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For week ended August 22, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Initiative foes up the ante ($300K for CA Marriage Campaign)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Initiative foes up the ante ($300K for CA Marriage Campaign)
Planet Out NewsPlanet 18Aug99 L1
By NewsPlanet Staff


ETrade boss gives $300,000 to fight
San Francisco CA Examiner 17Aug99 L1
By Robert Salladay: Examiner Capitol Bureau

With one donation, opponents of the Knight initiative may have achieved some fundraising parity. At a fundraising event August 15th, Kathy Levinson and her partner Jennifer Levinson donated $300,000 to fight the anti-gay-rights initiative. The event also raised an additional $200,000, estimated Mike Marshall, manager of the Californians for Fairness campaign. As recently as June 30th, supporters of the initiative held a 4-1 fundraising edge.

The ballot initiative would confirm current California law that restricts marriage to heterosexual couples and would bar recognition of legal same-gender marriages performed elsewhere. The LDS Church urged members in Priesthood and Relief Society meetings in May to support the initiative, and donations prior to June 30th reflected that support.

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno was one of 120 guests at a party at Levinson's home where she announced the donation. "When she first made her announcement, she had everyone on their feet, cheering wildly," said Leno. "It was a very exciting time." Levinson is President and Chief Operating Officer of on-line stock broker ETrade of Menlo Park, California, which she joined in 1996 after working for Charles Schwab for 15 years. She is a multimillionaire and with her partner is raising two children.

Levinson has not been politically active prior to this donation, and now the donation may open ETrade to pressure from the religious right, even though the donation was made by Levinson personally, rather than by the company. When the San Francisco Examiner asked Definition of Marriage initiative campaign spokesman Rob Stuzman to comment on the donation, he said, "Oh man, I have an ETrade account. I'll have to switch." But switching to another on-line broker may not make a lot of difference. Charles Schwab's co-CEO, who worked with Levinson at Schwab reportedly gave $5,000 to fight the intiative.

Stuzman and other supporters of the initiative are not surprised at the donation. "There are very wealthy gays and lesbians who potentially could be very large donors to their campaign," he said. He predicts an agressive fund-raising war over the next several months.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information