Polis still plans to attend Democratic LGBT fundraiser as boycott calls grow

As prominent gay activists pull their support and calls for a boycott grow louder, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Jared Polis tells The Colorado Independent the Boulder Democrat still plans to attend the controversial $1,000-a-plate LGBT fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., next Thursday.

“He is a proud Democrat,” Polis communications director Lara Cottingham said Wednesday evening.

“While he’s disappointed in the lack of movement from the administration, what the gay community needs now more than ever is a strong voice fighting for them in Washington,” Cottingham continued, “and the best way to do that is to stay active in the debate and not give up his seat at the table.”

On Tuesday, Polis blasted the Obama administration for a Department of Justice brief filed four days earlier defending the federal law banning same-sex marriage. “If they keep making mistakes like this,” Polis said in a statement, “they risk losing the support of the GLBT community forever, although I do not believe we are at that point yet.”

Polis is one of three openly gay Democratic lawmakers — U.S. Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin are the others — listed as hosts for the 10th Annual LGBT Leadership Council Dinner, which features Vice President Joe Biden as the headline speaker.

On Tuesday, blogger John Aravosis declared the fundraiser “effectively dead” when Marty Rouse, the national field director of the gay-rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, pulled his support.

Rouse’s departure ups to four the number of high profile gay politicos who have now dropped out of the event following the Justice Department’s filing of a homophobic brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act last week. The other three people to pull out of the fundraiser are famous “friend of Bill Clinton” David Mixner, Alan Van Capelle (Executive Director of New York’s largest gay group, the Empire State Pride Agenda), and top gay blogger Andy Towle.

I’ve also just been told by former top Clinton aide Richard Socarides that he today informed the DNC that he will no longer be attending either.

The same day, Pam’s House Blend proprietor Pam Spaulding raised the pressure on Polis, Frank and Baldwin, urging readers to: “Please politely contact our out LGBT representatives on the Hill to ask them why they still plan to hold the event in the wake of lack of leadership re: DADT repeal and the horrible DOMA brief and 2) do they see anything problematic about financially supporting a party that runs for cover when our issues come up on the Hill.” Spaulding then provided addresses and phone numbers for the three gay hosts.

Frank told the Boston Herald he still intends to go to the fundraiser in a story published Wednesday:

Frank said he understands the rage but vowed that the fund-raiser – one of the gay community’s biggest of the year – will go on.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t boycotting,” he said. “I think it’s a mistake to deny money to the DNC.”

Prominent gay fundraiser David Mixner, a White House fixture in the Clinton era, started the ball rolling with a blistering criticism of the Obama administration’s brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act and his pledge to stay away from next Thursday’s fundraiser:

I will not attend a fundraiser for the National Democratic Party in Washington next week when the current administration is responsible for these kind of actions. How will they ever take us seriously if we keep forking out money while they harm us.

There’s even a Facebook page devoted to Democrats who plan to withhold donations until the Obama administration moves ahead on campaign promises to repeal the federal ban on gay marriage and the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. From the boycott description:

“I pledge to withhold all donations to the Democratic National Committee (and all Democratic Campaign Committees), Organizing for America, and all Democratic Senators and House Members until the Obama Administration begins to repeal DOMA or end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

And for those still planning to attend the fundraiser, Aravosis has this cautionary note:

Kevin Naff, the editor of the Washington Blade, also tells me that the gay newspaper will be staking out the gay fundraiser next week, and will have a reporter with a camera and video at the hotel entrance to record guests as they enter the gay fundraiser.

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Ernest Luning

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