Friday, April 13, 2012

Gay Marriage Effort Attracts a Novel Group of Donors

We reformers need to closely study and adopt the methods of the same-sex marriage movement – also a civil rights issue (and kudos to the Republicans who have broken with them stuck-in-the-Middle-Ages-party and gotten behind this issue):

Mr. Geffen asked few questions as they sat in the dining room off his screening room, with a sweeping view down his sculptured estate. He agreed before the dessert arrived to raise the money. "I said I'd give them half the money and raise the other half," Mr. Geffen recalled. Mr. Geffen wrote a check for $1.5 million and asked Steve Bing, a friend and producer, to make up the rest.

That lunch was a milestone in the dramatic evolution of a behind-the-scenes fund-raising network whose goal is to legalize same-sex marriage from coast to coast. This emerging group of donors is not quite like any other fund-raising network that has supported gay-related issues over the past 40 years. They come from Hollywood, yes, but also from Wall Street and Washington and the corporate world; there are Republicans as well as Democrats; and perhaps most strikingly, longtime gay organizers said, there has been an influx of contributions from straight donors unlike anything they have seen before.

Mr. Griffin, who this month was named president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay advocacy group, recalled being at a September 2010 fund-raiser for the Proposition 8 legal fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, organized by, among others, Wall Street financiers and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"I knew literally no one in the room," said Mr. Griffin, whose fund-raising activities on behalf of the Obama campaign helped earn him a seat at President Obama's table at the state dinner at the White House last week. "It was a very bizarre moment for me. It was really a turning point."

Money does not always translate into political success, of course. While the network has bankrolled the legal case that led two courts to throw out Proposition 8 and also helped power a same-sex marriage bill to law in New York State, tough battles may lie ahead with marriage initiatives on five state ballots this year: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington.


Gay Marriage Effort Attracts a Novel Group of Donors

Published: March 23, 2012

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