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  • « GNW 5: Divided by church and state | Main | Just whose dog… »

    January 02, 2008

    Obama is best for gay rights

    Posted by: Chris

    Barackhrcforum_6 After more than a year of campaigning in the most wide-open primaries in decades, it’s finally time for voters to pick a president. On the Democratic side, the three hopefuls with a viable shot at the nomination have all signed on to almost every item on the so-called “gay agenda.”

    That includes workplace rights and hate crime protection for gay and transgender Americans, repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and opposition to a constitutional amendment banning gays from marrying.

    The differences that do exist come on the politically dicey issue of legal recognition for our relationships. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all support repealing the provision of the infamous “Defense of Marriage Act” that blocks federal recognition of marriage licenses issued to gay couples. But only Obama and Edwards support full repeal of DOMA, including the provision that says each state can choose to ignore gay marriages from other states.

    Hillary Clinton won’t go that far and has stopped short of criticizing her husband for signing DOMA and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. She and Obama have also declined to sponsor the Uniting American Families Act, which would extend to gay Americans the right to sponsor a non-American partner for citizenship. Then again, Edwards didn’t sign on to UAFA’s predecessor legislation during his Senate tenure, and all three say they support the idea of equal immigration rights in principle.

    All three also support a truly dramatic change in how the federal government treats gay couples, extending recognition not just to gay couples lucky enough to marry in Massachusetts, but also to those who enter into civil unions, domestic partnerships or simply establish that they are in long-term, committed relationships.

    None of the three supports full marriage equality, but that is an issue decided at the state level anyway. The only Democratic presidential hopeful from 2004 and 2008 who does support gay marriage, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, has told his supporters in Iowa to back Obama as their second choice.

    Even though the differences on gay rights among the top three Dems are mostly cosmetic, they each represent starkly different choices. Hillary Clinton is the party’s establishment candidate and a well-known quantity. Her hard-nosed pragmatism is admired by some as a can-do approach, and criticized by others as overly cautious and calculating.

    In probably the most important moment of last fall’s HRC-Logo presidential forum, Hillary seemed completely unmoved by Melissa Etheridge recalling in personal terms how gay Americans felt “thrown under the bus” in the 1990s when Bill Clinton failed to live up as president to the promises he made to gays as a candidate.

    If anything, Hillary is even more cautious than her husband and if elected would face Republicans with knives at the ready on gay issues. Despite many opportunities, she has not given gay voters any reason to believe she would show more leadership on gay rights than her husband did. Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us.

    As good as John Edwards sounds on gay issues, he has established himself as the gay Pander Bear of the primary. In nationally televised debates, the former senator from North Carolina has cited his Southern Baptist upbringing to explain his opposition to gay marriage. Yet somehow his gay supporters say Edwards proved himself our moral champion when he was the only one to disagree right away with Gen. Peter Pace, when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs said last spring that homosexuality is immoral.

    Are we really to believe that in the personal moral view of John Edwards, we are moral enough to fight and die for our country, but not to marry? That sort of nonsense is why generals and presidential candidates ought to leave their religion out of politics.

    But Edwards just can’t resist, and so like Mitt Romney on the Republican side, reinvents himself depending on his audience. With other good choices available, there is no reason to side with someone so slippery.

    Especially when the remaining option is Barack Obama, who like Clinton offers a historic candidacy with the potential to transform American politics. Unlike Clinton – rightly or wrongly – Obama does not polarize the public. Hillary would begin a general election with 46 percent unfavorable ratings – a very small margin to win, not to mention to govern.

    Except on gay marriage, Obama has hit all the right notes on the gay rights issues of the day, and he has refused to pander. He has chastised conservative black pastors and white evangelicals alike for opposing gay rights and aggressive HIV prevention. He even refused the demand from gay activists that he reject the support of Grammy-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin because he claims to be “ex-gay.”

    Obama is the only candidate who talks regularly about gay rights, including civil unions, in front of national audiences, and he is the candidate best suited to reach out to independents and Republicans in the general election and in fulfilling the promises he has made as a candidate.

