The Roman Catholic Church, its affiliate the Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic-based National Organization for Marriage are responsible for more than 60% of the funding behind anti-equality campaigns in the four states with marriage-related questions on the ballot this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
According to HRC, marriage equality opponents in Washington, Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota have raised approximately $4.1 million in an effort to convince voters to deny same-sex couples the right to marry in the November election. HRC says 27%, or at least $1.1 million, of that money has been raised by the Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus. For its part, NOM, which has close ties to the Catholic Church, has spent almost $1.4 million fighting marriage equality this election cycle.
"The Catholic Church hierarchy has positioned itself as the leading religious organization funding discrimination against LGBT people," HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement. "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 report, available online, includes a state-by-state breakdown of the financial contributions of the Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, and NOM in each state where marriage is on the ballot this November. In each state, the contributions of the Catholic Church and NOM, combined, make up more than 50% of the money raised to fight marriage equality.
"The partnership between the Catholic Church, the Knights, and NOM goes back several years," HRC writes on a Web page within its "NOM Exposed" section. "In 2008, the Knights' $500,000 donation to NOM was the largest known donation on record for the anti-LGBT group. In 2009, the Knights donated $1.4 million to the organization — enough to fund most of NOM's successful $1.8 million push in Maine to repeal the state's marriage equality law."
HRC also cites a March poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, which found that almost 60% of Catholics support marriage equality, and 83% say they are not compelled to vote in accordance with the political preaching of bishops. "These numbers from the laity represent people who, whether they know it or not, are living out their faith daily — Catholic social teaching promotes treating everyone with love, dignity and respect," the page states.