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Keen on the trail: Gay related news on the presidential campaign trail…
Extended Online Version
by Lisa Keen
2007-12-12

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Less than a month away from the Iowa caucuses, the races for the Democratic and Republican nominations are too close to call. The average of six of the most recent polls in Iowa shows Sen. Barack Obama with 27.5 percent of the vote, and Senator Hillary Clinton with 27.2 percent. Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney tied are tied, at 26 percent each. In New Hampshire, by contrast, Clinton has a 12-point lead over second place Obama, and Romney has a 15-point stretch over second place Rudy Giuliani. And nationally, Clinton continues to hold a significant lead—17 points—over Obama.

LOGGING IN: Log Cabin Republicans national president, Patrick Sammon, said that Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee reflected his organization's philosophy Nov. 28 during the CNN-YouTube debate. During that debate, a video-question was broadcast in which a man who identified himself as David Cercone of Pompano Beach, Florida ( directory assistance had no such listing ) asked whether the candidates would accept support from the Log Cabin group. CNN moderator Anderson Cooper tossed the question to Huckabee who said: 'I need the support of anybody and everybody I can get.' He emphasized that, 'I strongly disagree with them on the idea of same-sex marriage. But in a democracy,' said Huckabee, 'we can have disagreements over some policies and still agree on the greater things that make us Republicans.' That answer, said Sammon, 'really reflects what Log Cabin has been saying—that we can sometimes disagree on certain things but need to unite around certain principals as party and shouldn't pursue agendas that divide us.'

GAY DELEGATE RACE: Two national gay organizations have efforts underway to try and maximize the number of openly LGBT delegates to the national party conventions this summer. The Human Rights Campaign conducted several workshops around Iowa with the statewide LGBT group 'One Iowa' this week, educating interested community members in how to participate in a caucus. National Stonewall Democrats this week launched 'Pride in the Party,' to focus on getting openly LGBT delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Stonewall said it hopes, at a minimum, to get 321 LGBT delegates to the Democratic convention—14 percent more than 2004.

ABSENT ON HIV: No Republican candidates for president returned a questionnaire on their HIV positions sent by three of the nation's largest AIDS service organizations. Among the eight Democrats, all but Christopher Dodd and Mike Gravel returned the questionnaires sent by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Housing Works, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. In a report released last week, analyzing the responses and information gleaned about the candidates who did not respond, the three groups noted that all the Democrats support and seven of eight Republicans oppose comprehensive sex education as a preventive measure. Rudy Giuliani was given a neutral rating on the issue. For more details, visit AIDSVote.org .

MINORITY COMFORT: At the Nov. 28 Republican forum on CNN-YouTube, several candidates were asked a rather specific question about the military's policy concerning gays. The question presumed they all supported the 'don't ask/don't tell' policy and queried why they must, therefore, 'think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians?' Long-shot candidate Duncan Hunter's answer suggested he believes it's because most people in the military are 'conservatives' with 'conservative values' and 'Judeo-Christian values,' and that 'to force those people to work in a small tight unit with someone who is openly homosexual, who goes against their principals…is a disservice to them.' But according to a public education center at the University of California-Santa Barbara, a 2006 poll of service members 'found that 72% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans say they are 'personally comfortable' in the presence of gays.'

VARIABLE CODES: Republican Mike Huckabee, in responding to the military question, repeated an answer he gave during a CNN debate forum in June, saying the issue of gays in the military is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a criminal code of laws that govern military personnel. He didn't say so, but the Uniform Code prohibits 'unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex.' It's the federal 'don't ask/don't tell' statute that covers the military's exclusion of gays. He suggested in June that he didn't think he would change the existing policy but emphasized that he considered it a matter of conduct, not 'attitude.' At the Nov. 28 forum, he reiterated that emphasis on 'when their conduct could put at risk morale or put at risk even the cohesion… that's what at issue.' The UC-SB Palm Center noted that 'don't ask/don't tell' is 'distinct from' the Uniform Code and that 'service members have routinely been discharged not for homosexual conduct but for the discovery of letters or emails that reveal their sexual orientation.'

ROMNEY ROAST: Republican Mitt Romney took the harshest bumps on the military question, when host Anderson Cooper personalized the question for him, noting that he had, in 1994, said he 'looked forward to the day' when gays and lesbians could serve openly in the military. 'Do you stand by that?' asked Cooper. Not surprisingly, Romney did not stand by that. Instead, he tried to deflect the question by noting that 'This isn't that time. We're in the middle of a war.' Cooper tried again: 'But do you look forward to that time?' Romney said he believes the 'don't ask/don't tell' policy is working and said he would 'look forward' to hearing from military leaders 'what they believe is—listen to what they have to say' on the matter.

McCAIN: Republican John McCain is apparently aware that a long list of retired generals has dissed the policy. The list, which includes former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili and Admiral William Crowe, recently denounced the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy as impractical and unfair, according to the UC-SB Palm Center. McCain told the CNN-YouTube forum that he talks frequently with active duty military leaders. 'Almost unanimously,' he said, 'they tell me that this present policy is working' and ought to be continued. What McCain did not mention is that a general article of the Uniform Code states that an active duty member of the armed forces can be court-martialed for any conduct that could 'bring discredit upon the armed forces' or causes 'the prejudice of good order and discipline.' Presumably, dissing the military's legal policies might be construed as a dicey act for the active duty.

AWARD FOR RICHARDSON: Equality Forum, a LGBT group which grew out of PrideFest of Philadelphia, announced this month that it will give an award to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, will receive the organization's 'International Role Model Award' in May. The organization cited Richardson for his strong support of the LGBT community in New Mexico, as well as his campaign promises to end the military's exclusion of gays under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy and to designate his Vice-President as the Chair of the HIV/AIDS Commission.

WITH A PEN: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama told an informal gathering in Fairfield, Iowa, Nov. 8 that, as president, he would have his attorney general review executive orders that have been issued by George W. Bush and 'anything undermining civil liberties, or overreaching,' he said, 'I will overturn it with the stroke of a pen.'

EDWARDS IN NH: Bay Windows, a Boston gay newspaper, reported that Democrat John Edwards met Nov. 25 with a small group of gays gathered at the office of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry organization, in Concord.


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