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    July 26, 2007

    Ask the Dems: Dennis Kucinich

    Posted by: Chris

    Kucinich1 Dennis Kucinich showed up at a Gay Pride event in St. Petersberg, Fla., with his wife Elizabeth. (Photo courtesy of Bay News 9)

    Since we've got some time between now and the Aug. 9 presidential forum on gay issues, hosted by HRC and Logo, I thought we might come up with some questions to suggest for the candidates. Yeah, I know HRC is offering its own submission form and other bloggers are taking their shot.

    I'm hoping we can cut through the superficial rhetoric of the Democrats, which is positive and affirming and of absolutely zero legal benefit, and get to the heart of the matter. So what I'm looking for is: What is the hardest question on gay issues you can think to ask of each candidate?

    Up first, Dennis Kucinich. Sort of start from the bottom and work our way up. I didn't start with Mike Gravel because I just recently blogged about him and want to think of a fresh angle. So for Kucinich, who has a 100-percent HRC voting record and actually supports full marriage equality, what is there to ask?

    Here's my suggestion:

    Congressman Kucinich, your incredibly strong positions on gay rights are matched by your incredibly weak chance of being nominated, much less elected. Aren't gay Democrats who support your candidacy only siphoning money, support and votes from the candidate who is best on our issues with a decent shot of actually winning? Throwing gay support for you could allow someone with a relatively poor record on gay rights to become the party's standard-bearer. Doesn't that make you the Ralph Nader of the Democratic primary for gays?

    OK so that's two questions, but it's really one question repeated. Your thoughts/suggestions?

    For a complete summary of gay issues in the presidential race, go to: http://www.gaynewswatch.com/whitehouse08



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    1. Sean on Jul 26, 2007 9:53:42 PM:

      I haven't given money to anyone. I won't until policies change.

      I support Dennis because having him in the race pushes the other canidates closer to my position. By going to pride parades etc. it forces the other canidates to do the same in order to earn votes. They then create bonds with gay people and organizations that hopefully will lead to policies being changed. It also allows for gay issues to be heard in a positive way. The more people hear about gay people and issues in a positive way the more people shed their prejudice and hatred.

    1. David Bright on Jul 26, 2007 10:08:34 PM:

      You have this completely backwards.Your thinking is exactly what those candidates who oppose gay rights, and marriage equality, want you to think.
      Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and Richardson will never -- repeat NEVER --support marriage equality. To think that you should vote for them because they are "electable" and then hope that someday they'll see the light and support your issue is not only foolish, it's co-dependent behavior. You're in an abusive relationship with you political party. It's time you stood up for yourself and demanded to be heard and respected.
      Primary elections are when the voters are supposed to tell their party, and those inside the Washington beltway, which candidate BEST represents the values of the voter. In a primary you vote with your heart. You tell the world what you think. If you support Kucinich because he's right on marriage equality and the other candidates are wrong, but then you vote for one of the candidates who is wrong and will never support marriage equality, guess what? The Democratic Party and the Washington establishment will say "well I guess they really DON'T want marriage equality, otherwise they would have voted for the only candidate who supports it."
      If you aren't going to use the primary election to tell the establishment how you really feel about the issues, why not go down to city hall, ask for your voter registration card back, and send it to Bill O'Reilly or some other gay basher and let him have your proxy.
      Really, what a sad day it is when people come up with questions like this. What an embarrassment it is that a leader of the LGBT community doesn't have enough pride, enough self confidence, enough sense of empowerment, enough smarts, to figure out an attitude like that is EXACTLY what the homophobes want you to have. They want to keep you down. They want you well behaved. They want you to keep voting for them with the hope that someday, SOMEDAY, you'll have the freedom you want and deserve. But they're never going to give it to you, because they're afraid to speak up for you, fearful they'll lose their election.
      Rise up! Learn to understand the primary election process. When you vote in a primary election you're not actually voting for the candidate, you're voting to determine how many people who think and vote like you will go to the Democratic National Convention and once there decide not only who will get the nomination, but what the Democratic Party platform will say about the issue. If there are not people at the national convention who support marriage equality, marriage equality WILL NOT HAPPEN.
      There are no Republicans in the Democratic Primary, so stop trying to figure out what the Republicans will do and start figuring out what YOU can do to let the Democratic Party know you want to advance the agenda.

