Terrence Patrick Bean was born in Portland, Oregon in 1948, and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon. During his college years, he became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. A self-identified homosexual, as a senior Bean helped establish one of the first LGBT student groups in the United States.
Bean began lobbying the Oregon State Legislature and the City Council of Eugene, Oregon in 1971, and he helped work on a gay rights ordinance that was passed into law in 1977.
Bean co-founded the Gay Rights National Lobby (GRNL) in 1975 and served as its primary fundraiser during its formative years.
In 1979 Bean helped organize the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which was held on October 14 of that year.
In 1980 Bean co-founded the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), where he has served on the Board of Directors ever since; he is also a member of HRC’s Foundation Board and its Public Policy Committee.
In 1982 Bean served on the founding Board of Directors of the Gay Games (originally known as the Gay Olympics). He also competed as a golfer in that year’s inaugural games which were held in San Francisco, and he won two medals.
In 1982 as well, Bean co-founded the Right to Privacy PAC, a Portland-based Political Action Committee that raised money in support of LGBT-friendly candidates.
In 1989 Bean co-founded the Equity Foundation, a Portland-based philanthropy that awards monetary grants to LGBT community groups and programs. He currently serves on the Foundation’s Board of Advisers.
In 1991, Bean and Vic Basile, HRC’s first executive director, collaborated to create the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Political Action Committee that raises money for homosexual candidates at all levels of government.
Bean is a lifelong Democrat with considerable influence in the party as both an advocate and fundraiser. Past recipients of his financial support include such notables as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and Al Franken. Bean also has given money to the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List.
Bean was a delegate to every Democratic National Convention from 1992-2008; he co-chaired the National Finance Committee of Howard Dean‘s 2004 presidential campaign; and in 2008 he became the first gay member of the Barack Obama presidential campaign’s National Finance Committee.
In 2008 as well, Bean launched the website LGBTforObama.com, which served as a fundraising and outreach tool targeting the gay/transgender community. In the 2008 and 2012 election cycles combined, Bean single-handedly raised over $1 million for Obama. As columnist Michelle Malkin reports: “[Bean] was rewarded with an exclusive Air Force One ride with Obama…. Bean gleefully rubbed elbows with first lady Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton — and made sure everyone on his Flickr photo-sharing site knew it.” In an October 2012 interview with PQ Monthly magazine, Bean said that one of his proudest moments was when Mr. Obama in 2011 had repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. “Another standout moment,” Bean reflected, “was the  election of Barack Obama — because I knew from the beginning what an important advocate he would be for our community.” Obama’s re-election in 2012 would be crucial, Bean added, because “I’d like to see a Supreme Court with a solid majority of progressives … who will treat our community’s concerns fairly and with an open mind.”
Bean’s admiration for Obama was reciprocated in kind. In an October 2009 speech at an HRC event in Washington, the President directed a remark to “my great friend and supporter, Terry Bean.”
Bean has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since at least 2009. In August 2013, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed him to the DNC’s Budget & Finance Committee.
In November 2014, after an intensive investigation led by the Portland police department’s sex-crime units and two county district attorney’s offices, law-enforcement authorities charged Bean with two felony counts of third-degree sodomy and one misdemeanor count of third-degree sex abuse. The charges stemmed from a September 2013 incident where the 65-year-old Bean and his 24-year-old boyfriend, Kiah Lawson, had allegedly enticed a 15-year-old boy to a Eugene, Oregon hotel room after meeting him through the iPhone application “Grinder,” which helps men locate “local gay, bi and curious guys for dating.” According to prosecutors, Bean had engaged in this sort of behavior as far back as 1979, when he plied a 16-year-old boy with alcohol and drugs and engaged in sex with him.
Despite denying the charges brought by the boy who was involved in the 2013 encounter, Bean attempted to settle out of court by offering him at least $200,000 to drop the matter. As The Oregonian reported: “In some cases, the law allows a defendant to compensate a victim and have charges dismissed. Such a resolution requires a judge’s approval. Bean’s civil compromise motion was rejected by a Lane County judge.”
Ultimately, the sex-crimes charges against Bean and Lawson were dismissed in September 2015 because the accuser refused to testify. The judge, however, dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning that the state would be free to refile charges against the defendants in the future.
In addition to his work with HRC, Bean today is the President and CEO of Bean Investment Real Estate, a private company that trades and invests in commercial real estate as well as large residential complexes.
Further Reading: “Terry Bean” (AboutTerryBean.com); “Making Kings” (Willamette Week, 1-6-2004); “Obama Backer, Democratic Fundraiser Terry Bean Charged in Sexual Abuse Case” (CNN, 11-23-2014); “Judge Shuts Down Obama Donor’s Attempt to Pay-Off Teen Sex Victim” (Washington Free Beacon, 7-20-2015); “Nothing on Terry Bean” (Michelle Malkin, 12-3-2014).