Tyrion Lannister

A Response to Chris Douglas

Filed By Tyrion Lannister | March 10, 2008 8:15 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is by anonymous blogger, Tyrion. Tyrion was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He writes professionally about twentieth century American history, and blogs pseudonymously at Tyrion's Point about queer politics, cooking, music, running, and his magnificent boyfriend.


Chris Douglas has been kind enough to offer a measured rebuttal to my arguments against Jon Elrod's candidacy. Chris makes some decent points, but, at their core, I think his arguments are far more charitable to Elrod than is warranted, given Elrod's silence on crucial LGBT issues and his continued employment of anti-gay media firm Main-1-Media. Chris makes two specific responses that I'm interested in dissecting.

First, Chris characterizes Jon Elrod's silence on the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBOA) and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) as "thoughtful demurral pending more information, rather than an attempt to avoid the questions at hand, let alone opposition to GLBT interests."

This is a strange characterization, given that neither the DPBOA nor the UAFA are particularly complicated issues. Neither would substantially increase government spending nor create federalist concerns. Both acts are rooted in a basic recognition, to quote Andre Carson's response, of "value and respect for all families." Carson adds, "All Americans should have access to the same rights and responsibilities, including equal health insurance, employment benefits, and property and adoption rights, to strengthen their own families."

Silence on the DPBOA and UAFA amounts to a tacit endorsement of the status quo. The status quo requires the federal government to deny basic health and employment benefits to same-sex partners. It encourages the INS to engage in systematic discrimination against LGBT families during the naturalization process. All justifications for the status quo eventually boil down to anti-gay prejudice, the denigration of same-sex relationships, and the fundamental proposition that our families are not as important as heterosexual families. Andre Carson's response, unlike Jon Elrod's "thoughtful demurral" to the homophobic status quo, is bold affirmation of the equality and dignity of LGBT families.

The basic nature of this issue is not complicated. It isn't deep or concealed in arcane legalistic language. Jon Elrod is an intelligent man with a law degree. If he didn't know what the DPBOA and UAFA were off-hand it should have taken him about thirty minutes with any internet connection to adequately educate himself. After that the question is simple: Does Jon Elrod think gay families should be treated like straight families by the Federal government? In this case, his silence answers no.

Second, Chris tells us, "In order truly to see progress we need to see support grow in the Republican Party." As a relatively LGBT supportive Republican, Chris suggests, Jon Elrod is a primed pump for just that sort of support.

This is a baffling argument. Chris is not suggesting that Jon Elrod is better on LGBT issues -- in fact, as I have just pointed out, Jon Elrod is manifestly and obviously inferior on LGBT issues. Chris is arguing that LGBT people should support Jon Elrod in spite of that fact because he is a voice of relative sanity in a party managed by lunatic extremists. Yet, one suspects that this argument overlooks an obvious point: Doesn't is suggest a serious flaw in Jon Elrod's judgment and commitment to LGBT issues that he would choose, in the first place, to join a party managed by lunatic extremists?

This relates back to Chris' final dubious plea. Chris argues that the Wall Street Journal and other political analysts give the Republicans slim odds indeed of recapturing the House of Representatives. From this perspective, Jon Elrod's vote for John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives won't damage LGBT interests in the immediate future (though it will, of course, amount to a tacit endorsement of John Boehner's homophobia).

I can't disagree with the analysis that Republicans aren't likely to retake the House in November. But, I question why that analysis should suddenly be tactically mustered into an appeal to elect more Republicans. In other words, Chris is conceding implicitly the fact that Republican control of the House of Representatives would be a disaster for the interests of the LGBT community. If that's the case, LGBT voters shouldn't be succored into a false sense of security by which they down but one "thin wafer" of a Republican. Quite the contrary, the real implication should be clear: if Republican control of the House of Representatives is such an obviously bad thing for the LGBT community, let's do everything we can to make it harder for the Republicans to retake control of the House of Representatives. That means we don't have to worry about Jon Elrod helping to make John Boehner Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2009, 2011, or 2013, because Jon Elrod should never have the opportunity to cast a vote for a lunatic extremist Republican leadership in the first place.

