The presidential field, minus Senators John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.), addressed a crowd of homosexual, bisexual and transgender activists at a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) forum in Washington, D.C., leaving some critics wondering if the candidates were pandering.
"As a whole, this is a group very left-leaning and very much out of the context of most Americans," Kristi Hamrick, communications director for American Values told CNSNews.com. "The homosexual activists are attempting, through the Democratic Party in particular, to remake society and inculcate it with their world view beginning in kindergarten and going all the way to your workplace."
Prior to the event, all candidates - including Edwards and Graham - answered a survey detailing their positions on key HRC agenda items.
"Every once in a while in the history of a people, there is a monumental paradigm shift that is like a watershed. I believe we're in such a gay moment in terms of history," said Elizabeth Birch, HRC executive director. "It is extremely hopeful that public opinion has shifted dramatically in this decade."
Birch hailed the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Texas' sodomy statute as "profound and elegant," but she complained that America has "fallen so far behind Europe, Great Britain and Canada" regarding homosexual marriage.
"Before Ellen Degeneres, before Will and Grace, before anyone knew who Melissa Etheridge was, before there had been a march on Washington when it was radioactive, I was the only United States senator...to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act and say that it was gay-bashing beyond the dignity of the Senate," candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said, touting his record of support for homosexuals.
When pressed by forum moderator Sam Donaldson of ABC News, Kerry admitted his opposition to homosexual marriage but said he supports same-sex civil unions.
"There is no distinction on the rights afforded (to same-sex unions and married couples), the distinction is in a body of America that culturally, historically and religiously views marriage very differently," Kerry explained. "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and that is a cultural, historical view that I believe."
The other candidates said they support federal benefits for same-sex couples and the ability of states to regulate marriage on their own.
"Marriage is not the business of the federal government," said Howard Dean, candidate and former governor of Vermont, where same-sex civil unions and all attendant benefits are allowed. He said he would also block any attempt to enact a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
When asked if he supported the idea of homosexual marriage, Rev. Al Sharpton said that would be "like asking if I support black marriages." Sharpton added that church leaders should lead the fight against any proposed defense of marriage amendment.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) rejected Kerry's assertion that "one has to respect the current cultural traditions" of marriage, saying Democrats should "step forward" on the issue and pledging to push for a law legalizing homosexual marriage if elected.
Hamrick explained that governments give marriage a special status because of the "unique benefits that marriage gives to a civil society in terms of good health, in terms of the care of children and the elderly, in terms of the benefit that that relationship gives back to society.
"Societies protect marriage because marriage protects societies," Hamrick said.
Kerry said he would try to repeal the military's policy that forbids soldiers from asking whether another soldier is homosexual or telling about their own homosexuality. He cautioned, however, that in some military units such as the Navy SEALS, there would have to be a period of "transition" to ensure "unit cohesion" before the new regulations allowing open homosexuals to serve were fully adopted.
Kucinich said the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has "resulted in more discrimination." When questioned by Donaldson about potential opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the rule change, Kucinich said: "I don't see any rebellion happening."
"Anyone guilty of discrimination ought to be fired. They are violating the law," Sharpton said, referring to any opposition by the Joint Chiefs to the lifting of the current policy. "We must make it clear that they have to adjust or move out."
But Hamrick said that where the military is concerned, the bottom line is national security.
"It is ludicrous public policy to institute a system which you know before you get started is going to have a negative impact," Hamrick said. "So openly flagrant homosexuals, a lot of intermixing with women in combat, creates that kind of tension, that kind of problem which distracts from the mission of protecting and defending."
Hamrick said this was all part of the homosexual agenda to create a breakdown of civil society.
"I would encourage people to pay attention if you don't want to spend all your time fighting the kind of indoctrination that is going to come. These are very significant questions," she said.
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