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Dean Rallies Gay Democrats

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Dean Rallies Gay Democrats

by Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

June 4 2006 - 4:00 pm ET

(Washington) Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean mended fences and rallied gay Democrats as the party heads into an election campaign that could see it wrestle control of Congress from Republicans.

Dean was the keynote speaker Saturday night at the National Stonewall Democrats conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In May he angered many gays when he told TV evangelist Pat Robertson's 700 Club this week that the 2004 platform stated "marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."

Dean was taken to task by LGBT groups - including gays in his own party - for the remark. (story) The platform actually endorsed gay marriage.

"I want to start today by thanking you for standing with me," told the conference Saturday night. "Not just through the recent controversy over my CBN interview, but for standing with me as we have fought side by side for equal rights under the law for all Americans. That fight continues, and the Democrat Party is standing with you by leading the fight against discrimination, and by helping you meet your electoral objectives this fall...

The speech came as the Republican controlled Senate prepares to debate on Monday a proposed amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

"We live in a time when this community and your families are the targets of mean spirited attacks by Republicans who put their own and their party's interests ahead of the national interest, when the President of the United States just this morning used his weekly radio address to endorse a Constitutional amendment that would introduce legalized discrimination in our Constitution. The Democrats will oppose that," he said to tumultuous applause.

On Saturday President Bush called on the Senate to pass the amendment. (story)

Dean said Democrats will oppose the federal amendment and proposed amendments at the state level.

"We are with you, helping equip our state parties against the state ballot measures and standing up to the Federal Marriage Amendment that Bill Frist and President Bush are so eager to embrace," he said.

Dean then took Republicans to task for opposing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

"We live in a time when our President thinks it is OK to fire Arabic translators in the military who happen to be gay, even though the 9/11 Commission said we don't have enough translators to fight the war on terrorism," Dean told the convention.

"It is wrong to discriminate in housing. It is wrong to discriminate in health care. It's wrong to discriminate in hospital visitations. It's wrong to discriminate in hiring. It's wrong for our tax code to be discriminatory. And it is wrong for any group of Americans to live in fear of hate crimes. We believe that every taxpayer should have the same government services and benefits as any other American."

Polls show that November's midterm election will likely be close but that Democrats stand a chance of retaking control of at least one house in Congress.

©365Gay.com 2006

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