A California-based gay rights group has
asked Maine officials to investigate the financial background of the
coalition of groups behind an effort to repeal gay marriage in the
Against Hate founder Fred Karger has contacted campaign ethics
officials in Maine and asked for an investigation.
Karger alleges the group Stand for
Marriage Maine of illegally shielding the names of individual donors.
“... I believe the four founders of
Stand For Marriage Maine are merely conduits for those wishing to
hide their contributions,” Karger says in an August 24 letter to
Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on
Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices.
“These entities are laundering money
to evade the disclosure of the actual contributors to Stand for
Marriage Maine,” he adds.
Stand for Marriage Maine is the
single-issue group formed to repeal the Maine Legislature's spring
legalization of gay marriage. Maine allows for a “people's veto”
of laws. National and local anti-gay groups are behind Stand for
Marriage Maine, including the National Organization for Marriage
(NOM), the Knights of Columbus and the Roman Catholic Diocese of
The group's first financial disclosure
report raised eyebrows when it listed total contributions from
individual donors at a paltry $400 out of $343,689.50 reported.
“By way of comparison,” Karger
says, “last year, the Protect Marriage, Yes on Proposition 8
campaign in California disclosed more than 60,000 individual
contributors of $100 and above. Thousands more contributed under
that amount to repeal same-sex marriage in that state.”
NOM is backing anti-gay marriage
efforts throughout the United States, including Iowa, where the group
is spending $90,000
to back the candidacy of conservative Stephen Burgmeier, and New
York, where the group
is threatening to fund the campaigns of opponents who vote for a gay
marriage bill in the State Senate. The group also says it will
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that defines
marriage as a heterosexual union for the federal government.
Soon after Californians approved
Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative, Californians Against
Hate filed a complaint with the California
Fair Political Practices Commission that alleged NOM is an
illegal political front group for the Mormon Church, whose members –
at the behest of church leaders – donated enormous financial and
organizing resources towards passage of Proposition 8.
“Over the last ten months the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been sticking its nose
in every state where any same-sex marriage activity has been taking
place,” Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, told On
Top Magazine in an email. “They have an unlimited bank
account, and have been spending millions upon millions of dollars
around the country with absolutely no accountability. They refuse to
abide by election laws and IRS reporting laws to reveal the source of
Stand for Marriage Maine's apparent
effort to shield individual donors – and possibly large donors –
from disclosure underlines the heated emotions marriage equality can
produce. In Massachusetts, and later in California, gay groups
published the names of donors to anti-gay initiatives on the
Internet. While the names are a matter of public record and
available on government run websites, opponents have called the
Karger asked for consideration on his
request during the ethics commission's upcoming September 8 meeting,
but the commission is likely to decide on the matter in October, its
executive director Jonathan Wayne told the Associated Press.
Wayne has asked Stand for Marriage
Maine to respond to Karger's allegations by September 16.