Gay Debate Really Gay
The top candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination appeared last night at a gay rights forum sponsored by LOGO, a “lifestyle cable channel aimed at gay and lesbian viewers.” CQ’s Sara Lubbes, Josh Stager and Jesse Stanchak describe the setup:
Unlike several candidate debates held earlier this year, the Democrats never appeared on stage together, but took questions at 15-minute intervals from Carlson and a panel made up of Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, singer Melissa Etheridge and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart. Candidates were questioned in the order in which they agreed to commit to the forum, with chief rivals Obama and Clinton book-ending the discussion as first and last, respectively.
The Hotline staff quips,
You can’t say they don’t know their audience. Prepping the crowd of tonight’s HRC/LOGO debate, an organizer told attendees to feel free to applause/boo the WH Dems. “This is a little like being at a Broadway show,” he explained.
Note that “HRC” stands, in this case, for “Human Rights Campaign” rather than “Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Substantively, not a whole lot of news comes from the forum/debate. Perhaps the most significant exchange was CQ’s Most Uncomfortable Moment:
Etheridge grilled Richardson for using the Spanish word for the anti-gay epithet “faggot” on the Don Imus radio show in March 2006, then asked Richardson pointedly if he believes being gay is a personal choice or an inherent biological trait. Richardson voiced the most conservative view among the candidates. “It is a choice,” he said quickly, looking down. Etheridge repeated her question in a friendly tone, wondering aloud if Richardson did not understand her the first time. “I’m not a scientist,” he answered. “I don’t see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as people…I don’t like to answer definitions like that that are grounded in science or something else that I don’t understand.”
Otherwise, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, the candidates all oppose gay marriage and support civil unions:
“The country isn’t there yet,” said Richardson of his opposition to gay marriage. “Civil unions with full marriage rights is achievable.”
Clinton described her opposition as “a personal position,” adding that marriage laws should be determined by state legislatures.
Obama, who served in the Illinois Senate for eight years prior to his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, would not say if he would have voted for a bill to legalize gay marriage. “It depends on how the bill would’ve come up,” he said.
In one of the most direct moments of the night, Edwards backtracked on recent comments that his personal faith influenced his opposition to gay marriage. “I shouldn’t have said that,” Edwards said, adding, “My position on same-sex marriage has not changed. I believe strongly in civil unions.” […] “We desperately need to get rid of DOMA,” Edwards said. Edwards has said he would not have voted for the bill if he had been in the Senate in 1996.