By John Wright

Activist couple come down on different sides of the Clinton/Obama fence in Democratic Primary

Patti Fink, left, supports Hillary Clinton, but her partner, Erin Moore, is an Obama backer. – JOHN WRIGHT/Dallas Voice

Shortly before the Texas Democratic Primary in March, Erin Moore managed to get her hands on one of those scarce, highly coveted Barack Obama campaign yard signs.

But Moore, vice president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and an Obama supporter, couldn’t bring herself to erect the sign outside the Old Lake Highlands home she shares with Patti Fink, her partner of seven years.

That’s because Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, supports Hillary Clinton.

"I didn’t put it up because I wanted to be fair to you," Moore told Fink during a recent joint interview with Dallas Voice. "Our neighbors look to us for who to vote for, and that would be misrepresenting our trusted opinion."

A short while later, Fink returned the favor by declining to wear a "Hillary Pride" button as the couple posed for a photograph to go with this article, because Moore didn’t have any Obama flair with her.

Moore, who’ll be a delegate to the state Democratic Party Convention for Obama in June, and Fink, an alternate for Clinton, represent one of the few high-profile local LGBT couples that is divided between the candidates. But unlike the rest of the community at times over the last few months, the two longtime activists say they’ve managed to keep things civil.

"It’s sort of a friendly rivalry," Moore said. "We haven’t really had any knockdowns about it or many spirited debates, which is odd because we debate about stupid things."

Moore said those in the LGBT community who’ve gone negative over the race are "newbies" who don’t realize they’ll sometimes find themselves on the opposite sides of issues.

"This isn’t the only election we’ll ever have to deal with," Moore said. "Your choice may not be your friend’s choice, but that doesn’t mean their choice is wrong."

Moore, who initially supported Sen. John Edwards, said she got behind Obama after watching him speak following the South Carolina primary.

"If Obama gets elected, everything changes," she said.

Fink, meanwhile, said she was torn between the candidates until a day before the Texas primary. She ultimately was swayed by the star power of Clinton supporter and feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who visited Dallas.

"I’m supporting Clinton primarily because I had to make a decision," Fink said. "She [Steinem] made some very compelling arguments."

Both Fink and Moore conceded that the two candidates’ positions on LGBT issues are nearly identical. Even on general issues, Fink said, the differences are "miniscule."

"To have that get heated in any way I think is a ridiculous notion," Fink said.

Fink and Moore said they’ve watched every televised debate together and stayed fully abreast of issues affecting the race. Although there may eventually be a wager involved — such as dinner or a week’s worth of dishes — both also said they’ll have no problem supporting whoever wins the nomination.

"Any Democrat on a bad day is better than a Republican on a good day," Moore said.

They couple said the losing candidate will be key to uniting the Democratic Party prior to November. They also said they believe the party will reap benefits from the protracted, competitive campaign in the form of new registrations and increased participation. And they expressed faith that the process will decide the nominee in a fair manner.

Fink, 46, and Moore, 43, said they met while working on the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day project. While their relationship helps facilitate groups like Stonewall and DGLA working together, there’s also a downside to the arrangement.

"The hardest part of it all is not having enough time together," Moore said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 2, 2008.
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