Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager and major Republican donor from New York who has donated millions to marriage equality work over the past decade, contributed $250,000 to the effort to uphold the new law in Maryland.
The donation was announced Monday by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition of organizations working to pass the referendum known as Question 6. Voters will decide the issue next month, when Maryland could become one of the first states to break a long losing streak for marriage equality at the ballot. Marriage-related initiatives will also be decided in Maine, Minnesota and Washington.
Singer, the founder of Elliot Management, has contributed more than $10 million to marriage equality efforts across the country, including the successful legislative campaigns in New York and New Hampshire. His son and son-in-law married in Massachusetts in 2009.
The $250,000 donation from Singer follows a contribution of the same amount from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Friday. Singer and Bloomberg are the largest individual donors to date in Maryland, where the campaign has lacked local business lobbies such as Wall Street and the technology companies that fueled marriage equality efforts in New York and Washington, respectively.
Maryland campaigners said the donation from Singer, a top donor to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, showed the growth in bipartisan support for marriage equality. While the campaign is focused on turning out Democratic voters in the solidly blue state, strategists have said around 30% of registered Republicans in Maryland support marriage equality, about double the rate measured in exit polls from elsewhere. Other high-profile GOP supporters include former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, a Maryland native who came out in 2010, Chip DiPaula, the chief of staff for former Governor Bob Ehrlich, and David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush.
“The partisan veil that has previously divided the marriage equality issue simply no longer exists,” said Ted Olson, former Solicitor General in the George W. Bush Administration and a lead attorney in the federal case against California’s Proposition 8, in a statement that announced the donation. “Paul’s steadfast commitment to marriage equality serves as an example to those who haven’t considered this their issue or their fight.”
As the campaign enters its final three weeks, both sides have begun airing TV ads. Fundraising records released Friday showed that marriage equality advocates have raised about $3.3 million for their campaign, while opponents have raised $838,621, according to the Washington Post. Advocates have previously said they would need between $5 and $7 million to win.