Freedom to Marry has set up the Win More States Fund with the goal of influencing legislation in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Washington. Interestingly, the fund’s largest donors so far have been a group of major donors to the Republican party.And this isn’t just excitement over a few novel Republicans donating insubstantial amounts; the group collectively donated $1.5 million, which is half of the fund’s stated goal. Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the RNC (Republican National Committee) (I’ve heard that they’re a big deal). The group of donors, including Mehlman, has founded a Super PAC (American Unity), which defines itself as a PAC that “supports GOP political leaders committed to advancing the rights of gay and lesbian Americans”. The PAC’s first donation was $1 million from Paul Singer, hedge fund CEO and major donor to the GOP.
This shows quite the shift, especially compared to popular (if slightly under-informed) consensus about party alignment on the gay marriage debate.
Freedom to Marry quotes Mehlman talking about his decision to donate:
“Supporting the right of adults to marry the person that they love is consistent with Republican and conservative principles. A party that ignores reality and demographic change is a party that loses a lot of elections and becomes less relevant.”There were a lot of predictions that opposing gay marriage would just cease to be a respected opinion in the US, and it seems that that’s what’s happening now. Mehlmen’s statement is practical – he does say that the position “is consistent with Republican and conservative principles,” but this issue would not be being addressed if not for the huge social movement over the past few decades. That IS sort of how democracy is supposed to work – but I think that we will always hear more people saying things like “Those people have to change in order to survive politically” than things like “They can take the job and shove it … I’m trying to do the right thing.”
But that’s how things work, I guess. People have a tendency to distrust things that are different and strange, and so social change with respect to accepting and adapting to differences usually has more to do with social pressure (and shame) than with lots of miraculously-timed personal insights. The fact that our opinions and actions are inseparably intertwined with the popular sentiment is not news. And while political moves responding to trendy or controversial social issues might be occasionally disingenuous, there’s no arguing that they can instigate actual change.