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Michelangelo Signorile: Burger King's 'Proud Burger' Is A Tax Evasion Cover-Up

Proud

Writing on The Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile argues that companies, political donors and other entities are courting LGBT people in order to cover up criticism of unethical and questionable actions.

Signorile points out that corporate support for LGBT rights is easier for companies than it has been in the past and that many of these organizations need the support of LGBT people.

Arguing that Burger King’s recent actions hurt the economy and workers, he says that the Proud Whopper is an attempt to allow the company to remove attention from the fact that it is “fleeing to Canada, buying up Tim Hortons, following other American companies engaged in so-called tax inversions, all to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

SignorileSignorile continues that although Republican megadonor Paul Singer has given money to LGBT groups and GOP politicians who already support LGBT rights, the hedge fund billionaire is also giving millions to anti-gay candidates via right-wing groups and super PACs.

He goes on to points out that Democrats are as much to blame as Republicans, noting that although Governor Andrew Cuomo supported marriage equality in New York, his recent actions, including budget cuts, have diminished the rights of all workers, be they gay or straight.

Getting straight to the point, Signorile concludes:

“The fact that Burger King so publicly supports LGBT rights shouldn't matter. We should be past the point of being giddy over a nice wrapper. Corporations that dodge paying U.S. taxes while making billions from American consumers are wreaking havoc. We should all be sending a message to the fast-food giant that it is hurting America -- gay America, straight America, all of America.”


Pro-gay Republican Super PAC Planning Major Campaign Finance Push For Midterm Elections

SingerAmerican Unity Super PAC, which was launched in June 2012 by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, has announced plans to spend at least $2 million between now and Election Day to help protect and promote Republican Congressional candidates who support LGBT equality.

USA Today reports:

"For many years, there's been a huge fear from Republican elected officials that if they showed courage on issues like this, would they be able to survive politically?" [AU PAC senior adviser Jeff] Cook-McCormac said.

"What American Unity PAC is committed to doing is ensuring that as these courageous elected officials follow their conscience and do the right thing, that there is a political network in place that's there to defend them."

American Unity has been successful this year protecting pro-LGBT Republicans in various state races and plans on backing at least seven congressional candidates this November including moderate Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent and openly gay Massachusetts contender Richard Tisei.  

Singer, who was also a major supporter of Mitt Romney, has a married gay son. He has donated nearly $2 million of his own money to the PAC so far.  


Pro-Gay Republican Super PAC Reports $2.75 Million Take in First Quarter

Paul Singer's American Unity Super PAC, which was launched in June 2012 by billionaire Paul Singer, raised $2.75 million over the past three months, most donated by Singer himself:

SingerThe three-month haul for American Unity PAC is by far the biggest so far for the super PAC, which was around for the 2012 election but had relatively little funding. The committee raised about the same amount in all of 2012 and pulled in just $260,000 in 2013.

The super PAC was boosted early this year by $1.75 million in donations from GOP donor Paul Singer, who has been among the most vocal and well-funded proponents of gay marriage in the GOP. Another $1 million came from billionaire Massachusetts investor Seth Klarman.

Only one other person contributed more than $25 to the super PAC.

Singer, who was also a major supporter of Mitt Romney, has a married gay son.


Activist Claims DNC Chair Discouraged Dems from Urging Obama to Issue 'ENDA' Executive Order

A prominent activist is accusing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, pictured) of discouraging Democratic lawmakers from signing a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people, the Washington Blade reports.

Wasserman-schultzHouse Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he will not allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which passed the Senate for the first time this year, and activists are growing impatient.

Said Paul Yandura, political director for gay philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, to the Blade:

"I was told personally by two members that she was tamping down on public calls for the president to make good on his promise — this was last year when the issue was really getting hot. She is most likely doing the same still," adding, "I think she doesn’t want to embarrass the president, and still doesn’t want to embarrass the president, because it is an embarrassment that he still hasn’t done it. We’re now coming down to the end of the second term, and if they don’t get moving on it, it’ll never even get implemented."

Wasserman Schultz's spokesperwon Mara Sloan called Yandura's assertions a "bald-faced lie," adding:

"The congresswoman believes the most effective way to ensure equal rights for LGBT Americans in the workplace is through passing comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. The congresswoman regularly speaks to the administration about issues important to the LGBT community, and will continue to be a fierce advocate for full equality."

