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June 11, 2012 Print

North Dakotans Vote Tuesday on Religious Liberty

by Karla Dial

With less than 24 hours to go before North Dakotans decide whether to restore religious-freedom protections statewide, a financial-disclosure report reveals special-interest groups have donated more than $1 million to fight it.

At last count, North Dakotans Against Measure 3—the title of the referendum — consisted of: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which contributed $5,000; the Los Angeles-based Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project, which gave $6,735.81; Planned Parenthood-Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, which gave $116,306.57; and the Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo Action Fund of Concord, Calif., which gave $2,000. Meanwhile, the ACLU contributed $112,000, while NARAL and the abortion advocacy group Emily’s List rounded out the ranks.

By calling in donations from affiliates nationwide, the effort received $950,000 from Planned Parenthood alone. Records showed only one individual in North Dakota contributed money to fight Measure 3, giving $1,000.

That means North Dakotans Against Measure 3 has raised $1,075,871, compared to the $150,000 raised by a coalition of family groups. All but $32,000 of that money — a donation from CitizenLink — has come from state residents, said Tom Freier, executive director of the North Dakota Family Alliance.

“I think we know what’s going on,” he said. “We have a good cross-section of folks across the state who are supporting only the petition process with 30,000 signatures. But in the last three weeks, we’ve had $1 million come in from out of state sharing a message that is anything but accurate, alleging that men are going to be able to beat their wives and marry 12-year-old girls, and it’s being fueled because the money is available to put ads on TV. “

Freier says those accusations are unfounded. The measure is meant to reinstate a “compelling interest” test before government can infringe on religious liberty; it does not include special protections for anyone to hide behind the cloak of religion in order to break the law.

Read the June 8 financial report from the North Dakota Secretary of State, which reflects the most recent donations. The total amount can be gleaned from all reports concerning Measure 3.