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US Politics: Capital Letters

Clark Garners Gay Support

Hastings Wyman | October 21, 2003

Tom Goodwin, a gay activist on Clark's Washington finance committee If retired Gen. Wesley Clark gets into the White House, the gay community will have significant ties to his administration.

The late-starting Clark has few of "the big players" among politically active gays, according to one gay Democratic mover-and-shaker. However, Clark's campaign quickly attracted significant gay support.

Elise Harris, formerly an editor of Out magazine who has taught at Harvey Milk High School in New York City, is helping spearhead the GLBT-for-Clark effort. She says the group has not yet begun to line up endorsements, because the Clark campaign is still "very embryonic." Nevertheless, she notes there is considerable interest in his candidacy within the gay community's grassroots, and that her group signed up between 250 and 275 volunteers within the first two weeks to help with Clark's campaign.

Tom Goodwin, a past co-chair of the bipartisan Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, is on Clark's Washington finance committee. "In my calling people," says Goodwin, "I've been really pleased with the response from gays and lesbians."

Other prominent gay leaders supporting Clark include Steve Gorman, a long-time gay Democratic activist; Charles Butler, an attorney with the prestigious Washington law firm of Covington and Burling; and Scott Nadler, a Defense Department official in the Clinton administration. In Massachusetts, Steve Driscoll, a member of Stonewall Democrats' national board, was part of the Draft Clark organization and is expected to help with the campaign's gay component.

Clark's popularity with a number of gay Democrats in part stems from the belief that, as a former military man, he will have the credibility to attack the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and thus a greater potential to defeat the president. Goodwin says gays and lesbians he's called are "really excited about Clark because he's eminently electable." Loyal Democrat Goodwin adds, "I want to win."

Another factor of particular interest to Clark's gay partisans is that his background should resonate positively with Middle America, thus making it easier for him to implement gay-friendly policies. Although Clark has no significant record on the plethora of issues of concern to many in the gay community - because he has been in the military and not held political office - he has expressed himself positively on a number of issues. On gays in the military - the Clinton administration's hot potato - Clark said on Meet the Press, "We've got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that´┐Ż we should welcome people that want to serve." He also supports civil unions and has noted his approval of the Supreme Court's antisodomy ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas. All of these views are noted on his campaign website on the GLBT link.

One Democratic fundraiser, a supporter of Howard Dean, voiced the suspicion - based on some of Clark's past public statements - that Clark is less hostile to the Bush administration's defense policies than his current stands would suggest. Nevertheless, this source, who declined to be identified, offered the opinion that "the more gay people are involved in presidential campaigns, the better."

Hastings Wyman publishes Southern Political Report, a nonpartisan biweekly political newsletter.

Previous editions
Republicans Make Gay Marriage an Issue in 2004 Presidential Campaign
Federal Marriage Amendment Faces Major Obstacles



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