Andrew Sullivan Wags Finger At Pragmatic Gay Politics

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Pragmatism and politics don’t always blend, says Andrew Sullivan. The conservative journo spilled some virtual ink yesterday to take on the Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart, who participated in the gay forum.

…Capehart was selected as a questioner of the Democratic candidates by the Human Rights Campaign. He did a good job, I thought. He also fit the bill: a Democrat, and a pliant member of the gay establishment. But it seems to me that he represents something that plagues gay elites. To put it bluntly, they have limited conviction about their own equality, especially if it means challenging those who give them access to power.

After battling our many internal voices, we’ve got to agree with Sullivan – not necessarily about Capehart in particular, but definitely many mainstream gays’ inability to stand up for what’s actually right, rather than what’s right for now. And, more importantly, dig into their candidates.

As part of his investigation, Sullivan steers readers to Capehart’s Monday op-ed in which the homo-journo writes:

But that was the reality gays faced then — and that is what we face now, even in these more accepting times, when civil unions are the safe harbor of politicians on both sides of the aisle who aren’t “there yet on gay marriage.” Think about it: The two fellas in the race who unabashedly support same-sex marriage — Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel — are at the back of the pack.

That’s why I don’t fault Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama or former senator John Edwards for their opposition to gay marriage, even if their explanations leave me scratching my head.

But that’s okay. Look, they’ve all committed to snagging for the gay community as many as possible of the more than 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities that come with civil marriage that are now denied to committed same-sex couples. Isn’t that what everyone’s fighting for in the first place? Like it or not, it’s a good start…

Sure, it’s a start, but most of the candidates would rather not discuss the why of their how. As Mike Gravel pointed out yesterday, Clinton frames the issue as a state’s rights debate, but fails to fully explain herself.

While it’s all well and good to support politicians who support us – and we do – informed voters should be digging a little deeper, rather than thanking master politicos for unidentified scraps and scurrying back into the shadows. Of course, Capehart’s right: we’ve got no choice.

…Republican pursuers of the White House rejected their invitations to talk to the gay community about the issues important to it. Chances are that if they’re not interested in talking to you during the campaign, they will be even less inclined to do so if they win.

Tactical voting can be such a bitch!