A Midtown Masquerade

This week, America’s attention will turn to New York City.

We’ll watch as gay-friendly politicians like New York’s own Rudy Giuliani speak to a packed arena. We will see George W. Bush and his buddies wink as they talk of “compassion” for all Americans. We will see a moderate, mainstream Republican Party that cares about all Americans, including those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

That’s how the Republican National Convention will look as it opens in New York City next week—a masquerade in Madison Square Garden. Four years ago, George W. Bush put on that same masquerade. In his 2000 Convention address, Bush spoke of compassion and inclusion and he promised that he would stand up and fight for all us. And one million gay and lesbian Americans voted for him.

After four years of failed policies and broken promises, we all know better.

This past week, Dick Cheney said he supports his openly gay daughter and that he believes people should be free to enter into any relationship of their choice. He basically said the federal government has no business legislating marriage.

After four years of silence on the part of Dick Cheney, we all know better.

This February, we all watched George W. Bush endorse and later actively campaign for the divisive and discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment. The president chose politics over people. What I said then still holds true now: “The Democratic Party is opposed to this amendment. It is wrong to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution and it is shameful to use attacks against gay and lesbian families as an election strategy.”

The American people know better.

And John Kerry knows better too. He’s the real deal He won’t put on a show, instead he will fight for the rights of all Americans, including those in the GLBT community.

John Kerry is an outspoken opponent of Bush’s divisive Federal Marriage Amendment. John Kerry does not believe in discriminating against GLBT Americans.

More important is what he does believe.

John Kerry believes same-sex couples should be granted the same rights and have the same responsibilities as straight couples. He will work to provide domestic partners of federal employees the same benefits available to straight spouses. In contrast to Bush, John Kerry supports the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He will do more to help HIV/AIDS victims both at home and abroad. And he will work to get rid of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

In 1985, one of John Kerry’s first acts as a U.S. senator was to introduce a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. John Kerry was an original co-sponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention bill. He has fought against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, testifying in 1993 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, calling on Pres. Bill Clinton to rescind the ban on gay and lesbian service members. John Kerry co-sponsored the first Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (CARE)—which represents the largest discretionary federal investment in treating individuals with HIV and AIDS. AIDS activists have called Kerry one of Congress’ top leaders because of his steadfast commitment to fighting the disease.

This year, George W. Bush may go to New York City and talk about inclusion. He can mouth the word compassion. He may even make some promises.

But this year, we all know better. This year, I urge everyone, gay and straight, to support the candidate who not only talks compassion, but lives it.

Together, we will win this election and we will take back America.

Terry McAuliffe is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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