Catholic Church joins in California campaign to prevent same-sex marriages from becoming legal

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    By RUSS HILL

    Financial reports filed with the California secretary of state’s office recently revealed that the LDS Church is not alone in its fund-raising efforts to ban same-sex marriages in California.

    The Catholic Church has joined members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to raise almost $4 million to promote the Knight Initiative, an anti-gay marriage proposal sponsored by Sen. William Knight.

    Eight of 12 Catholic California dioceses have collected more than $300,000.

    Carol Hogan, a spokesperson for the California Catholic Conference, said bishops at each diocese decide where parishioner’s money will be spent.

    “This is a campaign that we all support, and I think we will see many dioceses expand their involvement in this campaign as the vote draws near,” Hogan said.

    Although the Catholic diocese in San Francisco has not donated money to the Knight Initiative yet, Hogan said that will likely change within the next few days. Hogan said she expects all dioceses in California to participate in the campaign which would prevent homosexual marriages from becoming legal.

    The Catholic Church’s involvement in the same-sex marriage debate is already drawing criticism by opponents of the Knight Initiative.

    “Most Catholics I know do not support these bishops’ attacks on the gay community,” said Mike Marshall, the campaign manager for Californians for Fairness.

    Marshall said the Catholic Church’s donations are especially hurtful to him, because he attended Catholic schools when he was young.

    According to the recently-filed financial reports, members of the LDS Church have donated $3.6 million to the Knight Initiative campaign. Members were encouraged by their local church leaders to donate to the campaign.

    The LDS Church’s money-raising efforts have prompted San Francisco City supervisors to ask the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the church’s tax-exempt status. Some of the city supervisor’s said the church should be classified as a political action committee.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently defended the church’s promotion of the Knight Initiative.

    “We deal with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature, or which directly affect the welfare of the church,” President Hinckley said. “We regard it as not only our right, but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of our society.”

    His comments came during the Priesthood Session of the church’s 169th Semiannual General Conference in October at Salt Lake City.

    The initiative will go before California voters early next year.

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