October 31, 2015 at 7:00 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Major pro-LGBT Republican donor backs Rubio
Paul E. Singer, Paul Singer, gay news, Washington Blade

Republican donor Paul Singer has endorsed Marco Rubio for president. (Photo by the World Economic Forum; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Following a standout performance by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the third Republican presidential debate, a billionaire GOP philanthropist who supports LGBT rights has declared his support for the candidate’s 2016 bid.

In a three-page letter to dozens of donors obtained by The New York Times, New York-based hedge fund manager Paul Singer says Rubio “has been turning his campaign into a compelling argument for using conservative ideas to help America adapt and thrive in the 21st century.”

“This combination of appealing substantive views well suited to both the primary and general electorate, deep command of foreign and domestic policy details, hopeful confidence in America, grasp of 21st century realities and opportunities, political courage, and rhetorical style and talent, make him an exceptional candidate, perfect for this moment, and a potentially transformative governing figure,” Singer writes.

The endorsement from a high-profile donor like Singer, who backed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, is a major score for Rubio.

Alex Conant, a Rubio spokesperson, is quoted in The New York Times as welcoming the endorsement, adding, “We know we have a lot of work to do before Marco wins the nomination, but clearly this moves us in the right direction.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, author of “No Hope” and a gay political commentator who recently left the Republican Party, said Singer’s endorsement of Rubio isn’t surprising.

“At the end of the day, Paul Singer is an establishment Republican,” LaSalvia said. “The GOP establishment has been looking for a candidate to fall in line behind, and it’s looking like that’s Rubio.”

In addition to helping fund campaigns for Republican presidential candidates, Singer stands out among Republican donors because he supports LGBT rights. His son, Andrew Singer, is gay.

At a July 2014 conference for Wall Street CEOs and their gay sons, Singer said years ago he would rated himself a “solid 2.1” on scale of 10 on LGBT rights. After his son came out, Singer said conversations with him brought him to a 5.5 or 6 out of 10 on that scale. Singer is now considered a steadfast LGBT rights supporter.

In 2012, Singer launched the American Unity Fund and a political action committee, American Unity PAC, which aims to persuade conservatives to support LGBT rights. American Unity Fund helped push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 and American Unity PAC sought to elect pro-LGBT Republican congressional candidates in 2012 and 2014.

In 2013, Singer forged an odd-couple partnership with progressive Democratic donor Jonathan Lewis. They each and donated $250,000 to Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a coalition group that sought to pass ENDA.

That same year, the Paul E. Singer Foundation teamed up with the Daniel S. Loeb Family Foundation to award the Human Rights Campaign Foundation major grants over three years to support LGBT rights and fight homophobia and transphobia at an international level.

In October 2014, Singer hosted a first-of-its-kind secret meeting for pro-LGBT Republican activists and donors in D.C. Among the scheduled event participants was Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, who set to introduce Ted Olson, the Republican attorney who took the lead on litigation to overturn California’s Proposition 8 and Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

No where in the letter does Singer say anything about Rubio’s positions on LGBT rights. Like all other Republican presidential candidates, Rubio is opposed to same-sex marriage.

The candidate has lashed out at LGBT advocates for pursuing same-sex marriage in the courts, saying in January, “If they wanted to change that law, they should have gone to the legislature or back to the Constitution and try to change it.”

In 2013, Rubio voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and an LGBT-inclusive version of legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The candidate missed a vote in July on an amendment from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) along the lines of the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

LaSalvia said Rubio might try to convince supporters he doesn’t possess an anti-LGBT outlook, but the candidate’s record proves otherwise.

“Marco Rubio has pranced around the country telling any potential donor who will listen that he’s not an anti-gay bigot,” LaSalvia said. “His record does nothing to prove that. His words don’t match his actions.”

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said Singer endorsement comes as no surprise based on Rubio’s interaction with Log Cabin.

“Log Cabin Republicans has had a relationship with Sen. Rubio for years, so it doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Singer sees the appeal of the junior senator from Florida as a common-sense conservative worthy of support,” Angelo said.

The Human Rights Campaign didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment over the weekend on Singer’s endorsement.

Christine Baratta, a spokesperson for the American Unity Fund, distanced the organization from the endorsement.

“American Unity Fund and American Unity PAC aren’t involved in the presidential election; our focus continues to be on Congressional and state elections,” Baratta said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • mishigoss

    And it doesn’t surprise me that a Log Cabin Republican would praise someone who shits on his human rights.

    • Brian’s Ions

      We ought not forget there are lots of LCR Republicans seeking ‘consensus’ from their party members and politicians on behalf of LGBT civil rights.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMZhN-Dho2w

      So, that said, the Blade ought to drill down on Angelo to find out if there is any serious specific policy position he can cite about LCR’s ‘relationship’ with Rubio.

      Empty rhetoric is an issue for candidates and party advocates alike.

  • lnm3921

    Rubio doesn’t support marriage equality despite the court victory and doesn’t support an equality act for GLBT. He also would appoint right-wing conservative judges to the courts which would affirm religious liberty trumps our rights.
    I wouldn’t trust him. Aside from that his economic and fiscal policies won’t help the poor or the middle class. They only will help billionaires like Singer and corporations.

    Just because someone who endorses our rights backs someone who doesn’t isn’t reason enough to vote for the enemy! Rubio is not an ally or a friend anymore than Ted Cruz is. His rhetoric may be more subdued but let’s no fool ourselves on the reality! I won’t vote for him simply because he maybe good looking.

  • Brian’s Ions

    Also, TODAY (Nov. 3), Virginia and Maryland local voters, PLEASE get out and vote for LGBT-friendly candidates. …

    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/10/28/college-park-race-fairfax-fight-draw-attention/

    http://evadvocates.org/2015-elections/

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