At the end of the day, Chris' appeal rests on a very counterintuitive understanding of gay politics: namely, we should reward Jon Elrod for being a Republican and supporting the homophobic Republican leadership. I think parties and candidates should work hard to win the trust of LGBT voters. The Democratic Party has eschewed gay-baiting and homophobia in the last decade and worked hard to treat the LGBT community as a valued constituency. Andre Carson's response to the Indiana Equality questionnaire is testimony to this fact. LGBT voters couldn't ask for a better response from a candidate than Andre's. He's exactly right on the issues and, better yet, the justification for his positions is nuanced and thoughtful. Andre doesn't just hold the right positions, he holds the right values. That's something we should all be willing to vote for.

Meanwhile, Jon Elrod won't commit to supporting either the DPBOA or the UAFA -- basic civil rights legislation that establishes that the Federal government must treat all families with respect and dignity. In addition, Jon Elrod's campaign continues to employ an anti-gay activist firm, Main-1-Media, to design his website and advertisements. While Jon Elrod has publicly poked Eric Miller's eye on other occasions, he is now using a media firm that was founded by Rick Terry, one of Eric Miller's chief cronies, and has been used by Miller to register and organize anti-gay protests. Jon Elrod has shrugged off these concerns. He's also using his friends at Main-1-Media to print anti-choice fliers. Apparently, in Jon Elrod's world, voting with your constituents on SJR-7 buys you a lot of leeway. Enough apparently to employ vile homophobes and still, amazingly, contest the gay vote.

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Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 10, 2008 2:00 PM

Since my partner and I live just outside of the 7th District we won't be facted with a difficult choice (including one to join Bil Browning in his announced intention of not voting) tommorrow. I suspect my choice, at least, were I eligible to vote, would be not voting.

Both Chris and Tryion (whatever his real name, and I respect though regret the need for his decision not to use it) make some cogent arguments pro and con concerning Elrod and Carson. I do have a problem with what appears to be a concept that one ought to dismiss anyone who is a member of a party which, in Tryion's words, a party managed by lunatic extremists. That seems tantamount to saying that under no circumstances should a member of the GLBT community ever vote for a Republican, and hence close off any avenue to help build a two-party system that may ultimately free them from simply beholden to the Democratic Party, regardless how how otherwise sleazy their candidates might be. (That is not, by the way, a generality and in no way meant to be demeaning of Andre Carson) Sometimes we make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 11, 2008 9:51 AM

Tyrion, people have to be lobbied and educated... There are those that are receptive and those that are not.. and then there are those that, receptive, prove capable of adopting a position favorable to the gay community no matter the apparent negative fall out. In these regards, I think Jon Elrod is worthy. Frankly, I myself have not had time to discuss these matters with him, and don't in the least blame him for committing where he is educated, but remaining silent before committing on other points.

But there is another point I would make based on your post here questioning Republicans and anyone who would affiliate with Republicans. I am, of course, Republican. I came out publicly in 1996 by establishing a local chapter of Log Cabin Republicans when there was no Democratic gay organization in place. (The Rainbow Democrats followed, and then Stonewall.)

Republicans in Indiana have been responsible for some important precedents advancing glbt causes, including the first candidate for Mayor to pledge to incorporate Sexual orientation in the city's written nondiscrimination policy (Sue Anne Gilroy) and the first candidate to include gender identity in a nondiscrimination policy (Todd Rokita). Indeed, until Governor Daniels incorporated sexual gender identity into his nondiscrimination policy as candidate, it was ONLY Republican candidates that were willing to include the T of GLBT. Actually, I could go into considerable detail on other important advances that came from Republicans, but today I have to attend to business. (Some of my democratic friends could read the beginning of this paragraph and say: "Oh, no.. don't get him started... he'll never shut up...")

But I make another point. After I came out of the closet by becoming an activist in 1996, I was fired from what I considered to be my dream corporate job. I felt being out and public was a matter of principle. You are asking politicians to put themselves on the line for our community. Yet you yourself write anonymously. Why? You confuse me.

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 11, 2008 11:58 AM

Hi Chris,

I blog psuedonymously because of my occupation. When I have tenure that will change. None of my arguments depend upon my identity, so I'm not really sure why it's relevant. To be clear: my sexuality isn't a problem for my occupation. I'm completely out and I regularly and openly engage in queer activism. It's only the blogging that's a problem, and that's because of a deeply flawed and fairly absurd belief that I should dedicate my "intellectual" time exclusively to "scholarly" pursuits.

