As CNA previously reported, in 2012 the Gill Foundation made a $100,000 general support grant to the Catholics United Education Fund, almost the entire annual budget of the group. With its 501c4 partner Catholics United, the group had begun to lobby for same-sex marriage and criticized Catholic groups and schools that followed Catholic teaching on the subject. In 2013, the group claimed the Catholic men’s organization the Knights of Columbus was funding a “far-right political agenda” against “marriage equality.” In fact, the men’s group was following the lead of the U.S. bishops and its work to defend marriage was praised by Pope Francis in a letter to its 2013 international convention.
Ahead of the 2012 elections, Catholics United sent a letter to Florida pastors saying it was monitoring Catholic churches for reputed illegal political activity. Officials with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said the letter was inaccurate and appeared to be “an attempt to silence pastors on issues that are of concern to the Church this election season.”
In April 2012, Catholics United and its allies protested the withdrawal of a Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant to the Colorado-based immigrant aid group Companeros. The Catholic campaign, an initiative of the U.S. bishops, withdrew the grant because the group maintained membership in a coalition that supported the legal recognition of homosexual relationships. The Gill Foundation subsequently gave a $30,000 matching grant to the immigration aid group while the Catholics United Education Fund gave $7,000.
The White House’s announcement of Miller’s nomination described Miller and Gill as “the largest contributors to LGBTQ equality in history, having donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the cause.”
Miller had introduced Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, as a speaker at the 2015 OutGiving conference, an invitation-only gathering of major LGBT donors. Miller praised Biden, who was the first sitting vice-president to declare support for same-sex marriage, as “a true friend and ally, an agent of change for the LGBT community.”
The announcement of Miller’s nomination noted his role directing the Gill Foundation’s “national giving strategy to advance LGBTQ equality,” citing its campaigns to “end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans” and to “ban conversion therapy.” Such bans have drawn concern that legitimate counseling for those with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria would be affected.
Anti-discrimination law that makes LGBT identity a protected class has ensnared Christians and others with objections to same-sex relationships, including those in the wedding industry. Similar laws and policies have forced Catholic adoption agencies to close because they cannot place children with same-sex couples.
The Gill Foundation has helped promote a narrow vision of religious freedom. With $100,000 in funding from the San Francisco-based Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, the Gill Foundation worked with the Movement Advancement Project on “research to develop messaging around gay rights and ‘religious liberty’ issues.”
Last year the Movement Advancement Project published a report on the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Supreme Court case, claiming that religious exemptions would “harm millions of children.” It argued against even a narrow ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia, which could not in good conscience place children with same-sex couples despite the city’s new anti-discrimination rules.
The Gill Foundation is a funding partner of the Massachusetts-based Proteus Fund’s Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative, which advocates a narrow view of religious freedom. This donor group opposes “the inappropriate use of religious exemptions to curtail reproductive health, rights and justice, discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, and otherwise undermine fundamental rights and liberties essential to a healthy democracy.”
Further, the Gill Foundation was among the backers of the Civil Marriage Collaborative, a previous Proteus Fund-based effort. This funding group worked to recognize same-sex unions as marriages. The collaborative closed in 2015 after spending more than $153 million over 11 years on various U.S. groups, projects, and campaigns.
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The foundation's tax forms and grant listings show it made grants to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation to support a “religious exemptions project.”
CNA sought contact from Miller and the White House, which did not comment. The Gill Foundation told CNA it is not involved in the personal and political activities of its board members.
Gill, Miller’s same-sex partner, helped change the political landscape of Colorado. In the 2000s he was a close political collaborator with current Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and billionaire heiress Pat Stryker, whose brother Jon founded the Arcus Foundation. Gill has implemented a political strategy to target outspoken critics of LGBT causes who run for local office in competitive races. Defeating potential political foes in entry-level races, he reasoned, prevents them from rising to greater influence and drains their talent pool.
In June 2017 the magazine Rolling Stone profiled Gill, mentioning Miller in passing. Rolling Stone described Gill’s strategy of focusing on business interests to back LGBT political causes. The Gill Foundation is a donor to and collaborator with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its local branches on LGBT issues.
Gill, speaking the wake of President Donald Trump’s election victory, drew criticism for his comments that he would double-down on an anti-discrimination campaign.
“We’re going into the hardest states in the country,” he said in Rolling Stone’s profile. “We’re going to punish the wicked.”