Minnesota gay marriage donors can't hide identities, judge rules

Categories: GLBT

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Gay marriage foes with fat wallets want to stay in the closet.
Minnesota corporations can't make secret donations in favor of or against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled Thursday. Target, you've been warned.

The National Organization for Marriage and the Minnesota Families Council, two groups that oppose gay marriage, had asked the board to allow concealed donations, the Minnesota Independent reports. The groups had argued that same-sex marriage supporters could commit acts of vandalism or violence against anti-gay marriage donors.

"To require groups, nonprofits like the Minnesota Family Council, to disclose their donors and make their donors names public would have a significant chilling effect on free speech," Minnesota Families Council president Tom Prichard told the board earlier this month. "Even in Minnesota already it's gotten heated in some respects."

While pretty much anyone could say Prichard was mixing his "hot" and "cold" metaphors, it took the board's ruling to strike down his argument. Prichard also made references, though without specifics, to reprisal attacks related to the gay marriage battle in California.

Arguing on the side of disclosure, Common Cause Minnesota, the League of Women Voters and the Brennen Center for Justice said Prichard's fears were overblown.

"Much like the boy who cries 'wolf,' it has become routine for groups like the National Organization for Marriage to complain that disclosure will leave them vulnerable to threats and harassment," the groups argued in a joint letter to the board. "The evidence shows otherwise."

The gay marriage amendment, passed by the legislature in May -- back when the state shutdown was just a twinkle in the legislature's eye -- will be on the ballot when Minnesota votes in 2012.

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