The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Liberal Politics

They are called the Cabinet. Meet the seven wealthy, gay political donors who are quietly pouring money into races all over the country — and redefining liberal politics in the process

Illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME

A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues;...