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Uncovering the Megadonor Behind the LGBTQ Movement – Tim Gill

Jul 17, 2017 by

“Uncovering the Megadonor Behind the LGBTQ Movement – Tim Gill”

From Donna Garner



[I, of course, take issue with almost everything that Rolling Stone publishes; but I think this article which is meant to extol Tim Gill does give some credible information about how he bankrolled the LGBTQ movement in America three decades ago. 


Gill took his $500 Million fortune as a software magnet in Colorado, set up and funded LGBTQ organizations all across the country, and created a plan to change the messaging.  


Tim Gill decided that instead of pushing “marriage equality” where the LGBTQ had lost a few battles, he  along with his cronies would enlist the help of big businesses to change the messaging

to a “nondiscrimination, pro-equality” narrative.  


This “Tim Gill Plan” is exactly what we are seeing take place in Texas as we battle to keep our daughters and women safe in their private facilities from perverts who pretend to be transgenders (a.k.a., the “transgender” bill).


Gill and his big-business pals have stormed into Texas to bully, intimidate, and threaten our Texas Legislators during the Special Session (starts tomorrow) to quit listening to the huge majority of Texans who want to keep their children safe.  These big businesses include IBM, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Texas Instruments, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, etc.


What our Texas Legislators need to understand is that “our children’s safety is not for sale,” and we do not want our Legislators to be deluded by these business entities that are being led (and misled) by Tim Gill.


Texans are concerned about the vast majority of women and children. It is not discriminatory to demand that perverts masquerading as transgenders be kept out of private facilities.


If anybody and everybody is allowed to go into girls’ and women’s private facilities, security personnel would have no grounds to stand on if they were to try to remove perverts who claim to be transgenders.  


As I have stated before, “If we cannot agree on keeping women and children safe, then what in the world can we agree upon?”



*Please go to the links at the bottom of this page to see the huge number of sensible and caring people who support legislation to protect privacy.   



– Donna Garner]





7.23.17 – Rolling Stone


“Meet the megadonor behind the LGBTQ rights movement: How Tim Gill turned a $500 million fortune into the nation’s most powerful force for LGBTQ rights”

By Andy Kroll


Excerpts from this article:


“We have been fighting for nondiscrimination since the Sixties,” Gill says. “It’s the religious right that decided to make marriage an issue. They worked tirelessly on it for decades and they lost.” 



“Now is not the time to go sit on the sidelines,” Joe Biden thunders, slamming his fist on a podium branded with the vice presidential seal. “We need to push – and push hard.” It’s an early evening in May 2016, and 30 of the nation’s most prolific LGBTQ donors are gathered in the living room of a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Biden thanks the men and women in the audience for their efforts so far. But there is one person he singles out by name, an unassuming and slightly awkward man seated in the last row of chairs, doing his best to avoid attention. “Incredible,” Biden calls him. If not for the work of Tim Gill, Biden says, there is no telling where the LGBTQ-rights movement would be.


…Gill, a software programmer who made a fortune in the 1990s, is not a household name – and that’s by design. The 63-year-old Coloradan rarely gives interviews and describes himself as pathologically anti-social and ill at ease with publicity. In the past three decades, Gill has methodically, often stealthily, poured $422 million of his fortune into the cause of equal rights for the LGBTQ community – more than any other person in America. Within the movement, he is praised as a visionary, a computer-nerd-turned-brilliant-strategist, the megadonor who coalesced a movement around the fight for marriage equality and then pushed onward to victory.


Today, Gill’s sprawling network of LGBTQ advocacy groups rivals any big-money operation in the country. The Gill Foundation, which he started in 1994, underwrites academic research, polling, litigation, data analytics and field organizing. Gill Action, a political group launched a decade later, has helped elect hundreds of pro-equality lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels.


OutGiving, his donor club, coaches the country’s richest pro-LGBTQ funders on how best to spend their money. Gill’s fingerprints are on nearly every major victory in the march to marriage, from the 2003 Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health case, which made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex marriage, to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision two decades later that legalized it in all 50. “Without a doubt,” says Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the Obergefell case, “we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation.”


…Gill insists the LGBTQ civil-rights movement is far from finished…


Nationwide, Republican lawmakers have reacted to marriage equality by introducing religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA)


In fact, by the time of the Manhattan donor event, Gill’s strategy to block religious-freedom bills was already underway. Earlier that year, Republican legislators in Georgia introduced an RFRA law for the third year in a row, and vowed to finish the job this time around. In response, the Gill Foundation helped form a new front group called Georgia Prospers, and settled on a strategy that eschewed noisy, colorful protests in favor of a state-centric approach led by businesses


In January 2016, Georgia Prospers kicked off with more than 100 businesses signed on, including Coca-Cola, Google and Marriott. As the RFRA fight played out in Atlanta, Chance’s phone never stopped ringing, he says, with companies clamoring to sign his group’s pro-equality pledge.


