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    December 19, 2007

    Edwards moves on marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Bilde1 The same day John Edwards was endorsed by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, an influential gay rights group in the state with the nation's first primary, he said the Defense of Marriage Act was "a mistake from the beginning" and he would work to repeal it as president.

    The press account of that commitment, from the anti-gay Washington Times of all publications, is the first time I've seen Edwards expressly call for full repeal of DOMA:

    "I think we should get rid of DOMA; I think DOMA was a mistake from the beginning, and discriminatory, and so I will do everything in my power as president to do that," the Democratic candidate said in a three-minute meeting with reporters.

    Asked by The Washington Times why the act is discriminatory, he bristled, then said: "I think it's discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples, that's what's discriminatory about it." An Edwards staffer ended the press conference one minute later.

    Edwards' claim that DOMA was "a mistake from the beginning" is a subtle dig at Hillary Clinton, since she has never said the same about the law her husband signed as president and has never since renounced. But it's not new for Edwards. He said the same thing way back in 2004 during a nationally televised Democratic primary debate, when he said he would have joined John Kerry and voted against DOMA had he been in the Senate in 1996. He repeated that same position during the HRC-Logo debate earlier this fall.

    Hillary favors a half-repeal of DOMA, removing the portion that blocks the federal government from recognizing marriage licenses issued by states to gay couples. But she would leave in place the half that permits each state to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states, under the theory the issue is better decided at the state level.

    (She'd be better off arguing that full repeal of DOMA dramatically increases the risk of a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage entirely. That -- and a built-in Hillary bias -- explain why the Human Rights Campaign only asked the Dems about a half-repeal of DOMA in its candidate questionnaire.)

    Up until yesterday, however, Edwards had never committed to a full repeal, and his unqualified support for a repeal pretty much does that. A week after that 2004 primary debate, ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed Edwards on the issue and he said that he actually agrees with and supports the half of DOMA that allows one state to ignore another state's gay marriages. Whether Edwards has changed his mind about that, or favors a full repeal for the same reason he says he would have voted against DOMA to begin with, is anybody's guess.

    My own guess is that he's tacking his way through the issue, using his wife and daughter's support for gay marriage and his own vague position on DOMA to appeal to gays and progressives while leaving wiggle room for the general election. That's the type of slickness that has always been Edwards' biggest problem, and it contrasts with Barack Obama's specific opposition to both halves of DOMA, when enacted and now for repeal.

    One additional note: When doing research on this post I came across a Washington Blade story from 2004 that included this nugget (sorry but I couldn't find it online to link to it):

    HRC gave Edwards a rating on gay issues of 71 percent for the 106th Congress, which covers 1999 and 2000, his first two years in the Senate. HRC gave him a rating of 100 percent for the 107th Congress, which covers 2001 and 2002.  The HRC rating scorecard shows that Edwards lost points in the 106th Congress for not co-sponsoring the gay civil rights and hate crimes bills at that time.

    HRC's Web site also includes information from the Congressional Record that shows Edwards voted for an amendment introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in June 2000 that sought to delete the term "sexual orientation" from the hate crimes bill, an action that HRC opposed. However, HRC did not use that vote to dock points from Edwards' score.

    Had it done so, he would have been given a rating of 57 percent for the 106th Congress. HRC spokesperson Steven Fisher said he would review HRC's records to determine whether an error was made on that rating.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary



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    1. Double T on Dec 19, 2007 5:58:26 PM:


      I'm eating crow right now.
      Kevin, would pass me the ketchup. Yes, the Heinz.

    1. Kevin on Dec 19, 2007 10:07:47 PM:

      Nah. No crow eating needed. Humility is a good thing.

    1. John on Dec 21, 2007 6:10:28 PM:

      Correction, Chris: this isn't the first time that John Edwards has said that he wants to repeal all of DOMA. He has said it a number of times and discusses it on his website (www.johnedwards.com/issues/lgbt/).

      However, I am surprised that you didn't address: "Where was Barack Obama?" In 2003-04, when John Edwards was calling for repeal of DOMA, Barack Obama SUPPORTED RETAINING ALL of the Clinton's discriminatory "Defense of Marriage Act". This, of course, is the very same Barack Obama who is putting on gay-baiting campaign tours with Donnie McClurkin and Mary, Mary. The very same Barack Obama who, when asked if he believes that gays are "immoral", ducked the question three separate times. We've already had too many Judas' in the White House. No more thank you.

