A new report from Equally Blessed, an organization of Catholic LGBT equality advocates, shows that The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, has been one of the primary sponsors of efforts to ban or oppose same-sex marriage, including substantial donations to the National Organization for Marriage. In fact, the organization has donated more than $15.8 million either directly toward anti-equality campaigns or toward groups that actively oppose the freedom to marry. Here’s a breakdown of The Knights’ financial structure and extensive anti-gay giving over the past eight years:
- The Knights of Columbus has 1.8 million members (all men), some $85 billion in life insurance policies, and $16.9 billion in assets, but it pays no taxes as a 501(c)(8) fraternal organization.
- Of the Knights’ five separate 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, two are wholly dedicated to anti-equality and anti-abortion services.
- The Knights has directly funded anti-equality initiatives and the organizations that fund them in Arizona, California (Prop 8), Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
- In total, the Knights has donated $6.2 million since 2005 toward anti-marriage equality efforts, not counting what they may have given in 2011, as the group will not file its tax reporting until after the election.
- The Knights has given at least $1.9 million directly to the National Organization for Marriage.
- In total, the Knights has spent $9.6 million giving to various conservative and Catholic organizations that advocate against marriage equality, such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In many ways, these donations are not surprising. The Catholic Church and its various state conferences have been the primary source of funding for campaigns against marriage equality, including in Maine, Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland this year. The Knights’ profitable life insurance business provides a valuable source of funding for the Church, which of course it has immensely close ties. Read the full report to see just how connected to anti-gay efforts The Knights of Columbus truly is.