HRC President Chad Griffin
HRC Pushes $1 Million to Marriage Ballot Initiatives

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com August 06 2012 9:23 AM ET

The Human Rights Campaign announced Monday that it will direct $1 million to be split evenly in $250,000 chunks among the four states facing votes on marriage equality  in what President Chad Griffin calls “a tipping point year” for the issue.

The money will be sent to Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota, bringing HRC’s contributions to legislative and electoral marriage issues in the 2011-2012 cycle to $4.8 million, according to a news release from the group. More contributions are expected before the votes this November.

“This is a tipping point year in the fight for marriage equality that requires significant investment,” said Griffin in a statement. “We are committed to making sure this is the year that our opponents can no longer claim Americans will not support marriage equality at the ballot box.”

The group said it has established a special ballot measure PAC to aid funding of all four states. In addition to the funding, HRC has hired about 30 staffers who are working on the ground in the various states. 

If successful, the effort would end the long losing streak for marriage equality at the ballot box and deny opponents an important talking point. In the past year, national polls and surveys within the four states have shown majority support for same-sex marriage, while high-profile conservative donors including the hedge fund manager Paul Singer, a major Mitt Romney backer, have donated to the marriage equality campaigns in New York and other states. Last month, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie gave $2.5 million to the campaign in Washington, believed to be the largest-ever such contribution.

“All of these campaigns are winnable but they need resources to educate voters and fight back the lies from groups like the National Organization for Marriage,” said Griffin. “The country is moving in the direction of equality and a win in any of these states will show that marriage equality is quickly becoming a mainstream, American value.”

The ballot initiatives present an important first test for Griffin, who took over as leader of HRC in June and, according to a recent Washington Post profile, "has been tasked with stopping the streak of losses in statewide tests of same-sex marriage. Griffin is a co-founder of the American Foundation for Equality Rights, which brought the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California. The Supreme Court could hear the case next year, in addition to several challenges against the Defense of Marriage Act.