L.A. Weekly on Obama’s Gay Fundraisers

The L.A. Weekly takes a look at Jeremy Bernard and Rufus Gifford, the gay SoCal-based couple who have raised millions of dollars for Barack Obama’s campaign:

Bernard_gifford“Once the checks are rolling in, Bernard and Gifford then have the full attention of a congressional or presidential candidate, giving them the chance, behind the scenes, to promote their own political issues. It’s a level of access gays once only dreamed of, but they are living it. ‘Being gay makes you inherently political,’ says Gifford, comfortable with using his proximity to power to influence the candidate. ‘You see what’s right and what’s wrong, and you need to do something about it.’ Bernard and Gifford have very little, if anything, in common with the Old Gay approach typified by the Human Rights Campaign’s need for straight actresses to peddle an agenda. They are the new guard, or New Gays, who are more politically savvy. The New Gays cultivate, work with and fund gay political candidates. They withhold their talents and money from straight politicians who don’t follow through on their promises, while supporting those with what they view as a progay track record. And they never seek the straight world’s approval for their own gay existence. The New Gays understand their power in today’s political system, and they use it. And in this winter’s slog of primaries, they just might use it to propel a candidate toward the White House.”

Obama’s Gay Gold Mine [la weekly]


  1. FizziekruntNT says

    I LOVE men like these. Sharp and unfettered by the “haters everywhere, woe-is-me” attitude and they just make shit happen. But that publicity photo? Talk about time-warp! I thought I was looking at a Columbo-meets-Fantasy Island takes a dump on Charlie’s Angels mini-series, guest starring Tom Selleck and Kate “Catwoman” Smith, to kick off a new show season.

  2. Michael Bedwell says

    Who’s their stylist—Tom Ford? Pull back the frame so we can see the undocumented “houseboys” in Speedos hiding behind the rattan chairs.

    Seriously, good for the duo, however nouveau riche/A-Gayer Than Thou they reek. But the Gill Foundation and others have quietly been doing the same discrete funding for years—with some real results in regional elections.

    But, Judy At Carnegie Hall, are these two who obviously have failed to “pull back the curtain” going to be surprised when, if elected, Barack leaves office after 8 years and all they have to show for their belief in and bankrolling of the phony Messiah for the Gays are a wad of cancelled checks and an autographed photo.

    Obama can you hear me? Obama can you feel me? Obama can you see me? Obama can you heal me?

    In a word: no.

  3. Derrick from Philly says

    Bedwell, how in the hell are you going to go from an Obama basher to an Obama suppporter when he wins the Democratic nomination? Oooops, did I say “when he wins”? Yeah, I did. Why not? I like them both now. They were so beautiful last night at the debate. After the election (in November) they should get divorced from their current spouses and get married in Massachusettes…they allow that kind of stuff there.

  4. 24play says

    Yeah, I think Bedwell would find it much easier to slide from Clinton supporter to Obama supporter. But all he ever does is bash Obama (in his comment above, conveniently glossing over the fact that if Clinton leaves office in 8 years, she’ll have done just as much for teh gehz as Obama), and that jump’s gonna be hard to make.

    But then, I doubt the senator from Illinois will be losing any sleep over not getting the votes of queens who sprinkle their posts with alluusions to Streisand films.

  5. Michael Bedwell says

    Derrick, mon cher. This is my assumption: 99.9% of those who stumble across anything petit moi writes is already “hardwired” as a gay Republican or a “gay anyone but a Republican.”

    There are some, on both sides, who will sit out the election, or vote for someone with no chance of winning, if their fave doesn’t get nominated, but most will either vote Republican or Democrat regardless of who the nominee is. Occasionally the former’s sheer self-destructive stupidity gets my goat and I autopsy McCain or whomever, but that really only serves to POSSIBLY influence that point one percent who have yet to get it.

    However, I want who I believe to be the better Dem candidate because they would be a better President to get the nomination. While the childish personality cult that has grown up around Obama, the wholesale canonization of him, and the willfully blind refusal to see any of his faults that comes with it, sickens and angers me simply from an intellectual/fairness standpoint the same way the converse, the wholesale demonization of Hillary, does, it comes down to my belief [which is all any of us really “have” when we vote] she would make a better President even if they had the exact same positions on every “issue.”

