Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Question of Morality ~ Part 2

Under pressure from gay rights groups, two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, issued statements yesterday saying they believed homosexuality was not immoral.

Mrs. Clinton, who has particularly cultivated gay voters and donors, found herself under the most intense fire yesterday after she said on Wednesday that the morality of homosexuality was for "others to conclude." Later that day, after complaints from gay rights groups, she put out a statement indicating she thought homosexuality was not immoral, though she did not use those words.

Her remarks left some gay donors and advocates angry; several said yesterday that they believed she was afraid to say the words "moral" or "immoral" because Republicans might use them against her.

The issue arose this week after Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in published remarks that he believed homosexuality was immoral.

Officials from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, said they had a conference call with Clinton campaign officials yesterday to argue for a clearer statement; they did not speak to Mrs. Clinton directly. Other gay advocates, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, also lodged complaints. Blogs about gay politics and culture, too, excoriated Mrs. Clinton for raising money from gay donors yet being unable to reject the idea that homosexuality was immoral.

"Given the emotionally charged politics of the situation, for the sake of clarity, I hope she expressly rejects the word 'immorality' as it applies to gay people," Ethan Geto, a gay supporter and fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton, said in an interview.

As Mr. Geto was speaking, Mrs. Clinton put out a statement saying just that.

"I have heard from many of my friends in the gay community that my response yesterday to a question about homosexuality being immoral sounded evasive," she said. "I should have echoed my colleague Senator John Warner’s statement forcefully stating that homosexuality is not immoral because that is what I believe."

Gay advocates, including representatives of the Human Rights Campaign, also spoke to Mr. Obama’s campaign yesterday. Mr. Obama side-stepped the morality question three times on Wednesday, then put out a statement that night that rebuked General Pace but did not directly address morality. He did so in a statement yesterday, saying he did "not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral."

New York Times
Published: March 16, 2007

1 comment:

BostonPobble said...

I find debates about the morality of sexuality frustrating and more than a bit silly. It is like debating if breathing is moral or immoral. It is not moral. It is not immoral. Sexuality simply *is*. I seem to be in the minority however. And, of course, this and a buck fifty...