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Wrap up on Richardson

Just passing on an update on presidential candidate Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. He was on the Mike Signorile show the other day, and I snared some audio, which you can listen to here. A snippet of his explanation about the gaffe about whether homosexuality is a choice at the HRC/Logo forum on Thursday:

“I’d flown all night from New Hampshire. I screwed up, I made a mistake. This is an issue you’re born with, it’s a not a choice, it’s not a lifestyle. I didn’t understand the question…there was an implication that politics intervenes with science. And I always love the word “choice”, I am for freedom of choice, I have in my health care plan a choice where everyone can choose their health care plan and I always see it as a golden word. I didn’t think it through what Melissa was asking me.”

Governor Richardson goes on to urge people to again look at his record of advocating for pro-LGBT legislation and domestic partnerships. He really needs better counsel about how to approach these matters (let’s be charitable) less awkwardly. I don’t doubt his sincerity and efforts in the area of LGBT rights, but he has got to be able to communicate more deftly than this if he’s running for president. His folks aren’t serving him well, he wasn’t prepped effectively for questions that were bound to come up.

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate sat down with Richardson the day after the forum (he’d obviously had some sleep and was a bit less shell-shocked than he was in my conversation with him directly after the event). His answers, however, were much the same. Kerry did note one thing:

“Perhaps the most illuminating part of our 20-minute interview at The Advocate offices came at the end, during informal banter as the governor prepared to  leave. Referring back to a question I’d asked earlier in the interview about his possible lack of empathy for  a fundamental LGBT issue, he asked, “But you think I  didn’t come across with much empathy [last night]?” It was a rare, humanizing comment from a presidential  candidate who was clearly grappling with the chasm between  how he sees himself versus how others view  him — in this case, gay and lesbian voters.”

The stonewalling on the question of whether he’d sign a hypothetical bill passed by his legislature legalizing same-sex marriage (I asked this question in a number of ways in our phone conversation and he refused to answer it), was in full-force with Kerry as well, with the same responses I received.

You also said that if the New Mexico state legislature passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, you wouldn’t sign it. Why?
What I would sign is a civil unions bill with full marriage rights. That’s what I would sign. But that’s not the issue. The issue is, what can I get done in my legislature. I was unable in a special session to get done a domestic-partnership bill, and we lost by one vote in the regular session. But then I called special session a few days later to deal with the full domestic-partnership bill. No other governor has ever done that. It failed, so I’m going to bring it up in January again in the new legislative session.

As a purely hypothetical question, if the legislature handed you a marriage bill, would you sign it?
I’m going to answer it hypothetically: It’s not going to happen. What I want to emphasize is that I would be a president who recognizes that the country is on a path to full inclusion, and I think what we need to concentrate on is what is doable now.

If you want to see the painful clip from the other night, it’s below.

And here’s a clip where the governor explains his DOMA vote in 1996 and how he would lead on LGBT issues as president.

* Behind the scenes at the HRC/LOGO presidential forum…
* Liveblogging the HRC/LOGO Visible Vote 08 Forum
* Winners and losers at the HRC/LOGO VisibleVote08 forum

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding