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Hillary’s Advocate

Hillary’s Advocate

The Advocate's February cover story by Kerry Eleveld on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is riddled with inaccuracies, hype and spin. Eleveld's piece and The Advocate's continuous partisan political coverage contributes to the erroneous and dangerous assumption that all Democrats are good and all Republicans are bad on LGBT issues. Eleveld failed to quote one single dissenting opinion from the spin Clinton staffers spun her. While there is no question that Clinton has built on the changes made by Secretary Condi Rice for LGBT staffers at State (and should be applauded for that progress), the premise that the Bush State Department team was hostile and the Clinton team has done all it can do is flat wrong. A more nuanced and balanced approach would have given the piece greater credibility.

Here are a few of the facts you didn't get from Eleveld. I feel compelled to correct the record:

- Clinton has the same stance on gay marriage as Rice and Dick Cheney. Eleveld's excuse-making for Clinton's stance by saying "she wasn't taking any political bait" or was trying not to cross her boss is ironic given that Bush administration officials were not allowed the same courtesy or treatment for their differing views.

- Changes to passport regulations for transgender people were designed and begun under Bush and Rice. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brenda Sprague says it, but Eleveld gives Clinton the credit. Eleveld's use of the word "apparently" to refer to this fact is offensive to those of us who worked at State under Bush and made progress on LGBT issues. Give credit where credit is due.

- Mark Bromley is a Democrat who worked for liberal senator Russ Feingold. His characterization of his conversation with an unnamed Bush administration official three years ago is presented without evidence because it isn't true. Eleveld failed to check the facts on his assertions.

- Pat Kennedy is a friend of mine whom I have worked closely with for several years. While I fought to make changes at State during the Bush years to extend certain rights and privileges for my partner, Kennedy was part of the team that stonewalled and ultimately denied my repeated demands and ignored my follow-up requests. It's also important to note that neither Bromley nor any other LGBT activist helped my cause at the time.

- Eleveld's characterization of Clinton's weak Ugandan response is laughable and defies logic. Clinton's State Department handled the Ugandan situation as Rice's State Department handled most every LGBT issue that arose in Africa -- through quiet diplomacy so as not to offend another government. To ascribe pure motives to Clinton's hushed strategy but not to Rice's is fantasy and belies decades of State Department practices. Cheryl Mills may think back-channeling is something new, but I can assure you it is not.

- The fact that Clinton knew the name of staffer who had been carrying her bags for a week hardly seems remarkable or noteworthy. Highlighting the story was gratuitous.

- Claiming that the highest-ranking openly gay official under Clinton is a deputy assistant secretary-level employee is embarrassing given the premise of the article and the excuse-making Eleveld does for Clinton's failed promise to appoint one person to her senior team to cover LGBT issues. Rice's State Department had higher-ranking openly gay officials than this State Department has. They were just never highlighted by The Advocate.

Over the last months, conservatives have complained to The Advocate about its inaccurate and glowing coverage of Obama administration official Susan Rice, its lack of coverage of John Bolton's support for "don't ask, don't tell" repeal and gay marriage, and its whitewashing of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's failed two years of dominance. The Advocate has never responded to the questions raised. This past week singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins three times reached out to The Advocate to highlight the gay conservative group GOProud's event in Washington, D.C., where Hawkins performed. All phone calls and e-mails from Hawkins and her team were systematically and completely ignored. This disregard for conservative activism by Advocate staffers has sadly been the norm and only further distorts the political problems LGBT people face. It's time The Advocate stops painting Democrats with a perfect brush and starts highlighting the efforts of gay conservatives working to limit government's involvement in LGBT people's lives. Haven't the last two years of total Democratic domination in Washington proved that the recycled stories and tired headlines of how wonderful Democrats have been on LGBT issues are wrong?
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