Sunday, March 02, 2008
The impromptu debate, over light beers and dirty martinis, was at once mundane and remarkable. Provoked by a reporter, four middle-aged men at a Greenwich Village gay bar made fiery pitches for the Democratic presidential front-runners. Two backed Senator Barack Obama, one argued for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the fourth made an emotional plea for the cause of John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina.
"Edwards is the only one who really cares about the underdog," one of the men, Farid Martinez, 41, a clothing designer from New York, shouted above the din at the bar, the Monster, across from Sheridan Square. His friend Edmund Taylor, 37, disagreed, and nearly sputtered with rage: "The guy is a millionaire lawyer obsessed with his hair. Obama is the only one who can really transform this country."
What was notable about the exchange last week was what was not mentioned: the word "gay."
For the first time in two decades, gay voters find themselves in an unusual, if happy, predicament. The three leading Democrats have staked out similar positions on issues that resonate with gay men and lesbians. Although none of the three candidates back gay marriage, they all support same-sex civil unions and say they would fight to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And each of them says he or she would champion a U.S. anti-discrimination law that would protect lesbians and gay men.
"You would need a magnifying glass to see any real or substantive differences between the three candidates," said Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights group in New York....(Click here for remainder of article).