It sure looks like it.
Yesterday on the St. Peter Herald's website, News Editor Kurt Hildebrandt reported in Minnesota for Marriage brings message to St. Peter area, that M4M communications director Chuck Darrell was pushing civil unions as an alternative to marriage for committed same-sex couples should the marriage restriction amendment pass in November:
Darrell does state that if the marriage amendment does get approval that it will not stop the debate on the issue. Also, a “yes” vote on the issue does not preclude civil unions or stop the Legislature from enacting future legislation on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) unions, but it would give a clear definition of marriage.
Looks like someone wants to have his wedding cake and eat it too.
So what's the problem? Darrell's collecting a paycheck funded largely by the Catholic Church--indeed, one of the three lead stories in the Strib's Morning Hot Dish political newsletter was Minnesota Catholics asked to pay for marriage vote TV ads:
Minnesota Roman Catholics will receive a letter this week from the state's bishops, urging them to donate money for television ads asking voters to say yes to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
For many of the more than 400,000 Catholic households expected to get the letter, it marks the first time they've been asked by church leadership to make a financial donation to Minnesota for Marriage, the chief group campaigning for passage of the marriage amendment Nov. 6.
The call for money comes in the wake of the release last week of two commercials by the main group opposing the amendment -- one of which takes issue with the Catholic Church's stance on gay marriage.
In trying to reach every Catholic household in Minnesota, the mailing is "unusual" compared to Catholics' roles in marriage amendment campaigns in other states, said John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron (Ohio), who studies politics and religion.
"I can't think of anything as direct and as explicit," Green said. "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it legally, but certainly I'm sure it's very controversial. Catholic leaders have been involved in fundraising. I know of examples where they have reached out to parishioners, but I've never heard of anything quite this comprehensive." . . .
Catholics in the Diocese of Winona have already received a September 17 letter from Bishop John Quinn, although it does not specifically mention that contributions will be earmarked for television ads. A copy was posted to Thug In Pastels in an update to the post “Minnesotans for Marriage” and The Unbearable Victimhood of Vote Yes. Bluestem reposts it above.
The massive financial involvement of the Catholic Church in pushing the amendment prompted Morillo-Alicea to point out The Coming Civil Unions Ruse: Will The Archbishop Bear False Witness?.
Darrell's claim to the news editor of the Herald shows just how prophetic that question is. Bluestem uses that word not in the sense of clairvoyance, but rather to remind the powerful of their obilgation to engage in good faith debate, to speak truthfully.
Morillo-Alicea explains why it's a ruse:
And now on to money—who was behind the effort to put the amendment on the ballot and who is funding the campaign to win its passage? As has been reported by MPR and others, “The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is the single largest contributor to the vote yes campaign.”
So what does the Most Reverend John Neinstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis—and the principal funder of the Vote Yes campaign—think of civil unions? According to a question and answer helpfully provided by the Archdiocese website, he’s not too fond of those either:
Some people say that they are not for redefining marriage, but they have no problem with civil unions. Is there a distinction between the two, with regard to the Church’s position?
Civil unions, in my opinion, are just a smoke screen for so-called same-sex “marriage.” In fact, so-called “marriage equality” groups have already begun opposing them, and in states where civil unions exist, such as in Washington, New Jersey and California, the movement to redefine marriage simply accelerates. There are ways of ensuring that people of the same gender have access to certain public services or privileges without redefining marriage. By contrast, civil unions are, if you will, the nose of the camel coming under the tent.He who fears camels poking under tents will oppose civil unions with the same viciousness that his divided his flock in Minnesota. And, if the Minnesotans for Marriage campaign puts out an ad such as the one we saw in Maine, the His Grace and His Flock will have funded a lie.
Rose French reports in today's Strib article about the financial ask by the bishops:
So far this year, Catholic leadership has been one of the biggest financial backers of pro-amendment forces, directing close to $500,000 in support of it, according to campaign finance records. The Minnesota Catholic Conference said it reported raising $750,000 in 2011. Much of that came in a $650,000 contribution from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which tapped its investments to help fund the marriage amendment campaign.
The mailing will cost $100,000, according to a spokester for the Minnesota Catholic Conference who spoke to French for the story.
What cost to the ethos of Archbishop and the Minnesota Catholic Conference for backing Chuck Darrell's shell game? Those who pay the piper call the tune, and right now, M4M sounds like the Milli Vanilli of the marriage debate. This ain't real, folks.
Photos: All the Archbishop's men (above); Bishop Quinn's letter (below). Both via TIP.