    Have I mentioned we need a black Supreme Court Justice? [wink]

  6. Tim says

    First of all, what is with these rich gays descending into total self-parody? That photo is ridiculous. What an embarrassment.

    I agree with other posts here — Obama, like any other Dem politician, talks the talk but when it comes time to delivering real equality through concrete measures, I think he’ll buckle and short-change us gays.

    Which is not to say he’s a bad choice, just that I’m not going to buy into the messianic Oprah swooning going on right now.

  7. nuflux says

    Of course–he’ll take our money in L.A. so he can run “gospel tours” with McClurkin and “faith forums” with Caldwell in South Carolina. Great job Bernard and Gifford!

  8. says

    How any gay person can give money to any campaign when none of the candidates support full marriage rights is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hillary but I ain’t giving girlfriend any of my hard-earned money.

    While I don’t know about the other stuff he said, but I agree with Bedwell about the glorification of Obama. He’s had to do the same things as other politicians to get where he is but he acts holier than thou. Don’t like it one bit.

  9. Jared says

    Junior, question for ya, is Saint Hillary for 100% gay rights and full marriage rihts and not that silly civil union stuff and all the perks that “straight” folks get, or, is she somehow off the hook???

  10. noah says

    Didn’t Bill Clinton tell John Kerry to throw gays under the bus and support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? Who do you think is going to be whispering into Hillary’s ear every day? The same guy who signed the Defense of Marriage Act: Bill Clinton.

    The only way to have a say in politics is to get in the game. If candidates don’t perform on their promises then cut them loose.

    Why would David Geffen and other influential gays be turning their back on Hillary Clinton? They’ve known her for years. Why doesn’t someone investigate why those relationships have turned sour?

  11. Michael Bedwell says

    For the record, Noah, Sen. Clinton’s campaign has denied the rumor that he did that. The claim can be traced to the same notorious political mercenary, Bob Shrum, who also accused Edwards of being uncomfortable around gays—and then he said Edwards wasn’t. What do we know for sure? That neither the Hillary nor Edwards campaign hired Shrum this time around after he worked for 11 failed Presidential campaigns before. So, unless you personally heard Clinton said it to Kerry…..

    As for Geffen, the personal ax he’s grinding has been reported on: the legendary Hollywood cutthroat, whose smiles always remind me of the star of the movie “Jaws,” turned on the Clintons when the President did not, as requested by Geffen, pardon Leonard Peltier, the American Indian activist who was convicted and sent to jail for killing two FBI agents.

    There’s a difference between “influential gays” and “gay activists” and Geffen definitely fits in the former even after it took the AIDS plague to finally drag him out of his royally rich closet.

    While some of the former, e.g., Billie Jean King, are on the list below of Sen. Clinton LGBT supporters, the majority have worked directly for gay equality. And some gay former Clinton supporters LEFT THE OBAMA campaign after McClurkingate. For example, Bob Farmer, who is a heavy hitter fundraiser. Sen. Clinton apologized after some told her that her initial response to Gen. Pace wasn’t forceful enough. Obama’s response to even black gays begging him to cancel the Donnie & Barack Show [I paraphrase: Go fuck yourselves!

    In addition, several of her campaign’s top staffers are out gays and lesbians. Compare the list of her list of supporters below, and its months old, with Obama’s anemic list of LGBT supporters and then ask yourself why.

