Editor's note: This post is part of series called Meet the Candidates in which Bilerico contributors write about why they are supporting their chosen candidate.
Hillary Clinton seems to have a status just short of Judy Garland, Cher, or Madonna within the GLBT community. Maybe I'm bucking the trend, but Hillary's not my girl... Obama is.
He may not be the diva that Clinton is, but his appeal to me has always been about his solid progressive values. There is a clear delineation between Obama and most other candidates in the presidential race. Obama has a history of taking on progressive issues like homophobia and transphobia in his home state of Illinois. Obama supported hate crimes laws on the state level, and repeatedly co-sponsored what is now a non-discrimination law that covers the entire LGBT community. Around the same time, Clinton was asked about transgender inclusion in ENDA. She said "No one who's a leader in the gay and lesbian community has asked me to do that."
Some gay and lesbian politicos will mention the Donnie McClurkin controversy as a reason why they won't support Obama. The political reality is a minefield for Obama. He has the difficult task of building a big tent Democratic Party that includes factions that vehemently disagree with each another.
If Obama blew off African American's who are against marriage equality for gays and lesbians, he'd be throwing away votes from 60 to 70 percent of the African American community. Instead of burning bridges, Obama is focused on building them. Even before hostile (anti-GLBT) audiences he doesn't shy away from talking about our issues. On a number of occasions he has spoken about LGBT civil rights and HIV/AIDS to conservative religious Christians. Obama is standing fast on his support and for civil unions, ENDA, and hate crimes legislation.
During these perilous times, strong leadership is crucial in the White House. In Clinton's qualified support of her husband's passage of DOMA and DADT, Hillary Clinton claimed pragmatism is what led to her husband's choice. She called it “a transition policy” that was no longer “the best way for us as a nation to proceed.” Obama isn't a fair weather friend. He doesn't pick a dialect for the occasion, or a speech tailor made to his audience. He speaks his beliefs with passion and consistency. He's not afraid to wade into hostile territory and engage folks on issues that they may think are controversial. He is committed to meeting people where they and helping increase understanding and tolerance.
Obama's stance on civil unions isn't some watered down, half baked promise. He is stated clearly that he favors the full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and will work to achieve all of the benefits of marriage for same-sex couples. On Ellen Degeneres' show he said:
You know what I would do is immediately set up a civil union that is equal in federal rights so that all the states, all the rights that are conferred by the states are the same for gays and lesbians, same sex couples as for any other couple, in terms of marriage, what I would do is I would say each religious denomination can make their own decision.
Sewing together a big tent out of the factions within the Democratic Party is a tough thing to do. One of the hallmarks of a true progressive is consistent movement towards an ultimate goal. Obama continues to more forward in his life and politics. His convictions expressed in words ring true with his actions. He's no diva, but Barack Obama's strong stance on our community's most vital issues is more than enough for me to vote for him for president.
Click to read Obama's platform on LGBT issues.