- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2007

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her husband’s record on homosexual rights last night in an emotional exchange with singer Melissa Etheridge during a broad forum hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.

Miss Etheridge told the New York Democrat she felt betrayed in the years after she came out as a lesbian during the week of President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

“Our hearts were broken, we were thrown under the bus, we were pushed aside, all those great promises that were made to us were broken,” Miss Etheridge said, alluding to Mr. Clinton’s going back on his promise to repeal the ban on open homosexuals in the military and his signing the Defense of Marriage Act.

“Are we going to be left behind the way we were before?” she asked.

Mrs. Clinton lauded her husband’s achievements on appointing homosexuals to administration positions but also said she would scrap her husband’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow active homosexuals to serve openly in the military.

“I don’t see it the way you describe,” she told Miss Etheridge. “We certainly didn’t get as much done as I would have liked but I believed there was a lot of honest effort going on.”

Mrs. Clinton was the final 2008 presidential candidate to speak during the two-hour Visible Vote ‘08 forum, hosted in Los Angeles by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), streamed online and televised nationally only by the Logo cable channel.

The former first lady pledged to work “to change attitudes and persuade people that they should be more open, more respectful, more understanding” and said the “mean-spirited” era of targeting homosexuals is no more.

“That will end, that is over,” she said.

Sen. Barack Obama noted his experience “at times being discriminated against,” and said there are similarities between fighting for homosexual rights and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.

“When you’re a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what it’s like to be on the outside,” the Illinois Democrat said, calling himself a leader on homosexual rights issues and said inequality inspired him to enter politics.

An Obama administration would ensure “the rights that are provided by the federal, and the state and the local governments are the ones that are provided to everybody,” he said. “That’s a standard I think I can meet, and I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”

He was later praised on a Logo forum for his answer about religious opposition to homosexuality among blacks.

“There are people who recognize that if we’re going to talk about justice and civil rights and fairness, that should apply to all people, not just some,” he said. “There are some folks who, coming out of the church, have, you know, elevated one line in Romans above the Sermon in the Mount.”

The candidates made their appeals to homosexual voters, promising expansion of rights and treading a careful line on the “marriage” issue. The forum was designed to highlight homosexual issues in a way not seen in previous elections.

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