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Freedom to Marry Pours $3 Million into State Marriage Battles

Freedom to Marry Pours $3 Million into State Marriage Battles


The group has raised $3 million ahead of schedule to help secure costly TV buys in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, with help from major Republican donors including Paul Singer.

Freedom to Marry, the campaign working for marriage equality nationwide, announced that it has already met its goal of raising $3 million to be invested in three states facing ballot measures this November, with more than one third of the contributions coming from a group of major Republican donors including the billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer.

The organization said Monday it reached the $3 million mark with a $500,000 pledge to match donations in Washington State dollar for dollar through August 31. In addition to Washington, Freedom to Marry is raising and channeling money to Maine and Minnesota through its Win More States Fund.

More than $1 million of the money raised for the three states has come from a group of leading Republican-affiliated donors. The group includes Singer, a major booster of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who diverges from his backer in supporting a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Singer has a gay son and son-in-law and has invested a total of $1.7 million in Freedom to Marry starting with campaigns in New York and New Hampshire last year, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

The Win More States Fund launched in March with a goal of raising $3 million in five targeted states for the entire campaign season, but it has reached that goal in just three states, more than two months ahead of schedule. Campaigners report intense early pressure to secure TV buys, which have skyrocketed in price this year because of competition from candidate campaigns and super PACs. Prices in the Seattle market have doubled in recent months, and costs have increased by nearly 30% in Portland, Maine. The money raised is also being used for public education, new media engagement tools, and field campaigns.

"Early and strategic support shows that our movement has evolved into a sophisticated campaign equipped to win at the ballot box in November," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, in a statement. "In an election season where candidate campaigns and Super PACs are snapping up television airtime, Freedom to Marry is especially pleased to be able to provide crucial early funding to support TV buys and other ways of making the case for the freedom to marry. We will continue to raise dollars and channel them into campaigns to ensure we get family stories in front of the voters and make the most personal and powerful case for why marriage matters."

The announcement follows last week's report that the Human Rights Campaign plans to direct $1 million to the marriage campaigns in four states, sending $250,000 apiece to Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. HRC said it has spent $4.8 million on legislative and electoral marriage issues in the 2011-2012 cycle, with more contributions expected before the campaign ends.

Marriage equality advocates hope to break a long losing streak at the ballot box this year, as polls show that increasing majorities of Americans support the right of same-sex couples to marry. Fund-raising has already broken records, where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie last month contributed $2.5 million in Washington, the largest donation ever publicly reported for a marriage campaign.

While advocates currently lead opponents in money and polling, group such as the National Organization for Marriage have entered states and run advertisements at the last minute in past campaigns. The three campaigns in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington still need to raise more than $10 million, according to Freedom to Marry.

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Julie Bolcer