www.ambiente.us  MARCH / MARZO 2008

OPEd: An Opportunity We Cannot So Easily Refuse
by Paula Xanthopoulou

The campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United
States is more than just a nail-biter. It’s become a torture-chamber,
especially for women and people of color. Will it also be a lost opportunity?

If you’re a Democrat – or an Independent like me – it’s not enough to say,
“We have two great choices, as long as we elect a Democrat. I really wanted
Hillary, but Obama isn’t bad. Young people are turning out in droves.� Well,
being President of the United States just isn’t that simple.

Just ask Texas State Senator and Obama surrogate Kirk Watson. On
Tuesday, MSNBC’s “Hardball� host, Chris Matthews, asked Kirk to
name Obama’s legislative achievements. Kirk kept going back to Obama’s
ability to inspire. When Matthews pushed him about being on national television supporting someone for
president, Kirk could only say, “Well, I am not going to be able to name you specific items of

That’s a very big problem – and while our celebrity-driven younger folks are celebrating the Obama
Phenomenon, we are losing site of what we are doing here. We are hiring someone to be president of the
United States!

My original pick for president is Hillary Clinton, and I’m sticking with her even if I haven’t been
dancing in the streets recently. Here are the two main reasons why:

She is the best person for the job
She has the smarts, skills, contacts, and yes, the experience to confront the enormous problems that we
face. And also to achieve what is important to me: Get respect back for the U.S. around-the-world, end the
war in Iraq, solve the economic quagmire, lead the charge for Universal health care, and take issues
important to women and children off the back burner.

We can ill afford to invest in the steep learning curve required by someone like Barack Obama, no matter
how smart or talented he is…or what he thought about Iraq in 2002 when he did not have the same
responsibility as 535 members of Congress did. While Hillary Clinton was not herself president in 1992-
2000, she already knows what is required on a day-to-day basis in that huge job, in addition to her many
legislative accomplishments. And she has the personal strength to prevail on our behalf.

A women president would be a huge plus on several levels
Despite the fact that her advisors have advocated the “Iron Lady� approach up until now, Hillary
Clinton is a woman -- with the same important consensus-building and other traits that women who are in
office have consistently exhibited and been lauded for…The political environment has been changing for
the better ever since more women have become Congresspersons and Governors – even though
women are still grossly under-represented in Congress with a mere 16.3 of the seats (as the U.S. is 65th in
the world for electing women). It will come as no surprise that in 2001 commentators suggested that 9/11
might have never happened if more women were leading countries around the globe.

With a President Clinton, women’s and children’s issues will not just come to the fore, but be a
beacon for social change.  Hillary Clinton has long believed that women’s rights are human rights, and
has worked very hard for those rights around the world over many years. Women still do have equal rights
under the Constitution in this country, but make up nearly 52 percent of the U.S. population. We come from
EVERY ethnic group and demographic, including the LGBT community.* Women across the land will be
empowered for the common good, if Hillary Clinton becomes president. This is no small thing, and should
matter deeply to both women and men who care about any form of equality.

If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and is then elected president, we really will get two-for-the-
price-of-one – and I don’t mean Bill! We will get an established leader who is a woman to lead the
free world, a golden opportunity that we may not be getting again any time soon.  Hiring Barack Obama for
the job does not quite reach the same level of opportunity. Think about it.

Is this a bargain we can so easily refuse at this dangerous time in our country’s history?  I sincerely
hope we don’t have to find out the hard way.

* You can read Hillary Clinton’s [truly inspiring!] Open Letter to the LGBT Community here:

Hillary Clinton's Open Letter to the LGBT Community

As I have traveled around the country these past twelve months, what I sensed in my heart has been
confirmed. America is embracing its LGBT sons and daughters with an acceptance and understanding as
never before.

On the campaign trail, a father of a gay son will ask about ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A woman
will ask why she can be discriminated against just because of who she is. Sometimes they wait furtively for
the crowd to thin and then whisper their confidences in a soft voice and sometimes they stand up proudly at
town meetings and want me to share my views on how I will help lead the change to assure that this
country fulfills its promise to everyone.

