Newt Gingrich Raises $1,900 for National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
(June 6, 1998) A signed calendar from Newt Gingrich and accompanying correspondence garnered the highest bid at a Washington, DC charity auction for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).
The calendar skyrocketed in value after NGLTF received a fax from the office of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the most homophobic members of Congress, denouncing the organization and claiming his autographed calendar was donated to the organization without his knowledge or consent.
"Newt Gingrich has been trying to turn back the clock. Now he wants to take back the whole calendar," said Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "We were originally dubious of the worth of such a liberally distributed item, but the Speaker has just significantly increased its value."
Coordinators for NGLTF's Second Annual Capital Pride Auction sent hundreds of donation requests for the event to celebrities and political figures, including Gingrich, who routinely sends autographed "Friends of Newt" calendars to charitable organizations upon request. On March 12, Brooke Ransom of Gingrich's office sent the autographed calendar to NGLTF with a letter stating, "I hope the event is a great success!" Today, Ransom sent another letter saying, "The calendar was sent to you without the Speaker's knowledge or approval" and "anyone who has followed his career knows that he is not supportive of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force [sic]."
"We actually have been following the Speaker's career but were not aware that he had a specific position on the Task Force," continued Lobel. "We will be requesting a meeting to brief him on our agenda of fairness and equality for all people."
The Speaker's office also aided, albeit indirectly, in garnering not only money but publicity for the event. The auction, along with letters from his office, was mentioned in a June 6 Washington Post article. After much spirited bidding, the "Gingrich Package" went for a whopping $1,900, beating out more than 600 other items including works of art, cruises and trips, and Redskins tickets, many donated by such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor and Rosie O'Donnell.
"We're incredibly grateful to Speaker Gingrich for his generosity and his help," Lobel stated. "The Speaker has our assurance that we will commit the proceeds from his calendar and the letters to fighting the anti-gay intolerance and discrimination he spurs."
Appropriately, Garrith Xavier-Carey, the winning bidder for the "Gingrich Package," lives in Atlanta, GA, and was raised in Cobb County, Gingrich's own home county.
"Contrary to the reputation Newt Gingrich gives Georgia, our state is at the forefront of pro-gay and pro-lesbian issues," Xavier-Carey said. "I thought it fitting to bring the calendar home to Newt since he was so generous to give it to us."
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