Steve Ralls

A Vote Divided, But Hopes That Remain the Same

Filed By Steve Ralls | February 05, 2008 9:15 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, gay vote, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mike Gravel, Super Tuesday

One look at the diverse array of presidential political postings here at Bilerico, and it becomes clear that, on this 'Super' Tuesday, our own community is as torn between candidates as the electorate in general. And while I’ve been proud to weigh in on behalf of the candidate I (enthusiastically) support, I’ve been equally inspired by the endorsements offered up on behalf of the other candidates seeking that most exclusive office space on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown D.C.

Last night, following on the heels of her statement to LGBT voters, Senator Clinton also fielded a question at her national town hall meeting about what she was do to secure the idea of “liberty” for America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Her strong pledge of support comes on the heels of a truly ground-breaking moment several weeks ago, when Senator Barack Obama included LGBT Americans – and called out homophobes – in a Martin Luther King Day speech before Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. So it’s no wonder that this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle reports that, among gay Democrats, our votes are split . . . but our hopes remain the same.

In this morning’s Chronicle, writer Rachel Gordon notes that, “Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic U.S. senators locked in a tight race for their party's presidential nomination, appear to have split support among gay and lesbian voters, with neither candidate yet to emerge as the clear frontrunner.

“Both campaigns have outreach efforts focused on the gay and lesbian community, which has proved potent when it comes to fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic candidates,” Gordon reports.

LGBT Democrats, like Democrats at large, are divided among the two Senators. And, as Gordon notes, the concerns of gay Americans largely mirror the concerns of every constituency.

“Betha Stepnitz, a 21-year-old lesbian, said same-sex marriage isn't what's going to sway her in the voting booth,” the Chronicle reports.

“It doesn't matter if we can get married or not if we're going to blow ourselves off the Earth,” she said. “There are bigger issues.” Lilke, she says, experience, leadership and a candidate's ability to bring people together.

She knows she'll vote for a Democrat, but as of Monday she didn't know which one - a position in which a lot of Democrats found themselves, Gordon writes.

Indeed, the shadow of marriage, which Republicans used as a ‘divide and conquer’ technique in 2004, doesn’t seem to be casting a dark cloud over two candidates who don’t support marriage for same-sex couples. And some gay voters seem to understand – if even reluctantly – why the two front-runners (Gravel, after all, is still in the race!) aren’t quite there yet on the issue. “If I were a politician, I'd be mum on that, too,” Marcellus Woodward, a gay bartender, told the Chronicle. “The country's not ready, and it only could be harmful in a campaign.”

And while we can disagree on the role marriage should play in the election (after all, most people would have argued the nation wasn’t ‘ready’ for interracial marriage when Loving v. Virginia was decided, either), it’s heartening to see two candidates aggressively courting our votes, talking to our community and inspiring us to action.

This Tuesday, our vote may be divided but our hopes are all the same . . . and that’s super (which sounds a little bit gay) indeed.

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 5, 2008 9:45 AM

I think that the strong support among LGBT voters for both Obama and Clinton is not a sign that the LGBT community is divided. Its a sign that we are a community with diverse interests like the non-LGBT community and that, in this case, we have too strong candidates.

We are not a gay version of the Borg and shouldn't be expected to act that way.

Michael Bedwell | February 5, 2008 7:19 PM

As exact word choice is everything in a political campaign—and no Democrat has demonstrated his crafty understanding of that more than Sen. Obama—I must respectfully register a disagreement even with another supporter of Sen. Clinton over whether or not Sen. Obama "called out" "homophobes."

The propagandists of the religious arm of the Antigay Industry realized long ago that they could sucker more bees with honey than vinegar, thus their expressions like "hate the sin, love the sinner." Encouraging his listeners to stop "scorning" and start "embracing" us is little better on its face, and is certainly not "calling out" which I define as "aggressively challenging; denouncing."

Sen. Obama is certainly no Republican hiding homophobia in a velvet glove, but he has repeatedly demonstrated his mastery of the turn of an otherwise meaningless phrase that enables both sides—homo and homophobe—to walk away believing they are not a part of the problem. Of course, for all his Pollyannish "listen to the people who have been talking to you with baseball bats all these years," I believe it is the latter and not the former who ARE the problem.

Marriage isn't the #1 priority for a lot of us have "gay issues" as #1 in our priority list. Personally, I've been tired of fighting against the local marriage amendment - I don't want the legislation enacted, obviously, but I don't want to get married either.

Both of them support civil rights in employment, etc. That's my #1 "gay issue." I could care less that they don't both "support gay marriage." No politician seriously running for Prez would say they do right now. They're both in favor of civil unions (which is more in line with what I'd want anyhow).

My #1 gay issue is health care, prolly why I blog about it so much, and neither candidate supports my vision of what it should be.

Oh, well. I think that the divide is because the two are so close in policy, fund-raising, and celebrity status so it's kinda hard to make an easy decision.

And Gravel's still in? I didn't know that, and the fact that I didn't know that speaks volumes about his campaign.