Sara Whitman

Clinton Key in LGBT Massachusetts Win

Filed By Sara Whitman | February 05, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, election 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton, LGBT community, Super Tuesday, voting

Super Tuesday is here and LGBT voters across the country are asking, Why won't Clinton or Obama just say they support our rights, clearly, without hesitation, without disclaimers? Why all the wordsmithing?

With a media that will spend days parsing on the color of your pantsuit or the timbre of your laugh - to delicately and cautiously wordsmith is a political reality.

There is, however, a distinct difference in the two candidates and their efforts for the LGBT community. I’m going to vote for with the one who has delivered and who I believe will continue to deliver.

In June 2007, Massachusetts was faced with an anti-gay, anti-marriage equality measure at the Constitutional Convention that would have ripped the state apart. Not only the state, but also it would have set the tone for all marriage equality fights across the country.

Senator Clinton’s campaign manager, Terry McAuliffe, made quiet calls to state legislators to vote down the initiative, according an anonymous source in a key role in the efforts to secure marriage equality in Massachusetts.

Senator Obama? Nothing. Not a word. Not a call. Not one.

In fact, Senator Obama invited to his stage Donny McClurkin, a rabid homophobic gospel singer. He has garnered the support of yet another anti-gay pastor Reverend Kirby Caldwell.

Imagine what would happen to Clinton had she stood on stage, clapping and singing, with a white evangelical who believed Jews should burn in hell.

I was asked today what is the single most important issue for me. I can't say one with out the others. How do you choose between the war, a women's right to choose, healthcare because it is about individuals and it is about American businesses competing on a global stage and public education and someone giving a damn about it, funding it, and staying on top of it.

And I want marriage equality, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I want to be recognized as a full citizen with the same rights as every heterosexual.

Clinton, in my opinion, has already started the work. She’s already working behind the scenes to make important votes happen.

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have come out against gay marriage. Both have said they would not support federal recognition of gay marriages.

Both have written to the LGBT community asking for their support.

Wordsmithing is a political reality. Actions, in my opinion, speak louder than words. Last June when we were struggling to keep marriage equality in the state of Massachusetts? Clinton’s campaign manager Terry McAuliffe made phone calls.

I’m voting for the one who helped deliver a key victory in LGBT history.

I’m voting for Senator Clinton.

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Sportin' Life | February 5, 2008 1:23 PM

It's certainly fair to bring up McClurkin, but I'm extremely skeptical of this last-minute rumor that Clinton had a role in the Massachusetts marriage victory. She's had ample opportunity to let us know where she stands on marriage and, to the extent she has, she's on the wrong side.

it's not a rumor and I just received permission from my source to go public.

Dear Sara:

I am not going to respond to the substantive claims you make about Obama and his stellar and accomplished record on LGBT issues and the commitment he has demonstrated to our community by speaking out before mainstream audiences across the country about the need for progress towards LGBT equality. My esteemed colleague Tobias Wolff has already done that far better than I could.

I do however want to respond to you from the personal perspective of being the DNC Director of LGBT Outreach from 2003-2005. You will not hear me say anything but good things about Terry McAuliffe's term as the Chair of the DNC.

That being said---the suggestion that you and others make that Terry deserves full credit for these calls requires further explanation.

As the Director of LGBT Outreach, I was responsible for developing and implementing the plan for mobilizing and turning out LGBT voters for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in 2004. Terry was always supportive of my efforts.

However, as I am sure you can imagine, our community did not always get the highest priority inside the DNC during the 2004 Presidential Election cycle. And I and others had to fight for everything we got---constantly having to overcome the claim many were making (like James Carville and Mark Penn--part of the Clinton team) that if the DNC did too much to reach out to gay voters that we would hurt our chances of winning the White House.

We were only able to produce results because of the skill and strategy I employed along with DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Jeff Soref and DNC Vice Caucus
Chair Gloria Nieto--along with the wise counsel and support of high-profile LGBT political operatives, donors and activists (many of whom are on this list and deserve a lot of credit for making these calls in MA happen).

Mass Equality deserves FULL credit for stopping the amendment---plain and simple.

