August 31, 2020 at 4:52 pm PDT | by Chris Johnson
Cher raises $2 million for Biden at LGBTQ virtual fundraiser
Cher, gay news, Washington Blade
Cher raised $2 million at a Biden fundraiser. (photo by Machado Cicala; courtesy the Karpel Group)

“So ask yourself, do you believe in life after Trump?”

That was the question asked by Cher, paraphrasing the title of her iconic song, at the virtual LGBTQ fundraiser she headlined for Joe Biden on Monday evening, according to a pool report.

“Hi, it’s me,” Cher said at she appearing at end of the 30-minute fundraiser on screen wearing a black leather biker jacket. “Your poster girl since I was 9 years-old. I walked into our living room and met two of the most adorable gay hairdressers ever.”

Also appearing at the event was Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the most senior openly gay member of Congresss, lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Pete Buttigieg, who made waves in the Democratic primary as a gay presidential candidate.

Cicilline said at the beginning of the event that it had raised nearly $2 million, surpassing its original goal. The campaign said there 500 attendees on the Zoom call.

Cher said she had known Biden since 2006 when she invited herself to his office: “He thinks he invited me but really I invited myself. I saw a speech Joe had given and it was love at first speech.”

“So I went to his office to grill him and I asked him really pointed questions and unlike most politicians, Joe actually listened to me and cared [about] what I had to say,” Cher said. “He was honest and kind and smart.”

Drawing a distinction between Biden and Trump, Cher said, “Joe is smart enough, he’s kind enough, he’s strong enough. I also know that the person, woman, man, camera, TV, in the White House is an idiot. I mean it. No, the guy is really an idiot.”

Cher — who has a transgender son, actor Chaz Bono — pointed to the Trump administration’s policies negatively affecting transgender people, name-checking the military ban as well as regulations abolishing protections for transgender people in health care and homeless shelters.

“After all this, Trump has the audacity to say he supports Americans he calls, quote, ‘the gays.’ I’m surprised he doesn’t call them his ‘gay generals,’” Cher said.

Biden, dressed in the same blue suit he wore earlier in the day at the event in Pittsburgh, joined the call and noted gay Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) was there. “I tell you what, you’re dragging in New York to make sure we get things done,” Mr. Biden said in jest. “Is that the idea?”

Biden recommitted himself to signing the Equality Act into law within 100 days as president, lamenting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to bring up the legislation for a vote.

“When I’m president, that changes. I’ll make signing the Equality Act one of the top priorities of my first 100 days,” Biden said, adding he’d seek to “build a nation where everybody, everybody is finally not only created equal, but treated equally as well.”

Biden then recognized Mr. Buttigieg, citing his “enormous integrity,” and “physical courage as a naval officer and moral courage as a leader.” He also thanked “from a distance, Cher. She first supported us way back last winter when it took some guts to do so. Fortunately, guts are something Cher has in abundance.”

Repeating his remarks from earlier in the day at the Pittsburgh speech, Biden said reiterated “rioting is not protesting. All it does is hurt the communities, businesses and families that are already reeling from the injustices that existed as the reason for the protesting. It doesn’t advance the cause. It makes things worse, not better, and it’s wrong.”

Cher also spoke of Biden’s record on LGBTQ+ issues such as gay marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” predicting progress would continue if he were the candidate were elected president.

“As president, Joe will build on this progress, reversing destructive policies of the Putin, I mean, Trump administration,” she said, making a joke about Trump’s perceived affinity for the Russian president and refusal to condemn him.

Other speakers at the event also denounced Trump and praised Biden. Among them was Baldwin, who said Trump was stoking divisions, “especially in my home state of Wisconsin where we have seen tragedy and heartbreak in Kenosha, Wis., that this current president has only tried to stir it up and make it worse.”

“We need at this moment Joe Biden’s leadership, his compassion and empathy and his unity and hope,” Baldwin said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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