MARRIAGE DIGEST: Activist spent $3.8 million in '06 opposing amendments
DENVER (BP)--When opponents of a proposed constitutional marriage amendment in Florida run ads next year encouraging a "no" vote, there's a good chance one man -- Colorado homosexual activist Tim Gill -- will have helped bankroll them.
Gill's name may not be widely recognized by the general public, but it is well-known by leaders on both sides of the "gay marriage" debate. Last year alone, he gave $3.8 million to help finance opposition to marriage amendments in eight states, the National Institute on Money in State Politics reported. And while seven of the amendments nevertheless passed, leaders in Gill's organization -- the Gill Action Fund -- say they have no regrets.
"We'd absolutely do it again," Patrick Guerriero, director of the Gill Action Fund, told The Denver Post. "We are making investments. We know this is part of a longer conversation."
The Aug. 7 edition of The Post examined Gill and his organization and their impact on the "gay rights" movement. Gill, 53, gained his wealth from his successful Quark Inc. company, which he founded in 1981 and which produces layout software used by many newspaper and magazine companies. He sold his interest seven years ago, The Post said.
Eight states passed marriage amendments last year, bringing the number of states that have them to 27 -- a majority of the country. The only state that defeated an amendment was Arizona, where the focus was less on "gay marriage" and more on the way the amendment supposedly would have impacted unmarried heterosexuals.
But Guerriero said he was encouraged that four of the states -- Colorado, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin -- approved the amendments by less than what states in 2004 and 2005 did. The percentages ranged from 52 percent in South Dakota to 59 percent in Wisconsin. Of course, states like South Carolina approved the amendments with 78 percent of the vote.
"We didn't expect to win in South Carolina," Guerriero said. "There isn't going to be an epiphany on gay rights. It's an incremental conversation."
NO DIVERSITY ON VERMONT COMMISSION -- A 10-member commission in Vermont set up to study the issue of "gay marriage" lacks diversity, people on both sides of the aisle say. Members of the commission were appointed by the state House speaker and the state Senate president pro tem. A report is expected back next year on whether to legalize "gay marriage."
"There are liberal and moderate Republicans on the committee but no conservatives," state Rep. Steven Howard, a Democrat who is openly homosexual, told the Rutland Herald. "I would have made sure there was a more diverse grouping. Perceptions in politics sometimes become the reality. If they go back recommending gay marriage to the legislature, no one would be surprised. It's only if they say 'no' that the makeup of the committee gives it more clout."
Former state Sen. John Bloomer, a Republican, seemed to agree.
"You need to have people with reservations on the committee," he was quoted as saying. "You need individuals who have contrary opinions. If you don't have that then any recommendation for gay marriage is going to be harder for those with a contrary opinion to accept."
Vermont already has a civil unions law that grants same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage. That law came via a court-order, but any future "gay marriage" law apparently may be passed voluntarily. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, though, opposes "gay marriage."
CANADIAN POLITICIAN 'WEDS' -- The societal impact of Canada's "gay marriage" law was front and center Aug. 5 when one of the highest ranking political leaders in Ontario "wedded" his partner, and The Toronto Star treated it like a celebrity wedding.
Deputy Premier George Smitherman "married" Christopher Peloso at Elliot Lake, a small community in the southern part of Ontario. As deputy premier Smitherman serves in the absence of the provincial premier -- that is, the head of the Ontario government. Smitherman is a member of the Liberal party, which on the federal level pushed through the bill legalizing "gay marriage."
The Star's 725-word story included descriptions of suit colors and ceremony songs, along with a peek at the guest list. A member of the Ojibway tribe led the ceremony.
"We haven't sought to make it political," Smitherman told The Star. "It happens to be who I am and what I've done for almost my entire adult life so it's no surprise that it is going to have some political elements to it. It was going to make a statement wherever it was."