Michael Crawford

Poll: What Should Be the Top LGBT Issue?

Filed By Michael Crawford | August 05, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, Democrats, ENDA, gays in the military, hate crimes against LGBT people, HIV/AIDS, LGBT rights

There is a strong chance that Barack Obama will be the next president of the U.S. and that the Democrats will increase their majorities in both the House and Senate. This increases the chances of passage of one or more pieces of pro-LGBT legislation in the next session of Congress.

If that is the case,

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I was torn between "LGBT health" and "youth issues" because funding for LGBT-geared youth homeless shelters, homeless shelters in general, and fighting homo and transphobia in homeless shelters is so important to making sure these kids grow up well, but LGBT health, to me, includes single-payer, and that's probably the best thing Obama could do for America, in general, throughout his presidency.

I'm interested in what all the other people before me, who voted "none of the above," were referring to.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | August 5, 2008 10:22 AM

The poll was also published on www.sodahead.com. The folks who voted known of the above apparently don't believe that LGBT people deserve equal treatment under the law.

But, those people are probably going to be voting for McCain anyway.

This is a weird list. I'm not sure that most of them are even considered part of federal policy (wouldn't education/youth issues be a state and/or county consideration?) and others are too vague to know if they are being discussed as specifically LGBT concerns (LGBT health, for example).

Isn't HIV/AIDS part of LGBT health?

I thought Obama was opposed to single payer insurance because it made him sound too commie to the ignorant masses cowed into compliance from insurance company propaganda?

A repeal of DADT would be just, but I can't get enthusiastic about supporting our military adventures. I don't oppose a repeal, but I can't put it at the top of a list.

"Relationship recognition" is a poorly worded and vague option. Does that include support for immigration rights? Does that mean a repeal of DOMA? Does that mean federal recognition of same-sex unions AND DPs AND marriages? Does it mean acknowledgment of the right to equal protections, due process and full faith and credit for same-sex couples?

Because of the weight of meaning that "relationship recognition" might have on the definition of LGBT citizenship - supporting our claim for fair and equal treatment based on constitutional principle - I would say that is the priority.

The relationship issue is at the foreground of discussion which makes it more relevant and more divisive at the same time. ENDA has been turned into a mess. It has to be fixed and broadened to include T. Hate crime legislation sounds good, but its effectiveness is hard to measure.

Frankly, it matters very little what we think is important. The Democrats will only act on our behalf if they think it will benefit their interests and if they can help us with as little attention drawn to them as possible.

Even a veto proof majority of D in the Congress will not ensure the future of any of the issues listed above.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | August 5, 2008 11:56 AM


The list isn't "weird." It is deliberately broad in nature. For example, relationship recognition is an issue that has many components all of which are unlikely to be include in one piece of legislation.

The federal government definitely has a role in education issues which affects as youth. There has also been a federal safe schools bill.

HIV/AIDS is an important part of LGBT health, but it is not limited to the LGBT community. It also has an international dimension and in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the majority of cases of HIV are among heterosexual.

If you want to throw up your hands and say "Frankly, it matters very little what we think is important," that's your choice. I, however, think it matters a great deal what we think is important.

I am not under any illusion that a simple question like the above written on a blog is going to ensure passage of federal legislation. I am curious, though, what people who are not connected to lobbying groups are thinking.

I was a little offended by the question in the poll. I think it was because of the implicit assumption in the question that we might only be able to achieve one of these stated options. I see no reason why we should be pushing for just one. I think ENDA, DADT, marriage equality, funding of HIV/AIDS research, and improving education and opportunities for youth should not all be achievable by a party in control of both congress and the White House. It is in part this zero sum mentality that limits our vision and our advances in this country.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | August 5, 2008 1:24 PM


There is no need to be offended. My question was not to suggest that we should fight for one or two pieces of legislation to the exclusion of other issues. We should be moving on many different fronts in many different ways.

But, we should face the reality that there are many challenges facing our country including healthcare, climate change, the war in Iraq, the disastrous economy, education etc. Our fight for full LGBT equality will yield different fruit at different times. That's just the way things work.

I don't consider acknowledging this reality a "zero sum mentality."

For me, relationship recognition is the big issue. I'm one of the many partners of non-US citizens who have had to leave the US to maintain that relationship (of fifteen years). What's especially galling is hearing tales from the US embassies and consulates abroad of the sham straight marriages that nab green cards for those 'spouses' while people who love each other are left in the cold...

