McCain’s Ex-Campaign Manager Teams With ACLU For State-Level Marriage Push

Even though Steve Schmidt served as a strategist in the George W. Bush administration and ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, he has always been a party renegade on gay issues. Schmidt, who has a lesbian sister, has been a long-time supporter of marriage equality, longer in fact than many Democrats. So it’s no surprise that the ACLU has hired Schmidt as part of a new initiative on marriage equality. The goal: ensure that all 50 states legalize same-sex marriages. The ACLU is putting $10 million into the new initiative, which will last for four years.

“The issue of marriage equality is the Republican Party’s best chance to stand on the right side of history, create a meaningful legacy of fairness, and maintain relevance with young voters,” Schmidt said. Because the fight will now be at the state level, having a GOP consultant on hand will be important.  However, the states that the ACLU cites as ones that it is likely to take on–Illinois, Oregon, Hawaii, and New Mexico–all have Democratic-controlled legislatures. Also, telling Repubilcans that you’re there from the ACLU isn’t probably the best calling card, given conservative hatred of the organization. Working for John McCain isn’t exactly a positive either, since many conservatives felt he wasn’t conservative enough. Still, Schmidt is a savvy, inside-the-Beltway operator well liked by the media who has the potential to influence other Republicans.

If Schmidt’s hiring is a smart move, the ACLU managed to negate it by hiring Jimmy LaSalvia, the former head of GOProud. LaSalvia was hired “to do outreach to gay conservatives, particularly within the Tea Party,” which is pretty rich given that the GOProud couldn’t even get an invitation to the  big Conservative Political Action Conference. Moreover, GOProud only formally got around to endorsing marriage equality this year, or four years after Schmidt did. LaSalvia left GOProud in April with an inglorious track record. Now he gets to add to it.

Photo credit: David Shankbone

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  • hyhybt

    Four years isn’t long for 37 states… and 10 million divided over four years and 37 states isn’t likely to be enough. It’s a start, though, and they won’t be alone on it.

  • Jim Hlavac

    I spend a lot of time posting comments and articles on the gay thing (among other subjects, there being no “gay” or “LGBT” position on say, the tax code or arming Syrian rebels,) at Tea Party websites — in the past four years I have yet to see GOProud or LogCabin Republicans make a peep — who will he reach out to? Hell, I’ve done more than LaSalvia, and I’m a schnook, and he’s a “Lobbyist.” He’d do best to find another career.

  • Cam

    Sooooo, Just so I understand, he was a supporter of gay issues and yet did everything he could to get McCain elected?

    In his book he says that they knew Palin was completely unqualified and yet they pushed her.

    He has a long history of doing whatever worked for him at the moment. He saw the way the wing was blowing and now has done what he does best.

  • mramseymd

    Cam, I find that it’s darned-near impossible to dislike Steve Schmidt once you get to know him. When was the last time you heard a Republican admit they made a mistake? After multiple comments on the topic, I believe Schmidt is sincere about marriage equality.

  • Icebloo

    This is a joke right ?

    He was a strategist for Bush – the most unpopular President in U.S. history who brought the world economy to it’s knees, brought us record debt & two of the most expensive and pointless wars in history.

    He was a strategist or John McCain’s Presidential campaign which was a complete failure.

    He is a member of the Republican party which hates us. Despite claiming to have supported gay rights for years he has achieved no progress on gay issues within the Republican party – in fact the party has gone more anti-gay than ever.

    He’s a real asset to our campaign isn’t he ? With Steve on our side we can look forward to more gay marriage victories at state level within the next 100 years.

    WHAT A LOSER ! I don’t want him on our side. We can and have achieved all our successes without scumbag Republicans like him.

  • Cam

    @mramseymd: said.. “Cam, I find that it’s darned-near impossible to dislike Steve Schmidt once you get to know him.”


    That is the same bullshit that people like Melissa Etheridge were taken in by. Remember when she was going around talking about the head of the Anti-Gay saddleback church? And what did she say? Gee, she said she had met him and he was very nice.

    Yes, Schmidt works in politics, he knows about basic courtesy and conversation. I don’t care how nice a dinner guest is, he did all he could to get McCain elected, McCAin who advocated AGAINST gays even being able to adopt. Schmidt was one of the people who CHOSE Sara Palin as the VP pick and in his book ADMITS that he knew she was not qualified and yet STILL tried to hide that and get them elected.

    He was happy to send this country down the toilet and to do all he could to put a gay hater and a simpleminded witch into office.

    So, Glad you enjoy having a drink with the guy who did all he could to set back gays 50 years.

  • Gerry

    On the one hand, I share the dislike people have for what Schmidt’s done in the past. Having said that, the tide has turned with marriage equality, and if we turn away help from everyone who used to be bad on the issue, it’s going to hamper our progress. I suggest we go with the old adage “the enemy of our enemy is our friend” or “politics make strange bedfellows.” If someone can turn hearts and minds about marriage equality in the Republican camp, TAKE IT!!!

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