AUGUSTA — Opponents of same-sex marriage raised nearly $950,00 in October, a major push toward the end of the campaign as voters get ready to head to the polls Nov. 6.
The bulk of the money came from the National Organization for Marriage, which donated $800,000, and the Knights of Columbus, which chipped in $100,000, according to a campaign finance report filed with the state just before midnight Friday.
The influx of money brings the total for Protect Marriage Maine, the leading political action committee opposing gay marriage, to $1.4 million.
That compares to $4.3 million raised this year by Mainers United for Marriage, the primary group in support of Question 1, which brought in about $964,000 in the period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 23. Mainers United also received $353,353 in in-kind contributions this reporting period, while opponents reported only $1,173.
Both sides are raising and spending large chunks of money in the run-up to the election, in which voters will be asked whether they want to allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Mainers rejected gay marriage 53 percent to 47 percent in 2009, and gay activists are bringing the ballot question up again after spending more than two years trying to change voters’ minds on the issue.
Maine is one of four states voting on gay marriage this fall. Maryland and Washington will consider whether to uphold action by their legislatures to allow same-sex marriage, and Minnesota is deciding whether to amend its state constitution to ban it. In recent years, voters in various states have rejected gay marriage more than 30 times. Gay activists in Maine, Maryland and Washington all say they want their state to be the first to have voters approve gay marriage by popular vote.
In the six states where gay marriage is legal, it has been put in place by lawmakers or judges, but never the public.
In Maine, recent polls show support for gay marriage ranging from 52 percent to 57 percent. However, gay-marriage opponents have amped up television advertisements in recent days to try to chip away at that margin, which they believe to be below 50 percent support.
Financial support for same-sex marriage in Maine came from the Human Rights Campaign, which donated $330,000 in the latest reporting period; Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which gave $67,898; EqualityMaine, which donated $64,175 and L PAC, a group backed by tennis star Billie Jean King and actress Jane Lynch that gives money to promote pro-lesbian causes, which gave $40,000, the reports show.
Supporters also got a boost from former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife, Chandler, who donated $50,000.
The totals for the two major campaigns do not reflect money spent by other groups that have registered with the state as part of the Question 1 campaign. Some of those groups donate most of their money to the two major campaigns, while others spend it independently.
The National Organization for Marriage, which registered as a separate PAC for the election, did not file its report by the deadline. Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, said Saturday that the group mistakenly missed the deadline and would file sometime later in the day. He said all of NOMs donations were also reported through Protect Marriage Maine, so their report would not show any other funds raised or spent on the campaign.
The missed deadline prompted Mainers United to allege that the group was ignoring the deadline in an attempt to hide their donors. The state ethics commission has been trying to investigate NOM since the 2009 campaign to determine whether it should have released a list of donors.
A federal judge has ruled that donors who gave specifically to the Maine campaign should be disclosed, but NOM contends that nearly all of the funding that it gives to fight gay marriage has come from its general treasury.
Susan Cover — 621-5643