Positive Efforts from American Unity PAC

by Namkyu Oh

Rhode Island is on-track to be the country’s 10th state to legalize gay marriage. The legislation passed through the Rhode Island House back in January, and the Senate vote yielded 26 in favor and 12 against [1]. What’s most significant about the most recent vote is that all five of the chamber’s Republican lawmakers voted in support of the bill, and though this could just be a reflection of the larger public shift on gay marriage, it is definitely in part, a result of the actions of the American Unity PAC, a new Republican advocacy group in favor of reaching marriage equality.

The American Unity PAC is a cohort of prominent conservative figures who are supported by some of America’s leading Republican fund-raisers and strategists including New York investors Paul E. Singer and Clifford S. Asness, Chicago money-manager David Herro, and billionaire philanthropist and hedge-fund manager Seth Klarman [2]. The group aims to motivate conservative legislators to legalize same-sex marriage through increased financial support; within this past month, $500,000 has already been spent on lobbying efforts. Some of that money was used in Rhode Island based lobbying, where very positive results were recently observed, and about $250,000 has been invested the efforts in Minnesota, where votes on gay marriage can occur as early as next week [3].

Paul E. Singer, one of American Unity PAC's leading supporters

Paul E. Singer, one of American Unity PAC’s leading supporters

The group’s effective and efficient lobbying work is helping the effort of gay marriage legalization within a demographic that has historically opposed it, and what I appreciate most are the emotionally-nuanced stances being demonstrated. On the PAC’s website it reads, “As Republicans, we believe strongly in the American Dream. Too often, government serves as an obstacle to prosperity for millions of Americans… For Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian, it goes one step farther, denying them the same rights and responsibilities extended to every other taxpaying family. We believe the American Dream belongs to all of us, regardless of our orientation” [4].

It’s amazing to see gay marriage legalization making strides in the right direction, and even more amazing to see these recent successes happen as a result of a Republican lobbying group. To finally see a group assume a stance that its party would disagree with—and then be successful in that effort—is wonderful. Reading about this new group really made me smile, and I am left feeling more optimistic about the future of gay marriage.

[1] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/24/rhode-island-gay-marriage/2110905/
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/us/politics/pushing-the-gop-to-support-gay-rights.html?
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/27/republicans-gay-marriage_n_3169751.html
[4] http://www.americanunitypac.com/about/

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