Interview with Steve Hildebrand
Steve Hildebrand is the openly gay deputy campaign manager for Sen. Barack Obama. Hildebrand oversees the political and field operations of the campaign and is Obama’s top-ranking openly LGBT staffer.
MS: You’ve been with Sen. Obama since the beginning. How early in the campaign were positions on LGBT issues decided, such as positions on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” civil unions, etc … ?
SH: Very early on, our policy staff established advisory committees with people from all over the country. It was [the committees’] recommendations — and, obviously, working with Sen. Obama — to make sure they were the positions that he held. It was LGBT Americans who helped advise him on various issues.
MS: Did Obama include his LGBT staffers in those discussions?
SH: I can’t speak for everybody on staff, but I certainly was applied and involved, and to that extent I certainly considered myself to be a policy expert.
MS: You should be happy with the recent Harris Poll last week, which showed Obama having 68 percent of the LGBT vote and McCain only 10 percent.
SH: I’m not satisfied with that. I think we have a lot of work to do within the campaign to make sure we get that number up to 70 or 80 percent of LGBT people. We need to make sure that people know Sen. Obama’s record and his positions on issues that are important to the community.
MS: The DNC and the campaign have been diligent in being inclusive of the LGBT community at this year’s convention. Will Sen. Obama, Sen. Biden or Michelle Obama make an appearance at any of the LGBT caucus meetings?
SH: We’re still trying to figure out the schedule for next week and figure out exactly what should happen.
MS: You’re one of the highest-ranking gay men to be in a presidential campaign and one that is so supportive. Tell me about how you feel.
SH: I’d like to go home and be with my partner. I’m proud at every level to work with Sen. Obama and Michelle. They’re both incredible people and incredibly smart. They care about my future and the future of all LGBT Americans. They want to ensure that there’s greater equality in this country. I see him in the presidency fighting for us every single day.
Filed under: Mark Segal