A brief but intense kafuffle erupted last week over a campaign contribution received by Senator McCain from one of his supporters, culminating in the refund of the $2,300 donation to the contributor. What could cause the campaign to part with precious monies at this crucial time in the fund-raising season?
It seems the donor, Jonathan Crutchley, was the co-creator of Manhunt.net, the ultra-popular on-line site for gay men interested in meeting other men for casual relationships and more. Once word of Mr. Crutchley’s gift got out, the gay Blogosphere lit up in angry red at the idea that America’s most popular gay website—which it is by far—was owned by Republicans. That allegation was countered by Manhunt’s other founder, Larry Basile, a lifelong Democrat who disavowed any connection to or affection for the Republican Party. He also announced Crutchley’s resignation as chairman of the company.
The fact that Crutchley felt that he had to take this step underscores a) the extent to which partisan politics has infused all areas of life, such that Manhunt actually did lose customers in the wake of this revelation; and b) just how radioactive the Republican Party has become for gay voters—and vice versa. That the McCain campaign took the unusual step of returning the donation speaks volumes about the Party’s attitude toward GLBT voters. To reject a gift given in good faith is an extreme act of social censure. The implication is that the gift is tainted by its source, which is unworthy even to pay tribute to the recipient.
On the other hand, returning the gift probably did Manhunt a big favor, allowing the company to forget it ever happened and return to doing what it does best.