Guest Blogger

LGBT Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address

Filed By Guest Blogger | January 28, 2008 10:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: LGBT Democrats, politics, President Bush, State of the Union, Stonewall Democrats

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is from Jon Hoadley, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats. Jon is responding to this evening's State of the Union address by President Bush.

DiversityFor eight years, we’ve heard President Bush report on the progress of his administration. Unfortunately for LGBT Americans, there has been little effort on behalf of this White House to secure or defend our own liberties.

Now, as we enter this new year, it is time for our community to provide for ourselves our own vision of how we can contribute to a more perfect union – one that is strong and that uplifts the entire American family.

In a year when voters will decide who will next occupy the White House, we must work to ensure that elected official is an advocate for all Americans.

We’re ready to advance political priorities that protect our families.

Twenty years ago, holding an LGBT-based fundraiser for the Democratic candidates for President was considered risky. Eight years ago, voicing soft support for civil unions was labeled as daring. Over the years, our work has helped to mature the Democratic Party. We’re not where we should be, but we continue to move forward.

Today, we see Democratic presidential campaigns actively recruit from our community policy makers, volunteers, and-most importantly-votes. We see candidates speak of our families openly, before straight audiences, as part of the American family. Now, our work requires us to secure from our nominee a concrete vision that will now move these priorities into actual policy.

We’re ready for the White House.

LGBT Americans continue to face hardships unique to our community. While our families gladly contribute more than our share to the American family, we are still required to face legal discrimination in the workplace. We still suffer under uneven enforcement policies which treat bias-motivated crimes against LGBT Americans with less weight than most American enjoy. We still face legal burdens to securing legal stability for our families, protections for our children and we still are required to serve our nation in silence.

Our community hungers for our full inclusion in the American family. It is time to turn our eagerness into action and return a Democrat to the White House.

We’re ready for victories.

If we’re truly in the business of fighting for equality, we must ensure that we are not simply building majorities. It’s not enough to just support Democrats—although we have some great ones out there—but we have a responsibility to challenge Democratic candidates with accountability when they fall short on our issues and reward them with support when they take difficult positions.

Whether it’s the success in passing historic non-discrimination bills in “red states” like Iowa or Colorado, winning recognition for our relationships in places like Oregon or New Hampshire, or fighting to preserve the freedom to marry in Massachusetts, we’re seeing that our money—and or volunteer hours—matter.

We’re ready to work..

The next ten months will take patience, perseverance, and participation if we truly want to get to the America we’re all ready for. Now more than ever, it’s time to become involved. There will be distractions along the way. Candidates will misspeak. World events will vie for our attention. We will grow tired—physically, spiritually, and financially. But we can’t give up.

This is our year to build our country towards a more perfect union – an inclusive nation and a secure American family.

We’re ready for equality.

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Bill Perdue | January 29, 2008 2:43 AM

Jon, I’m happy for you being ready and all to have tea and crumpets with whoever wins in November but I have a few questions about actual politics if you have the time.

You’re aware, aren’t you that your party is tainted by leaders like Pelosi, Frank, Obama, Feinstein, Edwards and Clinton and that you’ll have to come up with much better candidates to do anything meaningful? These people sabotaged ENDA and the Mathew Sheppard Hate crimes bill and refuse to repeal DOMA and DADT. They didn’t want them to be an issue in the elections. Like an earlier Dixiecrat named George Wallace, they say samesex marriage equality is a 'states rights' question.

Will you support a candidate who wants to continue the war or even extend it? Will you support them if they defend NAFTA and oppose socialized medicine? Will you ask us to vote for them if they don't support full rights and good wages for immigrant and imported workers? What if they’ve voted for the anti-constitutional Paytriot act? Will you support them if they're not for immediate withdrawal from the Middle East? Will you support them if they're handpuppets for the military industrial alliance that murdered 650,000 plus Iraqis and as of today has killed 3,940 GI's, mostly working class youth?

Please don’t answer by quoting campaign hype like your party’s platform, but with examples of real federal laws that made things fundamentally better instead of sabotaging our standard of living, health care, GLBT protective laws or the struggle to stop the murder in Iraq.

Sadly, I think you will support them no matter what, putting party loyalty ahead of the interest of our GLBT communities, working people, immigrants, the uninsured, unemployed and the underpaid and others.

For shame.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 29, 2008 9:07 AM


You must be a lot of fun at parties, both the political and the social kinds. Your constant negativity must light up the room.

Jon made clear in his post that the Stonewall Democrats are prepared to work with elected officials who are supporters of LGBT civil rights and to challenge those who are lacking in word and deed. In other words, Stonewall Democrats is doing more than making bitter comments to blog posts. They are doing the nitty-gritty work of moving the ball forward on issues important to the LGBT community.

Engaging with political leaders and working with them to pass pro-gay legislation may not be your thing, but don't criticize Jon and Stonewall Democrats for doing the work that you don't want to do.

