Jessica Hoffmann

Kucinich: Live from the HRC Candidates' Forum

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | August 09, 2007 9:58 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] Transcript of Rep. Kucinich's section after the jump.

Okay, sweet wingnut (and, really, I mean that in the best way), I may not have much hope for electoral politics, but I guess I'm a little glad that you do, and I'll be charmed by your equals sign within a heart -- I mean, it's not really my aesthetic, but I'm glad somebody's out there up there.


Another out-there one, out here


MS. CARLSON: Our next candidate is Congressman Dennis Kucinich,

who has represented the 10th District of Ohio since 1996. This is his

second run for president.

Congressman Kucinich. (Applause.)

(Cross talk.)

MS. CARLSON: Congressman, nice to see you.

REP. KUCINICH: How you been?

MS. CARLSON: Good, thanks.

REP. KUCINICH: It's great to be here. Thank you.

MS. CARLSON: Thanks. Have a seat.


MS. CARLSON: They really like you here on the
Left Coast .

REP. KUCINICH: Actually I represent mainstream
America here.

(Cheers, applause.)

MS. CARLSON: That's true. You can't get more mainstream than

Ohio .

REP. KUCINICH: That's right.

MS. CARLSON: Thank you for coming. We're delighted you're here.

And Jonathan, would you begin?

MR. CAPEHART: Congressman Kucinich, you're seemingly for

everything the gay community wants. I took a look at your HRC

questionnaire. You support, support, support, support, support. So

is there anything that the LGBT community -- (laughter) -- wants --

REP. KUCINICH: By the way -- finish your question.

MR. CAPEHART: Is there anything the LGBT community wants that

you're against? (Pause.) There's got to be something. (Laughter.)

REP. KUCINICH: All I can say is, keep those contributions

coming, you'll have the -- (laughter) -- and you'll have the president

that you want. (Applause.)

MR. CAPEHART: I'll take that as a "no."

REP. KUCINICH: That's a "no."

MR. CAPEHART: So you're one of just two candidates who fully

supports same-sex marriage. Why do you think that is?

REP. KUCINICH: Well, I can tell you from my own experience. I

mean, this is really a question of whether you really believe in

equality. I mean I see the "equal" sign there, and I have that same

sign in my office in
Washington , D.C. And imagine that "equal" sign

inside a heart. Because what we're really talking about here is human

love. And there's no power on this Earth greater than human love.

And when you understand what real equality is, you understand that

people who love each other must have the opportunity to be able to

express that in a way that is meaningful, and that the state should

not be intervening against people, the state should be there on behalf

of people, to make sure that that love has a chance to be facilitated.

So to me, this isn't even a close question.

MR. CAPEHART: So, Congressman, what you're saying is that

Senator Obama and Senator Edwards, and who sat here just moments ago

both espousing equality -- they're for equality, they're for all these

things you just talked about.

So are you saying that they don't truly oppose same sex marriage, that

they're just playing politics?

REP. KUCINICH: I'm saying that I stand for real equality and

that I believe -- (interrupted by cheers, applause). And this is

really part of an American tradition because when you look at the

founding documents, the idea of "all being created equal," "we hold

these truths to be self-evident," that all are created equal endowed

by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, to me this is a

foundational principle of who we are as a country.

So because I believe in that and because I live it, to me it's

very easy to be here to take a stand for that principle. It would be

very easy for me as president of the
United States to issue executive

orders that will require all federal contractors, anyone who's doing

business with the federal government any way, every federal agency to

have to follow the principles that are written in ENDA and to -- let

the federal government be the agent of change that it should be, and

then to lead the way as president of the
United States in bringing

about the kind of unity that shows that real unity is to respect each

other's inner equality and real unity is to respect the power of human


The greatest commandment is love, and I think that if someone

embodies that and lives it, then things change in a country. That's

-- love has that transformative power, and that's what I have always

tried to bring in to public forums, and that's what I'll bring into

White House as well.

MS. CARLSON: Congressman, you're so evolved for a member of

Congress. (Laughter, applause, cheers.)

You're at the end of your journey, if I may borrow a phrase from

Senator Edwards. (Laughter.) But as mayor of
Cleveland , did you feel

this way, when you were in high school? I mean, how did you get here?

REP. KUCINICH: Well, I was -- when I was mayor of
Cleveland , I

was attacked for hiring a police chief who was said to be sympathetic

to gay rights, and so, you know, my -- and I had members of my cabinet

who were gay. And to me, it -- who cares? I mean, it really doesn't

matter. (Laughter.) Really, I mean, what's -- (applause, cheers).

So --

MS. CARLSON: Again, totally evolved!

REP. KUCINICH: But it -- listen, every one of us through taking

a stand has the potential to help any one of us evolve. That's what

-- that's the gift we give to each other. And when someone is

president of the
United States and is willing to share that with a

nation, we can have -- lift up the whole nation in so many ways not

only in matters of equality, but in matters of peace, in matters of

all social and economic justice. I mean that's what I'm about.

