Guest Blogger

Maine, Obama and the LGBT Community

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 03, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, David Mixner, gay marriage, gay rights, LGBT community, LGBT rights, Maine, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

Editors' Note: Guest blogger, author, political strategist, civil rights activist and public affairs advisor David Mixner writes about his passions: progressive politics, foreign policy, LGBT rights and wildlife advocacy. Once named by Newsweek as the most powerful gay man in America, David has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years.

Tonight once again we will be forced to sit on the edge of our seats as the voters of Maine get to chose whether we get to be a free people in their state. The concept that a majority of voters in any state can decide if I shall have the same rights of all Americans is repugnant to me. No On MaineWe won't know the results until late in the evening, but there is one result that is overwhelmingly clear to LGBT citizens and their allies: President Obama and his team were zero help in this critical battle and in the last week might actually have hurt us. That is a fact.

Despite repeated pleas for assistance from this community from the start of the campaign, he chose to ignore every opportunity to grant us such relief. At the recent Human Rights Campaign dinner he never said the word "Maine" once. The most we were able to get out of the White House office of communications was that he was opposed to such efforts. Try weaving that into a powerful ad or robo-calling!

However, practicing benign neglect was not the end of it.

This past week, Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States in the state of Maine said that this administration had no position on the ballot measure. Read that sentence again carefully. Our nation's chief law enforcement officer and the president's hand picked choice said that the issue was just not that important to this administration! Now don't be fooled by any rhetoric that presidents don't take stands on such issues. Going back as far as President Carter when he opposed Proposition Six, they have taken such stands.

So you fully understand the consequences of this administrations actions in the last week, just look at the statistics for Maine voters. In the latest Public Policy Poll yesterday which show us falling behind, they said that 54% of the voters say they supported Obama. Over 9% of the voters described themselves as 'non-white'. In that poll 28% of the Obama supporters say they were voting against marriage equality. More importantly, 56% of 'non-white' voters said they planned on voting against marriage equality.

You have to be totally operating on blind faith if you believe that President Obama and his team cannot make a difference. Tragically if we lose closely, that defeat almost can be laid at the steps of the White House for their refusal to stand by our side in the battle for freedom. The Holder remark basically gave those Obama supporters and non-white voters permission to vote against our freedom. The Attorney General let them know that Obama didn't care one way or another so why should those voters change their votes? He gave their votes respectability which was devastating for our side.

The failure of our national organizations to obtain a clear cut endorsement for the LGBT community is something that needs to be discussed. This one isn't rocket science. What happened?

We certainly know by the president's repeated visits to Virginia, New York and New Jersey that he at least had time to issue a tough statement against this form of ballot box bigotry. What they did and failed to do these past weeks, whether we win or lose tonight, is just tragic, sad and unconscionable.

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I'm so done with Arm Chair warriors. Instead of having the National Equality March in DC, maybe you should have had the march in Maine. Lord knows all the Mainers were befuddled why the DC march was happening.

Having been an old hand in politics, are you sure that a President Obama support of it wouldn't have backfired. Did you check with the campaign to see if this would be helpful or hurtful. Do you know how the 2008 ID's fared during the ID and messaging calls. Check your facts and own the responsibility that you were not a good steward of resources when you and Cleve also had an opportunity to change the course in Maine.

Also why didn't you and Cleve show up in Maine, if you cared so much.

I agree completely, David. Completely.

I stand by you too David. I think the Equality March helped Maine by rasing awareness and urgency by practically every speaker in attendence. We sent money to Maine and Washington State. President Obama has not been a 'fierce advocate' for our community. He 'will' sign a pro LGTB bill 'if' it gets to his desk. But Pres. Obama isn't making the road any smoother getting it there.

How damn offensive this article is to "non-white" voters. First he assumes we lose in Maine. Then he lays all the blame on President Obama and states the " ...remark basically gave those Obama supporters and non-white voters permission to vote against our freedom." Who said we need "permission" to vote? Think the Latinos are only good to pick your fruit but not make our own decisions on political decisions?

