August 11, 2007
Crash and burn: Richardson at the HRC/LOGO Visible Vote 08 Forum
I have to admit I was still holding out a sliver of hope for Bill Richardson. As I’ve said before, his foreign policy experience is off the charts compared to the other candidates, and that’s something the U.S. could really use right about now. Unfortunately, last night I caught this exchange:
MS. ETHERIDGE: Thank you.
Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?
GOV. RICHARDSON: It’s a choice. It’s —
MS. ETHERIDGE: I don’t know if you understand the question. (Soft laughter.) Do you think I — a homosexual is born that way, or do you think that around seventh grade we go, “Ooh, I want to be gay”?
GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I — I’m not a scientist. It’s — you know, I don’t see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as people as a matter of human decency. I see it as a matter of love and companionship and people loving each other. You know I don’t like to categorize people. I don’t like to, like, answer definitions like that that, you know, perhaps are grounded in science or something else that I don’t understand.
Oh, ye gods. And if you think the transcript sounds bad — or indeed, if you don’t think the transcript sounds bad — you ought to see the video footage. (Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already on YouTube.) Now, for the record, I don’t think the issue of whether or not homosexuality is a choice ought to make a difference when it comes to whether or not LGBTQ citizens should have equal rights under the law. Also,
A Richardson supporter, Richard Zaldavar, said, that it’s a sentiment in the Latino and black communities that homosexuality is a choice (ostensibly to rationalize Richardson stepping on that land mine). [from Pam’s House Blend, linked below]
So, maybe Richardson was trying to avoid alienating a portion of his base? Still, I think there could have been more graceful ways to handle the question, to wit: “You know, Melissa, I don’t personally have any expertise that would qualify me to state whether or not homosexuality is a choice. What I do know is that whether or not it’s a choice shouldn’t matter when it comes to their basic rights as citizens of the United States, or when it comes to their humanity or to the love that they share.” It was so incredibly painful to watch what actually happened.
Anyway, Pam’s got lots more, including damage control from Richardson’s camp, discussion of the other candidate’s appearances, and some thoughtful discussion in the comments thread.
Update: here’s an interview at Queerty.com.