I have no problem with the argument that the LGBT community should reward politicians -- irrespective of party -- for supporting LGBT rights and punish politicians -- again irrespective of party -- if they don't support them. But that's not your argument. Your argument is that, despite the fact that Andre is incontestably better on LGBT rights, LGBT voters should support Jon Elrod because Jon Elrod is a Republican. In my book, belonging to a party that uses homophobic violence as a GOTV device earns you heightened skepticism. In other words, Jon Elrod should have more to prove because he is a Republican, not less. Your argument seems to be the reverse.

In the meantime, your argument would be more compelling if Andre Carson didn't have such strong pro-LGBT positions. Nor does your argument seem to be able to account for the ways in which Elrod is structurally implicated in systematic homophobic violence when he votes for homophobic Republican leadership. Nor does your argument respond to the fact that Jon Elrod is actually employing anti-gay activists to design his commercials and websites.

Hi Don,

I don't want to give the impression that LGBT voters should never consider voting for a Republican. My argument is slightly more nuanced. I'm suggesting that by virtue of being a Republican, Republican candidates deserve heightened scrutiny from LGBT voters, not lessened. Andre Carson is an exceptionally strong candidate on LGBT issues, so it seems obvious that voters who are strongly moved by LGBT issues should vote for him. Chris' arguments to the contrary seem to overstate Elrod's commitment to LGBT issues and understate his relationship to the institutionalized homophobia of the Republican party.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 11, 2008 12:31 PM

Tyrion, it isn't merely a question for me of which candidate is more deserving. You say Andre is... I've never heretofore in Indiana activism noticed him speak up on our behalf... so its hard for me to separate what his personal commitment is versus what political calculus appears beneficial to him. There's no question he has had access to a substantial depth of a political machine and resources in way that Elrod has not.

But the personal merit issue aside (and I believe at root the two are on a personal level equally meritorious), I do believe Elrod's election would serve as an additional impetus towards change in the Republican Party, and that such change is necessary in order for us to see progress generally.

I well recall an example of the importance of encouraging such inter-party dynamics. In the year 2000 Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York all had by Governor's order a policy prohibiting discrimination in state employment on the basis of sexual orientation. What did they all have in common? Republican Governors. After 12 years of a Democratic governor, Indiana did not.

How did we get that policy? Well, the Republicans on the bi-partisan Rainbow Alliance Political Action committee declined to support an endorsement of Governor O'Bannon until he had at least committed to matching Republican Sue Anne Gilroy's commitment in the preceding mayoral race to incorporate sexual orientation. I recall the moment well, as the alliance met with Tom New, the Governor's (campaign manager? chief of staff?), made pleasantries, before I personally ended the pleasantries with a direct question: Would the Governor in the next term incorporate sexual orientation? Tom New literally took a deep breath and said: yes. (I can provide names of others in that meeting, but for the moment in respect to their privacy will refrain from "dragging them in".)

The dynamics of progress depend not merely on personal merit, but on inter and intra-party dynamics. Under present circumstances, I do not believe that Andre Carson has personally done anything for us over the years meriting a heightened level of support, whereas Elrod proved himself by his word in the last legislative session. The message of Elrod's election in the Republican Party would be very helpful to moving the Republican Party ever more forward in way that benefits the glbt community, indeed in a way without which I believe forward progress is difficult.

Candidly, Elrod against Orentlicher would be a more difficult call. Orentlicher has been a consistent friend of the community, and far more than Andre, could have some claim on loyalty no matter the Party dynamics.

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 11, 2008 1:10 PM

Hi Chris,

I'm arguing: (a) Republicans deserved heightened scrutiny from the LGBT community because they belong to a party that regularly deploys homophobic violence as a GOTV device. (b) Jon Elrod does not support a number of "easy" pro-gay positions, in particular passage of the DPBOA and UAFA. (c) Jon Elrod employs anti-gay activists to build his campaign website and produce his campaign ads.

The only thing you write that seems even modestly responsive to my argument is that, "Elrod proved himself by his word in the last legislative session."