    If you can vote in the Democratic primary where you live, there is no better candidate on gay rights than Barack Obama.

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    Comments

    1. BuffyTFS on Jan 2, 2008 3:26:50 PM:

      "Except on gay marriage, Obama has hit all the right notes on the gay rights issues of the day, and he has refused to pander. "

      What do you call that McClurkin debacle? That was nothing but pandering--to thousands of homophobes from whom Obama needs votes.

      "He even refused the demand from gay activists that he reject the support of Grammy-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin because he claims to be 'ex-gay.' "

      Of course he did, because winning votes from the homophobes was more important than losing the LGBT vote. We know where Obama's priorities lie.

      How you can consider Obama remotely good on LGBT rights is beyond me. He has proven that when it comes to political expediency he will bow to the bigots every time.

    1. Andoni on Jan 2, 2008 10:30:38 PM:

      To the Obama endorsement, I say Amen.

      Yours is the editorial that should have appeared in the Washington Blade. I don't know what Kevin Naff was thinking.

      As for BuffyTFS (above), he needs professional help. His perseveration on the McClurkin incident is pathological.

    1. Rebecca Juro on Jan 2, 2008 11:33:22 PM:

      We find ourselves in agreement once again, Chris. Out of the Big Three, Obama is clearly the best on our issues overall. I have issues with the McClurkin thing too, but I also believe that he'd be far more reliable on LGBT issues than Clinton or Edwards, and he doesn't have anywhere near kind of negative baggage Hillary does for a substantial portion of the electorate.

      Personally, were it possible, I'd still be supporting Dennis Kucinich, but given that even he himself seems to be already throwing in the towel by saying if those caucusing in Iowa don't want to vote for him, they should support Obama, I think my own choice is clear, as it should be for all LGBT Americans.

      We shouldn't forgive or forget McClurkin, but we should also remember that we're not electing someone to be the Official American Perfect Human Being, we're electing a politician to be President of our country. When you look at it in that light, at this point there's really only one best choice for LGBT Americans, no matter what our individual positions on the specific issues that impact our lives.

    1. The Gay Species on Jan 3, 2008 3:56:04 PM:

      Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Chris Dodds have far superior records of homophile equality, including marriage. (which is why Solmonese tried to exclude these three from the HRC-LOGO fest). Since none of these bright candidates seem approved by the media, the force of Obama makes the most sense for a host of reasons. Not my first choice, but then, still a good choice.

    1. BuffyTFS on Jan 3, 2008 4:49:19 PM:

      No, Andoni, what is pathological is the hatred the RRRW holds for GLBT people, and the way even Democrats will pander to them to win elections. It's disgusting the way our rights and our very lives always take a back seat to peoples' "deeply held religious beliefs".

      And BTW, in case the name Buffy didn't make it clear, I'm a woman.

    1. Andoni on Jan 3, 2008 5:57:07 PM:

      Hey Ms Buffy, thanks for the correction.

      All I'm trying to say is there is much more to Obama than the McClurkin incident. Unfortunately, there are a whole slew of LGBT people out there who can only fixate on the McClurkin incident to the exclusion of everything else he stands for. These people remind me of those who read the Bible with its hundreds of thousands of words and myriads of messages and all they can ever see and focus on are a few words in Leviticus.

      Think about it.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jan 3, 2008 6:35:29 PM:

      Gay Species: HRC only tried to exclude Gravel, so so much for that theory. Gravel and Kucinich are better because they support marriage, but neither has the first clue how to get that or any other item on "the agenda" done. Talk is cheap, especially when you have nothing to lose and no chance to actually do it. Dodd is good on gay issues, but no better than the top three except that he has actually signed on as a cosponsor for UAFA, a bill close to my heart. Still, he gets big-time demerits for skipping the HRC-Logo forum. If he writes us off as a candidate, why should we expect different if he were president?

      Buffy and Andoni: I don't think there's anything pathological about genuine opposition to gay rights based on religious beliefs, as much as I would argue such beliefs have no place in public debate.

