“I’m feeling good. There’s a smile on my face, there’s a spring in my step, and there’s a ring on my finger. I don’t know if you all heard or not—but I got married,” Ellen DeGeneres said Sept. 9 as she opened her award-winning talk show to a rousing standing ovation. The audience reveled in the discussion of her wedding to actress Portia de Rossi, which DeGeneres called “the most important day of my life.”
The cause for marriage equality couldn’t have asked for better publicity.
However, marriage equality is on the chopping block in November, and close scrutiny of the California Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance website indicates that DeGeneres has not contributed to the fight against Prop 8, the constitutional amendment that “eliminate[s] right of same sex couples to marry.”
If Prop 8 passes, it would be the first time in American history that an existing minority right would be taken away by the vote of a majority.
The above comes from IN Los Angeles (which has donated). It galls to think that DeGeneres and DeRossi haven’t given to stop the bigoted effort that could end up making them legally single again, but they are far from alone.
As of Sept. 10, according to the magazine, these rich gay A-listers have given nothing: Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter O’Donnell (who already know the pain of having a legal marriage nullified), Elton John and David Furnish, Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels, here!TV’s Paul Colichman, “Brothers and Sisters”‘ Greg Berlanti, “Desperate Housewives”‘ Marc Cherry, X-Men and Superman Returns‘ Bryan Singer, Batman and Robin’s Joel Schumacher, and Milk helmer Gus Van Sant.
Who has given? Milk producer (and newlywed) Bruce Cohen, “Will and Grace”‘s Max Muchnick, DreamWorks honcho David Geffen, and Bryan Lourd, managing partner of Creative Artists Agency, have all contributed substantially. Noted rich guys David Bohnett, David Maltz, James Hormel, and Gene La Pietra are the top invidiual donors to the effort, with their contributions ranging from $100,000 to $600,000 each. Numerous GLBT groups have donated money, humanpower, and in-kind services. And many far poorer people — GLBT folks and heterosexual allies from across the nation — have coughed up even during these trying economic times. Even the McSame-endorsing group Log Cabin Republicans has given money to defeat the anti-equality crowd. (Update: Movie star Brad Pitt — who is neither gay nor legally married and says he won’t marry until all American are free to do so — has given $100,000 to the effort. In reporting Pitt’s do-gooding, even E! entertainment news notes with surprise that more high rollers aren’t giving. And Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle reports that polls show California voters’ opposition to Prop 8 is growing, according to new polls. Great news to be sure — but the point that well-heeled gays need to pony up to stop the proposition stands undiminished.)
So far, the anti-Prop 8 effort — meaning, the good guys — has raised about $11.1 million. It’s a record amount, but not enough. The discrimination-supporting Yes on 8 campaign is way ahead in the fund-raising race as of September 11, 2008, having raised $16.6 million — nearly three-quarters of a million was raised on September 10, the day after Ellen announced her marriage on her talk show.
As a result, the bad guys could win.
“We need to catch up and match them dollar for dollar,” Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California and leader in the No on 8/Equality for All campaign, told IN Los Angeles magazine. “With an expected 13 million voters and the most expensive media markets in the nation, it takes tens of millions of dollars to get your message out. If we can get our message out at the same rate as they can, I believe we will win. But if they continue to have more resources, it will be very difficult for us to prevail.”
So while their visibility as openly LGBT celebrities and entertainment power players is important, their financial absence from the specific fight to save the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry is hurting.
Imagine Ellen having to go on TV to announce that she is no longer married.
I constantly tell poor, disenfrachised people that talk is cheap. Take action. Do something!
In this instance, forces for justice need people to help in whatever way they can, but if someone is flush and for the cause, it’s immoral for them not to contribute money. They should and must dig deep and give generously — if not for their own equality and their own sakes, then for others. So if you are rich, give! Give because it is the right thing to do. Do it because it will make California — and perhaps the nation — a better place to live. Do it for Ellen and Portia, for George Takei and Brad Martin, for Bruce Cohen and his new spouse, and for the many, more people not as rich as them. And as a favor to me, do it for Del Martin.