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Catholic Church spent $2 million fighting marriage equality this election cycle

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy funneled $2 million into entirely unsuccessful efforts to advance discrimination against LGBT people in the four marriage ballot states of Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington this election cycle, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign.

The HRC report provides a snapshot of just how much money the Church, along with its close ally, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), poured into campaigns aimed solely at depriving LGBT Americans the freedom to marry.

The historic results of last week’s elections only highlight the growing disconnect between the fair-minded Romany Catholic laity and the anti-LGBT Church hierarchy, said the HRC, which cited a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll that 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 American people went to the polls and affirmed one of the core values of the Roman Catholic Church: the belief that all humans are worthy of dignity, respect, and love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“The Church and NOM can continue pouring money into discriminating against LGBT people, but the writing is on the wall for their anti-equality agenda. The Roman Catholic hierarchy should be focusing on taking actions that actually improve people’s lives, not spending precious resources on spreading malicious lies aimed at tearing down an entire community of people.”

In Minnesota, the Roman Catholic Church spent upwards of $1.3 million, funding nearly 25 percent of the failed attempts to write discrimination into the state’s constitution. The Church’s funding included hundreds of thousands of dollars from dioceses across the country.

The report also highlights the Roman Catholic Church’s donations to states where voters affirmed marriage equality – more than $100,000 in Maine; well over a quarter-million dollars in Maryland; and $307,000 in Washington.

Much of this funding likely came without the knowledge of parishioners; and as diocesan schools and important programs like soup kitchens and domestic violence initiatives struggle for resources, the Roman Catholic Church has instead chosen to fund political campaigns targeting gay and lesbian couples.

Despite voters rejecting the anti-LGBT agenda financed by the Roman Catholic Church and NOM, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently re-committed to fighting against equality for LGBT Americans.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone – a leading anti-LGBT voice within the Roman Catholic Church and one of the chief architects of California’s Proposition 8 – said the Church must continue funding discrimination because people “don’t understand” marriage.

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

Final campaign figures from Maine and Maryland will be available in the coming weeks.

The complete HRC report is here.

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