When Money Talks, Politics Listen: The Story Of Tim Gill and How He Changed American Culture over the Last 10 Years

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In 2007, Time Magazine identified Tim Gill as “The Gay Mogul Changing U.S. Politics.”  Forbes estimated his net worth at $425 million due to the sale of his software publishing company, Quark, Inc.  Openly gay, he founded the Gill Foundation and ever since has turned his efforts (and money) to gay and LGBT rights in our country.

His political career, albeit a stealth one, began in 2004 when eleven states voted to ban gay marriage.  Devastated by the news, his thought response was, “These people are in office.  We can’t have that.  How do we go about undoing it?”  And undoing it, he has.  Joshua Green of Bloomberg Politics wrote in April, Over the next two years [since 2004], [Gill] assembled strategists, recruited other gay philanthropists, joined with activist groups, and became the nexus of an aggressive new political force. They focused on state races, rather than national ones, to maximize their effect.”

Green first met Gill in 2006.

“Gay marriage was legal only in Massachusetts, and [Gill] and his allies were targeting a second state. They’d just tipped the Iowa legislature to the Democrats, anticipating that Iowa’s Supreme Court would legalize gay marriage (it did), and they were determined to stop any legislation that would override the decision (they did). At the time, the road to full marriage equality seemed to stretch far beyond the horizon. Gill’s organizations, and most others in the movement, were hoping to grind out a steady series of victories that could one day serve as the basis for the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.”

They did.  Opening an office in Washington, D.C. in 2008, the Gill Foundation began watching legislative activity by looking for cultural debates that could maximize their money efforts in supporting gay-marriage.

But, it does not stop with last week’s instituted law for same-sex marriage in all 50 states.  Gill said he has spent “$327 million already and will spend more.”  Under the new organization, Freedom For All Americans, he plans to launch a campaign using the same principles the Gill Foundation used to bring about today’s SCOTUS decision.  The campaign focuses on implementing “non-discrimination acts” in states that currently do not have them.  They plan to begin with Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and then branch out from there.  The end goal is “to halt or unwind ‘religious freedom’ acts” in our country.

Their strategy begins with finding Republicans in these states who will vote for what they want and then putting those Republicans into office.  Flipping the body of who warms a political seat has become easy for Gill and his associates.  Green tells us:

“They often operated by stealth, waiting until the final weeks before an election (so Federal Election Commission filings wouldn’t reveal them until afterward) and then flooding pro-gay candidates with dozens of individual donations that could collectively tip a race. This strategy allowed Gill to ‘punish the wicked,’ as he liked to say, and establish more favorable conditions to advance gay rights.”

What is difficult is finding Republicans who are for “non-discrimination acts” and against religious liberty (and, might I add, the First Amendment to the Constitution).  His associates are currently learning how to talk Republican in order to find them.

And, they think they can easily convince the public in these States, once they find the right people to sit in office.  Gill said he and his associates spent years advocating for same-sex marriage under the umbrella of “equal rights and benefits”, such as those afforded straight couples.  Yet this strategy did not work.  “The engineer in me,” [Gill says] “thinks you should think about a problem, decide what’s fair and equitable, and that’s your solution. But people don’t do that. They make emotional judgments.”  What did work was playing off people’s emotion and selling gay-marriage in “the context of love.”

legalizeloveLast week, that notion of “love” was legalized; but Tim Gill, the heavily pocketed, engineer-minded man, and his associates, are far from done.  Their next campaign focuses on removing religious liberty from our Constitution.
And hey, their strategy works – so why fix it?

Over the last decade, money started a cultural movement, changed the public’s mindset, and last week it rewrote law.  So here is my question – where is the money for religious liberty?  Who has deep pockets and who supports maintaining religious freedom in this country?  It does not matter what the religion, for all religion’s protection are filed under the same clause.

Wherever you are and whatever your faith, it is time for you to step up to the plate.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Ashley Sheridan Fox is a director of religious education in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.  She has an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and specializes in Catechetics.  In her spare time, she writes on dating at Verily Magazine.  Follow her on Twitter @ashleyspfox.

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