(Originally published in the Liberty Press in October 2008)
Actions speak louder than words. That’s the old adage. A presidential candidate can promise no new taxes or an open government, but why should we believe them? The only way to believe they’ll do what they say is to see what they’ve done.
So I asked Google. Google led me to LesbianLife.About.Com. I was looking for Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention but became sidetracked by this much-easier-to-research site. I know Obama talked about LGBT rights in this speech and appeared on the Human Rights Campaign’s primary debate earlier this year. I’ll start with him.
Barack Obama’s “lack of experience” apparently stems from several years in the Illinois state senate where he sponsored a bill that banned sexual orientation discrimination. While in the US Senate, he co-sponsored expanding federal hate crimes laws to include both sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HRC agreed to pull the gender identity language to gain more votes for sexual orientation; that was so considerate of … no one). He wants us to serve in the military openly and adopt children. But he doesn’t want us to get married. He’s a good Christian, after all. But he did oppose the anti-marriage constitutional amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act. All in all, he believes we’re fully-realized human beings deserving of the same rights as other Americans.
His pick for VP, Joe Biden, does nearly as well. Still not all into us getting married, he did support a bill that would allow LGB Americans to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration. He also supports a fully-inclusive ENDA, opposes an anti-marriage amendment, but did vote for DOMA. Maybe he’s grown since 1996.
Then there’s John McCain and Sarah Palin. McCain, having served in the Navy for many years, fully supports “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. He thinks we have the best military we’ve ever had. I don’t think it’s because of gays serving in secret; I think it’s because he retired. “Open homosexuality,” he said, “within the military service presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline.” That’s humorous coming from a maverick.
Palin really hasn’t had much to do on our issues. She did sign into law a bill granting same-sex domestic partnership benefits. But only because the Alaska Supreme Court told her to. She stated she disagreed with the ruling but it’s her responsibility to abide by the Constitution. It’s nice to know she will do what the Supreme Court tells her to. She certainly uses the Constitution’s freedom of religion clause in her church to sponsor conversion conferences. “You’ll be encouraged by … His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality,” says her church bulletin.
I really wish I could speak about candidates in Kansas, but the Kansas Equality PAC has yet to release their state and local endorsements. Hopefully, they'll be published before the election. I will say that over the years, many people have argued for KEPAC waiting until the last minute as the Gay Endorsement could be used as a tool by “the other side”.
Why are LGBT-friendly politicians so afraid of standing up for us when asking for our vote? Am I really someone to be ashamed of? Some in KEC seem to think so. If you haven’t yet made a decision on your state and local candidates, just wait. We should find out in the November issue of the Liberty Press - due to hit newsstands a few short days before Election Day – who is endorsed. Guess it adds to the mystery.
We ought to demand more from our elected officials. There’s so much that goes on, so much crap to wade through, that we depend largely on information from organizations close to our issues – the Alternatives to Marriage Project, League of Women Voters, Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, and so forth – and we hope that they tell us what we need to know to make an informed decision. And don’t look just at the federal level. Many decisions that affect our daily lives come from Topeka and our local communities, not Washington. KEC organizes a yearly lobby day where you can go and meet legislators and discuss LGBT issues. Take the day off and go. It really is a great event.
Get informed. Vote. Stay informed. Demand more from your elected officials. Let them know you’re still around. And if they don’t work for fairness, replace them with someone who will.
The Mad Voter combines a bit of anger, a bit of crazy, and a bit of passion to Make A Difference (MAD) through simple actions and "armchair activism". This column provides ideas to be involved and to know why. firstname.lastname@example.org