As the rumors are afloat that marriage equality may be up for a vote next week, I have some good news to report. Across the nation, more and more Republican politicians are coming out in support of marriage equality. One of the reasons may be that one influential Republican donor who has promised to support any Republican who switches to supporting marriage equality against the backlash from the bigots.
A battle within the Republican Party over same-sex marriage is unfolding on two fronts, in public, and behind the scenes. In the latter case, one of the most influential players is a billionaire hedge fund manager largely unknown to those who don’t work in finance or mix with political mega-donors.
That man is Paul E. Singer, who over the years has used his wealth to spur Republicans to support gay marriage laws. Now, Singer is expanding his reach with the creation of an advocacy group which aims to spend millions influencing the legislative debate over same-sex marriage across the country.
Singer is willing to put millions into the fight because his son is gay. He coaxed several Republicans in New York to support their marriage equality bill. It passed.
Will he support Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) against the promised onslaught from the bigots? Time will tell. But all indications are Singer will.
If any other Republicans end up voting for marriage equality, I’d bet Singer will have talked to them.
Behind the scenes, donors are influencing the debate more quietly. On this second front, it is all about money and organization. And for Singer, it’s about being there financially for Republicans who decide to back same-sex marriage.
Singer declined to be interviewed for this story, but agreed to answer questions via e-mail. He sees donors and politicians, he said, as “complementary forces,” and is signaling to elected officials they will have backup if they decide to support same-sex marriage.
“We are heartened to see many politicians in both parties moving in the right direction on this,” he wrote. “Our job is to let them know they have plenty of like-minded friends, activists and party leaders who will stand with them.”