Mixner discusses Clinton's record

Conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party says that gay and lesbian voters will support President Bill Clinton this year, despite being upset or even angry over some of the decisions Clinton has made since taking office, because they have no other alternative.

Gay activist and political consultant David Mixner, the longtime friend of Clinton who is credited by many with delivering the gay and lesbian vote to the president in 1992, understands the intense frustration gays and lesbians feel over some of the president's decisions. Mixner, who addressed an Emory audience of about 60 on Oct. 21, was himself arrested outside the White House in 1993 while demonstrating against the newly implemented "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians serving in the military. Mixner's participation in that protest cost him his status as a Clinton confident, an experience detailed in his new book, Stranger Among Friends.

In spite of that frustration, Mixner said that a second Clinton term will result in a better environment for organizing gay and lesbian rights activities than the environment that would result from the election of any other candidate.

Mixner said that one such activity in the process of being organized is a major demonstration against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and recently signed by Clinton. DOMA defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and gives states the right not to recognize same-sex marriages granted by other states. DOMA is seen by many in the gay and lesbian community as a response to the possibility of same-sex marriages being legalized in Hawaii, where two same-sex couples have sued the state for the right to marry.

Next spring, Mixner said, he and his partner Patrick Marston plan to serve as a test case against DOMA in their home city of Los Angeles. Mixner said he and Marston will go to City Hall and apply for a marriage license. Once they are denied the license, a campaign of civil disobedience will begin, with protesters closing down the Marriage Bureau offices and ultimately being arrested. Mixner said that process will be repeated each month in Los Angeles and in other cities throughout the country until gays and lesbians are given equal marriage rights.

Such demonstrations will make a lot of people uncomfortable, Mixner said, and history teaches that such discomfort is precisely what must occur for a civil rights movement to advance. "No president hands a civil rights movement anything," he said. "We can't wait for Bill Clinton or any other politician to have a moral epiphany and embrace us."

--Dan Treadaway

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