the IRS and the tax exempt clause yes its illegal ..Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

    Is it being followed sadly No .. Read this article

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:18pm
  13. We MUST end the NO TAXES for religions!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:18pm
  14. Tax them

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:20pm
  15. they shouldent do that haters

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:20pm
  16. and it’s excusable for them to hide the molesters of those little boys

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:21pm
  17. Time to tax the Hell out of them!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:26pm
  18. I’m from MN, and was horrified to find political signs on the property of two churches last weekend. The church I went to mass in had FOUR posters in its fellowship hall in support of the amendment. I wish I had words for how disgusted I am. The Catholic Church is so corrupt it can’t even smell the stink of its own decay anymore.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:35pm
  19. Um…separation of church and state, anyone?! Religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church, want it both ways. On one hand, they want to remain a separate entity when it benefits them (ie: claiming tax exemptions). On the other hand, they have no qualms turning themselves into political action committees and funneling “charitable donations” into getting canidates and laws passed that they find desirable. By all means, get involved in the political landscape if you want, but in turn start paying taxes and start accepting some federal oversight like everyone else. Otherwise, keep your nose in your bible and out of my business.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:41pm
  20. First, torture Galileo, next…Gay Boys!

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:42pm
  21. And they wonder why their pews are empty…

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:52pm
  22. So this is showing their preference for the poor? How many shelters and soup kitchens could have been funded with the money the bishops have wasted on these hate-filled campaigns? Catholics, do you honestly feel you’re getting your money’s worth from your contributions? Is this where you want your donations to go?

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:58pm
  23. If churches paid their fare share of taxes, they wouldn’t have so much to donate & promote hate. As a Gay Catholic Man I don’t question why I don’t attend mass .

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 1:24pm
  24. the catholic church is an insult to humanity. they have opposed every advancement in civil rights for the past 1500+ years, they have murdered and tortured millions of people throughout history, promoted the most violent, ritualistic, and dogmatic version of christianity, suppressed science, given saint status to dozens of mass murderers, collaborated with the nazis, protected pedophiles, aided the speading of deadly STDs and overpopulation in third world countries, and they are in a war against gay people, to top it all off.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 1:29pm
  25. Think of all the WORTHY causes that $1.1 million could have gone to. And it doesn’t seem like they’re too concerned about homosexuality when it’s between a priest and a boy. Yet another reason why I oppose the Church and religious dogma.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 2:48pm
  26. i think there should be a movement to amend the constitution. no religious organization should have tax exempt status. i think that would allow the hierarchies to see the world from the eyes of the poor they profess to love so much. i live for the day when joyce meyer and pope benedict, aka the widow ratzinger, share a spot in the same bread line.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 2:49pm