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Hillary Clinton isn't expected to make an announcement before summer regarding a potential bid to replace New York senator Daniel Moynihan in the U.S. Senate, but that hasn't stopped her from meeting with a variety of potential Democratic supporters--from union bosses to county leaders. But she has yet to reach out publicly to prominent lesbians and gay men in the state.

By the same token, while there is an unmistakable "Draft Hillary" movement afoot in New York, no well-known or well-heeled gay Democrats have yet jumped on the Hillary bandwagon.

But party insiders maintain that this doesn't mean the first lady is unaware of the need to court New York's politically active gays and lesbians, especially since her chief potential Republican rival, New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is believed to have won a substantial portion of the gay vote when reelected in 1997.

"If she does run, she'll work hard for the support of gay and lesbian New Yorkers and will prove herself to be deserving of that support," said Richard Socarides, President Clinton's appointed liaison to gays and lesbians and a gay New Yorker himself. "She will be at least as deserving, if not more so, than her husband."

But it's difficult to gauge Mrs. Clinton's record on gay issues because for the most part she has no record. "I think it's safe to assume she's with us on most, if not all, of the important issues," one gay Democratic insider said. "But as far as I know, she's been to only two public gay events as first lady," which were fund-raisers last year in New York. At one of those, for then-New York senatorial candidate Charles Schumer, she expressed support for a federal hate-crimes bill and an employment discrimination ban. "Frankly, I think it would be very awkward for her to take positions contrary to her husband while he's still in office," the insider continued. "Could she support gay marriage when he doesn't?"

Socarides doesn't know Mrs. Clinton's position on gay marriage but said, "She's never been afraid to state her views."
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Author:Kirby, David
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:May 11, 1999
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