(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Four weeks before voters head to the polls, Catholic bishops in Minnesota have raised an issue that has largely taken a backseat to the economy and jobs this election season: renewing calls for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
While such advocacy by religious groups is not uncommon, never before has the message come in the form of a DVD mailed to all Catholic households in the state. And, some say, never before has such a campaign appeared so political.
Because one candidate in the state's three-way race for governor, Republican Tom Emmer, opposes same-sex marriage, the church's message and its timing amount to an unambiguous endorsement, critics say.
The anonymous donation to the archdiocese that funded the production of more than 400,000 DVDs has also stoked questions about the proper role of religious institutions in the political process.
Five bills introduced during the state's 2010 legislative session would legalize gay marriage. The state's new governor would play a key role in deciding whether any bill that might pass should become law.
Democrat Mark Dayton and Independent Party candidate Tom Horner both support same-sex marriage.
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