Andrew Sullivan Wags Finger At Pragmatic Gay Politics

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!

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  • cjc

    Gee, Andy, like there’s any Republicunt with a chance of winning that can and wants to give us complete equality.

  • Jack Jett

    Is this the same Andrew Sullivan who supported Bush’s war for years?


    jack jett

  • Dawster

    yet it is Greg… err… Jack. the conservative heart himself.

    you know… (as mentioned previously), The Netherlands introduced “registered partnerships” for gays and straights in 1998. and that went well… so well that in 2001 they were expanded the idea to “civil marriages” for both gay and straights alike.

    so, whereas i HATE the idea of civil unions, there is something to be said about what it eventually leads to… namely, marriage. it’s worked before, there’s nothing that says it won’t work now.

    but i, like other gay people, are highly impatient…

  • nycstudman

    Interesting that people like Sullivan don’t mention that 10 years ago, no credible candidate for any office above dog catcher in either party would have advocated for civil unions. A little perspective here would be useful.

  • Alexa

    I’m all for civil unions, for everyone, gay or straight. Leave marriage as an archaic religious institution for those who believe in such bullshit. Not that there’s a chance in hell of that happening in the US, as it seems to be turning into a theocracy more and more every day.

  • Matt

    Well OF COURSE Sullivan doesn’t like Democrats’ “wishy washy” positions on gay marriage; the more a Dem candidate wraps her or himself in strict gay marriage, the more likely we are to get yet another four years of conservative rule. Since conservative gays like Sullivan claim that they are utterly so much more than their sexuality (i.e., pro-war, pro-environmental havoc, pro-big business, anti-immigrant, etc.), that works just fine for HIM. It’s kinda funny really: last time around, gay marriage was used by the Republicans as a false issue to divide the nation and defeat Democrats; this time it’s being used by the liberal gay community to divide the liberal community and elect a Republican. Neat trick, that.

  • montrealsimon

    I don’t see that you guys have any choice but to be tactical….as humiliating as that may be. In this case winning is EVERYTHING. Especially since you live in a country where the evil monkey of religion has so many by the throat. I mean you’re almost as religious as the Iranians…What I think it is important to do is make sure the Democrats know that you’re supporting them because you don’t have any choice. But that you are mighty pissed to still be treated as people who don’t deserve full equality. I mean really really angry.
    And it’s also important never to settle for anything less than full marriage rights whether you believe in the institution…or wanna get married…or not. If you don’t have the choice straights have then you’re not equal. But I understand…coz we had to deal with political cowardice in Canada too. If the courts hadn’t pushed them to do the right thing….and ruled out the civil unions option…we’d still be fighting…

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