Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dems Court Gay Voters

Democratic presidential candidates demonstrate their support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender voters tonight by participating in a televised forum on gay rights:

All the major Democrats favor civil unions for gay couples, and repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against openly gay service members that front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's husband initiated.
In a previous debate, the eight Democratic hopefuls all raised their hands to acknowledge they would work toward lifting Clinton's policy against openly gay service members. Surveys filled out ahead of tonight's forum, indicate the leading Democratic candidates are committed to the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell:"
"This is a matter of national security, and I will fix it," wrote Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the Democratic front-runner. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina wrote similar statements.
None of the Democrats, except for fringe candidates Ohio Congressman Kucinich and former Alaska Senator Gravel, supports the gay community's top goal - marriage rights:
"No viable mainstream contender for president is going to support gay marriage in this election cycle," said Ethan Geto, an adviser to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I hope that's going to change in the next couple of elections."
The public still largely disapproves of gay marriage and remains closely divided on whether homosexual relations are morally acceptable:
Public opinion overall is moving slowly toward greater acceptance of a range of gay-rights positions, and passions have cooled since same-sex marriage erupted as a key issue on the verge of the last presidential campaign.
The Democratic candidates will be between a rock and a hard place. Opposition operatives will be watching for a video Macaca moment that can portray a candidate as out of the social mainstream, gay-rights advocates will be alert to signs of discomfort or hedged commitment:
"I think people will be looking for body language, the choice of words to see how comfortable the candidates are. Are they passionate?" said Geto.
The event, co-sponsored by the gay-rights activist group Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Viacom Inc.'s Logo network, reflects the gay community's increased importance to the Democratic Party. The debate also will be available online at

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