Election Choice on Marriage and War

Green’s out gay McReynolds urges voters to send Schumer a message

David McReynolds, the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York, thinks there are several good reasons lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters should make a statement by voting for him on Election Day, not the least of which is that “Schumer is certain to win and there is no reason to vote for him if you have disagreements with him.”

McReynolds, who just turned 75, has been out as a gay man since the late 1960s but is mainly known as a peace activist and Socialist leader, having worked with such pacifist luminaries as Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, A.J. Muste and Dave Dellinger. He worked with the War Resisters League from 1960 until his retirement in 1999, including lead roles in organizing opposition to the Vietnam War. He has been a Socialist candidate for the Congress and for president of the United States.

“Schumer has not come out for gay marriage,” McReynolds said. “For the life of me, I do not understand the opposition to it. I don’t know why people are so frightened.”

He also faults Schumer for not only his vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq, but his continued support for the war and the Patriot Act. McReynolds was cited in The New York Times as running on those issues and a call for an end to aid to Israel, but he said that his opposition to the Sharon government’s violation of U.N. resolutions “is very much in line with the Israeli peace movement and American Jews working for peace.”

On Iraq, McReynolds wants to “get our troops out of there.” He said, “I don’t have a solution for Iraq and I don’t know anyone who does. The solution will come when we withdraw. And if there is justice, we will pay them reparations. The U.N. could play a role if Iraq wants.”

He added, “My program is a sad one of saying we made a terrible mistake, committed a crime, and need to get out. Schumer says he still would vote exactly the same, despite all that has come out.”

On the economy, McReynolds is calling for a massive government jobs program, particularly focusing on the expansion of the Amtrak rail system and low-income housing.

“I’ve traveled around a lot in the country, but now you can’t get around except by plane or car,” he said.

McReynolds also emphasizes his foreign policy experience, with trips to Iraq, Libya, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union and throughout Europe. “I think I have a better grasp of foreign policy than Schumer and the other candidates do.”

The gay Democratic clubs that have endorsed a candidate are sticking with Schumer, as is the Human Rights Campaign, citing his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment and lead role in blocking the confirmation of right-wing judges. The Log Cabin Republicans embrace Republican nominee, Assemblyman Howard Mills, whose positions on LGBT issues are so close to Schumer’s that the Conservative Party is running their own candidate, Marilyn O’Grady, who has been running ads featuring Schumer and Mills atop a wedding cake, mocking their support, though limited, for gay relationships.

Dan Schaffer, who works with McReynolds on LGBT issues, said, “We’re hoping to make a statement that is heard by Chuck Schumer and other politicians—candidates should have a complete stand on LGBT issues,” including support for marriage rights.

Bill Dobbs, an independent gay activist who works with United for Peace and Justice, which does not make endorsements, said, “Schumer’s positions on civil liberties is frightening,” citing especially his lead support for the 1993 Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act that is “being used in the roundups we now see,” as well as to limit federal appeals of death sentences.

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