Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Lisa Keen
Keen on the trail
SCORE ONE FOR THE STIGMA: The question to Democratic candidates last Thursday night, June 28, was “What is the plan to stop and protect these young people from this scourge?” The scourge in question was HIV/AIDS and the young people are African American teens. According to reporter Michel Martin of National Public Radio, a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that African American teens comprise 17 percent of the U.S. teenaged population but 69 percent of its teenaged HIV cases. The audience was a auditorium primarily of African Americans, watching the PBS televised debate of Democratic presidential candidates from the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Senator Hillary Clinton triggered a spontaneous standing ovation from many of the women in the audience when she said that “if HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 there would be an outrage, an outcry in this country.” Senator Barack Obama faced a much quieter audience when he suggested that, “One of the things that we have to overcome is a stigma that still exists in our communities. We don’t talk about this, we don’t talk about it in the schools, sometimes, we don’t talk about it in the churches. It has been an aspect of sometimes homophobia,” he said, gesturing toward himself but seeming to include society in general. But that stigma is apparently hard to shake because, a few minutes later, when
Senator Joseph Biden took the liberty of remarking that both he and Obama had taken an HIV test, Obama felt compelled to get the moderator’s attention to address the audience. “I just got to make clear, I got tested with Michelle, when we were in Kenya in Africa. I don’t want any confusion here about what’s going on,” said Obama, as the audience laughed and applauded. “I was tested with my wife, in public.” The moderator said he was “sure Michelle appreciates you clarifying that.”
THE TWO EDWARDSES: Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, got some press attention for her remarks in favor of same-sex marriage during an appearance at a San Francisco gay pride event. But the media was saturated last week with news of her confrontation of right-wing commentator Ann Coulter. Coulter is the one who called Mr. Edwards a “faggot” during her speech to a conservative group in Washington in March. Then last week, Coulter said that, rather than insult gays by calling Edwards a faggot, she would just “wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” (Coulter made clear she was parroting a similar comment by liberal talk show host Bill Maher about Vice President Dick Cheney.) While Coulter was being interviewed on MSNBC’s Hardball June 26, Elizabeth Edwards called in and, on the air, asked her to please stop the personal attacks, saying they lower the seriousness of political dialogue. “You’re asking [young people] to participate in a dialogue that’s based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues….” Coulter struggled for a coherent comeback and ultimately claimed Ms. Edwards was “asking me to stop speaking.” Meanwhile, that same day, candidate John Edwards took a tour of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and almost no mainstream media noticed.
MARTHA STEWART FOR PREZ? Ann Coulter is not the only conservative commentator in search of lower ground. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan started out a June 22 essay on Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton this way: “Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.” Turns out that -according to Noonan– the senator is at her best when she is “dressed in a soft pastel sweater or jacket, with a mellow strand of pearls, and flowers in the background.”
NAME GAME REDUX: The Clinton campaign rolled out its formal list of LGBT endorsers last week -65 this time, compared to the 26 it issued in April when the Edwards campaign issued the first of such lists. The Clinton list is an indisputable pearl in Clinton’s strand of efforts to win over LGBT voters, with such luminaries as former Human Rights Campaign director Elizabeth Birch, ABC Brothers & Sisters creator Greg Berlanti, and attorney Paul M. Smith, who argued the historic Lawrence v. Texas case. But the name game is far from over.
RICHARDSON AT BAT: New Mexico Governor -and Democratic presidential hopeful–Bill Richardson is, thus far, the first and only candidate to criticize the Bush administration’s threatened veto of the D.C. budget bill over its provision to allow for funding of a domestic partnership registry. Richardson said that, “If the President does follow through on this sad threat, I call on the members of Congress who believe in fairness, human rights, and the fundamental promise of our Constitution that all are equal before the law, to override the President’s veto.” Richardson has been strongly courting the gay vote in recent weeks. Among other things, he addressed gay Democrats at a Stonewall Democrats meeting in Las Vegas last month. According to the Washington Post, the governor of New Mexico was the only presidential candidate to do so, although Hillary Clinton’s campaign sent a statement from the Senator from New York via DVD.