President Obama is headed on a two-day trip to the West Coast, aimed at lobbying the LGBT community, especially with an eye to fundraising for the forthcoming presidential elections, US media organisations report.
Tonight, he is to attend a LGBT Leadership Council Gala in Beverley Hills, California, which will include participation by Ellen DeGeneres, and the Glee star, Darren Criss. This will be the third fundraising event in which Mr Obama participates that specifically and directly targets the gay and trans communities, the first being a fundraiser in Florida, where he raised $125,000, and another in New York, hosted by Ricky Martin, which raised $1 million.
CBS reports that almost 600 people will attend tonight’s event, with tickets starting at $1,250 per person.
While it is impossible to know how much money Mr Obama receives from the LGBT community, the Washington Post estimates that roughly one in six of president’s top ‘bundlers’ are gay. (‘Bundlers’ refer to well-connected and wealthy donors who also reach out to their connections for further donations.) In addition, the Advocate reported last year that one in five bundlers who raised at least half a million dollars were also either gay or lesbian. Finally, a CNN report has suggested that LGBT bundlers have raised at least $8 million for Mr Obama between January and March alone.
One Democratic strategist told CBS that ever since Mr Obama came out for equal marriage, gay donors have been ‘wildly enthusiastic’ about his re-election. That the Obama campaign now specifically targets the LGBT community was first evidenced by the release of a manifesto that catered to gay and trans voters and their supporters.
After tonight’s Gala, Mr Obama will attend another fundraiser, which according to Hollywood Reporter is a private event hosted by Ryan Murphy, the brains behind Glee. Although celebrities have been responsible for much donation for his campaign — some estimate it to be around $7 million between January and March — they have also been further mobilised by Mr Obama’s endorsement of equal marriage, persons familiar with the matter say. Among those responsible for these fundraisers include pro-gay entertainers such as Lady Gaga and George Clooney. It is believed that Mr Clooney’s fundraising event earlier this year raised around $15 million towards Mr Obama’s reelection.
Republicans have already begun to target Mr Obama for his closeness both to the LGBT community and to celebrities. However, the Democratic campaign, CBS reports, will certainly not object to the amounts of cash this close association brings.