      So you want to ask Kucinich a tough question? Try this.
      Congressman Kucinich, your incredibly strong positions on gay rights are a serious threat to the other candidates, because they know you are right and their positions make them incredibly weak in the eyes of all people who want to protect and defend civil rights. What can gay Democrats who support your candidacy do to help you win this nomination and finally end the hatred and discrimination against LGBT people? How can we help you have a decent shot of actually winning? Throwing gay support for anyone but you could allow someone with a relatively poor record on gay rights to become the party's standard-bearer. What can we do to help our brother and sisters cast off their chains, empower themselves, and come to understand that you are the the only logical choice in the Democratic primary for gays?

    1. Andoni on Jul 27, 2007 12:20:00 AM:

      Here’s a disclaimer first: I have never supported the person in the primary who actually wins the nomination, with the exception of JFK in 1960. And I’m not saying who I am supporting this time, although it’s not Kucinich (which maybe gives him a shot).

      I like David Bright’s question (above). It’s a positive question.

      Here’s my suggestion for Kucinich.

      “Congressman, you have a remarkable stance on gay issues. Can you tell us, for the benefit of your fellow candidates, how you arrived at these positions? Can you explain how you read the Constitution to come up with your stands? Please tell what lessons of history might have helped form your positions? Can you compare how the US compares to other leading Western Democracies when it comes to gay rights? Can you explain why your competitors’ proposals on gay rights fall significantly short on what equality really means. Finally tell us why your opponents are really followers of public opinion rather than leaders worthy of the torch of the presidency of the United States.”

      And Chris, are you getting a seat at the table for this HRC event to make sure the best of our questions get asked? Why are we doing this?

    1. Tim C on Jul 27, 2007 11:05:22 AM:

      I would send a question in on the HRC website, but then they'd probably list me as a member from now on.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 27, 2007 1:29:24 PM:

      David Bright: Silly personal attacks aside, you missed entirely the point of the exercise, which was to ask difficult questions. To call your question a softball would be an understatement.

      On the merits of your argument, you misunderstand the role of the president and the political process. Gay marriage is not a presidential issue. The president can do nothing positive on gay marriage except support repeal of DOMA and all the Dems are already on record on this.

      There is much more a president can do on other gay rights issues, of course, and for this reason it's more important to support the best candidate on our issues among those with a decent shot of winning.

      As far as the politics, having support from marginal candidates makes your position seem marginal. It's much more important to bring mainstream candidates along. Kucinich was one of three (Sharpton and Moseley-Braun were the other two) candidates in '04 who backed marriage equality and you can see in four years that their support had no concrete benefit.

      I have been much more impressed with how Bill Richardson (maricón moment aside) has answered the marriage question, skipping the see-thru "feel your pain" of Edwards' "journey" and implying support while talking about doing what's "achieveable."

      Andoni: Surprised at your softball question, too. C'mon! Get tough! The idea is what's the hardest question you could ask.

      Alas, I'm not able to put HRC in the position of denying me a place at the forum table. I am flying back from Rio to Washington on the 9th, and look to be in the Atlanta airport between planes when the debate airs. Guess I'll watch it on Logo online!

    1. Andoni on Jul 27, 2007 3:31:50 PM:

      OK, Chris, now that I understand the assignment better I’ll give it another stab.

      “Dennis, you are the candidate who truly gets gay rights and our community thanks you for it. You are right on your gay positions and some day you will bask in the glory of having been right first among these candidates and everyone will know you were right. However, Senator Eugene McCarthy also was right during the Vietnam War…..and he got creamed….. and Nixon got elected. Or you could end up being like Ralph Nader and help get the wrong person elected. So sometime between now and the Iowa Caucuses can you set up a strategy to help one of the other candidates IMPROVE their stands a bit (I’m thinking on gay issues, but it could be a variety of issues) in exchange for your support? Would you do that? It would leverage some of what you believe to a candidate who might actually be able to make the changes you want, rather than accidentally helping someone win who may not agree with you so much?”

      I’m not sure my own question will change his mind at all about staying in the race, but it’s a stab. I guess it’s possible that Edwards or Obama might re-calculate and cross the line on gay marriage or UAFA to get Kucinich’s support. What is it 3%?

    1. Bloggernista on Jul 27, 2007 4:07:55 PM:

      Kucinich, no matter how strong his support for LGBT civil rights, will have little impact on moving forward our issues. Its nice to have his support, but he is taken about as seriously as Mike Gravel.

      Its good to have their support, but in the real world Clinton, Edwards and Obama will stand a much better chance of advancing LGBT issues provided we push them into it.

      I am hoping that the questioning at the HRC/Logo forum will be more aggressive than at the CNN/YouTube debate particularly on the issues of advancing ENDA, hate crimes, the repeal of DADT and DOMA.

      Beyond the HRC/Logo event we need to continue to push the candidates to take stronger stands on our issues. LGBT people have given lots of money, votes and volunteer time to candidates of both parties and its past time for for some legislation to be passed into law.

