[image-1]When we were deciding what to put on the cover, we looked at the stories that we had and a lot of what we’re talking about is the need for political change. Here’s a collection of the political pieces included in this year’s gay issue.

Jason Zwiker talks to Truman Smith with the S.C. Log Cabin Republicans:

I’m sure that you get this question all the time. How does it fit together, being gay and Republican?

[Laughs] I hear it all the time. The first challenge is to remove the misunderstanding that social extremists are representing all Republicans when they speak against equality. What we hope to do is to work within the group to bring the Republican Party back to its core values. We believe in the free market and national defense, and we also believe in equality for all Americans.

Chris Haire talks with Keith Riddle from the Stonewall Democrats:

What is it about this election that is causing the gay community and specifically the Stonewall Democrats here in South Carolina to get active?

Obviously, there is going to be a change in leadership. I believe the Democratic candidates that are running for president are more aware of addressing the concerns of the gay and lesbian community. In the past it has not been quite as big an issue for the Democratic leadership. This time it really is. And I think it is more based on the fact that in this particular election, gay and lesbian issues are not seen as lightning rods. Rather, they are being seen as a constituency.

I did a quick story on the LGBT community getting back in the political ring.

In the days and weeks leading up to last year’s vote on the marriage amendment, it was hard for anyone to avoid Charleston’s Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). Gay rights advocates distributed personal letters, mass mailings, newspaper inserts, TV ads, radio spots, billboards. The South Carolina Equality Coalition (SCEC), a statewide advocacy group, held forums and passed out buttons, bumper stickers, and yard signs. While the amendment passed, gay activists aren’t going back to their corner — they’re staying in the fight and ready to keep attention on gay issues.

“Many people assumed we’d just fade away,” says Warren Redman-Gress, executive director for AFFA. “We’re going to try to stretch people’s minds, so they realize that we have not gone away.”

And Zwiker spoke with new AFFA president Sue Weller:

You’ve been in Charleston for a few years now. What are your thoughts?

I really like it. It’s a lovely community, very different from New Jersey. Up North, being gay is sort of a non-issue. Down here, I’m fighting for rights that I used to have. It made me realize that there is such a need in Charleston to be active in the community. It made me more political than I had been before, but it has been a good trip so far.

More to come later today…