News :: Politics

1 in 16 of Obama’s Major Fundraisers is Gay: CNN

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Jun 6, 2012
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CNN recently analyzed President Obama’s list of donors and found that about one in every 16 (or 33) major fundraiser, also known as a bundler, is openly gay. In all, they have raised at least $8 million for his campaign between January and March. The article points out that during the same months, bundlers from the film, music and television industry raised just $6.8 million.

The Washington Post reported that it is possible at least one in six bundlers supporting the president are gay and the Advocate says it is one in five, the article says.

The analysis comes just before President Obama is scheduled to attend two fundraisers that are organized by LGBT supporters, which have received more attention after Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage last month.

Those who donate to a campaign are required by law to disclose their personal information, including full name, address and occupation -- but they do not have to reveal their sexual orientation. CNN says it only counted bundlers who have come out to the network in the past or in trusted LGBT media.

The Los Angeles Times reported that many gay donors were ecstatic over Obama’s support for gay marriage. The article said that the president’s endorsement "may add a political complication to his reelection bid, but it is also unleashing a wave of new financial support from gay and lesbian donors who were already major backers of his candidacy."

"Today has focused attention and enthusiasm in an almost cathartic way," said Andrew Tobias, out-gay treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and a top bundler for Obama. "Within minutes, people were calling with their credit cards. They’re thrilled."

The newspaper also reported that a gay donor contributed $10,000 to the president’s campaign and then, on a whim, decided to fly with his partner from Los Angeles to a fundraiser headlined by Latin pop star Ricky Martin.

"I think for people who were holding back, who were disappointed in the president’s position, that this would remove a barrier," said Jeff Soref, an Obama fundraiser and a former chairman of the LGBT caucus at the DNC who raised about $120,000 for the president at an event in New York last year.

In May, Martin announced his support for President Obama. Martin, who came out in 2010, hosted a fundraiser with Obama in New York a few days after the president endorsed marriage equality,ABC News.

"I applaud President @barackobama for affirming that ALL Americans should enjoy equal rights," Martin tweeted. "Historic! I will be a very proud host on Monday."

CNN said that Tim Gill, a software entrepreneur based in Colorado and LGBT activist, donated $672,800 with his partner Scott Miller to Obama’s campaign. Fred Eychaner, the owner of Newsweb Corp., gave a whopping $1,220,550. In addition, the former head of E*TRADE, Kathy Levinson, contributed $202,150. The news newtwork notes that the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Women’s Night named Levinson a "Community Role Model" in 2000.

Last month CNN also reported that Bill White, an openly gay Mitt Romney supporter, stopped endorsing the Republican politician after Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. He said he made the switch because Romney refused to change his views on marriage equality.

"Today has focused attention and enthusiasm in an almost cathartic way. Within minutes, people were calling with their credit cards. They’re thrilled."

"I feel that I no longer wish to support your presidential campaign and ask that you please return the maximum contribution that I gave to you last year," White wrote in a letter to Romney. "You have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and I do not support your run for president any longer," White added.

White, the chairman and CEO of the New York-based consulting firm Constellations Group, said that he did not fundraise for the Romney campaign but did donate along with his partner and a few friends.

"I felt we gave ’Hope and Change’ a chance and I was looking for something different," White, a registered Independent, told CNN. "Quite frankly, I was not supporting Barack Obama - I was supporting Mitt Romney. And my support is not just words or my vote, it’s also putting my money where my mouth is."

White went on to say that he believes Romney is attacking marriage.

"Now, I feel like he’s declared war on my marriage. And I could just sit back and not say anything. Or I could do something about it. And I’ve chosen to do something about it," he said.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked if the LGBT community’s financial support would be enough to help Obama beat out his Republican rival, Mediaite reported. Author Linda Hirshman said that gay rights supporters do not have as much money as Romney’s biggest backers -- those who work in finance. But Hayes points out that even some big business lobbyists strongly support same-sex marriage.

Another MSNBC pundit Chuck Todd reacted to Vice President Joe Biden’s comments after he announced he backed gay marriage, days before Obama would voice his support.

"They are so sensitive to Biden doing this because, number one, gay money in this election has replaced Wall Street money. It has been the gay community that has put in money in a way to this President that is a very, very important part of the fundraising operation for the President Obama campaign," Todd said.

In April, Romney’s views on the issue caused him to be at odds with some of his biggest financial backers.

Three hedge fund managers, Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness, have all supported the cause to legalize gay marriage in New York -- donating millions of dollars. But the businessmen were extremely concerned when the National Organization for Marriage (a group bent on outlawing same-sex marriage in the country) endorsed Romney, just moments after GOP presidential candiate Rick Santorum dropped out of the race.

Similarly to Obama, several gay rights activists financially supported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the state legalized same-sex marriage nearly a year ago, according to the New York Times. Cuomo played a pivotal role in getting the state to recognize marriage equality.

"He’s opened up an enormous amount of wallets," said David Mixner, a longtime gay rights advocate. He added that Cuomo "made himself a national player, almost with one piece of legislation, and that’s not going to change."

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-06-06 12:39:10

    This is very exciting... I sure wish I had a lump of cash to donate to the Obama campaign.


  • Anonymous, 2012-06-07 10:44:07

    The rest are illegal aliens and the mentally retarded.


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