I contend (a) given the demographics of his district (overwhelmingly liberal on social issues) his position on SJR-7 doesn't demonstrate how he would behave given a "hard" LGBT vote (a vote where he was staking out a politically unpopular position) and (b) his position on SJR-7 shouldn't earn him a permanent free-pass, especially when other issues like the DPBOA and UAFA, aren't difficult or complicated. They are basic and straightforward. If Jon Elrod thinks gay families are equal to straight families he should support both pieces of legislation.

Most of your responses are grounded in abstruse chronologies of the "dynamics of change" and fairly abstract arguments about how to move the Republican Party one way or another. That's all lovely and interesting reading for academics (ha!) but it is a distraction from the much simpler realities:

(1) Jon Elrod does not support passage of the DPBOA and UAFA. Andre Carson does. Both pieces of legislation would eliminate important sources of inequality and anti-gay discrimination in the federal government.

(2) Jon Elrod employs homophobic anti-gay activists to design his campaign website and produce his campaign ads. Andre Carson does not.

If you could respond to any of the points I'm making, it would be greatly appreciated.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 11, 2008 2:05 PM

Okay, Tyrion, as of minutes ago I have completed a conversation with Jon Elrod on both Domestic Partnership and Immigration. He has not read the Acts (neither have I), but was happy to share his thoughts about the principle he would employ.

Regarding Domestic Partnership for federal employees, Jon Elrod favors equitable treatment of employees in same sex relationships and would proceed under that principle. He would have some reservations about the act if it confers benefits on people who could easily get married. (He believes heterosexual and gay couples should be treated equally under the law, with civil unions for all, and marriage as a matter for church not state.) He is unequivocal in supporting domestic partnership for same sex couples who cannot marry.

Regarding immigration, Jon Elrod is unequivocal in supporting recognition for immigration purposes of same sex partners in bona fide relationships.

Regarding Adoption, Elrod believes that is generally a matter of regulation at state level, and he is uncertain what the federal ramifications are. Jon Elrod does believe that same sex couples should be allowed to adopt, and he supports the current state law environment in Indiana under which adoptions are allowed.

(Regarding the website designers, I think for now, Tyrion, it is a non-issue. I wouldn't discourage a change, but I also like the idea of ever more Republican Party apparatus and related vendors becoming comfortable working with glbt-supportive candidates. I chose not to address that issue with Elrod.)

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 11, 2008 2:35 PM

Tyrion, regarding abstract, we approach from two different angles... you as an academic, and I as one who has been involved directly or indirectly (as have many others... I don't claim to have been alone) in just about every advance the glbt community has made in Indiana since 1996. What I care about is progress, not who gets credit or reward. I believe very strongly that success for Jon Elrod in this election would have an important impact on the Republican Party in Indiana, which impact would be immensely helpful to the community in furthering our efforts to achieve progress here.

We need to achieve serious success in diffusing Republican opposition to progress so that moderate Republicans and Democrats together can achieve the passage of helpful legislation.

In the absence of progress on the Republican side, progress in Indiana will be impossible. ONLY with progress on the Republican side do we stand a chance of seeing helpful legislation passed, for ONLY then will a majority of Democrats and the necessary number of Republicans feel politically safe voting for such legislation.

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 11, 2008 3:59 PM

Hi Chris,

Actually, I only come at this from the perspective of being an queer citizen, voter, and activist. As it happens, my academic work has precious little to do with LGBT issues (I study the 1920s and 1930s). And while I can't claim the benefit of any chats Tom New, I don't think that justifies making my relative youth the target of your polite condescension. In any case, your theory of social change reminds me of some of the more esoteric academic explanations for social change. My perspective is much more simple and practical. If LGBT voters want progress on LGBT issues, they should vote for candidates who advocate the correct positions on LGBT issues. It's that simple.

You're writing a lot about the different ways to manipulate and maneuver the Republican party, but frankly this makes it sound like you care more about the long-term electoral viability of the Republican party then anything else. Private assurances from Jon Elrod mean a lot to you, but I'm interested in the public commitment represented by the Indiana Equality survey. On that front he was and is sorely lacking. Again, why isn't Jon Elrod familiar with the legislation? Why didn't he bother to investigate the legislation when he was surveyed by Indiana Equality? It's not very credible to suggest that Jon Elrod is deeply and profoundly committed to the service of LGBT rights when he can't be bothered to do thirty-minutes of internet research to come up with the correct position.

