[Editor's note:] This guest post is by Eric J. Stern. Eric is the former Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats and the former Director of LGBT Outreach for the Democratic National Committee. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Career Development at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
After much thought, careful consideration and dozens of conversations with friends and mentors working on both the campaigns of Obama and Clinton, I, along with David Mixner and 22 of our fellow Edwards for President LGBT Steering Committee Members decided yesterday to enthusiastically endorse Barack Obama for President.
Personally, I am supporting Obama because of his consistent opposition to the war; because he, like John, is not taking any money from special interest groups—which will allow him to be the most effective agent for change; and because as our nominee Obama will present a clear choice to voters trying to decide between hope and fear.
I also believe Obama has articulated and begun to demonstrate the clearest vision for making progress on issues of importance to the LGBT community.
I shared the same concerns many had when the McClurkin incident occurred. However, I gained a great deal of respect for the candidate and the campaign in watching how they responded. This incident I believe actually accelerated both the campaign and Obama's learning curve on LGBT issues. In directly acknowledging and addressing the concerns of the LGBT community, Obama's personal response demonstrated a recognition that he needed to immediately and aggressively make his commitment to achieving progress on our issues crystal clear.
Obama could have ignored this opportunity based on the premise many past and present Democratic candidates have taken—that LGBT voters have nowhere to go and will vote Democratic anyway. Instead, he seized the opportunity and engaged in massive personal outreach (rather than simply letting his campaign speak for him)---immediately interviewing with The Advocate and posting a blog on The Bilerco Project in which he laid out the MOST specific plan of any of the candidates for achieving progress on issues of importance to the LGBT community. And since that time, he has been the candidate who has spoken the most about the need for progress on LGBT equality while campaigning before mainstream audiences in the early states, in predomintately African-American churches, and more recently when accepting the endorsement of gay rights legend Ted Kennedy.
On Tuesday, millions of LGBT and allied individuals will make have the opportunity to make history. I will be voting on Tuesday for Obama because I believe he is the candidate who will continue John Edwards' mission to ensure that the American dream is available to EVERYONE and I hope you will consider voting for Obama on Tuesday and joining us on this historic journey.