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    September 17, 2008

    A plague on both their candidates?

    Posted by: Chris

    Not buying into the Log Cabin schtick that John McCain and Sarah Palin are “a different kind of Republican”? Convinced you are settling if you back Barack Obama despite his opposition to gay marriage?

    There’s always “a third way.” Or in the case of this presidential cycle, a third and a fourth way. The Greens and the Libertarians have nominated their own White House hopefuls, and both parties adopted platforms that back full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

    That single fact alone means their nominees merit a look-see from GLBT voters, but do they really offer meaningful alternatives to the Big Two?

    IMckinneyclementeblogt’s a weird twist of fate this year that both the Green and Libertarian nominees for president hail from metropolitan Atlanta, long a gay mecca in the wilderness of the Bible Belt. But Cynthia McKinney, the Green candidate, and Bob Barr, the Libertarian, have decidedly mixed histories on GLBT issues and gay voters.

    McKinney amassed one of the strongest GLBT records in Congress during her six terms representing DeKalb County, an area long popular with white and black gay Atlantans. Even so, her stubborn association with some ardent gay rights foes earned the ire of many constituents.

    First and foremost there’s her own father, Billy McKinney, who introduced legislation and even sued to block domestic partner benefits, although he conveniently saw the light later when gay supporters were among the few white voters who stood by Cynthia McKinney when redistricting practically booted her from office.

    It was Congresswoman McKinney’s cozy relationship with Fidel Castro and a whole host of Islamic despots, despite their horrendous treatment of gays, that ultimately drove a wedge with many gay (and straight) locals. Father and daughter both blamed white gay voters, along with Jews, for her defeat in 2002. She won her seat back two years later, but the Human Rights Campaign took the unusual step of backing her challenger, out lesbian Cathy Woolard, in the 2006 Democratic primary. Both McKinney and Woolard would ultimately lose.

    The Green Party has long supported full marriage equality, and did so again in their 2008 platform. But I haven’t seen any evidence that McKinney has publicly embraced that view as her own.

    Barr_rootblog Bob Barr, the Libertarian pick, has an even more twisted gay rights history. Barr was arguably Enemy No. 1 of the movement in his four terms as a congressman from Cobb County, which made headlines itself after being shunned by the 1996 Olympic torch relay because of a resolution saying folks of “the gay lifestyle” weren’t welcome.

    That same year, Barr authored the federal Defense of Marriage Act, easily the most notorious anti-gay law ever adopted by Congress. Passed amidst panic over the possibility that Hawaii might marry same-sex couples, DOMA prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing gay marriages. It also says that, despite a constitutional provision to the contrary, no state has to recognize marriage licenses issued to gay couples by other states.

    Barr wound up losing his seat in 2002 due to a changing demographic and redistricting, and subsequently raised eyebrows by reinventing himself as a civil libertarian, even signing on as a consultant for the ACLU. The new and improved Bob Barr has even disassociated himself from his most famous piece of legislation.

    “Standing before you, looking you in the eye, the Defense of Marriage Act, insofar as it provided the federal government a club to club down the rights of law-abiding, American citizens, has been abused, misused and should be repealed,” Barr said in his speech accepting the Libertarian nomination.

    Bob_barr Barr’s “defense of marriage” was always a bizarre contradiction, considering he was twice-divorced and on his third marriage back when he wrote the law. His newfound opposition to his own handiwork is a head-scratcher, too. How exactly was DOMA “abused and misused,” considering its impact was pretty much exactly as foreseen?

    The new Bob Barr still oppose gay marriage mind you, despite the Libertarian Party platform, although he agrees with John McCain htat states should be left to decide the question for themselves. Barr also still supports the half of DOMA that allows states to ignore marriage licenses issues to gay couples by other states.

    Throw in the Libertarian Party’s long-held (if principled) opposition to hate crime laws, workplace protection and other private sector non-discrimination statutes, and Barr lines up on gay rights somewhere just north of McCain – and that’s not saying much.

    There are lots of good reasons that GLBT groups warn us not to throw away our votes on third-party candidates and independent types, but this time around the temptation should be particularly easy to resist.


    The gay donor group eQuality Giving has compiled a very helpful side-by-side comparison of the Green and Libertarian Party platforms on gay rights.

    Southern Voice also has an excellent story comparing the gay rights records of McKinney and Barr.



