Started by Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, who is also co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council, and petroleum heiress Sarah Schmidt, along with several communications and LGBT-rights activists such as Urvashi Vaid and Alix Ritchie, the group seeks to raise money to advocate for LGBT rights, reproductive freedom and quality health care and to work for social, racial and economic justice by electing pro-women candidates to office.
The group is unique in its efforts. Certainly, lesbians have allies among gay male and women’s-rights advocacy groups, but only lesbians sit at this particular intersection.
And while other groups cover some of its issues — namely, The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund for LGBTs and EMILY’s List for women — they don’t embody the issues the same way. While one can fight for another’s rights, it’s different when they are your own. One can be passionate about justice for a minority group, but it hits home when you are that minority group, perhaps in more ways than one (or two).
In the larger-issues arenas in which lesbians traditionally exist, they are often minorities. LGBT fundraisers and receptions are routinely dominated by gay men — particularly the big-money political events. By sheer numbers, lesbians make up a smaller portion of women’s-rights efforts, and aren’t always included in the issues conversations, even if they are impacted by the topic at hand.
Among the group’s supporters are actor Jane Lynch and tennis legend Billie Jean King.
In a press release, Lynch stated, “This year we have seen politicians repeatedly support policies that harm women. It is important to me to elect leaders who care about issues that impact women and their families.”
For her part, King stated, “The formation of LPAC provides lesbians and the entire LGBT community a new, stronger voice and a real and respected seat at the table when politicians make policy that impacts our lives.”
The connecting thread throughout is the group’s intention to have a “seat at the table” in federal, state and local politics.
This new PAC, not constrained by contribution limits, will give directly to candidates and won’t be restricted on the basis of political party, sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to an Associated Press article, LPAC’s fundraising goal for 2012 is $1 million, but Schmidt noted there was “no downside here” whether LPAC brings in $500,000 or $5 million. “If it raises $500,000, we still have raised $500,000 for critical races, and it’s being raised from lesbian leaders whose voices may not have been heard before.”