By Lisa Keen
Gay related news from the presidential campaign trail…
WHO SAID THAT? “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” That was Mitt Romney, during his now infamous 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy, when he was seeking a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts. Romney was on the national executive board of the BSA at the time. But Republican presidential rival Sam Brownback’s campaign issued a press release saying Romney is “hostile to Boy Scout leadership and principles” and claims he snubbed their request to participate in the 2000 Olympics in Utah.
ADDING BALLAST: There was some criticism of the Human Rights Campaign and LOGO network last month when they announced their August 9 Democratic presidential forum in Los Angeles. While the forum would provide a unique opportunity for gays to more closely examine the Democratic presidential candidates, some groused that the choice of HRC President Joe Solmonese and singer Melissa Etheridge to ask the questions set the forum up to be more info-tainment than any kind of real vetting on the issues. HRC and LOGO are hoping to put that concern to rest with the announcement that two professional journalists will join the mix. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jonathan Capehart will participate in asking questions of the candidates, and former Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson, will moderate the event. Interestingly, while Carlson is seen as too liberal by many Republicans, she’s somewhat of a Republican sympathizer: She dated Fred Thompson and works for Bloomberg News. The Thursday, August 9, forum will air live from Los Angeles on the MTV gay cable channel LOGO at 9 p.m. east coast time, 6 p.m. Pacific.
MAKING WAVES: Not everyone who goes up to a candidate to ask a question in Iowa or New Hampshire is just an ordinary citizen of those early voting states. Some are activists trying to get some answers and some air time for their particular issue. It’s not always obvious, but Bruce Mirken, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, says that group has an organizer and volunteers “trailing the candidates through New Hampshire and attempting to get them on the record on this issue.” They caught up with Republican Mike Huckabee in New Hampshire and picked up some C-SPAN coverage in doing so. They also got a nod from Democrat Hillary Clinton that she would end raids of medical marijuana facilities and a promise from Republican John McCain that he would “look at it.” Mirken said his group was not responsible for the questions coming up on the campaign trail in Iowa. There, two women showed up at events for Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to ask about funds to make HIV drugs more readily available and to help fund treatment for people with HIV in Africa.
RUDY’S RESPONSE: Oddly enough, it wasn’t the Marijuana Policy Project that nailed Republican Rudy Giuliani on the issue in New Hampshire recently. But the group doesn’t like his response. When asked, at a forum in Concord about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Giuliani said, “I believe the effort to try and make marijuana available for medical uses is really a way to legalize it. There’s no reason for it.” “He’s wrong,” said Bruce Mirken of the Project. Mirken said there is “a small mountain of evidence” documenting the medical benefits of marijuana to people with HIV. As for claiming that it’s just an effort to legalize marijuana: “That’s preoposterous,” said Mirken. “Doctors can prescribe morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine, and no one seriously thinks that’s a foot in the door to legalize those drugs for recreational use.”