January 20, 2021 at 10:57 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Gill Foundation puts up $1 million for campaign to expand LGBTQ civil rights
The Gill Foundation has contributed $1 million for a campaign against anti-LGBTQ discrimination amid new efforts to push for the Equality Act. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gill Foundation, a leading non-profit in contributing funds for the LGBTQ movement, has pledged $1 million to support a public education campaign against anti-LGBTQ discrimination amid expectations Joe Biden as president will push forward with the Equality Act.

Tim Gill and Scott Miller, a Denver-based philanthropic couple and longtime big dollar donors to the LGBTQ movement, signaled in an email to fellow LGBTQ donors last week they made the donation and encouraged others to follow suit. The confidential email was shared with the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

“Today, we are committing $1 million to seize a once-in-generation opportunity to achieve comprehensive nationwide equality,” Gill and Miller write. “And we’re asking our friends to join us.”

Gill and Miller wrote the Gill Foundation will “follow up with each of you to discuss this pressing opportunity and share how your philanthropy can fuel this work,” pointing out previous efforts have led 21 states to ban conversion therapy and 22 states to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

“Now we must ensure all LGBTQ Americans are protected from discrimination,” Gill and Miller conclude.

Sources familiar with the email, which was distributed to the list of OutGiving community LGBTQ donors, confirmed its accuracy, said it went out last Thursday and the donation was made in the form of a contribution from the Gill Foundation to the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund.

The Equality Act isn’t explicitly mentioned in the email, although as a 501(c)3 the Gill Foundation can’t advocate directly for federal legislation.

A Democratic insider said “interest seems to be strong” among donors for because they recognize an opportunity to pass the Equality Act with Biden in the White House and Democrats in control of both the House and Senate.

“We have the votes,” the insider said. “It’s a matter of getting cloture for a full vote of the Senate.”

The initial email seems to have caught on: After the appeal from Gill and Miller, the Gill Foundation sent a follow-up email announcing it had raised an additional half a million dollars from donors and hopes to double that by the end of the week, an LGBTQ donor who received the subsequent email told the Blade.

The Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, the recipient of the donation, is the 501(c)3 arm of an LGBTQ organization with a reputation for a bipartisan approach.

Kasey Suffredini, the CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, said in a statement the organization is “tremendously grateful to Tim, Scott and the Gill Foundation for this generous donation at this critical moment.”

“Our community is at a historic juncture where a supermajority of Americans now support these much-needed protections and our national leadership is poised to answer the call,” Suffredini said. “It wouldn’t have been possible were it not for Tim and Scott’s leadership and their life’s work to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of who they are or whom they love.”

Biden campaigned on signing the Equality Act, which would expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, within 100 days of his administration.

It remains to be seen whether or not he will fulfill that promise, complicated by the coronavirus and impeachment crises, as well as a shrunken Democratic majority in the U.S. House and the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster in the U.S. Senate.

Freedom for All Americans was at the forefront of efforts to pass state laws against LGBTQ non-discrimination and conversion therapy in New Hampshire, which enacted the measures with Republicans controlling both chambers of the state legislatures and the governor’s mansion.

The political 501(c)4 arm of Freedom for All Americans is able to lobby for the Equality Act, but the the 501(c)3 arm cannot. The money will go to broader public education work, such as increasing public support and educating everyday Americans about the discrimination against LGBTQ people, sources told the Blade. Additionally, the money will fund projects like Conservative Against Discrimination, sources said.

Freedom for All Americans has outlined a three-strategy approach to expanding the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law: Grow public support, increase the number of states and municipalities with LGBTQ non-discrimination protections and grow the coalition with new allies.

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

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