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    1. Mike Tidmus on Sep 17, 2008 7:44:37 PM:

      Suddenly, I love you Citizen Chris Crain. Although, I'm a Green and quite happy with my party's platform and candidate, I'd also recommend people take a look at the Socialist Party's GLBT and AIDS platforms.

    1. Mike Tidmus on Sep 17, 2008 8:19:54 PM:

      Oops! I commented before reading that last paragraph. I don't feel I'm throwing away my vote by voting for a party that believes what I believe in.

      McKinney has embraced the Green Party platform and satisfied the Lavender Green Caucus. That's good enough for me.

    1. Tim C on Sep 18, 2008 8:13:34 AM:

      Ah, Cynthia McKinney. The lunacy continues.

    1. Tim C on Sep 18, 2008 1:12:55 PM:

      Interestingly enough, I've actually met and had conversations with both of these people. I never could figure out McKinney. I had the misfortune of having her as my Congresscritter for too long. I could never figure out her agenda. It's like she liked to stir things up just to stir things up. She never could put together solutions to the issues that moved her. In Congress, she could never build lasting coalitions or be a dependable ally. I still remember the jubilation in the room at Denise Majette's victory party the night she defeated McKinney in the primary.

      Barr is a much more interesting character. Very intelligent, very principled, normally very thoughtful in his positions. I had a really good conversation with him in the NRA suite at the 2000 GA GOP convention over scotch. I think he stakes out the reasonable positions on many topics (fiscal policy, the role of govenment vis a vis the responsibilities of individuals, civil liberties and civil rights), but he has this large blind spot when it comes to gay issues. He just can't see them or how his positions on them affect people. And it doesn't seem to be based out of some set of religious convictions. I have no explanation for what drives this part of his thinking

    1. Hawyer on Sep 19, 2008 11:46:51 AM:

      Chris - On the Loggers

      On your preoccupation with the Loggers - I know your Republican moorings long for a homeland for us fiscally conservative homos, but I can't think of a more irrelevant political entity. Frankly the analogies escape me, other than maybe Sisyphus - but at least he got the rock to the top of the hill every 24-hours - a murky destination which perpetually eludes even the staunchest Logger.

      "As long as this swill is engraved in the GOP platform, it'll be no log-on to the Loggers for this homo:

      Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it ...

      ... We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage."

    1. Hawyer on Sep 19, 2008 12:39:08 PM:

      Chris on Bob Barr:

      Oh Jesus, when it comes to Bob Barr, the only thing you can count of is his unchecked narcissism. Having screeched for Bill Clinton's impeachment practically from the inaugural dias, he went on to author DOMA (which was signed into public law by Bill Clinton [thank you] - literally in the dark of night) A journalist famously ask Barr which of his own marriages he was defending" his first, second, or third. Barr declined to comment.

      Most importantly DOMA set an incalculable precedent by subverting the Full Faith and Credit Clause - literally calling into question the whole premise of the "United" States - all to placate the wingnut base of he GOP.

      Then when he was finally dumped from his congressional seat he made a jaw-dropping leap onto the ACLU bandwagon, railing against the breach of personal privacy. (Hello?)

      And now he campaigns - if elected President of the United States - (WaaaHaHa) to repeal DOMA.

      I have a personal request of Bob Barr: Would you please shaddup and retreat to the footnotes of history, where you so richly deserve to dwell.

    1. Hawyer on Sep 19, 2008 1:09:09 PM:

      Chris - on Cynthia McKinney

      OMG again. One would be hard pressed to name a bigger nutcase than the perennial Cynthia. In 1992, campaigning in a newly gerrymandered congressional district that meandered like a snake from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean, the only thing in common was a near 70% black population.

      Preaching a deeply divisive (near separationist) gospel of black political supremacy, tainted with all sorts creepy underground money, including a full complement of Muslim extremist organizations. He went on to serve five terms, being unseated by another black women Denise Majette in 2002 - only to regain her seat in 2004.

      The vitriolic McKinney, like her father Billy (who famously pulled a knife on an opposing legislator on the floor of the Georgia House) seems to make the news only in her calculated outrageousness - recently engaging in fisticuffs with a rookie Capitol Hill Policeman who failed to recognize her (can you imagine!) and dutifully asked to see her ID before letting her in to the Capitol.

      Accordingly, her Presidential foray has failed to get even cursory interest on the 2008 political landscape - its only impact to further marginalize the Green Party as anything but a klaxon-honking sideshow.

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