Hastings Wyman | October 21, 2003
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� 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
Hastings Wyman publishes Southern Political Report, a nonpartisan biweekly political newsletter.
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