The Note

Leibovich Notes that Kerry was audibly hissed when he said "There is a distinct body [in] America … . that culturally, historically and religiously believes [marriage] is between a man and a woman … .and I respect that."

It reminded us of the hissing Kerry got at the Campaign for America's Future conference when he dared to suggest that there might well be times when America would have to (gosh) use its military power to right wrongs.

So Kerry tried to pander, but his better instincts and principles got in the way. Darn it when that happens. Which, all other things being equal, is a credit to the man and his campaign.

Acronym watch: Gephardt said he joined "P-FLAG" — that's Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays … . Lieberman used the chatty and knowing "GLBT" … while Kucinich used the belabored "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender" formulation.

Kerry also weirdly trumpeted his cosponsorship "with Senator Bill Frist" of an AIDS bill. Senator Frist is — borrowing Kweisi Mfume's phrase — persona non grata these days in the gay community.

More, from the straight (!) write-up by the Post 's Daryl Fears:

"Moderator Sam Donaldson of ABC News asked the candidates who were against gay marriage to explain how they could support one contract, a civil union, over marriage. And he asked candidates who supported gay marriage how they would convince Congress to enact laws allowing same-sex couples to wed and receive the same benefits as heterosexuals." LINK "Kerry appealed to the audience saying, 'I will be a president for all Americans.'"

":But when Donaldson asked him about if he supported gay marriage, Kerry stumbled before saying, 'I do not support marriage itself,' because he said that 'marriage is viewed as a union between men and women.' Kerry said there was no distinction between what he proposes — equal rights bestowed upon civil unions — and the rights in marriage."

"'I think [marriage] is a hang-up for the states,' Dean said, adding, 'Marriage is a church institution.' Donaldson reminded Dean that marriage was also sanctioned by justices of the peace and, at one time, ship captains. Vermont is the only state that allows civil unions; no state allows gay marriage."

To which Dean literally — and we mean literally — asked Donaldson to change the subject.

[T]he issue of gay marriage is sure to dog the candidates — both the Democrats and Republican President Bush — in next year's election," the AP's Pickler concludes. LINK Finally, Senator Rick Santorum tells GQ magazine that he'd still love his kids if they were gay. LINK

Lieberman:

Mark Z. Barabak shines a harsh light on the state of the Lieberman campaign in today's Los Angeles Times. Mr. Barabak highlights the senator's money woes, the staff shakeup, his recent rift with the NAACP, and his poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire polls.

LINK

Although Donna Brazile cautions that it is still early, both Ms. Brazile and Anita Dunn describe Senator Lieberman's flaw as a stylistic one.

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