Gay and Lesbian Political Power in Philly

The bloc of voters who are gay and lesbian could change an election, especially if Democrats can energize that bloc. From evidence in Philly it seems they are. The GOP’™s outreach to the Log Cabin Republicans? John Bolton.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’™s an article in today’™s Philadelphia Inquirer about how both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are courting the gay vote in PA as they square off for the primary here in just three weeks. It mentions how both campaigns value that voting bloc, and how Chelsea extended her campaign visit to Woody’™s, a major gay bar here, in order to visit with the largely gay and lesbian crowd. I’™m thinking this is a good thing. Neither Clinton nor Obama seems to have a lock on this segment of the voting population, but they sure are energizing the gay and lesbian voters here in Philly. Here’™s a little of the piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

You don’™t see many women at Woody’™s, but Chelsea Clinton popped in last week.

To a packed house of screaming supporters, the 28-year-old former first child led a presidential pep rally for her mother at one of the oldest gay bars in Philadelphia.

‘œWe love your highlights!’ a man yelled from the crowd, referring to Chelsea’™s tresses. ‘œWow,’ she said, temporarily bumped off message, ‘œthat’™s something I never heard before.’

At the end of an exhausting day of nonstop events, Chelsea was supposed to leave after 10 minutes. She ended up staying 25.

A few years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable. But with an eye on the April 22 Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are fervently courting the gay vote.

In Philadelphia, gays constitute an estimated 5 percent of voters, according to Malcolm Lazin, president of Equality Forum. That is not an inconsequential percentage in a race as tight as this one.

. . .

For gay Philadelphians, Clinton-Obama is a win-win.

The candidates are so closely – and positively – aligned on key gay and lesbian issues, either would make a strong presidential nominee, say numerous members of the community.

Leading up to the primary, there doesn’™t appear to be a clear front-runner among gay voters in what is affectionately known as the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love.

So what are the Republicans doing to get out the gay vote? Well, McCain is courting the endorsements of all sorts of pastors who have one time or another, if it isn’™t their chief concern, advocated less that citizen status for gay and lesbian citizens. McCain himself isn’™t willing to talk about any legislation ensuring that gay and lesbian citizens are protected from descrimination of any kind, and while he doesn’™t support a federal marriage amendment, he’™s not spoken out against such amendments to state constitutions.

Meanwhile, the Log Cabin Republicans are having a convention of sorts in DC, and they’™ve got their speaker all picked out. Get this ‘” it’™s former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Yeah, right, he’™s going to get those folks all fired up and out to the polls. Maybe he’™s going to suggest they have a waterboarding booth at the convention or something? Sheesh!

As the Inquirer piece notes, it’™s a great year to be a gay Democrat, but as is usual, it’™s a sorry, sorry time to be a gay Republican.

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

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