Guest Blogger

Bill Richardson: LGBT Americans have been denied their civil rights for too long

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 18, 2007 4:33 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Bill Richardson, bisexual, civil rights, Congress, ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, lesbian, LGBT civil rights, LGBT community, New Mexico, queer, transgender

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] The following guest post is from New Mexico Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson. Governor Richardson has the strongest record of achievement of any Presidential candidate on civil rights issues and support for the LGBT community. He proudly stands for domestic partner rights and against discrimination of any kind. He believes all families deserve our respect no matter their race, creed or sexual orientation.

richardson.jpgI am thrilled that ENDA will finally get the committee mark-up we have all been waiting so long for. It's about time. It's been a long, thirteen year struggle. Together, let's make sure that we do not wait one year more. We should also make sure that the Senate finally passes a decent hate crimes law that protects LGBT Americans from heinous, hate-motivated crimes.

For me, these issues are about basic civil rights. LGBT Americans have been denied their civil rights for too long. And all Americans suffer because of it. I think that Dr. King put it best when he wrote that "Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere." Until the rights of every American are guaranteed, the rights of all Americans are demeaned.

While the federal government has failed to act year after year, I have taken decisive action in New Mexico. My first year in office, we expanded anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation. I signed into law New Mexico's first hate crimes legislation for acts including those based on sexual orientation. And I issued an executive order providing state health insurance for domestic partnerships.

Other states have joined mine in passing these civil rights initiatives. But too many have failed to act. We cannot allow this injustice to fester in the midst of our good and great nation. We must act now. Let's end the injustice and make sure that Congress passes ENDA and decent hate crimes legislation as soon as possible.

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Thank you, Governor, for your strong endorsement that I am not a second class citizen. With the obvious choices between Democratic candidates who affirm that I'm a human being too and Republican candidates who support banning my relationship and don't support protecting me from discrimination, the choice is patently clear. Your history of LGBT rights work has me definitely leaning in your favor.

None of the other Dem candidates have been in the same position as governor, had the same opportunity, to support LGBT equality in the same ways as Richardson has so praising him in contrast to them based on that is ludicrous.

It's like saying everyone should like Peyton Manning more than Michael Jordan because Manning has won more football games.

Thank you for being inclusive of gender identity in the state legislation you passed.

Governor, I wanted to believe in your campaign.

A lot.

Your accomplishments are great- on paper.

But in person? Calling someone a faggot on radio? I don't care what language you used. And then stumbling over yourself at the LOGO forum? did you simply not prepare for the event?

You have the record. I respect that. But ...

and that's the problem for me. After seeing you at the LOGO debate, I have a big giant uneasy feeling in my gut about you.

This feels like damage control, not sincerity. Please prove me wrong.

Governor Richardson,

Rather than tell you what I think, I want to tell you how I feel when I see you speak about us:

I feel like you genuinely want to do the right thing by us, but you also don't want to piss off too many people who oppose us in the process.

I feel like you haven't done your homework on our issues or our culture.

I feel like you got caught at the LOGO forum by your own lack of preparation.

I feel like you know you lost big points with us at the LOGO forum, and you'll do just about anything to stay competitive in this race.

I feel like you'd be the kind of President who'd do as little as possible for the GLBT community in the interest of trying to ensure yourself of a second term.

That's how I feel...the feeling I get when I've heard you speak on our issues. I know this may not be the message you're trying to convey, but that's what I've been getting from you.

I encourage you to take some time and really learn about us. Go to dinner with a lesbian, take a transsexual to lunch. Find out about what we're really like and what's important to us. If you really want to make amends for being unprepared, the best way to do so is to ensure that the next time you speak on our issues we hear you say what you really believe. Demonstrate that you understand our culture and what we're about. Show us you've learned your lesson.

If you want us to believe that you get it, show us that you do.

Thanks for sharing, Bill Richardson.

I'm going to disagree with Sara and Rebecca here and just say that I think that you're just gaffe-able. Sorry! But I do see a commitment there to civil rights, and you didn't have to do those things while governor.

PhoenixRising | September 19, 2007 1:02 AM

Thanks for coming, Governor.

Unlike some of my fellow freedom fighters, I sincerely prefer accomplishments that advance our community's struggle to smooth political gamesmanship.

However, there are a number of blunders a person can make that leave him outside the running for an office that requires smooth political games. I think we agree that the Presidency is one of those offices. Your staff has been underpreparing you for everything, and on a national stage, it's not going to fly.

You've lost the confidence of the unions and the gays, two groups that should be leading a caravan from NM to Iowa to knock on doors for you--just by stepping on your own...tongue. This despite being a champion debater and all around bright guy. Do you think that says anything important about applying yourself to preparation and demanding that your people do better? I sure do.

And I've voted for you twice.

I can see the point about the Governor's screw ups, AlbeQ and Sarah, but I guess I'm wearing rose colored glasses. As Alex said, he didn't have to do those things in office. Evan Bayh, for example, was governor of Indiana and did absolutely nothing for our community while claiming to be gay friendly. Current Republican governor Mitch Daniels also claims to be gay friendly but won't push for any ENDA-type laws, come out against the gay marriage amendment (well, he does privately but then publicly says he supports it!), or even help advance hate crimes legislation. Claiming to be gay friendly and actually doing something about it are two different things.

And AlbeQ, the other candidates have had PLENTY of opportunities to help our community. Hillary helped push for Don't Ask Don't Tell. She didn't oppose DOMA - all while First Lady of our nation! The only bully pulpit larger than that is President herself! Obama was a state senator - and is a current Congress-member. What has he done? Is our community a priority for him? I don't think so. Did Edwards champion hate crimes or ENDA while in Congress? Nope. Only Kucinich has proven a deeper commitment to our cause - and he's not been effective at leading the change he wants.

I think the Governor's gaffes make him human. I know that I speak in public quite often and sometimes you just say things that you reflect on afterwards and think "What the hell did I just say? That didn't come out right at ALL." I mean, he's the Governor of a state - that job doesn't get put on hold just because you're running in another race. He IS a busy man - and I admire that. I don't know that I could be perfect every single moment of every day and still be able to concentrate on leading a state government as well... I'd be too worried about being perfect. To me it shows that the Governor is human too.