Apparently the theme song for LGBT Democrats is "Home on the Range"

"...Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day."

I get it, Michael. If you don't have something good to say don't say anything.

I guess the question is: How much do we value/need assimilation?

Working within "the party"...compromising integrity to get a seat at the table...choosing which positions can be sacrificed for the (presumed) greater good...these are all parts of trying to get a piece of the pie...a pie that is well past it's freshness date.

Is this what you mean by doing "the work you don't want to do"?

Are we allowed to criticize the need to pursue these watered down victories or should we accept the work that others are doing whether or not we think it actually does more harm than good?

Last night, I listened long and hard throughout the State of the Union Address. I heard the president make numerous references about freedom and liberty, education and opportunity, democracy and justice. And hope. Not only in these United States, but through out the world. Unfortunately, he made no reference to provisions that would alleviate the suffering or discrimination experienced by the GLBT community within this Nation.

There was no mention of freedom to choose a lifetime same-sex partner, or the right of that couple to enjoy the benefits and protections associated within the union of a civil marriage.
There was no mention of protection for an individual’s right to liberty by expressing their gender or sexual orientation in a manner that is natural to them, without the fear of becoming victims of violence or employment discrimination. No mention of those who have died in despair as a result of societal rejection, bigotry and discrimination.

There was no mention of education for children expressing a GLBT personality. There was no guarantee that they would receive the same consideration for safety and individuality as the other children., even though it is common knowledge that bullying and harassment in schools is one of the largest contributing factors to teen age suicide.

There was no mention of a democracy that would welcome all able bodied GLBT men and women who are citizens in good standing to serve proudly as members of the United States Armed Services. There was no mention that this democracy has instead endorsed policies that permit gang members and racists to serve, facilitating the exclusion of openly gay service men and women.

There was no mention of justice for GLBT men and women who want to assimilate with mainstream society. No protections from criminals, no protection from employment discrimination, no equality in private or governmental institutions. No benefits to be received for committed relationships, for being loving mothers and fathers. And no hope for receiving any consideration as first class citizens in the near future.

At the end of the Address, people were applauding the president. Even Speaker Pelosi in her familiar lavender suit. If I had been present, I would not have been clapping or applauding. My hands would have remained at my side. No exclamation of approval or even disapproval would have escaped from my lips. When it was all over, I felt invisible, as if I didn’t even exist. As a transgender woman, I am a very small part of a minority that makes up another minority- the GLBT community. And the GLBT community is invisible to this president, to this administration. We serve as an embarrassment to most of those who are sworn to represent us in the House and the Senate. We are citizens, and yet all of the accumulated injustice and suffering we endure does not encourage this government to recognize our humanity, much less our God given right to full equality.

In the end, I was just filled with an overwhelming melancholy. The democrats are right, this country wants change. This coming election, let’s make sure that our voices are heard, and that our votes make a difference. Let’s make sure that we become visible. Let’s make sure that advances of our basic civil rights are mentioned in the next State of the Union Address. Or let’s start throwing bricks. Hail to the Chief.

To those who justifiably question the effectiveness and wisdom of supporting democrats, I have the following question.

Are you proposing another viable alternative to working within the democratic party? What viable suggestion might that be? I am sincerely asking as I would consider a reasonable and expedient option.

I can't seem to come up with anything, other than packing my bags and going to Canada. For me that's not viable. Supporting republicans? Ha that's a joke. For better or worse what we have in this nation is essentially a two party system. With the only real chance of progress coming from electing democrats. So I am going to take the seat at that table and make sure I am there to be recognized, if only for embarrassingly pouring catchup on everything.

I think it's valuable and important for people to question and criticize. I have even more respect for people who take it a step further and take action beyond the criticizing and questioning.

So the question begs, nay cries out, to anyone who has the inkling of a belief that we as a community need to be seen everywhere, working everywhere, doing everything and anything to voice our right to be equal, what am I prepared and willing to do to be involved now?

Will I get up from the keyboard and go talk to my friends and neighbors? Will I come out to the world? Will I donate money to help further what I believe is right and just? will I volunteer to to do the work that desperately needs to be done?

If we want to do more good than harm, "good" takes energy and action. Harm needs only apathy and negativity to flourish.

if we want equality, we have to get the votes. and not the twice a year visits making nice taking a congressman to dinner HRC votes. the in your face office disrupting thrown out of the rayburn house kind of votes. flo kennedy once said "sweetie, if you're not living on the edge, then you're taking up space." we need the votes on legislation that will bring us equality. if on every day of the year, we have to have someone stand outside the home and office of every member of the house and senate, we need to be there. we aren't going to get anywhere picketing. we have to be a thorn in the side of every politician that is not willing to support our equality. not our agenda, or our special interest - our equality. it is ours, it belongs to us, and we want it NOW. no more waiting, no more "incremental advances". susan b. anthony said "cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations... can never effect a reform.” it is not going to be given. it has to be demanded. Equality. Now.

