Al Gore and Bill Bradley
Endorse Some Domestic Partnership Rights
A remarkable sign of the new millennium is how "of course" domestic partnership rights have become for national Democratic leaders. Most decidedly, this "of course" does not include the dreaded "M" word!
How did this happen?
While Gore's heart is in the right place, and probably Bradley's too, the main motive is not altruism. It's likely that no one can become President as a Democrat without mobilizing the gay men and lesbian women in the largest urban centers: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and more. The GLBTQ vote plays a big role in the Democratic primaries in those states.
The classic risk:
moving left for the spring primaries
may make it harder
to occupy the middle for the fall general election
The basic formula for Democratic candidates for president is simple: be left enough to inspire the party faithful in the primaries in the spring, with promises of a new world and great reforms. Then elbow your way into the middle for the general election in the fall, where you also need the votes of independents to win. In the fall, make your Republican seem as extreme right as possible. Clinton is of course the grand master of this strategy. Clinton promised health reform to the liberals, supported gun control, supported abortion rights and pledged to let gays serve in the military. AND he called for welfare reform, called for reducing welfare rolls, called for a strong military, and defended the death penalty. It worked like a charm---up to the point where he tried to actually deliver on a few of the liberal promises! He found himself largely blocked by a Republican Congress.
Whether Gore or Bradley wins the Democratic nomination, the Republicans will savage them for being gay friendly. That is the inevitable risk of having to move leftward to win the primaries---if you go too far left, you can have trouble elbowing your way back into the center.
The wonders of competition
in the heat of primary battles
Generally speaking, Gore is has been a much stronger advocate for GLBTQ people: for that high profile, he has earned the endorsement of HRC. In the heat of the primary battles, both men became public advocates of a "NO" vote on the Knight Amendment in California (it would ban California recognition of out-of-state same sex marriages). Both men endorse some kind of domestic partnership, which is critical in that over 1000 rights of marriage are defined in federal (not state!) law. Lastly, in Vermont, Gore upstaged Bradley with a stronger statement in support of gays serving in the military---the statement was in fact too strong for Gore's success in the fall election. He quickly backtracked on it somewhat. But gay men and lesbian women heard the passion in his voice as he "overstepped" the bounds that the military has put on its civilian bosses.
The dog that didn't bark
Bradley's and Gore's campaigns have discovered that domestic partnership rights ARE NOW in the middle (how far we have come since the same sex marriage lawsuit began in 1991 with Bill Woods, Dan Foley and 3 couples!). Gore received much negative press for his strong support of gays in the military, but neither candidate received any coverage of their support of domestic partnership rights (the latter just aren't controversial enough!). You can be sure that the pollsters for both Bradley and Gore MEASURED the effect of the domestic partnership position---its pros and its cons, the votes won and the votes lost. And the pollsters for both concluded the same: it will help them win.