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 Op-ed: Why I Helped Fred Karger Slam GOP in New Ad

 Op-ed: Why I Helped Fred Karger Slam GOP in New Ad


Today a most unusual collaboration yielded a political advertisement unlike any yet aired. Imagine Michele Bachmann applauding for the first openly gay presidential candidate. Who could have conjured up such a thing?

Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger did, and he hired a company owned and operated by a liberal lesbian to help him do it.

Intended as a parody, the 90-second commercial, called "Let Fred In," was released today and was commissioned by the California businessman and former Reagan political aide in response to his exclusion from the debates, and to the booing of a gay soldier during the most recent one in Florida.

The ad was produced by GAY U.S.A. documentary filmmaker Kristina Lapinski, and as publisher of Gay U.S.A. the Blog, I was excited to accept an opportunity to participate in the making of this video. Some may ask why a staunch Democrat would be inclined to help a Republican candidate. The opportunity was simply too compelling to decline -- and as it happens, I fell in love with Fred.

Karger was not invited to the last two Fox News debates even though he met the requirements. Because of this unfair treatment, he filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the network's owner Rupert Murdoch, and the FEC is looking into the matter.

Karger has the audacity to hold Republicans' feet to the fire on gay civil rights, a serious issue that escapes their platforms. And what better set-up for Karger to air his grievance than the one provided by the party itself at the Republican debate held in Florida last month -- the much publicized "booing of the gay soldier." The analogy of history's first ever openly gay man to run for president (and a Republican to boot) being excluded from the very debate where Stephen Hill was booed left too much to pass up.

The ad features a vintage clip of Karger's old boss, Ronald Reagan, and utilizes some state-of-the-art special effects. In the commercial, Karger places himself in the Fox News-Google debate.

What ties together Karger with producer and director Lapinski is a realization that should bind us all, and hence my willingness to consult and promote his campaign. The bond is the simple fact that we are gay Americans who are denied our fundamental rights in a country that purports to value equality.

When a man of Karger's stature is willing to sacrifice his political capital, invoking the Republican icon of a passed president in a gay-themed ad, I am willing to join the drum roll and say, "Hey, wake up Gay America, let us get behind this man, at least for the primaries and show the reigning Republican Party bigots that we support our own."

Karger is a Republican. He has a voice that the party must hear -- it is our voice. His face proves we are everywhere.

Tonight Karger will put Gay America in front of the Republican Party by speaking at the Grafton County Republican Committee Columbus Day Dinner along with former governors and prominent Republicans Jon Huntsman and Buddy Roemer, plus potential first lady Ann Romney. It's there at The Common Man Inn in Plymouth, New Hampshire that Karger plans to premiere the video tonight.

Perhaps given our support, Karger could shake up the field, putting Gay America at the forefront of Republican politics. After all, look at the field. Today I heard a call-in radio show; it was interesting to note how many callers said they would never vote for a Mormon, nor an Evangelical, nor a Tea Party candidate. Look who is left and envisage the fun in a race between Herman Cain and Fred Karger.

Karger's candidacy has the extraordinary ability to shed a positive light on Gay America and to provide a conduit for our voice, never heard. It is time for the Republican right-stream to get on board with the pragmatism of embracing equality, a core American value.

Melanie Nathan is a lawyer and human rights activist who is author of the GAY U.S.A. the Blog, which is run in conjunction with GAY U.S.A. the Movie.

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