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    January 23, 2008

    Al Gore endorses gay marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Anyone with lingering hopes that Al Gore will enter the 2008 presidential election should greet with mixed emotions the latest news from the former vice president and popular vote victor of the 2000 election. In a homemade video for his own Current TV network, Gore has fully embraced marriage equality for gay couples:


    The clip is very short and worth viewing. Here's the gist of what he said:

    I think gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women to make contracts and to have hospital visiting rights and to join together in marriage, and I don't understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians.

    Shouldn't we be promoting the kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one's partner regardless of sexual orientation? Because if you don't do that, then to that extent you're promoting promiscuity, and you're promoting all the problems that can result from promiscuity. And the loyalty and love that two people feel for each other when they fall in love ought to be celebrated and encouraged and shouldn't be prevented by any form of discrimination in the law.

    That's the conservative case for gay marriage that Andrew Sullivan has been making for years, and now Gore joins former President Gerald Ford as another prominent politician backing civil marriage for all couples after leaving politics.

    Gays have long suspected that a whole host of gay-friendly politicians -- from Gore, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards to even Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwazenegger -- privately support gay marriage but lack the courage to say so publicly. Credit Al Gore for getting there when he is still very much in the public eye, if not while still in politics.

    I wrote an editorial back in October 2000 making the (rather obvious) case that Al Gore was the clear choice over George W. Bush in that election (the column isn't online but it's available in full after the jump to this post). It reminded me that Gore did come out in favor of civil unions during that campaign, even though they were still very new (only in Vermont at that point) and very controversial.

    "To be sure," I wrote then, "Gore isn't the dream candidate. He opposes gay marriage and gives no good reason besides politics for doing so." Well I guess I was right about that one.

    Hat tip: Towleroad

    Gore is the clear choice for gays
    Southern Voice
    Published Oct. 13, 2000

    It is an encouraging sign of the times. The 2000 campaign for president features a Republican candidate more comfortable on gay issues than all his predecessors combined, and yet never has it been clearer that lesbian and gay voters should support the Democrat.

    Both major party candidates have moved, along with society, toward greater acceptance of gay Americans and our call for equal rights. But when compared on the issues, the Democratic nominee is the obvious pick.

    AL GORE has been a long-time supporter of the two pieces of federal legislation that have been at the forefront of the gay rights movement: protection against job discrimination and hate crime legislation.

    But that's not where the vice president impresses the most. Nudged by Bill Bradley in the primaries, Gore announced last year that he no longer supports the infamous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military. He even went so far as to suggest in a debate that he wouldn't select a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who disagreed, a litmus test he later backed away from.

    When Vermont stole the political spotlight last December, passing legal recognition for gay couples that comes close to full-fledged marriage, Gore announced his support for similar legislation elsewhere. He also favors extending immigration rights to same-sex couples, so that a foreign partner can obtain a green card.

    On a personal level, it's clear that Gore and (even more so) his wife Tipper have a genuine comfort level with gay people and issues. His campaign manager, Donna Brazile, served on the board of the Millennium March on Washington for gay rights, though she coyly refuses to acknowledge her sexual orientation.

    To be sure, Gore isn't the dream candidate. He opposes gay marriage and gives no good reason besides politics for doing so. He shares his president's poll-driven tendencies, and there are real questions about whether he will expend real political capital on gay issues in ways Bill Clinton never did.

    But he will almost certainly match his predecessor's impressive record of appointing openly gay men and lesbians to important policy positions; and perhaps one of his Cabinet members will even be open about her homosexuality.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, on the other hand, is on the wrong side of every one of these issues.

    He opposes affording gays protection from job discrimination, though he claims to be opposed to anti-gay discrimination generally. He also opposes extension of hate crime legislation to include sexual orientation, though his reasoning would support repealing existing hate crime laws that cover race and religion, something he doesn't advocate.

    That means no chance of passage for either piece of legislation for the next four years, even though both appear poised to push through Congress, especially if the Democrats retake the House.

    Bush opposes legal recognition for gay relationships and supports discharging gays from the military unless they lie about their sexual orientation. His running mate, Dick Cheney, has spoken warmly about accepting gay relationships—probably with his own daughter and her partner in mind—but his positions on the issues are no different.

    Bush did meet with gay Republicans and spoke affectionately about their support, though he publicly refused an audience with them when he still faced an important primary in conservative South Carolina. In fact, his right-wing supporters excoriated his opponent, John McCain, for agreeing to just such a meeting.

    Bush even opposes adoption rights for gay parents, a shocking political throwback for a major party candidate.

    On the whole, Bush's "compassionate conservatism" views gay rights through the same "color blind" prism that Ronald Reagan used on race, imagining a world fairer than it is and seeing no role for government in protecting our civil rights.

    And then there's the Supreme Court. The next president will likely appoint several new justices in his first term, and the two candidates are likely to make dramatically different selections.

    Gore is likely to appoint progressives who are open to hearing that gays deserve protection under our Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, especially on issues like marriage and military service, as well as abortion rights.

    Bush, on the other hand, has said that he considers Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as ideal justices. Both have not only taken consistently anti-gay positions, but with rhetoric that is so virulently bigoted that future generations will be embarrassed by it.

    Bush has indicated a willingness to make openly gay appointments at all levels of government, but in the same breath he has wondered whether anyone who is openly gay would support his agenda.

    Looking carefully at where these candidates stand, it's hard to disagree with the Texas governor on that point.

    Throw away votes

    There may be good reasons to throw away perfectly good votes on Green Party candidate Ralph Nader or Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne, but the gay rights cause isn't one of them.

    Both parties are warmly solicitous of gay support and completely reject the theocratic opposition to gay rights made popular by social conservatives on the religious right. But both these candidates don't stack up on the issues, even if they had a snowball's chance at getting elected.

