Hollywood's Gay Marriage Blitz Intensifies Funding Battle

( [email protected] ) Oct 28, 2008 06:17 AM EDT
The industry often criticized for its role in funneling sex, violence, and profanity into American society and overseas is stepping up its efforts to defeat the ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in California.
Richie Beanan from Los Angeles, puts a sign on a bus that will tour California in support of Proposition 8. after a rally in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. If passed Proposition 8 would amend the California state constitution to ban same sex marriage. (Photo: AP Images / Steve Yeater)

The industry often criticized for its role in funneling sex, violence, and profanity into American society and overseas is stepping up its efforts to defeat the ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in California.

After weeks of criticism from opponents of Proposition 8, more Hollywood insiders are making declarations of support – financial and otherwise – against the effort to overturn the contested state Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage earlier this year.

Leading the Hollywood outreach has been Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen, who wed art consultant Gabriel Catone in a ceremony officiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in June. According to The Associated Press, the "American Beauty" and "Pushing Daisies" producer dug deep into his contacts to ask for their support against Prop. 8, which would change the state constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman.

"The entertainment industry is obviously an important donor base," Chad Griffin, a political strategist for the “No on 8” campaign, told AP. "It's an industry that's often stood up against discrimination."

To date, “No on 8” has received donations from notable TV, film, and music celebrities including Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ellen DeGeneres, Bridget Fonda, Melissa Etheridge, Mary J. Blige, and Barbara Streiesand, among others.

The "Yes on 8" campaign, on the other hand, has far less star power.

Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for "Yes on 8," said the campaign has not reached out to Hollywood because "the campaign is a campaign of the people.”

“It's not intended to be dotted with celebrities," she told AP.

As a result of the last-minute fundraising blitz in Hollywood, however, “No on 8” has out-raised the ProtectMarriage coalition by a 9-1 margin over the past 2 weeks, taking back the overall fundraising lead.

Furthermore, while the “Yes on 8” campaign had a notable lead in voting support, the latest CBS News poll shows the “Yes on 8” campaign now only barely ahead, winning by a narrow 48-45 percent margin.

In response to the recent surge of gay marriage support, Prop. 8 advocates have been frantically trying to mobilize concerned individuals to help fund the effort to keep the “homosexual agenda” from advancing through same-sex marriage.

“The need has never been greater,” wrote Brian S. Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage California, in his organization’s final fundraising appeal to “friends of marriage.”

“[T]hese last-minute millions flowing in to the No on 8 campaign are being used to buy ads that deceive voters about the truth of same-sex marriage,” he said, referring to ads addressing the debate over teaching gay marriage in schools.

The deception, Brown said, comes from claims made in ads that gay marriage will never impact their children in schools despite what is going on currently in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage.

While California public schools are not required by law to teach about marriage, as the “No on 8” campaign points out in its ads, schools that teach about sex education must teach about marriage, according to the California Department of Education (CDE)’s guidelines. Furthermore, in Massachusetts, where gay marriage was legalized four years ago, public school officials say they not only can talk about gay couples, but they are required to.

“The No on 8 is now spending $1 million a day to mislead California voters about Proposition 8,” Brown noted. “And if we can't match them, we will lose. It's that simple.”

On Friday, Brown urged for last-minute emergency contributions of $50 or more to counter the recent $11 million response by Hollywood liberals, labor unions, and gay marriage activists.

According to an analysis by The Associated Press, at least 64,000 people from all 50 states and more than 20 other countries have given money to support or oppose the ban on same-sex marriage in California.

Furthermore, ten days before the vote on Proposition 8, campaign finance records revealed that total contributions for and against the measure have surpassed $60 million.

“If we fail to step up now, all may be lost,” said Brown. “ We simply cannot take that risk.”