A Democrat, Phoenix mayor wanna-be and Republican walk into a campaign fundraiser ...
Now here's a trio of politicos you wouldn't expect to see hanging out together. But political campaigns make for strange bedfellows.
Standing on the left is Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot, an openly gay elected official, a longtime Republican who switched to the Democratic party in 2007, and campaign chairman for mayoral candidate Wes Gullett.
Gullett is standing in the center, next to Arizona's conservative Senator John McCain, who essentially said that allowing gay individuals to openly serve in the military would lead to the deaths of Marines.
Simplot told the Arizona Republic in 2007 that he left the Republican party for various reasons but was "particularly bothered by the Republican Party's opposition to civil rights for gays and lesbians."
As a Democrat, he told the Republic, he would be able to "sleep at night."
What might he be saying, standing there next to McCain, a Republican with very conservative social views?
In December, during a discussion on the Senate floor about the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, McCain compared the repeal to a distraction and said "distractions cost Marines their lives."
Simplot said he doesn't "understand Senator McCain's position on gay rights."
"He has had an openly gay staffer for about as long as he's been in office," Simplot tells New Times. "It was very upsetting when he ran for president and didn't stay true to his core values."
Simplot explains that he and Gullett practically are brothers and that he was at the fundraiser to introduce Gullett, who worked for McCain in Washington, D.C. and worked on his 2000 presidential bid.
"Do I agree with Senator McCain on all his positions? No. But I can still respect him and his office," Simplot says.
While McCain and Simplot may not see eye to eye, Simplot says that Gullett passed his litmus test on gay rights.
"When it comes to GLBT issues, Wes definitely met my criteria, and he will have an inclusive administration," says Simplot. "He supports domestic partnerships and civil unions."
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