Gay activists are prominent players in the Obama 2012 campaign, including finance director Rufus Gifford, Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias, and White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard. In addition, the president has a designated outreach team to the LGBT community.
Some 1 in 6 of the president’s top campaign “bundlers” – that is, donors who solicit contributions from others and deliver them to candidates – publicly identify themselves as gay, according to a report this week by the Washington Post. The Center for Responsive politics last fall identified “at least 12 prominent gay and lesbian rights advocates, who together had bundled at least $2.7 million for the Obama campaign.”
Even before this week’s statement on gay marriage, the Obama administration claimed “historic strides” on behalf of the LGBT community. These include expanding federal civil rights legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity, ending the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and directing hospitals receiving Medicare to allow visitation and medical-decision rights to LGBT patients and their partners.
Still, until this week, prominent gay activists had been openly at odds with the president over gay marriage as well as over his failure to issue a promised executive order to ban discrimination by federal contractors over sexual orientation or gender identity.