I might be going out on a limb here, but I don't care what people say about Bill Richardson - I still like him!
The Former Candidate for President and current New Mexico Governor has had quite a wild ride this past year. Richardson launched a failed bid for President, got into trouble with the Clintons for endorsing Barack Obama, ended his Presidential campaign in debt, and most recently withdrew his nomination for Commerce Secretary over an impending investigation in his home state. As a gay student, I also remembered when he blatantly stated "homosexuality is a choice" at the LOGO Presidential Forum in 2007 (Ouch! Although he has stated he did not understand the question, and he, in fact, does not believe it is a choice).
After all this, someone may ask why Bill Richardson is still one my favorite U.S. politicians, especially after the LOGO Presidential Forum. Well ...
For starters, let me begin with my connection to the Governor. During the Iowa caucus roughly a year ago (hasn't it been longer?) I drove to the Hawkeye State and volunteered for the Bill Richardson for President campaign. The opportunity presented itself and I decided to spend my winter break (between semesters in college) treading through snow and putting door hangers on mobile homes in Cedar Rapids. Aside from freezing my feet off, I learned a great deal about where Richardson stands with the LGBT community.
When I arrived to the office, it was not long after the LOGO Presidential Forum. I talked with a few volunteers and staff (some of whom were openly gay) and most agreed it was an ugly moment for the Governor. It was possibly his most misunderstood moments of his campaign for the White House, because Richardson is no where near being anti-gay or homophobic.
As I entered the Cedar Rapids office every day, I would notice a section devoted specifically to Richardson's stance on gay rights on the front bulletin board (along with pictures of him at PRIDE festivals, taken long before the LOGO appearance). Richardson is against DADT, has fought for domestic partnerships and civil unions, added sexual orientation and gender identity as NM civil right, and is for hate crime laws (among other things). Richardson even went a step further and said if he were President he would not accept honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America in light of their views on gay membership.
By the time I left Cedar Rapids, after I had met Richardson a few times and spent my New Years driving two hours to Des Moines, I had a new found respect for him. Not only for his years of work in public office, but also for his devotion to gay rights.
So when someone brings up Governor Bill Richardson (he's gotten some bad media lately), I still feel the need to defend him because he has spent countless hours defending me as a gay citizen. I wish Richardson were still up for nomination for Commerce Secretary, but I know no matter what he does, he'll always be an ally to the gay community. He'll always be my Facebook friend!