It is disingenuous and just plain over reaching to suggest that Terry picked up the phone and made these calls simply based on his motivation to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts. Terry did not support marriage equality then and he does not support it now. Thus, his role in the campaign should not persuade any LGBT voters on the fence who believe based the calls he made that we will a strong voice for marriage equality in the White House should Hillary win.

What should be troubling to LGBT voters on the fence is the role Bill Clinton would play in the Hillary Administration. In 2004, as Newsweek and
inside campaign sources revealed, Bill Clinton called John Kerry to advise him to support the "Federal Marriage Amendment" and the dozen anti-gay amendments on state ballots as a way to attract increased support from socially conservative voters (sounds like a GOP strategy).

This should give all of us great pause and cause for concern. And yet,neither Bill nor Hillary have acknowledged or addressed this claim. Nor has Bill apologized for the significant harm DADT and DOMA have caused millions of LGBT Americans.

In 2004, in an interview with the Chicago Free Press, Obama indicated that he would as a U.S. Senator work towards and support the FULL repeal of DOMA. How can we get past the damage DOMA caused and continues to cause by putting back in the White House the very people who supported it and signed it into law?

It's time to move on. I voted for Obama this morning and I hope you will
consider doing the same.

Imagine what would happen to Clinton had she stood on stage, clapping and singing, with a white evangelical who believed Jews should burn in hell.

OK, I can understand why people would be upset about McClurkin, but he didn't say anything like "gays should burn in hell." And Obama wasn't clapping and singing on stage with him. If Clinton did that, I think a lot more people would be upset because it would be a lot worse than the Obama/McClurkin deal.

I do have to agree with SL that it's a little suspicious that this came out right on Super Tuesday.

Also, why does she get credit for something McAuliffe did? She was perfectly willing to distance herself from his personal actions just last year. And is she going to try to take credit for his major 2004 losses?

McAuliffe isn't really confidence-inspiring to many of us....

Actually McClurkin did say something real close to gays should burn in hell. I am with Sara on this. I adore Obama, but I think Hillary will step up for the LGBT crowd. Obama bringing a homophobic man on to tour with him was absolutely disgusting. I will support whoever wins, but today I voted for Hillary.

Michael Bedwell | February 5, 2008 7:03 PM

Mr. Stern: my jaw is still on the floor from a gay former Edwards supporter resorting to the smear against Bill Clinton that was started by political mercenary Bob Shrum—the same sleaze who claimed that years ago John Edwards had said he was not comfortable around gays [forcefully denied by the wonderful Elizabeth Edwards who was in the room during the discussion Shrum was repainting]. I am sure you are aware not only that his smear created a great deal of "Anybody but Edwards" hostility among some LGBTs but is probably still believed by many. You also must know that the proof of Shrum's slime is that, though the MSM gave it far less play, he added that he didn't think Edwards STILL felt that way.

So what was his point of bringing it up? What was the point of his libeling Bill Clinton? Could it possibly be that the guy who had lost I believe ELEVEN Presidential races was furious that he wasn't hired to lose another one by either the Edwards or Clinton camps? Hell hath no fury like a political hitman scorned.

Though a representative of the Hillary campaign [sorry, folks, Bill is STILL not on the ballot!] DID deny the story was true when asked about it at last year's National Lesbian & Gay Journalists convention, I am saddened that anyone old or new to the Obama Borg would employ their McCarthyesque tactics. Have either Bill or Hillary ever been publicly asked about it? They should volunteer a response to an unasked question? Why drag stink onto your own stage even if it's based on someone else's lie. And even IF it's true, I don't care—again, HE's not running, SHE is. Sexist implications aside, is the Obama campaign still so afraid of not winning on their own merits that they have to attack her through him? How about a litte Resko fire, Scarecrow?

Further, it shocks and saddens me that you, of all people, should be pimping Obama's DOMA Fake Hat Trick and using it to, again McCarthylike, damn Hillary with it. When did it become legally required for First Ladies to also sign laws? So she "supported it" ten years ago—you supported Edwards AGAINST Obama just a week ago.

