I just got off a conference call with John Edwards’ deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince and two supporters in the LGBT community in which the campaign sought to portray Edwards as the Democratic field’s best champion of gay rights ahead of tonight’s debate on gay issues in Los Angeles.
Predictably, most questions focused on gay marriage. Edwards, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, does not support gay marriage but backs civil unions.
For the most part, Prince ducked the question of why Edwards does not support marriage by emphasizing the candidate’s advocacy for civil unions, which he called “an issue of fundamental equality and fairness.”
When pushed by reporters as to why Edwards would not grant marriage rights as well, Prince said, “What he is talking about is making sure gay couples have equal benefits under the law.”
Eric Stern, an Edwards supporter in the LGBT community, added that the community had a key ally in convincing Edwards to come around on the issue of gay marriage.
“The most effective way for us to win marriage equality is to appeal to the hearts and minds of our families and friends,” said Stern. “Personally, I think our community should be very encouraged by the fact that, in that vein, we will have a first lady in Elizabeth who will be our personal lobbyist on this issue.”