Gay topics unlikely in first debate tonight

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Gay activists called on PBS anchor Jim Lehrer this week to ask Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain about gays in the military during the first Obama-McCain presidential debate.

But the prevailing view among political observers was that gay-related issues were unlikely to surface during the first debate, which the two candidates prearranged as a forum on U.S. foreign policy and national security issues.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ harms military readiness and costs taxpayers several hundred million dollars a year,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national group that advocates on behalf of gay service members. “The American people need to know this.”

It was unclear at Blade press time, though, whether the debate scheduled for tonight would occur.

An SLDN campaign to push for a question on the subject in the first debate resulted in the group’s supporters sending more than 1,000 e-mails to Lehrer, urging him to ask McCain and Obama about the issue, according to an SLDN statement.

A gay-straight alliance at the University of Mississippi, the site of the debate, also held a pre-debate forum on gay and transgender issues Wednesday.

Read the full story from the Washington Blade.

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