Let me tell you what I have been telling voters across America. I am fully committed to the fair and equal
treatment of LGBT Americans. For seven long years, the Bush Administration has tried to divide us - only
seeing people who matter to them. It's been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no
community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community.

I will change that. The best evidence of what I will do as President is what I have already done.

I am proud of my record as First Lady, as a U.S. Senator and as a candidate for President in working toward
the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans.

• I am proud that as Chair of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee in 2006, I worked
closely with LBGT community to develop a smart strategy that defeated the Federal Marriage Amendment. I
am proud of fighting the FMA as divisive wedge politics at its worst.

• I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard Local
Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act
which would grant the same benefits (including health insurance) to domestic partners of federal
employees that are currently offered to employees’ legal spouses.

• I am proud to have authored the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which expands access to vital treatment
options for low-income individuals living with HIV, and fought to fully fund the Ryan White CARE Act.

• I am proud that I hired a National Director of LGBT Outreach within a month of announcing my
candidacy for President and to have openly gay and lesbian staffers serving at all levels of my campaign.

• I am proud to have a National LGBT Steering Committee of over 130 that includes openly LGBT elected
officials, Board members and opinion leaders on issues ranging from transgender rights, to HIV/AIDS, to â
€œDon’t Ask Don’t Tellâ€�.

• I am proud to have marched in Gay Pride parades as both First Lady and as Senator and to have
spoken in front of so many LGBT audiences ranging from the Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride
Agenda, the Hetrick Martin Institute, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), GMHC
(Gay Men’s Health Crisis), and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

• I am proud to have fought Republican efforts to demonize and marginalize the LGBT community, and I
will continue to do that as President.

We have so much work to do. When I am President, we will work together to make sure that all Americans
in committed relationships have equal benefits and that nothing stands in the way of loving couples who
want to adopt children in need. We're going to expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act and assure that they are both fully inclusive of sexual orientation and
gender identity and expression. And finally, we will put an end to the failed policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice – the traits that define our men and women in uniform – have
nothing to do with sexual orientation.

My father was a conservative Republican, who held very traditional views for much of his life. Yet in his last
years, it was a gay couple who lived next door who provided much of the compassion and comfort he and
my mother needed as he grew ill. And it was that same neighbor who held his hand as he died. If my father
can move, America can move.

To each and every LGBT American, I say this. You have done so much to help this country understand your
lives by simply being open and honest about who you are and living your lives with dignity. Thank you for
your courage. It is time that we recognize your hard work. I know that this country is ready for changes in the
law that reflect the evolution in our hearts.

America deserves a President who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a President who values
and respects all Americans and treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who they love. I want
to be that President. I want to be your President.

Senator Hillary Clinton


About the Author:
PAULA XANTHOPOULOU  (paulax@withoutboundaries.com)
Paula was born and educated in Stockton, California, attending the University of the Pacific and majoring in
International Relations. She spent ten years as a teacher and administrator at the American Farm School in
Thessaloniki, Greece -- followed by consulting and working for non-profit organizations when she returned
to the U.S. and a 6-year stint managing opera singers for her own company.  In New York City, Paula was
involved in a myriad of community efforts, which has also been the case since moving to Miami in 1994.  
She headed the Miami Shores Brockway Memorial Library Building Fund and serves on Executive
Committee of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women.  Paula served two terms as president of
the National Women's Political Caucus of Florida (2001-2005).  During that time, she worked on the Janet
Reno for Florida Governor campaign and later served as Deputy Campaign Manager on the Carol Moseley
Braun for President campaign based in Chicago.
In 2002 Paula was a Miami-Dade “In the Company of Women� honoree for her work and was
honored with the NWPC/FL  2005 “Elaine Gordon Leadership Award.â€�
As a writer and consultant, she is a committed advocate for the creation of a real power base for women by
electing many more women. Paula also publishes and maintains her own website (www.
withoutboundaries.com) as a hub for strategies like “Every OPEN SEAT A Woman’s Seat�,
5050X2020, and related issues/information.

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