In 1988, well-heeled gay activists went to Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign with an offer to raise $1 million for his election effort.
The campaign said no, according to the activists. “They turned us down flat because it was gay money,” said longtime gay rights advocate David Mixner.
Less than a quarter-century later, the gay and lesbian community ranks as one of the most important parts of President Obama’s campaign-finance operation. The campaign has hosted a slew of events targeted at gay donors, from intimate dinners to extravagant galas. Wealthy gay business executives and philanthropists fill the ranks of Obama’s top bundlers. Twenty-one prominent gay individuals and couples raised a total of at least $7.4 million for the president’s reelection through the end of March.