With Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of
Massachusetts winning 14 out of 16 states so far, many interest
groups are beginning to focus on Kerry’s stances on specific
issues. The University’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community is honing in on Kerry’s stances on gay
marriage and gay rights.

Many students in the LGBT community said gay marriage rights are
the most important issue for them right now. Kerry’s stance
on the issue has been support of civil unions with full benefits
for gay partners, but not marriage itself.

This view is keeping many members of the gay community from
offering him their full support.

“(Kerry) doesn’t believe in marriage for gay people,
but he’s for civil unions. This is problematic because I
believe gay people should be able to marry, so, in that way,
he’s not really a friend of the community,” said LSA
junior Holly Peterson, a member of the gay women’s group
VOICE.

While all of the Democratic candidates say they support equality
for the gay community, each candidate offers varying degrees of
support.

Like Kerry, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Vermont
governor, supports civil unions with full benefits, but not gay
marriage.

Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has said he believes the
issue of same-sex marriage should be left up to the states, while
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and the Rev. Al Sharpton support
same-sex marriage and full benefits for gay couples.

“I don’t think Kerry is the best Democratic
candidate to represent the LGBT community. I’m glad he
supports civil unions, but the ideal candidate would be someone who
totally supports equal rights,” said MBA student Marisa
Uchin, co-president of Open For Business, a group for gay students
in the Business School. “It’s hard to say who would be
a better candidate than Kerry because the only person who supports
total equality for the LGBT community is Kucinich, and he’s
not a realistic candidate.”

Kucinich is currently sixth in number of delegates won.

On several other important gay issues, Kerry’s views have
been better received among the LGBT community. He opposed former
President Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell” policy regarding gays in the military, and he supports
adoption by gay men and women. He also hopes to expand federal hate
crimes legislation and was one of the original sponsors of the Hate
Crimes Prevention Act.

“Since the day John Kerry started his campaign in the
Senate, he has made LGBT rights part of his platform because he
feels they are essential to making America live up to its dream of
equality for all,” said LSA junior Paul Spurgeon, a member of
the University’s Stonewall Democrats and chair of Students
for Kerry. “Kerry has shown as a Vietnam veteran that people
should not be threatened by members of the military serving openly
and that heterosexuality is not something required. On the issue of
adoption, his message is one of understanding and compassion, in
which the American people define what a family is, not the
government.”

While not all members of the LGBT community believe that Kerry
is the best candidate to represent them, many feel that any
candidate would better promote equality for gays than President
Bush.

“Any of the remaining Democratic candidates will be an
advocate for LGBT Americans and will present a clear alternative to
President Bush,” said LSA senior Ken Nadolski, chair of the
Stonewall Democrats.

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