By Kathleen Gilbert

AUGUSTA, Maine, May 25, 2009 ( – A homosexualist group is seeking to strip the Catholic Diocese of Portland of its tax-exempt status, after the diocese announced it would gather support for a voter’s referendum on the new same-sex “marriage” law.

The California-based Empowering Spirits Foundation filed the challenge Wednesday claiming that the Church’s signature-gathering violates IRS rules forbidding partisan political activity by non-profit organizations.

“By their individuals going on television, stating what they were doing, they’re engaging in lobbying activities which is prohibited by the IRS for tax exempt purposes,” objected Tyler Davis, a spokesperson for the Empowering Sprits Foundation, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Soon after Maine Gov. John Baldacci approved the state’s same-sex “marriage” legislation May 6, the Portland diocese condemned the law and announced that it would support a voter’s referendum to overturn it.

“Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that I believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole,” said Bishop Richard Malone.

“Children will be taught in schools that same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are simply different expressions of the same thing, and that the logical and consistent understanding that marriage and reproduction are intrinsically linked is no longer valid,” he continued. “These are profound changes that will reverberate throughout society with tragic consequences.”

Diocesan spokesman Marc Mutty had said that the diocese “will play a lead role in organizing this petition drive to bring the issue before voters.”

Concerning the homosexual-rights group’s recent allegation, Mutty called it a “bogus attempt to sidetrack the campaign,” and said the signature-gathering did not violate IRS rules.

True marriage supporters will need to collect 55,087 voters’ signatures in order to bring the same-sex “marriage” question to the ballot, where Maine voters would have a chance to overturn the law. Proponents have 90 days after the congressional session’s end in mid-June to gather support.

See related coverage:

Maine Legalizes Homosexual “Marriage”