    Eldie Acheson, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General; founding director, Public Policy and Government Affairs, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
    Roberta Achtenberg, former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
    Toni Atkins, San Diego, CA, City Councilmember
    Dr. Christopher Barley, activist, philanthropist
    Greg Berlanti, executive producer, TV series, “Brothers and Sisters”
    Elizabeth Birch, former Executive Director, Human Rights Campaign
    Mary Breslauer, former co-chair, Kerry-Edwards 2004 LGBT Steering Committee; communications consultant
    Tonio Burgos, member, Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus
    Ilene Chaiken, creator/producer, Showtime series, “The L Word”
    Rocco Claps, former LGBT Outreach Director, Democratic National Committee; Illinois LGBT activist
    Bruce Cohen, Oscar-winning film producer
    Roberta Conroy, member, National Leadership Council, Lambda Legal
    Joan Darrah, retired U.S. Navy Captain
    Q. Todd Dickinson, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
    Thomas Duane, New York State Senator
    Ingrid Duran, board member, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
    Steve Elmendorf, Deputy Campaign Manager, Kerry-Edwards 2004
    Shelley Freeman, business leader, Los Angeles Police Commissioner
    Ethan Geto, long-time gay rights advocate
    John Gile, Executive Director, Project Angel Food
    Emily Giske, member, Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus
    Deborah Glick, New York Assemblymember
    Steven Goldstein, Chair, Garden State Equality
    Chad Griffin, CEO, Chad Griffin Consulting, Inc.
    Rebecca Haag, Executive Director, AIDS Action Council; Executive Director, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts
    Yashar Hedayat, businessman
    Lisa Henderson, General Manager, Olivia Cruises
    Stephen Herbits, businessman
    Fred Hochberg, former Deputy then Acting Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration; Dean of the Milano School for Management and Urban Policy, The New School
    John Isa, board of directors and Business Council member, Human Rights Campaign
    Gloria Johnson, board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Christine Kehoe, California State Senator
    Keith Kerr, retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve
    Kasey Kincaid, attorney, Iowa grassroots activist
    Billie Jean King, sports legend and social pioneer
    Sheila James Kuehl, California State Senator
    Mark Kvare, board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Neel Lattimore, Special Advisor for Strategic Communications, Children’s Defense Fund; former press secretary for the First Lady
    Bruce Lehman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks
    Sue Lovell, Houston, TX, City Councilmember
    Claire Lucas, chair, Democratic National Committee LGBT Leadership Council; board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Linda Gray Murphy, board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Daniel O’Donnell, New York Assemblymember
    Dixon Osburn, LGBT activist on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy
    Annise Parker, Houston, TX, City Controller
    Catherine Pino, board member, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
    Julian Potter, former Special Assistant to President as Liaison to the Gay and Lesbian Community
    Christine Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council
    Hilary Rosen, President, OurChart.com; media industry consultant
    Peter Rosenstein, DC-based LGBT community activist
    Mirian Saez, member, Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus
    Greg Sargent, attorney, New Hampshire LGBT activist
    Jayne Baron Sherman, co-chair, In the Life Media; former board chair, Lambda Legal
    Melissa Sklarz, Director, New York Trans Rights Organization; vice chair, National Stonewall Democrats
    Paul M. Smith, board member, Lambda Legal; Attorney who successfully argued the landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas, establishing the right to privacy for gay Americans
    Jeff Soref, former chair of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus; former co-chair, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
    Laura Spanjian, board member, Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund; board member, Equality California
    Campbell Spencer, former National LGBT Outreach Director for the Democratic National Committee and Gore-Lieberman 2000
    Rick Stafford, chair, Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus; co-chair, National Stonewall Democrats
    Jill Stauffer, board of directors, Human Rights Campaign
    Sally Susman, business leader
    Rev. Deborah Tammearu, Episcopal Priest, Diocese of New York
    Matthew Titone, New York State Assemblymember
    Jeffrey Tooke, board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Olive F. Watson, activist and philanthropist
    Paula Redd Zeman, vice chair, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; vice chair, Black Democrats of Westchester
    Bob Zuckerman, board member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Jose Zuniga, retired U.S. Army Sergeant and former Soldier of the Year; Executive Director, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care

  12. Michael Bedwell says

    Since the above list was published last summer, the only two out member of Congress have also endorsed Sen. Clinton—both Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank.

