Mrs. Kerry Would Focus on 'Gay Tolerance' As First Lady

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - If her husband is elected president, Teresa Heinz Kerry "pledges to make gay tolerance a centerpiece of her First Lady duties," an online media company reported.

In an exclusive interview with PlanetOut -- which describes itself as a gay media company -- Mrs. Kerry made a distinction between sex and sexuality.

She told PlanetOut's senior political correspondent Chris Bull, "A lot of people, particularly those of the more fundamentalist view, think of homosexuality as a sex thing rather than a sexuality thing. They are really very different."

Mrs. Kerry was quoted as saying, "A person doesn't choose their sexuality. For the other side, there's a tinge of the suggestion of sin, of the choice of 'misbehavior,' quote-unquote, which is not the case at all."

Mrs. Kerry spoke with PlanetOut on Friday, following the flap over her husband's remarks about Mary Cheney.

In the third and final presidential debate on Oct. 13, Sen. John Kerry -- in response to a question about whether homosexuality is a matter of choice -- said, "I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice."

Both Vice President and Mrs. Cheney expressed anger over Kerry's deliberate mention of their daughter's sexual orientation; some debate watchers called Kerry's remark gratuitous and calculated to alienate social conservatives; and homosexual advocacy groups wondered what all the fuss was about, given their opinion that the Bush administration uses homosexuality as a wedge issue.

According to PlanetOut's Chris Bull, "It is easy to see why she (Mrs. Kerry) connects with gays and lesbians. Even though she does not have gay children and opposes same-sex marriage, she comes across as the picture of a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) mom, the kind of middle-aged straight woman who gets the warmest reception at Pride parades."

In the interview, Mrs. Kerry said she was surprised that her husband's comments about Mary Cheney inspired such a furor, when her husband was "being positive and complimentary of how the Cheneys have handled, openly, the question of their daughter's lesbianism."

She said if her husband had been asked that same question in one of the primary season debates, he might have mentioned Rep. Dick Gephardt's lesbian daughter, Chrissy, instead.

The San Francisco-based PlanetOut Inc. says its flagship websites, and, "constitute the most extensive network of gay and lesbian people in the world."

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