I'm also not really sure why I or anyone else should accept that Elrod's employment of Main-1-Media is a "non-issue." Why is it a non-issue? Elrod's been confronted about it on multiple occasions but he refuses to come up with any decent explanation for employing anti-gay activists to run his campaign. I understand that it's inconvenient to talk about this, but it decisively underscores how impossible it is for any Republican candidate to ever fully separate themselves from the homophobia of the Republican party apparatus. Even Jon Elrod must direct business to anti-gay firms because they are apparently "Republican" vendors. That's bullshit. Every LGBT citizen should realize that if they contribute to Jon Elrod, their money is going to be passed along to Rick Terry and Main-1-Media who will then use the same firm as a front to organize anti-gay activism.

What's amazing about this whole conversation is that LGBT voters are expected to give Jon Elrod every benefit of the doubt: if he's silent on crucial issues its benign ignorance; if he employs homophobes it's a "non-issue"; if he will vote for John Boehner to be Speaker of the House it doesn't represent a tacit endorsement of Boehner's extreme homophobia.

Dispensation after dispensation. Excuse after Excuse.

Meanwhile, Andre Carson does everything that LGBT voters could ask of him. This isn't a hard choice.

Finally you write: "In the absence of progress on the Republican side, progress in Indiana will be impossible."

This isn't a race for the Indiana State House. It's a race for the US House. The Republican Party is in the process of making itself into a permanent minority party on the strength of its positions on the War and its social conservativism. National progress for LGBT issues depends not on winning Republican moderates (a disappearing breed, in any case); it depends on cementing the LGBT community as a valuable component of the governing coalition. From that perspective, voting for moderate Republicans is actually quite counterproductive, especially when it means we don't vote for Democrats who are actively and enthusiastically catering the support of our community.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 11, 2008 4:52 PM

Actually, Tyrion, I wasn't aware of your relative youth. (I guess I'm now suddenly and painfully aware, however, of my relative age!)

First, you can consider my conversation with Elrod to represent a formal conveyance of his views. I asked him the questions and said that I proposed to post his answers publicly. (By the way, Tyrion, I was one of the founders of Indiana Equality.)

Second, my overwhelming object in life is to see progress for the gay community in Indiana and across the nation; I see progress occurring within the Republican Party in Indiana as a necessary precursor. I have sacrificed considerably for that purpose (as have many... I know I am not alone).

Third, all politics is local, Tyrion. While there may be an opportunity with domestic partnership for federal employees and with regard to immigration, (both of which Elrod supports), the impact of both of those will be limited and virtually inconsequential for gay citizens in Indiana. To see progress that will have a favorable impact on glbt citizens in Indiana, we must see progress in the Republican Party in Indiana, for without it, we will not see adequate progress in the Democratic Party in Indiana either.

The issue is not merely a matter of numbers, it is a matter of Dynamics. To see Democrats in Indiana have the courage to back relationship rights, they must have the confidence that the Republican Party in Indiana will not attack them for it. To have that confidence, they must have a Republican Party in which there is significant support for relationship rights. To have that support, there must be an argument that Republicans who support relationship rights can get elected.

Further, precedents at the Indiana State House level have a greater indirect importance with regard to national politics than direct the direct importance of our elected representatives. Julia could argue for hate crime legislation including sexual orientation until she was blue in the face, but the Indiana legislature passing a hate crime measure with sexual orientation included did more for us. Then at the national level the fact that "even states like Indiana" accept sexual orientation as a class becomes a tipping point argument.

Tyrion, the Democratic Governor in Indiana didn't embrace sexual orientation as a class until a Republican Secretary of State running for mayor diffused the prospect of Republican attack. The Democratic Party in Indiana did not embrace gender identity as a class until a Republican Secretary of State, Republican City County Councilor (Scott Keller), and finally a Republican candidate for Governor Daniels embraced gender identity. You think all those Southern Indiana Democrats would be willing to stick their necks out for us without Republican support being in place to diffuse attacks upon them? Even now Democrats here are afraid to back relationship rights.

Tyrion, ask some of your battle-scarred fellow Democrats here whether being "cemented into the governing coalition" worked for us. For years we saw no progress when we had nowhere else to go. And then the Democratic Party in Indiana pulled the same shenanigans as the Republicans... campaigning out in the rural stix with anti-gay messages.

