Throughout the 1990s, he was well known for being Bill Clinton’s liaison to the gay community. And for good reason. David Mixner and Clinton had joined forces as early as 1969 to be leaders in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. He supported Clinton’s successful and unsuccessful bids to be governor of Arkansas, and he joined the National Executive Committee of the Clinton for President campaign, the first openly gay person to do so.
But once in the White House, Clinton quickly disappointed Mixner. “His administration’s record on LGBT issues was mixed. There were some good things; ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the Defense of Marriage Act were among the worst. I wouldn’t feel so bad if I felt they had learned their lesson,” Mixner says of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, whom he supported in her two bids to be New York senator. The gay politico takes special umbrage at the former president’s recent statement that he signed DOMA to protect homosexuals from being bashed by angry heterosexuals.
In the current political contest, Mixner ardently supports Sen. Barack Obama, who wants to roll back all of DOMA. “Hillary wants to roll back only one-third of it,” Mixner says. “Also, Obama has a much more aggressive outreach to the gay community.”
Surprisingly, Mixner’s endorsement of Obama over Clinton does not hinge on either candidate’s position on gay rights. “It’s the war, the war, the war,” he says, looking back to his original activist roots. “It’s a moral imperative. I had to support the antiwar candidate,” he says of Obama. “You don’t play politics with young people’s lives.”
And there are other problems war-wise with Clinton, says Mixner, citing her position on landmines and cluster bombs. “There are real differences with these two candidates,” he adds.
Over the years, antiwar and gay activism have been the twin propellers of Mixner’s work: He spearheaded PRO Peace (nuclear disarmament) and successfully fought California’s Proposition 6 (which would have outlawed gay teachers) and Proposition 64 (which would have quarantined people with AIDS).
Mixner will be honored with the Pioneer Award at the GLAAD ceremony in San Francisco.