Dustin Kight

Enough with the Hillary Already!

Filed By Dustin Kight | October 19, 2007 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: Bill Clinton, Democrats, election campaigns, gay rights, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Logo-HRC, Madonna, Sean Kennedy, The Advocate

"Her husband let us down, she won't support marriage equality, but still we can't stop dreaming about Hillary."

Okay, what gives? If I see one more gay (particularly gay male) throw down a red carpet and put up a shrine for Hillary Clinton, I'm going to lose my mind. The 2008 presidential election is going to significantly affect the prospects of improving LGBTQ people's lives. Most us know that a Democratic president is by far our best option -- unless you think Fred Thompson secretly supports marriage equality (much the same way that we like to assume that, secretly, under the covers, during warm and fuzzy time, the leading Democrats do, too).

Yet none of the leading Democrats are great on our issues. None of them (none of them) deserve our cups overflowing with gratitude and adulation. None of them, in my opinion, truly deserve our votes.

They'll get them, alright, from most LGBTQ people. But we should not give them more than we need to give in order to achieve our goals. What bugs me especially about the adoration of Hillary Clinton is how closely it follows diva-love.

Not that I'm anti-diva. But politicians are not, and should not be, on par with celebrities. They should not be made into stars, not, at least, by us. Let them do all they can to make themselves larger than life. Our job is to push back against them in every way that we can, which includes being strategic.

Say that Hillary has a relatively good record on gay rights issues. Say that she has voted positively on our issues "x" number of times. But don't say that "she's our girl." We have no girl. We have no guy. What we do have are real needs as a community.

I'm commenting on this trend now because of the most recent Advocate's cover story on Hillary, entitled, "The Object of Our Affection." Advocate editor Sean Kennedy writes a profile piece on "our community's love" for Hillary as if we all showed up and took a vote on the issue. What's more, he points out how disappointing Bill was for us (Don't Ask, DOMA, to name a few), how utterly opposed to discussing marriage equality she is, how lame, vague and middle-ground her answers are on all of our questions, and how she's saving endorsements for certain pieces of legislation she can safely stand behind.

But we're enamored with her still, he writes, and perhaps because of "the way she looked [at the Logo-HRC debate], resplendent in a coral jacket and chic black pants." "She was killing," he says, "without even talking about the issues yet."

Kennedy feels a connection with her "the same way [he] did with Madonna -- as a suburban kid." She reminds him of "[t]he wronged woman who, like some country and western heroine, won't be kept down, whether by failed health care reform or adultery." And the ultimate stick-it-to-us, he admires her as "a woman [whose] enemies have tried more than once to caricature [her] as [a] 'lesbian'. So she knows firsthand the stigma associated with homosexuality."

Last time I checked, Hillary has never been the victim of a hate crime. And she's been legally married to Bill in all 50 states for somewhere on the order of 30-40 years.

There's a long and important (if not somewhat problematic) history of gay men idolizing and deifying certain women -- the Barbaras and the Judys and, more recently, the Mariahs and the Beyonces -- but I'm going to make an argument here and now that diva-love should be kept to the entertainers. Because, if what we want from idolizing these larger than life female figures (as young queers, at least) is to see our own possible star power reflected and embodied in them, then we should only mirror such adulation with political figures when they embody and reflect our biggest political hopes and dreams -- full political and social inclusion, recognition of ourselves and our families, the creation of a just world in which we do not have to fear for our livelihoods and our loved ones.

In that regard, Hillary is certainly not a diva-worthy character. She is by no means a Diana Ross.


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Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | October 19, 2007 7:28 PM

Oh no.

You didn't think you were going to wrap Hillary, Madonna and Diana Ross into one post and not get a bleating comment from me, did you?

First, let's dispense with the inaccuracies: Mariah Carey and Beyonce Knowles are not divas. I don't know who misled you about that, but they should stop spreading such vicious misinformation.

Second, I did not see one criticism in this post of the gays (or anyone else) who keep calling Obama a "rock star." He is not (and neither, for that matter, are Mariah or Beyonce). But "rock star" is surely the male substitute for "diva," and what's good for the goose is good for the gander, am I right?

And thirdly, there are those of us who whole-heartedly (and not reluctantly) support Hillary's presidential bid. And yes, there are those of us who do think of her as something of a diva (see my Bilerico post, "The Very First Diva-in-Chief?," online at http://www.bilerico.com/2007/09/the_very_first_divainchief.php) too.

I'm supporting Hillary because I'm ready for a president who knows how to be a president. I'm supporting her because, as a First Lady and a Senator, she's been there when we needed her. I'm supporting her because she has a heart AND a brain. I'm supporting her because - yes - we need a smart, politically savvy female president. As my uncle (who has always voted Republican) recently said, "The men have screwed things up long enough. Let's give Hillary a chance and see if she can't do a little better."

I'm supporting Hillary because she is far and away the best person for the job. And it's rare in American politics that you ever get the opportunity to say that about any candidate of any party.

Sean Kennedy's article was, in truth, well done. He pointed out the reservations some in our community have about Hillary, but he also interviewed many gay people who, despite the reservations, want her in the White House more than ever.

And we need her more than ever, too.

A diva is a strong woman who stands against the wind, sticks to her guns, refuses to be subjected to stereotyping and has an unwavering sense of right and wrong . . . and does it all with a good bit of style, savvy and smarts. And that's Hillary.

So when I've written my checks to Hillary's campaign, I haven't done so without reservations. And when I pull the lever for her on primary day - and again on general election day - I won't do so reluctantly. In fact, just to make the point, I might even sing "It's My Turn" when I do . . . with apologies to Ms. Ross for being a little off-key.

Steve,

If you believe that civil rights are for everyone, not just the wealthy elite, Hillary is the very last person you should be supporting.

