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A gay winner and
a sore loser

A gay winner and
a sore loser


Patricia Todd clearly won. Joe Lieberman clearly lost. That's how direct elections work. Todd, an out lesbian candidate, won two primary face-offs to be one of Birmingham's Democratic candidates for the Alabama state legislature--virtually assuring her victory in November--while Lieberman was turned away as Connecticut's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

So why did a state party committee attempt to invalidate Todd's electoral win? And why is the Human Rights Campaign still endorsing Joe Lieberman for the U.S. Senate?

Is direct democracy that difficult to understand?

Yes, Lieberman built a decent record on gay rights during his three terms in the Senate, earning a high HRC rating. But he's also one of President Bush's fiercest Democratic allies on the Iraqi war as well as energy, taxes, and judicial nominations. Lieberman even voted with Bush to strip Terri Schiavo's husband of his rights--a failed attempt to use federal power to interfere with a partner's most private and painful decisions.

HRC turned a blind eye to the Schiavo vote, and it may argue that Iraq and taxes are not "gay issues." OK. But Connecticut's Democratic voters, who ought to have the final say in which Democrat represents them, told Lieberman to take a hike, and that's reason enough for HRC to withdraw its endorsement from the now "independent" senatorial candidate. HRC need not endorse the untested Ned Lamont, who beat Lieberman, but sticking with the sore loser is personal loyalty to the point of obstruction.

By ignoring voters' clear choice of their party's candidate, HRC has aligned itself with certain forces in the Alabama Democratic Party. On August 24 a subcommittee recommended disqualifying Todd on a rules technicality, despite her twice-counted 59-vote runoff victory on July 18. It briefly appeared that a rancid combination of racism--Todd would replace an African-American legislator--and homophobia might overturn the voters' will.

But two days later the Alabama Democratic Party executive committee voted 95-87 to reject the committee's recommendation, and Todd's ballot-box victory was reinstated.

Votes don't always go our way, but we all need to play by the rules. We should be loyal to the democratic process above all.

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