Friday, August 10, 2007

Billy, I Hardly Knew Ye…

First of all, I didn’t watch the “gay debate” among Democratic hopefuls, so my information is only second-hand.

But Bill, what were you thinking?

During the debate Bill Richardson, who has an excellent record on gay rights – not perfect, but it’s one of the best – said, when asked, that being gay is a choice. To make matters worse, he seemed to have been caught off-guard by the question.

Richardson has a lot going for him, including foreign relations experience. The fact that he’s from New Mexico, my truly home state, is just dressing on the cake… or something. That’s why Richardson was my candidate.

But he has made a lot of gaffes for someone so on-the-ball. Richardson voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act when he was a member of Congress. That one doesn’t trouble me too much – it was a long time ago, and he’s made up for it since then. But what about when he used the Spanish word for “faggot” when he appeared on Imus? Oh, and what on earth was he doing on Imus to begin with?

Every candidate is going to screw up. Every politician will regret some votes. But I want my president working on the issues – Iraq, universal health care, and yes, gay rights. I don’t want him distracted because he’s trying to explain his latest faux pas.

Ironically, Richardson ultimately got the answer right. Following the debate, he said what he really meant was (aren’t you tired of hearing this from our leaders?), it doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or not. Equality rules, period.

He’s absolutely right about that. I’m Jewish by choice. Should that diminish my first amendment rights? Of course not. But as a practical matter, the choice issue is a useful device for helping us learn how to frame the discourse.

I want my president to have the right answers, but that’s not enough. I also expect him (or her) to study the issues.

And I just don’t believe you can be well-informed on gay issues and then get thrown by a question about choice.

That’s why Obama is most definitely beginning to turn this lesbian’s head.

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