WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today released an analysis of donors to the four states with marriage equality on the ballot this year. The number of contributors who gave in support of marriage for gay and lesbian couples was thirteen times greater – about 133,000 compared to an estimated 10,500 - than those giving financial resources to oppose marriage equality.
“Our analysis provides even more evidence of what we’ve been saying for years – that the anti-gay movement is powered not by the grassroots but by a relatively tiny donor base,” said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign. “The gulf between donors who support LGBT equality and those who oppose it is stunning. And it's growing larger by the day, as financial giving is following public opinion on the issue of marriage."
Polls consistently show – USA Today/Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post being the latest examples - that a majority of Americans support committed gay and lesbian couples getting a marriage license.
HRC obtained financial contribution data in each of the four states through the Maine Ethics Commission, Maryland Board of Elections, Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board and Washington Public Disclosure Commission. Supplemental data was obtained from each of the pro-marriage equality ballot committees to account for small donors not required to be itemized by law. Anti-marriage equality donor information was aggregated from currently available public reports and estimates of non-itemized contributions.
Pro-equality groups raised more than $34 million in the four states, mostly from small donors. Anti-marriage equality campaigns raised $12 million, of which nearly two-thirds ($8 million) came from just three sources: the National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic Church and its affiliate the Knights of Columbus.
NOM, the largest funder in all four states to defeat marriage equality, saw a one-third decline in contributions for 2011, with two donors providing 75 percent of its funding, according to tax returns obtained last month by HRC.
“Their donor base is shrinking, and quickly” Sainz said. “But large checks by literally a few extremist contributors will continue to replenish their coffers.”