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Ken Mehlman, Peter Thiel, and Paul Singer Host Manhattan Fundraiser for Team Challenging Proposition 8

Guestblogger COREY JOHNSON

Tonight I attended a highly anticipated fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) in New York City at the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner Center. The fundraiser was co-chaired by former Republican National Committee Chair/Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts partner Ken Mehlman, Paypal Co-Founder Peter Thiel and Elliott Management hedge fund CEO Paul Singer.

Mehlman The fundraiser was initially supposed to be held at Singer's home but had to be moved to accommodate a crowd of over 120 people. It was announced by Mehlman that more than 1.2 million dollars was raised tonight. The energy in the room was hopeful, enthusiastic and celebratory even in the face of yesterday's setback on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The crowd was a diverse mix of Wall Street titans, Republican establishment figures, LGBT community advocates and politicos (partial list below after the jump). Barbara Bush, President George W. Bush's daughter attended the event -- which was a surprise to people in the room.

Mehlman opened the event by speaking about the importance of achieving marriage equality and explained how he came to be involved with AFER. He acknowledged and thanked people who helped raise money for the fundraiser and also different members of the LGBT community. Mehlman said that this is just the beginning of his involvement and that he regretted that he hadn't gotten to this place sooner.

Said Mehlman: "As someone who regrets very much not being involved, and not being on the right side of this important effort until recently, let me just say this. This will be my first but not my last event and I hope you will stay involved too."

Video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Aferinvite Mehlman introduced Peter Thiel, a gay conservative who is hosting an event for GOProud at his New York home this fall. Thiel was brief and spoke about how marriage equality should not be a partisan issue.

Mehlman then introduced Paul Singer, a titan in finance and former Chair of the Giuliani for President Campaign in 2008. Singer gave a very moving speech about why equality for gay and lesbian people mattered so much to him. He spoke about his openly gay son and his son-in-law and how personal the issue was to him. He received a loud, standing ovation after his remarks.

A video was played that showed all of the media coverage from the very beginning of the Proposition 8 lawsuit, chronicling all of the events leading up to Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's decision declaring Proposition 8 unconsitutional. The video was inspirational and uplifting, serving as a crescendo to the introduction of Ted Olson and Chad Griffin.

AFER_panel CNN's Campbell Brown then came on stage with Olson, one of the lead attorneys' in the case, along with Griffin, the President and Founder of AFER. Brown interviewed Olson and Griffin on topics ranging from how they came to meet each other, what the next steps are in the appeal process, whether or not Olson was optimistic about the outcome and how this case fit into past marriage decisions at the Supreme Court.

Olson's clear and unvarnished optimism was outwardly apparent in all of his remarks and answers to questions from Brown and also from the audience.

OlsonOlson said that he was confident with the case, plaintiffs, witnesses and evidence that opponents of Proposition 8 provided during the trial last January and that he believes that the case will ultimately land at the Supreme Court of the United States with a successful result.

Chad Griffin said this about tonight's fundraiser: "Tonight represented much more than $1.2 million to fight Proposition 8 in the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court. This unprecedented gathering of bipartisan political leaders and Wall Street titans demonstrates the shift of momentum that's possible when it becomes clear that marriage equality isn't a special interest issue, but rather one of fundamental American values. That has been the focus of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and while there is certainly a tremendous amount of work to be done, it is gratifying to see such progress."

After a difficult and painful day in the United States Senate yesterday, the palpable optimism at the fundraiser was unmistakable and welcome for the attendees.

Watch VIDEO of Mehlman, Thiel, and Singer (apologies, we were only able to grab a partial portion of Singer's speech), AFTER THE JUMP...

PARTIAL LIST OF ATTENDEES

WALL STREET FIGURES and FIRMS

Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR)
Henry Kravis
Sir Deryck Maughan (former Vice Chairman of Citibank and Salomon Brothers)
Alex Navab
Scott Nuttall
John Pfeffer
Lewis Eisenberg
David Sorkin

Blackstone 
Garrett Moran

Third Point Capital
Daniel Loeb

Carlyle
Jay Sammons

Elliot Management
Paul Singer
Sundar Srinivasan
Dan Senor
Terry Kassel

Evercore Partners 
Charles Myers

Clarium Capital 

Peter Thiel

Goldman Sachs
Todd Malan

Lincoln Park Capital
Mark Cozzi

TPG
Nick Stone

POLITICAL

Former Republican Governor William Weld from Massachusetts
Former Republican Governor Christie Todd Whitman from New Jersey
Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff, Obama Advisor and head of Center for American Progress John Podesta
Former Republican National Committee and McCain finance chairman Lew Eisenberg
Former McCain for President Chief Strategist Steve Schmidt
Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (Democrat)
Former Bush Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner
Chairman of the Manhattan Institute and former Chairman of the Giuliani Presidential campaign Paul Singer
Former Bush White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace
Former Bush Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Wallace
Former RNC Chairman and Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman
Former Advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton David Gergen

