What could $60,329 buy for gay Georgians?

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The battle over Proposition 8 reached into the pocketbooks of some 308 Georgians. But could the money have been better spent?

The anti-gay marriage amendment in California, which voters approved on Nov. 4, received nearly $72,000 in donations from supporters and opponents across Georgia, according to Southern Voice. The newspaper reviewed donations through a donor tracker from the Los Angeles Times that allows you to find out who gave donations of $35 or greater and find them based on name, city, zip code or state.

Of the $71,579 in donations from Georgia, $60,329 was from opponents of the measure, with $11,250 from those supporting. Both sides on the Prop. 8 battle raised a combined $75 million to fund their campaigns and it was one of three bans on same-sex unions that voters approved earlier this month. The others were in Arizona and Florida, bringing to 30 the number of states that have outlawed gay marriage.

That opponents of Prop. 8 donated more than five to one over supporters in a state as red as Georgia is a bit of a surprise. The California measure has inflamed passions across the country, including when hundreds of gay and lesbian Atlantans joined two rallies on Nov. 15 in the wake of its passage (top photo). The rallies were part of a national day of protest organized online by Join the Impact.

But could those thousands of dollars in donations be better spent in Georgia? Consider that Georgia Equality, the statewide gay rights group that was involved in the Nov. 15 rallies, skimps by on an annual budget of $250,000. The group’s efforts have been undercut over the last few years by its lack of financial support.

imageWith a new General Assembly session set to start in January, would the more than $60,000 in donations against Prop. 8 impact Georgia Equality’s efforts to monitor and lobby lawmakers when they return to the State Capitol? Indeed, according to Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s executive director (photo).

“Georgian’s should be very proud of the money we raised to fight Proposition 8 in California,” Graham says. “However, it is important to remember that as important as the fight in California is, it is also important to fight just as hard for equality here at home.”

For $60,000, Georgia Equality could fund a full-time lobbyist and technology upgrades to help its advocacy efforts, he says.

“If we were able to raise $60,000 in new donations, we could hire the additional staff needed to operate effective community and political organizing throughout the state,” Graham says.

Even more important, he adds, are the small amounts that Prop. 8 opponents in Georgia donated.

“While large donations are extremely helpful in reaching our financial goals, as recent campaigns have shown, the power of a large number of small donations is just as important. If we had an additional 500 donors giving $10 a month, we would have the stable base of funding necessary to run the type of effective political organization Georgia’s LGBT community deserves,” Graham says.

The donations in Georgia from Prop. 8 opponents range from Alan Galumbeck’s $36 to $4,000 from Kitchens New LLC, a gay-owned law firm in Atlanta. For supporters, amounts start with Norman Black’s $50 to $5,000 from Augusta resident Randall Hatcher.

When it comes to big dollar contributions, opponents of Prop. 8 won the fundraising race, chipping in seven donations of $1,000 and the $4,000 check from Kitchens New. Supporters provided one donation of $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000.

Who’s on the list from Georgia? Read it yourself — both supporters and opponents of Proposition 8.

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