The Democrats: Who Will Defend The Gays?

Meanwhile, in actual news, our favorite sappho-journo (her suggestion), Kerry Eleveld sent us this link to an article she penned for this week’s The New York Blade. In said article, Eleveld dissects the effectiveness (and, in fact, necessity) of gay politics in the run-up to the 2008 election.

Launching her piece, Eleveld notes that noted conservative candidate Sam Brownback has side-stepped the “gay” debate, skirting the issue with political precision. Why? Well, considering their trampling in the last election, Republicans are steering away from the controversial issue. So, what about the Democrats?

According to Eleveld, all the potential candidates have planted themselves firmly in the middle, lauding the importance of civil unions, but refusing to go the extra step to endorse gay marriage. So, what does this mean for the politically-minded homo? Dive into that there jump and read for yourself…

Eleveld argues against the “gay litmus test”, because none of the candidates are willing to take a definitive (and divisive) stance. :

On the flip side of the aisle, most columnists seem to be using the “pro-marriage equality or not” litmus test to rank candidates.

Time to wake up. That measure is going to be about as useful as a fur coat in July since it’s doubtful that any major candidates—Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama—will forge ahead on same-sex marriage.

Where they will stand is together. “I don’t foresee any major Democratic candidates not embracing civil unions at this point,” said Ethan Geto, an LGBT strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter.

So if every major Democratic candidate lands squarely on civil unions, the question becomes, How does one of them become a hero to the LGBT community?

Eleveld goes on to examine each candidate’s experience and, thus, political value with relation to gay rights. Edwards, she says, is too wishy-washy, a lame duck who can’t seem to form a straight opinion. Obama’s a bit too nebulous. She doesn’t take a look at Richardson, but she does say that Clinton may have the most gay cache.

A number of bloggers picked up on the story. The kids at blog thisaway write:

Eleveld recommends not using the “pro-marriage equality or not” litmus test to rank the Democratic Party presidential candidates. I intend to use that test myself, and I don’t plan to do much, if anything, to support any candidate who is not in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. I’m not of the opinion that gay people should tolerate being treated as second-class citizens at this point in history. If Democratic Party politicians think that they can get away with treating gay people as second-class, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Thus, the Demmies may be penalized for their pussy politics.

Eleveld’s piece echoes the legendary Chris Crain (who, coincidentally, used to edit The New York Blade‘s sister paper, The Washington Blade) v. Joe Solmonese battle. You may recall Crain blasted Human Rights Campaign for blindly supporting the Demmies. He wrote:

The effect of the new HRC strategy is to put all the gay movement’s marbles in the Democratic Party basket, even though from Bill Clinton and John Kerry on down, the party has almost never taken a political risk for its gay constituents…

‘Tis true.

It seems Crain and Eleveld are on the right page – although, it hurts us to say, Crain may be a little more politically rational, although not necessarily progressive, in suggesting a move away from the party line and toward bipartisan politics. It’s clear that gay marriage and similar issues won’t be as decisive in this election, so perhaps we’d all do well to focus on some more universal issues. Of course, we’re not saying one should abandon their gay homies, but you can’t vote on an issue when it’s not offered, right?

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  • Lee Gordon

    Equal Rights and nothing less. Marriage for all, all marriage for none. Period.

  • Jason D

    Using the “marriage litmus test” to screen candidates will likely serve more to make candidates unelectable by the time they reach the general election than it will get us any closer to gay marriage. If that is what you want, throw your votes to Dennis Kusinich. It may be morally and ethically sound but not exactly politically expediant. It is ironice that the article talks about being bi-partisan when we have yet to be able to fully secure the only party that has been willing to help us : The Democrats. The only folks who have supported equal marriage or even Civil Unions are in the democratic party. We must not throw the baby out with the bath water. The way you win in politics is to get what you can out of a candidate and then hold their feet to the fire for more. All or nothing is not the way politics works and it is politically naive to think it does. When will we learn to play this game?

  • el polacko

    we’ve been playing ‘the game’ since the 1950’s. while socially things have improved, politically and legally (except for the sodomy decision.. thank you, jeebus)
    it can be argued that we are as bad off or worse than ever.
    what a sad state of affairs we are in when the presumed dem prez front-runner, hillary, refuses to have her picture taken with the mayor of san fran because she doesn’t want to be associate with ‘that issue’. (and let’s not forget that bill advised kerry that it would be a good idea to come out against equal marriage rights) hardly any politician, besides mayor newsom and a couple of fringe wingnuts, is willing to stand up for the simple human dignity of a sizeable portion of the population. pathetic.

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