Touting record, Barrett asks for LGBT support

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett drew a sharp contrast between his record and that of his Republican foes during a June 24 fundraiser at the home of gay community leader Joe Pabst. The Milwaukee mayor told supporters they face a “clear choice” when they cast ballots in November.

“I will fight as governor to protect the rights we have now … (and) to expand LGBT rights within this state,” Barrett told the crowd, speaking poolside next to his wife Kris. Barrett warned that the politics of divisiveness espoused by his opponents Scott Walker and Mark Neumann would harm the state.

“In difficult economic times, it’s so easy to play to people’s fears,” he said. “We’re going to get through these times by working together, not tearing each other apart. … There are values that unite us, and I see it in every part of the state. … We have far more in common than separates us.”

Barrett was introduced by Doug Nelson, executive director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

“There’s no guessing where Tom Barrett stands on our issues,” Nelson said. “For over 25 years of public life, Tom Barrett has been on our side. Now it’s time for us to be on his side.”

Barrett reminded listeners he was one of only a handful of congressional Democrats to break rank and vote against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy in 1993. He also touted his opposition to Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” Barrett said.

Characteristically relaxed and upbeat, Barrett joked about the backdrop for the event – Pabst’s elegant East Side home, which was recently featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“This is where I wanted to present my housing policy,” Barrett said. “I think we can all agree it’s a nice starter home.”

But he ended his pitch on a serious note: “This is going to be a bruising campaign. I’m going to need your help,” he said.