Thursday, August 2, 2007

Changing the Debate

Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay civil rights group, yesterday announced the first-ever televised presidential forum devoted solely to issues concerning lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender Americans, to be aired on Aug. 9 on the Logo network. "Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Christopher Dodd have agreed to participate in the forum, with questions to be posed by a panel that includes singer Melissa Etheridge and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign." (All presidential candidates were invited, and the Republicans declined.) A May 2007 Gallup poll found that "public tolerance for gay rights" is at a "high-water mark" in America. This historic presidential forum is yet another sign of the country's shift, and is further evidence that Americans are rejecting the long right-wing campaign to attack and deny rights to gay Americans for political gain.

RIGHT WING STUCK IN THE PAST: As the presidential season heats up, all candidates should consider these notable shifts in public opinion. Yet while the American people are increasingly united on gay rights issues, conservatives are still playing to the religious political extremists. A comprehensive report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force finds a "shockingly stark" divide among the candidates on gay rights issues, with several of the most prominent Republicans -- including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and former governor Mitt Romney -- opposing virtually all major LGBT issues. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani opposes the constitutional ban on gay marriage, and has supported civil unions in the past, although in April he announced his opposition to New Hampshire's new civil unions law. Only two of 19 presidential candidates support marriage equality for same-sex couples, though every leading Democrat backs partnership recognition rights, such as civil unions.

To join other GLBT-friendly Utahns in watching the debate, join HRC of Utah, The Utah Pride Center, & The Utah Stonewall Democrats at Club TryAngles next Thursday. Mention you're there for the debate for no cover charge.