So to be here is an honor because I recognize the journey of so

many people in this room, of solitary journeys of courage, real

courage, and when you understand that, then of course as president I

want to exemplify that because so many of you have already taken that

path, and you deserve a leader who's ready to take the same path.

MS. CARLSON: Congressman, Melissa is quite courageous.

Do you have a question?

MS. ETHERIDGE: Thank you. They told me not to fawn over you --

(laughter) -- so I'm trying not to.

REP. KUCINICH: Go ahead. (Laughter.)

MS. ETHERIDGE: No, because really we have to -- but it's kind of

hard not to. I hope you always run for president until you are

elected. I do. (Laughter.) I do. I'm fawning. (Applause.) I

wasn't supposed to do that.

REP. KUCINICH: I feel I need to point something out to you,

although I'm hopeful it's not going to take that long. But I was

elected to the Congress on my fifth try.

MS. ETHERIDGE: See, okay. I'll wait.

REP. KUCINICH: If at first you don't succeed -- it took me five

times. So I'm working on the second time here.

MS. ETHERIDGE: Yeah. I think this country really, really needs

a leader, someone who will sit or stand and say, "This is what I

believe in because it's right." And that's so refreshing, so

amazingly refreshing to me. (Applause.)

I do have a question. I actually do. Many people in our

community with AIDS and HIV, and then many people in general with

cancer -- I myself one -- have benefited, especially here in

California , one of 11 states who have legalized medicinal marijuana.

And it relieves the symptoms and many, many things. And we are

completely at odds with the federal government, and they even have

come into
California and have raided our medicinal marijuana shops,

and it's quite bad.

So do you think we should have this law for the whole country?

What is your stance on that?

REP. KUCINICH: Well, four years ago, when there were raids in

California , I, as a member of Congress, objected to that. And, of

course, it's a matter between doctors and patients. And if doctors

want to prescribe medical marijuana to relieve pain, compassion

requires that the government support that. And so, as president of

United States , I would make sure that our Justice Department was

mindful that we should be taking a compassionate approach.

I want to go one step further, because this whole issue of drugs

in our society is misplaced. I mean, drugs have infected this

society, but I think we need to look at it more as a medical and a

health issue than as a criminal justice issue. (Applause.)

We really -- and let me say one step further, for those who do or

whose friends may suffer from AIDS, I'm the only person in this race

who is standing for a not-for-profit health care system, single payer,

universal, Medicare for all, where long-term care is totally covered.

People should not be locked into these higher premiums, co-pays and

deductibles, which are destroying people's economic capabilities.

So under the plan that I have, if someone has AIDS, they're

totally covered. Under the plan that I have, if anyone needs long-

term care for any kind of an illnesses, they're totally covered. And

the fact of the matter is, we already are paying for a universal

standard of care; we're just not getting it.

Other candidates are talking about maintaining this for-profit

health care system, and anyone who has ever had a loved one who has

needed medical care and couldn't get it because they didn't have the

money understands the urgency of having someone not just in the race

but in the White House who's ready to rally the American people in the

cause of not-for-profit health care, Medicare for all. And I'm doing


Thank you. (Applause.)

MS. CARLSON: You know, it may take you five times before --

because you're further out than most -- many people, I mean, most

Democrats. (Laughter.) And I'm wondering how do you -- how are you

going to get elected president?

REP. KUCINICH: Well, let me tell you why -- I am the candidate

right in the center of the aspirations of the American people's hopes

and dreams. I led the effort in the House of Representatives five

years ago in challenging the administration's march towards war

Iraq . No other candidate in this race can say that, nor can

they say that they voted against the war and/or voted against funding

for the war consistently. The rest of the country's come in my

direction on that. I took the stand when it was really unpopular to

do so.

Being president of the
United States means that you have to do

the right thing the first time. And it means that when you're talking

about civil liberties, marriage equality, employment non-

discrimination; when you're talking about standing for people's rights

to be who they are without fear of being attacked, you're talking

about something that is really essentially American. And so I'm at

the center of all of those discussions.

And so my candidacy for president is not only transforming the race,

but I want you to understand how it will transform this nation when

you have a president who cannot be bought or bossed, who has the

willingness to stand up and speak out when others would be silent, who

can challenge war, who can challenge corruption. Because my heart is

clean, because I have the ability to see and pierce that veil of

falsehood which covers so much of our country today.

We -- I see the world as one, Margaret. I see the world as being

interconnected and interdependent. Anything that separates any of us

needs to be looked at, and we need to find ways of discussing the

imperative of human unity, but not just discussing it. It's one thing

to talk about it; it's another thing to act from that understanding

and awareness. And that's what I'm prepared to do as the next

president of the
United States , elected in 2008. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. CARLSON: (Laughs.) Congressman, I have a viewer-generated

question for you, or of the people with the -- from the same -- who

have the same aspirations as you do.

This is Robert Armstrong from
Morristown , New Jersey . He said,

I'm living with AIDS and speak regularly to students in high school.

