Thursday, May 11, 2006

Howard Dean Under Attack By Gays Again

The National Gay and Lesbian Gay Task Force denounced DNC Chairman Howard Dean for misrepresenting the Democrats' party platform in an effort to make Democrats more palatable to the Christian right. At issue is an appearnce Dean made on CBN's "The 700 Club," a show founded and hosted for many years by Pat Robertson. During his appearance Dean told the show's audience that his party opposed gay marriages:

The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says. I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important.

Correcting Dean on his own party's platform, the group explained the party's position on gay civil rights:

In fact, the DNC 2004 platform says, "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

This plank was considered a victory for its inclusive references to gay families and activists. We are proud that two of our current Task Force board members — Roberta Achtenberg and Jeff Soref — fought hard for it. The platform was approved by the more than 4,000 elected and at-large Democratic delegates who met in Boston in 2004 to pick a presidential candidate, and there have been no official revisions of the platform since 2004.

The group's executive director, Matt Foreman, had critical words for Dean. In returning a $5,000 check the group recently received from the DNC, Foreman said:

Governor Dean is wrong about what the Democratic platform says about marriage equality. Disturbingly, this is not the first time he has misrepresented this important and affirming plank, and he has been asked before to correct the record and to cease making these misleading statements.

Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking. The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us. We do so with great sadness, knowing that the Democratic Party has long been a champion of our rights. Once again, we urge the governor to accurately represent the party's commitment to equality for LGBT people and our families, and to do everything in his power as chair to realize this vision. This would include but not be limited to fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives in various states this November. We urge him to take the money we are returning today and spend it to defeat these attacks on LGBT people and our families.

A red-faced Dean released a press statement, acknowledging his misstatement of the party's platform to the Christian right audience. Dean said, "I misstated the Democratic Party's platform, which does not say that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman, but says the Party is committed to full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and leaves the issue to the states to decide. The Democratic Party remains committed to equal protection under the law for all Americans. How we achieve that goal continues to be the subject of a contentious debate, but our Party continues to oppose constitutional amendments that seek to short circuit the debate on how to achieve equality for all Americans."

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