But the full genius of the approach wasn’t clear to him [Ronnie Chance, a former Republican state Senate majority leader in Georgia] until another dad at his daughter’s basketball practice mentioned reading about the effort in a companywide e-mail. The man worked at Delta, which had joined Georgia Prospers and was mobilizing employees to call their representatives. Lawmakers, Chance realized, were “hearing organically from their constituents who may be employed by Home Depot or Delta Air Lines.”


After the Georgia Legislature pushed through the RFRA bill in March 2016, Gov. Dealvetoed it


It was the first major victory for what Gill calls his Southern strategy.


Now, in Manhattan, the focus is on the upcoming election of Roy Cooper, the attorney general of North Carolina and Democratic candidate for governor. Cooper, who flew into New York for the Gill event, campaigned on overturning his state’s infamous HB2 law, the restriction on bathroom access for transgender people that led to the cancellation of dozens of events and the potential loss of nearly $3.8 billion in revenue. Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr canceled tour dates in North Carolina, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, and the NCAA relocated all seven of its championship events scheduled in the state. Cooper’s bid to unseat Republican Gov. Pat Mc-Crory, who signed HB2 into law, Gill says, is a “must-win.”


More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts. The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. “We’re going into the hardest states in the country,” he says. “We’re going to punish the wicked.”


The Gill Foundation is located in a renovated brick warehouse in downtown Denver


On my first day in Denver, I meet with Cuff, a Georgia native who took over the foundation around the time that it was shifting from marriage to nondiscrimination. The new phase, Cuff explains, couldn’t be more different from the marriage fight


The foundation’s research has also revealed the degree to which Americans’ actual beliefs about LGBTQ individuals haven’t changed. Acceptance for LGBTQ people peaked around the time of the Obergefell decision, bolstered by uplifting coverage of same-sex marriage, but the pace of change has since slowed. “When it comes to values-based questions like ‘Do you want your kids to have a teacher who is LGBTQ?’ ” says Brad Clark, a vice president at the foundation, “the numbers just plummet.”


The next day, I sit down with Gill and his husband, Scott Miller, at their private office in a tony neighborhood south of downtown…


Gill calls himself “genetically Republican” – his parents are Republicans, and so were his grandparents, all of them members of a prominent Colorado family. (They have a town named after them, population 1,224.)  As a teenager, Gill devoured the science-fiction novels of James Tiptree Jr. and learned to program on a hulking HP 2000. He came out to his parents during his freshman year at the University of Colorado. They were rattled but gradually came to terms with his sexuality. (To better understand her son, his mother later earned two degrees in psychology.)


Gill volunteered for the campus gay-liberation group and later supported local AIDS awareness. Otherwise, he had little connection to the explosion of activism in the 1980s – die-ins staged by ACT UP or the marches in Washington. Gill stayed in Denver and focused on launching a software company, Quark, with a $2,000 loan from his parents. Soon, Quark’s publishing software was ranked as one of the best in the industry. Sales skyrocketed, and Gill landed on the Forbes 400 list. (He recalls arguing with the magazine’s staff over the years to ensure his bio said he is gay.)


Two years later, he launched the Gill Foundation, mainly to fund LGBTQ projects in Colorado. He had no grand strategy; he left that to the professional activists. After a few years, though, Gill grew tired of dabbling in the LGBTQ movement. In 1999, he sold his stake in Quark for a reported $500 million and went to work running the Gill Foundation full time. Then as now, he set a goal to help as many LGBTQ people as fast as possible, so he set his sights on winning battles in individual states…Gill moved 60 percent of his assets – more than $300 million – into an endowment for his LGBTQ work.


Working with three other wealthy donors – the Gang of Four – Gill started with his home state, where his newly hired political adviser, a former tobacco lobbyist named Ted Trimpa, built a political and policy machine aimed at reversing the red tide in Colorado politics.


Gill and his fellow donors poured millions into groups with sleepy names like the Alliance for Colorado’s Families and Coalition for a Better Colorado – groups that, from the outside, seemed to appear out of nowhere. They invested in get-out-the-vote work and microtargeted advertising, all of it driven by a state-of-the-art data operation, and they were extremely effective. In 2004, Colorado Democrats won back control of both legislative chambers for the first time in 30 years.


At the national level, however, 2004 was a disaster. Karl Rove mobilized evangelical voters for President George W. Bush’s re-election by putting constitutional amendments to outlaw same-sex marriage on the ballots in 11 states. It worked: Bush won, and voters in all 11 states approved marriage bans.


