Attorney Gregory Baldwin, now in private practice in Miami, remembers it well.Baldwin's hiring was just the first of many actions Guiliani has taken in both his public and private life to promote equality for gays and lesbians. He pushed for a domestic partner and hate crime laws in New York as mayor. "'Rudy Giuliani is near the top of the list,' said Matt Foreman, head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who was an activist in New York when Giuliani was mayor." "The challenge for those of us in the gay rights movement is to look at two things: an elected official's accomplishment while in office and whether they affirm the humanity of gay people," said Foreman. "'On that score, Mayor Giuliani has a good record,' he said, citing the city domestic partnership law, state hate crimes law, public support and appointments of gay judges." Foreman tells Brune Guiliani is very comfortable around gays, noting that he marched in gay pride parades and shared an apartment with a gay couple.
Being openly gay lost him his job on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 1980s, he said. Its chairman and the CIA said he was a security risk, under post-World War II policy, because he could be blackmailed.
A colleague helped him land a temporary job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, Baldwin said, but when the U.S. attorney there learned about his sexual orientation, he moved Baldwin from narcotics to money-laundering cases.
Baldwin wanted the job to be permanent and needed a security clearance. The FBI vetted him. He flew to Washington for a grilling."It finally dawned on me, I was the first one," he said. "I wasn't trying to prove a political point or further the cause. I was just looking for a job."
A 1982 memo alerted associate attorney general Giuliani about the Vietnam War vet, a divorced father of two, top attorney and "admitted homosexual." He asked Justice Department legal counsel Theodore Olson for an opinion.
Olson sent back a memo citing 1960s lawsuits, a 1975 federal personnel code and a new policy on security clearances. He said Baldwin could not be denied a job, unless being gay affected his ability to do the job, and that Baldwin likely could win a lawsuit if he were not hired.
Olson gave Giuliani an out: Hiring a practicing homosexual would indicate a disrespect for Florida's anti-sodomy law, putting the Justice Department in an awkward spot.
But Baldwin got the job.
Olson, now a senior Giuliani campaign aide, called it the "right thing to do" and a "big step.""Once we wrote that opinion, it was binding on the executive branch and it set a precedent," Olson said.
Marty Steinberg, the lawyer who helped Baldwin get the job, praises Giuliani and Olson."They did the right thing," he said, "and that was not an easy thing to do in that era."
I've heard a lot of Democrats pounce on Guiliani because he supports only civil unions and not marriage rights for gays and lesbians. While those same folks are fawning over candidates like Obama and Clinton, only Guiliani has a proven record. Actions are after all lounder than words. Bill Clinton hardly uttered the word "gay" during the many years he served as Arkansas governor, but he was the savior to end all saviors to many in the GLBT community when he
sought the presidency in 1992 making all kinds of promises. He gave us DADT and DOMA. Again, actions speak louder than words. Other than Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), none of the leading Democratic candidates can point to anything they did as a government executive to advance gay rights as Guiliani has.
Watching HRC's president, Joe Solmonese, question Clinton at last night's Presidential Forum, it was obvious he and the Clinton campaign were trying to orchestrate a remaking of the Clinton image on GLBT rights. Judging from the reaction around the blogosphere today, it appears there were plenty of Kool-Aid drinkers. But if you don't know by this time who Clinton will throw overboard at the first opportune time so she can achieve personal power for herself, you haven't learned much from history. Democrat or Republican, Guiliani is the best hope for advocates of GLBT rights in 2008. Imagine diffusing gay bashing as a wedge issue in our political campaigns. Then think of electing a Republican president who has a proven record on GLBT rights, but who also is the only Republican candidate with a proven record of reducing crime and taxes while governing our nation's largest city.