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Gay Fundraiser-Money Must Go to Only Those Backing Equality

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A well-heeled Democratic fund-raiser is calling on donors to stop the "gay ATM" to politicians who don't fully support equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

Once named the most powerful gay man in America by Newsweek, David Mixner is angered by the hands-off approach of President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee concerning a failed ballot measure in Maine that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry. He says he's also troubled by Obama not quickly fulfilling his campaign promises regarding rights for gays and lesbians.

Mixner, embracing a sentiment that has received traction among some gay rights supporters for several months, now thinks it's time to use the power of the purse to influence lawmakers.

"How can we allow people to dehumanize our relationships and our very integrity if we give people passes to sit out the battle for our very freedom?" Mixner wrote on his blog Thursday. "No longer are political timelines a reason for delay, no longer are incremental approaches acceptable and no longer can the political process expect us to be patient and wait our turn.

"If we support people who are against full equality, how can we expect others to do differently?" he continued. "No more excuses. Stop it. Close the checkbooks to those who are not fully on our side."

Gay and lesbian interest groups don't have the same amount of clout on Capitol Hill as powerhouses like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or AARP. They've spent just $1.1 million on federal lobbying so far this year, compared to the Chamber's $65 million and AARP's $15 million. And during the 2008 campaign cycle, they donated just $1.8 million to federal candidates and committees. Yet wealthy individuals often personally donate or help steer millions more lawmakers' ways.

Mixner is one such individual.

According to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis, he has personally donated about $98,000 to Democratic candidates and committees in the last 20 years.

The top beneficiaries have included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($14,470), Sen. Dick Gephardt of Missouri ($6,500), the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts ($6,000), Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts ($4,500), President Barack Obama ($4,290), Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin ($3,500) and the Democratic National Committee ($3,200).

He has also donated $13,300 since 1989 to the political action committees of liberal and gay rights groups, mostly the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the Center for Responsive Politics found -- a total of $111,050 in contributions to all federal candidates and committees.

Furthermore, he has participated in more than 75 campaigns, including the presidential campaigns of Democrats Dick Gephardt, Bill Clinton, Gary Hart and George McGovern. He has reportedly raised more than $30 million for candidates and charity organizations across the country, including more than $1 million for openly gay and lesbian candidates.

Mixner, like many gay rights supporters, has not been pleased with the pace of change under the Obama administration.

The administration has this year covered gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in hate crimes legislation, increased funding for AIDS/HIV treatment, lifted the travel ban on HIV-positive visitors, included gays in new housingregulations and provided money to assist elderly gays -- actions that have been praised by many gay rights supporters.

But on the presidential campaign trail, Obama promised to end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits openly gay individuals from serving in the Armed Forces. Obama also vowed to fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts the federal government's definition of marriage to the legal union of strictly a man and a woman and permits states to ignore same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The Obama administration has not taken any decisive actions on those promises. But nor did the Obama administration particularly involve itself Maine's contentious ballot measure regarding marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Maine's Question 1 asked voters if they wanted to repeal legislation passed by the Maine legislature and signed into law by Maine's Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. The law bestowed civil marriage rights to same-sex couples and allowed individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages. Question 1 passed by 6 percentage points and 32,000 votes, making same-sex marriageillegal again in Maine.

The Obama administration never gave a full-throated endorsement of the "No on 1" campaign, and the DNC even asked Maine voters to help get out the vote for New Jersey's embattled Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The e-mails did not mention their home state's marriage-related ballot fight.

The DNC's highest ranking openly gay official, Treasurer Andrew Tobias, told one gay rights blogger that the Election Day e-mails from the DNC to Mainers could have been executed differently. He further apologized for not omitting Mainers from the e-mail that encouraged activists to call Corzine. Other DNC officials have told reporters that Mainers inadvertently received Corzine-related e-mails due to a computer "glitch."

Nevertheless, Tobias, who has contributed to the Center for Responsive Politics this year, is urging patience and participation with the Democratic Party.

"Those who advocate weakening [President Obama's] hand by encouraging people to boycott the DNC totally mean well," he wrote to AmericaBlog's founder John Aravosis. "I just don't see it as a way to move the country forward, either on our primary issue or on the other issues most of us care about."

He continued, "We should be respectfully pushing and signing petitions and marching and lobbying and all that. But in my view, we should also be doing everything we can to strengthen the President's hand... Yes, it's taking longer than any of us -- including the President -- would like. But the commitment is there, and real."

Below is a table with of Mixner's contributions by campaign cycle, as well as the dollar amounts he gave to Democrats and to other political action committees.

Total Given
To Dems
To Other PACs











Below is a table with the names of the top 18 federal candidates and committees to whom Mixner has contributed over the years, as well as the dollar amount.




Dick Gephardt

Edward Kennedy

John Kerry

Barack Obama

Russ Feingold

Charles S Robb

John Edwards

Max Cleland

Tom Daschle

Bob Kerrey

Patrick Kennedy

Barney Frank

Dianne Feinstein

Patricia Garamendi

Bob Casey

Paul Hackett


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