Current Affairs

Presidential hopeful courts gay voters

Tony Grew April 11, 2007
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Democratic candidate for President of the United States John Edwards has been showing off his support among gay political donors.

Edwards has released a list of 25 LGB supporters, among them David Mixner, a gay activist who raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton’s campaigns for the White House.

The former Senator from North Carolina is making a play for the gay vote in the hotly-contested Democrat nomination for President in 2008.

“I am honoured to have the support of so many well-respected LGBT leaders,” said Edwards.

“They work hard every day to make our country a better place and I am proud to join with them to fight for equal rights for all Americans.”

A journalist and academic once named by Newsweek as the most powerful gay man in America, David Mixner reportedly fell out with the Clintons over the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy introduced in the US military in 1993.

As a Presidential candidate, Bill Clinton had promised to allow gays to serve, but was forced to accept the compromise policy.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members states that commanders may not ask the sexual orientation of service members.

Gay men and lesbians can only continue to serve only if they do not engage in homosexual acts, and keep their sexual orientation a secret.

DADT continues to be an issue in the present Clinton run for the White House.

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has been lambasted by gay activists for giving warm speeches to gay groups and then not publicising her appearances.

Senator Clinton, her main opponent Senator Barack Obama and Mr Edwards have all publicly called for DADT to be repealed by Congress.

Senators Clinton and Obama last month dodged direct verbal questions on whether homosexuality is immoral, then released statements to the press later saying it is not.

Many gay Democrats were unhappy that both the main candidates seemed reluctant to say in front of TV cameras that homosexuality is moral.

TV producer Darren Star, best known for Sex and the City, is listed as an Edwards supporter along with several board members of the Human Rights Campaign.

Last month Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at a lunch hosted by HRC, the leading gay rights advocacy group in America.

However, her office did not publicise her comments and she dodged questions as to why she spoke so warmly in favour of gay rights.

Senator Clinton, a Democrat, told the HRC board meeting that she wants to see an end to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the US Armed Forces that bars openly gay, bisexual or lesbian people from serving.

Addressing 400 members, supporters and volunteers, the 59-year-old former First Lady said:

“This policy doesn’t just hurt gays and lesbians, it hurts all our troops and this to me is a matter of national security and we’re going to fix it.”

Senator Clinton was on the campaign trail in Iowa a few days after her speech, and was asked twice why she or her staff had not made any statements about her comments to the HRC.

She replied: “You’ll have to ask my campaign.”

Edwards ran for Vice President in 2004 alongside Bob Kerry, but lost to the Bush/Cheney Republican ticket.

For a full list of the prominent LGB people supporting Senator Edwards click here

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