Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s newly announced, pro-gay marriage Republican super PAC could be the most important step yet for acceptance of the LGBT community in the Republican Party, say rights activists and gay members of the party.
On Sunday, The New York Times detailed Singer’s latest push for gay marriage within the Republican Party. A year after pledging more than $1 million to build support for same-sex marriage in New York, he’s now providing another $1 million to start a super PAC — called American Unity PAC — with the purpose of encouraging Republican politicians and candidates to support same-sex marriage on a federal level.
For conservatives in the party and for LGBT rights organizations, it’s a significant step that a huge Republican donor is taking up the cause. For evangelicals, it’s another sign the Republican Party is going down the wrong path with gay marriage. Here’s part of what Singer had to say to the Times’ Frank Bruni:
Singer said that it “very well fits within my framework of freedom,” adding that it promotes “family stability” and is a tribute to an institution in need of one.
“Obviously, the institution of marriage in America has utterly collapsed,” he said. That gay and lesbian couples nonetheless want to wed “is kind of a lovely thing and a cool thing and a wonderful thing,” he added.
Singer’s super PAC announcement comes just more than a month after President Barack Obama publicly expressed his personal support for same-sex marriage. The growing bipartisanship on the issue is a welcome sign to activists like Stuart Gaffney, the media director for Marriage Equality USA, which works for legal recognition of gay marriage.
Gaffney compared Singer to Ted Olson, the former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, who joined in a legal battle to challenge Proposition 8 in California in 2009.
“The way we’re going to win marriage equality is through bipartisan support,” Gaffney said in a phone interview. “That’s been the lesson from much of the recent good news for LGBT rights. Bipartisan support is critical to our movement.”
Despite Singer’s new super PAC, however, the Republican Party as a whole remains pretty strongly opposed to the concept of gay marriage. At the beginning of May, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney fired gay national security spokesman Richard Grenell amid some pressure from the party’s evangelical base.
That part of the party remains especially vehemently opposed to gay marriage. Romney has aligned with that position, opposing both marriages and civil unions for same-sex couples. He supports a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide.
“Here you have a super PAC that is working to chop the legs off the Republican Party platform,” said Bryan Fischer, the evangelical talk show host and director of issue analysis at the American Family Association, in a phone interview.
“So it’s a huge issue for them. I think [the Republican Party] better send a pretty clear signal about what they think is the mission of this super PAC, because it is working in direct opposition to values that the party claims to stand for. If they embrace this super PAC, it’s going to raise really severe questions on the minds of their base about whether the Republican Party even reflects their values anymore.”
But for conservatives like gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger, it’s about time. He has always thought that gay rights fit in the Republican Party platform.
Singer held a fundraiser for Romney that raised $5 million for the Republican presidential candidate. It’s Singer’s influence within the Republican Party that gives people like Karger hope that the party is beginning to open up to the premise.
“He’s a true hero,” Karger told Business Insider of Singer in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’m proud to be a Paul Singer Republican.”