The Knights of Columbus has spent $15.8 million since 2005 fighting same-sex marriage equality, according to a study by Equally Blessed, a “a coalition of four Catholic organizations that have spent more than 115 years working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.” The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with more than 1.8 million members, including an estimated 200 branches, called “councils,” on college campuses.
The funding from the Knights of Columbus “includes $1.9 million to the so-called National Organization for Marriage, which uses divisive tactics and deceptive messages to intimidate lawmakers and frighten voters,” Freedom To Marry’s Adam Polaski notes:
Earlier this year, a secret memo exposed that NOM has been intentionally trying to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” as a key strategy in its campaign for years.
“At a time when bishops are shutting down hospitals, homeless shelters, and even parish churches, it’s hard to understand how an organization that says it’s dedicated to ‘charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism’ couldn’t think of a better use for $15.8 million than to deny the freedom to marry for so many Americans,” Freedom To Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said via a statement. ”This spending not only violates the golden rule, but is out of step with the point of view of the solid majority of American Catholics who like most Americans support the freedom to marry.”
The Equally Blessed study notes the strong tie to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The leadership of these three organizations is closely intertwined, and the Knights of Columbus provides funding to each for their work against marriage quality and for broader efforts to give religious-affiliated organizations the right to discriminate against gay or lesbian couples in the name of religious freedom. Since 2005, the Knights of Columbus has provided more than $15.8 million dollars toward these efforts, providing $6.25 million directly to anti-marriage equality efforts and $9.6 million to organizations to build a conservative religious and political culture to oppose efforts for marriage equality.
Equally Blessed’s study, which though extensive is a tremendously important read, also notes:
Beginning in 2003, another issue came to the attention of the bishops and the Knights of Columbus. That year the Vatican formally called on Catholics to oppose any efforts to give legal recognition to gay and lesbian unions. “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” said the Vatican document from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would shortly become Pope Benedict XVI.14 The USCCB immediately took up the Vatican’s call and announced their support of a federal constitutional amendment that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Image via Freedom To Marry
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