At the Nevada debate this past Tuesday, all three top Democrats expressed support for extending the Solomon Amendment, a law created and expanded to keep recruiters on campuses that have sexual orientation inclusive anti-discrimination policies.
Not that it's all that surprising - no one should really expect a presidential candidate to say that she's going to undermine military recruitment efforts. And the rhetoric around DADT repeal has generally focused on the military end of the deal - the military is losing necessary linguists, the military is wasting money by replacing qualified soldier, military cohesion wouldn't be hurt by gays in the military. And, oh, yeah, it would make the lives of those gays and lesbians in the military better too.
(Not saying that the Solomon Amendment is good, but I am saying that the rhetoric those who oppose DADT use to advocate repeal supports the Solomon Amendment. If we're not getting enough qualified people in the military, so then why should we further hamstring recruiting efforts?)
But what is rather annoying is the way the question was framed as a class issue instead of a gay one:
Senator Clinton, I’ll start with you. The volunteer Army, many believe, disproportionate in terms of poor and minority who participate in our armed forces.
There’s a federal statute on the books which says that, if a college or university does not provide space for military recruiters or provide a ROTC program for its students, it can lose its federal funding.
Will you vigorously enforce that statute?
Ugh. First, let's start with the idea that the Solomon Amendment will do anything to change the disproportionate number of poor people who enlist. It's only a few schools that are protesting, those students have many other options besides joining the military (something military recruiters know and part of why they prefer to recruit in poorer neighborhoods), and if those students really do want to join, nothing's stopping them.
Oh, and people who graduate from college (especially the schools that tried to buck the Solomon Amendment) become officers and end up in the rich/powerful part of the military's internal hierarchy.
But, more importantly, this portrays the schools that are trying to reject military recruiters as doing it for no reason other than to protect those impressionable, blue-blooded kids who go there from military service, when in fact the biggest opposition to the amendment and the only Supreme Court challenge to the law was based on DADT.
This is something that I suspect Obama, Clinton, and Edwards all know. They all said that they'd enforce the amendment.
And we were the elephant in the room during their answers. Clinton responded with GI Bill, Support the Troops, and national service program; Obama spoke too many rural people in the military, expanding the military, and a national service program; Edwards talked about supporting the troops, helping with post-military employment, and veterans' health care. Then Obama rebutted with Walter Reed.
Of course, none of them is going to talk about the gays if they don't have to. And Tim Russert framed the question in such a way that they weren't forced to.
But it would have been nice to hear what the candidates had to say on that aspect of the amendment, to get them on record saying that they'd do something about it (or not), especially since it's been ignored this season (I notice our HRC friends didn't talk about it at their forum).
It'd be one thing if this were an isolated instance, but taken into account with Obama and that homophobic preacher, his lame responses, Edwards not allowing press to come with him on his visit to the LA GLCC, the mainstream Democratic Party blaming us for Kerry's loss in 2004, this answer shows that any queer out there supporting one of these three candidates in the primaries based on LGBT issues is going to be sorely disappointed.
GLBT people, honestly, have lost their ability to want, to want deeply and to want expansively. We've created these lists of "our" issues that most Americans support (besides marriage), short and not really all that controversial.
And while the CW is that rank-and-file Radical Homosexual Activists are a liability to the Democratic Party, it's getting harder and harder to see exactly how anything they're asking for would really put that party in danger as the public gets comfortable with with us having more and as we get comfortable with asking for less.
And yet, we get a gay question asked at a presidential debate and the candidates all dancing around the gay issue. I guess not that much actually has changed.