    HARRY BROWNE joins Gore in opposing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and supporting gay adoption, but he takes the Libertarian Party line opposing legislation that would extend job protection and hate crime laws to include sexual orientation. The reason may be to limit government's authority, but the end result would still be a veto.

    Even worse, Browne has said he also thinks government should play no role supporting research and prevention on AIDS or breast cancer. And he wants government completely out of the business of granting marriage licenses or recognizing adoptions.

    With loopy positions like that, it's no wonder he registers almost no support in nationwide polls.

    RALPH NADER takes all the right positions on gay civil rights, and his party platform supports gay marriage, though he has only talked about "civil unions" when the question has come up on the campaign trail.

    But he is a very late arrival to the party, too late even to be on "gay time." Just four years ago when he ran for president, Nader dismissed gay rights as "gonadal politics."

    We should welcome his support today, but don't risk the election of George W. Bush to cast a protest ballot for Nader.

    A word on endorsements

    Southern Voice is a newspaper that covers issues of interest to lesbian and gay readers, filling the gap in "mainstream" media coverage. As a result, candidate endorsements are intended as a guide to where the candidates stand on gay civil rights and other issues of particular importance to lesbians and gay men.

    Gay voters consider a wide variety of other economic, foreign policy and social issues, as well as candidate intangibles like honesty and character, in casting their ballots. This endorsement is not intended to rate the candidates on those issues or suggest they are of no importance.

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    Comments

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jan 23, 2008 11:54:04 AM:

      This is a great development, although practically speaking it's nothing more than moral support. It's depressing that so many progressive political figures lack the courage to express their true views on this subject.

      After hearing Barack Obama's speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, I had hoped that he might continue to build on his comments about gay rights issues at subsequent events; something more more impassioned and substantive than a mere nod for civil unions and general equality. Unfortunately, I think I was hoping for too much.

    1. Tim C on Jan 23, 2008 1:22:15 PM:

      Trouble is that Al is using logic when discussing same-gender marriage, and that just bounces off. The anti-marriage forces just keep repeating their mantra that same-gender marriage will destroy traditional marriage and will hurt the children, and no one in the media ever attempts to pin them down as to the 'how'.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jan 23, 2008 1:27:47 PM:

      Shouldn't we be promoting the kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one's partner regardless of sexual orientation? Because if you don't do that, then to that extent you're promoting promiscuity, and you're promoting all the problems that can result from promiscuity.

      Odd; I know plenty of gay people who are faithful and loyal to their partners without marriage, and I know plenty of heterosexuals with marriage who are emphatically not. Furthermore, civil marriage's primary value in preventing promiscuity and infidelity is making it legally and financially painful for someone to do so -- which is a laughable concept in today's world of "no-fault" and no-penalty divorces.

      What Andrew Sullivan basically says is that, without marriage, gays can't stop themselves from being promiscuous -- which is an insult to all the gay couples who manage quite nicely on their own.

      Furthermore, Gore is mistating the issue. If you want hospital visiting rights, for example, you can have them; it's called a health care proxy, and even married couples should have one to prevent misunderstandings (as was seen in the Terri Schiavo case).

      What marriage does is to bundle and provide a default option that facilitates most of the legal ins and outs needed for single-income middle-class heterosexual couples that are raising their own biological children, which is about as far from gay couples' reality as you can get.

      Instead of wasting time and energy on fruitless battles for marriage, what gays and lesbians SHOULD be doing is working to rationalize the tax code, make healthcare and financial proxies easier to get, changing immigration laws so that skilled immigrants regardless of HIV status can apply and come to the United States, and updating Social Security to reflect our two-income reality -- all of which have MUCH broader public support than trying to ram through gay marriage.

      But for a politico like Gore, making rational assessments and offering solutions are shoved aside in favor of shameless pandering to a minority group for support.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jan 23, 2008 2:41:54 PM:

      Tim:

      You probably know this, but the reason the anti-marriage people don't articulate reasons to support their position is because they have none. So what they have done is re-frame the issue to make it about "tradition" and children. Why? Because they have to hang their hat on something that 2 men or 2 women cannot do together--have their own biological children. They know gay folks are just as caring, bright, committed, etc. as heterosexual people. So they have to invent a new and very conclusory narrative on the subject.

      The most important aspect of marriage is its binary nature, not the sex of the spouses. It's about partnership, not having children.

    1. Kevin on Jan 23, 2008 3:24:23 PM:

      SS:

      Very, very well put. It was also very good, and helpful, when Barry Goldwater came out for gays in the military, and when Gerald Ford declared his support for equal rights for gays. Sadly, both statements came shortly before each man died. To his credit, Bill Clinton's White House momentarily considered keeping its promise on the military ban in 1993, but decided long after promising and winning that there was too much to lose to govern the way you said you would, and under the bus we went. Same with Bush and Romney and marriage. We might as well start writing Hillary's stories of weasely betrayal now, as they are certain to materialize.

      The real measure of how well we're doing as a movement is the number of politicians who show real conviction and moral vision not only on the stump, but in office, and really lead on gay issues. Really stand firm, really muster their charisma and talents to convince the public, and spend the capital *we* gave them.

    1. Sean on Jan 24, 2008 3:47:25 PM:

      NDT, you are a self-hating idiot. Really you need your head checked. After thousands of years of oppression where gay people couldn't be open you have the nerve to say we should help others acheive even greater status over gay people. Gay issues are my number one priority. Those gay people who do not consider gay issues important are betraying the millions of gay people who have died without living THEIR life.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 2:24:09 AM:

      Those gay people who do not consider gay issues important are betraying the millions of gay people who have died without living THEIR life.

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