Yandura said his claims are based on things he heard while collecting signatures for a 2013 letter urging Obama to issue the order.

More at the Blade....

WILL REPUBLICANS BE THE KEY TO ENDA?

SingerIn related news, a group of wealthy Republicans and former GOP lawmakers are joining an HRC-led campaign to push the House to take a vote on ENDA, USA Today reports:

"America is a place where the freedom to be who you are shouldn't be a barrier to your ability to get a job and provide for your family," said Paul Singer (pictured), a billionaire hedge fund founder and big Republican donor. Singer is putting $375,000 toward the push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. "In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance."

Fellow billionaire and GOP donor Seth Klarman also donated $375,000 to the campaign spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobby. HRC is putting up an additional $1.3 million in the effort to get 218 House lawmakers — a majority of the chamber — on record in support of ENDA.

The campaign plans to go after 48 persuadable House Republicans and gain their support for the bill:

If the group can get 218 lawmakers on public record in support of the legislation, they say House GOP leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may have to rethink their decision not to vote this year.

Boehner told members of the LGBT caucus at an historic first meeting earlier this year that ENDA had no chances of seeing a vote in 2014.


Wall Street Leaders, LGBT Activists Meet on Davos Panel: VIDEO

Davos

CNN's Fareed Zakaria led a HuffPost and Microsoft sponsored panel on LGBT rights at the World Economic Forum in Davos which included  J-FLAG Executive Director Dane Lewis, Russian and American journalist Masha Gessen, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, Elliott Management Corporation founder Paul Singer, Third Point founder Dan Loeb and Alice Nkom, a lawyer and LGBT activist from Cameroon.

Watch the panel, AFTER THE JUMP...

The NYT reported on the panel, noting "the seeming unlikelihood that prominent investors would take a stand on gay rights":

Mr. Singer recounted how his son told him he was gay at the age of 21, prompting him to examine the issue of gay rights. Despite being one of the biggest donors to the Republican party — as the host, the journalist Fareed Zakaria, jokingly put it, the financier is both politically conservative and “really rich” — he has become one of the most active gay marriage proponents in finance.

When asked if he used his influence on politicians to push a pro-gay-marriage agenda, however, Mr. Singer demurred. But he added that would-be political beneficiaries are aware of his work.

“I don’t try to proselytize,” he said. “But they know that winning is better than losing.”

Mr. Singer reserved his highest praise for the panel that preceded his at the breakfast: Masha Gessen, a Russian lesbian activist who plans to move her family to the United States to avoid persecution; Alice Nkom, a lawyer from Cameroon who works alone to avoid endangering potential colleagues; and Dane Lewis, the head of the Jamaican advocacy group J-FLAG.

Watch the panel, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Wall Street Leaders, LGBT Activists Meet on Davos Panel: VIDEO" »


Human Rights Campaign Going International with Help from Republican Billionaires

New York hedge-fund billionaire Republicans Paul Singer, a major Romney supporter in 2012, and Daniel Loeb are funding a new Human Rights Campaign initiative to further LGBT rights internationally, reports NYT columnist Frank Bruni, who spoke with Singer at his offices in midtown Manhattan.

SingerWrites Bruni:

In this case, he was announcing a new project to be funded, at least at the outset, by him and other conservative donors but to be run by the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group in Washington, which is much more closely affiliated with Democrats. The initiative will be dedicated to fighting the victimization of gays and lesbians internationally. But it will also show that there are Republicans — not a majority, but an increasingly impassioned minority — who are intent on progress and justice for L.G.B.T. people. They won’t surrender that cause to Democrats, and they believe that Republicans who do so are resisting a future that’s both just and inevitable.

As you may recall, Singer's American Unity PAC assisted efforts to pass marriage equality in New York, Maine, and Maryland. Singer's son is gay.

Adds Bruni:

And the international initiative has a fascinating wrinkle. In addition to training L.G.B.T. advocates outside the United States and publicizing the failings of especially repressive countries, it intends to name and shame American religious zealots who sponsor antigay campaigns abroad. So Republican money may wind up challenging a constituency within the party. (We’re most definitely not in Kansas anymore.)

In Singer’s view, gay rights are consistent with a Republican philosophy of individual liberty, and gay marriage is “an augmenter of social stability, family stability and stability in raising kids.” In other words, it’s conservative.


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