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 21, 2007 7:28:19 PM:

      John, you are correct that Edwards calls for a full repeal of DOMA on the LGBT page of his website but that's all you're correct about.

      Edwards was not "calling for repeal" of DOMA in 2003-04, he was defending half of it. You're also wrong that I "didn't address" Obama's views on DOMA during the same time period because I wrote a whole blog post about the subject back in June. But you're taking a candidate questionnaire that is inconsistent with what Obama the candidate said at the time and trying to draw significance from it. It's too big a stretch.

      You're also wrong about the "immoral" flap, which was a result of then Joint Chiefs Chair Peter Pace, not Donnie McClurkin. Obama didn't refuse to say whether gays were immoral, as Hillary did; he said the subject was not one that Pace or other public officials should weigh in on. That's exactly what the gay rights movement has been saying for decades, and it's a sad state of things when we expect politicians and generals to declare us moral or immoral. Their personal views on morality are irrelevant.

    1. John on Dec 21, 2007 8:36:42 PM:

      Chris: I think that you misunderstood those two sentences in my post, but thank you for fleshing them out and highlighting Obama's actions in both of these instances.

      You're right; the first comment was about Obama using McClurkin as part of a gay bashing campaign effort in SC in 2007. Obama's approach could have been taken directly out of the Bush/Cheney/Rove campaign handbook when they employed McClurkin for the same purposes at the Republican National Convention in 2004. "Hey, gang, I've got an idea. Let's use McClurkin to attract anti-gay evangelical voters, then *wink-wink, nudge-nudge* we'll deplore just how horrible gay bashing is."

      And you're right that the second comment was about Obama's initial failures to respond to Gen. Pace's assertion that gays are "immoral". Obama was asked directly by a Newsday reporter three separate times if he agreed with Pace's comments that gays are "immoral". Each time he was asked, Obama refused to say that he disagreed with the General.
      This characterization is not mine: it's Newsday's: http://weblogs.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/2007/03/obama_mum_on_gay_immorality.html.

      You are correct that Hillary also dodged the question. The only difference between the two of them is that, on the surface, Obama's dodge appeared to be just a tiny bit more artful than Hillary's.

      You do make the point that it's not appropriate for military leaders to opine publicly on these type of issues. I agree.

      However, I also believe that when military leaders do make such comments, their civilian commanders (and those interviewing to become their civilian Commander in Chief) have an obligation to call them on it directly. If they don't, I believe that we will continue to see that type of behavior.

      If one does not agree with this approach, then by logical extension, it would have been perfectly appropriate for Barack or Hillary to simply sit back and dodge the question if Gen. Pace had said that African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics, Asians or women were "immoral".

      Significantly, this wasn't just any member of the military. He was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His words and leadership matter.

      Imagine if, instead of saying that having gays and lesbians in the military would be bad for morale and unit cohesion, Colin Powell had followed the advice that you laid out and simply said that the decision to allow or not allow gays in the military was a policy that should be set by the civilian government and that the military would carry out whatever the civilian authorities put in place?

      So, I do believe that what our military and civilian leaders say matters.

      Fortunately, unlike Hillary or Barack, John Edwards immediately stated, without hesitancy or equivocation, that he disagreed with Gen. Pace.

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 22, 2007 11:43:27 AM:

      Let's separate this out, John, because you're scrambling things so much:

      McClurkin: It's just silly to suggest Obama acted with Rove-like motives considering he was not involved in selecting McClurkin and immediately said his campaign should have vetted him better. You may quarrel with his decision not to dis-invite him, though I do not, but your position is way afield of the facts.

      Ahh, Newsday, that paragon of objective journalism in ground zero of Hillary Clinton's political base. I do not fault Obama (or Clinton) for not taking a position on whether homosexuality is immoral for the same reason I DO fault Pace for saying it in the first place: Politicians and military leaders shouldn't be preaching about the morality or immorality of homosexuality. The subject should be outside the realm of politics and governance. Both Obama and Clinton DID criticize Pace, so your reminder about the importance of his words is inapposite.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 3:13:53 AM:

      so your reminder about the importance of his words is inapposite.

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