By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com October 23 2012 12:29 PM ET
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he would spend $500,000 on the marriage-related ballot measures in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, part of a plan to spend at least $10 million on his priority issues this election cycle.
The contributions are intended as challenge grants to spur more donations to the efforts in the three states, according to CBS New York. Bloomberg will direct $250,000 to the campaign in Washington and $125,000 each to the efforts in Maine and Minnesota.
Marriage equality has never been approved at the ballot box, but advocates are hopeful they could break the long losing streak this year.
The measure in Maine, known as Question 1, would legalize same-sex marriage after voters repealed such a law in a referendum three years ago. The Washington initiative, known as Referendum 74, would uphold the marriage equality law passed this year, while the initiative in Minnesota, known as Amendment 1, would approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of the financial information company that carries his name, recently contributed $250,000 to the campaign to uphold the marriage equality law in Maryland, known as Question 6. He also contributed to the four Republican state senators in New York who helped pass marriage equality legislation last year.
In a statement released by Washington United for Marriage, Bloomberg said, “I was proud to support the successful push for marriage equality in New York State, and I’m proud to stand with supporters around the country. I do not believe that government has any business telling one class of couples that they cannot marry.”
Campaign manager Zach Zilk said, "This is a tremendous display of support for full equality and we are grateful to Mayor Bloomberg. The mayor has been such an important advocate for the freedom to marry — his independent voice and strong actions on behalf of extending marriage equality to all couples are visionary.”
Brian Ellner, cofounder of The Four 2012, also praised the mayor’s contributions. The social media initiative is raising money for all the marriage equality campaigns.
"Mike Bloomberg proves himself again. This guy stands up for what he believes in,” said Ellner. “This vitally needed support could make the difference in the final two weeks and we are deeply grateful. Supporters who want to join Mayor Bloomberg today can go to TheFour.com and with one easy click make a contribution to all four state campaigns working on marriage equality."
Last week Bloomberg, a registered independent, announced the launch of a super PAC, Independence USA PAC, that would contribute between $10 million and $15 million to causes of concern to him, including gun control and education reform, and the House and Senate candidates who share his views. Some recipients of his support include former Maine governor Angus King, an independent running for U.S. Senate; Democratic U.S. senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Republican U.S. senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts; and Rep. Bob Dold, a Republican from Illinois.
Bloomberg has not endorsed a candidate for president, and he has criticized both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In a candid interview this past weekend with The New York Times, the mayor said Vice President Joseph Biden had “forced” President Obama to announce his support for marriage equality by expressing his own opinion on Meet the Press last May.
“Let’s get serious here: It was Joe Biden that forced that issue,” he said. “Some people say he just goes off; I would say he’s a principled guy.”
Democrats close to President Obama have privately acknowledged that Biden’s statement was a driving factor, but they say it affected the timing, and not the substance, of the position.