Texans give big to California’s Prop 8

Posted on 12 Feb 2009 at 8:22pm
By John Wright News Editor

Those supporting the anti-gay-marriage amendment were fewer in number, but their donations were higher

 

Texans spent more on the fight over same-sex marriage in California last year than they did in their home state in 2005, according to a Dallas Voice review of campaign filings that were released last week.

And more than three-fourths of the money from Texas went to groups supporting Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that was approved by California voters in November.

Donors from Texas contributed more than $1.45 million to groups supporting and opposing Prop 8, the filings from the California secretary of state show. The filings cover the period between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2008.

In 2005, groups supporting and opposing Texas’ same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 2, raised a total of about $1.28 million.


Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink, above, said the total Texans donated to support passage of Prop 8 is "shocking and disappointing."

Groups supporting Prop 8 received more than $1.12 million from Texas donors, while groups opposing the same-sex marriage ban received about $331,000, the filings show.

"I find it sort of shocking actually and very disappointing," said Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink, who contributed $250 to No on 8. "I think a lot of people took it for granted that marriage equality would happen. I think people just assumed and didn’t take action."

Fink said the numbers also indicate that despite recent gains by Democrats, Texas is "still a very red state."

Cathie Adams, president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum, said she isn’t surprised that contributions from Texas went so heavily in support of Prop 8. However, Adams called the amount of money contributed by Texans "amazing."

"I think it speaks well for the Texas economy," Adams said. "I think Texas has stood very clearly on the issue. I don’t think it was the issue as much as the fact that in Texas, the economy is doing well enough that people could and would support an effort outside our state."


Equality Texas Executive Director Paul Scott, says the donations show LGBT Texans must broaden their base of support.

Other LGBT leaders speculated that Texans spent more on Prop 8 than Prop 2 because it was widely assumed that Prop 2 would succeed, whereas Prop 8 was very much in doubt.

Prop 2 passed with 75 percent of the vote, while Prop 8 passed with just 52 percent. In 2005 in Texas, the losing side actually outraised backers of Prop 2, by a margin of $781,000 to $495,000.

"We had more work to do," said Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

"All they have to do here is get every preacher in every church to preach about in on the Sunday before the vote," said Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney with Lambda Legal. 

Paul Scott, executive director of Equality Texas, said he thinks the Prop 8 numbers indicate gay-rights groups in Texas must broaden their financial support to include not only the LGBT community, but also its allies. Scott said the religious right currently has a much larger pool of resources to draw on than those seeking LGBT equality.

Texas ranked fifth among states for contributions to groups supporting Prop 8, 10th for contributions to groups opposing Prop 8, and eighth overall, according to a report published in The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The only states where donors contributed more money in support of Prop 8 were California, Utah, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Prop 8 was the most expensive ballot initiative on a social issue in the nation’s history, with a total of $83.1 million raised. Nationwide, opponents of Prop 8 raised $43.3 million, while the measure’s sponsors raised $39.9 million, according to The Associated Press.

While Prop 8 supporters from Texas outspent opponents three-to-one, groups opposing the measure actually received a larger number of individual contributions.
Groups supporting Prop 8 received 423 individual contributions from Texas, for an average contribution of $2,652, while groups opposing the ban received 1,183 individual contributions from Texas, for an average contribution of $280.

Groups supporting Prop 8 received 122 contributions of $5,000 or more from Texas, while groups opposing the measure received only nine contributions of $5,000 or more.

The two largest individual contributions from Texas in support of Prop 8 came from Rachel Weidman of Dallas and Dale Brown of Midland, who each contributed $50,000.

Weidman’s occupation is listed as "none," but she reportedly is married to David Weidman, chairman and CEO of Celanese Corp., a global chemical company based in Dallas. Weidman is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encouraged member to contribute to Yes on 8.

Brown is president of Petroleum Strategies Inc. and a former Midland city councilman. He reportedly is a member of the Churches of Christ.
The biggest contribution from Texas to a group opposing Prop 8 came from Austin-based Apple Inc., which kicked in $100,000.

The largest contribution from a private individual to a group opposing Prop 8 came from William Edwards, a self-employed software investor from Austin who contributed $15,000.

For a complete list of Texas donors supporting Prop 8, see here.

For a complete list of Texas donors opposing Prop 8, see here.

The lists do not include all contributions of less than $100.

Under California law, contributions of $100 or less aren’t required to be reported individually and often are lumped together into one transaction for reporting purposes, with no name or state listed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 13, 2009.

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