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Mike Gravel thanks the LGBT community

Queerty passes along an open letter from Dem presidential candidate Mike Gravel to the gay community. He is thanking the blogosphere and the community for advocating for his inclusion in the HRC/LOGO presidential forum. He has accepted the invitation. [Today HRC also announced that Gov. Bill Richardson will appear at the forum.]

In his letter, Gravel takes a shot at Clinton and Edwards on their open mic conversation about narrowing the debate field to exclude lower-tier candidates. Read after the jump.

Open Letter to the LGBT Community from Senator Mike Gravel.

I would like to thank Queerty and the LGBT community for pressuring the Human Rights Campaign to reverse its decision not to invite me to the forum on gay issues. The HRC caved after gay and lesbian people throughout the nation flooded its offices with emails and phone calls demanding my participation. Last week you spoke up for me and now I?m going to speak up for you. I promise to use the HRC forum to advance the entire discussion about gay rights and educate the American public that gay rights is one of the great moral issues of our time.

Gay Marriage: For far too long, Democrats and Republicans have used morality to justify the second-class citizenship of gays and lesbians. Clinton, Edwards and Obama frequently claim their morality and religious upbringing prevent them from supporting marriage equality. What kind of a message do they send to young gays and lesbians when these politicians say that it would be immoral to fight for their right to marry? Unfortunately because the leading Democratic candidates couch their cowardice and hypocrisy in terms of religion and morality, the press and even some LGBT leaders have not challenged their opposition to marriage equality. I will use the HRC forum to tell the American public that denying gays and lesbians equal rights, including marriage, is IMMORAL.

On Gay Pride:
I proudly joined this year?s San Francisco gay pride march and was the first major party presidential candidate to participate in a pride parade. I believe one of the greatest obstacles to the gay rights movement has been the false security of the closet. Millions of gays and lesbians understandably fear the reaction of their employers and their families and continue to hide their sexuality. I have used the platform of the presidential campaign to encourage gays and lesbians to come out and openly fight for their rights. I will repeat this message at the HRC forum and will call upon all Americans to stop listening to the televangelists, psychologists and politicians and start listening to their hearts and embrace their gay children and colleagues.

Warning to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards:
After the last debate, Edwards and Clinton were caught on tape conspiring to have me and the other lower tier candidates kicked out of the subsequent debates. Considering how vulnerable Edwards and Clinton are on gay issues and how outspoken I have been, they understandably would like to deprive me of this powerful platform. But the example of the public outcry over the HRC debate should stand as a warning to anyone who tries to shut down genuine debate. You, the LGBT community, showed that you are sick of being called immoral; you?re tired of being taken for granted. You know that I am one of the few candidates who speaks his mind and isn?t afraid to mount the national stage and tell the American public that depriving gays and lesbians of equal rights is IMMORAL.

And so, thank you again for ensuring that I can share my ideas at the HRC debate. Be sure to watch and listen carefully to what the candidates say about issues that mean so much to your future. This election is going to be a turning point in the history of the gay rights struggle. And I promise that I will do my part to make sure that someday you will live in an America that respects and protects your rights.

Senator Mike Gravel

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