Anti-gay marriage group NOM funded by Catholic donors it fought to keep secret

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The anti-gay National Organisation for Marriage received substantial donations from Catholic groups that it fought to keep secret, it has finally been revealed.

The group, which failed to stop same-sex marriage becoming law in all 50 states, is renowned for its extreme anti-LGBT sentiment.

It has fought a long-running legal battle to keep its list of backers private. The Maine Ethics Commission first launched an investigation into the group in 2009, after NOM refused to reveal fundraising and spending details for an anti-gay marriage ballot campaign in the state, thought to have cost over $2 million.

NOM has repeatedly gone to court over the issue, arguing that the Constitution allows protects people giving money anonymously, but the group lost successive rulings on the issue in 2009 and 2011, and had its appeal thrown out in 2012.

It finally handed its 2009 Maine donor list over this week, after six years of stalling – revealing the group received $140,000 in 2009 from The Knights of Columbus – the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organisation.

The revelation comes as no surprise given the church’s deep connection with the anti-LGBT movement – with the same group known to have contributed at least $14 million to fight equal marriage in total.

Just six names were on the list in total.

The largest donor during the period was Sean Fieler of New York City, a prominent Catholic and the president of Chiaroscuro Foundation – who gave $1.25 million to NOM.

John Templeton of Pennsylvania donated $300,000, Terrence Caster of California donated $300,000, while Richard Kurtz – the only donor to actually come from Maine – gave $50,000. Benjamin Brown of Michi donor gave $200 to the group.

The long-delayed revelations expose the depth of the Catholic roots for the group – which has always maintained that it is non-religious. It continues not to publish the names of its donors across the US.

Despite pro-LGBT group Freedom to Marry closing down this year, after securing equality in all 50 states, NOM continues to operate.