      I also understand anger with Obama over Donnie McClurkin because the "ex-gay" movement ought to be treated as fringe wherever possible. That said, I can't imagine why it's bad for gays if "ex-gay" leaders actually support the candidate with the best gay rights record, and I appreciate a candidate unwilling to pander to anyone, including us, when he's right on the issues.

    1. BuffyTFS on Jan 4, 2008 1:45:02 AM:

      The McClurkin situation isn't the only thing that caused me to distrust Obama, but it was the final straw. When someone claims to support LGBT rights but hosts a cadre of rabid homophobes (McClurkin, Mary Mary, Heziah Walker) in his campaign fundraiser his claims that he supports LGBT rights and concerns ring hollow. Could you imagine the backlash if one of the other candidates had hired Prussian Blue to perform at a campaign event? They would have never overcome the negative publicity.

      Citizen Crain, using "deeply held religious beliefs" is no excuse for bigotry of any kind. People used to refer to the Bible to justify slavery. More recently they used the Bible to support subjugation of black people. Currently such people are relegated to the lunatic fringes of society where they belong. It's high time that people who use the Bible and religion to demonize and denigrate LGBT people be treated the same way. We should not be denied equal human rights because of the *chosen* religious beliefs of other people.

    1. Andoni on Jan 4, 2008 2:45:15 AM:

      Buffy, my comments in my first post were out of line. I'm sorry.

      That said, yes it would be best if we could have candidates who are 100% pure in exactly what we believe and what we support and have only people around them who also believe and think exactly like us.

      However, there aren't enough people in this country who think exactly like "we" think and only like "we" think to elect someone president. I used to go only for the pure candidates, but you know what....... they always polled less than 10% and never got elected. I'm tired of losing and really want to win, so I compromise.

      In the Obama situation, I criticize McClurkin for his views and accept Obama's word when he disavows McClurkin's views publicly. Sure it would have been nice for Obama to have fired McClurkin from the tour. We would have felt good in the short run about winning that small skirmish, but it would have been politically stupid on Obama's part. And in the long run, it would have hurt us too.

      There are no perfect candidates who can get over 50% to win..... and this time we really have to win.... for the sake of gay rights as well as the Constitution.

      One view of the Obama flap I particularly like comes from Southern Voice reporter and columnist Ryan Lee in a Nov. 9 piece entitled, "Three ways we will lose." In this editorial Ryan notes:

      "Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama has been an exceptionally outspoken ally on gay rights issues, candidly and eloquently supporting us no matter which audience he speaks to. To feign outrage at his campaign for inviting an anti-gay gospel singer — a singer! — to a campaign concert in South Carolina exposes the political naïveté that cripples the gay rights movement.

      Who knew gospel singers could be anti-gay?! Who knew that black churches were a key constituency for any Democratic politician?!

      In their zeal to criticize Obama for inviting Donnie McClurkin to perform at the gospel concert, several gay men and lesbians suggested he should’ve tapped a more welcoming black minister, like Carlton Pearson. Pearson is indeed an inspiring voice for spiritual acceptance of gay people, but even he featured McClurkin on his celebrated “Live at Azusa” concert series, and he continues making money off McClurkin’s presence on the CD — including the $15 I paid for it.

      Neither Obama nor Pearson should apologize for being affiliated with McClurkin, and gay people shouldn’t mandate that the only way you can accept us is to reject those with whom we disagree."

      Ryan Lee's full editorial is well worth the read and can be found at:

      http://www.sovo.com/2007/11-9/view/editorial/7683.cfm

      Andoni, in Thailand

    1. Double T on Jan 4, 2008 2:57:01 AM:

      CC says
      ..Still, he gets big-time demerits for skipping the HRC-Logo forum....

      WHAT?!!!?!? you hated the LOGO forum. Correct me, but did you not say it was nothing but a Hillary Promo.

      Quote...."the fix is in". unquote.

    1. BuffyTFS on Jan 4, 2008 7:51:47 PM:

      Trust me, I am not *feigning* outrage over a cadre of virulently homophobic singers being used to garner votes for Obama. It was not necessary. He could have won the support of SC voters without utilizing the hatred but he chose not to.


