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I Have a

I Have a


Clinton and Obama say they won't run together. But LGBT voters can hope.

In the days leading up to the second Super Tuesday on March 4, a fascinating narrative emerged that contrasted the presidential candidates' comfort levels on gay and lesbian issues.

In one corner was the new front-runner, Sen. Barack Obama, who in late February placed, in four LGBT newspapers in Ohio and Texas, what his campaign says is the first-ever LGBT-specific advertising for a presidential candidate. The full-page ads featured the handsome Illinois junior senator alongside text that began, "While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots...." At the same time, he also told one Texas crowd that it was not very Christian to be bigoted toward gays and lesbians. That's very much like the senator, his queer supporters insist: Subtle, powerful, and effective, Obama is the ideal man to divide the gap between black and white--as well as straight and gay.

In the other corner was Sen. Hillary Clinton, the New York junior senator who had long been considered the candidate to beat -- at least until her campaign's near-meltdown and an 11-contest losing streak in February. But the Clinton campaign recalibrated with an aggressive strategy that included a rally in Houston's heavily gay Montrose neighborhood. The senator also granted interviews to three of the four newspapers where Obama placed advertising. "No community has been made more invisible than the LGBT community by this administration, and I want to change that," Clinton told Cleveland's Gay People's Chronicle. She's a fighter, her gay supporters argue: Direct and sometimes in-your-face, she won't back down in the fight over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or expansion of hate-crime laws.

During the weeks ahead, while the politics of delegates and superdelegates remain front and center, one thing is virtually certain -- neither Obama nor Clinton will reach the required magic number of delegates that will make him or her the nominee. So, maybe we can have both?

"A lot of Democrats like us both," Clinton told a Pennsylvania audience in early March, "and have been very hopeful that they wouldn't have to make a choice." Don't count on it, Obama shot back that same day, clearly upset that the runner-up was trying to one-up the leader.

Regardless of Clinton's motives behind the comment -- campaign trail theatrics, an olive branch toward party unity, a desire to control the campaign narrative, or more likely, a mixture of all three--there's no doubt that a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket would be a formidable asset for LGBTs. Instead of considering the logistics of such a pairing, including whose name is on top of the ticket, who is on the bottom (you know, the normal questions gay men ask during such negotiations), just imagine the synergy. "You have to ask yourself," says Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in The Advocate's April 2007 cover story, "when looking at Clinton, Obama, or any candidate, How do we bring the movement forward?... We need that first important building block."

The Bush-Cheney years have been a petri dish of neoconservative policy, quasi-theocratic legal victories, and state-sponsored bigotry that has bred contempt and persecution for gay men, lesbians, and transgenders. The "unity" ticket could be that first important building block to address many of the queer community's concerns. Clinton, the policy wonk, is comfortable discussing LGBT issues with gay groups and is on a first-name basis with many leading activists. She's the more practical partner, knowing the structures and systems that could be easily maximized to achieve rights for our community. Obama doesn't seem as comfortable talking to our groups -- at least not yet -- but brings another impressive asset: The senator talks about our issues to mainstream audiences.

"You're talking to somebody who talked about gay Americans in his convention speech in 2004," Obama told last fall, "who talked about them in his announcement speech for the president of the United States, who talks about gay Americans almost constantly in his stump speeches."

Barack Obama is yin to Hillary Clinton's yang. Sure, it may be a pipe dream. But both of these strong allies on the Democratic ticket might be just the way to heal the party and lay the foundation for a new, inclusive era of gay rights.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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