Remember that comment Richardson made that implied that he thought homosexuality is a choice? How did it go....
It's a choice.
Oh, yeah, that sounds about right. Well, anyway, his campaign is freaking out now. So much so that I received this press release from his campaign at 12:07am last night, an hour and a half the debate ended, with the subject line "Richardson's Statement Clarifying Answer From HRC Forum". His clarification is as follows:
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement tonight clarifying an answer to a question during the Human Rights Campaign Presidential Forum in Los Angeles. The question came from panelist Melissa Etheridge, who asked if he believed homosexuality is a choice.
The rest after the jump.
Here's the rest of his backtrack (emphasis theirs):
"Let me be clear -- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice," Governor Richardson said. "But I'm not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law. That is what I believe, that is what I have spent my career fighting for. I ask that people look at my record and my actions and they will see I have been a true supporter of the LGBT community."
Well, it was kind of strange that he was even asked this in the first place, and it's even stranger that he didn't clarify even after Melissa Etheridge told him he got the answer wrong, and honestly it doesn't matter if he thinks that it's a choice or not as long as he chooses good policy.
But guess what? You don't just walk into an HRC event and say sexuality is a choice on live TV if you want to get into their constituency's good graces. The point of this forum wasn't policy positions; we knew where they all stood from the HRC questionnaire a couple of months ago on the issues important to the HRC. This event was about them coming out and making sure they're speaking our language, that they are comfortable around us, and that they know how to talk to us, so that we can assess their credibility and ensure that we don't get thrown under the bus when they get into office.
And when it came to that, Richardson failed with this answer. He showed that he wasn't up to speed on where the majority of LGBTQueer people are when it comes to sexuality and gender identity and that he really wasn't familiar with the way our gaystream culture has developed. And a lot of us are going to feel like his straight-out-of-the-60's answer is the same sort of lip service Clinton paid to us in '92.
His press release response that it doesn't matter if it's a choice, it's autonomy and equality that are important, is actually about where I am right now. But guess what? He didn't say that in the debate. He probably didn't say that for the press release either - it was most likely written up by a staffer who made up the quotation and attributed it to him. And if he can't figure out that that's a nerve for us, well, it really just goes to his judgment and shows how little he prepared for this event.
It's not hard. Most gays are understandably sensitive to being told that they chose to go against their natural heterosexuality. So I'm really surprised that he didn't even take Melissa's and Carlson's opportunities to clarify while on stage, but I guess this shows a lot about what kind of candidate he is.