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Minn. Marriage Amendment Foes Raise $3.1 Million

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The chief group opposing the constitutional gay marriage ban on Minnesota's November ballot has raised more than three times as much money in campaign donations as the main group pushing for the ban.

Minnesotans United for All Families, which opposes the proposed gay marriage ban, raised $3.1 million from January through mid-June of 2012 alone — easily dwarfing the $1.4 million gay marriage foe Minnesota for Marriage has received since it began raising funds in mid-2011.

In all, Minnesotans United has raised $4.6 million to defeat the ban. The group has spent about $3 million of that total, while Minnesota for Marriage has spent about $900,000 so far.

Both groups submitted their fundraising totals Tuesday, the first in a series of election-year financial reporting deadlines for ballot measure campaigns.

Minnesota for Marriage says the constitutional amendment is needed to protect the traditional definition of marriage from being altered by judges or legislators, while Minnesotans United calls the ban needlessly divisive as well as unnecessary given the state's existing statutory ban. The ballot measure is expected to spawn one of the most expensive political campaigns in the state's history, if not the most expensive, and the superior fundraising to date of Minnesotans United amounts to a significant advantage.

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United, said the group's impressive fundraising totals showed a growing number of Minnesotans are committed to defeating the amendment. Of the 16,000 individual donors from January to June, 91 percent came from within Minnesota.

"Minnesotans are coming to the conclusion that limiting freedom to marry for same-sex couples is not how we do things in Minnesota," Carlbom said.

John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, said his group expected to be outraised by their opponents but take comfort in knowing that a similar fundraising dynamic in other states didn't prevent gay marriage bans from succeeding there. Similar bans have passed in more than 30 states, and none so far have failed.

"We don't have to match our opponents' spending; we only need to mobilize people who believe marriage should be protected," Helmberger said.

"The biggest single expenditure by Minnesotans United was a $1 million purchase to reserve TV airtime in the three weeks leading up to Election Day. The group's spokeswoman, Kate Brickman, said the group expects to be on the air well before that, but wanted to ensure a TV presence in the final days of the campaign.

A number of notable Minnesota residents donated to defeat the marriage amendment, including Minnesota Twins owner James Pohlad and his brothers Robert and William, who combined gave $305,000; Minneapolis restaurateurs Andrew and Eric Dayton, the sons of Gov. Mark Dayton, who together gave more than $50,000; and "A Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor, who gave $1,250.

While Minnesotans United released its full financial filing with the state, Minnesota for Marriage only announced its fundraising totals — not the identities of individual donors.

Tuesday night was also the first filing deadline for the other November ballot measure, which asks Minnesotans to decide whether a photo ID should be required in order to vote in the state.

The lead group advocating that amendment, Protect My Vote Minnesota, reported raising just over $75,000 so far in 2012 and spent about $56,000 of it. Numbers from the chief group opposing the amendment, America Votes for Minnesota's Future, were not immediately available.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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