…Some activists chafed at Gill’s state-by-state approach, believing that the fastest way to win marriage was passing legislation in Congress or through the courts.


Soon after the 2004 elections, Rodger McFarlane, a legendary AIDS activist who had recently joined the Gill Foundation, summoned the leaders of the major LGBTQ groups to Denver for a meeting at Gill’s behest. Gill couldn’t tell the Human Rights Campaign or Lambda Legal or the ACLU what to do. But he had the clout to tell them they needed to get along, a task he left to McFarlane, an imposing former Navy officer, baldheaded and standing six feet seven. McFarlane gathered the LGBTQ leaders in a conference room at the foundation’s headquarters and shut the doors. No one leaves this f*…room, he told them, until we have a plan.


…McFarlane’s post-election meeting in Denver set in motion the creation of what became known as the 10-10-10-20 Plan, a movement wide blueprint for winning marriage equality in 10 states, civil unions in 10 states and domestic partnerships in 10 states, while shifting public opinion toward the gay community in 20 states, all by the year 2020.


In late 2005, Gill and his team launched a political operation, Gill Action, to elect lawmakers who support LGBTQ rights and defeat those who don’t. OutGiving, the network of donors started by Gill, would host a political program during election years to bundle donations for campaigns and ballot measures hand-picked by Gill Action.


Per the 10-10-10-20 Plan, Gill Action’s efforts focused on the state level. Congressional elections cost millions, but a smart investment of $50,000 in a handful of state races could flip an entire legislative chamber from anti-LGBTQ to pro-LGBTQ


Gill also knew his political efforts would never succeed if opponents connected him directly to the money. Stealth was key. The words “Gill Action” rarely appeared in a candidate’s campaign filings; instead, anyone who bothered to look would find an oddly large number of donations from Malibu, Denver and New York for a state Senate race in Iowa. Gill’s team operated under such secrecy – avoiding the media and guarding its playbook…


In 2006, its first election year, Gill Action defeated 50 of the 70 candidates it targeted, including the Republican speaker of Iowa’s House of Representatives. Four of the 13 states where Gill Action directed its funds saw at least one legislative chamber flip from Republican to Democratic control. Democrats everywhere did well in 2006, buoyed by strong anti-Bush sentiment nationwide. Still, Gill saw the results as proof that the strategy was sound.


At the same time, failure was encouraged. One of Gill Action’s first hires was Bill Smith, a young Alabama-born independent political consultant who had learned the trade working for, of all people, Rove. After coming out in the early 2000s, Smith grew disaffected with the direction of the Republican Party and joined Gill Action after a stint working for the Log Cabin Republicans…


…Gill and Smith would form the Fight Back New York campaign and unseat three senators who voted against gay marriage, clearing the way for the Marriage Equality Act, which made New York then the largest state to allow LGBTQ people to marry.


…Gill had teamed up with several wealthy Republican donors during the marriage fight – hedge-fund investors Paul Singer and Daniel Loeb – and the three men agreed to reboot Freedom to Marry, the linchpin of the marriage campaign, as Freedom for All Americans, which would be the face of the nondiscrimination push.


… A few weeks after Trump pulled off the most improbable presidential win in history, I visit Gill in Denver. Like many, he believed that Hillary Clinton, who Gill had raised money for, would win. He sounds resigned to the fact that the next four years will be far tougher than anyone had expected. The people surrounding Trump are the stuff of nightmares for the LGBTQ community – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has donated heavily to anti-gay causes; as a congressman, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and called the Obama-era protections for transgender people “absurd”; and Vice President Pence is, of course, the archnemesis of the LGBTQ movement. Gill tells me, “I don’t expect massive progress on gay rights in this administration.”


But the news wasn’t all bad on election night…


Gill was especially heartened by the results in North Carolina, where Democrat Cooper won in part by campaigning against the state’s HB2 transgender bathroom law. Gill Action had invested heavily in North Carolina, and Gill saw Cooper’s win as proof that his Southern strategy of highlighting the economic blowback to laws like HB2 works. “The spectacular thing is that we managed to do that in a year when Trump took that state by four points,” he says.


In the near term, that means fending off direct attacks on LGBTQ people. In February, a draft executive order that constituted an all-out assault on gay rights leaked out of the Trump administration. The order, described by legal experts as both “staggering” and “sweeping,” would have gone beyond any RFRA law, allowing practically anyone to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the thinnest of religious grounds


It also means taking the long view – even with your allies.  In March, now-Gov. Cooper signed legislation that claimed to repeal North Carolina’s HB2 but also put in place a ban on municipalities passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances. LGBTQ and civil-rights leaders saw the bill as a betrayal…


Before he dies, Gill tells me in Denver, he plans to spend every last dollar in the foundation’s coffers…


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