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Why are Seattle Sonics/Storm owners bankrolling anti-gay Gary Bauer's outfit?

The Seattle Sonics/Storm co-owners Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon were busted by Dan Savage’s Slog yesterday as blogger Josh Feit reported that the two together have funded Gary Bauer’s Americans United to Preserve Marriage to the tune of over $1 million.

Talk about enthusiastic supporters of the effort to “protect marriage” — the WNBA team owners opened their wallets for the failed presidential candidate and moralist with a contribution of $250K the day Bauer’s group was formed.

Feit called the Sonics/Storm front office and asked Sonics/Storm spokesperson Tom Savage what was the deal.

I asked Savage what a gay friendly team like the Storm had to say about two of its new owners, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, kicking in $1.1 million to Gary Bauer’s anti-gay marriage 527, Americans United to Preserve Marriage.

I was clear with him what I thought: It’s a direct affront to a big bloc of Storm fans to know that ticket sales are going into the pockets of men who were funding (or started it would seem) an anti-gay marriage group.

The mouthpiece said he’d get back to him and lo and behold, no call was forthcoming. As the storm clouds rolled in (pun intended), someone eventually had to come out of the tornado shelter and talk to the media.

Read the lame spin after the flip.This was in the Seattle PI:

“People are entitled to have their views, they are not views that I happen to agree with but they are not trying to impose them on anyone out here,” [Sonics’ spokesperson Jim] Kneeland said.

“I won’t argue that some of the owners may have more conservative political views than the norm out here, one of the things that they agree to when they bought the team is that they would leave their politics at the state line.”

WTF ever. As we all know, women’s pro basketball teams have a large lesbian following, so how does this jibe with the views of these owners? That doesn’t sound like they cater to their audience by supporting bigots like Bauer.  You can kiss those loyal fans goodbye.

And any attempt to say that these men were leaving their politics at the state line butts up against this bit of business — records show that Bauer’s outfit was given four donations totalling $625K in the fall of 2004 (during the height of state amendment battles) from McClendon, and Ward doled out $425K in the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2005. Keeping Gary’s boat afloat to promote amendments during election cycles was the objective.

The whole purpose of Americans United to Preserve Marriage is to foist their beliefs and worldview on the whole country; otherwise what would Gary and his bible-beating friends have to do all day — talk about the state of each other’s marriages? There’s a thought…

More about Bauer’s activities from Jon @ Perrspectives:

Bauer ran for President in 2000 and has been at the forefront of the religious right’s fight against civil rights and marriage equality for gay Americans.  Bauer has also been a fixture at conservative events such as Justice Sunday and the so-called Values Voters Summit.  The latter right-wing hate-fest included Bishop Wellington Boone proclaiming “I want the gays mad at me,” attacks on “faggots” and “sissies,” and one speaker’s declaration that ” the gay rights movement was inspired from the pit of hell itself.”  Bauer himself vociferously opposes same-sex marriage and protections against workplace discrimination and hiring, while encouraging gay Americans to “get out of a destructive lifestyle.”

Jon also notes that there is a fierce debate over whether public financing should be used to build a new basketball arena for the Sonics — this news should certainly have an impact on that front.

Hat tip, Americablog.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding