article

08.29.11

The GOP’s Stealth Gay Candidate

Fred Karger is an openly gay activist seeking the 2012 GOP nomination on a platform of jobs and education—and ending the Defense of Marriage Act. Mark McKinnon on why no one’s heard of him.

No matter what happens in the 2012 presidential contest, Fred Karger already has made history.

Fred who, you say?

Fred Karger is the first openly gay candidate to seek the presidential nomination of either party. Among the other firsts listed on his website: “Karger was the first to announce he was seriously considering running for president ... the first to establish a presidential exploratory committee ... the first to run commercials in New Hampshire ... the first to run an Iowa commercial right after the November midterm elections, and the first to hire a state director in Iowa ...  So it only stands to reason that Karger would be the first to file for the Republican nomination for president.”

And unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he's been entirely ignored by the media. On Sept. 7, there will be another Republican debate at the Reagan presidential library in California. And once again the sponsors have carefully tailored the criteria to exclude candidates like Karger, as well as Buddy Roemer—the only candidate with executive (governor), legislative (congressman), and private-sector (bank owner) experience—Gary Johnson (former governor), and Thad McCotter (congressman).

Karger wants to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (happening Sept. 20); pass the federal Employment Anti-Discrimination law; eliminate the federal Defense of Marriage Act; make gay marriage the law of the land; make finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV a new national priority; and “bring back the spirit in every man, woman and child to help remake America the land of opportunity and equality for all.”

GOP debate sponsors have carefully tailored their criteria to exclude candidates like Karger.

His platform:
• Jobs first: keep jobs in America
• Transform education in this country
• Foreign policy: defense, development, and diplomacy
Iraq, Afghanistan: surge out of both countries
• Strong American leadership to help bring a lasting peace in the Middle East
• Immigration: take action now—path to citizenship, improve border security
• End our dependence on foreign oil
• Empower our youth, lower voting age to 16 or 17
• Full equality for all Americans
Roe v. Wade as the law of the land
• Move to legalize and tax marijuana
• Optimism and getting along

Karger is realistic. He knows his chances of being elected president are remote. But that's not the point. As the Los Angeles Times wrote, the point is that by running, and perhaps getting into one or more national debates, "Karger hopes to send a message to people like himself: a boy growing up outside Chicago and, later, a closeted adult, shamed by society's view of his sexuality and too scared to admit, even to himself, who he was.”

And that in itself is a worthy goal. Worthy of attention. Get this man on the stage.