Supporters of same-sex marriage ban have vastly outspent opponents


Minnesota for Marriage, a coalition working to convince Minnesotans to vote for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, has hit the media saying that their group are “underdogs” in the marriage amendment battle and that they will be greatly outspent.

But according to public records, members of the pro-amendment coalition, including the Minnesota Family Council and the Minnesota Catholic Conference, have greatly outspent LGBT groups in the five years of lobbying for the amendment.

Minnesota for Marriage claims fundraising disadvantage

Each member of the coalition supporting the amendment has claimed underdog status in recent months.

Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesota for Marriage, told the St. Cloud Times earlier this month that coalition members “expect to be outspent.”

Darrell elaborated in an August interview with Pastor Brad Brandon on KKMS.

“One of the problems we see is that the other side through Hollywood connections and everything else under the sun are going to raise a ton of money. I don’t think we can outraise them,” Darrell said. ”It’s absolutely important that people get involved because the only way to counter the money that is going to be spent on the other side.”

John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council and chair of Minnesota for Marriage sent an email to supporters several weeks ago warning that “Hollywood” and “centers of popular culture” would be outspending the pro-amendment campaign.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), another member of the Minnesota for Marriage coalition, also warned that they would be outspent.

“Will the campaign be easy? No. We will be vastly outspent and there will be many cultural forces working against us,” the group wrote on its blog. ”They will try to make us think that we are swimming against the tide of history. They will call us names for defending the important institution of marriage. But, we must stand together.”

Amendment supporters spent three times as much through PACs

In the previous five years, groups pushing for the marriage amendment spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect sympathetic legislators. 

According to documents filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, Minnesota for Marriage spent $341,928 from its political action committee (PAC) promoting the ballot measure in Minnesota since 2005.

OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, spent $95,574 from its PAC on LGBT issues, including opposition to the amendment since 2005. Project 515, which has lobbied to change the 515 Minnesota laws that discriminate against same-sex couples spent $17,850 from its PAC since they were founded in 2008.

The pro-LGBT groups together spent just $115,424, or about one-third of what Minnesota for Marriage spent.

Minnesota for Marriage groups spent $1.12 million on lobbying

All sides of the debate have spent big money lobbying the legislature as well. While the campaign finance board’s lobbying summaries don’t list the amounts of money spent on specific issues, they do provide annual estimates of lobbying expenditures.

Outfront spent $496,658 since 2005 on a range of issues including anti-bullying laws and domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, but also in opposition to the amendment. In addition, Project 515 lobbied for bills that would equalize Minnesota laws for same-sex couples including end of life matters and hospital visitation. Together the two group spent a sizable amount of money: $616,658.

Since 2005, the Minnesota Family Council has spent $194,000 on lobbying. The group has lobbied heavily in favor of the amendment but also has lobbied in opposition to anti-bullying laws, gambling, medical marijuana, Sunday alcohol sales and abortion rights.

Minnesota for Marriage, an organization exclusively dedicated to the marriage amendment, spent $296,411. Focus on the Family came to Minnesota to lobby for the amendment as well and spent $32,538.

Between the three groups, spending was $522,949. When you add in the lobbying of the Minnesota Catholic Conference ($600,000 since 2005), that number rises to $1,122,949.

Catholic Church and National Organization for Marriage flexed ad muscle

In the advertising game, Minnesota for Marriage and the Catholic church blew LGBT groups out of the water.

During the 2010 elections, the D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage in conjunction with the Minnesota Family Council spent $709,000 on ads urging Minnesotans to support gubernatorial candidates that support the amendment banning same-sex marriage. And the Catholic Church in Minnesota spent $1.6 million on a DVD campaign just before the 2010 election that urged Catholic voters to support candidates that oppose same-sex marriage.

That 2010 ad total, $2.3 million, out-paced LGBT equality groups who spent $0 on ad campaigns during the 2010 election.

All told, the pro-amendment forces have spent $3.7 million over the last 5 years according to publicly available records. Those forces that oppose the amendment spent $740,000.