Last night the HRC endorsed Barack Obama’s re-election campaign even though Election Day is still a year and a half away. Immediately, gay bloggers began criticizing the HRC for “throwing away a bargaining chip” that could have been used to pressure Obama into publicly supporting marriage equality. But is that claim overstated?
Here’s Pam Spauling from Pam’s Premium Blend:
[The endorsement] just seems odd for an allegedly non partisan org. The reaction from Jimmy LaSalvia of GOProud, the release titled HRC Officially Ends Charade of “Bipartisanship” with Pre-emptive Obama Endorsement: “Today, the Human Rights Campaign chose to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election even though the field running for President in 2012 isn’t even set yet. This pre-emptive endorsement ends HRC’s charade of bipartisanship.”
No current Republican presidential contender supports marriage equality (except for possibly Fred Karger), but let’s be honest: an openly-gay man has no chance of becoming the next Republican Presidential Nominee—a snowball in Hell would last longer.
Obama knows he has the gays in his pocket. Who are you gonna vote for? Newt Gingrich? Sarah Palin? Tim Pawlenty? Puh-leaze. Gonna stay home on Election Night? We so so at our peril. But before we discuss, here’s John Avarosis from AmericaBlog:
“[This] pretty much leaves the President no reason to do anything that he perceives as controversial for us at least until 2013, if he gets re-elected… While an eventual endorsement of Obama by HRC is inevitable, expected, and fine, there’s a dance that’s expected where both sides get something… now that HRC has already given the President the prize he seeks, what incentive does the President, who claims he’s “evolving” on marriage, evolve before the election? He has no need to.
“HRC clearly hasn’t learned the lessons of the first two years of the Obama presidency. You don’t get anything for being nice to the man (well, anything of substance – I’m sure that HRC dinner invite is now locked in). If anything, he looks down on people who are nice to him. The only thing this President respects are people who stand up to him. The President didn’t finally start moving on DADT, and finally stop defending DOMA, because HRC was nice to him. He did it because this blog, GetEqual, Dan Choi, the larger Gay Netroots, and a very few organizations like Servicemembers United and SLDN stood up to the man. (Had HRC had its way, we’d still be debating the DADT repeal legislation in the Congress today
God, HRC! Didn’t your mother teach you anything about flirting?! Don’t put out before the courtship even begins. Wait a little, make eyes, blow kisses, feign disinterest, drop your hanky and wave your fan. Make him earn the golden ticket.
Avarosis is right: because the HRC has endorsed Obama so early, he’s a lot less likely to mention gay rights in his campaign speeches. But his campaign still relies heavily on LGBT funds and he knows that young voters, a demographic he badly needs, care about equality issues too. So he still has good reason to invoke marriage equality and non-discrimination on the campaign trail even though the HRC has bungled yet another good opportunity.
And as Avarosis already said, even if the HRC had waited and Obama did make some campaign promises to the gays, we’d still have to chain ourselves to the White House fence just to get him moving.