President Obama's supporters in New York's gay community are already registering their appreciation for his new stance on gay marriage. Campaign officials are telling supporters privately they've already noticed an uptick in giving and offers to host new fundraising events.
A reelection fundraiser in New York targeting gay and Latino supporters was already planned before the president's announcement. But tickets for the event on Monday — which start at $5,000 — had not sold out.
The campaign, hoping for a crowd of about 150, sent out another round of invites on Thursday, which a spokeswoman said was standard practice for an unfilled event.
But the reaction to this appeal will be anything but standard, said Ethan Geto, a political consultant and longtime gay rights activist in New York. He's on a listserve of high-dollar LGBT donors, and he described the immediate reaction to the president's shift as an avalanche.
"Virtually everyone has said, 'I'm going to max out my $5,000, and now where can I give or raise and contribute much more money.'" Geto said. “The intensity of the emotion and the practical tangible result in terms of support for the campaign in meaningful ways, particularly in fundraising, are just astonishing.”
That means a boon for Obama's campaign coffers, and potentially for much bigger donations to the president's SuperPac, Priorities USA Action, which has struggled to match the fundraising of Restore Our Future, the SuperPAC backing Romney.
This enthusiasm is quite a change from less than a year ago, when the president was jeered by the audience at a New York LGBT fundraising gala when he hedged on the marriage question.
It’s also markedly different from 2008, said Joan Garry, the national co-chair of the LGBT Finance Committee for Obama’s 2008 campaign and former director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). She said that this moment isn't just past supporters getting re-energized. Rather, she emphasized, the president's stated commitment to same-sex marriage fundamentally transforms his relationship with his LGBT supporters, sparking a level of support that wasn't there four years ago.
“We raised a great deal of money based on promise, based on hope," Garry said. "What seemed to be missing at that time was an authenticity, an empathy, from the then-candidate Obama. There was a missing connection to LGBT people. That’s the difference now.”
And she said the campaign finance implications of that difference were immediately evident as she talked to fellow LGBT activists.
"There was one gentleman I can think of who's raised $10,000 in small increments in 24 hours, and he was one of the most vocal people over the last couple of years disappointed with the president and where he stands on marriage,” she said. “My sense is that the checkbooks have begun to fly.”