Touted as the “most pro-gay presidential candidate ever,” Sen. John Kerry’s campaign has announced a “Pride Across America” program targeting the homosexual community with booths at 60 “pride” events in 22 states over the summer months.

“It’s exciting for us because it’s an investment the campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee] are making in the LGBT [Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered] community,” said Mark Seifert, director of Kerry’s LGBT outreach effort, according to

Another related program is “Ripple of Hope,” an online fund-raising drive seeking to raise $500,000 in small donations from the homosexual community by the end of June.

“Out for Kerry 2004” buttons and flyers will be featured in the “Pride Across America” effort, which will compare the Massachusetts senator’s record on homosexual issues with President Bush’s.

The candidate’s “LBGT for John Kerry” page features a “Kerry Pride Guide,” with a “Kerry Pride Toolkit” that includes postcards, flyers and sign-up sheets.

Over the past several years, Kerry has had a “100 percent score” on homosexual issues from homosexual groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, according to his campaign website.

Kerry opposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, supports Vermont-style civil unions and wants to lift a ban on homosexuals in the military.

In a letter supporting the effort, Kerry stated he is “committed to using the power of the White House to advance equal rights for all Americans, including gay Americans.”

“We don’t need a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage,” he said. “We need to find a way to provide all American families will full and equal rights.”

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., a lesbian, has touted Kerry as “the most pro-gay presidential candidate ever.”

She charged Republicans and the president have used homosexual issues to divide the electorate.

“They’ve politicized our steady and strong march for full civil rights in part as a diversion to what is happening elsewhere in the economy and in the world,” she said, according to

Homosexual activists note with gratitude that, in 1996, Kerry was the only candidate for re-election to speak out in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.

The bill passed the Senate by an 85-14 margin and was signed by President Clinton.

Some homosexual voters have been disappointed with Kerry’s opposition to same-sex marriage, said.

But Seifert said it’s not enough to withhold support.

“In his mind he has made that distinction and that’s his position,” Seifert said. “I don’t have a problem supporting him at all, and in fact I’m proud to be supporting his campaign. People understand there are many issues in this campaign, and when they step back and they understand that, they see there is only one choice, and that choice is John Kerry.”

In an interview with the “gay” publication The Advocate, Seifert called Kerry’s involvement in the homosexual community “unprecedented” for any party or presidential candidate.

Baldwin agreed in an interview with the same publication.

“Bill Clinton was the first president to ever utter the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian,'” she said. “Kerry brings that several steps further. It’s rather unprecedented, especially at a time when we have a president who is trying to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.”

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