by Patrick Condon, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The two principal campaigns battling over Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage have raised more than $16 million combined, with opponents of the ban outraising supporters by nearly two-to-one.
That makes it easily the most expensive constitutional amendment campaign in the state’s history. Both groups have spent most of what they’ve raised, largely to flood the TV airwaves as recent polls indicate a tight race. Marriage is already defined in state law as between one man and one woman, but proposal would define it that way in the state constitution.
Minnesotans United for All Families raised about $3 million from Sept. 19 to Oct. 22, and has received about $536,000 in contributions since. That brings the total haul for the opponents of the marriage ban to more than $11 million since forming in 2011.
Minnesota for Marriage raised about $2.4 million from Sept. 19 to Oct. 22, and took in another $692,000 since. In all, Minnesota for Marriage has collected about $5.1 million.
Minnesotans United reported about $309,000 still in the bank as of Oct. 22, but donations have continued to flow since then. Minnesota for Marriage did not immediately produce a remaining cash-on-hand figure.
Evangelical and Catholic groups are major resources for the opponents of gay marriage. Most of Minnesota for Marriage’s haul since Oct. 22 came from the Minnesota Family Council, a socially conservative group that pursues biblical principles in public policy. It contributed $500,000 last week, which was on top of $476,000 in previous donations.
Minnesota’s six Catholic dioceses, which previously contributed $950,000 toward the amendment’s passage, gave another $100,000 this week. Grace Church, an evangelical mega church in Eden Prairie, handed over $50,000.
These critics of gay marriage have called it a violation of scripture, argued that children do best if raised by male-female couples and said that legalizing gay marriage could lead to infringements on religious freedom for those who object to it.
Minnesotans United points out that gay marriage won’t be legal in Minnesota regardless of the outcome. The group also says the constitution shouldn’t be used to deny rights to loving couples who want to get married, regardless of gender.
Much of Minnesotans United’s money has come from more than 62,000 mainly in-state individual donors. But recent days have also seen big infusions from wealthy individuals and unions: Alida Messinger, a major Democratic donor and ex-wife to Gov. Mark Dayton, forked over $200,000 last week; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent gay marriage supporter, gave $125,000.
The Service Employees International Union donated $20,000. The CREDO SuperPAC, a national political action committee mainly dedicated to electing Democrats to Congress, donated $65,000.
Groups working on the voter ID amendment on Tuesday’s ballot have also picked up some large individual donations. Bob and Joan Cummins, major donors to GOP causes in Minnesota, donated $1.3 million to ProtectMyVote.com, the chief campaign group trying to pass the photo ID amendment. Those donations made up almost the entirety of that group’s $1.5 million raised as of Oct. 22.
Our Vote Our Future, the group trying to defeat the amendment, had raised $2.6 million as of Oct. 22. The largest donations came from traditional Democratic interest groups, including $75,000 from Education Minnesota; and $150,000 from America Votes, a national progressive group trying to expand ballot access around the country.