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Report: Knights of Columbus Spend Millions Fighting Gay Marriage

September 21, 2010

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - One of Connecticut's best-known charitable organizations has been spending more on a divisive political issue than on some of the social service programs it's built its name on. An investigation of the New Haven-based Knights of Columbus, by the Washington Independent, probed where the group has spent its donation dollars in recent years.

Investigative reporter Jesse Zwick found the Knights openly spent millions in support of California's gay marriage ban. He says the group also fought marriage equality in Maine, but tried to do so below the radar.

"They mainly were, once again, the largest donor to the cause in Maine, but they simply funneled that money through the National Organization for Marriage and as a result, had not received as much publicity. "

The National Organization for Marriage has fought to keep its list of donors secret, but the Knights have been more forthcoming about their contributions, saying the Catholic organization is "pro-family" and believes strongly in the defense of marriage.

The reporter explains that the money given to anti-gay marriage efforts by the Knights of Columbus last year is a small percentage of all the giving done by chapters worldwide, but it's a significant portion of spending from the Knights' Supreme Council.

"Larger than all the money that the national organization put forward to supplement local efforts in shoring up food banks around the country, or all the money that they poured into their 'Coats for Kids' program."

Catholic activists question the more than $3 million spent to fight gay marriage. Zwick says it is smaller than the amount the Knights' Supreme Council spent on programs to feed and clothe the needy in the recession, but not by much.

Zwick's story is at

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CT