January 04, 2008
Rudy, they hardly knew ye
Posted by: Chris
An article by Duncan Osborne in New York's Gay City News takes issue with the media's depiction of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani as "moderate" or "pro gay rights." The article is packed with interesting detail, although unfortunately all of it is colored by Osborne's obvious bias and unwillingness to quote pro-Giuliani sources. (Query why any media outlet in the age of FOX News still thinks "unfair and unbalanced" is the best way to inform.)
Whether Giuliani is "moderate or pro gay rights" is in the eye of the beholder, of course, which is all the more reason to ask a diversity of beholders. But diversity of views rarely makes it on the list of valued diversities of the left. Surely everyone would agree that his gay rights record has to be put in some sort of context to be judged fairly. Compare him on gay rights with other Republicans seriously contending for president, now or ever, and he's better than all of them by a mile. Compare him with the candidates for president from both parties, now or ever, and he's in the center-left of the pack.
Osborne's point is that Giuliani was not well-loved by the gays who knew him best, living in New York, but that's hardly the measure for whether a candidate for national office is "moderate or pro gay rights." As mayor, Giuliani signed domestic partner legislation and backed hate crime and non-discrimination bills. (His views on transgender-inclusion aren't known -- drag appearances nonwithstanding.) He spoke out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and in favor of civil unions.
Like every Democrat save Dennis Kucinich, Giuliani opposes gay marriage, but unlike George Bush, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, he opposes a federal marriage amendment.
That overall record positions Giuliani somewhere to the left of Bill Clinton, to name just one example, who signed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act into law and counseled John Kerry four years ago to come out in favor of federal and state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
Since Giuliani launched his presidential bid, he has tacked somewhat to the right, warning against mucking with military policy "during a time of war" -- albeit a bit of a reversal since the war on terror is never-ending -- and fell out of love with civil unions when they were adopted in neighboring Connecticut. Apparently seeing civil unions up close made them too close to marriage for the man who got himself kicked out of Gracie Mansion by Wife No. 2 for a very public affair with the woman who would become Wife No. 3.
Of course we all know now that Giuliani actually moved in with a gay couple during those marital lows, showing a degree of personal comfort with gays unmatched among any serious White House hopeful ever except perhaps Hillary Clinton, who has always been surrounded by lesbian and gay staffers and friends.
Osborne offers up a laundry list of complaints by gays during Giuliani's two terms, and it's a list worth reading. But there are also pro-gay nuggets, like regularly participating in Gay Pride parades, hosting Gay Pride celebrations in Gracie Mansion and approving $1.5 million in city funding for the LGBT Community Center. (If Bill Clinton or Al Gore ever marched in a Gay Pride parade, I don't remember it.)
Ultimately, despite the complaints, there's nothing in Osborne's report to erase the reality that, as a Republican or as a presidential candidate or just as a politician in the U.S. of A., Rudy Giuliani is "moderate or pro gay rights," historically speaking.
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