Jacob Reitan, director of the Equality Ride, which demonstrated across the South and at conservative Christian colleges, writes an open letter to Ellen DeGeneres on The Advocate Website, asking why she has yet to donate to the campaign to fight Proposition 8.
He writes, “I was shocked to learn that you and so many other gay and lesbian celebrities have not personally given to the No on 8 campaign. Why is this? You make tens of millions of dollars a year. You and Portia recently got married. Surely you know how important keeping that right is to you and your family. If we are to win, we desperately need your financial support.”
According to the records of the California Secretary of State, DeGeneres has yet to give, and as Karen Ocamb revealed last month, she was among the high profile gay donors who had not yet ponied up. But following that story, contributions from Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, as well as a $500,000 challenge from entrepreneur Jonathan Lewis, many have, including Melissa Etheridge, Greg Berlanti and Gus Van Sant. Just not DeGeneres.
There are a couple of ways to look at this. It’s not as if DeGeneres has not been out there stating her opposition to Proposition 8. She has on her blog, and in an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” She has talked about her marriage to Portia de Rossi on her daytime show, which perhaps did more to positively present the idea of same-sex nuptials to “traditional” households than a thirty-second spot could have done.
What is perplexing is why, given the hubbub, she doesn’t just write a check. It may be a testament to why stars employ political and philanthropic consultants — to avoid these types of pitfalls in the public sphere.
Update: The Advocate removed Reitan’s open letter from its Website. The Advocate’s Stephen Macias said, “the story was an op-ed from a member of the community” and not The Advocate staff. He said it was taken down after a conversation with DeGeneres’ P.R. rep and they learned of new information about DeGeneres’ role in defeating Proposition 8, including a public service announcement. DeGeneres posted a PSA on her blog today, and The Advocate highlights DeGeneres’ plans on its site.