The kind of AIDS prevention outreach is no longer eligible for Ryan

White funding if it includes frank talk about gay people. Will you

reinstate AIDS prevention as a category in Ryan White funding? And

how can you bring Congress along, given that you're perceived as being

on the -- in the left wing of the political -- on the left wing of the

political spectrum?

REP. KUCINICH: Well, you know, I mean, I'm the co-author of the

bill that creates a -- first of all, the answer to your question is

yes. And I'm the co-author of the bill that creates Medicare for all.

I see -- you know, this is a very serious health issue.

And through our education system, a president must help the

country, and help our children, in particular, learn the kind of

conduct that promotes health. And that also means sex education.

Now, some parents may not want that, and they should have the right to

opt out. But the truth of the matter is that we need to have sex


We also need a president who is ready to embrace people with AIDS

in a real, meaningful way that says that, look, we want you to receive

all the care that you need by having a not-for-profit health care

system so you don't have to worry about working a lifetime, having

AIDS, and then losing everything you've ever worked for and not being

able to give it to your partner, for example, or to share it with

someone you love.

This is something that, to me, the challenge of AIDS relates to

not just funding, but it relates to having a president who's wise

enough and courageous enough to take this issue on in a very direct

way and do it without any fear whatsoever.

MS. CARLSON: Let me give Joe a few minutes here for a question.

MR. SOLMONESE: Congressman, you haven't just been an outspoken

hero for our community as a presidential candidate, you've been there

for your entire time in Congress, and I want to thank you for that.

And to that end -- we are engaging in an attempt to pass the

Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as you mentioned, in the House of

Representatives, and I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about

what you see as a potential hurdle to getting that done, and what you

might be able to do or what you might be able to talk to us about in

terms of getting that done.

REP. KUCINICH: Well, as you know, Barney Frank has introduced

the bill again. And I think that -- and I think we need to

acknowledge the role that Barney Frank has played as someone in the

Congress who's been very powerful. (Applause.)

And I've been privileged to work with HRC in the past as being

the person who goes to members of Congress and asks them to sign up to

support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And I've certainly

looked forward to working with you again to do that.

I think that this issue of employment discrimination is becoming

-- it's acknowledged as affecting everyone, because if any group can

be discriminated against, then all groups can be discriminated

against. And so yes, I'm there on that issue, there's just no

question about it.

And when we're talking about discrimination -- I'd like to go

back to the marriage equality issue for a minute. When you look at

Orange County case, you really see where we have a society that

wants to enshrine separate and unequal. This is a basis for

discrimination in employment, but it's a basis for discrimination when

two couples want to get married and have that partnership recognized

as equal before the law.

In our society -- you know, when you got to math in first grade,

you learn one plus one equals two. But when you're talking about

domestic partnership before the law, sometimes one plus one equals

zero, and that's not right. And so what I'm saying is that a

president who understands that real equality means that you take a

stand, equal protection before the law, equal justice, equality of

opportunity, and it has to be equality of opportunity without regard

to race, color, creed, or sexual orientation period. I mean this is

what it means to be an American.

MS. CARLSON: Congressman, we're almost completely out of time.

Do you want to take 30 seconds to wrap up?

REP. KUCINICH: Yes. (Short pause.)

I send you great love. I want you to know that the love of

country, the love of equality is something that every one of us

embodies, but we need a president who's ready to testify to that, to

be an exemplar of equality, to understand love in the deepest sense.

I -- my wife Elizabeth is here.

And let me tell you something: We've talked about this. I can't

imagine what it would be like to have met the love of my life and to

-- and to have such a depth of feeling for her and then be told that

no, you can't -- you just can't be married, because there is a certain

rule or law that won't let that happen. That would be devastating.

And because we understand that, and because I understand it, I'm

ready to be your president. I'm ready to be the person that

transforms this nation, that lifts up this nation, that causes not

just an American evolution but takes us and reconnects us with the

deeper truths of who we are.

I love all of you. Thank you so much for the chance to be here.

Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. CARLSON: Again we'd like to thank Congressman Kucinich -- I

feel the love -- (laughter) -- Senators Obama and Edwards for sharing

their time with us. We should not that all of the major Republican

candidates running for president were invited to take part in a

similar forum and all of them declined.


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And yet he's still the guy I'd vote for in a heart beat. I'd love to see a good old fashioned unabashed liberal in office for once.

Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 10:45 PM

We trust you meant to write, "he's still the guy I'd vote for in a heart beat....if he had more chances to get elected than a Munchkin at a convention of wicked witches."

:- )

Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 10:55 PM

Nevertheless, some very eloquent yet to the point expressions of what the issues are. Still, did I not say that Carlson was wrong not just because she's straight but because all those extra teeth she has are those of a bitch shark? "They really like you here on the Left Coast .'re further out than most" Well, thank you, Miss Thing, for attempting to marginalize and trivialize this man.

And the presence of a live audience interrupting it all for applause and laughter and whatever was a HUGE mistake when time is so limited to start with and I don't give a flying fuck what they think but what the candidates do.