Just to keep the apologies circulating, I'd like to say that I didn't mean to make you defensive, Michael. I do object to some of the generalizing and as Shannon suggests, the idea that we have to choose like we are Sophie with a child in each arm.

Being presented with a choice like this is divisive and unnecessary and really it sounds like a Democratic Party divide and conquer tactic.

They say: "you can only have vanilla or chocolate - pick one" but in reality, they use the rallying around one issue as a ruse because their intentions are to do as little as they can for us. Making us cut off a nose to spite our face makes it easier for them to seem like they have our best interests at heart but we are too screwed up to know what we want.

The phrase "relationship recognition" glosses over what it means to deny the acknowledgment of our relationships. It's more than getting "them" to tolerate us - it's about proving that we are marginalized and denied equal protections by not having immigration rights, access to shared Social Security benefits, and the liberty to travel throughout our country and have our marriages recognized.

ENDA must happen as well and I won't pick one over the other. How can we say that it is acceptable that we choose how our govt considers our citizenship?

Is it somehow unfair for us to be denied employment opportunities but we should not be able to have legally valid relationships, or vice versa?

I won't pick one over the other.

I don't think the point of this question at all was to pick one and forget the rest.

It's a question of priorities, what we're going to work for more than other things (or what we think we should work for more than other things). And, sorry, it's the real world, and some agenda items take precedence over others because lobbying groups only have so many dollars and volunteers can only put in so many hours and the Democrats only care so much about our votes.

Everything on the list is probably something that most people on this site would agree should happen, but you can see the vast debates over what is prioritized over other things, even on this site. Check out many of the ENDA threads and people complaining about how relationship recognition (as in marriage, but also civil unions and DP's) have trumped trans people's rights to be protected at work. Check out some of the posts on the gay rights movement in general, about how marriage has taken focus away from health and HIV/AIDS issues. Check out few of the criticism of UnitedENDA (one from Michael Crawford himself) about how that group raised a russel over ENDA but said narry a peep about hate crimes legislation.

In the end, whether we like or not, these choices will be made. I think we should be discussing them before they do get made.

This is a revealing phrase: "...and some agenda items take precedence over others..." and it's followed by the exact description of why it is problematic to create and sustain a binary out of our rights.

Why does "relationship recognition" have to trump employment protections for the trans community? Who created that scenario? As a (soon to be married) gay guy, I didn't prioritize it that way. Democrats avoid marriage equality and they trashed ENDA.

You also mention how marriage has diminished health care issues for the community. How does my upcoming marriage affect single payer health insurance? It doesn't. In fact since the feds won't recognize my marriage, I need single payer coverage more than ever. And my parents do too. So do my friends. My marriage doesn't detract from the need for America to fix health care and it shouldn't take a back seat to the issue either.

Your agenda is showing. In the same way that phone polls can be skewed to produce biased results, this poll is being used to pit "relationship recognition" against the transgender community as well as the other issues that are deemed more important than "relationship recognition" by the poll giver. That is disingenuous and it sucks.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 5, 2008 8:30 PM

The components of our agenda and how people prioritize them are secondary. Also many of us have compelling concerns about the genocide and its spread, socialized medicine, wages, welfare and the looming financial and environmental crises. (Actually they're not looming, they're here, intertwined and beginning to get nasty.)

What's important is how we fight for our agenda and with our allies on the war, etc. What should be abundantly clear by now is that investing time and energy in the Republican and Democratic parties is a dead end. Building militant mass movements on the other hand, puts us in the drivers seat where we can control the pace and direction of change.

Putting faith in the promises of pols is a dead end. Clinton and the congressional Democrats wrote and passed DADT which codified bigotry in the armed forces. The Republicans wrote DOMA but the vast majority of Democrats voted for it, Clinton signed it and then boasted about it on southern christist radio stations. What a sleaze! Rove and Bush used state DOMA's to bash us for years. What scum!

And now people are touting Clintons clone, Obama, a candidate who won’t shut up about his superstitious opposition to same sex marriage. His Congressional party gutted ENDA to please the Chamber of Commerce. Democrats voted to install bigots and racists as judges in the crucial Federal circuit courts. They refused to repeal DOMA and DADT but did manage to work up the energy to dump the hate crimes bill after it’d passed both Houses.

