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More than $2 million raised for and against same-sex marriage-ban amendment

Eight organizations advocating for and against the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage filed their first financial statements with state campaign finance overseers on Tuesday. In sum, the amount raised in 2011 exceeds $2 million.

As we reported yesterday, the main group working to defeat the November ballot question, Minnesotans United for All Families, raised about $1.2 million [PDF], much of it contributions from wealthy individuals, congregations and its founding advocacy organizations. As expected, the national lobbying effort Freedom to Marry filed a Minnesota disclosure noting its $178,000 contribution to the anti-amendment group [PDF].

The Bloomington-based Republicans against the Marriage Amendment raised and spent a little more than $2,000, much of it on a June fundraiser [PDF].

The disclosures filed by the pro-amendment side differed markedly in that little of the money changing hands can be traced to individuals, either here or elsewhere. In 2011, the main group working to pass the amendment, Minnesota for Marriage, raised $830,000 and spent $400,000 of it [PDF]. Just $2,000 came from individual donors.

The rest: $350,000 from the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense Fund; $126,000 from the Minnesota Family Council Marriage Protection Fund; and $250,000 from the National Organization for Marriage.

Catholic group raised $750,000
The Catholic group in turn raised $750,000, $50,000 each from the diocese of New Ulm and Duluth and the rest from the Twin Cities Archdiocese [PDF]. The Duluth diocese reported that its contribution came from the estate of Rev. James Scheuer.

Based in Virginia, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is the group that asked 2012 presidential candidates to sign a marriage pledge in which they agree to seek a federal marriage amendment, appoint judges who “reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage in our Constitution” and establish a presidential commission on religious liberty.

Ron Paul and Herman Cain were the only candidates who refused to sign the pledge; subsequently the group has been nearly as vociferous in its opposition to Paul as it has gay marriage.

The organization was founded by right-wing activist Maggie Gallagher, who has also campaigned against abortion rights and whose syndicated column briefly appeared in the Star Tribune.

Active across the nation
NOM has been involved in same-sex marriage controversies throughout the country, garnering a reputation for raising very large sums of money from a handful of individuals whose identities it fights hard not to disclose.

It has sued for the right not to disclose its activities or spending in Rhode Island, Maine and California, and faces campaign finance violation complaints in California, Iowa and Maine.

Its 2010 IRS disclosure forms, available via NOM’s website, show that the lion’s share of its $9.5 million in income came from five individual donors who made contributions of $3.4 million, $2.9 million, $750,000, $600,000 and $400,000. The individuals’ names have been redacted.

Earlier IRS 990 disclosures made available by the independent organization Guidestar show similar levels of fundraising and spending, with donations of $2.4, $1.2 and $1.1 million comprising the majority of its receipts, but do not contain the schedule where individual donors are named.

NOM has tapped its coffers to campaign against retention of Iowa justices who ruled gay marriage legal in that state, to fund the successful 2009 Maine campaign to pass an amendment overturning the legislature’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage and to support California’s Proposition 8.

Yesterday, NOM filed a disclosure here showing that in addition to its contribution to Minnesota for Marriage [PDF], it spent $34,000 to influence the election; $22,000 of it went to a California research concern that conducted a survey.

Receipts from one more pro-amendment group, the Minnesota Family Council Marriage Protection Fund, had yet to be posted on the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s website this morning; we will make them available when they are.

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