Remember, Tyrion, the reason we have depended upon manuevers to keep the marriage amendment off the floor of the House is because most Democrats and Republicans alike would have voted for it just to avoid the political heat! That means we have to reduce the political heat. That means we have to encourage support on the Republican side. That means that in those limited instances in which the impact of a Republican being elected as a pro-glbt candidate will be important, we should support that candidate.

Don't bet on the Republicans remaining a permanent minority... and certainly don't bet that the war policy will work against Republicans this year. Obama and Clinton are now hedging their bets about withdrawal to the degree that their policy is not notably different from McCain's precisely because the situation in Iraq is tending to improve.

Also, the reality is that whatever party governs sets itself up for eventual failure because of the universal principle cited by General Vinegar Joe Stilwell: "The higher a monkey climbs up a pole, the more you see of his ass!" We need progress in both parties; it is in the long term interest of the community.

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 11, 2008 5:50 PM

Hi Chris,

Can you please stop trying to make this about whose scars are deeper, who's had more conversations with more weighty politicos, and who's sacrificed more for the community? At every point I keep trying to deemphasize personal identity and make this about the arguments, and at every point you keep on trying to make subtle appeals back to authority.

You write, "To see Democrats in Indiana have the courage to back relationship rights, they must have the confidence that the Republican Party in Indiana will not attack them for it."

This is plainly wrong. Andre Carson already has the courage to support relationship rights. He supports them more vocally and with greater specificity than Jon Elrod. He's not supporting them because the Republican Party has shown some sort of resolve to stop pushing legislation like SJR-7. He is supporting them because he has a deep principled commitment to the equality of all Americans. Amazingly, you are now, nevertheless, attacking Andre Carson.

But, to clarify, your theory is this: Andre Carson and like-minded progressive democrats will take political risks to vocally support LGBT rights because moderate Republicans like Jon Elrod will provide them with political cover. Are you serious? It's far more likely that extremist Republicans will continue to use moderate Republicans like Jon Elrod as the face of tolerance on social issues while their leadership continues to use homophobia as GOTV device for its base. The Republican party has been using this trick for the last three decades. If you don't like what Republican leadership brings -- Marriage Amendments among other things -- don't vote for Republicans. It's that simple.

Then you try to shift the goal posts by telling us that what happens at the state level is more important. I'm not sure that's true, but, even if, Jon Elrod is running for the US Congress, not the State House. He no longer has the ability to offer State Democrats or Republicans any cover in the State House. He isn't going to be voting on any of those bills. In other words, even if your argument were correct, it still wouldn't be applicable to this election.

Meanwhile, progress at the national level does depend on the strength of the Democratic party and its governing margin in the House of Representatives. It will be the Democratic party, not the Republicans, who overturn DOMA and DADT. It will be Democratic appointments to SCOTUS, not Republicans, who protect Lawrence as the fundamental law of the land. It will be Democrats who push forward DPBOA, ENDA, and UAFA. I think those things matter a lot, and I think they matter a whole lot when selecting my federal representative.

You also write, "We need progress in both parties; it is in the long term interest of the community." I actually agree with this. But trends suggest that the Republican Party's position on LGBT issues is increasingly a weight around its neck. In other words, progress in the Republican party will be the result of voters systematically rejecting their institutionalized homophobia, not because they've brokered some sort of deal with LGBT community. We can abet that process by voting for people who support our full equality now -- Democrats -- and creating an incentive system to fully repudiate the homophobia of the Republican party.

You are probably right that I overstated the case when I said that Republicans were working on making themselves into a permanent minority. I wish that it were the case. Indeed, with too many advocates in the LGBT community who are ready to throw the Democrats under the bus at the first sign of affection from any Republican, the Republicans will be back in force and up to their old tricks in no time.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 12, 2008 9:51 AM

Tyrion, it is not only in our interests as gay citizens to have competitive parties, but in our interests as citizens.

Unfortunately, choosing a political party is like choosing an automobile with incomprehensibly silly packages. If you want the power locks, you have to pay for the electric rearview mirrors. If you want front wheel drive, you have to the leather-padded steering wheel.

