My friend Phil Attey asks why Obama keeps mentioning gays and lesbians in his speeches – speeches he makes to the public at large, not just gay audiences – and Hillary never does. Phil writes:
Last month, a gay Philadelphian LGBT publisher raised the issue that Senator Obama, though often addressing LGBT issues and including us in his major speeches, was not granting his publication an exclusive interview. Senator Obama quickly addressed the issue and granted an exclusive interview to the national LGBT publication, The Advocate.
Tonight, following the Pennsylvania Primary, Senator Obama once again showed his commitment to our community by including us in his address to the nation. Senator Clinton, speech, once again, did not include us, and it brings up the issue that hers never do.
Phil is right. And he’s not the only one to notice:
But Obama speaks movingly of gay equality, and not just before gay audiences. He has raised the issue among white farmers and in black churches, where the message is both unwelcome and needed.
Clinton, by contrast, rarely raises the issue on her own, never does so before unfriendly audiences, and seems reluctant even to say the word “gay.”
Obama “gets it” in a way that no previous candidate for president has. Part of this is generational, but it is nonetheless real.
Obama mentions us in his speeches, a lot. And yes, Hillary will say those are just words. But you know, Obama was willing to chastize his own community for their homophobia in a speech given on Martin Luther King’s birthday in MLK’s own church to thousands of black leaders. Those are words that matter. Here’s to hoping that Hillary can find it in herself to utter the word gay (and even lesbian) in a setting that isn’t limited to a gay audience.
One more thing, watch this interview Hillary did with the gay cable network, Logo. First, the issue comes up about her never using the g-word, and she does use it, once during an entire 5 minute interview with a gay station about gay issues, while mentioning “gay organizations.” But notice how repeatedly in the interview Hillary hesitates and stumbles at places where you would naturally expect her to say the word “gay” – she doesn’t say it – she kind of stops, doesn’t say gay, then moves on. Watch the video for yourself. She’s not comfortable saying the word. Obama is. I think that tells you something about how they feel about the issue inside. It’s likely generational – he’s in his 40s, my generation, she’s 60. A transcript of the worst part follows the video, below – note particularly the question and her answer 1 minute and 2 seconds in:
1:02 LOGO: “Your opponent, Senator Obama, regularly mentions gay people in his stump speech… You don’t mention gay rights all the time in your stump speech, you do when you’re in front of gay audiences, why is that?”
1:21 CLINTON: “Well I do mention, uh, from time to time, um, you know I don’t mention, you know, everything in every speech that I give, but uh people, you know, know how committed I am and they know what I’ve done, and that I led the efforts uh to try and defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, working with you know all of the major uh gay rights organizations, uh, so you know I’m gonna continue to not just talk about what I will do but demonstrate by my actions what I have done and will do.”