Catholic Church a powerful force in marriage amendment debate

People watch as the statue of the Virgin Mary is carried during the rosary procession in front of the Capitol Sunday, May. 6, 2012. Thousands of faithful Catholics joined together at the Capitol to walk in a rosary procession in support of the marriage amendment. The amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman, making it impossible for same-sex couples to marry. (Alex Kolyer for MPR)

With more than 1 million members, Catholics comprise the single largest religious denomination in Minnesota.

Their numbers, and their financial contributions, make them a powerful force in the debate over a constitutional amendment that would only allow marriage between men and women. If approved by voters this fall, the amendment would effectively write a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.

Minnesota law already prohibits gay marriage. But Catholic bishops have made passage of the amendment a top political priority this year, so much so that the Catholic Church is putting a lot of money and prayers into the effort to pass the marriage amendment.

Proponents of the amendment say it is needed to block a Hennepin County court case currently being litigated that seeks to overturn state law and numerous attempts by DFL legislators to legalize gay marriage.

Catholic parishes are assigning church captains, typically a married couple, to educate parishioners and get out the vote. The church holds special offerings to collect money for the amendment effort.

“I make no apologies for the defense of marriage because it’s an important social institution,” said Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the political arm of the Catholic Church.

Adkins is quick to stress that the church’s official position is not against gay people but pro-traditional marriage.
“It takes money to speak in a democracy, and it takes a lot of it these days…”
– Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference

Adkins leads the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense Fund, a registered ballot lobbying group that reported $750,000 in contributions to the Campaign Finance Board at the end of January. That’s more than half of what the pro-amendment side raised. He said more contributions are coming. [More]


Minnesota Public Radio