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LGBT Donor Boycott Appears Over After Marriage Equality Announcement

So earlier today I was wondering whether the LGBT-led donor boycott of the Obama campaign would continue after his shift on marriage equality. After all, his Administration still planned to reject an anti-discrimination executive order, and this, not the President’s position on marriage equality, was the nominal reason for the boycott.

Greg Sargent tracked down a statement from Jonathan Lewis, the billionaire scion to the Progressive insurance fortune, who had been leading the donor boycott. It looks to me like all is forgiven:

Yesterday, President Obama made history as did LGBT activists who were unrelenting in their advocacy for full-equality.

The President’s moral courage gives LGBT people and their loved ones a remarkable and new spirit of support and confidence, yet there is still much work to be done to provide real legal equality for LGBT Americans — including workplace protections.

Today, I am as proud to stand with President Obama to ensure his re-election as I am to stand with the determined LGBT advocates who will continue their campaign to inspire the President to sign the Executive Order protecting LGBT Americans in the workplace.

During every successful social justice and civil rights battle in American history, progress is made when we celebrate our gains while continuing our push to fully realize the promise of America.

So this announcement had a few different goals. It not only put the President on the side of his base on a key social policy, but it split the opposition in the LGBT community to his reticence on other issues. If Lewis will “stand with President Obama to ensure his re-election,” I don’t think that means he will withhold money from it, nor will he ask others to do so. In fact, Lewis maxed out to the campaign yesterday, according to Sargent. And the Obama campaign has been quick to post other stories of LGBT advocates calling in with donations. The one in six top campaign bundlers who happen to be gay are back in the fold, by all accounts. A significant amount of goodwill has been built.

So this announcement, which didn’t affect any policy, triggered a rush of fundraising and derailed what could have been a messy situation on the executive order, which I would predict will now go unsigned without much controversy. That doesn’t make the announcement useless – I think there are reasons why leadership on this issue will hasten the move toward full equality for gays and lesbians. But at this moment in time, those working at a federal contractor and worried about being fired for their sexual orientation aren’t likely to get any peace of mind.

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David Dayen

David Dayen