Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gay Irish Pol Sets Sights on Presidency

By Kilian Melloy -

David Norris
David Norris

It’s official: an openly gay member of Ireland’s Senate is ready to make his bid for that country’s presidency.

David Norris, a member of the Irish Senate for 24 years, officially set out to become the first openly gay president on March 21, reported on March 22.

The current Irish President is Mary McAleese, the second woman to hold the office. McAleese is now serving her second, and final, seven-year term.

Norris is an "unaffiliated candidate," the story said, which means that he will have a harder time even registering as a candidate. If he were affiliated with a party, the article indicated, he would have an easier time gaining the twenty nominations he needs from the country’s parliamentarians. His alternative is to seek 4 nominations from local governments called country councils, which is the alternative route to candidacy he is expected to take.

"I don’t have a party machine," the would-be presidential candidate told the Irish media. "At the moment, I am an independent. This, I believe, is a plus."

There are 14 independent members of Parliament currently serving in the new Irish government, which took power last month after the most recent elections, so it is not impossible that Norris might be able to secure nominations from the requisite 20 parliamentarians.

"All I’m asking for is an opportunity to put myself before the people," Norris told the Irish media. "I am today announcing my application for the job of President."

Norris added that he did not think his sexuality would be a defining factor in the race.

The new Irish government includes the first two openly gay members of the Dáil Éireann, or Irish Parliament, Dominic Hannigan and John Lyons. The two openly gay parliamentarians also said that their sexuality was not a decisive factor for voters, or much of a factor at all.

A poll conducted last year showed Norris ahead of the expected competition. Norris took 20% of the poll, putting him ahead of the next-most favored expected nominee by 12%, a Sept. 25, 2010, Irish Central article reported.

Norris has a long history of breaking political ground, according to a Wikipedia article. He was the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Irish government. He also fought anti-gay Irish law, taking the case past the Irish Supreme Court and to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1988, the Court ruled against the Irish government and homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland.

The United States is also set to see its first openly gay presidential candidate. Activist and Republican political operative Fred Karger has announced that he will file as a candidate in the 2012 election on March 23.

"Karger was the first to announce he was seriously considering running for President on April 10, 2010 at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans and the first to establish a Presidential Exploratory Committee on July 18, 2010," a March 21 press release from the Fred Karger Presidential Exploratory Committee said.

"He was the first to run commercials in New Hampshire right after Labor Day last year, the first to run an Iowa commercial right after the November midterm elections and the first to hire a State Director in Iowa on December 1, 2010," added the release. "So it only stands to reason that Karger would be the first to file for the Republican nomination for President. Oh, yeah, Fred would also be the first openly gay candidate to run for President in history," the release noted, in a jocular vein.

"Karger brings with him a wealth of political and campaign experience. He has managed dozens of campaigns, worked on nine Presidential campaigns including senior consultant with President’s Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford."

The release also noted that Karger has been a ferocious adversary to anti-GLBT equality groups.

"After a 30 year career in politics, Karger retired in 2004 and became an LGBTQ activist," the release recalled. "During the summer of 2008, he discovered the Mormon Church’s complete control of California’s Proposition 8 and filed a sworn complaint with the California Ethics Commission against the Mormon Church. The Salt Lake City based Church was prosecuted, investigated, found guilty and fined after an 18 month investigation."

Karger still identifies as a Republican, though he targets Independents and progressive Democrats.

"I’ve gotten a very good reaction from the LGBT press," Karger told EDGE in April of 2010, just prior to a appearance in New Hampshire. "And I didn’t know how that would be, because number one, I’m a Republican--most aren’t’--and number, 2, ’Who the hell is this guy?’ "

Karger noted that his long experience in politics and his high profile fight against Proposition 8 had lent him a certain amount of credibility. Karger was counting on that, plus his own sense of fun, to kick-start his campaign.

Karger told EDGE that his credentials as a Republican are "impeccable," and added, "I have a lot of plans; I’m going to make it fun and have a sense of humor about it... because I think that’s missing in politics. I’m going to try and make it enjoyable--and being a lot of new people in" who ordinarily might not be interested in politics or in casting their votes.

"Obviously, I’m a million-to-on short to win the Republican nomination, but if I were inaugurated," Karger told EDGE, "I would walk the walk" from his first moment in office rather than simply "talk the talk" on GLBT equality, as he says Obama has done. "I’m gonna put the F in fierce."

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

No comments:

Post a Comment