Alex Blaze

Final random thought on the presidential forum

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 10, 2007 3:21 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: HRC, Logo, presidential debates

OK, I did several in-depth posts this morning, and now I have a few things on my notepad that I can't fill a whole post with. After this, I'm done with this debate for today. (Queer music and maybe a fundie news story, but that's all!)

***Marti pointed out that this debate could have been called the "HRC and Logo Presidential Forum on Marriage Equality". I think I'm with her on this one. In fact, I sorted out the questions by topic, excluding minor follow-ups and sticking with the planned ones, and by my count there were 22 questions on marriage or couples benefits in relation to marriage, 2 on HIV prevention, 2 on Don't Ask, 2 on employment discrimination, and 15 other questions on topics that weren't directly related to one another ("How can Kucinich become president?" "Do you think it's a choice?").

I know, I know, marriage is important to a lot of people. But when there are an estimated 670,000 same-sex couples living together in the country and estimates of the number of LGBT people range from 8 to 20 million. That's about 3 to 8% 6 to 16% of the queers in this country, and those couples aren't just worried about marriage-related issues. Could we broaden our horizons?

***What did I think of them overall? That's after the jump.

Obama: He looked a bit nervous to be there, and I've heard his answers before. his response about homophobia in black churches shows that he isn't just bringing it up at the NAACP forum or the HRC forum, it's his issue, and he's doing it well. His response to being pressed for the fourth or so time on marriage with an "Oh, come on" was actually pretty cool. R. and I cringed when Carlson asked him to compare the gay rights movement to the black civil rights movement, but I liked his answer that oppression hierarchies are counter-productive.

Edwards: He brought up LGBT homeless youth! Without prompting! Go him! Some people have made fun of him for lecturing us on the problem, but the fact that a presidential candidate talked about it at all, especially with Bush cutting the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act's funding year after year, is pretty good to hear. No change in marriage, but did anyone really expect one?

Kucinich: Ugh.

Gravel: Calm, cool, friendly, eloquent, and right most of the time. It's no secret, I love me some Gravel. He even responded to HRC's attempted exclusion of him with class. And pointed out that he has the longest legislative history of fighting for our rights, like a sexuality and gender inclusive human rights ordinance in Alaska before Joe Solmonese was even born. The dude knows how to get along with the gays.

Richardson: Well, besides his much publicized gaffe, I think he came across stiff and uncomfortable. Bil said what I'm thinking: "He just flat out looked bad up there - it was like watching Nixon debate Kennedy." Pretty much. And he snapped at Capehart for bringing up the "maricon" incident. Sorry, Bill, but you said it and people aren't just going to look at your record. If someone else had said something demeaning about latinos and then wanted our votes, both you and I would want the question asked. It doesn't help that he snapped at Pam about it this morning on the phone. Snapping at Pam isn't how you get on the queer blogosphere's good side.

Clinton: She's getting reported as "stiff", but I actually thought she did OK. Nothing too spectacular, but she showed that she was comfortable and that she understood how some people may have felt thrown under the bus by Bill in 1992. I wish she would have talked about more than marriage, DADT, and Bill Clinton's policies (which dealt with, of course, marriage and DADT), but she wasn't really asked about that.

Winner? I'd say Gravel. But of the front-runners I'd put Edwards up there, Obama close by. All around loser, of course, was Richardson, but I'm definitely not the first to say that one. I really hope he'll clear things up in his interview with Bil.

***365gay has a poll up asking who people liked best at the forum. Clinton is currently at 41%, then Kucinich at 28%, Obama at 17%, Gravel and Edwards each at 6%, and then Richardson at 1%.

***There's been some small hub-bub about John Edwards's statement about teaching students to be accepting of sexual diversity. He said:

The kids who go to public schools need to understand why same-sex couples are the parents of some of the children. They need to understand that these are American families, just like every American families. [...]

When asked about what age to start, he said:

I don't -- I don't miss a good question. I've not thought about it enough to answer it.

Great, that's actually a strong departure from most of the candidates who aren't willing to talk about queer youth. And it would help, too, to have the idea that people are equal and that sexuality (any of them) is normal and should be celebrated.

But the president doesn't set public school curriculum. The closest he could get to this is trying to direct federal funding to comprehensive sex education that doesn't say sex outside heterosexual marriage will kill you. And without specifics on what he's talking about, how it's going to be accomplished with legislation, and what he's going to do to get that legislation through, I'm not about to care about this.

***The live-streaming could have been a lot better. I missed the whole thing and had to watch it in the wee hours of the morning after it was recorded. I know others, like Matt Hill Comer and Bil and Jerame, also had problems. Maybe they needed more bandwidth, maybe they needed to put it on a TV channel that more than 1% of people get, or maybe they needed to shrink the size down so each stream took less bandwidth (it was huge, in my opinion).

Just disappointing is all. I was excited for it.

***Well decorated set. Yes, I know, but I have to say it. Throw pillows? Cerulean background with sandy chairs? Chairs that matched the carpet? Oh, my. Don't tell me you all weren't looking at that either.

A well-dressed panel, too, but in the interest of equal opportunity fashion criticism: Obama's pants were too short. And come on, Gravel, sky blue shirt when the backdrop is cerulean? Do you want that shirt to look as old as your human rights ordinance?

***Legalized pot, brought up twice? This is political debating like I like it - everyone's talking about partying.

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Legalized pot, brought up twice? This is political debating like I like it

No shit. I noticed that too. I don't think I've ever seen a presidential debate where legalizing pot was a candidate's real position.

Re the marriage question, if you look at the link you gave for the 670K count of same-sex couples, the source itself does not trust that figure. The reason to question the dominance of the marriage issue in the gay culture of our time is not numbers, but the role of the gay marriage debate in the continuing drive to push public safety net issues of economic support, health and other care issues back into the private sector (this is buried in the Mass. SJC 2004 ruling BTW). The issues of single vs. coupled in the gay community is important, but I don't think the situation is binary and real data on that might surprise everybody.