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Obama Picks Up
LGBT Supporters From Edwards

Obama Picks Up
LGBT Supporters From Edwards


A critical mass of John Edwards's LGBT steering committee is going public with support for Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

A critical mass of John Edwards's LGBT steering committee is going public with support for Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton. Twenty-two members of the Edwards campaign's 59-person gay and lesbian committee will now be working for Obama victories next Tuesday and throughout the rest of the primary season.

The new Obama converts include Eric Stern, who headed up Edwards's LGBT steering committee, and longtime gay activist David Mixner, who famously campaigned for Bill Clinton in 1992, holding some of the very first gay fund-raisers for a U.S. presidential candidate.

Mixner, a peace activist during the war in Vietnam, came out early for Edwards after the former North Carolina senator made an unequivocal case for ending the Iraq war in a speech at the historic Riverside Church in Harlem in January last year.

Mixner said Obama's clear and consistent opposition to the war is also driving his decision on this go-around. "Moving from one candidate to another is never an easy process," he said, "but the times demand that we all participate fully and completely to bring about change. Originally, my support went to Senator Edwards because of the war in Iraq. For the very same reason, I am supporting Senator Obama. This is not even a close call for me."

Stern, who served more generally as a political adviser to the Edwards campaign, said he met with Hillary Clinton's director of LGBT outreach, Mark Walsh, and had several phone conversations with Tobias Wolff, chair of Obama's national LGBT policy committee.

"I have mentors working on the Clinton campaign," said Stern, who is also a former director of LGBT outreach for the Democratic National Committee in California. "Their outreach was as aggressive and as sincere. It's been a difficult choice for many of us."

Of the remaining 37 former steering committee members, Stern said another eight were leaning Obama, three were fully committed to Clinton, and others remained undecided or had not contacted him.

Stern admitted that he had already been moving toward supporting Obama, mainly because, like Edwards, Obama has refused to take money from special interest groups. He also feels that Obama has the "purest position" of the any of the three candidates in supporting full repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act since 2004. Clinton supports repealing only the part of DOMA that prohibits the federal government from recognizing state sanctioned same-sex marriages, leaving in place the portion that allows states to ignore legal unions performed in other states.

After meeting with both Obama's and Clinton's LGBT leaders, "it became clear to me personally that our committee had a vision for the role of the LGBT community that was similar to the role that LGBT supporters were already playing in the Obama campaign," said Stern. "It is a pure grassroots, activist-oriented operation," he added, noting that the 22 committee members will now be taking part in Obama's field operations as well as the policy and press departments. "Thus far, it's clear that we will play a similar role in the Obama campaign."

The new supporters will spend the next several days doing for Sen. Obama exactly what they had been planning to do for Edwards, a strategy that Stern called both a "viral and local grassroots effort" - sending e-mails out to their respective networks along with phone banking, canvassing, and encouraging others to get involved with the campaign.

"We believe that Obama can pick up more delegates if the 12%-15% of Edwards supporters nationwide -- and even more in some states -- will turn out for Obama," he said. "We believe we can make a difference."

Besides Stern, who is based in San Francisco, and Mixner, who lives in New York, some of the other members who made the leap to Obama are heavy hitters in February 5 voting states:

Arizona -- Linda Elliott, member of the Human Rights Campaign board of directors and a major fund-raiser for defeating the state's constitutional marriage amendment;

Georgia -- Kyle Bailey, chair of the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats; LGBT Caucus vice chair of the Young Democrats of America; former state board member of the National Stonewall Democrats;

Northern California - Evan Low, out council member for the city of Campbell;

Southern California - Pam Cooke, National Stonewall Democrats board member; past president, Stonewall Democratic Club of Los Angeles;

Tennessee - Jim Maynard, president of the Memphis Stonewall Democrats.


Below is the full List of former Edwards supporters who are now publicly supporting Obama as provided by Eric Stern:

Eric Stern, former political adviser to the John Edwards for President campaign, former National Stonewall Democrats executive director, former director of LGBT outreach for the Democratic National Committee (California)

David Mixner, writer, Democratic Party activist (New York)

Linda Elliott, member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign (Arizona)

Evan Low, council member for the city of Campbell, Calif.

David Garrity, vice chair of the Maine Democratic Party

Andy Szekeres, former Colorado Stonewall Democrats cochair, former Wisconsin LGBT field director, Kerry-Edwards (Colorado)

Kyle Bailey, former board member, National Stonewall Democrats, LGBT Caucus vice chair of Young Democrats of America, Chair of Atlanta Stonewall Democrats (Georgia)

Pam Cooke, National Stonewall Democrats board member; past president, Stonewall Democratic Club of Los Angeles (California)

Bill Hedrick, president of Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats

David Mariner, former Out for Howard Dean cochair (Maryland)

Jason Lansdale, past president of Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats

Daniel Hinkley, Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus president

Misty York, communications director for the Kentucky Fairness Alliance

Christopher Prevatt, chair of Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (Orange County, Calif.)

Jim Maynard, president of Memphis Stonewall Democrats (Tennessee)

Daniel Graney, past president of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio (Texas)

Arthur Nunn, former Missouri for Edwards volunteer organizer and founder of LGBT for Edwards MySpace Group

Brad Reichard, public pelations executive (Massachusetts)

Michael Shannon, national security expert (D.C.)

Les Krambeal, board member for the National Stonewall Democrats, cochair, Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats

Robert D. Horvath Jr., member of the board of directors for the Mautner Project (D.C.)

Patrick J. Lyden, LGBT community activist (D.C.)

All organizations listed for identification purposes only.

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