Alex Blaze

Let Mike Gravel debate!

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 12, 2007 8:49 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Chris Johnson, HRC, Mike Gravel, money, political contributions, presidential debate

Lane posted yesterday about how the HRC excluded Gravel, and only Gravel, from their invite list on the upcoming presidential debate. The HRC's Chris Johnson responds:

The other standard we set was that the candidates we invited had to have raised $100,000. On the Democratic side, that meant we also invited Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. Joe Biden, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Gov. Bill Richardson. We wanted to make sure that with the limited time we had to present this forum, our community got to hear from candidates who could actually be President. We have gotten some feedback about not inviting Mike Gravel. Unfortunately, he didn't meet the $100,000 threshold.

So they make up a standard, an abhorrent standard, and only one candidate doesn't make the grade. Mm-hmm.

My mother, who's a Spanish teacher at a high school, is getting a group of students together for a service learning trip to Costa Rica. She had one student who met all the requirements for the trip, but whom she knew would cause problems there just based on her personality. So my mother made up a new requirement that she knew would exclude only that one student. Since the HRC picked a standard that only excludes one candidate, you've got to wonder what the real reason was.

Especially since Chris said they wanted to "hear from candidates who could actually be President", and apparently in the planet the HRC is on Kucinich, Biden, and Dodd have a chance. I think that there is a flying pig out there waiting for an invitation as well.

While their standard doesn't make much sense, it's also a bad standard to be using. Do they know what would happen if we lived in a world where it was a morally valid excuse to ignore someone because that person doesn't have enough money? Well, there wouldn't be an HRC for starters. All the largest LGBT/queer organizations combined don't even have assets near the size of Focus on the Family's. When it comes to queer political contributions, we're a drop in the big bucket of money floating around out there, what with our 3-5% of the population and smaller than average incomes.

And that's now, after so many advances made by queer movements in the past half century. When gays and lesbians first started marching against discrimination, politicians weren't worried about losing their campaign contributions. When police officers were arresting queers who weren't following traditionally gendered dress codes, there wasn't a state assembly worried about losing those queer dollars for their campaigns. And even now, guess what, the haters out there still have way more money.

So what does the HRC do? Not only do they avoid taking any step to dismantle the system that will continue to oppress us, not only do they explicitly use it as an excuse to maintain that system, they actually entrench it worse than anyone else has. Gravel wasn't kept out of the MSNBC or CNN debates because of his lack of funds. He was even invited to the canceled Fox News debate. They can talk about having enough time all they want, but one candidate out of nine isn't going to make all that much of a difference, and I'm sure that Logo could have provided a standard 90 minutes instead of 60.

But here's why I think he'd be great at that debate. Take a look at his performance in the first Democratic debate...

combine that with his earlier statements on same-sex love...

Love between a man and a woman is beautiful, love between a woman and a woman is beautiful, love between a man and a man is love...is beautiful too.

and this has the potential to be one of the awesomest debates ever. Instead, we'll sit through Hillary dodging questions, John Edwards talking about how he's not quite there yet but how great his wife is, Obama making vague claims to audacity, and Joe "Open mouth, insert foot" Biden being generally annoying.

Gravel responded on Queerty:

You hear Edwards saying he can’t get his arm around [gay marriage]. Is that the garbage HRC want to put before the people? It brings into question my whole judgment of the gay community. If they want to go with the links of these people who don’t deliver… If the gay community wants them, they deserve them.

I wish he hadn't said "gay community", as if we're some monolithic unit that the HRC represents completely, but holy Hannah, he's right. The whole point of fringe candidates is to push the discourse in a new direction and to force the big contenders to answer to their wing of the party, and an advocacy group works by moving the discourse in their direction and then putting pressure on powerful candidates and politicians. The only real reason I can think that the HRC wouldn't want a situation like that to happen is that they'd embarrass the top-tier candidates. But change doesn't come from making powerful people comfortable.


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While I'm one for usually understanding political machinations, I think you're right on this one Alex. It looks very bad. HRC should immediately step up to the plate and allow Gravel to debate. Excluding one of the most gay friendly candidates because he didn't raise enough money is a piss poor excuse... If we're just going on who can most likely win, it looks like only Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Richardson should have been invited.

LOVE his analogy of his first time in Congress! "How the hell did THEY get here?"

And what a statement to make concerning Iraq/Vietnam!