September 26, 2018 at 9:09 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Anti-LGBT advocates host D.C. fundraiser for Tammy Baldwin’s opponent

Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Milwaukee County) is Tammy Baldwin’s opponent in the 2018 election. (Photo public domain)

On the heels of hosting the Values Voter Summit, anti-LGBT advocates held a fundraiser for the challenger seeking to unseat lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) from the U.S. Senate.

An invitation for the fundraiser, obtained by the Washington Blade late Wednesday, reveals the fundraising breakfast for Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Wisconsin State Sen. Leah Vukmir took place at the D.C. office for the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that opposes abortion rights for women.

The fundraiser was presented by Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, and Cleta Mitchell, a prominent anti-LGBT attorney with the Foley & Lardner law firm. Mitchell has a reputation for being “the conservative movement’s anti-gay eminence grise” and as board of the American Conservative Union succeeded in banning the now defunct gay conservative group GOProud from CPAC.

Listed as co-hosts for the event are key figures of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, including Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell. The Southern Poverty Law Center has branded the Family Research Council a hate group over its anti-LGBT positions.

According to the invite, tickets for the fundraiser ranged from $250 to $100 for individuals and $1,000 to $5,000 for political action committees. The maximum contribution was $2,700 for individuals and $5,400 for couples.

It’s not a secret the fundraiser was set to take place. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the fundraiser was one of three for Vukmir in D.C. on Wednesday, although the Susan B. Anthony List event was the only one reported to have anti-LGBT advocates as co-hosts.

The fundraiser was set to take place on the same day the Susan B. Anthony List announced the Women Speak Out PAC, which seeks mobilize pro-life voters, would launch a six-figure digital expenditure campaign to elect Vukmir.

“Leah Vukmir will stand up to abortion extremists in the Senate at a time when her bold leadership could not be more urgently needed,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. “That’s why Women Speak Out is launching a six-figure digital campaign to expose Baldwin’s extremism and mobilize pro-life Wisconsinites to get to the polls and elect Leah.”

The Blade placed a request in with the Susan B. Anthony List to inquire about the amount of money raised for Vukmir at the event.

Vukmir, who secured the Republican nomination on Aug. 18, has an anti-LGBT record that includes support for a 2006 constitutional amendment in Wisconsin banning same-sex marriage and opposition to a measure against anti-LGBT bullying. As chair of the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, Vukmir also sat on legislation that would have prohibited widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors in Wisconsin.

In contrast, Baldwin is the first out lesbian elected to Congress and has championed LGBT rights in her decades as a lawmaker, including by being a co-sponsor of the Equality Act.

Although one poll last month showed a close race between Baldwin and Vukmir, the Wisconsin Democrat has since that time taken a wide lead in the race. A Marquette law school poll published this month found Baldwin led Vukmir 52-40 in the race.

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

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