Marti Abernathey

Presidential Forum on Marriage Equality

Filed By Marti Abernathey | August 10, 2007 1:06 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, HRC, Joe Solmonese, John Edwards, Logo, marriage, Matthew Shepard Act, presidential debates

It was billed as the "HRC Foundation and Logo Presidential Forum", but you could have just as easily called it the "HRC and Logo Presidential Forum on Marriage Equality". But it wasn't supposed to be that way.

According to Donna Rose's blog:

"I have been told by people who would know that a decision has already been made that each candidate will be given a "T" question (their words, not mine). When I sent my list of questions this morning (the deadline was noon), part of the response I got back was that they particularly "like the more general ones because it requires them to be more forthcoming."

For the record, there was ONE question during the entire forum that was a "T" question. Joe Solmonese asked John Edwards the following question:

"Susan Stanton is in our audience tonight. She was, for 17 years, the city manager in Largo, Florida. She did her job well; she was respected and admired. And when it was revealed that she was transgender, she was fired. So my question for you is if a member of your staff came to you and told you that they were transgender and that they were thinking of transitioning, how would you react to that? And who in your life has influenced what your reaction might be?"

Wow, that was a really hard hitting question! Can you say...


What did you expect him to say? "Well, I'd fire her too! Damn trannies don't belong on this planet!"

The rest of the forum seemed to center around marriage equality. The people asking the questions pounded each candidate with marriage equality questions, and only in response to those questions did the candidates talk about other issues such as passage of ENDA and the hate crimes bill. Frankly, I have to ask, WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING? Both ENDA and the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act are bills that are on the verge of being voted on. There are no pending marriage equality bills on the federal level that I'm aware of. Why pound marriage into the ground when a significant percentage of the electorate is against it? According to a recent gallop poll, only 26% of Americans are against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. For the life of me, I can't understand why there wasn't mention of the wide American support of the hate crimes bill and the coming presidential veto.

The Real ID act will go in effect soon, why no questions about it? Without changes in the Real ID act and without protections in ENDA, transgender people are at even a higher risk of being stigmatized and marginalized in the workplace.

There are so many questions that that weren't asked. All in all, tonight was a missed opportunity for anyone that cares about any other issue besides marriage equality or the bark beetle infestation.

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Leland Frances | August 10, 2007 3:59 AM

I agree that there were many missed opportunities, made worse by an obnoxious straight woman asking questions and reinforcing stereotypes of another kind, e.g., "the left coast," the otherwise divine Melissa's repeated attempts to turn it into a hug fest, and a noisy live audience. At least they didn't have a prerecorded laugh track.

But you left out an issue that I care very much about and was addressed: what emerging gay youth and their peers hear about us in public schools. John Edwards dared say gay families should be positively discussed—the only really new, really courageous thing we heard tonight.

"Melissa's repeated attempts to turn it into a hug fest"

I love Melissa as an artist and a human being, but she had no business being on that panel. She was simply up there because of her star power. But your right, she did try to turn it into a hug fest.

Personally, I was irritated with John Edwards. A comedian commented about how he came off. The way he said it was like "wow, did you that kids get thrown out on the street because they are GLBT?"
Um, duh, we live it... we see it. It would have been good if he was talking to a straight audience, but it was mainly a GLBT audience.

I will say that Melissa did one thing well, she kicked Hillary's butt over her husband's passage of DOMA and DADT.

beergoggles | August 10, 2007 9:52 AM

Edwards didn't come across as condescending so much as clueless in that comment. I guess I can see how that can get mistaken for condescending in that context and as Leland pointed out, he does get some points for recognizing our families.

Melissa kept making everything personal, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not the best thing on a panel like that.

Surprisingly enough I just posted this on the LOGO website in response to the forum. I was looking for other places to express my opinion and feel onto your article. I wanted to share my similiar expressed feelings.

I want to thank LOGO and HRC for being involved in the Presidential candidate conversation. However, as a television station and a nonprofit organization claiming that they represent the LGBT community and acting as two of the largest representatives on this issue, I was disappointed with the questions you chose to cover. Although, I have a personal connection to all the questions you asked, it continues to be the "T" for Transgender in the acronym that consistently is left out of these conversations. This saddens me and continues to make our community fragmented.

During critical events, such as this Presidential Forum, that give the GLBT community a time to speak out and attract increased media and political leverage it is especially necessary to remember and include everyone that you represent. There was no conversation about health insurance policies increasingly adding clauses that don't allow services for people who are diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, there was no conversation about the Real ID ACT, there was no conversation about the issue of safe bathroom facilities in public and government facilitates, and these are just a few issues facing the Transgender Community. It is not that the issues you discussed are not important to me or the Transgender Community or that I don’t understand you were given a limited amount of time. It is however, my feeling that this is a continued practice by large organizations representing the GLBT community to discriminate amongst their own ranks in fighting for the equality we all so very much want and desperately need to survive. Thank you.

I appreciated that Obama made a mention of transgendered people when it wasnt brought up in the questions posed to him. That seems to indicate that trans issues are on his mind, and he doesn't just think about them when prompted.