The Money Game: The Race for No on 8

Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg aren’t gay, but their financial support for the effort to defeat California’s Proposition 8 has made them two of the highest-profile donors in the fight to keep same-sex marriage legal in the Golden State. As No on 8 struggles to catch up to the "Yes" campaign in fund-raising, the publicity and awareness generated by the likes of Pitt and Spielberg may well be worth more than any sum of money.

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 23 2008 11:00 PM ET

Brad Pitt and
Steven Spielberg aren’t gay, but their financial
support for the effort to defeat California’s
Proposition 8 has made them two of the highest-profile
donors in the fight to keep same-sex marriage legal in
the Golden State. Last week Pitt donated $100,000 to the No
on 8 campaign, which seeks to defeat a state
constitutional amendment going before voters in
November that would overturn a recent state supreme
court decision legalizing marriage for same-sex couples in
California. Then Monday director Spielberg and his
wife, Kate Capshaw, followed Pitt’s lead and
announced their own $100,000 pledge to No on 8.

“These
gifts are significant and hopefully will result in
additional contributions and greater
awareness,” said Geoff Kors, the executive
director of LGBT rights group Equality California and a
leading figure behind No on 8. But the two donations
are relative drops in the bucket, considering
opponents and supporters of legalized same-sex marriage are
expected to raise well over $30 million by Election Day.

Kors notes LGBT
activists are in an “unprecedented situation”
with this fight, since they are working to protect
rights their opponents are trying to eliminate.
“We need to reach out and get more people to
give,” Kors said, noting donors have generally
been very responsive. “We need a lot more
gifts, small, medium, and large. It’s going well
but not keeping pace with the other side.”

As of Tuesday,
supporters of Proposition 8 have raised nearly $18
million, compared to the just over $12 million raised by
Prop 8 opponents, according to the Los Angeles
Times.
But Steve Smith, a political consultant who
is working with Kors and the No on 8 campaign, argues
that “the disparity is not quite that
significant” since it “literally changes every
day.”

“We were
ahead most of the summer,” Smith explained about his
side’s fund-raising. “They’ve
been ahead only the last three weeks.” Smith and
Kors chalk up the surge in Yes on 8 funding to a major
infusion of cash directly and indirectly from the
Mormon Church, plus a big donation from the
conservative Catholic group the Knights of Columbus.

“Now they
have slowed down a little bit and we have begun to pick back
up,” Smith said. “By the end it will be very
close dollar to dollar.”

A donation by
someone like Pitt brings more than the monetary amount,
Smith explained. “It’s a couple of things, but
obviously the money helps,” he said.
“This is such an expensive state. These kinds of
contributions get reported on hard-news programs but also
soft-news programs."

By soft news,
Smith means media outlets like Entertainment Tonight,Access Hollywood, and E! Online, which all
reported on Pitt’s donation to No on 8, a political
subject they normally wouldn’t discuss.

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