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    January 08, 2008

    The gay case for Hillary

    Posted by: Chris

    20_hillaryandfriends_lg Last week before the Iowa caucuses, I laid out why I think Barack Obama is the best presidential candidate for gay rights. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking today to that post.) I'm interested to hear more from those who disagree, especially if they support Hillary Clinton.

    Jennifer Vanasco over at Logo's Visible Vote has asked folks to weigh in on who they support for president, and among the responses was an interesting one in support of Hillary Clinton. It was posted by Lisa Neff, former editor of Chicago Free Press, a gay paper I respect and where Vanasco herself used to work. Here's what Neff said:

    I've supported Hillary Clinton from the start, with John Edwards as the No. 2 fallback (until this last week with his contrived and strategic attacks on Clinton). The Barack Obama lovefest confounds me, and I have to say, a lot of the other folks I know from Illinois who see him as a tried and true Chicago Democrat.

    I was on an editorial board in Chicago that couldn't even endorse Obama's candidacy in the primary for U.S. Senate because of his lack of record and experience, as well as his lack of commitment on our issues. He wouldn't get pinned down on anything. Now he's the Dems' favorite for president? I, for one, want someone who works for change, not speaks of it.

    Neff's proximity to Obama's days in the Illinois state Senate make her thoughts particularly interesting. It's a criticism I've heard before, and not just on gay issues -- that Obama was somewhat unremarkable as a state legislator.

    Still, as I've said before, if you're voting based on which candidate has actually accomplished the most for gay rights -- as opposed to talked about it and committed to it -- then hands-down Bill Richardson is your candidate.

    Therein lies the rub in Neff's remarks. How is Hillary's record better than Obama's? If Hillary wants us to count the eight years she spent beside her husband as president to qualify as experience, then at least some of the gay-related mud of the Clinton years has to stick to her, too. In fact, Hillary has defended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as a "necessary transitional measure," although she now favors its repeal. She has never even stated whether she agreed with her husband's decision to sign the Defense of Marriage Act, and unlike Obama and John Edwards only favors a half-repeal of it.

    The only example I'm aware of that shows Hillary actually "working for change" on gay rights -- as opposed to talking about it -- was the vignette she and the Human Rights Campaign's Joe Solmonese like to tell about their coordination to fight the federal marriage amendment in 2006. Her help was admirable but speaks more to the close ties between HRC the pol and HRC the group than anything. The defeat of the amendment was also a foregone conclusion. And to the discredit of both HRCs, the strategy they adopted was a huge missed opportunity. Rather than discuss marriage or even gay people in the Senate debate, they opted to attack President Bush and the Republicans, as if that would somehow advance the movement.

    That said, I'm interested to see cogent arguments for why Hillary is best for gay rights. If you've seen someone make the case, or you can yourself, offer up the link (or the argument) in the comments here.



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    1. Geena the Transgirl on Jan 8, 2008 1:53:56 PM:

      Gay endorsement groups, newspapers are becoming "incumbant comfy". They are not willing to give a new face, new energy a chance, which starts to work against giving intelligent, energetic gay-lesbian-trans candidates the opening, a breakthrough needed to get started.
      This Obama phenomena of voters looking to message-vision, and beyond the ethnic-orientation, was on the horizon. Some folks missed it.
      By the way all this divisive language coming from trans folks the past weeks and months is hardly the language of persuasion that is winning big in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    1. Andoni on Jan 8, 2008 2:30:33 PM:

      The Chicago Free Press may be a paper you respect, but Lisa Neff’s comments don’t add up to me.

      The fact that Edwards was her number 2 until he made “strategic attacks” on Clinton last week is revealing. Why is it a disqualifier for Edwards to make strategic attacks on Clinton, but OK for Clinton to make strategic attacks on Obama (drugs, cocaine, Muslim, etc.). Is there an insurmountable bias that keeps her from seeing Clinton’s transgessions?

      When Neff criticizes Obama by saying he “wouldn’t get pinned down on anything” …. well excuse me, but this is the very criticism people were leveling against Clinton for most of the campaign? Again, why can’t Lisa Neff see this?

      Finally, I think what exposes Neff is when she says she wants somone who “works for change, not speaks of it.” This is a phrase that comes directly from Clinton press releases, ending up unfiltered into the written words of this former newspaper editor.

      For the record there are plenty of changes Obama worked for such as lobbying reform, transparency of government spending, sentencing reform, prison reform, etcetera. I believe this qualifies as more than simply speaking of change.

      My only conclusions is that Lisa is actually part of the Clinton campaign and didn’t tell us. Her arguments are not internally consistent.

    1. Terrance on Jan 13, 2008 11:44:57 PM:

      That so much gay support is going to a candidate who supports a partial repeal of DOMA is mystifying. In a race where none of "serious" candidates support marriage equality, and none of the candidates who support marriage equality are not taken seriously even by our own community, the least we ought to ask and should as of a candidate is that he or she support a full repeal of DOMA.

      Even if a candidate doesn't support marriage equality, DOMA stands as the most significant legislative obstacle to achieving marriage equality in the future. Hillary's argument is essentially a "states' rights" argument, that states have the right to discriminate on what the Supreme Court said 40 years ago is a basic civil right.

      As an African American male with some knowledge of history, states' rights has always been invoked in support for the purpose of limiting or restricting the rights of some groups, and maintaining a system of inequality that essentially creates a second class of citizens with fewer legal rights and protections than other citizens.

      That's basically Hillary Clinton's position. Compared to the other "leading" candidates, that's not a minor difference. I cannot understand why some gay voters believe it is.

    1. Rick Spratley on Jan 20, 2008 7:15:39 PM:

      I agree with Lisa Neff's analysis about Obama. I worked for a Gery Chico, former President of the Chicago Public Schools, who was an outspoken advocate for the Gay Community. We won the Chicago Free Press' endorsement because our candidate stuck out his neck and supported gay rights but because Obama had little leadership experience and was harder to pin down on issues than Jello. The only thing Obama does have experience in is running political campaigns.

      This ObamaRama love fest is based on nothing more than one Anti War Speech and Hollow Words. Being President is more than being a motivational speaker. It takes a lot of hard work, experience and some fists. Obama's career has shown that he is a show horse not a work horse. He lacks any leadership experience. What has he delivered for anyone other than votes? Does he have the fight in him? I think anyone who voted present on hundreds of controversial votes, doesn't have the fortitude to fight for Gays, Health Care or the Middle Class. I bet the Republicans in the Illinois Senate loved Obama, because they knew he wouldn't vote agains their policies.

      America Wake Up! Obama is not the next Messiah. He's a shrewd, calculating, politician just like all the others. The only difference is that he has absolutely no experience and when the going gets tough, he buries his head in the sand!

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 4:35:17 AM:

      If you've seen someone make the case, or you can yourself

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