Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gay is Good, but You're Not Good Just Because You're Gay

You may have recently seen the news stories about an NBA executive who came out.  This was characterized as a positive thing, "a watershed moment in [the NBA's] relationship with the LGBT community."  The stories gave us the familiar narrative of growing up white, middle class, and gay, but Mr. Welts' experiences led him to dramatically different political conclusions than most of us non-NBA execs.  One article concludes that "Welts has made history, and we should applaud him for it."  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm not all that impressed with gay guys who make a shitload more money than me and also support right wing politics that hurt working class queers.  Maybe he's gotten as far as he has because he's got his boot on the necks of the rest of us?


Gay NBA Exec Welts:
$2K for McCain, $0 to No on Prop 8

Talk about a grand exit from the closet. Yesterday's front-page of the New York Times' recycled-tree edition reported the official coming out of Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts as a gay man, and like many others I too laud his stepping out. Always good to have high-profile business folks, especially inprofessional sports, doing the right thing and stating that they are gay.

Wanting to learn more about Welts's political views, as best as they can be gleaned from Federal Election Commission and California election disclosure laws, I searched for any donations he may have made to politicians or PACs.

At the federal level, Welts in March 2003 donated $2,000 to Sen. John McCain's Patriot First PAC, and I imagine since Welts's team is based in the GOP senator's state, it makes sense that as a businessman he would want to support McCain. But what about McCain's opposition to gay rights legislation? Did Welts ignore those issues in order to make a contribution?

In February 2004 Welts gave former Sen. John Edwards $500 for his presidential campaign, and Edwards is way more supportive of gay rights than McCain so I don't believe Welts had to ignore anti-gay views of the recipient when writing the check.

That's it for Welts's giving at the national level, and in California norecords turn up for him having made donations to any politician or ballot proposition race. The Secretary of State's campaign disclosure search engine shows no contributions, while the SF Chronicle's comprehensive data collection of donors contains no record of giving to either the Yes or No on Prop 8 campaigns.

Make of this what you will. I won't be surprised if Welts starts making donations to Gay Inc organizations, LGBT politicians and finds other ways to share his wealth and status with the community.

(Photo of Welts taken by Joshua Lott for the NY Times.)

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