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    December 21, 2007

    If only, Bill, if only

    Posted by: Chris

    Bill_richardson_1 An exclusive interview with Bill Richardson in today's Washington Blade is a painful reminder of his enormous potential as a candidate and leader on gay rights issues. Finally, just weeks before he is likely to implode in Iowa and New Hampshire, Richardson offers an eloquent case for support from gay Democrats.

    I was an early fan of Richardson's, enamored of his record of actually passing gay and trans rights legislation, in addition to voting and cosponsoring the other hopefuls have skated by with.  Asked by Lou Chibbaro to make his case for gay votes, Richardson is succinct and persuasive:

    Because I, by far, have the best record, not just the record of voting right but of pushing for gay and GLBT legislation throughout my career as a congressman and as a governor, particularly as a governor. I believe I have the most far-reaching legislative record in a red state than any other governor. In fact, I think New Mexico and New York are considered the most pro gay-lesbian states in terms of rights simply because I’ve taken leadership positions and not just supported them.

    I’ve taken the lead, as you probably know, on a number of pieces of legislation. Hate crimes [legislation] with [protections for] gender identity — I pushed that in 2003 against the advice of gay rights activists who thought it would be too controversial. I pushed it and got it done by one vote. I passed executive orders preventing discrimination against gays in the state workplace. We passed legislation preventing discrimination against gay people. … I put a domestic partnership bill on the legislative agenda last year. We lost by one vote, and I’m going to put it up again in January.

    He even has polished his explanations on the two big gay gaffes of his campaign: saying "maricon" on the Don Imus show and telling Melissa Etheridge that being gay was a "choice" during the HRC-Logo debate:

    Well, those were mistakes. They were screw-ups. On the Imus issue, Imus actually asked me to repeat it, just to show that I could speak Spanish. So I didn’t say it in a derogatory sense. Plus, I think the version of ‘maricon’ in Spanish is not — in some cases in the old days when I learned the word, it was not directed at gay people. Gay people weren’t even referred to in the ‘60s, as you recall. It was more a term of making fun of somebody and there was no connection to it being a gay insult. But nonetheless, I shouldn’t have used the word. He just asked me to repeat it to see if I could speak Spanish. And so it was an inadvertent mistake.

    The second one, I was just tired. I should have known better. I wasn’t thinking. You know, we all make mistakes but I shouldn’t be judged on one stupid word as opposed to, I think, a distinguished and very progressive record. So that’s happened. I misunderstood the question. I still made a mistake because I have always been enamored of using the word choice. You know, choice when it comes to the right to choose, choice when it comes to health care. I thought that was an opening to say that I was for choice. I do now understand — I did understand that, I did know that. It’s just a foolish thing that I said.

    Certainly good enough, even if he's still skirting a bit on the meaning of "maricón."

    There were some glitches in the interview, where he promised to pass trans-inclusive hate crimes and ENDA merely by pointing out he rallied the votes in New Mexico. He never said if the whip count there showed a 40-plus vote gap with "gender identity" included, as it did in the U.S. House.

    But there was far more to impress in the interview than to criticize, including a one-of-its kind commitment from the former U.N. ambassador to use the weight of American influence around the world in the cause of gay rights:

    First, in my definition of the importance of human rights in foreign policy, and how we judge other countries in relationship with ties with the United States, it shouldn’t just be the Geneva Conventions and fair elections. I would include the treatment of gay and lesbian people as a factor in American foreign policy positions toward those countries.

    Secondly, I think the United Nations is a very strong forum to, with the Human Rights Committee, to pass resolutions, not just condemning these actions but pushing for full rights for gays and lesbians around the world. And then, thirdly, I would make my AIDS commission — millennium goals a major priority, funding for AIDS treatment, outreach and education. But I would also put my vice president in charge of the AIDS commission to give it both national and international strength, which is going to be needed to continue fighting pandemic diseases and AIDS around the world.

    Unforturnately, even heart-breakingly, it all comes too late. Richardson came close but never broke out of the second tier and isn't registering on the radar of the ABC -- Anybody But Clinton -- voters. It even seems he is submarining his shot as No. 2 on the ticket with Hillary. Perhaps he's still a possibility at Barack Obama's veep.

    Dare to dream.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For all the related headlines and breaking new, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary




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    1. Double T on Dec 21, 2007 5:01:56 PM:

      He'll make a ok V.P.

      Perhaps he would have had a shot if he didn't alienate so many Americans.

    1. Lucrece on Dec 21, 2007 9:49:52 PM:

      Not really. With the Brown Scare trends in this country, a Hispanic candidate will be hard-pressed to be successful outside of regions that do not have large Hispanic populations.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 3:16:09 AM:

      successful outside of regions that do not have large Hispanic populations.

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