Bill Perdue | January 29, 2008 6:02 PM

Michael, whatever makes you imagine that clearly identifying our opponents is negative. I suppose some one consumed with maintaining illusions about the party that killed ENDA and the hate crimes bill and let DOMA and DADT stand might think that's negative, but most people would not.

For you information Michael there is no conceivable way to “build our country towards a more perfect union – an inclusive nation and a secure American family.” In fact Michael,that’s just hype, its campaign season silliness and you need to figure out the difference between hype and reality. This is a sharply divided nation on all the issues we’ve discussed. Hype will not end those divisions.

A party capable of taxing the rich the way they deserve, i.e. harshly, repealing NAFTA, suppressing bigoted churches and slapping down violent thugs so hard they won’t want to get up, that will withdraw all US forces back to the United States, that will jail polluters for and etc. will not win in 2008. It doesn’t’ exist yet but it will grow when the next administration repeats the betrayals and follies of the last one, and that will happen no matter who wins.
It’s reality that’s bitter, Michael, not me. Wake up from you trance, the Democrats and the Republicans the enemy.

It’s the reality of our situation, the unending backstabbing by your party that’s bitter, Michael, not me. In fact, the Democrats and the Republicans are the enemy. If you want to blindly follow them in a trance through another election cycle that is of course your decision, but many of us will not join you.

“What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.” Angela Davis

First of all, I agree with much of what is said in comment number 4. I'm part of the same minority within a minority.
I believe that it's necessary to become as involved with the political process with as much time and energy as we can. Becoming involved makes our tiny minority visible, and the powers that be see that involvement. I have met personally my U.S. Representative, my U.S. Senator, my Governor, my state representative and senator. And they know me, and the efforts I put into getting them elected. When time comes for them to support me, I know they will be there for me because they know that I was there for them.
Change will come about, but first, we all have to get busy, and get involved.
How many Republicans showed up for the LOGO debate, although they were invited? Zero. Who knows who the Democratic nominee will be in November, but that person will be getting my vote. I'm not looking for perfect, but I'd just be happy with "better."

hello shakay!

how many democrats at the debate supported transgender rights? to what degree? what i recall, it was token, and spoken very softly lest some fundamental christian hear what they had to say. the exception was, of course, dennis kucinich. but he is out of the race. and was never given full support of the GLBT movement. of course. everyone was too busy kowtowing to hillary, hoping to be invited to her inaugaration. now that the race has shifted, many are drifting to obama. mind you, obama appeals to me but before he will get my vote he will have to commit to ending DADT and marriage EQUALITY. he didn't do that at the debate. and an inclusive ENDA. if i have to, i may vote for him to defeat the republicans. but that is only a small portion of the battle. we aren't going to win points for being nice. and i don't want the suffering of the next generation on my conscience because i can just blend in and forget about it. the time is NOW. we need to elevate our struggle and start making demands. frederick douglass once said "Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." you can take that to the bank. and just FYI, douglass got incremental and lost his friendship with susan b. anthony. and women didn't get the right to vote for another 50 years. that's a lot of blood. not to mention that by destroying the movements unity, MLK had to do it one more time in 1964 before the black community started to see any real changes. history repeats itself, i suppose.

I'd rather see a Democrat in the White House than McCain, Huckabee, Romney or Ron Paul. Either of the big 3 Ds would be better.

Are there even better options out there? More than likely. But they ain't runnin', are they?

frankly bill, i am not certain about hillary. DOMA, DADT are part of the clinton legacy. bill clinton tended to bend whichever way the wind was blowing, and there are still plenty of fundamentalists out there huffing and puffing. hillary has personally waffled on major issues, including the war in iraq. can ANYONE, left or right trust her? ron paul objects to marriage equality on a constitutional ground, but i believe he opposed any federal protection of marriage, arguing that the decision belongs to each individual state. he kind of plays both sides of the fence by supporting state's rights. on DADT, he reluctantly appears to support maintaing GLBT individuals in the military, if their conduct does not cause disruption - which is a subjective and arbitrary position at best. he is definitely NOT an outspoken supporter of GLBT equality. obama opposes gay marriage equality on claims of "moral grounds", but supports the concept of some form of civil union, which is second class status at best. and he still has plenty of room to waffle. ditto hillary and edwards. they are all pretty much non-commital clones. IMHO, to receive GLBT endorsement, our community desrves a better choice. i think we are all going to individually vote for our own version of the lesser evil. that is a pity in a nation that identifies itself as a leader in the promotion of freedom and equality. in any event, i believe you are correct. mccain, huckabee, and romney have all made public and outright homophobic references, and seek to deny the GLBT community of any equality. LOL not to worry, i think we are just going to end up with some more unemployed politicians. the country really does need that! be well...