We don't want parties that are diametrically opposed; we want political parties each of which are pursuing policies with regard to the glbt community that are favorable. We need each package to include progress, because other factors can sway the electoral majority to one package or the other over time.

You've been free-wheeling in your comments about Jon Elrod, whereas I have been reserved in my comments about Andre Carson. I have said nothing negative. The truth? He appears to me to be the least qualified and least capable of the Democratic candidate alternatives. He appears to me to be someone who would not be in this race were it not for the affection held for and political favors owed to his grandmother. He appears to me to be a package into which has been poured a mix of policy formulas over which he has exercised little thoughtful control, he acting merely as genial receptacle. And some of those policies are poorly thought out and virtually crackpot.

In my opinion, David Orentlicher and Woody Meyers appear to me to have an ability superior to Carson to represent Indianapolis thoughtfully, with a weight of accomplishment all their own, an independent ability to discern good policy from bad. (I don't know enough about Carolene Mays to accord her a similar respect; she may deserve it as well.) David O is solid on our issues; I don't yet know where Woody or Carolene are. (I have heard intimations that Carolene is not as progressive, so I would not take for granted that she is superior to Elrod on our issues.)

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 12, 2008 10:28 AM

Hi Chris,

Needless to say, I disagree entirely with your assessment of Carson. That's fine. Intelligent people can disagree on that sort of thing. But if those are your concerns, I think it was a bit disingenuous to cloak your position in some sort of convoluted argument that voting for the weaker LGBT candidate over the stronger LGBT candidate will actually be good for LGBT rights. Let's be honest: your "problems" with Andre Carson have nothing to do with his stances on LGBT issues.

I have a million and one problems with Jon Elrod that don't have anything to do with LGBT issues. I've blogged about them extensively. My thoughts aren't "freewheeling" in anything except, perhaps, rhetorical flair (to that I'll plead guilty). Substantively, all my arguments are grounded in the public record, not in my private conversations with the candidates.

In any case, 7th district voters made the right decision last night. So, for the time being, my job is done.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 12, 2008 11:25 AM

Tyrion, my thoughts weren't cloaking anything. In my opinion, Elrod's success would be better for the glbt community than Carson's, which was the race presented by yesterday's election.

I will be interested to see your thoughts on the race of Carson against the other candidates in the Democratic primary. Orentlicher has been far more in our corner over time, and it appears to me far more capable, than Carson.

What are your thoughts on Woody Meyer? Caroline Mays? or by "my job is done", do you mean that your job was not the promotion of GLBT interests, but merely the promotion of Carson?

Tyrion Lannister Tyrion Lannister | March 12, 2008 12:23 PM

Hi Chris,

You wrote, "Or by 'my job is done', do you mean that your job was not the promotion of GLBT interests, but merely the promotion of Carson?" Heh. Now that's a bit unfair, Chris. I meant that I participated in this conversation because I disagreed with your endorsement of Jon Elrod. Now that voters have -- for the time being -- rejected Jon Elrod, my goals are accomplished. I don't need to convince anyone not to vote for Jon Elrod, because Jon Elrod lost. When the general election rolls around, I'd be happy to do this again.

That doesn't mean, of course, I'll stop blogging about LGBT issues. I blogged about them before this race and I'll continue to blog about them afterwards.

As for the other Democratic candidates, I'll candidly say I know very little about Woody Meyers. What I know about Carolene Mays I do not like and on the basis of her LGBT record I will not vote for her in the primary under any circumstances. There are a lot of things about Dr. O I like, but I also have some reservations about him. Lately, I was appalled by his campaign's response to the "Farrakhan Smear" youtube video. They should have condemned it. That would have been the right move from both an ethical and pragmatic perspective.

To be honest, every time I have even the slightest bit of doubt about Andre Carson, I read the xenophobic, racist crap that Gary Welsh is pushing, or the similarly slimy stuff being advanced by some of Orentlicher's fans and I find myself more resolved than ever to see Andre elected.

Honestly, I'd love to continue this conversation with you over email. Please email me and let's chat! My email is linked from my blogger profile or you can ask Bil for it :)

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 12, 2008 2:44 PM

Tyrion, happy to talk more. My e-mail is [email protected] (I do think there is a continuing value to a public dialogue, but am in the midst of a task at the moment.... and I know you have tenure to earn.... ! :)