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Edwards, Biden, jump into presidential race

Former U.S. Senator John Edwards kicked off his campaign for the presidency. It will be interesting to see how the Tar Heel will fare; he’s spent a lot of time on the ground in Iowa, but he doesn’t have a war chest like sHillary, he’s actually carrying debt from the last campaign.

The Edwards camp released this video from New Orleans yesterday.

(AP):

“I’m here to announce I’m a candidate for president of the United States,” Edwards told NBC’s “Today Show” earlier Thursday, one of three back-to-back interviews by the candidate on morning news shows. “I’ve reached my own conclusion this is the best way to serve my country.”

Edwards, 53, said the difference between his message to voters in 2004 and his 2008 presidential bid is that, “I’ve learned since the last campaign that it’s great to identify a problem … but the way you change things is by taking action.”

And Iraq is one of the biggest issues facing the country.

“It would be a huge mistake to put a surge of troops into Iraq,” Edwards said on ABC’s “Good Morning America. “It sends exactly the wrong signal. We can maximize our chances for success by making clear we are going to leave Iraq and not stay there forever.”

Looking at the campaign web site (and based on what he’s been working on after the 2004 election), issues of poverty, health care and the environment will be the focus of his campaign.

Let’s take a look at Edwards’ record on issues we discuss here…

* Allow gay couples to visit each other in the hospital. (Oct 2004)
* Opposes DOMA because states already can ignore gay marriages. (Feb 2004)
* Enormous strides for gays and lesbians without gay marriage. (Jan 2004)
* Let each state decide about civil unions and gay marriage. (Jan 2004)
* Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
* Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
* Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record. (Dec 2003)
* Rated 0% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record. (Dec 2003)

Edwards will be liveblogging today at noon, taking questions. It’s an opportunity to see whether he has modified or plans to address his past “leave it to the states” position on marriage equality. [Speaking of live blogging, the wonderful, down-to-earth Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC), who defeated a challenge by the unhinged homophobe Vernon Robinson, made a stop at BlueNC and took questions this AM from folks.]

***

Here’s a simple question to ask all the presidential candidates: Are gay and lesbian couples entitled to benefits at the local, state and federal levels that currently automatically convey with civil marriage? If not, why not?

The candidates need to be on the record on whether they believe we are entitled to those rights, whether or not it’s called “marriage.” We already know we have closeted allies who believe in equality, but won’t fight for it until they feel it’s “safe” politically. Those days are over. (See my post, Folks, where do we go from here?)

It was safe in 2004 to punt and say “marriage is between a man and a woman/I oppose a fed marriage amendment/leave it to the states.” Amendments are sailing through, partnership benefits are now being challenged, domestic violence cases are being tossed out (for unmarried straights and gays), adoption and fostering of children by gays and lesbians are under attack.

Gay families exist. This is not some hypothetical situation; the people affected in these states with amendments are tax-paying voters.***

Meanwhile, Delaware’s Joe Biden, says he’s running.

“It is my intention to seek the nomination, and it’s my intention sometime in the month of January to set up the appropriate mechanism to be able to raise money for that purpose,” Biden said in a telephone news conference that centered on Iraq.

…Speaking to reporters, Biden called Iraq “President Bush’s war” and said if the violence did not abate Bush’s fellow Republicans would face defeat in 2008 congressional elections unless they started pushing for change.

Biden, who sought the 1988 presidential nomination only to quit in 1987 amid accusations he plagiarized some of his stump oratory and early academic work, would enter the race as some prominent Democrats are bowing out.

Let’s take a look at his record on a few isses:
* Voted YES on reforming bankruptcy to include means-testing & restrictions. (Mar 2005)
* Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy. (Jul 2001)
* Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
* Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
* Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
* Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
* Rated 16% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record. (Dec 2003)

The battle for civil equality requires straight allies and politicians with spines, not people who have made it clear, in word and deed, that gays are on their own, and “I’m sorry, but it’s just going to be too bad for this generation” — that gay and lesbian taxpaying citizens will have to just “wait until hearts and minds are changed” and it’s up to us to do all the heavy lifting.

We are constantly given the message by the Dem establishment that any and all progress on LGBT issues is our job to do by changing hearts and minds — don’t look for support from the Dem leadership — they’re off courting the 700 Club vote. See you at the polls…and by the way, open your wallet and drop some dough.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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