    1. Andoni on Jul 27, 2007 11:28:07 PM:

      Speaking of the HRC/LOGO event, when asking your question, don’t forget the Uniting American Families Act -UAFA. Aside from a mother being torn from her child, the forced exile or separation of gay couples in bi-national same sex relationships is one of the most devastating, painful, and unfair things the government does to us. If asking a UAFA question, know that Senators Clinton and Obama are trying to have it both ways, saying they support the legislation in concept (to get the perfect HRC rating), but they don’t really support it because they won’t co-sponsor UAFA because of fraud fears. Find out from them what it will take to get them to co-sponsor or what THEIR solution is.

    1. rmthunter on Jul 28, 2007 10:56:31 AM:

      David Bright is, I think, correct. This is not the general election, this is the Democratic primary in which, in theory at least, Democrats tell their party what they want. Vote for Kucinich and watch the rest of them realize that the gay community is not with them. We're still an important bloc, and perhaps Cilnton, Obama and Edwards need to be reminded of that.

      If Kucinich were in fact pulling a Ralph Nader, the question might have some relevance, but as a question for a Democratic primary, it's entirely empty.

      I think it might be much more germane to ask Kucinich how, if elected, he would deal with implementing a change of policy in the Pentagon, cleaning up the CDC's approach to AIDS prevention and education, and the like. Let's see if any of the candidates are thinking in real-world terms about these questions.

    1. Audrey B. on Jul 28, 2007 4:21:27 PM:

      His wife is kinda hot.

    1. Lee on Jul 28, 2007 9:32:01 PM:

      "I haven't given money to anyone. I won't until policies change." ?!?!

      This reminds me of that old bumper sticker: "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

      If you support Kucinich or Gravel because of their much friendlier LGBT views, give them money SO THAT policies change.

    1. Colin on Jul 30, 2007 12:21:11 PM:

      Having worked on Nader's campaign, I know, boo, Nader was more viable than Kucinich, although some LGBT voters will continue to support Kucinich for his platform and not his viability.

      I think that the HRC LOGO debate could legitimately address the issue of viability of the candidates among LGBT voters since after all, there was that whole issue of Gravel not being invited because of the $100k mark and he cried out "viability" using Kucinich as an example.

      Yes it's sad that a mainstream candidate is not for "marriage", but I think that Gravel and Kucinich have less to lose when they come out in support of gay marriage than do Obama, Clinton, or Edwards, because they actually need non-LGBT votes. Put into perspective, they're for everything else in LGBT equality and need Congress to pass any of this in the first place.

    1. Amicus on Aug 3, 2007 9:48:06 PM:

      The question:

      "Congressman Kucinich, your incredibly strong positions on gay rights are matched by your incredibly weak chance of being nominated, much less elected."

      The answer:

      "Well, I'd like to thank the HRC and logo for inviting me here tonight to inform me that I cannot be elected.

      I'll tell you what. I'm viable and I'm from Ohio. I came to the Congress two years after the Contract on America, beating a GOP incumbent, in order to make change and I'm not going to stop. With your support, we can show the nation that all of Ohio is not hostile to gay people."

      Other question:

      "Denis, many candidates, on the left of the political spectrum and on the right of the political spectrum have difficulties "understanding" gay marriage. In fact, one of the chief reactions of people is, "I just don't understand it." Indeed, when the issues of marriage came before the Nation early on, one reaction from many people in your age group was "Why do they want to do that?"

      What can you share with us and with others that has convinced you that marriage rights are the right approach and worth advocating?"

    1. cognitetute on Aug 8, 2007 5:37:26 PM:

      Your logic would have LGBTQ voters supporting candidates who don't fully support us. How is that supposed to change things? If our money will initiate a change of position from the current 'holy trinity' of the Democratic field (Obama, Clinton, and Edwards), then withholding it, or giving to a candidate that is fully supporting LGBTQ voters should make them pony up and support us so they get the 'dollars' from us. Giving them money anyway, cause there the 'frontrunners' has never worked in our favor in the past. It's pretty simple, give Kucinich some dough and then send letters to Clinton, Obama, and Edwards telling them why your not giving them any.

    1. libhomo on Aug 12, 2007 12:38:24 AM:

      The main reason why Kucinich is attacked so much in the corporate media is that he doesn't take conservative positions (e.g. supporting homophobic policies) in order to get the corporate media to brand him "respectable" and "viable."

      When we refuse to support candidates who are not "viable" according to a right-wing corporate media, we are encouraging candidates to be less supportive of our issues.

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