- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton's decision to march in a parade Friday that bans homosexuals is angering some voters in New York City's homosexual community.

But the move may help the first lady raise her lagging support among the state's more conservative Catholics. They make up roughly 45 percent of New York voters and currently prefer her likely GOP opponent. Two new polls show New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani leading among Catholic voters.

Mr. Giuliani consistently has marched in the parade but most Democratic politicians boycott it to avoid angering homosexuals, a key constituency group. Mrs. Clinton said she is marching to help support the peace process in Ireland.

"I think that's a lame excuse at best," said Alexis Danzig, a 39-year-old lesbian mother in Manhattan. "If this is the way she chooses to play, it's sort of like that hapless move she made wearing the Yankees baseball cap. This is another symbolic stretch for votes. She has no moral center."

Miss Danzig plans to join about 2,000 other demonstrators to protest the parade Friday morning in Manhattan.

Because the Ancient Order of Hiberians bans the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) from marching in the parade, New York Democrats such as Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields, a longtime civil rights activist, boycott it.

One ILGO activist who protested Mrs. Clinton's plans during her meeting last week with the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats is still peeved with her.

"I think a lot of people won't vote for her now," said the 33-year-old advertising copywriter. "I don't think they will vote for Rudy. I think they just won't vote."

Although the GLID group decided to endorse Mrs. Clinton despite the march, a much larger association of New York City homosexuals is still torn between endorsing her or Mr. Giuliani because they both share similar positions on traditionally gay issues.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said the nonpartisan political advocacy group has not yet picked a candidate.

Mr. Foreman, a former activist with New York's Log Cabin Republican Club, which is supporting Mr. Giuliani, said "exit polls show that almost 80 percent of the lesbian and gay vote went to Chuck Schumer" in his 1998 upset of incumbent GOP Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato. Another Log Cabin Republican said that exit polls in the past show that about 5 percent of voters nationwide are homosexual, but that no firm numbers exist for them in New York state.

While activists and experts say neither the parade alone nor any one endorsement will make or break the race, they could affect the outcome of the tight race because the number of undecided voters is so low.

"Any movement is seismic in proportion because the undecided is so small," said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

Only 6.1 percent of New York voters remain undecided, according to a poll released yesterday. Most of them reside in the battleground upstate region, according to the Zogby International poll of 903 registered voters for the Times Union-Buffalo News.

The poll shows Mr. Giuliani leading Mrs. Clinton 49 percent to 42 percent. It also shows Mr. Giuliani leading among whites, seniors, men, Protestants and Catholics. The margin of error is 3.4 points.

A Quinnipiac College Poll of 1,842 New York state registered voters surveyed Feb. 22 to 28 found that Catholics favored Mr. Giuliani 56 percent to 34 percent. They also gave the mayor a 50 percent favorable rating compared with 30 percent favorable for Mrs. Clinton. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2.3 percent.

Mrs. Clinton plans to appear tonight at a tribute to the country's top 100 Irish Americans at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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