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Griffin, Chad (b. 1973)  
 
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Alliance with the Reiners

The job Reiner offered Griffin in 1997 was to help him and Michele establish a charitable foundation. Thinking the job would last about a year, Griffin accepted it and put his plans for a career in foreign service on hold.

He helped the Reiners establish the I Am Your Child Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to improving early childhood education and to raising public awareness about the critical importance of the prenatal period through a child's first five years.

Sponsor Message.

That collaboration with the Reiners led not only to other collaborations with them, but to a whole new career.

In 1998, Griffin established his own consulting firm, which morphed into Griffin Schake, which he founded with Kristina Schake, his business partner who left the firm in 2010 to become First Lady Michele Obama's communications director. (The firm is now known as Griffin Schein.)

Griffin Schake may be described as a politically-oriented public relations firm. It is best known for its involvement in California ballot initiative campaigns, but it also conducts "philanthropy campaigns," "cause branding campaigns," "issue management campaigns," and "crisis management campaigns."

In 1998, Griffin was hired by Reiner to lead the effort to pass California Proposition 10, which imposed a tax on tobacco products and directed the income toward early childhood efforts. To date, it has brought in about seven billion dollars.

In 2004, Griffin served as campaign director for another Reiner-sponsored initiative, Proposition 71, which authorized the sale of three billion dollars in bonds to fund stem cell research. In 2006, he led an unsuccessful campaign to establish an oil extraction tax in the state.

Griffin's company has also worked with numerous celebrities to establish philanthropic foundations and support causes. Among these clients have been Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julianne Moore, and Meg Ryan. Following the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Brad Pitt asked Griffin to help him establish his "Make It Right Foundation," to provide new housing in New Orleans's devastated Lower Ninth Ward. Griffin sits on the board of the foundation.

Other clients have included Warner Brothers, the Wal-Mart Foundation, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the California Endowment, and Al Gore's Live Earth global concert series.

Griffin has also worked as a fundraiser for political candidates, most notably for Senator Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

Proposition 8

Like many glbtq political junkies, Griffin responded to the election results of November 4, 2008 with decidedly mixed emotions. On the one hand, President Obama, who had promised to be a fierce advocate of gay rights, swept to victory. On the other hand, Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, passed narrowly.

Griffin, who had begun openly acknowledging his homosexuality in 2000, had been involved in both campaigns. He had been one of Obama's leading fundraisers in California and had been a passionate opponent of Proposition 8, at first on the sidelines and then as part of the campaign to defeat it.

The campaign opposing Proposition 8 floundered in October 2008, when polls began showing a surge in support of the measure. Griffin was asked to come in to rescue the effort to defeat the initiative. His efforts helped stem the loss of support for marriage equality, but not enough. Proposition 8 passed with almost 53% of the vote.

Griffin was devastated by the loss. Almost as soon as the results were certified, gay groups announced that they were filing lawsuits with the California Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Proposition 8. On May 26, 2009, however, the California Supreme Court, on a 6-1 vote, upheld the ban on same-sex marriage, while also narrowing the issue to a dispute about a mere word.

Rejecting all the arguments put forward by those challenging Proposition 8, the Court characterized Proposition 8 as merely "carving out a narrow and limited exception" to the state's protection of same-sex couples, reserving the official designation of the term "marriage" for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.

The ruling was a bitter disappointment to supporters of marriage equality, including Griffin and Rob Reiner. The two discussed the possibility of mounting a new initiative to reverse Proposition 8, but Griffin rejected that idea. "I'm a political strategist. I make my living by working on political campaigns and running ballot initiatives across the country," he said. "But I do not believe we should submit, ever, ever, one's fundamental, constitutional rights to a vote."

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