Marla R. Stevens

Bayh the Abuser

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | July 12, 2006 7:08 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement

In an earlier post, our fearless leader posited that we had nothing to worry about from Bayh, given his current ranking in Iowa. Iowans, however, would not be so hasty, knowing how quickly fortunes can change there -- especially for pretty boys with growing war chests, white bread rhetoric, and well-schooled penchants for Texas side-stepping. Iowans are nothing if not gullible rubes and suckers for slick centrists who pretend with pearly smiled faux folksiness that the Iowans matter to them, stroking the mighty Iowan egos at endless gab sessions while playing the Iowans with even mightier auto-dialers. Chances are great that Iowa will do it for Bayh, if not this go-around, then at another. Bayh, as presidential aspiring senators go, is still a young man.

Some party shills commented to our fearless leader's post, attempting -- despite the ample evidence to the contrary Bil provided with the cooperation of the Howey Report and Bayh's own staff -- to claim that Bayh is our good buddy, a sort of closet queer hugger who'll stand with us when push comes to shove.

They provided as evidence Bayh's support of ENDA, that he has gay people on his staff, and that HRC once gave him a 100 percent ranking on their annual scorecard.

First, ENDA is a pathetic excuse for a civil rights bill. Unlike the original amendatory gay civil rights bill that's making the rounds on the Hill once again, ENDA would cover only about eight percent of the nation's employees (hets included) and would not deal with discrimination in public accommodation or the housing discrimination that is the far bigger problem in Indiana. The shills also failed to mention that Bayh actively opposed our civil rights as governor, even sending in his version of Karl Rove, Ann Delaney, to cheat on his behalf to try to prevent it from even getting so far as his party's state platform. He only adopted his very limited support of our civil rights when he made the leap to federal office and was positioning himself for a presidential run that required at least giving it minimal lip service. Further ENDA has no chance of getting to the floor and Bayh knows it. Typically, he chose the path of least commitment, has stuck to it long past its time, yet his advance men are still expecting applause.

HRC's scorecards have long been the punchlines of Capitol Hill jokes about the potential meaninglessness of scorecards. This is because HRC's have historically been based on final votes on legislation, ignoring the interim votes on the actual gay issues that are usually dealt with in amendments and such. It is entirely possible -- and not infrequently the case -- that a Congressperson can vote against gay positions at the amendment level yet get credit for voting for them if they're a part of some huge omnibus legislation like an appropriations bill that virtually everyone will vote for because the deals have been struck and the caucus positions issued. Further, years often go by without anything more gay-specific than a no-courage-required no-brainer like reauthorization of Ryan White funding included on HRC's list. In short, the 100 percent rating could well mean nothing or worse.

Former Senator Jesse Helms had gay people on his staff, too. There are also sitting gay Congresspeople who screw us every chance they get. As Shakespeare's Sister commented, "He employs gay people on his staff. This makes his decision to punt on the issue [of civil marriage equality] even more pathetic."

But what is truly pathetic is the shills' final plaintive cry of "first you must be elected" as if past is not prologue. Make no mistake, this line is only trotted out by apologists for those exercising the worst sort of spineless political expediency, the defenders of those who pretend to lead from behind. Sure, when civil marriage equality is finally popular enough for every Tom, Dick, and Hillary, Bayh may well vote with us. But chances are he won't live long enough to see that day or, if he did, there'd be something else needing politically courageous leadership for him to fail to provide.

There are politicians out there right now who stand with us on civil marriage equality and some come from places where that stand requires far more gumption than Bayh would have to exhibit to do the right thing. They are worthy of our support. Bayh is not.

It's time for us to stop acting like abused spouses whose self-esteem is so crushed that we take and take and take our abusers' crazy-making conflicting claims that they're not what their actions say they are and that, anyway, they really love us and will only hurt us when we "deserve" it. Abusers like Bayh only change when they have no other choice. How many choices are you going to give him? How long are you willing to endure the pain before you change enough that he has to follow suit if he really does want you?

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I don't trust him

confused by Bilerico | July 13, 2006 12:20 PM

This post again shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Indiana politics. Without understanding the political pressures faced by all politicians, "advocates" like you and Bil will fail. If Evan Bayh or any other Indiana Democrat acted the way you claim you want them to act, instead of having someone who votes with your issues, you would have someone in office who most certainly will vote against them. It is ridiculous that Evan Bayh continues to be ridiculed on this blog site while other politicians (Lugar, Garten, Bosma) who do NOTHING for gay rights get a pass. Bayh votes the right way and co-sponsors the right bills and yet, this site continues to be a Bayh-bashing place. Silly, silly people.

Marla R. Stevens | July 13, 2006 7:35 PM

That would make sense, "confused", if Bayh had been actually doing the right thing. The truth is that his record is, at best, a mixed bag and that he utterly fails in the leadership category where LGBT people's rights are concerned.

The office he seeks is not a Hoosier one. He's opened himself up to scrutiny where the big dogs play and his record, current positions, and modus operandi simply don't measure up as deserving of gay community support at the national level.

I can't imagine where you got the idea that Lugar, Garton (note the spelling), and Bosma have gotten a pass, either. Anyone who has actually read this blog rather than simply running a search for Bayh and responding to those posts would know that!

Just on my part along, sure, I've credited Garton where credit is due but he's also the only statehouse legislator I've ever held up a sign in the statehouse claiming that he screwed gays. Bosma was the subject of considerable excoriation and organizing activity on this blog earlier this year. And Lugar, well, he's the only legislator whose bathhouse access I've ever (with the help of Stan Berg and other owners nationwide) gone so far as to block until his voting record on gay issues re-rose to greater than fifty percent!

Not give that trio a hard time when a hard time was due? Give me a break!