Friday, August 10, 2007
Gov. Bill Richardson Forced To Clarify Issue Today After Troubling Answe
NEW YORK - Truth Wins Out praised rock star Melissa Etheridge today for asking former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson during last night's Human Rights Campaign presidential forum on Logo Television whether he thought homosexuality was a choice. The organization was gratified that this crucial issue was addressed, but was disappointed with Richardson's answer.
"Richardson stumbled and bumbled his way through what should have been a no-brainer," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "While we praise his record as governor, Richardson needs to lift his game if he wants to become president. On this key question, he really missed a key opportunity to impress the GLBT Community."
Etheridge, who sat on a distinguished panel of questioners, asked the governor whether he considered homosexuality "innate" or a choice.
"It's a choice," he replied, to audible groans in the live audience.
Figuring that Richardson had misheard her query, Etheridge rephrased her question, asking if 'a homosexual is born that way, or do you think that around seventh grade, we go, 'Ooo, I want to be gay.'"
Richardson seemed oddly perplexed.
"It's, it's, it, you know, I don't see this as an issue of science or definition," he said. "I see gays and lesbians as people, as a matter of human decency. I see it as a matter of love and companionship and people loving each other. You know, I don't like to categorize people. I don't like to answer definitions like that, that you know perhaps are grounded in science or something else that I don't understand."
Today, Richardson's campaign issued a much-appreciated clarifying statement.
"Let me be clear -- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice," Richardson said in the statement printed by the Voice. "But I'm not a scientist and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law."
This question is critical because right wing organizations have spent millions of dollars to trick Americans into believing that homosexuality is a casual lifestyle choice or a dysfunction that can be treated through prayer and therapy. The reason they have taken such an interest in this issue is because poll after poll shows that when people believe that homosexuality is inborn, a dramatic and undeniable shift towards full acceptance occurs.
** A November 2004 Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates poll shows that 79 percent of people who think homosexuality is inborn support civil unions or marriage equality. Among those who believe sexual orientation is a choice, only 22 percent support civil unions or marriage rights.
** In a May 2000 Associated Press poll, 59 percent of people who believe gays are born with a homosexual orientation support same-sex marriage, while 69 percent of people who believe gays choose their sexual orientation are opposed to these marriages.
** A May 2007 Gallup Poll showed that 42 percent of Americans say homosexuality is inborn, compared with 13 percent in 1977. This seismic shift is a key reason support for gay rights legislation has increased in recent years.
Additionally, Truth Wins Out praised the Human Rights Campaign for hosting the monumental gathering and making sure GLBT concerns play a role in the presidential selection process.
"The gay community should be proud of this historic debate," said Besen. "We expect our Washington lobby groups to exert influence and the Human Rights Campaign's Executive Director Joe Solmonese has delivered and created a terrific way to gauge the candidates stances' on gay and lesbian issues. It is a great day to be a gay American."
Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
- 30 -
Although this debate broke no new ground, it was quite a milestone in our lives. Just a few years ago, attending such a forum would have been political suicide for any candidate. I thought the discussion was done with class and intellect, and our community has much to be proud of. Political maturity carried the day, as no candidate was harangued over their positions on gay marriage or any other issue, a realization that political reality plays a role here, too.
As for Governor Richardson (a good man), it seems that he doesn't understand yet, but he appears open to our community and to that journey of understanding, and that's a good thing. But he should realize that he doesn't need to be "a scientist" to know whether or not being gay is a choice or not. Just listen to the millions of us who tell you it isn't, and trust our word and integrity, and you have your answer.
posted by , at
8/10/2007 2:53 PM
As for Joe Solomonese saying its a great day to be a gay American, I strongly disagree, whether its a first for Dems to appear on a gay forum or not. The fact remains, none of the three contenders believe in our equality. If they did, civil unions wouldn't even be part of the conversation, marriage would. Granting civil unions with federal recognition is NOT about equality. They are deluding themselves when they say that. Its hypocrisy and bigotry based on their own religious beliefs, playing it safe so as not to alienate their core hetero voting bloc. So transparent. I take my hat off to Kucinich and Gravel, my two heroes. My vote goes to them!
posted by , at
8/10/2007 2:59 PM
As I have said before, I can support civil unions as long as they are equal. The absurdity of it will take a few years to recognize, and eventually do away with. I prefer the baby step to no step at all, and i don't necessarily see it as hypocrisy. (I reserve the label of hypocrite for our "good" christian friends). I think it will take some time for even moderate liberals like obama to get their minds and beliefs around it. I like kucinich, but he doesn't stand a chance. Civil unions is a major step towards doing away with the bigotry, and that must be the first priority.
