The Roman Catholic Church leadership directed $2 million toward the campaigns against marriage equality in four states this election cycle, joining its ally the National Organization for Marriage as a major financial backer in the fight against equal civil marriage rights for LGBT Americans, according to an updated report from the Human Rights Campaign.
HRC examines publicly reported in-kind and cash contributions to find that the Catholic Church, with its affiliate, the Knights of Columbus, spent more than $1.3 million in Minnesota, where voters rejected a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Money came from dioceses across the country. The Church also spent in the three states where voters approved marriage equality laws, with more than $100,000 directed to Maine; over $250,000 spent in Maryland; and $307,000 directed to Washington.
Many of the contributions “likely came without the knowledge of parishioners,” according to HRC. A 2012 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that nearly 60% of Catholics support marriage equality, but the Church hierarchy represented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently re-committed to the fight against marriage equality.
The National Organization for Marriage, a close ally of the Roman Catholic Church, spent more than $5.2 million this election cycle, according to the report. NOM has received nearly $2 million in contributions from the Knights of Columbus since 2008, HRC reports.
All together, marriage equality opponents spent $11.3 million on the four states this year. The Catholic Church accounts for 17% of that total, while the combined efforts of the Church, the Knights of Columbus and NOM make up nearly 65% of the spending.
“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 in a news release. “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.”