Hundreds of leading gay donors will travel to Washington in late April to plan strategies and marshal financial commitments for state and federal elections around the country, according to people with knowledge of the meeting.
The conference, one of the largest ever gatherings of gay donors, is being organized by the Gill Action Fund, one of the country’s leading gay political organizations, which has played a quiet but pivotal role at the state level in recent years on gay marriage and other issues, including working to defeat lawmakers who oppose gay marriage. The fund is keeping quiet the details of the gathering, hoping to shield potential donors from unwanted scrutiny or attacks from opponents, and a spokesman for the fund declined to comment on the plan on Tuesday.
But the conferences comes as gay donors are rapidly becoming one of the most pivotal sources of campaign cash in next fall’s elections, with some groups and donors shifting their sights on the presidential and Congressional races after years of fighting against ballot initiatives outlawing gay marriage and advancing the issue in states like New York and Maryland.
A growing number of the top “bundlers” — volunteers who gather checks from friends and business associates — to President Obama are gay men or women, a constituency Mr. Obama has avidly courted in recent months as he seeks to find new sources of large donations to finance his re-election campaign. A “super PAC” supporting Mr. Obama, Priorities USA Action, is also avidly courting gay donors, as traditional sources of large checks, including Wall Street, prove more resistant to appeals.
Mr. Obama pushed successfully last year to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule barring openly gay men and women from serving in the military, while his administration has ceased to defend constitutional challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of benefits for same-sex couples.
But he also faces a day of reckoning over gay marriage, which he opposes but which is the top priority of many gay rights organizations. Many of his top supporters in the gay community are pressuring Mr. Obama to change his position, which aides to the president have signaled are “evolving.” Gay rights advocates, backed by a growing number of Democratic lawmakers, are also pushing to have support for gay marriage added to the party’s official platform later this year.