Follow the Money: The Knights of Columbus and Anti-Marriage Politics
October 18th, 2012
Moments ago, the Equally Blessed coalition of four Catholic organizations who support full equality for LGBT people issued a new report (PDF:1.3MB/38 pages) detailing heavy financial involvement of the Knights of Columbus in various anti-marriage initiatives across the U.S. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization similar to the Masons which defines itself as a charitable organizations, has developed a solid reputation for funding a large number of social support and genuinely charitable works.
But since 2003, the Knights has become an increasingly political organization, pouring almost $6.3 million directly to anti-marriage efforts since 2005. In addition, the Knights spent more than $9.6 million in what the report classifies as indirect support for fighting same-sex marriage, including such areas as educational, theological and spiritual programs to support the position of marriage as one-man/one-woman. For example, the Knights has contributed $1.5 million to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has mounted legal challenges to marriage equality on the grounds that it infringes upon the religious liberties of those who oppose it. Other recipients of what the report calls indirect support for anti-marriage efforts include the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family ($6.3 million), the Federalist Society ($130,000), Morality in Media ($150,000), and the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society ($75,000) which sponsors the World Congress of Families.
As for the direct contributions to anti-marriage fights, the Equally Blessed report indicates that the Knights was a major contributor to ballot measures in California, Kansas, Florida, Arizona, Washington, Maryland and Maine. The Knights became involved in anti-marriage fights in 2005 when they donated $100,000 to DOMA, Inc, which was fighting for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the Kansas Constitution. The Knights was not just the largest single donor to DOMA, Inc., their donation made up 80% of the total $126,000 raised by DOMA. That proposed amendment passed in April 2005 by 70% to 30%.
In 2008, with marriage amendments on the ballot in four states, the Knights stepped up its game considerably. In 2008, the Knights contributed $1,150,000 to ProtectMarriage.com out of a total of $39 million raised to strip California’s gays and lesbians of their rights to marry. The Knights also contributed $200,000 to support Florida’s successful fight in Amendment 2, and $100,000 to pass Arizona’s Prop 102. The Knights also contributed $250,000 in a failed effort to promote a constitutional convention to impose a marriage equality ban.
The Knights has also given significant resources to state Catholic Conferences and other organizations to run public relations campaigns against marriage equality. In 2008, at the same time that the Knights contributed $1.7 million directly to state battles to ban same-sex marriage, they contributed an additional $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage. With those expensive state-level campaigns over in 2009, NOM became the recipient of $1,430,000, the single largest grant that the Knights have made to date for anti-marriage efforts. NOM, in turn, donated almost $2 million to the effort to turn back marriage equality in Maine. That same year, the Knights contributed $169,000 to Family Institute of Connecticut Action to air “religious freedom” ads on local media in their fight against same-sex marriage. (That year, the state legislature modified their marriage laws to conform with a 2008 state Supreme Court mandate requiring Connecticut to provide same-sex marriage.)
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops naturally have also been the beneficiaries of the Knights’ largess. Beginning with a $50,000 grant to the USCCB in 2007, the Knights have poured almost $1.2 million to the USCCB’s coffers through 2010. That is in addition to some $300 to state level Catholic organizations.
The report from Equally Blessed was based on the Knights’ IRS-990 tax filings through 2010. Because the Knights have exercised their rights to delay filing their 2011 tax returns until November 15, 2012, the report does not include Knights expenditures for that year. But by examining the campaign filings of marriage opponents Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington campaigns, Equally Blessed was able to tabulate that the Knights have contributed over $635,000so far, with allocations ranging from $250,000 in Washington and Maryland to just $1,135 for Maine.
The report only covers donations made by the national Knights of Columbus. It does not include donations made by individual Knights chapters across the U.S. The full list of donations for direct fights against marriage equality shown below are taken from Table 1 of the report. The report also includes a separate table showing donations for indirect support for marriage quality fights.
|2005||100,000||DOMA Inc. for constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in Kansas|
|2006||25,000||Various state-level marriage protection initiatives|
|2007||150,000||PA Catholic Conference for marriage protection initiative|
|50,000||MA State Council for marriage protection initiative|
|50,000||Family Institute of Connecticut for marriage protection initiative|
|50,000||US Catholic Conference of Bishops for National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage|
|2008||1,150,000||ProtectMarriage.com to support Proposition 8 in California|
|500,000||NOM to support the mission to be a national resource for marriage-related initiatives|
|275,000||Connecticut Catholic Conference to promote a constitutional convention for a marriage equality ban|
|200,000||Florida Family Action to pass Marriage Protection Amendment|
|100,000||YesForMarriage.com to pass Proposition 102 in Arizona|
|50,000||Catholic Conference for the “Future Depends on Marriage” campaign|
|35,000||NJ Catholic Conference to produce DVD for nationwide use to oppose marriage equality|
|2009||1,430,000||NOM to support the mission to be a national resource for marriage-related initiatives|
|418,000||US Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Defense of Marriage|
|169,000||Family Institute of Connecticut Action for “religious freedom” ads|
|50,000||Stand for Marriage Maine to ballot initiative to overturn legalization of marriage equality|
|25,500||Family Institute of Connecticut for administrative costs|
|25,000||NJ Catholic Conference to produce DVD for nationwide use to oppose marriage equality|
|15,000||NJ Council to support pro-marriage rally|
|2010||722,150||USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Defense of Marriage|
|26,000||Family Institute of Connecticut for administrative costs|
|2012||250,000||Preserve Marriage Washington|
|250,000||Maryland Marriage Alliance|
|134,000||Minnesota for Marriage|
|1,135||Protect Marriage Maine|
Maryland Catholic Conference: spending taxpayer money is a religious liberty
August 24th, 2012
The language of Maryland’s ballot question is quite clear about how the marriage equality law will impact religious institutions:
“… protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”
But the Maryland Catholic Conference disagrees: (Catholic Review)
However, the MCC says the law only purports to protect religious freedoms.
