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Prop. 8 Brings in Boatloads of Dough

Prop. 8 Brings in Boatloads of Dough

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A total of about $8 million has already poured in from supporters and opponents of California's marriage ban, with everyone from Mary Cheney to PG&E throwing money at the epic battle.

Receipts from supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 filed with the California secretary of state Thursday show that supporters of the marriage ban raised about $3.7 million in cash and in-kind contributions in the six-month period between January 1 and June 30, while opponents generated approximately $4.1 million within the same time frame.

The semiannual statements, which are filed by committees, or PACs, and established by groups to raise funds for and against Proposition 8, herald the start of an epic fund-raising battle over the November ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

?"Given the magnitude of this issue and the fact that it's playing out in our largest state, I'm not terribly surprised by the amount of money that's been attracted," said Steven Billet, director of legislative affairs at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. "It's probably going to attract a lot more before it's all said and done."

Prior to the November 4 vote on the ballot initiative, millions of dollars more from in and outside the state are expected to pour into California. Estimates suggest the total for opponents and supporters could reach as much as $30 million.

Filings with the secretary of state show hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from anti-Prop. 8 groups such as the Gill Action Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Service Center, the Horizons Foundation, and the Democratic National Committee's federal fund. Also appearing are large and moderate contributions from individuals, such as $50,000 from Ambassador James C. Hormel of California, and $3,000 from Mary Cheney of Virginia. ?

Thousands of modest donations from individuals in and outside California also poured in to fight Proposition 8. According to the "No on 8 Equality for All" campaign, the lead committee established to fight the marriage ban, over 96% of its donors have contributed less than $1,000, and Internet donations total approximately $480,000. Those numbers likely will continue to grow, if the past few weeks offer any indication.

Not included in the semiannual filings are contributions made after June 30, such as $250,000 given in late July by Pacific Gas and Electric Company; $500,000 from David Maltz, a Cleveland businessman; and $1 million from Utah-based software entrepreneur Bruce Bastian, who announced his contribution at the San Francisco HRC dinner on July 26.

All together, the total of contributions received from January 1 through July 31 to fight Proposition 8 approaches $6 million, according to Marty Rouse, national field director for HRC and an executive committee member of Equality for All, the coalition of groups working to defeat Proposition 8. ?

By comparison, the entire contest on the amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, which voters there approved in 2006, generated around $4.3 million from opponents of the ban and at least $634,384 from supporters.

?"Supporters and opponents of the ban are realizing that this fight is the largest fight on a GLBT issue in many years and in many years to come," Rouse said in reference to the California battle. "This is the big one."

Proposition 8 supporters, led by ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage, reported hundreds of thousands of dollars raised from organizations such as Focus on the Family in Colorado, which gave over $400,000; the American Family Association from Mississippi, which contributed $500,000; and the Knights of Columbus, headquartered in Connecticut, which placed $250,000 into the campaign.

San Diego-based businessman Terry Caster, owner of A-1 Self Storage Company, and his family contributed almost $300,000 to support the marriage ban, while Hyatt hotels owner Doug Manchester gave thousands of dollars. Both have been the target of protests by same-sex marriage proponents in recent weeks.

Notably, the pace of fund-raising for marriage ban supporters appears to have slowed since April 1, compared to the earlier part of the year. The semiannual filings show that the ProtectMarriage.com campaign raised just over $1 million from April 1 through June 30, compared with slightly over $1.5 million raised from January 1 through March 31. ?

ProtectMarriage.com spokeswoman Jennifer Kearns did not return calls seeking comment.

In contrast, the Equality for All coalition reported almost $2 million raised between April 1 and June 30, more than three times the amount it raised between January 1 and March 31.

However, HRC's Rouse cautions that the changed pace may not remain in favor of the ban's opponents. ?

"That's just a temporary blip," he said. "Once these numbers get out, we are going to see supporters of the ban ramp up their fund-raising efforts."

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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