Joe Biden to Address Secretive Network of Gay Donors

The veep is further burnishing his rock-star-status in the gay political community.

SINGAPORE BIDEN

U.S. Vice President Joseph "Joe" Biden gestures as he speaks during an interview in Singapore, on Saturday, July 27, 2013.

Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Updated at 2:56 pm Eastern with additional conference and speaking details

Joe Biden is, somewhat accidentally, one of the more significant figures in the recent history of the struggle for marriage equality. Biden famously blurted out his support for gay marriage during an appearance on "Meet the Press" in May 2012, knocking down an important barrier—only it wasn’t supposed to be his to knock down. President Obama was preparing to announce his own “evolution” on marriage, before Biden stole his thunder. The White House scrambled to arrange the Obamas’ televised announcement on ABC four days later. Biden later apologized to the president

Yet even so, Biden has attained rock-star status in the gay political community. Blunder or not, his announcement had the desired effect: Less than three years after his “Meet the Press” appearance, it’s practically unthinkable that a national Democratic politician would not support gay marriage. 

For those fighting for marriage equality, these are heady times, with the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments on gay marriage later this month and a favorable decision widely anticipated this summer. And they haven’t forgotten Biden. On April 30th, some of the biggest philanthropists involved in this fight will gather in Dallas for “OutGiving,” an annual conference organized by Tim Gill, the founder of Quark and an important behind-the-scenes figure in the gay rights movement, who over the last decade has worked to organize the political strategy for a large group of wealthy gay donors. (Read all about it here.)

On May 2, Biden will be a keynote speaker (per the Vice President's office, reporters will have an opportunity to cover his remarks).

Tim Gill at the offices of the Gill Foundation in Denver, on April 14, 2014.
Tim Gill at the offices of the Gill Foundation in Denver, on April 14, 2014.
Photographer: Matthew Staver/The New York Times via Redux

“The Vice President has been a true ally for LGBT equality,” Gill says, in an email to his network that was sent out today. “From his long-time leadership on preventing violence against women to his historic support for marriage equality and global LGBT human rights, Vice President Biden has been a champion for LGBT issues. We are grateful he will join us at OutGiving to celebrate the progress we’ve made and re-commit to the work that remains.”

A Gill official says that this year's meeting is devoted to philanthropic giving and all foundation grants will be made public.

For Biden, it’s a chance to soak up some love as the Obama administration draws to a close and attention turns to Hillary Clinton. And if Clinton should get beamed up by an alien spacecraft or is otherwise incapacitated, Gill’s network will be a invaluable fundraising source, should Biden make his own run for the White House.

From its outset 10 years ago (described in Atlantic profile), Gill's political strategy has been built upon secrecy and the element of surprise—swooping in at the last moment with his network to donors to turn races against unsuspecting anti-gay politicians. Also, the details surrounding this year's OutGiving conference are so shrouded in secrecy that they'd only reveal to me the city in which it's being held, not even the hotel.

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