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Donor Disclosure Mandatory in Minn. Marriage Campaign

Donor Disclosure Mandatory in Minn. Marriage Campaign

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Groups supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same sex-marriage in Minnesota have to disclose the identities of major donors, and so do those fighting the amendment, the state's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled Thursday.

The anti-marriage equality groups National Organization for Marriage and Minnesota Family Council had sought to keep donors' identities private, claiming contributors would be subject to harassment and even violence, The Minnesota Independent reports.

At a hearing before the board in mid June, Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard (pictured) said disclosure "would have a significant chilling effect on free speech. Even in Minnesota already it's gotten heated in some respects. The concern is harassment, property damage."

On the other side, a coalition of groups including Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and the Brennan Center for Justice urged full disclosure. "Much like the boy who cries 'wolf,' it has become routine for groups like the National Organization for Marriage to complain that disclosure will leave them vulnerable to threats and harassment," the groups said in a letter to the board. "The evidence shows otherwise. In reality, groups like NOM are largely complaining about the ordinary rough and tumble of political debate, particularly on an issue that touches people as personally and deeply as same-sex marriage."

The board agreed with the latter, voting 5-1 that any group that gives at least $5,000 to a campaign involving a ballot measure must disclose the identity of anyone who has given the group at least $1,000.

Supporters of marriage equality had not engaged in the fight over disclosure. Donald McFarland, project manager for the pro-equality Minnesotans United for All Families, said the group's donors have not raised concerns about going public.

"We're just glad that there's clarity," he told Minnesota Public Radio. "We can now move forward, we know what the rules are, and we're simply prepared to go from there."

The anti-equality groups declined to say whether they would bring a court challenge to the board's decision. The first campaign finance reports are due in January, and the amendment will go before voters in November 2012.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.