Post Prop 8 all over again getting ready to lay the blame on Obama supporters and communities of color and diversity! Mixner since you are the "most powerful gay man in America" did you get your powerful butt to Maine? This blog post is TRASH TRASH TRASH! The race baiting drivel of a once powerful ally, now reduced to silly sad race baiting blames blog posts. To quote my friend "D", a wonderful community organizer, "this feels racist."

I'm with Bill. Cleve Jones was more dismissive of our fight in Maine (and Washington and Kalamazoo) than was Eric Holder. While we're waiting for "full equality now," any real advances for equality will have to be earned in spite of these men and their like.

I'm falling on David's side on this one. What political capital would it have cost Obama to say the name, "Maine?" Nothing. But our fierce advocate turned into a titmouse.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 4, 2009 1:36 PM

What political capital would it have cost the NEM organizers and Equality Across America to urge people to volunteer with No on 1 and to give money?

How much money did they spend on a national without a follow up plan that included Maine, WA, and other critical battles?

And, Mixner needs to quit with his over the top attacks against President Obama and his references to "gay apartheid." It makes him look unhinged and out of touch.

I could have just ignored the post or halfway agreed but there is race baiting blame in there pure and simple. And it is hideous to return to that option after last year in California when the Latinos & Blacks were blamed. In reality, voting broke off based on church attendance and no one wants to acknowledge the LGBT Bradley affect really exists!

Now, David Mixner has so many more resources than I do... So I can ask this question: Did you go to Maine and take all that power of yours to help them?

David, I never complained or chimed in my opinion about the NEM that you called for earlier this year. I didn't agree in my heart to have it due to limited resources but I supported your right to have the NEM. I helped raise funds to send some youth of color that wanted to attend. BUT what if you had directed the resources of all that money and all those people to a Nationwide Rally in Maine? Not that you were obligated to do so, but you are throwing around huge amounts of blame so it is now fair game...

@ Bil, what you are stating is far different than what David is stating. I get where you are coming from and I don't mind holding POTUS' feet to the fire... but what about LGBT leaders like Mixner, HRC, EQCA, Jones, etc, etc... It is time we stop this waste of resources on almost exclusive canvassing and TV for example! More community organizing, less canvassing... More micro-messaging a la UFW and less TV!

And no more blaming the "non-whites." Frankly, Hillary was my first choice and although I now support Pres Obama 100%, I do not wait for his endorsement of issues to decide my vote and I doubt many others do. Let's quit eating our own, and start looking at our damn breakdown of messaging, messaging, messaging and community organizing.

I agree. If we ever lose a fight... its our OWN faults. We can't start looking for whole categories of Americans to blame for our own failures.

That said, it is our own fault for FAILURE to act, and part of that action is to increase pressure on the President to be a FIERCER advocate for us. Part of that action would be coming out more. Part of that action would be to create stronger local organizations. Part of that action would be to use those local organizations to push the message of equality in ALL demographics (not just the ones we feel most comfortable with). What about the old ladies? They often vote against us harder than ANYONE, yet I bet we could win them over if we tried! Let's set a goal! Lets blow it away!

I could just hug you right now, you get it! If I could find a way to translate to Mr Mixner how it feel and the tears that I am even holding back right now to feel whole communities of color blamed for this loss. To have our decision making marginalized is painful. And while he was quoting the use of "non-whites" he didn't need to repeat it. It sounds ugly... To a person of color it feels like I am reading "white is right" and "non-white isn't."

God Bless... Good sleep... to all, including you Mr M... Abrazos...

considering that exit polls indicate that in races where obama got more involved he was better at attracting opposition than support, better at getting the crazy teabaggers to come out than the cool progressive youth, he probably was doing us a favor by not investing too much energy in this.

Obama was against gay marriage in his campaign. Why would Mixner expect him to change his position?

The fact that you bring up the race of the respondents shows a lot about your racist politics... Oh, how unfortunate for white gays to not be able to get married... This is the greatest oppression this world has ever seen!