    These California LGBT activists and office holders have also endorsed her:

    Jose Cisneros, San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector
    Cecilia Chung, Deputy Director, Transgender Law Center; Board Member, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
    Mary Foley, Former President, American Nurses Association
    Matthew Goudeau, Director of Protocol for SF Mayor Gavin Newsom
    Robert Hanson, President, Levi Strauss North America
    Paul Henderson, Chief of Administration for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office
    Jo Hoenninger, Emeritus Board Member, Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network, Boardmember, Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club;
    Leslie Katz, Former San Francisco City and County Supervisor; Boardmember, Equality California
    Susan Leal, Former San Francisco City and County Supervisor; former San Francisco City and County Treasurer and Tax Collector
    Claire Lucas, Chair, Democratic National Committee LGBT Leadership Council; Board Member, National Stonewall Democrats
    Thom Lynch, Executive Director, San Francisco LGBT Community Center
    Laurie McBride, Co-Chair, National Stonewall Democrats
    Ivy Bottini, Co-chair, West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board; Founder, National Organization for Women
    Kevin A. Brady, Director, Walt Disney Company
    Torie Osborn, former ED of NGLTF; Senior Advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
    Steve Pougnet, Mayor-Elect, Palm Springs

  13. rudy says

    Good list of the “machine” that is going to give us HRC as the nominee. She will then be defeated by McCain. Despite the fervent hopes and wishes and dreams of the Democrat machine insiders, HRC’s negatives do not move from ~40% of those MOST LIKELY TO VOTE. I know too many Democrats that supported Bubba who cannot and will not support HRC. Clinton fatigue is not a MSM creation, it is the reflection of too many Americans who do not wish to reinstate the psycho-drama that is the Clintons. McCain scares a great many people because he has been demonstrably unstable but he would trounce Hillary. Unfortunately, the vast majority of American voters do not think or vote in any way like those listed above. This reminds me all too much of friends in the last election who were “pure in their beliefs” and voted their conscience (for Nader) which gave us GWB. Go ahead Dem’s, nominate HRC and give the election once again to the Repub’s. The election is the Democrtas to lose but they have proven all too adept at doing so.

  14. Michael Bedwell says

    1. Sen. Obama says he fought for gay rights all the time he was in the Illinois legislature.

    FACT: There’s apparently no record of his having signed onto any gay rights bill until he’d been there four years. He did sign onto three but he did not initiate any of them; in fact, did not become a cosponsor until anywhere from a week to FOUR MONTHS after they were introduced. All died in committee. Though he had NINE MONTHS before his election to the US Senate to become a cosponsor of the bill that finally passed, he suddenly went AWOL on gay rights all that time, his run for that higher office apparently distracting him too much to even take 15 seconds to sign his name to the bill. After failures over three decades, Equality Illinois and black LGBT groups in the state lobbied feverishly for the bill against the opposition of highly-financed right wing religionists. It passed by one vote.

    2. Obama claims he has the ability to bring people together; to change minds; to reach down and convert homohating lions into homoloving lambs.

    FACT: That alleged ability has already been tested and he couldn’t even get his close friend and spiritual advisor, the homohating Reverend and Illinois State Senator James Meeks, an active member in goodstanding with the Antigay Industry, who’s complained about the “Hollywood Jews who brought us ‘Brokeback Mountain’,” to vote for the bill above—assuming he even tried. Neither Equality Illinois nor the gay “Windy City Times” make any reference to Obama in their detailed accounts of the nearly year-long fight to pass the bill. [He couldn’t personally vote on it as he’d been elected to the US Senate by then. Priorities are priorities.]

    3. Obama insists he’s a different kind of politician; that he has integrity, is a man of his word.

    FACT: Obama promised at least twice that he would serve his full six-year US Senate term; would not run for President during it. Must be a different Barack Obama on your primary ballot.

    4. Obama claims that, though both he and Sen. Clinton support federal benefits for gay couples, he is better than Sen. Clinton because he supports a “full repeal of DOMA,” referencing the part which talks about “states’ rights” without actually mandating anything either way.

    FACT: You wouldn’t know it from a gay press snoring away in Obama’s pretty poppyfields because they’ve got wood for him, but his support is nothing but a dishonest political hat trick. He’d make the toothless, meaningless part of DOMA vanish while keeping up his sleeve his support for state’s right, regardless of DOMA, to legally deny gay relationships whatever they’re called. That position was revealed by his supporter and Harvard Constitutional law professor, Lawrence Tribe, who told ABC News that, “Same-sex couples [for instance] in Massachusetts are neither better nor worse off with DOMA repealed except that the repeal of DOMA is a way of telling that couple that their marriage in Massachusetts is not going to be made the subject of a symbolic and ineffectual slam by the federal government.” Obama also believes the right to deny gay adoption should be left to the states.