Perhaps you should have a discussion with Obama supporter Lawrence Tribe about what Sen. Obama REALLY supports where it matters most. Let me save you the time: August 11, 2007, ABC News online: “Obama believes states should be under no obligation to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. He wants to fully repeal DOMA, however, because he views the statute as ‘ineffectual and redundant’, in the words of [Obama supporter and his former Constitutional law professor Lawrence] Tribe. Obama believes a long-recognized public policy exception to the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause exempts a state from having to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state which runs counter to its own public policies. ‘Marriage is not something that states have ever been obliged to recognize if it’s been against their own public policy’, said Tribe, who has testified on the subject before Congress. ‘Same-sex couples [for instance] in Massachusetts are neither better nor worse off with DOMA repealed except that the repeal of DOMA is a way of telling that couple that their marriage in Massachusetts is not going to be made the subject of a symbolic and ineffectual slam by the federal government’.”

Though the article specifically references “marriage,” Sen. Obama’s support for the states’ right to ban that applies to whatever the relationship might be called. He has also said he thinks the issue of gay adoption should be left up to the states.

Now that you've been taken unto St. Obama's bosom, might I ask if there’s any plan to match his 64-page "Blueprint for Change—Barack Obama's Plan for America" with his live lip service? Or have you not noticed that it contains not one sentence, not one word, not one syllable about LGBT issue compared to John Edwards’ plan which devoted a page to LGBT causes? By that crucial measure alone: NOTHING could be FARTHER from, as you put it, continuing "John Edwards' mission to ensure that the American dream is available to EVERYONE" than voting for Barack Obama!

RE McClurkin’s exact words: during the infamous concert paid for by Sen. Obama, after protesting criticism of him in the blogoshere and insisting that he hated no one, Rev. McClurkin screeched, “God delivered me from homosexuality!” Not as bad, true, as his past statement, “I'm not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children," but no less homophobic.
And not only did Sen. Obama refuse to cancel McClurkin’s invitation, he refused to even say to McClurkin’s audience that night that he totally rejected McClurkin’s gay bashing. And THEY needed to hear that far more than LGBTs did through his subsequent “Call for Full Equality”—full minus that marriage thingy, that is.

PS: Did you look into the charges that Obama is benefiting from 527 money after he denounced John Edwards for allegedly doing the same thing?

beergoggles | February 5, 2008 7:14 PM

In the interests of full disclosure, I voted for Hillary because the very idea of President Hillary sends the same people who gave us President Bush into apoplectic fits.

Reading this, it actually makes me feel better that I did.

Wow--your post is just packed with personal attacks. Not exactly the most effective way to respond, but apparently your preferred method. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

Apparently, 30 of the 59 LGBT community leaders, including the legendary gay rights activist David Mixner, agree with my opinion that, between Hillary and Obama, Obama is the better candidate for the LGBT community and the candidate--because of his opposition to the war and refusal (unlike Hillary) to take special interest money (like John)--to reform the corrupt system in DC and the broken health care system. It is no coincidence that Edwards supporters nationwide--gay and straight--are making the same decision.

I am not disagreeing with your remarks about Bob Shrum and his faulty allegation that John Edwards was uncomfortable around gay people.

What you fail to point out is that there were other sources outside of Shrum who reported Clinton's call to Kerry. And I can tell you---because I was there on the campaign--in the campaign HQ--that there were many folks who can corrobate that this call happened.

Despite my repeated calls to Clinton supporters--on this blog while an Edwards supporter--to (1) get a response about Clinton's call to Kerry and (2) recognition from both Bill and Hillary of how significantly DOMA and DADT hurt millions of LGBT Americans, I heard nothing in response and still have heard nothing.

With respect to the McClurkin incident, please read the endorsement statement I posted on this blog.

After considering my arguments there, please ask yourself whether this mistake did more damage to the ACTUAL lives of LGBT Americans as compared to DOMA and DADT.

If Hillary wants to take credit for Bill's record, then she needs to also accept that DOMA and DADT are a part of that record.

In fact, I think LGBT Americans are entitled to an apology from the Clintons based on the effect these pieces of legislation had on our lives.

I don't trust Bill Clinton because I have seen him make decisions based only on political expediency--including signing DOMA when in fact he was at least 15 points ahead of Bob Dole heading into the 1996 presidential election.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but inflammatory personal attacks truly weaken the merits of your argument.


beergoggles | February 5, 2008 7:40 PM

After considering my arguments there, please ask yourself whether this mistake did more damage to the ACTUAL lives of LGBT Americans as compared to DOMA and DADT.

