To the relief of tense liberals across the nation, the President Obama people remember from the 2008 campaign put in an appearance at the second presidential debate last night.
It was a contentious evening that featured frequent bouts of the two men, and sometimes moderator Candy Crowley, trying to talk over each other in a confused and confrontational morass that did little to advance politics or discourse.
Mr. Romney was at times rude in the extreme, particularly to Ms. Crowley, but also to the President. It seemed, particularly in the first thirty minutes, as if he was attempting to channel Joe Biden from Oct. 11th's VP debate, and failing miserably. For his part, more than once the President allowed himself to be dragged down to Mr. Romney's level in terms of tone and trying to badger the moderator and/or his opponent.
The topics at the "town hall" style debate ranged from domestic to foreign affairs, and related primarily to the economy and President Obama's legacy of promises and accomplishments over the past four years. Conspicuously absent were any mention of issues related to the LGBT community, and our place in the fabric of American life and law.
This is an issue where the two men differ considerably, and where Mr. Romney's positions differs greatly with those of his younger self, when he was campaigning in the liberal stronghold of Massachusetts. I know myself and many of my colleagues were eager to see how a discussion of those differences might play out between the two men. It was a disappointment not to have our issues and needs included in the conversation.
In fact, across three debates thus far (two presidential and one vice presidential), the only mention of LGBT people has been a one-off line from the President during the first debate regarding the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Perhaps discussion of LGBT issues, such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), insurance coverage for trans* related healthcare, and of course same-sex marriage, is seen as a loosing proposition by both parties at this point in the campaign. President Obama may be loath to alienate potential swing voters by seeming overly supportive of our rights, and Mitt Romney may have the same concern over seeming either too opposed or not opposed enough to LGBT equality.
However, President Obama's campaign in particular, has targeted the LGBT community for support based on the advancements LGBT people (mostly LGB people) have made during the President's tenure. It's hard not to feel like the friend that you don't want your other friends to know about, when it comes to the President and his campaign.
At the same time, it's perhaps a bit heartening that coming out loud and hard against LGBT equality may not be seen as a winning strategy by Romney advisors.
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