Catholic Church invests ‘unprecedented’ amounts into anti-gay marriage campaigns

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The Knights of Columbus is a leading funder of anti-gay marriage campaigns.

The Catholic Church has funneled unprecedented amounts into the four states where marriage equality is on the Nov. 6, according to data from the Human Rights Campaign.

Voters in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington are deciding ballot questions related to gay marriage in the general election. In Minnesota, voters face a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In Maine, Maryland and Washington, voters will decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

HRC said the Catholic Church has spent at least $1.1 million in the four states as part of its broader effort to fight marriage equality in the United States.

Additionally, the National Organization for Marriage has spent nearly $1.4 million on the four ballot measures.

The Catholic Church and NOM are the two largest funders in the electoral fight against marriage equality, with their donations making up nearly 60 percent of all donations to the anti-gay campaigns.

More than $640,000 of the church’s contribution has come from the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization within the church that also was a major funder of the Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage in California.

Catholic dioceses from around the country have sent more than $180,000 to Minnesota to support the proposed amendment, according to HRC, which questioned whether parishioners know that their money is going to a political election rather than educational, social service or even ministerial programs.

“The Catholic Church hierarchy has positioned itself as the leading religious organization funding discrimination against LGBT people,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “Perhaps most disturbing is the number of local parishes redirecting the hard-earned dollars of its members in the name of discrimination.”

He continued, “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.”