Tim Gill Urges Bipartisan Donors to Stay Focused on LGBT Rights

Tim Gill, the founder of the eponymously named Gill Foundation, is urging gay rights advocates and donors to stay focused on coming battles, including efforts to advance the legalization of gay marriage in the South and West and to protect basic rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals in several states where those rights are threatened, Politico reports.

Since creating his foundation in 1994, Gill, founder of desktop publishing company Quark, Inc., has provided more than $300 million in support of gay rights, including efforts to legalize gay marriage in New York, overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in Iowa, and re-elect a number pro-gay marriage legislators at the state level. With the future of gay marriage legislation on hold pending decisions in a number of cases before the Supreme Court, however, the Gill Foundation and OutGiving, a bipartisan political donors conference that meets twice a year, increasingly are focused on ending discrimination against LGBT individuals in other realms.

"This is a point in time where we've accomplished a number of things in easy states and where you hear some people saying gay rights is inevitable....It's clearly not," Gill told Politico, referring to bills in Texas and other states that are aimed at scaling back civil rights for LBGT individuals. "The goal is always political," Gill said of the conference. "The question is what laws can we get passed and the difference is that we’re switching focus to a lot of conservative states."

The strength of the donor alliance lies in its ability to transcend partisan politics and channel funds to specific causes and candidates, said Gill, including those who typically are not part of the progressive coalition. While OutGiving has existed as a donor network since 1996, Gill realized in 2004, after the Bush administration pushed anti-gay amendments to boost voter turnout in critical swing states, that philanthropic giving was not enough and created the Gill Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization, and, soon after, a political version of the donor network.

"What makes Tim a leader on this issue is that he realized early on that it need not be partisan — he and I may not agree on a number of policy issues, but Republicans and Democrats can and should agree that every American should be treated fairly and equally under the law, regardless of who they are or who they love," Paul Singer, a major Republican donor to gay rights causes, told Politico in a statement. "Tim's collaboration with Republicans on this issue has been extremely important."

Maggie Haberman. "Gay Donor: Gay Rights Not 'Inevitable'." Politico 05/02/2014.