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  • « Having it both ways on immigration | Main | A gay 'oopsie' for Obama »

    June 05, 2007

    Was the fix in for Hillary?

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarystares It's fascinating to see how Hillary Clinton's candidacy has the ability to polarize, not just among the left and right of American politics, but within constituencies.  Consider the split-screen, almost schizophrenic reaction to the release this weekend by the Human Rights Campaign of its "report card" on the Democratic presidential candidates.

    Ben Smith, blogging at The Politico, saw a Hillary headline in the HRC release:

    The news … seems to be that Hillary is repudiating her long (if tepidly) held support for the Defense of Marriage Act, which her husband signed, and which drew her criticism in New York. 

    Smith quotes Clinton spokesman Phil Singer confirming, however, that Hillary still supports the one-half of the Defense of Marriage Act that allows states to refuse gay marriages from other states. That drew scorn from the gay left, where bloggers like Pam Spaulding questioned "sHillary's" position as half-hearted:

    It was obviously not ok for states to prevent people of different races from marrying back in the day (that was overturned by Loving v. Virginia in 1967), but Hillary Clinton is saying that it is ok for a state to apply that discriminatory thinking when the couple is gay or lesbian in 2007. That renders CUs legally unequal when you cross state lines.

    In similar fashion, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan suspects HRC may have "rigged" the report card for "the other HRC" — Hillary Rodham Clinton — by masking her continued support for half of DOMA. Gay Republican blogger Boi From Troy sees it the same way:

    I had grown some respect for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton yesterday when I read that in a survey for the Human Rights Campaign, she had repudiated her support for the Defense of Marriage Act and was now opposed. It would take a pair to disagree with a policy signed into law by your husband!

    But it looks like defending her own marriage is more important that standing up for the equal rights of all Americans to marry, as the New York Senator is backtracking, telling The Politico that in her own responses to HRC, “she distances herself from a central plank of DOMA — its bar on the federal recognition of same-sex marriages — but not from the portion which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.”

    What makes all this fascinating is that Hillary's position on marriage and DOMA is exactly the same as four of the other six candidates who responded to HRC.  Only Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich favor full repeal of DOMA.

    Despite all this flak from the Net roots about Hillary selling gays short on marriage, the headline in the MSM is that she's practically backing full marriage equality!  Patrick Healy asks today on the New York Times blog "The Caucus": "Is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton preparing to endorse gay marriage?":

    Her advisers say no – she supports civil unions only – and gay rights advocates who work with Mrs. Clinton say she has not promised them anything. Yet these advocates also say that Mrs. Clinton is inching, in her famously incremental way, toward a policy position that might at least open the door to gay marriage.

    So did HRC rig things for Hillary, or is she truly out front on marriage, inching her way to a full-fledged endorsement? Well, the way the HRC questionnaire frames the issues does mask some important differences in ways that benefit Hillary the most.

    Obama gets no credit for being the only candidate (besides Kucinich) who opposed DOMA since it was first proposed a decade ago.  As noted, he’s also the only one (besides Kucinich) who now favors its full repeal.

    On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Hillary is rated the same as the rest for favoring repeal, even though as recently as this week’s New Hampshire candidate debate she still defended her husband’s support for the 1996 “compromise” on gays in the military as “an important first step.”

    HRC shows Clinton and Obama as supporting gay immigration rights even though both hedged in their questionnaire answers, saying UAFA should be toughened to address fraud concerns. HRC didn’t even ask the candidates where they stood on ending the ban on immigration by people with HIV.

    The report card doesn’t try to tally leadership, of course, and the biggest deficiency of Democrats at the federal level has been their inability to translate pro-gay rhetoric into law.

    Of the seven candidates, only Bill Richardson of New Mexico has shown leadership in actually enacting gay rights, having managed workplace protections, a hate crime law and employee D.P. benefits in his first term as governor of a “red state.” He even called his legislature into special session this year to try for statewide domestic partnership, although the measure failed.

    You wouldn’t know any of that from reading the HRC report card, which added up check marks in a way that makes all seven Democrats look equally good on gay and HIV issues, a blurring of the lines that did benefit Hillary the most.

    My own guess is that HRC set things up not only to favor “the other HRC” but Democrats generally, since the party’s most likely nominees are not as strong on gay rights as those in the second and third tier, especially Richardson, Kucinich and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.

    It’s still a huge achievement for HRC to have all these candidates on record backing full federal recognition for gay couples. The race for president often redefines a party’s positions on issues generally, and the HRC questionnaire has raised the “floor” of what we can expect from Democrats — and any politician who claims to be “gay friendly.”

    For a comprehensive look at gay immigration rights, click here for the Gay News Watch summary.

    For a comprehensive look at gay issues in the U.S. presidential race, click here for the Gay News Watch summary.

