playing both sides

The Folks Raising Cash for the American Foundation For Equal Rights? They Also Raise Cash For The Right-Wing

It’s not just newly out quisling and former GOP chairman Ken Mehlman, who continues donating to anti-gay candidates, that are among the gay headliners at the American Foundation for Equal Rights who also fund America’s right-wing. Hedge funder Paul Singer, who controls $17 billion in assets, is opening his NYC home for the Sept. 22 event, and PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel is co-hosting. But, what’s this? All three of these guys have a history of donating to candidates whose platforms including making LGBT Americans second-class citizens?

Next month’s AFER fundraiser, which will help pay the bills for Ted Olson and David Boies’ Prop 8 ass-kicking, will raise millions. (Invitations are in the process of going out, but a pre-sale has already generated $750k.)

And the privately wealthy folks (that’s Singer on left, Thiel on right) putting on the event are lending their names and checkbooks to supporting a great cause. Except they often did the same thing for terrible causes, relays Duncan Osbourne.

For years, Singer has been a reliable and generous donor to many state and federal Republican political organizations, candidates, and office holders including some of the most anti-gay members of that party, such as Rick Santorum and Bill McCollum, who lost a bid to become the Republican nominee for Florida’s governor’s office on August 24. Singer has also supported moderate Republicans and has donated to Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat. In New York, he has donated to Democrats and Republicans, but his largest donations have gone to the state Republican and Conservative parties.

In 2008, the Paul Singer Family Foundation gave $275,000 to the Manhattan Institute, a right wing group that has Singer as the chair if its board. Plenty of the experts at the institute have opposed gay marriage and other gay causes. The foundation gave the institute $30,000 in 2007.

[…] Similarly, Thiel, the other co-host, has supported a mix of Republican candidates, office holders, and organizations with some of his cash going to moderates and other checks paid to anti-gay Republicans. In 2008, Thiel gave $250,000 Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers who support a reordering of “priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law” and $100,000 to the Hoover Institution, a conservative policy group at Stanford University. He have $75,000 to the Institute on Religion and Public Life in 2006. While claiming to be non-partisan, that institute was the creation and primary voice of Richard John Neuhaus, a neoconservative Roman Catholic priest.

But what about the New York Times insisting Singer — who raised money for George W. Bush and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — donates cash to pro-gay groups?

The only donations by Singer to gay groups that I could find came in 2003 when the foundation gave $100,000 to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and at least $100,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. And, no, I am not taking the word of anonymous “associates” or the New York Times that Singer handed out over $4 million to gay causes.

No wonder Mehlman doesn’t feel any regret for helping orchestrate campaigns that relied on anti-gay vitriol: He doesn’t have to. Nobody around him, including the most high profile same-sex marriage advocates at AFER (that includes everyone from Chad Griffin to Dustin Lance Black), are telling him to repent. Instead, so long as Mehlman, Singer, and Thiel can raise cash for them when it’s most opportune, AFER’s board is willing to let their past sins disappear from their consciousness.

These men, however willing they may be to now support the fight for marriage equality, are the same people who generated funds for politicians to go out and rail against our community. It’s blood money, and the eventual elimination of Prop 8 will be funded by it.

I don’t expect any person, even wealthy gay men, to be single-issue voters. You’re free to support politicians for whatever reason you like. But there is one non-negotiable piece of criteria when it comes to being a morally intact voter, and that’s whether you get behind somebody who does not believe in equality for all. Mehlman, Singer, and Theil all did just that, and now we’re asking not just for their money, but their participation.

Something is terribly wrong here.