Clinton to send letter to rally of gays, rejecting phone or TV

April 24, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton will mark tomorrow's gay rights march in Washington by sending a letter to be read by a member of Congress.

The decision angered some homosexuals who had expected Mr. Clinton to make an appearance by audio hookup or television satellite.

Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush addressed anti-abortion marches through telephone link-ups from the Oval Office. Their speeches were broadcast to protesters over loudspeakers.

Asked why Mr. Clinton could not accommodate the gay marchers in a similar fashion, Dee Dee Myers, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Clinton, after considering options, had decided that "this one met the physical needs of the march and the president's schedule."

Mr. Clinton plans to meet with Senate Democrats in Jamestown, Va., today and to address newspaper editors in Boston tomorrow.

"I think once you become president, on balance, except under unusual circumstances, that is not what should be done," Mr. Clinton said when asked Friday by reporters whether he had reconsidered his decision not to attend the march.

Organizers expect more than a million people to attend the rally.

Some of the people who had arrived in town for the march expressed angry disappointment at Mr. Clinton's decision not to make an appearance.

"We gave him our support, and now he won't even talk to us," said Alan Carr, 22, a student from Memphis, Tenn.

Leaders of gay organizations also expressed disappointment but were more muted in their criticism.

"I find it sad that politicians feel it is necessary to leave, and they don't have the courage to stay in town," said David Mixner, a longtime friend of Mr. Clinton's who has raised money for him.

In an interview yesterday on the NBC News program "Today," Mr. Mixner said that the symbolism of a phone call from Mr. Clinton was "not as important as some of the more substantive issues."

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