posted by , at
8/10/2007 4:02 PM
Ben, even if Clinton becomes president and she supports federal benefits offered to same-sex couples via civil unions, what good will it do with 37 states that have already passed DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act, banning same sex marriage and most of them banning or not willing to support civil unions)? She said, it must be left to the states. Well, if that's the case, its going to take decades to achieve. What kind of equality is that? All states should be compelled to offer civil unions if they're going to have any impact. So far, I don't see that happening. Its not going to be anything like what the UK has in the form of civil partnerships that provide all of the rights and privileges of marriage at the national (federal) level in all of its thirty-two regions (counties). Big difference indeed. At least there it makes sense and seems much more equitable than the plan that Clinton and others are supporting.
posted by , at
8/10/2007 10:12 PM
You make a very valid point. easy to support civil unions when there aren't any.
posted by , at
8/11/2007 10:47 AM
Ben, listening to Mike Gravel thursday night on the presidential forum, he said in five years this whole marriage issue won't be an issue. I wish I had his optimism Given what I said in my last comment, with DOMA firmly ensconced in 37 states, there's no way its going to be a non-issue. Its going to take many many decades before we get equality in all 50 states. Leaving legislation up to the states when it comes to civil rights issues is a recipe for disaster and Clinton is dead wrong on that. Civil rights including marriage equality must be enacted at the federal level and mandatory in all 50 states. Without that, there will NEVER be equality for all. We'll end up with only one state offering marriage, 12 including Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey with civil unions and 37 with no equality under DOMA and a stacked right wing supreme court, five of whom are catholic. Now how fucked up is all that?
posted by , at
8/11/2007 12:56 PM
The big difference between Kucinich/Gravel and the rest of the Dem candidates is that they are not opportunists. They are up front when talking about equality. The others are just paying lip service waiting for the winds of opinion to shift so they can change at the right time. Sorry, no one like Harry Truman in the Obama/Clinton/Edwards club to tell it like it is! The early Hillary when she was at Wellesley and few years afterwards had the female version of balls. Where have they gone? She has learned to play the game. Robert, you are positively 100% right: how fucked up is that indeed?
posted by , at
8/11/2007 6:38 PM
Richard, thanks so much for that! Appreciate it. The triumvirate have caved in to greed, corporate donations...incidentally, arch-homophobe Rupert Murdoch recently donated to the Clinton campaign. I guess money has no scruples when it means getting elected and foresaking your principles as these three have done. I can't in good conscience support any of them just to get rid of Bush, its not good enough. They have the gall to sit there and tell us that they believe in equality, bullshit! If that were the case the wouldn't be discussing civil unions, but marriage. If Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, Russ Feingold, Ted Kenneday can, so can can, no excuses. It never affected Feingold's or Kennedy's time in office either. Melissa Etheridge reminded Clinton that when Bill was president, he made so many promises to us, and broke every one of them. I don't expect anything will change. They shaft us every four years when the going gets tough. Nothing but spineless, greedy, corrupt and dishonest, typical of what we've been getting these past 50 years. Imagine the impact we'd have if 25 million or more of us didn't vote for them. The problem is, it is WE who don't have the balls to do it. I'm sick and tired of being taken for granted. The Log Cabiners need to grow a pair of balls and abandon the party that doesn't want them, and doesn't want to suppport them. Not one of them showing up for the forum last thursday proves it!
posted by , at
8/12/2007 10:28 AM
chris, some gay people do regard their homosexuality as a choice - why don't you trust their word and integrity?
posted by , at
8/12/2007 5:32 PM
Choice? It all depends on what you mean by choice. I can trust their word and theiri ntegrity that it's a choice, but not necessarily what I mean by it. What i don't trust is the agenda behind the word choice. michael glatze is a great example of this. http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/07/an_open_letter_to_michael_glatze.php
posted by , at
8/13/2007 11:24 AM
". . . some gay people do regard their homosexuality as a choice . . ."
Nobody who's truly Lesbian or Gay regards sexual orientation as a choice. That's nothing but an "ex-Gay" ministry talking point.
posted by DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL", at
8/13/2007 12:00 PM
We all know it isn't a choice, but the governor made a good point - gays are human beings deserving of respect. WHAT WOULD IT MATTER EVEN IF IT WERE A CHOICE?!?!?!?!?
It's supposed to be a free country after all.
Religion is clearly a choice and not biologically innate, does that mean we should get rid of the right to choose one's religion?
Everyone in this dialogue is missing the whole point of freedom - why are we debating about "choice" in the supposed "land of the free"?
I think people are being too hard on the governor. I have plenty of friends who still call it a "lifestyle choice", no matter how much I laugh at them when they say it. They sound like idiots when they say it, and they just don't understand being gay.
Big surprise. They're not gay.
Oh I try to correct them when I can, in terms I think they might understand ("did you 'choose' to be straight?"). But at the end of the day, they support me, my relationship and my equality. And that's what matters.
And if any of you queers believe that if the homophobes of the world were to realize it's not a choice, they would all suddenly apologize and hand over our equality, then you're fooling yourself.
If a biological cause were ever to be proven, it would just mean the haters would move on from the "ex-gay" quackery, to something even more physically destructive like genetic engineering or surgery, in order to "correct" the fags.
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