I love Sunday brunch. My friends and I gather at some West Hollywood or L.A. eatery and let the politics fly. It’s all off the record so spin takes a back seat to “truth” – whatever that might mean in the moment.
And needless to say, with Iowa and New Hampshire a breath away – and Michigan (home of the Triangle Foundation), Nevada (Steve Friess and a burgeoning gay community), South Carolina (Pam Spaulding-adjacent and Obama tour-site for gospel gay-basher Donnie McClurkin) and Florida (Jeb Bush, ex-NYCers, and Key West) – all leading up to Super-Duper Tuesday on Feb. 5 – we’ve been like gluttons at a political all-you-can-eat buffet.
But here’s the thing: with the California Primary just a month-plus away, my friends are still sampling the candidates, changing their picks according to the latest news - with the candidates’ positions on LGBT issues as only one of many considerations.
Yesterday one friend - a gay Latino Republican who believes everyone (except criminals, he points out) in America should own a gun for self-protection – switched from Rudy Giuliani to John McCain because of the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Suddenly Rudy seemed like a “smart-aleck” and my friend wanted someone with solid defense credentials who would be able to be up-to-speed the first day in office.
This is an interesting development because California – as you may know – is awash with Rudy supporters – including open gays in leadership positions in his state and local campaigns. With Gov. Arnold’s “post-partisan” demeanor in handling healthcare and the multi-billion dollar deficit, many moderate Pro-Choice and pro-gay Republicans are counting on Rudy’s coattails to help them take back the legislature from ultra-conservatives.
McCain, my friend argued, was opposed to the federal marriage amendment and is not anti-gay (he cried at 9/11 hero and gay GOP McCain supporter Mark Bingham’s funeral in San Francisco). He just appealed to Falwell and the Bob Jones University crowd to court the religious right grassroots. But that’s over now and he’s back to being the John McCain we used to love.
Well, several eyes brows lifted over that until our straight white Democratic friend said he was interested in Ron Paul. He especially likes that Ron Paul is for the individual and not the government – including eliminating the IRS. But, he conceded, Ron Paul’s not likely to win so he may just go for Hillary Clinton.
At which point my gay Republican friend said he likes Hillary, too. It’ll be a hard choice if it comes down to McCain versus Hillary. He might even crossover and vote for Hillary – a position not uncommon among gay GOPers who say they’ll vote for Hillary if Rudy doesn’t get the nomination.
Nah – it’ll be Romney, my gay Latino Democratic friend says. Everyone jumps in on that one – surely post-Iowa Romney – who’s bought his ground forces everywhere – will revert to Businessman and “turn-around” artist for Super-Duper Tuesday. Romney will appeal to those scared to death about a recession. Let Huckabee and McCain go after the evangelicals – even though Romney is a Mormon version of one in his heart of hearts. It’s going to be “the economy, stupid” all over again.
My gay Latino Democratic friend just can’t countenance Hillary – he just decided he’s for Obama. He’s tired of the partisan bickering and likes Obama’s message of hope and change. We don’t need a repeat of the same old thing.
Ah – everyone chimes in – but can a Black man be elected? Given all the women leaders in other countries – and the perpetual racism here….? And do we really KNOW him? I mean, they say – everyone already knows everything about Hillary – we won’t be surprised.
No one at the brunch mentioned John Edwards. But it was a very different scenario at a Stonewall Democratic Club holiday party a few days ago. There a few of the head honchos expressed their formal support for Hillary – whom their political committee had recommended before being stalemated into "no consensus' by crowds of Obama and Edwards supporters. But most of the others told me between drinks and appetizers that John Edwards was their guy because of his progressive views on poverty and the war in Iraq.
But – they all told me – they will enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee to get rid of this lawless Republican Administration and its progeny.
LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS were hardly mentioned at all.
That struck me after brunch and after the party. Like so many other undecided American voters, our particular issues matter – but not as much, apparently, as reclaiming and protecting the country.
BTW – I’ve been writing a series of stories on the candidates for gaywired.com leading up to Super-Duper Tuesday when I will be live blogging on that site. Here’s the latest piece on Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Fred Thompson.