- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

RICHMOND (AP) — Opponents of a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex “marriage” and civil unions raised more than twice as much money this summer as the referendum’s supporters did, according to state financial reports.

The Commonwealth Coalition raised more than $315,000 in July and August in its effort to defeat the ballot initiative, the group said in a statement filed with the State Board of Elections. The group includes homosexual rights advocates and religious and business organizations.

Amendment supporter va4marriage.org, an affiliate of the Richmond-based Family Foundation, reported nearly $155,300 in donations for the period.

Voters will decide whether to amend the Virginia Constitution in a ballot initiative on Nov. 7.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, campaign manager for the Commonwealth Coalition, said the group’s strong financial showing indicates growing concern that the amendment could disrupt legal agreements between all unmarried couples.

Chris Freund, spokesman for va4marriage.org, said the group hopes to prevail through aggressive grass-roots efforts.

The Commonwealth Coalition’s top contributor for the period was the Weinstein family, Richmond philanthropists who own a real-estate firm. They have donated $100,000.

The largest donor to the Commonwealth Coalition overall is Arnold & Porter, a District-based law firm that provided a free, 71-page analysis of the proposed constitutional amendment. The legal work is valued at $190,642. The donation was reported in September and was not included in the fundraising total filed last week.

Also not counted was $50,000 donated by Tom Field, an Arlington resident who teaches at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Out-of-state residents and groups donated a majority of va4marriage.org’s money.

The top giver was Dr. John Templeton Jr., of Bryn Mawr, Pa., who gave $100,000. Dr. Templeton donated $25,000 to help pass a similar constitutional amendment in Oregon in 2004 and has given to pro-amendment groups in Colorado and Wisconsin.

Dr. Templeton is a retired pediatric surgeon who served in the Navy at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital early in his career. He now runs his billionaire father’s charitable foundation, which awards $1 million in annual prizes to recipients who have made advances in science and spirituality.

Dr. Templeton told the Virginian-Pilot that children should be raised in heterosexual marriages.

Va4marriage.org also has received polling services valued at $5,970 from the Arlington Group, a District-based coalition of religious and conservative leaders and associations that together have given nearly $2 million to back homosexual-“marriage” bans in other states, according to the Institute on Money in State Politics.

Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian group based in Colorado that has given more than $250,000 to pro-amendment efforts across the country, has donated DVDs and booklets valued at $346.

The totals do not reflect all of the cash that the groups have collected for their referendum battle. Because the law establishing the ballot initiative did not go into effect until July 1, groups are not required to disclose the source of money they collected before that date, said Chris Piper, campaign-finance administrator for the Virginia Board of Elections.

The Commonwealth Coalition reported $132,200 raised before that date, and va4marriage.org listed $13,775.

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