LGBT Community Members

Activist and Author David Mixner
Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation President Jarrett Barrios
Board Chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda Frank Selvaggi
Human Rights Campaign New York Marriage Director Brian Ellner
Former Chief of Staff to Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Deputy Campaign Manager to John Kerry for President Steve Elmendorf
Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress Winnie Stachelberg
Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias
Former Clinton White House Advisor Richard Socarides
Academy Award Winning Producer and AFER Board Member Bruce Cohen
Gill Action Fund Executive Director Patrick Guerrero
Gill Action Fund Deputy Executive Director Bill Smith

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Comments

  1. It was just revealed yesterday that Ken Mehlman was fundraising for anti-gay New York Republicunt Congressional Candidate Randy Altshuler.
    It's gosh darn terrific that he helped raise money for our side, but as long as he is still supporting Republicans and helping them get elected, he is undermining our fight for equality. Same goes for the Log Cabin idiots. He has a long road ahead of him if he wants to be considered a decent human being.

    Posted by: StillmarriedinCA | Sep 23, 2010 1:01:13 AM


  2. Said Mehlman: "As someone who regrets very much not being involved, and not being on the right side of this important effort until recently, let me just say this. This will be my first but not my last event and I hope you will stay involved too."

    Well, yesterday he supported an anti-gay GOP candidate and tonight he raised some money from other people (not his own money).

    I guess when he says "recently" he means very, very, VERY recently.

    He's a hypocrite of the first order. And people are sheep.

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 23, 2010 1:08:13 AM


  3. One small problem here? Prop 8 is a CA issue, not a NY one. If it goes to SCOTUS, fine, and I'm happy to see rich people I usually dislike give money to a worthy cause---I suspect they all have gay family members or friends they love. But why not have the event in CA?

    And YES I realize that marriage equality is a national issue.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 23, 2010 1:23:31 AM


  4. yeah this leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. do we really want to get in bed with some of these people? is it really worth getting marriage equality if we have to sell our souls to do it? just asking.

    Posted by: pork | Sep 23, 2010 1:30:31 AM


  5. I agree with Pork! Plus can't believe you went to this event as a "journalist", and didn't bother to call out these people with a few pointed questions!!

    Posted by: Bobo | Sep 23, 2010 1:36:36 AM


  6. New York Gays: come one, OSTRACIZE and kick out this Melhman ugly phony out of Chilsea!

    He deserves to be picketed in fron his house and put to shame for his HYPOCRISY and greed working for those who deny
    GLBT equality.

    Kenny Gurl is to be blamed for DOMA and more!

    How about the bars deny him entrance, too!

    Posted by: FunMe | Sep 23, 2010 1:40:00 AM


  7. Whole lot of evil people in that room. It doesn't help that one of the most upstanding is Peter Thiel. The guy who helped Zuckerberg push Eduardo Saverin out of Facebook and tried to screw Saverin out of his rightful share in the company. And who has also been assisting the Teabaggers in trying to overthrow the government.

    Great crowd of people who are directly responsible for the mess the world is in right now. Hope they all choke.

    Posted by: Zach | Sep 23, 2010 2:12:15 AM


  8. At least the article's list of attendees puts Mehlman into the "political" category rather than the "LGBT community members" category. Nevertheless, he's still vile. I don't think I could be in the same room with him, much less watch him flaunt his A-list influence.

    Posted by: Sancho | Sep 23, 2010 2:18:21 AM


  9. I would never under any circumstances voluntarily be in the same room with any one of the creeps, criminals and co-conspirators as the ones you list. More than one of those guests should literally be on death row for treason. That you seem proud to be associated with them is mind-boggling. This vanity project for rich idiots and their Constitution-shredding friends called AFER is no friend to the LGBT community. I only wish there was actually a hell, so that they could all rot in it.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 23, 2010 3:25:57 AM


  10. Y'all are doing a great job of representing the LGBT community -- bitter, marginalized, threatened -- with a whopping load of sanctimony.

    P*ss off already!

    Posted by: akxpat | Sep 23, 2010 4:58:33 AM


  11. You all are so bitter. How do you expect progress when you reject those who want to assist our cause? Why are you single issue voters? Mehlman may raise money for what you declare to be "anti-gay" candidates, but that is because he appears to be more reasoned in his conception of political identity and personal identity than yourselves. Just because we're gay doesn't mean we can't think an "anti-gay" candidate is more qualified and do more for the issues we hold dear than a "pro-gay candidate". Voting on single issues is silly, and such hatred towards those that support our overall aim is counter productive, as well as showing more about your own bitterness. Some things are not about being gay or supporting the gay movement.

    Posted by: UO Bro | Sep 23, 2010 5:26:41 AM


  12. i'd hate to have developed an identity of soullessness and self-loathing

    so many scumbags who could have not only been "on the right side of history" but could have created positive history when actually in office, including christie todd whitman. they're whores

    Posted by: r | Sep 23, 2010 7:01:24 AM


  13. ...what, no mary cheney?

    Posted by: r | Sep 23, 2010 7:01:47 AM


  14. "but that is because he appears to be more reasoned in his conception of political identity and personal identity than yourselves."

