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Conservative lobbying group pushes Republicans to back same-sex marriage

Saturday, April 27, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A national group of prominent GOP donors that supports same-sex marriage is pouring new money into lobbying efforts to get Republican lawmakers to vote to make it legal.

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

Minn. Mark Dayton addresses hundreds who turned out to rally at the State Capitol, in St. Paul, Minn. on April 18 in support of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
Photo: Jim Mone, AP

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

Billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican donor Paul Singer launched American Unity PAC. The lobbying effort is the next phase as the push for gay marriage spreads to more states, spokesman Jeff Cook-McCormac told The Associated Press.

“What you have is this network of influential Republicans who really want to see the party embrace the freedom to marry, and believe it’s not only the right thing for the country but also good politics,” Cook-McCormac said.

In Minnesota, the money has gone to state groups that are lobbying Republican lawmakers and for polling on gay marriage in a handful of suburban districts held by Republicans.

So far, only one Minnesota Republican lawmaker has committed to voting to legalize gay marriage: Sen. Branden Petersen, of Andover.

“I think there will be some more. There are legislators out there that are struggling with this,” said Carl Kuhl, a former political aide to former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Kuhl’s public affairs firm is contracted by Minnesotans United, the lead lobby group for gay marriage in Minnesota and main recipient of American Unity’s Minnesota spending.

Gay marriage’s fate in Minnesota may rest with the House, where support is seen as shakier than in the Senate. A handful of votes from Republicans could put it over the top. Nearly two dozen House Republicans represent more socially moderate suburbs and might be candidates to vote yes.

House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis), said he has encouraged advocates of the marriage bill to round up Republican votes, if nothing else than to send a message to Minnesota residents that it’s not a partisan proposition.

But that will be politically risky; the main opposition group to same-sex marriage, Minnesota for Marriage, has said it will seek consequences for Republicans who stray on gay marriage.

Part of American Unity PAC’s original mission was to spend money on behalf of Republican gay marriage supporters.

Many GOP lawmakers have faced primary challenges funded in part by anti-gay marriage groups such as the National Organization for Marriage, which argue that the lawmakers had betrayed the party’s core principles.

Since forming the lobby group last month, American Unity also spent money to win over Republican lawmakers in Rhode Island, where last week all five Republicans in the state Senate jumped on the gay marriage bandwagon.

Rhode Island is on track to legalize same-sex marriage by next week, which would make it the 10th U.S. state to do so.

There are also plans to lobby federal lawmakers on gay rights issues.

“We intend to work on this effort until every American citizen is treated equally under the law,” Cook-McCormac said.

Other wealthy, traditionally Republican donors giving money to the group include Seth Klarman, David Herro and Cliff Asness.

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8 more reader comments:

  1. I strongly support equality and the right for gays to marry.

    When reading the article I couldn’t help but pause at this paragraph. Kind of says it all about our government and it’s Representatives, it makes me sick.

    “Since forming the lobby group last month, American Unity also spent money to win over Republican lawmakers in Rhode Island, where last week all five Republicans in the state Senate jumped on the gay marriage bandwagon.”

    These bastards only care about one thing. $. You know their shift had nothing to do with it being the right thing to do, they don’t care about equality, they care about their pockets. They couldn’t change their position out of respect for other human beings, but only by the dollar.

    It’s disgusting.

    I am happy to see that support is gathering for what should and will eventually happen, but I am offended to my core with The Peoples so called “Representatives” who’s opinions are always for sale to the highest bidder. It is nothing less than offensive.

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 10:26am
  2. Perhaps the fiscally conservative but not socially conservative elements of the party want to move away from the ultra-conservative agenda to try to win back some support. Great news!

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 11:03am
  3. Just remember that we can vote with the $– and that’s why they call it politics. Personally, I would much rather have greed than religious fanaticism. At least I can vote with my $!

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 11:16am
  4. Either they’re being serious and starting to come around, or they’re just trying to get votes.

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 11:26am
  5. I’m guessing the real goal is to save the GOP, realizing opposition to equality means its death.

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 12:04pm
  6. Not all of those in a party support all of its beliefs or goals. I know reps who support gay marriage completely. Labels aren’t everything, people.

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 12:21pm
  7. It is becoming increasingly clear that the only way to make political gains with this plutocracy is through creating PACs that make it fiscally advantageous for legislators to vote the way the people want them to.

    Instead if corporations becoming people We the People must become corporations….

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 12:32pm
  8. That’s nice. They’re still wrong about everything else.

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 1:09pm