Gay Issues Forum Is a First
At tonight's forum on gay rights that will draw six of the Democratic candidates to Los Angeles, there are two obvious questions: Does John Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth and daughter Cate have both said they support gay marriage, have any more relatives eager to disagree with him on the issue? And will any of the candidates confess to forum fatigue, since it will the Democrats third wooing of a key party interest group in six days, following events for liberal bloggers and labor union members?
The forum, put on by the Human Rights Campaign and Logo, a gay and lesbian television network that is part of MTV Networks, will include six of the eight Democrats taking questions, although they will not be on the stage at the same time. HRC said Senators Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) couldn't attend, citing scheduling conflicts and the GOP candidates declined the invitation. While gay activists have long been courted by Democrats, this event, being shown on Logo and its website logoonline.com at 9 p.m.. marks the first concerted televised appeal to gay voters ever in a presidential contest.
Democrats, who have been more unabashedly pro-gay than in past campaigns in calling for policy changes such as the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military, will have to navigate carefully on gay marriage, which activists support but the majority of the public does not. Expect Edwards to repeat his previous remarks in debates that he's not ready to embrace gay marriage, but reminding activists that his wife and daughter do.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
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