Monday, April 30, 2007

Presidential Candidates Court California Democrats

Buzz surrounded many of the Democratic presidential candidates who appeared at the annual California Democratic Party's annual convention this past weekend in San Diego. Sen. Barack Obama, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards were among those who predictably criticized the White House's war strategy with rhetoric that surely energized anti-war party activists. The war will certainly continue to dominate discussion in the campaign. But Sen. Hillary Clinton's strategic comments towards gay and lesbian voters during her speech at the convention also raised some eyebrows.

The Associated Press reported Clinton promised to treat all Americans with dignity and equality no matter who you are and who you love. The Empire State Pride Agenda and other LGBT advocacy organizations have criticized the former first lady for her opposition to full marriage for same-sex couples. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer introduced a bill last Friday which would extend full marriage to gay and lesbian couples while California lawmakers continue to debate a similar bill in their state. Clinton's reference was clearly aimed to court gay and lesbian voters in the influential state. Yet her own record on marriage remains troubling to a number of LGBT activists and potential voters.

Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors told this blogger earlier this month his organization would not endorse any candidate who do not support its mission. California remains an important fundraising source for presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle. LGBT voters, however, should expect more from candidates than good sound bites and anti-Bush rhetoric. They should expect candidates to answer their questions directly. The candidates themselves, in turn, also have a responsibility to explain their positions on marriage and other issues to LGBT voters.

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