Lane Hudson

Bill Richardson's Gay Slur

Filed By Lane Hudson | July 10, 2007 4:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

Just last week, Barack Obama had a frat boy moment, where he felt it necessary to remind the audience at Howard University that he was indeed heterosexual. Now we hear that Bill Richardson, who has been aggressively courting gay money and votes, freely used the Spanish equivalent of "faggot" while on shock jock Don Imus' (former) show.

This is incredibly disappointing to me. Governor Richardson has seemed to work very hard to build a solid record on LGBT issues. He worked against the 'Family Discrimination Amendment' in New Mexico, he advocated Civil Unions in his State, and he's made a respectable effort to win gay support.

I even attended a breakfast that his campaign had in Washington to woo gay supporters. I was impressed by his willingness to specifically address gay issues, which many Democrats find uncomfortable, even with an all gay audience. He even said during that breakfast that he was going to be on the phone that day to lobby legislators in New Mexico to pass Civil Union legislation that was under consideration.

However, when we hear things like this, it reminds us that we still face huge obstacles. We lack many of the legal protections afforded to the rest of the population. Even when we win those rights, responsibilities, and protections, we'll still have to work to win the hearts and minds of the rest of America. We need political leaders to be a part of that process. When they make comments like this, we take a step back from achieving equality.

Richardson contends that, since this happened a year ago, that it's unfair to talk about it now. If he had just apologized and kept his mouth shut, then maybe it would go away. Unfortunately, he felt it necessary to offer further justification by using the time issue. That stinks to me.

I think Governor Richardson is a good person and a great Governor. There is no room in this race for any Democrat who harbors any kind of homophobic ideas. It's 2007 and the time for discrimination in any form is over.

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I saw a good post on Queerty about this brouhaha that referenced fellow Bilerico Project member Karen Ocamb and her piece on Richardson.

It says there that a gay activist heard the piece and immediately called GLAAD and Equality New Mexico and that Richardson called the ED of Equality New Mexico immediately afterwards to apologize. He also said that in his dialect of Spanish, "maricon" means "gay" and not "faggot."

Could this be a case like the Telemundo anchor that lost her job for calling a gay man a grouper - which is a slur in Cuban? Personally, I don't know. But I do know that I really like Richardson's track record on LGBT rights and I think he'd be an incredibly strong leader for America.

I still plan on spending my time trying to get him elected. I'd like to see what Karen has to say about this - especially since she co-wrote the article all of this is based on.

Ummmm... I think that it's a bit of a stretch when he says that "maricon" doesn't have any value one way or the other and means "gay". It's definitely a slur, one of the few that's not country specific. Luisa Fernanda is a bit different because, well, I and a lot of other Spanish speakers had never even heard of that one. "Maricon"'s been around the block and, judging from the context of the interview, he knew what he was saying and what it meant.

I don't know, calling someone a faggot because they suggested he was using his being "hispanic" (a term thought up by none other than one Mr. Richard Nixon) for a political edge (yeah, because they're the most beloved group of people in America right now), well, that's pretty low. Maybe this is why Don Imus should have been fired - he dragged everyone down to his level.

Richardson is a good candidate

Stephen Cassidy | July 12, 2007 3:56 AM

It was a lapse in judgment by Richardson. He apologized now and last year after it occurred. I think he was set up by Imus but he shouldn't gone down that path.

In the end, I judge candidates on their records. In Congress, Richardson voted against the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and will reverse it when President. In New Mexico, a state evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Richardson

* expanded anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
* provided state health insurance for domestic partnerships,
* signed into law the state's first hate crimes legislation for crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity,
* transformed health services in the state for AIDS patients.

And if the few state senators hadn't block it, the state would have now a Domestic Partner Rights Act. Richardson fought hard for the legislation.

Have any of the other Presidential candidates called on their state legislatures and governors to enact Domestic Partners statutes?

Recently, the Bay Area Reporter profiled Richardson noting:

"B.A.R. publisher Thomas E. Horn, who was born and raised in New Mexico and whose family has been involved in the state's politics – an uncle served as a state legislator and then the state's Democratic Party chair in the 1950s and 1960s – first met Richardson when he served as a congressman.

"I really think he is the most qualified Democrat in the race for president," Horn wrote in an e-mail. "His track record is exceptional. He's done a fine job as governor ... and was re-elected with around 70 percent of the vote."

Horn, who said he expects to make an endorsement in the primary but has yet to back a candidate, said winning the southwest will be key to the Democrats taking back the White House. Not only does he see Richardson having an advantage in the West, but Horn also praised his gay rights track record.

"If a Democrat carries New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, we don't need Ohio or Florida to win. Richardson is very popular throughout the southwest and stands the best chance of being able to do that," wrote Horn. "His record of LGBT issues has always been stellar."

Richardson has also been the only candidate that I'm aware of who has criticized Bush on his threat to veto Washington, DC appropriations bill because of the domestic partner registry. Richardson stated:

"I was disappointed to hear about the President's threat to veto the Washington, DC appropriations bill because of the Domestic Partner Registry. Let's be clear: this threatened veto is a veto of human rights and basic civil protections.

"The President says that he is the "decider." With this veto threat, he has once again decided to support the forces of intolerance. This bill is not radical and should not be controversial. It simply extends basic rights that most Americans already enjoy -- like hospital visitation, medical decision, and inheritance rights -- to committed domestic partnerships.

Finally, let me tell you one story I know from a friend who dealt directly with Richardson's campaign. Richardson likes staying at the homes of supporters on his trips - it helps him gain a much better understanding of the views of people across the nation than he would obtain if he checked into hotels. Plus, I think Richardson is a very social person and enjoys meeting new people.

In a visit either to San Francisco earlier this year, the supporter (my friend) who Richardson was going to stay with is gay, and lives in the Castro District of SF with his partner and children. Richardson didn't know in advance the supporter was gay. My friend didn't want to surprise Richardson and checked with the campaign as to whether Richardson would have any problem spending the night as his house. Richardson's response was absolutely not.

As it turned out Richardson's plans got shifted, he came into San Francisco the morning of the fundraiser - not the night before so he didn't need lodging. But the point is Richardson in his personal life is comfortable and welcoming of gays and does not practice discrimination.

Does whether or not Bill Richardson things being gay is a choice really affect his politics when it comes to LGBT politics? Even if being gay were a choice, it wouldn't remove the obligation of the nation to allow its citizens to live the kinds of lives they want to. So Bill Richardson's personal impressions about a subject don't really bug me all that much because I see that he recognizes the essence what is right about LGBT rights legislation. If anything, I'm glad he's frank and honest.