Small LGBT dinner, big bucks for Obama

About 40 gay and lesbian supporters of President Obama’s re-election raised almost $1.5 million at a private fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Thursday night (February 9).

The event was co-hosted by the Chicago Cubs’ openly gay co-owner, former Ambassador James Hormel, and several other high-profile gay funders.

“The work that we’ve done with respect to the LGBT community,” said President Obama, according to a White House transcript, “I think is just profoundly American and is at the heart of who we are. And that’s why I could not be prouder of the track record that we’ve done.”

President Obama cited his administration’s track record on seeking equal rights for LGBT people, including repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” ensuring federally funded hospitals allow same-sex partners to have visitation rights, among others.

He recalled that, during a recent visit to Hawaii and a stop at a nearby Marine base gym, people thanked him for repeal of DADT.

“At least three times that I was at that gym,” said President Obama, “people came up, very quietly, to say, you know what, thank you for ending ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell.”

Although the dinner came just one day after the Washington State legislature passed its marriage equality law and two days after a federal appeals court in California struck down Proposition 8, President Obama did not make any remarks about those developments during the portion of the event in which a pool reporter was allowed.

According to the White House pool report, provided by a Washington Times reporter, Laura Ricketts, the openly gay co-owner of the Cubs major league baseball team in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, introduced the president.

Ricketts, who is a strong backer of Obama and co-hosted the event with openly gay Ambassador Hormel, told the gathering that “the LGBT community stands strongly behind his reelection.”

The president did a Q&A with the gathering after his remarks, but the pool was ushered out for that part of the event.

The fundraiser was held at the home of Nan Schaffer and Karen Dixon, a couple who first became active in LGBT community issues in Chicago. The White House pool report did not mention it, but, according to the Advocate magazine, the event was also co-hosted by gay funders David Bohnett, Tim Gill, and Henry van Ameringen.

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