I have to admit that I really didn't think it was possible, and while I'm still not sure was wrong in the first place, I do have to acknowledge that there's a much better chance now than I'd previously believed: It's now more possible than ever that Barack Obama could be the Democratic Party's nominee for President. There are new reports of polls indicating that Obama could conceivably take both Iowa and New Hampshire in the primaries. While by no means a foregone conclusion (Bill Clinton lost both states in the '92 primaries, but still went on to win), it's at least an indicator that Hillary is not as invincible a candidate as some, including myself, used to think.
For me, at least, it's an encouraging prospect to consider. I'm still very much of the opinion that the Donnie McClurkin thing, particularly the way it was handled once the truth about his anti-gay views became known, was absolutely shameful and direct slap in the face not only to the LGBT community at large, but also to the values which Obama has promoted during this campaign. Yet, when compared to the far worse record of Hillary Clinton, Obama still seems like a breath of fresh air, the kind of real change this country desperately needs, instead of the rollback to the era of ignorance, bad legislation, and political invisibility we suffered during the 90's with Bill Clinton in office, regardless of which Party happened to hold a majority in Congress at any given time during his tenure.
When you compare these two candidates head-to-head, there's just no comparison at all if you're really an inclusive proponent of LGBT rights. Here's just a few of the more relevant highlights:
Obama: Has come out strongly, publicly, and repeatedly in favor of an inclusive ENDA, and in favor of similar legislation throughout his political career.
Clinton: Has publicly addressed the issue of ENDA exactly twice that I'm aware of in all of the time she's been running for and serving in elected office. In 2000, when running for the Senate, she told a reporter that she wasn't supporting trans-inclusion in ENDA because no one in the gay and lesbian community had asked her to. Early this year, Clinton addressed ENDA again, but this time edited the issue of gender-variant Americans completely out of the picture when she told a wildly-cheering Human Rights Campaign Executive Board during a speech that she supports the passage of ENDA because she believes no one should be fired because of who they love.
Obama: Has an entire section of his campaign website devoted to LGBT people and issues, which is fully inclusive of all segments of the community.
Clinton: Her website has nothing whatsoever specifically relevant to LGBT voters. Clinton does have something promoted as her LGBT Steering Committee, but this is actually a group of mostly uber-wealthy and well-connected white gays and lesbians, with just a few transfolks and (perhaps) a few racially and ethnically diverse members who are probably included as a nod to PC tokenism.
Obama: Has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to publicly discuss his support for LGBT equal rights (up to but excluding marriage), and has done so proactively on many occasions.
Clinton: Rarely, if ever, discusses LGBT-relevant issues if not asked a direct question. Still has not publicly stated her position on transgender inclusion in ENDA (or even simply mentioned transgender or gender-variant people at all) during this campaign.
Obama: Supports a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Clinton: Supports only a partial repeal of DOMA, favors federal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, but also favors allowing continued discrimination against LGBT people and our relationships through state and local laws.
Personally, my heart and my values as an American are with Dennis Kucinich. He's the candidate I believe best reflects my vision of the kind of America I want to live in. That said, I'm also a realist. Despite the fact that he seems to win every candidate-blind issues-based poll in a landslide, he doesn't seem to be making much of an impact in the actual Presidential horse race. If I'm to be limited to Clinton and Obama as potentially viable candidates from which to choose (and it seems like I will be), then I've got to go with the candidate that at least takes on the tough day-to-day issues that impact my life and the lives of people I care about head-on instead of avoiding them.
No, I don't think Barack Obama is the perfect candidate, but, for that matter, neither is Dennis. His choice to vote in favor of a non-inclusive ENDA in the full House and his proudly displaying an HRC symbol in his Congressional office don't thrill me. Yet, if I'm able to forgive Dennis these choices I don't approve of because I support his platform, can I really deny the same consideration to Obama in regards to McClurkin when the realistic choices come down to just two?
How about you? If it's a realistic choice between Clinton and Obama as the potential Democratic Presidential nominee, who gets your primary vote: Clinton, Obama, or another, the candidate of your heart? In the end, which wins the day for you here: Idealism, pragmatism, or enlightened self-interest?