Friday, August 10, 2007

Boy in Bushwick Recaps LGBT Debate

Democratic presidential candidates sought to highlight their pink credentials during the first LGBT-specific debate last night in Los Angeles which aired on Logo. The format bordered on clunky with rather predictable questions about marriage for same-sex couples, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other LGBT hot topics of the days. The candidates, for the most part, stuck to pre-packaged sound bites and to a broader degree the Democratic National Committee's official platform. The confab, however, did mark a historical milestone for the movement for LGBT rights because it marked the first time White House hopefuls took part in an LGBT-specific forum during any campaign cycle. That said; below are some more memorable points from the evening.

- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson candidly and rather stupidly told singer Melissa Etheridge he believes homosexuality is a choice. She initially thought he misunderstood the question but he rather quickly tried to deflect attention away from his gaffe. "I'm not a scientist," Richardson nervously responded. "It's... it... I don't see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as people. I don't like to categorize people or answer definitions like that perhaps grounded in science or something else I don't understand."

- Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina applauded his wife Elizabeth's direct challenge to conservative columnist Ann Coulter last month. "What Ann Coulter does is the worst kind of political discourse," he said. "It is intended to go to the lowest common denominator of the American people and divide us." Edwards further admitted his previous and current struggles on marriage for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues. He bridged this personal introspection to his broader 'two Americas' message which continues to resonate with many potential voters.

- U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois echoed the movement for LGBT rights' broader strategy not to compare its charge to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. "I'm always very cautious to get into comparisons of victimology," he said in response to a question Margaret Carlson asked on the possible similarities. "The issues faced by gays and lesbians today are different than the issues faced by African Americans under Jim Crow."

- Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska remained steadfast cheerleaders for LGBT Americans and the host of issues about which they care. "I stand for full equality," Kucinich said. "This is really part of the American tradition."

- U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York once again emerged as the Democratic front runner. The ties between her and the movement for LGBT rights appeared loud and clear. Logo even panned away from her as she prepared to kiss Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Joe Solmonese on the cheek as she walked onto stage. Hilary Rosen, who has endorsed Clinton's campaign, also co-produced the forum. Clinton once again came out in favor of civil unions. She further blasted President Bush and the GOP in yet another partisan attack. Clinton concluded, however, the Democrats with her in the White House will continue to advance the cause for LGBT rights. "We have made it very clear in our country we believe in equality," she said. "How we get to full equality is the debate we are now having."

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