Billionaire Republican donor and philanthropist David Koch is dead at age 79 after a years-long battle against prostate cancer. Though he personally opposed the GOP stances against gay rights, same-sex marriage, abortion and cannabis legalization, he also helped fund anti-LGBTQ politicians, hate groups and legislation to the tune of millions. Let’s take a quick look at his LGBTQ legacy.
Once ranked as the 11th richest person in the world with an estimated worth of $50.5 billion, Koch is perhaps best known for working with Koch industries, a multinational corporation that donated millions to Republican political candidates.
Although Koch ostensibly supported politicians with libertarian free-market principles against government spending on social welfare programs, he also gave millions to Republican politicians — like Rick Santorum, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, George Allen, Orrin Hatch, Jim DeMint and Michelle Bachmann — and to conservative think-tanks who oppose expanding government-offered healthcare, deny climate change and support anti-LGBTQ policies; this includes anti-LGBTQ groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Concerned Women for America.
He also gave millions to The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nonprofit that drafts and shares model state-level legislation largely supporting business and conservative social stances, including opposition to LGBTQ rights. ALEC considers same-sex relationships as “probably some of the most destructive and degrading institutions in America today” and claims that homosexuality causes psychological harm and leads to pedophilia.
ALEC also drafted legislation supporting charter schools for the rich, stand-your-ground laws that allow gun owners to kill people of color with impunity, voter ID laws that suppress progressive turnout, laws criminalizing environmental activism, and efforts to increase private prison populations.
Koch wasn’t the devil himself. He also donated millions to cancer research, New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, its Metropolitan Museum of Art and several national museums. But his legacy of funding anti-LGBTQ and anti-progressive policies should be remembered, no matter his personal political beliefs.