“According to the actual legislation, religious organizations that accept any sort of state or federal funds are excluded from religious liberty protections. They are not exempt, and there are no protections for individuals,” the MCC said.
“Marylanders should not be fooled into thinking we can redefine marriage and still protect religious liberty,” it added.
Because “religious liberty” includes the liberty to tax non-Catholics and use the funds to push Catholic dogma. Yeah, I don’t think so.
For me the question isn’t whether religious organizations that accept any sort of state or federal funds should be excluded from religious liberty protections, but why are there religious organizations that are receiving state or federal funds at all? “Charity” is not the same thing as spending tax dollars.
Catholic diocese: Pedophile Mansion must be protected from gay marriage
July 30th, 2012
At some point in the last century, the Catholic Church came up with an idea: since priests are scarce, rather than toss out those who molest children, why not refurbish them (and their reputation) instead and send them to a new place where no one knew about their pedophile tendencies. And if a few more kids get raped (or a few hundred thousand), well at least they didn’t lose any priests.
Towards that effort, in 1973 Worcester, MA, priest Rev. Thomas A. Kane opened House of Affirmation at Oakhurst, a beautiful old mansion. As he had already been molesting a boy for five years, Kane was an ideal choice to head up the treatment of pedophile priests. And it gave Kane a convenient place to rape the kid and share him with other priests. Win-win (except, of course, for his victim).
But unfortunately for the diocese, Kane also committed a sin which the Church takes far more seriously and for which reconciliation is not offered: he engaged in financial improprieties with the Church’s money. And so, in 1990, Pedophile Mansion was closed and the Church (without the slightest hint of irony) reassigned the space to the Office for Youth Ministry.
Well now the Church has a need to get some ready cash; those busy-body courts keep awarding the victims of the pedophile priests with settlements. And there are only so many nunneries to empty or social services they can cut so now they have to look at the disagreeable task of selling mansions. And beautiful old Pedophile Mansion was put on the market.
James Fairbanks and Alain Beret were interested. The two had refurbished rundown grand spaces before and wanted to turn the mansion into a beautiful banquet facility. And as they had the support of various planning committees – who were delighted that the building would be restored rather than razed – they put in an offer and a $75,000 deposit.
But then there was a hickup. It was determined that a $240,000 sprinkler system would need to be installed.
And at that point, the Church decided to pull a fast one. Rather than renegotiate revisions to the standing contract, the Church’s broker suggested a new offer – one for only a portion of the 24 acres. And when Fairbanks and Beret retracted their previous offer and submitted the suggested smaller bid, the Church declined the offer, thus leaving them without a legal contract.
They had decided to pursue “other plans” for the property.
But as their intent had been to raise funds and divest the diocese of the costly overhead of maintaining the building, it seemed odd that the Church would make this move. Why could it be?
The “why” of their decision is shocking, but not surprising. At some point in the process the Church discovered that Fairbanks and Beret are not only gay but a legally married couple. And Worcester diocese of the Roman Catholic Church did not want to sell property to a gay couple.
Now it may seem extreme to speculate on something like that. And, of course, the church gave entirely different reasons. (Worcester Telegram)
This week, Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, who oversees the sale of diocesan property, told me the deal fell through because of financing.
“They couldn’t come up with the money,” he said. “This happens all the time.”
I told him the potential buyers believed that he rejected the deal because of their sexual orientation, or the prospect of gay marriages someday being performed at Oakhurst. Was that an issue?
“No, it wasn’t,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “It was an issue of them not having the financing. That was all.”
But, as it turns out, it’s really not a matter of guesswork or differing perspectives. The Church was kind enough to put in words exactly the reasons for their chicanery and bigotry and their agent was stupid enough to include it in an email chain to Beret. And – as seems to be the chief role of Catholic hierarchy – Monsignor Sullivan was lying:
I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop. Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.
No no no no no no no. Not gay marriage. Pedophile Mansion is perfectly fine for molesting children in, but not gay marriage.
