Clay Aiken Lends Voice for Gay Rights Campaign in Hometown

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM CDT
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Clay Aiken Lends Voice for Gay Rights Campaign in Hometown

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6. Clay Aiken - $2.2 million

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More than a year after disclosing he is gay, Clay Aiken is speaking before a gay-rights event in his hometown.

Aiken will deliver a speech about gay rights this weekend at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas gala in Raleigh, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday. Actress Meredith Baxter, who recently said she is a lesbian, also will deliver a speech.

The 31-year-old Raleigh native, pop singer and 2003 "American Idol" runner-up said he wrote his own speech after remarks provided for him proved too political, including a slam aimed at former President George W. Bush.

"I don't feel like this is the place to be horribly politically charged and bash people and talk about the wrongs that have been done," he said. "My goal is to be hopeful, that it's time for everyone to have equal rights."

Aiken says his goal is to urge Americans to support equal rights for all. He says that means allowing homosexuals to marry and enjoy rights that heterosexual couples take for granted like inheritance and hospital visitation. Aiken said that goal may take decades.

"It's more important to me, as a parent, that my son have all the rights — if he's gay — than it is for me. I don't want to do anything today that's going to inhibit, or be a detriment to, his rights," he said.

Aiken's son, Parker, was conceived via in vitro fertilization and born in August 2008. Parker's mother is music producer Jaymes Foster. Foster, who lives in California and Aiken, who lives in the Raleigh area, share custody.

Aiken said he would probably attend Saturday's event with his bodyguard and without family members or friends. Some family members have handled news of Aiken's homosexuality better than others, he said.

"Some Southern families like to sweep things under the rug," he said. "We just don't talk about it."

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