The gay rights movement has reached a critical point in America. As a result of the upcoming presidential election, there could be a great sea change of embrace for GLBT equality or it could be another issue leveraged for electability. Gays all across America are more engaged than ever because the stakes are higher than ever. This election brings with it the possibility of greater equality for 1 in 10 (31 million) Americans.
Some of the critical issues to be considered include:
The next President could sign into law, instead of veto, Hate Crimes Legislation and Employment Non Discrimination legislation.
- He/she could ensure that all Americans can protect our country, independently of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
- The next President can lead Congress into repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
- The next president is likely to choose one or more Supreme Court Justices. The Supreme Court may eventually revisit the right to privacy, which is the basis of Roe v Wade as well as Lawrence v Texas, the landmark 2003 decision that decriminalized private sexual acts between consenting adults. Also, eventually the Supreme Court may be called to decide on whether other states need to recognize valid marriages performed in other states, such as Massachusetts.
As the democratic race is down to the wire between Obama and Clinton, special attention is being paid to the “pink vote.” While I appreciate that presidential candidates are finally truly addressing such an important community, I realize the potential for exploitation as these issues are a significant point of difference among candidates and parties. The concern is that the amount of leverage candidates are receiving from their support of GLBT issues may not be delivered upon come next November.
Senator Obama just bought significant media in Ohio and Texas targeting the GLBT community (see attached ad). These ad coincide with a significant PR push, such interviewing with The Advocate and releasing an “Open Letter from Barack Obama to the GLBT Community”, is intended to pull his ticket through to get the Democratic nomination. On one side, these efforts are a proof of how far the gay rights movement has come given that a serious presidential candidate, like Obama, is addressing issues such as gay marriage, equal rights, don’t ask don’t tell, and support for hate crime laws. This support is music to the GLBT community’s ears but I’m becoming more afraid in these critical times candidates might be gussying up a bit much for those last few primaries.
The problem lies in the disparity from what Senator Obama says and what is/might actually delivered. Its revealing that Obama has spent thousands getting on the back cover of The Advocate and other prime ad space in GLBT media in recent weeks.
Last summer Barack made a faux pas during a debate when he noted that he and his wife were both tested for the HIV virus. The media interpreted his comments as rather homophobic and denigrating to individuals infected with AIDS.
Again last year Obama slipped again when he allowed a “reformed heterosexual” entertainer who touts being ‘saved from homosexuality’ to join his political campaign tours. The beginning of this year Barack received the endorsement of a powerful Reverend whose church provided training on how to “gain freedom from homosexuality and other sins.” Obama also reportedly refused to take pictures with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom when the gay marriage controversy was in full force.
These incidences may only seem like minor infractions of a large scale presidential campaign. But to me they speak volumes about the nature of support for the GLBT community. I truly believe that genuine passion for gay rights would not result in such disrespectful situations. A true advocate would not let these things slip by. A desperate candidate trying to gain the nomination….is more likely.
What do you think?