Democratic (sic) promises are worth as much as those described by an ancestor:

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”
Makhpiya Luta or Red Cloud, political and military leader of the Oglala Lakota Sioux.

McCain is a rancid right-winger with the Rev. Pat Robertson attached at the hip. Obama is Bill Clinton in drag with the Rev. Donnie McClurkin attached at the hip.

Wow. I prioritize what I'm going to do every day. That doesn't mean I only choose to do one thing or another. As a complex human being, I'm capable of realizing that not everything has to be an either-or situation to still require some prioritization.

The priority for all queers should be to ELECT OBAMA in order to keep the Supreme Court (and much of the Federal judiciary) from becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the religious right.

Obama's 'lead' in the polls - always exagerated - has shrunk to a point of insignificance. It's time for all of us to wake up and stop playing this self-destructive game of dividing the imaginary spoils before the city has been sacked.

Well, Bil if the Democratic Party were running your life they would ask you to pick from your daily list and ignore the rest...it's just the price of admission.

If we dealt with the issues that face our community the same way you deal with your 'to do' list we wouldn't have to choose which group gets kicked to the curb.

I'm really sorry that people do some things and not others, Patrick. I honestly don't know how to respond to your very basic questions since it seems you're not willing to let go of the assumption that the LGBT movement has infinite time, resources, and energy, which it simply doesn't.


We do need to prioritize and marriage equality needs to go to the end of our list.

Why our we spending so much of our time, energy, and funds to be included in an institution that is based on an inherently oppressive and unjust patriarchal institution.

Marriage is even proven to be a failure. We need to recognize other types of families anyway and marriage essentially excludes them.

More importantly, the TBLG community is lacking full protections against discrimination and hate crimes in all 50 states. This is far more important to establish than marriage equality...especially if we care about our nation's youth who can't vote and have little to no power over their rights and protection.

I mean, just look what happened with Lawrence King and other TBLG youth...

Marriage is an issue that is only helpful to those who are the most privileged in the TBLG community. What good does that do.

Should we not be able to have our full human rights as individuals? Do we have to enter into contract with another person to have all of these rights?

This system sucks and we're feeding its vicious fire. We are giving into heteronormativity and patriarchy, the very same conceptual institutions that oppressed TBLG people in the first place.

Excellent, Becca...just what the pollsters were looking for.

Good job! Let's keep each other in that boxing ring...Ralph Ellison lives!!


I think the number one priority is removing the religious right from the political equation.They are the single reason any of the above choices require a fight."Science and knowledge is truth religion is tyranny" Thomas Jefferson

For me, it was simple.

As for priorities, equally simple:

First: ENDA. ENDA will save lives. Literally.

second: Marriage equality. My marriage changes in validity now according to where I go in the US. A drive across country becomes a nightmare. 13 years ago, it didn't.

Third: Revision of the ADA to remove discriminatory provisions. Again, to save lives.

Fourth: Hate Crimes

Fifth: DADT

And Then education like never before in the history of the LGBT communities.

Not going to argue my priorites -- sorry, it would piss me off too much.

I can live without marriage. So can just about anyone.

Can't live if ya can't put a roof over my head, food in my belly, and can't get medical treatment when you need it because you don't have a job.

Patrick, perhaps I am not the one who made this an issue in the first place.

Those with the most power choose what gets prioritized. As a youth, female bodied, transgender person...I don't think i get to take much part in the decision making.

I by no means am trying to cause battles within our own community. I am simply recognizing that even within our own community there are inequalities and disparities.

Would you like me to be silent?

For the record, I agree that our community can focus on more than one issue at once...however, there is always one issue that gets more attention ,time, and money than the others. Right now, that issue is marriage equality and I do not think that's right.

No, Becca, please don't be silent.

I don't think we should participate in the system of choosing what cause is more important or feasible or popular enough to rate more emphasis. Let the politicians make those choices and let them get burned by them or praised for them. It's not our job to determine who gets a life boat as the ship of our democracy sinks.

The advocacy groups outside of the LGBT universe don't line up and say that the environment takes precedence over ending the war or that discovering new energy sources is more imporant than establishing a more equitable health care system. They push for all of those issues at the same time.

Instead of contributing to our marginalization by lining up with our empty bowl asking "more please" and giving in to the incrementalist bullshit, we should stand side by side, arms linked demanding more - for all of us - NOW.

Choosing priorities helped Congress remove the T from ENDA. I won't put anyone on the plank out of political expediency.