David Halbfinger is sounding a little pom-pom-girlish today in the New York Times (the piece linked to early, with the clause comment), writing about how Kerry can “preach from the pulpit” and throw attacks at Bush at the same time. In Mississippi, Kerry faced something quite common: a black voter angry about the moral equivalence liberals use between civil rights for blacks and the so-called current Bull Connor state of oppressed homosexuality. Halbfinger chronicles a clumsy exchange between the voter and Kerry:
“I don’t care what they say — there is no correlation between gay rights and civil rights in terms of what black Americans have gone through,” said the woman, who described herself as a registered Democrat but an “independent voter.”
One white man booed the woman from the bleachers of the college gym, but Mr. Kerry held up his hands to stop the booing, while a few blacks clapped.
Mr. Kerry answered slowly, first laying out his minutely calibrated stance on gay marriage. “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said, to polite applause. “But — but — but: I believe it’s important in the United States of America that we recognize that we have a Constitution which has an equal protection clause,” he said, to growing applause.
Then Mr. Kerry drew a connection between racism and antigay crime, noting the 1998 murder of a gay college student, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, but mangling a reference to James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to his death the same year in Jasper, Tex., by three men including John William King, all of whom were convicted of murder.
“Let me tell you something, when Matthew Shepard gets crucified on a fence in Wyoming only because he was gay,” he said, “when Mr. King gets dragged behind of a truck down in Texas by chains and his body is mutilated only because he’s gay — I think that’s a matter of rights in the United States of America.”
Most in the audience cheered, but his questioner was not satisfied.
Nice bungle, Kerry. And Kerry made good fun of Dan Quayle – if Bush is shot, the Secret Service has orders to shoot Quayle — for just such a goof!