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V 35 Issue 33

 
 
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Keen on the trail
Keen on the trail
by Lisa Keen - SGN Contributing Writer

RUDY AWAKENING
As an associate attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, Rudy Giuliani hired an openly Gay attorney as a U.S. attorney in Florida even though a legal counsel at the department gave him an excuse not to. Information about the 1982 hiring was published August 8 by Newsday reporter Tom Brune. Brune said openly Gay attorney Greg Baldwin applied for the job and, through a memo, someone alerted Giuliani to the fact that Baldwin was an "admitted homosexual." Giuliani sought advice from the department's legal counsel Theodore Olson. According to Brune: "Olson gave Giuliani an out: Hiring a practicing homosexual would indicate disrespect for Florida's anti-sodomy law, putting the Justice Department in an awkward spot." Giuliani hired him.

RUDE AWAKENING
While Giuliani has the best record on Gay issues among the current field of Republican presidential candidates -a statement that can be objectively made without fear of contradiction- not everyone in the Gay community is happy about his newfound preference for leaning right-ward to win the nomination. Ryan Davis, for instance, has formed a group called "Gays for Giuliani" which has prepared a video spoof of Gays who might be inclined to support the candidate and he's hoping to get it on the air in the conservative early primary state of South Carolina. (At youtube.com, type in "Gays for Giuliani.") The Washington Post reported that the video "made the rounds on some prominent blogs" just prior to the HRC-LOGO forum. And Davis, who is openly Gay, says his purpose is simple: "I wanted to keep Rudy Giuliani from being President. That was (and still is) my goal with this ad."

GAY TURNOUT
A new study out this month indicates that Gay and Lesbian voters are a reliable voting bloc when it comes to turning out to the ballot booth. While 64 percent of the general population voted in the 2004 presidential election, says Community Marketing Inc., 92.5 percent of Gay men and 90.7 percent of Lesbians voted. Only 40 percent of the general public turned out to vote in the 2006 mid-term elections, compared to 83.8 percent of Gay men and 78 percent of Lesbians. "We have far more at stake than the average voter and we're therefore far more engaged in the political process," said Community Marketing President Tim Roth. The study, which will be released later this month as part of the company's annual study of Gay and Lesbian consumer trends, also shows that 40 percent of the Gay men and 31 percent of Lesbians surveyed said they had made a contribution to a political candidate. The results were based on surveys of more than 12,000 Gay men and 10,000 Lesbians in the United States.

GAY SUPPORT
In the days leading up to the HRC-LOGO forum, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama offered up the names of prominent Gays to endorse their campaigns. Obama's campaign rolled out the Episcopal Church's first openly Gay bishop, Eugene Robinson, who hails from the first primary state, New Hampshire. Clinton's campaign heralded the first openly Lesbian member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, of Wisconsin. The Clinton campaign said Baldwin will advise Clinton on health issues and will co-chair her LGBT Steering Committee nationally and her campaign in Wisconsin. California State Senator Sheila Kuehl also endorsed Clinton last week. Kuehl, the first openly Gay person to be elected to the California legislature and the first woman to be named Speaker pro Tempore of its assembly, said she's confident Clinton will represent "all communities." The campaign of Barack Obama announced the formation of a National LGBT Leadership Council. On the list are long-time Gay Democratic activist Terje Anderson of Vermont, Chicago activist and Walgrens executive Phil Burgess, Equality Illinois leader Rick Garcia, and San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

GAY IMPACT
There was some murky data released recently from two separate polls trying to gauge what impact Gay support for a candidate has on that candidate's support from the rest of the population. A Newsweek poll of more than 1,000 adults nationwide found that 34 percent of "all voters" (and 58 percent of "registered Republican voters") said they would be "less likely" to vote for a candidate who is a "strong supporter of Gay rights." A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey of almost 1,000 voters in three swing states -Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio-found that "it doesn't make a difference" to the majority of voters (between 54 and 60 percent, depending on the state). Interestingly, the Newsweek authors interpreted their findings to explain why former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "hasn't been able to widen his lead" over as-yet undeclared candidate Fred Thompson. Unlike Thompson and most other Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani has spoken in support of equal rights for Gays in some arenas. However, that same Newsweek poll also showed Giuliani with 30 percent of the vote from Republican voters over Thompson's 22 percent. And it showed Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback -arguably the most hostile to Gay civil rights- with only 10 percent and one percent, respectively.

OUTREACH
John Edwards' campaign made its deputy campaign manager, Jonathan Prince, available to reporters prior to the August 9 HRC-LOGO forum, along with two Gay supporters -former National Stonewall Federation director Eric Stern and National Stonewall board member Stephen Handwerk. Asked to explain Edwards' frequent comment that he wouldn't impose his religious beliefs on the American people when it comes to Gay marriage, Prince said it means "as president, he would fight passionately to ensure Gays and Lesbians are treated exactly the same." Barack Obama held a similar availability to his watch-the-forum parties immediately following his 20 minutes at the forum, though he took only two questions from pre-designated viewers.

MICRO-WEB
The campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has added a "Pride.BarackObama.com" site to its main website connection. The new "micro-site" is to provide "news, blogging, events, and photos relating to Barack's strong support for the LGBT community." It opens with a quote attributed to the senator: "While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
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