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Politics

Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene Battle for Gay Floridians' Votes

June 30, 2010 - 6:00pm

Trailing behind independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican former House Speaker Marco Rubio in the polls and now facing a bitter contest with billionaire financier Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek launched an effort to reach out to gay and lesbian voters.

Meek held a conference call on Thursday, during which he announced that the National Stonewall Democrats PAC, a group working on gay equality issues, was endorsing his campaign.

Stephen Handwerk, the co-chair of the PAC who had served on John Edwards presidential campaign, praised Meek for his work on gay rights issues. Handwerk said the PAC was backing 11 candidates for the Senate and Congress besides Meek.

The congressman has been incredibly impressive to us, said Handwerk. He has worked very hard for the LGBT community.

Handwerk specifically praised Meeks efforts to repeal the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy regarding gays serving in the armed forces.

Meek also focused on repealing Dont Ask, Dont Tell, saying, Its very, very important to the country, very, very important to national security.

Meek touched on other gay rights issues on Thursday, calling for the state government to repeal a ban allowing same-sex couples to adopt and the importance of extending benefits to gay partners.

Meek and his supporters said that gay voters would be an important part of a winning electoral coalition come November.

Florida has a very vibrant and diverse LGBT community across the state, said Handwerk, who promised Meek he would come to Florida and campaign for him.

But Meek clearly faces a fight for the votes of gay Florida Democrats. Minutes after the call ended, Jeff Greenes campaign released a statement announcing that former Wilton Manors Commissioner Joe Angelo, the first openly gay African-American to be elected to office in Florida, was backing the billionaire over Meek.

As an LGBT American, I proudly support and endorse Jeff Greene for U.S. Senate because he will represent all of Floridas constituents in Washington including the LGBT community, said Angelo. He will fight to repeal Dont Ask, Dont Tell', end workplace discrimination, support adoption by gay parents and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Jeff also supports civil unions that afford gay couples in committed relationships the same federal benefits and responsibilities that straight couples enjoy.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.

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