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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
NOM must obey disclosure laws, Maine judge says
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NOM must obey disclosure laws, Maine judge says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A federal judge in Maine ruled on May 23 that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) must comply with state financial disclosure laws.

U.S. Magistrate John Rich III ordered NOM to turn over fundraising documents from its successful campaign to overturn Maine's marriage equality law to the state's Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

NOM contributed between $1.6 million and $1.9 million to the Yes on Question 1 campaign last year. The Ethics Commission decided last October to investigate NOM after it was accused of concealing the names of many donors.

Question 1 asked Maine voters "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

In the November election, 52.8% said "Yes, repeal marriage equality," and 47.2% said "No." A record 60% of registered voters participated in the off-year election.

The marriage equality bill was passed 20-15 by the Maine Senate in April 2009, and 89-58 by the House in May 2009. It was enacted by the Senate and signed into law by Maine Governor John Baldacci on May 6.

Maine became the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the first to do so on the initiative of its legislature, without a court order.

The law was to take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, but the day after it was signed by Gov. Baldacci, a group calling itself Stand for Marriage Maine launched a "people's veto" campaign to put the measure on the ballot.

Stand for Marriage Maine was ultimately successful in getting the measure on the ballot and persuading Maine voters to reject marriage equality.

According to documents published in October 2009, NOM provided 63% of the funding for Stand for Marriage Maine, or $1.6 million out of total cash contributions of about $2.6 million. Claims in the present federal court case indicate NOM's final total might be as much as $1.9 million.

An additional 20%, or $550,000, was provided by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Maine. Focus on the Family contributed about $100,000.

At issue in the federal court case is disclosure of the names of people who contributed to NOM, and whose cash contributions were then funneled to Stand for Marriage Maine. To date, NOM has not cooperated with demands to release this information.

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