Report Tallies Knights' Political Efforts: Fraternal Organization a Key Contributor against Same-Sex Marriage

By McElwee, Joshua J. | National Catholic Reporter, November 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Report Tallies Knights' Political Efforts: Fraternal Organization a Key Contributor against Same-Sex Marriage


McElwee, Joshua J., National Catholic Reporter


The Knights of Columbus, the U.S. Catholic fraternal organization known for its wide-ranging charitable work and parish fish fries, has been a significant contributor to political efforts opposing same-sex marriage across the country, according to a study released in mid-October.

Since 2005, the Knights of Columbus has provided "$6.25 million directly to anti-marriage equality efforts" and has additionally provided about $9.6 million "for broader efforts ... to discriminate against gay or lesbian couples in the name of religious freedom," says the report, put together by a coalition of Catholic groups that support same-sex marriage.

Earlier this year, a coalition called Equally Blessed commissioned a study of the Knights' tax filings, annual statements and other public documents between 2005 and 2012. The result is a 37-page report, "The Strong Right Arm of the Bishops: The Knights of Columbus and Anti-Marriage Equality Funding."

Since 2005, several million dollars have gone from the Knights directly to organizations involved with state ballot initiatives on same-sex marriage, says the coalition, which is made up of Catholic groups Call To Action, Dignity USA, Fortunate Families and New Ways Ministry.

The report also states that the Knights have yet to file their 2011 tax 11 return because they asked for an extension of the April deadline, so the total sum for donations could be higher.

While many of the findings detailed in the Oct. 18 report have been reported previously, the report for the first time lays out the Knights' contributions on the state level in a way that indicates how the organization has dedicated its resources to the effort over the better part of the last decade.

The Knights have also donated more than $1.1 million to the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, the report states. The subcommittee was first announced in 2008 as an ad hoc "joined effort" between the Knights and the bishops' conference.

Among other findings in the report, verified by NCR through public records:

* The Knights' first public donations to efforts to oppose same-sex marriage noted in the report came in 2005, when it directed $100,000 through the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese to a corporation supporting a Kansas state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, according to the corporation's tax filings and political donation records.

According to those records, the $100,000 accounted for more than 74 percent of the total raised by the main group supporting the measure, which passed by a 70 percent margin.

* The Knights' donations to groups opposing same-sex marriage totaled at least $2.28 million in 2008, according to an annual report attributed to the group's national leader, Carl Anderson.

Included in those donations were about $1.1 million in support of a California ballot measure known as Proposition 8 that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state after it had been allowed by the state's Supreme Court; and $515,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, the main political group supporting the proposition.

While Proposition 8 passed in 2008 by about 52 percent, in 2010 a federal district court ruled it violated the U.S. Constitution's right to due process, a ruling a federal appeals court upheld in 2012. Other donations from the Knights that year went to efforts to oppose same-sex marriage in Connecticut ($275,000), Arizona ($100,000) and Florida ($200,000).

* In 2009, the Knights again donated about $1.43 million to the National Organization for Marriage and donated $418,000 to the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee, according to that year's annual report.

* In 2010, the Knights donated almost $750,000 to groups fighting same-sex marriage measures, including a reported $722,150 to the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee, according to tax filings.

* In 2012, the group has given at least $100,000 to the Minnesota Catholic Conference's fund to fight a ballot measure in that state, which was set for November vote as NCR went to press. …

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