While the results of this election represented a monumental victory in the fight for marriage equality, it turned out to be quite a costly one for the Catholic Church.
During the election cycle, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church directed nearly $2 million toward campaigns against gay marriage in four states, according to a recent report from the Human Rights Campaign. Many of the contributions, derived from dioceses across the country, likely came from parishioners who had no knowledge of what the money would be used for, the HRC noted in a press release.
The $2 million represents a significant share of the contributions used to fund anti-gay marriage campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. However, including contributions from the National Organization for Marriage and the Knights of Columbus, an affiliate of the Catholic Church, the three groups were responsible for funding about $11.3 million or 65 percent of campaign efforts against marriage equality in the four states.
Despite these substantial contributions, voters chose to legalize gay marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, while Minnesota voters struck down Amendment 1, which would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“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," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "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."
The HRC analyzed the publicly reported donations, finding the Catholic Church and its affiliates spent nearly $1.3 million on campaigns in Minnesota, which accounted for 25 percent of anti-gay marriage efforts. In Maryland, the church contributed to a majority of Maryland's $1.7 million anti-gay war chest (final figures will be available at the month's end).
The overall contributions in Washington were significantly smaller, with the Catholic Church contributing $307,000 to campaigns against marriage equality. Opponents in Maine raised $1.4 million for the fight against gay marriage, 85 percent of which was funded by the Catholic Church and the National Organization for Marriage.
According to a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this year, Catholics who support gay marriage outnumber those who oppose it at 52 percent to 37 percent.
Click over to the Human Rights Campaign's website to see the full analysis of the Catholic Church's contributions.