Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Visible Vote '08 -- John Edwards

John Edwards just took the stage, and is being questioned by Melissa Ethridge on health care, and the importance of everyone having access to quality health care. She mentioned that she and Elizabeth Edwards have much in common, siting their battle against cancer. Her question is about same-sex couples who can’t share each other health care benefits? What are they supposed to do?

Edwards immediately shifted the discussion to his visit to a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, where he met kids who had been kicked out of their homes after telling their families they are gay. "It can't be that in America people think that's okay. They can't believe that that's okay. They need to hear and see what I saw when I was there, because it was moving and touching, and I actually believe that that kind of experience would have a huge impact on the American people ... if they could just see it."

Notice how he didn't really answer her question?

Etheridge then said that she had heard the Edwards had said he felt uncomfortable around gay people, and asked if he felt "okay" now. Edwards began to laugh and said that he was "perfectly comfortable" and when on to say "can I just tell you that that's not true ... someone else said it, and it's not true."

Edwards said it came from a political consultant and he's "just wrong." Etheridge then apologized for ever putting it out there.

She then talked about her two children, and how kids can sometimes ask "how can you have two mommies?" -- and then asked if public schools should teach about this.

Edwards responded "sure we should" ... that the kids need to understand that these are American families are just like every American family. It's one of the reasons we have thousands of kids in foster homes who need loving parents, and why same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

He closed out by saying that "we as adults need to make sure that our children know this is a good thing. And this is something that we as Americans believe in and embrace."

Jonathan Capehart asked Edwards about the 2004 race, and about how the Republicans used LGBT issues to divide the nation -- and that the Democrats didn't seem to really address it head on.

Edwards then talked about how Elizabeth took Ann Coulter on, and how proud he was that she had done that. We went on to say that it's bad for anyone to use these issues to try and divide us, and that it's important for our leaders to denounce it, and to speak out strongly.

On Ann Coulter, Edwards said that she appeals to the lowest common denominator among us, that that if people of good will don't stand up to this it "gets a foothold" in our society. "And when hatred gets a foothold, it's much harder to unseat" ... and that you can't let this go by quietly, you must speak out as Elizabeth did.

Joe Solomonese just asked a question about employment discrimination, siting the case of Susan Stanton of Largo, Florida, who lost her job when it was revealed that she is transgender.

Edward's response is that this is the reason we need a powerful non-discrimination law in this country -- so that people cannot be fired.

Solomonese then asked Edwards a question about his opposition to same-sex marriage, and asked what in his religion led him to have this position.

Edwards replied: "I shouldn't have said that. First of all, I believe to my core in equality. My campaign for the presidency is about equality across the board, and I listened to your discussion with Senator Obama a few minutes ago ... and it makes perfect sense to me that you would say 'civil unions, great' ... '1100 federal benefits, great' ... 'give us these rights, we deserve these rights' and they are absolutely right about that, but it stops short of real equality. It makes perfect sense to me that people would feel that way. I can understand it, it makes sense, and the only thing I would say about the faith question is I think from my perspective it is wrong. We have seen a president in the last six plus years who tries to impose his beliefs on the American people, and I think it's a mistake and I will not impose my faith on the American people. I don't think any American president should do that, I believe in the separation of church and state, and these things that we have talked about -- all these substantive issues of equality, which is really what the discussion has been about, these are part of my heart and soul and core ... they are things that I will fight for every day.

Edwards didn't really answer the question, so Solomonese asked again.

Edwards said that he does support civil unions, he would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and he would push for a non-discrimination employment law.

On Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Edwards said that he thinks the president can get rid of it, and that as president he would eliminate it.

Overall, Edwards is good on LGBT issues ... with the one exception of not supporting "marriage."

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