Last night in taking a cab to the Ken Mehlman, Paul Singer and Peter Thiel fund-raising event for the Proposition 8 court case, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. After all, this was the first event of its kind with a powerful mix of corporate titans, conservative Republicans, activists and prominent Democrats coming together in common cause for marriage equality. The host list was impressive in its ideological spectrum and the cause could not be more worthy.
Quite honestly, I was blown away by the event brilliantly organized primarily by Ken Mehlman and with assistance from such Democrats as Charles Myers and Frank Selvaggi. Over $1.2 million dollars was raised for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER ) and its sponsorship for the Ted Olson/David Bois challenge to the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The evening might have raised a record amount of funds for AFER in one evening by the most diverse crowd ever at a LGBT event.
One would have to have too be very rigid in their beliefs not to realize the power of the evening and how important it was for the fight for marriage equality. Conservative Republican Paul Singer's emotional and powerful tribute to his son and son-in-law was one of the highlights of the evening.
There is no question that I have become a Bois/Olson groupie. Whenever I am depressed by another act of oppression foisted upon our community, listening to Ted Olsen consistently gives me hope and belief in the system. Chad Griffin has to now be listed as one of the heroes of our community for making this case happen and perhaps taking the very first important step to full equality.
Corey Johnson of Towleroad.com has written an excellent piece on the evening, revealing the guest list and posted a great video of the speakers. You should go to it and see a new era for marriage equality. Just click here for the entire piece but here is an excerpt:
"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.
Olson 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 8in 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."