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Tim Gill Wants Colorado Residents to ’Fight Back’

by Shaun Knittel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jul 27, 2012

Former software entrepreneur turned LGBT activist, Tim Gill, has Colorado lawmakers opposed to civil unions feeling uneasy. Earlier this month, Gill contributed $25,000 to Fight Back Colorado, a Super PAC, targeting lawmakers who do not believe gays should enter into civil unions, and ultimately, gay marriage.

"The committee will engage in independent expenditures in targeted districts to reach out to voters directly through mail campaigns, telephone calls, TV and radio ads, and online advocacy campaigns," said the Super PAC's news release. "Fight Back Colorado will announce its targets in the coming weeks and months. The campaign will be smart and methodical about where and when it targets representatives, determining where it can have the most impact in races where anti-equality incumbents are challenged by pro-equality candidates."

According to The Denver Post, Gill's donation was matched by One Colorado, the state's largest gay rights advocate.

Fight Back Colorado is modeled after Fight Back New York, which in 2010 helped oust state senators who opposed same-sex marriage. Armed with the motto, "there are consequences for standing in the way of equality," the New York group raised nearly $800,000, 15 percent of which was donated by Gill. The following year, New York passed the gay marriage bill.

In Colorado, however, a civil unions bill, widely opposed by Republican leaders in the House, died on the House floor when lawmakers reached an impasse on the measure as the 2012 legislative session came to an end. It died a second time in committee in May during a special session called for by the governor.

Gill and his husband, Scott Miller, live in Denver, Colorado. The couple married in Massachusetts in 2009.

Fight Back Colorado registered with the state last month and while the committee must by law disclose which candidates it will advocate for or against, Fight Back Colorado has yet to release a target list.

According to the group's treasurer, Roger Sherman of Denver, Fight Back Colorado will be "smart and methodical" about where it spends its money.

"We know that the majority of Coloradans support civil unions," said Sherman. "But this May, we all were betrayed by House Speaker Frank McNulty, Majority Leader Amy Stephens, and House leadership, who refused to let the Colorado Civil Union Act come to the floor for a vote, killing the bill, and the chance for loving and committed gay couples to be treated fairly."

Gill Foundation Advocates For LGBT Equality

Gill founded the Denver, Colorado-based Gill Foundation in 1994. The foundation is dedicated to advancing equality by supporting nonprofit organizations that serve LGBT and allied individuals, as well as people with HIV/AIDS.

Since its inception, the Gill Foundation has invested more than $197 million in nonprofit organizations throughout the country. According to Gill Foundation officials, Gill has always been an advocate for civil rights.

"In addition to funding the gay and lesbian movement for equal rights, he is also a strong supporter of social justice organizations and educational institutions," said a Foundation official. "Tim was one of the first major contributors to the Colorado AIDS Project and has long supported local public radio and television through program underwriting."

Through the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, a project of the Gill Foundation, Gill provided financial support to numerous organizations that serve the general public, including nearly $1 million to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.

But after 15 years, the fund closed its doors in 2011. Their building will go to the Rocky Mountain PBS and eventually lead to the creation of the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, upholding the building’s legacy as an open space fostering community and inclusiveness. The Center will also offer free public meeting space to nonprofits starting in September.

Gill said the Center will hope to create cross-platform content, increase the collective impact of public broadcasting statewide, and link higher education with public media so that area college students can be trained with the requisite skills necessary to thrive in the new media environment.

"With all the changes taking place in the media, public broadcasting is more important than ever," said Gill. "A healthy democracy depends on informed citizens, and this new center will help public media have greater impact in Colorado."

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Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.


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