GayTM On the Fritz: Gay Political Donations Down
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
September 24th, 2010
Perhaps one measure of the gay community’s scorn for the Democratic Party’s failure to deliver on its promises — as evidenced by this week’s cynical tossing of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” football coupled with the administration’s ridiculous filing in the Log Cabin Republican lawsuit against DADT — the OpenSecretsBlog reports that LGBT groups’ contributions to political campaigns are drastically down when compared the the last mid-term elections in 2006:
[I]n an election cycle full of controversy over hot button issues such as adoption, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, donations to federal candidates from gay and lesbian interest groups are lagging. So far during the 2010 election cycle, people and political action committees associated with this special interest area have donated $744,040 to federal candidates, with 96 percent of funds going to Democrats. That’s compared to more than $2 million contributed to federal candidates during the 2006 congressional elections and $1.8 million contributed during the 2008 presidential election cycle.
The Human Rights Campaign has donated a huge majority of the industry’s funds going to federal candidates this cycle, contributing $625,272 to primarily Democratic candidates.
That means that the HRC has contributed almost 85% of all the LGBT dollars to federal campaigns. I don’t know what percentage of the total contribution the HRC contributed in 2006, but I doubt that it amounted to $1.6 million. There has long been a perception that the Democratic party has been eager to take the gay dollar but unwilling to seriously address the gay community’s concerns, whether they be the ongoing firing of qualified personnel from the U.S. military, discrimination against gay and (especially) transgender people in the workplace, or the unwillingness to take a coherent stand on marriage. LGBT people and organizations are, as a result, naturally and justifiably outraged this year, with many demanding that the “GayTM” be shut down.
While undoubtedly the economy has contributed to this falloff in donations, but that’s not the entire story. LGBT donations are down by about half; other sources for donations are off, they haven’t fallen as drastically as this. I’m glad that most of the major LGBT organizations have decided to close the GayTM. Their money wasn’t being well spent, given the pathetic and cynical behavior of the political establishment that so many of us have worked so long and hard to support. For any organization that as to evaluate how effective every dollar they spend is toward accomplishing their goals, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that their dollars can be better spent elsewhere.
I fully support the call to sit on your dollars during this election cycle. If you have money to donate, there are many more worthy causes in your own local community that could use your help in this down economy. At least there, your hard-earned dollars have a better chance of actually doing some good. And if you are interested in contributing to political candidates, there is still the option of donating directly to specific candidates that you know have stood by the LGBT community. (For me locally, for example, I would single out my Congressman, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). He was among the extremely few Arizona officeholders who actively and publicly campaigned against Prop 102, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which passed in 2008.)
I also think this report documents how unbelievably out of touch the HRC is with the community it claims to represent. It looks like we don’t just need an overhaul of the political establishment that takes our money without delivering results, but also the advocacy group that takes our dollars and doesn’t hold anyone accountable. To those of us who have donated to the HRC in the past, it’s a good time to ask: have you gotten your money’s worth?