      I'm not looking for a "pure" candidate. I'm just looking for one who doesn't appeal to the basest in human nature to get ahead. I'm looking for a candidate who will work for all of us.

      Maybe I'll be looking forever, though.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jan 4, 2008 9:42:14 PM:

      Double T: I had issues with the format of the HRC-Logo debate and the choice of questioners. I never said those issues justified candidates blowing off the only forum focused on gay rights issues.

      BuffyTFS, I don't think you're feigning, and I know many others share your anger. But for me, Obama handled it just right -- at least after the initial campaign error of not vetting McClurkin and Mary Mary adequately.

      What I don't get it is why it's not a GOOD thing that anti-gay leaders support the candidate with the best gay rights record. If Pat Robertson endorsed Obama (or Clinton or Edwards), wouldn't that be a good thing? Especially so long as the candidate stood his/her ground on the issues.

    1. DC on Jan 7, 2008 6:55:49 PM:

      I think Bloomberg would be better than Obama if Bloomberg runs but then again I'm an Independent.

    1. Robbie on Jan 7, 2008 7:02:32 PM:

      Re: McClurkin, I think this is yet another example of many gay activists and organizations shooting themselves in the foot because the good is not the perfect.

      The Obama campaign's choice of McClurkin was indeed an unforced fumble, but I thought the senator recovered well by making his views unquestionable and well-known. If any homophobic McClurkin admirers were paying attention, they would have seen Obama defend our equality in no uncertain terms.

      But because he didn't do *exactly* what the blogs wanted, and he didn't do *exactly* what the activists wanted, and he didn't do *exactly* what every ideologically pure LGBT person demanded, then it is an unforgivable sin, we shall have a temper tantrum, and villify the man for all time.

      Because that approach worked oh so well with ENDA.

      Do we ever learn, or are we just too addicted to our own drama to realize that our pride and our progress are not necessarily the same damn things?

    1. Phoebe on Jan 7, 2008 9:25:50 PM:

      I'm a homophile - pro equal marriage rights and the whole nine yards - and I think Obama did exactly the right thing. I don't even wish he kicked McClurkin off the tour. You should not demonize people, only argue against them on the issues. When you demonize people you cut off a head and three spring in it's place. In fact, it was this demonization by the press etc. that - I'm SURE - made McClurkin veer off script and actually say his political view on this issue during the concert. He'd been attacked. And his position - that he was never really gay, but turned that way through molestation - you know what? That's his view of his experience. I think he's mistaken to extrapolate his experience onto a bunch of other people [and I've seen gays do this to bisexuals - insist the latter are only gays trying to train themselves straight], but I don't think he should be exiled. He should be debated. He'd lose that one, and do it in front of the very audience who doesn't usually see those debates. I'm all for opening cans of worms, not leaving a whole segment of people to remain bigots because they don't know better, and because we refuse to talk to them or listen to them.

    1. Prince of Tides on Jan 21, 2008 12:19:32 AM:

      Are you a complete idiot? McClurkin and Caldwell LOVE this guy. I doubt it's for his pro-gay agenda.

    1. Minerva on Jan 21, 2008 4:22:07 AM:

      Are you seriously off your trolley, after everything the Clintons have done to help minorities and gay people and HIV in the last 16 years. Obama is a wolf in sheep's clothing, the Reagan praise last week were enough to make me vomit. The Mclurkin incident is not forgotten, these guys like him. Did you also know that Pres Bush's spiritual advisor has now joined board with Obama, if thats not enough to make you run for the exits, nothing will. Obama is a panderer of the worst, he says to get where he wants and then he'll throw us under a bus. He can't be trusted.

    1. Kevin on Feb 19, 2008 1:12:07 AM:

      Chris -- I'm re-reading the comments here again and I'm chuckling...

    1. joni on Sep 2, 2008 9:58:33 AM:

      i have been gay all my life i am sick and tired of people in office telling gay people who they can love and who they can marry its time 4 a change me and my girl friend have 2 great kids and the only thing that could make it complet is 4 her to be my leagal wife

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 3:47:34 AM:

      the only thing that could make it complet is 4 her to be my leagal wife

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