When running for the Senate in '02 she told a reporter that she didn't transgender rights because no one in the gay and lesbian community had asked her to. Personally, that kind of ignorance on our issues scares the crap out of me.

She's gotten no better during her time in the Senate. She's the only Dem candidate who still hasn't even done so much as say the "T-word" publicly, much less declare her support for truly equal rights. She edited transpeople entirely out of her support for ENDA when she spoke before HRC, saying she didn't believe anyone should be fired because of who they love (to wild applause, of course).

In addition, her so-called "LGBT" campaign steering committee reads like a "Who's Who" of the ultra-wealthy gay elite (I think most of the HRC Executive Board is on it), with only a single transgender person out of sixty-five members on it.

Hillary doesn't care about us or our equality any more than her husband or John Kerry did. She's every bit as much a sellout on our issues as Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi is, caring far more about the interests of her party and her own political career than any of us. Any Queer person who really cares about our equal treatment under the law should be avoiding supporting her candidacy like the plague.

Haha, Steve. It's good to have one person who's pro-Hillary on this site. Seriously.

On the Advocate piece, I share a lot of the same criticisms that Karen Ocamb had. I mean, it was nice to read, but it definitely wasn't journalism or political commentary.

Hillary "has an unwavering sense of right and wrong".... I suppose.

For her, the war in Iraq and nuclear first-strike on Iran are right; gay marriage and eliminating for-profit health care are wrong. Those are the biggest problems I have with her, which apply to the other front-runners.

This all leads back to my more general frustration with American politics - that of all the leading contenders of both parties, no one's willing to support issues that have major support all around the country, like pulling out of Iraq and nationalized health care. Instead they all calculate their positions to be the same as everyone else's, and we have to choose between them based on personality. So maybe the Kennedy piece wasn't so bad, I mean, since American politics fundamentally isn't based on substance, why should the surrounding commentary be?

Hmph. What's really annoying and where I agree with Dustin is that the idea that we uniformly support anyone or anything; that someone can say "the gays like her" or "the gays want this law", is a power/silencing mechanism that renders the gobs of queers who disagree invisible. Sure, the same would be true if the Advocate decided that the gays all hate Hillary or all of us love Obama. Which is maybe why they shouldn't be in the business of making such pronouncements....

And Mariah's totally a diva. And she's the craziest one at that.

bill perdue | October 20, 2007 5:43 PM

Clinton has millions of critics but if they don’t see an alternative some will hold their noses and vote Democratic, wasting their votes. Millions and millions of other disenfranchised voters will give it a pass - they’re fed up with choosing between one lesser evil after another. They aren’t apathetic; they’re boycotting the elections.

Clinton is persistently pro war and will be after she’s elected. She took the cowards road on the first war vote and now she’s trapped. She’s voted to fund it ever since. She arrogantly voted to partition Iraq and to demand that the Iraqis give their petro assets to US oil companies. She and Bush have all the pigheaded arrogance of Roman Prefects in a newly subjugated province.

She’s the midwife of DADT and DOMA and holds the Dixiecrat view that samesex marriage is a question of states rights, just like the KKK held the Dixiecrat view that civil rights was a states rights issue. She’s a union buster and a supporter of NAFTA, CENTA, etc. Her health car plan was written by anti-consumer insurance company management. She has no plans to end the outrageous treatment of immigrant workers or the elderly.

So, what to do? The Democrat/Republicans aren’t going to permit us to ‘reform’ their party, take over its apparatus nor will they stop using laws like the Electoral College to stifle third party challenges or nullify the popular vote.

What we desperately need is to find a political solution that comes with existing resources like clout, money, a base, an apparatus AND the correct (left) kind of politics. The Greens, Naderites, and the Peace and Freedom remnants have some but not all of the politics we need but they’re dead-end, shoestring ‘protest vote’ parties. People don’t mind protesting but they’d rather win sooner or later.

The union led US Labor Party on the other hand has clout, money, a built in base of millions, an apparatus and acceptable, changeable politics. (Happily for a political party they’ve also begun to run candidates after abstaining for several years.) The unions behind the USLP include some of the largest and most militant in both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win.

Getting in on the ground floor of the USLP will establish our independence and power and give us a fighting chance. But best of all we’ll swimming in a sea of allies, instead of downing in the swamp of sleaze.

"unless you think Fred Thompson secretly supports marriage equality"

To comment on that one little blurb: I was thinking about him on my long drive back from Chicago today. I'm not a socialist, so I have a hard time seeing myself vote for Hillary. I'm also a big fan of the Fair Tax Act which Giuliani does not support. Mike Gravel seems interesting in that he supports full marriage equality as well as the FairTax...however, once again, he is a strong socialist.

That leads me to question Thompson. He supports FairTax and his marriage equality view is better than Huckabee or Romney. It dawned on me, again, on this drive, that Thompson's amendment would actually be good for gay rights. He believes that states should have the right to define marriage....so much that he beleives an amendment to the consitution should be written as such. If this were to pass then the biggest change is that the marriages in Massachusetts would become legal at the federal level. It really would have no effect on the states that have already denied same-sex marriage.

His amendment, and his viewpoint, would be the only candidate that would create Federal Marriage equality at some level.

He also supports the FairTax act so I have to say, he is getting some of my attention.

It will be easier when there are only two to decide from.

What?!? A post about presidential candidates that doesn't have the Ron Paul supporters out in droves? All 6 of them?!?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I just don't like the idea of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton. I argued against Bush II just because of the family dynasty issue; I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't point out the same problems with the possible Clinton II.

Do I like the fact that she's a woman and we've never had a female president? Yes. We've also never had a black president but I'm not going to run out and vote for Alan Keyes...