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Catholics add $86,000 vs. gay vows
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BY MATT WICKENHEISER Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 10/10/2009

PORTLAND -- Catholics in Maine gave about $86,000 to fight same-sex marriage through collections at Masses in September.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said Friday that parishioners put $41,000 into baskets during collections supporting the campaign to repeal Maine's new law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Donations made in envelopes weren't opened by the churches but sent directly to Stand for Marriage Maine, the political action committee organizing the repeal effort.

Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, said Friday that the collection -- loose money and envelopes -- totaled about $86,000, "certainly a reasonable amount."

Campaign finance reports for political action committees are due to become public on Tuesday.

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, said it has no plans for another collection for the campaign.

Some Catholics were upset the diocese took up the collection to support the repeal. A new group, Catholics for Maine Equality, urged parishioners not to put money into the collection, but to put in notes explaining their opposition to the church's actions.

Mutty said campaign workers found "very, very few" notes in the collections.

Anne Underwood, a founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, said she was surprised by the amount raised after the church "strong-armed" parishioners into supporting the people's veto.

She noted that there are about 198,000 Catholics in Maine, a state of 1.2 million people.

"For the collection to only produce basically 43 cents per capita of Catholics in Maine doesn't seem to be a ringing affirmation that Catholics are supporting the bishop's position," she said.

The diocese said it has filed a report with the state ethics commission detailing campaign contributions to Stand for Marriage Maine. The diocese contributed $33,000 in in-kind services, including salaries for two employees who are on leaves of absence and whose time is being donated to the campaign.

The employees are a secretary and Mutty, the director of public affairs for the diocese, Bernard said.

Donations from dioceses and bishops from other areas totaled $214,550 from July 1 to the end of September, the Portland diocese said. They sent money to the Portland diocese, to be forwarded to Stand for Marriage Maine.

Bernard said 56 dioceses and bishops donated $150 to $50,000. Two organizations, the Phoenix diocese and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, each donated $50,000.

Before July 1, the Portland diocese donated $100,000, the Knights of Columbus donated $50,000 and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., and Catholic Charities of Evansville, Ind., gave $1,000 each.

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