I was hoping that this measure would not pass just so you privileged gays would STFU and go away!

You know, I generally leave the marriage-wallahs alone to fester in their juices (although, they, of course, have no problem butting in and expending their bile on our posts). But, David Mixner, let me just ask you: if we calculate, based on the numbers you provide, a full 0.0504% of Maine is responsible for the defeat, yes? Because that's what your numbers boil down to. Also, a full 1% of Maine is Black, I believe. Do you also plan on breaking that number down in terms of those who attend church, those who support Obama, and so on?

I mean, seriously, how desperate can you get with your race-baiting?

As for whether marriage should be the one and only goal, I'll leave it to the rest to figure that one out. In the meantime, people, don't let the Mixners of the movement, despite their money and influence, engage in these cheap tactics. They do you more harm than good. And that's free advice coming from someone on one of the other sides.

I'm trying to see the subject of race in this post as something other than the obvious, but I'm not really seeing how. I also wondered about the 7% number, since the 2005 Census Bureau survey estimated that 97.8% of the population of Maine identified as white. If the population changed a lot over the last 4 years, I doubt is was an influx of African Americans.

I agree with Michael C's comment and Xico's observation that latinos don't need anyone's "permission" to have an opinion on a topic. How long ago was it that people were saying that latinos didn't like Obama? Now it's latinos are his drones? Seriously, life's more complicated than either of those statements.

If there's a lesson that was apparently not learned this week, it's the futility of race baiting and passing the buck.

Obama is the President. He's responsible for not only what he says and does but for what he doesn't say and do; and LGBT citizens and their supporters will continue a huge mistake of last year by demanding unquestioning allegiance to a President based on race.

Obama made promises that turned out to be less than hot air; and those who duck this with race-baiting and demonizing their own are just compounding a huge political error. And that includes, though is not limited to, anti-marriage equality closet homophobes, whom I'm sure have been celebrating all day.

He's the PRESIDENT, people. Grow up. He made promises and didn’t keep them, and shooting the messenger when that happens makes about as much sense now as shouting down any criticism of Obama the candidate last year. It should be clear by now that obeying an antiquated PC taboo when the Emperor is parading naked only gives enemies a chance to use “I agree with Obama” as a cynical taunt.


It boggles the mind that anyone in our community over the age of 30 even listens to David Mixner anymore.

His analysis of American politics has never been accurate (prove me wrong before you attack me on that)and once again, he only sees and advocates what's in his own personal best interest to see and advocate.

First: the President did speak out against anti-gay referenda and spoke passionately that gay relationships needed to be treated equally to straight relationships.

Second: The President isn't the problem here. The President could have gone into Maine and held a huge rally and it wouldn't have made a difference to Maine voters. The President's approval ratings are huge in New Jersey, but his passionate support for Gov. Corzine didn't have an impact there, did it??? No. It rarely does in state and local races.

Third: What DID hurt our organizing in Maine was the huge national effort to have advocates for LGBT equality spend their vacation dollars in October to travel to Washington, DC, preventing many from traveling to Maine to help there. And is it curious only to me that one of the two individuals most responsible for that effort was none other than David Mixer.

But ya gotta hand it to David: he's smart ... he knows the best way to deflect any criticism at him is to go out of the starting gate pointing the finger at someone else.

The question is: are you smart enough to see through his motives here???

As for me, Sorry, David. You may fool the 20 year olds who can be swayed by reckless and immature "storm the Bastille" rhetoric to deflect blame from yourself, but we who've watched you for years (and suffered for it), know better.

Yours in the united stand for equality,

+ Phil

I generally like David Mixner and I agree, to an extent, with his comments about "gay apartheid" (although I really feel he needs to limn this out a little more...I could know)

But his willingness to blame the defeat in Maine on people of color is out and out racism. That poll had a large oversampling of POC.

And this is coming from a gay person of color who worked in Maine for 3 weeks, and I hugged and cried (a little) with those in the Holiday Inn ballroom on the night of Nov. 3.

So here's a big hardy fuck you to David Mixner for just sheer stupidity.