Catholic Church Raised $750K for Minn. Marriage Amendment

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday February 2, 2012

A number of religious and anti-gay marriage organizations raised large sums of money last year in order to prevent same-sex marriage from becoming legalized in Minnesota.

The Catholic Church was one of the biggest supporters of the proposed amendment to the state's constitution as the Minnesota Catholic Conference raised $750,000 last year, the Crookston Times reported. The organization's executive director, Jason Adkins, said that the Archdioceses of Saint Paul donated $650,000 of the $750,000 and Minneapolis and the Dioceses of New Ulm and Duluth both donated $50,000 to the campaign. Adkins said that the group then gave $350,000 to Minnesota for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage organization.

"Marriage as a union between one man and one woman is an essential teaching of the Church and a fundamental value that serves the common good of society," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a statement.

Minnesota for Marriage claims that it had more than 10,000 volunteers that helped raise $830,000 last year to help ban gay marriage in the state.

"We have demonstrated substantial and broad-based support for preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) said that it raised more than $284,000 in 2011. The group claims that it donated $250,000 to Minnesota for Marriage and that contributions came from membership dues.

"NOM has deliberately evaded Minnesota's public disclosure laws," the Human Rights Campaign's president Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "We've seen this move before in plenty of other states. This is part of NOM's systematic attempt across the country to oppose public disclosure and hide its donors. In Minnesota, they have taken it to a whole new level. We believe that NOM and others may be secretly telling people to contribute to them instead of directly to the campaign so that they can avoid public disclosure. The contrast between seven individuals opposing marriage equality and thousands of pro-equality supporters is quite revealing."

Although the Minnesota Family Council (an organization that is also supporting the amendment) did not reveal how much money they raised, they did state that they gave $226,000 to Minnesota for Marriage last year and spent $120,000 backing the amendment.

"Financial and volunteer support are right on target," Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, said in a statement.

Minnesotans United for All Families, an alliance of groups that opposes the amendment, says it raised $1.2 million last year.

Currently, Minnesota does not recognize same-sex marriages on the state level but 12 cities have legalized domestic partnerships, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. Since 1993, the state has implemented hate crime laws and anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT citizens.