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    Comments

    1. Andoni on Jun 6, 2007 9:42:32 AM:

      As I’ve said before, our goal as LGBT people should be that when one candidate gets out front of the others on one of our issues (such as Richardson campaigning against a state marriage amendment or Edwards wanting to grant all 1100 benefits of marriage to gay people via civil unions) for us to prod the other candidates, that for them to get our support, they must do that too. The role of the gay media should be to publicize the differences FAIRLY to help the community and its donors to make good choices and have ammo when talking to the candidates.

      One of my goals was to move all of the candidates forward so that support for all of our issues more or less became mainstream Democratic positions. That would help hedge our bets, so that whichever Dem got the nomination, we would be sitting pretty good. I think we are almost there, except for the few ambiguities/discrepancies that exist in some of the answers to the questionnaire.

      I think HRC (the .org) more or less helped getting us to the point I wanted us to get to, that is that all the candidates support all our issues (marriage aside). My gut tells me, however, there was a little “insider trading” going on with Hillary’s questionnaire. She clearly is the darling of the organization and in my opinion slated to get their nod. They couldn’t have her be an 89 or 78 percenter when all the others were 100 percenters, so someone helped her construct her questionnaire on UAFA and DOMA to fit into the HRC box to get a 100% score when she really doesn’t deserve a 100%.

      Hillary’s answer on UAFA is yes I “support” this legislation, but when you read her explanation, she negates all that and says, but no I really don’t support THIS UAFA legislation. Well, I support Hillary for president, but I have some big concerns about her candidacy, so I don’t support this Hillary at this time. If I were answering a questionnaire, should I say “support Hillary” or “don’t support Hillary?”

      We need another questionnaire in the near future to pin down the positions of these candidates a little better. Maybe it should be written by a good cross examination attorney. I don’t think HRC will do this, so it is going to have to be the gay press who will have to ask the hard questions to help the LGBT community understand the candidates’ positions better.

      I look forward to the gay press doing their jobs.

    1. Andoni on Jun 6, 2007 9:43:07 AM:

      As I’ve said before, our goal as LGBT people should be that when one candidate gets out front of the others on one of our issues (such as Richardson campaigning against a state marriage amendment or Edwards wanting to grant all 1100 benefits of marriage to gay people via civil unions) for us to prod the other candidates, that for them to get our support, they must do that too. The role of the gay media should be to publicize the differences FAIRLY to help the community and its donors to make good choices and have ammo when talking to the candidates.

      One of my goals was to move all of the candidates forward so that support for all of our issues more or less became mainstream Democratic positions. That would help hedge our bets, so that whichever Dem got the nomination, we would be sitting pretty good. I think we are almost there, except for the few ambiguities/discrepancies that exist in some of the answers to the questionnaire.

      I think HRC (the .org) more or less helped getting us to the point I wanted us to get to, that is that all the candidates support all our issues (marriage aside). My gut tells me, however, there was a little “insider trading” going on with Hillary’s questionnaire. She clearly is the darling of the organization and in my opinion slated to get their nod. They couldn’t have her be an 89 or 78 percenter when all the others were 100 percenters, so someone helped her construct her questionnaire on UAFA and DOMA to fit into the HRC box to get a 100% score when she really doesn’t deserve a 100%.

      Hillary’s answer on UAFA is yes I “support” this legislation, but when you read her explanation, she negates all that and says, but no I really don’t support THIS UAFA legislation. Well, I support Hillary for president, but I have some big concerns about her candidacy, so I don’t support this Hillary at this time. If I were answering a questionnaire, should I say “support Hillary” or “don’t support Hillary?”

      We need another questionnaire in the near future to pin down the positions of these candidates a little better. Maybe it should be written by a good cross examination attorney. I don’t think HRC will do this, so it is going to have to be the gay press who will have to ask the hard questions to help the LGBT community understand the candidates’ positions better.

      I look forward to the gay press doing their jobs.

    1. Brian Miller on Jun 6, 2007 2:45:41 PM:

      The key measure used to determine "support" for repeal of DOMA, immigration equality, or other issues is to see which Democrats who are members of Congress have been primary sponsors or co-sponsors of bills in this session dealing with those issues.

      By that measure, NONE of the top-tier candidates who "support" DOMA repeals, immigration equality, tax treatment equality, etc. pass. They all get an F.

      After all, if they're not willing to make things happen when they're in power, today, as a majority, why are we to believe they'll have a sudden "change of heart" later?

      They won't. If they haven't done anything now, after years and years in the halls of Congress, they're not going to do anything later if they end up in the halls of the White House.

    1. Kevin on Jun 6, 2007 5:20:32 PM:

      Don't doubt it for a milisecond, any of you. The HRC report card has been rigged since its inception, year after year. Election after election. It has always been transparently designed to favor their overriding objectives, whether they express them or hide them (badly, like a slip showing under a skirt). I wish people would just get over it with HRC -- they have never been objective, not under a single one of their leaders, and they've never been honest about that fact.

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