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Emanuel to Gays: I’m on Your Side

Emanuel to Gays: I’m on Your Side


Rahm Emanuel, the former congressman and White House chief of staff now running for mayor of Chicago, reiterates his support for LGBT interests in an interview with gay newspaper Windy City Times, as he seeks to overcome doubts expressed by some activists.

Emanuel, a top aide to President Clinton when "don't ask, don't tell" was passed in 1993, says the law was the best that Clinton "could get done" at the time in trying to end antigay discrimination in the military, but adds that he and President Obama, to whom he was chief of staff, both want to see it repealed. Some observers have blamed Emanuel for the Obama administration not pursuing repeal more quickly.

Emanuel also expresses his support for repealing the antigay Defense of Marriage Act, enacted under Clinton, and for passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Further, he touts the Obama administration's forward moves on LGBT rights, such as the new hate-crimes law and the executive order requiring hospitals that receive federal funding to allow visitation by patients' same-sex partners. "President Obama signed the executive order that I worked on because of a story David Boul from Chicago told me about the visiting rights in Florida," Emanuel tells the paper.

He notes that he has many gay friends and associates, including a cousin who died of AIDS complications. "In the gay and lesbian community, they know my work here or I'm blamed for the creation of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but they don't know anything about my personal life or personal stories," he says. He also discusses the challenge to his candidacy because of questions about his Chicago residency and deals humorously with his tough-guy reputation, saying Clinton called him "a breath of fresh air -- a gale force" and that former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers dubbed him "Alan Alda with an Uzi."

Read the full interview here.

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