President Obama is leaning heavily on LGBT donors to replenish his re-election war chest, Politico reports.
While many traditional Democratic donors – the wealthy, liberal elite – are not-so-privately reluctant to donate to Obama’s re-election due to general dissatisfaction with his first term, there has been a sea change of support by many in the LGBT community. Obama has been decidedly on our side these past 18 months, finally fulfilling many of his campaign promises on gay rights.
He has repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, extended federal benefits to same-sex partners, passed a hate crime law, and enabled gay partners to visit their significant others in the hospital. And recently he instructed the DOJ to stop defending DOMA – which is huge, given that repealing DOMA is one of the biggest challenges that the gay community will face in the coming years.
In fact, Obama has no less than 15 gays on his finance committee – a 15x increase from 2008, when there was a solitary gay man holding down the homo finance fort. His campaign finance director is gay, as is the Democratic National Committee’s finance chair. Apparently, they get the impression that gays are super-wealthy because most of us don’t have kids. While that is not entirely true, Obama is forging furiously ahead, not wasting a beat in what is sure to be the most expensive re-election campaign ever.
Gay support is particularly key this year to Obama, whose 2008 campaign raised huge sums from the very rich, just as it did from smaller donors. Now, key categories of supporters have grown leery. The left-leaning super-rich, including George Soros, see Obama as hopelessly compromised and have lost their enthusiasm for him. Some Wall Street and hedge fund executives, tired of being criticized and regulated, have switched sides. Some pro-Israel Jewish donors, a mainstay of Bill Clinton’s fundraising, dislike Obama’s pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu. And rich men on both coasts whom Clinton had accustomed to personal flattery, personal visits and late-night bull sessions have received no such personal attention from the more solitary Obama.
Gay donors, though, have only intensified their support and are expected to participate in unprecedented numbers in a “LGBT Gala” DNC fundraiser scheduled for June 23 in New York.
“He’s coming back up in the estimation of the gay community pretty rapidly, and I think justifiably,” said Ethan Geto, a New York lobbyist and key figure in Dean’s gay fundraising, who said many gay supporters had hoped “don’t ask” would be repealed during the president’s first year in office. “When things didn’t happen in [that] time frame and on the track that Obama had held out hope for, people got very disillusioned,” said Geto. “This was the time to strike.”
Others said that Republican candidates’ shots at gay rights in their attempt to appeal to socially conservative Iowa voters had reminded gay donors of the stakes. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum this week said gays and lesbians shouldn’t have the “privilege” of adopting children, while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty suggested he would block the repeal of the ban on gays in the military, and Donald Trump compared same-sex marriage to faddish golf gear.
“Our community has tasted change, and it’s hard to conceive of going backward,” said Fred Sainz, the vice president for communications for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group. “It’s hard to conceive of that coming to a screeching halt or reversing — and so it’s a subject of great energy for members of my community and especially those with great resources.” “Any reservations that a significant number of donors might sit this out have been answered by Donald Trump and the fools in the Republican Party,” said Mixner. “They have become so vehemently anti-gay.”