I don't want to get involved in this Obama/Hillary pissing match, I sorta, unexcitedly supported Edwards before he dropped out. I do need to respond to this though - Obama's actions sanction violence upon LGBTs within communities of color. Don't for a second think that it doesn't actually hurt LGBTs. After that, its relationship with DADT and DOMA become a matter of degree.

Oh - and it wasn't necessarily the McClurkin issue that turned me off Obama, it was Obama following up on it, saying that homos like me are 'hemetically sealed' from communities of faith - you know, the ones that like killing gays and taking our kids away. I wouldn't want to associate with his 'faithful' legion since Obama seems to be quite satisfied that within communities of color, being an atheist is actually worse than being gay.

Michael Bedwell | February 5, 2008 8:28 PM

Mr. Stern, I hope that you don't confuse fair questioning of your actions and words with "personal attack." If you were refering to my comments about Obama, I don't apologize for them. I am far from alone, as evidenced by beergoggles totally on-point comment about the end results of Sen. Obama failing to ACTUALLY make homophobes feel RESPONSIBLE for the results of their bigotry. Though "Gay City News" has since fallen under Obama's hypnotic spell, what they said at the time of McClurkingate is still true:

"to offer up Donnie McClurkin as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, and then suggest that gay Americans unhappy at the prospect of him being a ringleader in Obama's ‘big tent’ are culturally insensitive is flat out wrong. It is clumsy. It is insulting. And it is cynical."

Setting aside the ignorance and insult of Sen. Obama's positing that there are no gays of faith, that there are no demoninations that support our FULL equality as does his own, the UCC, yet whose position he strangely ignores—when you have a chance, you might point out to him that we have been trying to talk to the "faith community" for over 50 years and the segments he is talking about have responded with excommunication, demonization, rocks, bricks, baseball bats, knives, guns, ad infinitum.

Had you chosen to read my response thoroughly before responding you would have noted two things, 1. Whether or not Bill Clinton gave that advice to Kerry is irrelevant to me in THIS election. 2. I may clear, or rather a Harvard professor of Constitutional law and Obama supporter made clear that DOMA Section 2 is superfluous. Pray tell, how has IT "hurt millions"? It mandated NOTHING! It was nothing more than a pat on the states' head. If it had any teeth at all 45 states would have not felt the need to pass their own DOMAs and/or state constitutional amendments. It's a lavender herring and no matter how many times you and Sen. Obama insist it's not doesn't make it true. "Snow does not fall up, Charlie Brown!"

DOMA Section 3, and its attendant definition of "marriage" and "spouse" as "man/woman" has hurt untold numbers, and I have seen no reason to believe that Sen. Clinton OR Sen. Obama is insincere in commitment to trying to repeal that.

Yet again, the CORE issue is that, based on the testimony of Lawrence Tribe, Section 2 could disappear tonight and tomorrow Obama would still be supporting a state's right to do whatever it wants.

As for DADT, you and Mr. Mixner, another scorned political operative-for-pay like Bob Shrum with hellish fury, can rewrite history all you want, but the fact is that it was not Bill Clinton's idea nor did he have any power to stop it. Even Elizbeth Birch who supports Hillary's candidacy while now demonizing Bill told historian Eric Marcus years ago that, as much as she wanted him to issue an pro-military gays executive order for purely symbolic reasons, she knew that Congress would override him. I know that Mr. Mixner's 15-yr. old grudge about DADT is one of the reasons he supported Mr. Edwards. So I suppose it means Mr. Mixner still disagrees with the observation of Michelangelo Signorile, that one of the problems was that Mr. Mixner was too busy fighting a turf battle with HRC to be of much help to President Clinton.

Before his withdrawal, I had sent money to John Edwards' campaign, as well as Sen. Clinton's. I'm sorry to see anyone using his name in relation to personal attacks on Sen. Clinton that have so much to do with a selectively-perceived, selectively recalled past and so little to do with why we should vote for Sen. Obama.

And one way of doing the latter would be to address my other point—why was there no room on 64 pages of his positions for Sen. Obama to even, once again, drop the Gay-word?

I have to say this is one of the most interesting threads that I've seen on the blog today. :)

One thing on Sara's behalf though - she's never lied before and I doubt she'd start now. Is it possible that Terry called on Hillary's behalf - whether or not he was personally supportive?