Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) presidential campaign becomes the latest to release an early list of prominent gay and lesbian supporters, following similar moves by the campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former Sen. John Edwards. The renewed interest in LGBT support for the top tier Democratic presidential candidates also dovetails our recent cover story for The Advocate on LGBT issues and the Democratic presidential candidates.
Here is the list of prominent gay and lesbians supporting Barack Obama for President:
Michael Bauer, political consultant
Phil Burgess, Walgreen's pharmacy executive
Thomas Chaderjian, Stonewall Democrats
Rick Garcia, Equality Illinois
Vernita Gray, LGBT activist
Jessica Halem, Lesbian Comm. Cancer Project
Greg Harris, Illinois House of Representatives
Kevin Hauswirth, former editor, The Advocate
Robert Kohl, Chairman, Center on Halsted
Larry McKeon, former member, Illinois House
Gail Morse, attorney, partner in Jenner & Block
Mary F. Morten, former LGBT liaison to Mayor Richard M. Daley
Ed Mullen, attorney, partner Ross, Dixon & Bell
Jim Pickett, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Debra Shore, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago
Rev. Stan Sloan, exec. director, Chicago House
Tom Tunney, Chicago alderman
Richard Wilson, chair, National Lesbian and Gay Law Association
Lauren Verdich, political and health consultant
Of the 19 names, the vast majority are Chicago- or Illinois-based—important, because it demonstrates the candidate has significant grassroots support at home. It's also important to note that the Obama list has several notable black lesbians (Mary F. Morten and Vernita Gray) and Rick Garcia, Illinois' leading gay activist.
We spoke with Mary Morten at length for our recent article for The Advocate on the Obama and Clinton campaigns. Mary was quite excited about the prospect of a presidential candidate who not only was black, but, lived on the South Side of Chicago and understood the dynamics of race, gender, sexuality and economics. "Barack is totally comfortable with gay people," she told The Advocate. "My partner and I have had lunch and dinner with the Obamas many times." Morten also said that she was less interested in marriage equality and more focused on "bread and butter issues like lack of access to health care and he high rates of HIV in the inner cities", as well as violence against black gay men and lesbians, such as the recent shooting of six black gay men in Chicago.
So far, Ramon Gardenhire, the political consultant and former deputy director of LGBT outreach at the Democratic National Committee, is the only prominent black gay man named to any list—that of the Edwards campaign. This could be good news, meaning that most prominent black gay men—and lesbians, for that matter—are weighing their options at this critical yet early point in the election cycle. Or, it could mean something else.
Dems Lining Up Gay Support [Wash Blade]
Some Background ...Behind the Gay-Friendly Faces [Advocate] Clinton Names Prominent Gay Supporters [R20]
Edwards Shows Off His Gay Supporters [Towleroad] The Advocate: Clinton vs Obama [R20] Memo to Mr. Geffen: Get Over It [R20] Good for the Democrats, Bad for Gays [WaBlade] I Want My Gay DNC [Keith Boykin] The Latest Talking Point [R20] Hillary's Senate Opponent Uses the "L-Word" [R20]