    5. Obama called his desperate post-McClurkingate effort at damage control a “Call for Full Equality” for LGBTs, and wrote of never compromising on our “real equality.”

    FACT: While Obama’s own mixed-race parents could once have been imprisoned for marrying, his air-filled essay, distributed solely to GAY media, reiterates his refusal to support gay marriage equality [despite the fact that his own denomination, the United Church of Christ, does support it]. I don’t know how YOU define “compromise” and “REAL equality” and “FULL equality” but….

    6. Obama brags about talking about gay civil rights and condemning homophobia wherever he goes.

    FACT: Outside of interviews and debates where he is forced to explicitly answer questions about them, many of his speeches have no reference to gays of any kind. And when they do, they are almost universally passive references about gay friends or hugging us, with no mention of our “rights” at all. Whatever people remember him saying at the 2004 Democratic convention, his actual words were only, “we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.”

    During his near 20-minute South Carolina victory speech he gave shout outs to 21 different kinds of supporters, some multiple times, such as blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, the elderly, Wal-Mart workers, etc, but never mentioned gay Americans. We were only there in spirit—the spirit of homophobia referenced in the undulating sea of signs behind him that read, “Stand For Change,” purposely echoing the title of Donnie McClurkin’s Grammy-winning gospel hit, “Stand!” Whenever Obama does mention homophobia it’s only in the context of an obstacle to facing AIDS. “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.” No, those are not the words of Barack Obama but of Coretta Scott King, and she said them ten years ago.

    7. Obama’s short position paper says he’s, “been a global leader in the fight against AIDS.”

    FACT: Sen. Clinton wants to increase AIDS funding by at least TWENTY billion dollars; Obama suggests only FIVE.

    8. Obama always talks about the importance of listening to different points of view, suggesting that progress and justice and what’s right will result.

    FACT: While Sen. Clinton apologized after being told that her initial response to the homophobic remarks of Gen. Pace were too tepid, and condemned him, when McClurkingate exploded, after urging from shocked gay staff members and prominent gay donors, a conference call with the Human Rights Campaign, pleas from the National Black Justice Coalition and black writers including Keith Boykin, Pam Spaulding, Rod McCullom, and Jasmyne Cannick, to cancel McClurkin’s participation in the Obama campaign gospel show—just as he had cancelled his own pastor’s participation in his very first campaign event after questions about the minister’s racial beliefs arose—Obama’s response amounted to, “Go fuck yourselves.” “Gay City News” seems to have forgotten saying at the time, “to offer up Donnie McClurkin as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, and then suggest that gay Americans unhappy at the prospect of him being a ringleader in Obama’s ‘big tent’ are culturally insensitive is flat out wrong. It is clumsy. It is insulting. And it is cynical.” But the show went on where McClurkin screeched to the adoring black crowd, “God DELIVERED ME from homosexuality” into a microphone and on a stage paid for by Obama. McCullom said, “He folded like a deck of cards. If he is going to fold on the campaign trail, why would we not think he’d fold in the Oval Office?” Black lesbian minister Irene Monroe went farther, accusing him of nakedly playing the race card for antigay votes. Even requests for Obama to simply tell the audience that night that he disagreed with McClurkin were ignored. He appeared by video, only saying, “The artists you’re going to hear from are some of the best in the world, and favorites of Michelle and myself.”

    That’s the same candidate running ads in which he insists, “You’ve got to tell people what they need to hear not what they want to hear.”

    And that’s what I’ve been trying to do. After pulling back the curtain, is anyone surprised that his official 64-page “Blueprint for Change—Barack Obama’s Plan for America” contains not one sentence, not one word, not one syllable about gays?

  15. says

    The most important rule in school fundraising is to gather a good and enthusiastic team together. Once you’ve got the support of a team, you can share ideas, and work together to raise funds for your school. so its better to have a candy bar shop because childrens like chocolates a lot.

Leave A Reply