Of course, no matter who owned the building, if it was refurbished to be a banquet facility then it could not deny gay couples the same wedding services it offered to opposite-sex couples. But amongst anti-gays these days, the existence of a gay person raises the immediate threat of a gay marriage and then their brain shuts down (… click). There is exactly zero chance that the Church had any reason for denying the sale other than that the purchasers were gay (GAY? But Gay Marriage!!!… click)
The diocese is soon going to discover something fascinating. It’s illegal in the state of Massachusetts to discriminate in the conduct of business. You can’t refuse to sell to customers simply because they happen to be gay. You can’t even refuse to sell to customers because you fear that the gay customers might use what you’re selling in some way that involves gay marriage (…click). And if you are so amazingly stupid as to document your bigotry and then lie to a reporter about it… well, it’s not going to go over well either in the news or in a courtroom.
Oh, the humanity
January 9th, 2012
“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that some of the things that Sen. Rick Santorum says sound downright idiotic. When the leader of your church predicates the survival of the human species on denying gay couples legal recognition, any nutcase theory can sound plausible. And he is, after all, under the watchful eyes of Papa Ratzi.
How’s The Catholic Church’s Celibacy Solution Working Out?
January 5th, 2012
If you’re gay, the Catholic Church has one answer for you: stay celibate for the rest of your life. The Hartford (CT) Archdiocese has sponsored a chapter of the Catholic ex-gay program Courage to help gays experience all the joys of celibacy:
The Hartford Archdiocese wants gays and lesbians to practice abstinence in the new year.
On Tuesday, the archdiocese announced it was launching a local chapter of a national ministry called Courage “to support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.”
…Gay attraction is not the sin, the ministry preaches — only when one acts on those feelings is it immoral. “Through support and spiritual intervention, we can help people with same-sex attraction lead moral and fulfilling lives,” Pallotti said. “These people are hurting and so are their families. Doing nothing would be a lack of compassion.”
The article explained that the Archdiocese had some difficulty establishing the chapter over the objections of area deacons who thought Courage didn’t condemn gay people enough. But after attending some workshops, they decided that Courage wasn’t as lib’ral as they feared. Local LGBT leaders saw through the charade:
True Colors Executive Director Robin McHaelen argued Tuesday that the Catholic Church is “trying to have it both ways — keeping the same hostile interpretation of a small number of biblical passages while pretending they are not homophobic.”
“I can’t tell you how many kids I work with who have been spiritually wounded by this and similar religious perspectives,” McHaelen said. True Colors, a nonprofit agency based in Hartford, offers help to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens, some of whom have been kicked out of religious households.
“In my opinion, that’s the abomination,” McHaelen said.
Unlike most other ex-gay organizations, neither Courage nor the Catholic Church promises change in sexual orientation per se. Instead, they promote “the gift of celibacy” for anyone who remains outside a one-man-one-woman marriage.
And speaking of celibacy:
Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, resigned Wednesday under the code of canon law that lets bishops step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they’re sick or for some other reason that makes them unfit for office.
In a letter to the faithful, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said Zavala had told him in December that he had two children who lived with their mother in a different state. Zavala subsequently submitted his resignation to the pope.
Paging George Orwell
June 15th, 2011
Sometimes I’m just staggered by the sophistry coming from our opponents. Take these statements from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan:
Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.
Exactly! Except…the archbishop misses his own point. Those communiqués in North Korea limit the choices made by its citizens, narrowing down what people are allowed to do with their own lives. And now, here, in America, which side is trying to do that? The side trying to ban same-sex marriage.
But, please, not here! Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.
Actually, our founding principles speak of citizens who are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — not by any specific sectarian God. Further, thank the Creator that the government has redefined marriage in the past, unless you believe we were better off when wives could not own property, when they could be legally beaten (gently) and raped (but only if they were uncooperative) by their husbands.
And as for the “omnipotent state”? Seriously? Which government is claiming more power? One that lets people marry adults of either gender, or one that issues a communiqué dictating that only opposite-sex marriages are allowed.
Dolan goes on:
Please, not here! We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.” And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?
This is truly chilling. True freedom is the liberty to do what you ought? Every tyranny in history could call itself a free country by that definition. Even North Korea can say it gives its citizens the liberty to do what they ought.
I’ll skip past his insult that my desire to build a committed life with my partner is nothing more than a random urge. Instead I’ll marvel at this irony: a man who speaks of the right of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and dad represents a church whose adoption agencies would rather leave kids with no parents at all than place them with a same-sex couple.
Can we sum up this Orwellian manifesto?
- The more a government restricts your choices, the more freedom it gives you.
- A government that offers you more control over your personal life is presuming its own omnipotence.
- True freedom lies in the liberty to do what the government believes you ought to do, and nothing more.
- A child’s right to a mother and father means some should grow up with neither a mother or a father.
Yeah. Just like war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.
And, apparently, 1984 is 2011.