Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Dems are all good

The Dems are all good
By Jennifer Vanasco
Copyright by The Chicago Free Press and By Jennifer Vanasco
August 8, 2007

I’ve got news for you.

It doesn’t matter who you pick in the Democratic primary.

They’re all good.

Yep. I said they’re all good. I don’t just mean Kucinich or Gravel, the unlikely iconoclastic winners. I mean Clinton. I mean Obama. I mean Edwards.

This goes completely in the face of what gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders tend to think of our slate of Democratic candidates, I know.

Not long ago, I went to a small dinner hosted by a group of politically savvy lesbians. The theme: How can we change American politics? The question was based around the idea that it seemed as if politicians of the left and right were pandering to the 15 percent of voters who comprise the Religious Right. Gays and lesbians, with 5 percent of the vote, are influential but not crucial.

We talked about a lot of things at that dinner. About how it was impossible to change the inertia of big elections without corporate money, for example. About how the strategy that evangelicals used in the 1980s clearly worked. They focused on school district elections and on small local elections, gradually building up power and a constituency.

But mostly we discussed the presidential candidates, talking about how we were sad and angry that none of the Big Three seemed to be watching our backs.

One woman said, “What do we do? Do we vote for Kucinich as a protest? But we know he won’t get elected. So what do we do?”

What we do is vote for one of the Big Three.

Because they are not where you think they are.

For some reason, we tend to have a narrow view of our own rights. If a candidate says that they are not for same-sex marriage, we decide that means they are not for us.

But, in fact, same-sex marriage is only one of a package of issues that matter to our community.

The others are just as important: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; federal law recognizing same-sex partners for tax, Social Security and immigration purposes; the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in hate crime, employment and public accommodations law; the support of funding for HIV/AIDS research and prevention; the right of gays and lesbians to adopt children.

There are more, of course, but those are the main issues. And those are the ones on the questionnaire HRC sent to each of the major candidates.

You know what? Except for a couple odd blips (Obama, to my surprise, doesn’t support same-sex partner recognition in immigration law because he worries about fraud. Hmmm.) each candidate supports every pro-gay HRC position.

Except marriage.

But without exception, those candidates who don’t support "marriage" do support full federal civil unions that include all the rights and benefits of marriage.

All the rights.

Everything, that is, except the word.

And yes, I agree with you that the word is important. The word is very important. But let’s not fool ourselves; even though our country now calls itself 50-percent Blue, “pro-gay marriage” is not a position that will get you elected.

So for right now, we can’t have that.

But that’s OK. That’s honestly OK. Because what we have instead is a slate of candidates who are with us in everything else. They do think we should be protected. They do think we should have our full civil rights. They are, in fact, on our side.

What does this mean to you?

It means you can relax and think about other issues. Vote for the candidate in your state’s primary who best articulates your feelings about the war, or about the environment, or about taxes, health care, campaign finance reform, farming subsidies, whatever. Whatever else is important to you. You can vote that way.

What a relief, right? How lucky we are, in this one primary, to be able to vote for the candidate who best represents us on a range of issues, instead of worrying that the wrong choice will sent GLBT rights back into a dark, slimy pit.

They’re all good. They are.

Check out their records and see.

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist based in New York. Email her at; read her column and occasional blog at


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