Gay Bucks Back Obama

While the gay blogosphere continues to see complaints about President Barack Obama, 12 well-heeled campaign donors associated with LGBT causes raised at least $2.35 million for the president’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the second quarter of 2011, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, DC research group.

“Frankly it’s bit early to tell what any of these things mean,” said Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay lobby, which has endorsed Obama’s reelection in 2012.

Ten of the 12 donors raised at least $2.2 million through bundling, the process by which one person collects cash from other individuals and delivers those checks as a single package. Bundlers can have an inordinate influence on a candidate or officeholder. Three of the gay Obama bundlers raised $50,000, while the remaining nine raised amounts from $100,000 to $500,000.

Some of the bundlers, such as Jeff Soref, Andrew Tobias, and Kevin Jennings, have long supported gay community causes and the Democratic Party. Jennings served in the Obama administration in the US Department of Education for two years, and both Soref and Tobias have been active with the DNC.

Only two of the 12 bundled for the Obama campaign in 2008.

“I think that the administration was very slow to get started on gay issues,” said Soref. “I think there was a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration. Suddenly about nine months ago things changed… There has been a steady drumbeat on our issues, and I think it’s in the right direction. I think it deserves our support.”

Among all donors to Obama, the Center reported that 47 percent of his second quarter campaign cash came from those contributing $200 or less. The Center cited Obama campaign reports that noted “200,000 individuals who did not donate to Obama in 2008 have donated to his re-election efforts.”

Nearly 60 percent of the 244 individual bundlers for his re-election efforts, which includes the 12 gay bundlers, did not raise funds for his campaign in 2008.

“The president has delivered a tremendous amount of progress for the LGBT community,” Cole-Schwartz said, citing the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and the administration declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal lawsuits. “You’re certainly going to see the community rallying behind him. It is reflected and it’s going to be reflected in the monetary contributions the community makes to the campaign.”