    Are you for fucking real??? You think a man who supposedly didn't realize he was gay until he was in his 40's, living in Chelsea, and had a dick up his ass has a better conception of personal identity than any of us? Please. Even Cybil beats him on that point.

    Posted by: gaylib | Sep 23, 2010 8:52:27 AM


  15. "Why are you single issue voters?"

    Um, not at all. I hate ALL the other shit too that W got us into thanks to butt buddies Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove.

    Posted by: nodnarb | Sep 23, 2010 9:44:37 AM


  16. @UO BRO : "Bitter" "Single issue"....

    we understand that there are many issues....but quite frankly, I don't care if a candidate for public office has the next economic miracle up his sleeve, or the solution to global warming. I will never vote for anyone who consorts with the hypocritical scum that have worked against our interests for years. My soul is worth more than 30 pieces of silver.

    To use a cliche;
    "If you sup with the devil you should use a long spoon."

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Sep 23, 2010 10:14:56 AM


  17. "Why are you single issue voters? Mehlman may raise money for what you declare to be 'anti-gay' candidates, but that is because he appears to be more reasoned in his conception of political identity and personal identity than yourselves."

    Right, nothing more "reasoned" than hiding in the closet till you're in your mid-40s, enjoying straight privilege while working against your own and your fellow LGBT's human dignity year after year. That's not reasoned, it's pathological and pathetic.

    And who says we're single issue voters? Even if gay rights were off the table, the majority of LGBT voters won't go near Mehlman and his anti-gay Republicans because they're dangerous for the country in myriad other ways. Voting your conscience has nothing to do with bitterness. The closet does.

    Posted by: Ernie | Sep 23, 2010 10:17:59 AM


  18. Typical psychopath...playing both sides and making too much money doing it....

    Posted by: alan brickman | Sep 23, 2010 11:05:19 AM


  19. So after ten years of using gays as whipping boys so they could ROB this country blind, now these filthy rich assholes are willing to write a check with their ill gotten gains so that the rest of us un-washed masses might have some of the same rights and privileges they enjoy. What a bunch of assholes!

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 23, 2010 11:27:10 AM


  20. The comments above are a great example of why we are completely dependent upon Democrats to make any progress. If the GOP takes even one house of Congress, all progress ceases, perhaps for a decade or two. When we have a marriage vote, we have to get every single Democratic vote and as such are vulnerable to the ploys of even one Ruben Diaz. And even then, if a GOP governor win should be in office, then we automatically lose (as in NJ).

    We live in this precarious state of total dependency b/c an army of mindless zombies like the posters above just attack and demonize, even when a Repub is doing a good thing. Try to incentivize people to do the right thing and to dissuade them from doing the wrong thing. Calling them Hitler regardless of what they do isn't helpful.

    Posted by: Joel | Sep 23, 2010 1:01:49 PM


  21. How *convenient* for Kenny-boy "I'm not gay" Mehlman, now that he's made his Republican fortune.

    Sociopath. Blow-me Kenny-boy.

    Posted by: van | Sep 23, 2010 2:33:28 PM


  22. There are more than a few pro-gay GOP candidates in New York state. Mehlman did not have to find a "pro-family" one to throw his weight behind. The GOP has blocked same-sex marriage in New York for decades.

    You say not to make decisions based on a "single issue". What issues did Mehlman consider when he chose to give support to an opponent of marriage equality? What makes this candidate stand out? Just the fact that he's GOP and can help hold the line in the New York legislature.

    Is that a better "single issue" than equality? Mehlman apparently thinks so.

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 23, 2010 4:06:08 PM


  23. So, even if a Republican argues in favor of gay rights, you still find fault with them? "Professional Left" indeed!

    Posted by: 207guy | Sep 24, 2010 6:38:05 AM


  24. Y'all are doing a great job of representing the LGBT community -- bitter, marginalized, threatened -- with a whopping load of sanctimony.

    P*ss off already!

    Posted by: akxpat

    REALLY ... I do not think so.
    I think we remember who are enemies were ... and who now are trying to profit off being "gay friendly" .... go f yourself ... the only good Republican is one with no power.

    It is not at ALL about being Single Issue ... is about realizing Progressive fought for civil rights and Conservatives fight against them.

    In the 60's it was the Southern Democratic Party that was against civil rights for blacks.

    In the 70's 80's 90's 00's and still most Republicans today are against civil rights for gay people.

    So now you want us to forget how EVIL these people are just because NOW after progressives have changes society they are willing to accept us or come out of the closet.

    Sorry it is not just about Gay acceptance. Being Gay is about being progressive -- if you are Conservative and a homosexual. You are just that --- and not gay.

    Economic Social Elitists are Evil. They have fought against equality for women, blacks, Latinos, Gays -- and they will move onto another group to demonize ... and you want to stand with them???

    You are messed up.

    Posted by: rjp3 | Sep 25, 2010 4:23:46 PM


  25. I don't like these personalities either. Maybe you should scrutinize first the people you advertise here.

    Posted by: event coordinator mom | Sep 26, 2010 4:16:25 AM


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