The ACLU’s campaign will be led by Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant who held senior positions in the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain. Schmidt also managed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California gubernatorial re-election campaign.
Additionally, the ACLU announced the hiring of GOProud co-founder and former Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. LaSalvia’s task will be outreach to gay conservatives, according to a statement released by the group.
The two Republicans were hired as part of a broader initiative challenging state legal and constitutional provisions that restrict marriage to a man and a woman. The ACLU is planning to spend $10 million on this effort through 2016.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he was interested in reaching Republicans “where they are” and trying to change minds on marriage. He praised Schmidt as someone who would help connect them to GOP leaders in the nearly 40 states that do not permit same-sex marriage.