DENVER (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ultra-wealthy gay tech titan Tim Gill, a megadonor to gay rights causes, is vowing to "punish the wicked" by stripping Christians of religious liberty protections.
"We're going into the hardest states in the country," he told Rolling Stone in May. "We're going to punish the wicked."
The founder of publishing-software behemoth Quark, Inc., Gill sold his venture in 2000 for half a billion dollars in order to focus full-time on philanthropy. He has since funneled more than $400 million into gay rights advocacy.
Few Americans have heard of Tim Gill. That is purposeful. He wields enormous influence in the United States, but from behind the scenes.
Described as "one of the Left's most potent political donors," Gill is a master of so-called dark money, financing advocacy groups through his various nonprofits to push change at the state and national levels.
The Gill Foundation bankrolls research, polling, litigation and field organizing. Gill Action, his political organization, has helped get hundreds of pro-gay lawmakers into local, state and federal offices. Gill's donor club, OutGiving, advises America's wealthiest gay rights advocates on the most effective ways to donate their money.
His endeavors have been remarkably effective. According to Obergefell attorney Mary Bonauto, "we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation."
Gill has been influential in helping shift Colorado from "red" to "purple." In 2004, he helped flip the Colorado state legislature from Republican to Democrat majority for the first time in 30 years.
Gill financed the defeat of three New York state senators opposed to same-sex marriage during the 2010 elections. The next year, New York narrowly approved same-sex "marriage," becoming the largest "marriage equality" state, up to that time.
In a May profile of Gill and his impact, Rolling Stone writer Andy Kroll noted, "Gill's fingerprints are on nearly every major victory in the march to marriage, from the 2003 Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health case, which made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex marriage, to the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision two decades later that legalized it in all 50."
According to Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court Obergefell, "Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation."
But Gill was not content with his Obergefell victory. Though many gay rights supporters consider the battle won now that same-sex "marriage" is legal throughout all 50 states, Gill is pushing forward, setting his sights on state-level religious liberty measures enacted after Obergefell.
Georgia, for instance, proposed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to protect Christians from being forced to participate in or promote same-sex weddings. Gill mobilized a campaign to defeat the measure, signing on more than 100 businesses willing to boycott doing business with Georgia if it passed. Although it passed handily in the state house and senate, Republican governor Nathan Deal vetoed the measure, saying, "I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia."
Gill attributes the victory to his strategic campaign. And he plans on fighting any RFRA laws that crop up in any state. According to Rolling Stone, "More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts."
His claim that he will "punish the wicked" has prompted an outpouring of concern, with conservatives warning that Christians can now expect to be in Gill's line of fire.
Kroll followed up Friday, deriding concerns as "echo chamber" paranoia. Kroll noted that Gill has long used "punish the wicked" as a rallying cry against gay rights opponents, and assured readers that the multimillionaire activist is not singling out Christians for target.
After Obergefell, a number of states enacted measures to protect those who would refuse to participate in same-sex weddings owing to their religious beliefs. "It's these state laws," warns Bre Payton in The Federalist, "that Gill and his various nonprofit entities have decided to go after — and persecute Christians along the way."