When the California Secretary of State released the latest report on donors to Proposition 8 related campaigns, I was a bit surprised at the lack of coverage. But then stories started rolling in. The latest filing shows that gay marriage supporters raised $43.3 million while Prop. 8 supporters raised $39.9 million. It was already known to be an expensive campaign, but those numbers are pretty impressive. People care about this issue, it seems. Anyway, a reader sent along a somewhat funny story from the Colorado Springs Gazette with the headline "Focus gave $657,000 to kill gay marriage." To "KILL" it, mind you. Anyway, that would be Focus on the Family, which gave $657,000 in money and in-kind support to Prop. 8. That is half the money given by the California Teachers Union in opposition to Prop. 8 -- and at least Focus donors were actually in support of what their organization did.
National Public Radio had a great story with original research showing that the $1.25 million of teacher money given in support of an issue with questionable relevance to the interests of teachers wasn't backed up by the teachers themselves. Turns out the teachers who donated to the cause donated in the opposite direction:
Teachers, aides and counselors in California public school systems gave about $2 to support the marriage ban for every $1 they gave to oppose it.
Back to the Gazette story:
The top donor in support of Proposition 8 remains Knights of Columbus, the New Haven, Conn.-based political arm of the Catholic Church.
That group gave $1.275 million to defeat gay marriage, records show.
Um, the "political arm of the Catholic Church"? No. I'll let the reader who submitted this story respond:
Describing the Knights of Columbus as the "political arm of the Catholic Church" is not just factually wrong, but pretty hilarious. While the Knights no doubt did contribute the largest single reportable amount of resources to the Prop 8 campaign, the overwhelming majority of Knights' work involves the politically troubling and clandestine activities of pancake breakfasts, insurance sales, track meets and tootsie roll giveaways to raise cash for disabled kids. And most of their resources go to the missions and dozens of other Catholic social and educational ministries. They are a loose fraternal order, not political apparatchiks.
And please don't forget fish fries. Seriously, the Knights back in my hometown had such an amazing and addictive batter that they got every Protestant in the county pouring money into their coffers each Friday during Lent. But political arm of the Catholic Church? No.
I'm not sure how surprising it is that religious groups that hold traditional views of marriage would put time and money into defeating a huge threat to the institution and am somewhat surprised at all the coverage of same. Or rather, is it more surprising and newsworthy that religious groups -- who openly claim to support heterosexual marriage and consider it a key building block of society -- would give moolah to Prop. 8 or is it more surprising that a teachers union with no discernible interest in the issue would give money against it? The disparity in coverage is somewhat intriguing.
Put another way, no matter which angle you choose to report on, make sure you put the contributions in context.
Tomorrow we'll look at more of the many stories on Prop. 8 contributions.