Dustin Kight

Newsflash: Presidential Politics, Not Where It's At

Filed By Dustin Kight | January 24, 2008 11:03 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: bullying, Democrats, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, LGBT homeless, local politics, marriage equality, presidential primaries, queer youth, safe schools

After a brief hiatus, I'm back with a vengeance! I'm sick of all this primary stuff! Boo to the primaries! We need a reality check.

The Democratic contenders are all "on our side," more so than any other viable candidates we've seen in recent years. And we can spend as much time as want to comparing telepathic notes we seem to have about which candidate actually means his or her support for LGBTQ issues -- well, for certain high-profile issues, anyway, like marriage equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ENDA, Hate Crimes, and, oh wait, is that it??

The fact of the matter is -- and please, if you disagree, do so vocally and convincingly, because I'd like to see it -- none of these candidates, if elected, is going to push an LGBTQ rights agenda, at least not in the first term. None of them, for instance, is going to repeal DOMA outright. The best we'll get is some back room wheeling and dealing, and fine, but that's not where we're going to make our case for full equality. That I can assure you.

So why all the fuss?

Let's not be distracted by the presidential glint! As presidents go, we've got a relatively good slate on the Democratic side. Let them be. In the meantime, let's get back to where our issues matter most, at the state and local level.

Take, for example, safe schools issues, something we don't often talk about on here. Just this afternoon I spent the better part of an hour on the phone with a lesbian mom in Massachusetts, whose six-year-old daughter is being told by her "friends" in school that it's impossible for her to have two mommies. The principal has "tried" to respond, but doesn't really know what to do, and is likely to get defensive as soon as these well-meaning parents step up and make suggestions to make the situation better.

No president is going to do anything about this issue or issues like it, even if they were to pass a Comprehensive Federal Safe Schools Bill. Which, by the way, is unlikely to be Comprehensive with respect to LGBTQ issues, since the language that protects us most tends to get watered down in the process, or, in the case of ENDA, thrown out completely!

Sure you might say this one family's issue is minor, at best, when looking at things from the "big picture" perspective. The problem is that we know these incidents in schools are happening all the time, so often and to such varying degrees of severity that they're nearly taken as facts of life.

The problem with these kinds of issues, and, I believe, one of the main reasons why they haven't reached the same level of national priority as others, is that their solutions are not simple strokes of the pen. All states have different Departments of Education. They all have different school districts, policies, administrations and ways of doing things.

Solving these kinds of problems takes continued and vigilant action by members of the community, themselves, and it's not just about writing letters to Congress, it's about siting down face to face with superintendents explaining who your family is and what you need, each and every time someone new in the administration appears.

We can make change on the issues that matter to us most in our daily lives, but we have to understand that at least half the time we spend worrying about the nominees could be better spent worrying about what's actually going on in our own communities.

How many homeless queer youth live on your streets? How many elderly queer people are being mistreated by their caretakers? How many kids can't talk about their families at school?

It's too easy for those of us who are fascinated by the trappings of politics to get caught up in the campaigns and forget about the wars at home.

I know a lot of the people who read and contribute to this blog do amazing work in their communities on a regular basis, so let's shift the focus back to that, at least a bit. In fact, I'm officially putting in a request: Bil, Alex and other esteemed editors of Bilerico, can we declare an upcoming week "No Primaries Week"? And can the sub-theme be, "Talking About the Issues the Candidates Won't Address"?

In closing, fresh off my "back to blogging rant," as this is, I have a new theory of presidential priorities I'd like to share. It's my thought that until a candidate begins to speak about a particular person (usually with a colorful name) from a particular place and their particular issue, that issue won't be taken seriously by the candidate or her or his administration.

So until we've got candidates stumping with, "You know, last week I met Coralee Hines in Bulpitt, Illinois, and she's a lesbian, and she's just fifteen. Her parents kicked her out simply because of who she loves, and now she lives on the streets 'cause there's no shelters in Bulpitt, and even if there were she'd be too afraid to go 'cause they'd mistreat her for being gay. And we've got to do something about this gay youth homelessness problem in our country, 'cause when one young lesbian is living on the streets, all our kids are living on the streets," we aren't getting anywhere fast with them.


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I think this is a great post and you're right on target with your priorities, Dustin.

But as for your request, let me point out a few of the peculiarities with Bilerico. There are 50 of us. Ever try to herd cats? LOL It's rather similar. Neither Alex nor I have the power of the gods, so we aim for the "Next week will be such-and-so week and everyone should try to blog something about it!" suggestions as versus asking folks not to post on something. I don't think it would work. LOL

Alright, Bil, I'll take your word for it. But just to be clear, I thought you, Alex and others had the power of the gods. And I think other contributors/readers might feel that way, too, so no need to let that cat out of the bag...it'll be particularly hard to herd back in ;)

Alex and I have talked about how happy we'll be when the whole primary thing is over with. They've drug this out so long since they all announced so damn early. I'm a political junkie and I'm sick of it.

And we can spend as much time as want to comparing telepathic notes we seem to have about which candidate actually means his or her support for LGBTQ issues

Well, it seems you haven't met My Candidate!

My Candidate is the best one on LGBT issues.

My Candidate supports a GI inclusive ENDA.

My Candidate supports repealing all of DOMA.

My Candidate was against DADT from the beginning.

My Candidate once mentioned My Candidate's support for civil unions on national TV.

My Candidate has gay friends.

My Candidate did an interview with the Advocate.

My Candidate wears D & G expressly to support queer-owned enterprise.

My Candidate danced with Ellen.

My Candidate was almost endorsed by Madonna.

My Candidate appeared at the HRC/Logo debate and wasn't Bill Richardson.

My Candidate says marriage should be left to the states, but when My Candidate says it, My Candidate means the cool states.

My Candidate was once spotted with Lady Bunny.

My Candidate likes both tiramisu and tabouli.

My Candidate talks to both HRC and the Task Force.

My Candidate thought Will and Grace was uncool before any of the other candidates did.

My Candidate made guest appearances in Kissing Jessica Stein, The L-Word, and Brokeback Mountain, both the movie and the short story.

My Candidate has a real sense of style.

Through My Candidate's raw sexiness, My Candidate challenges people's latent homosexuality and resulting internalized homophobia daily.

My Candidate's Spouse loves the gays and secretly grand marshalled Pride in three cities last year.

Haha, OK, that's enough. There might be a post somewhere in there.

I know a lot of the people who read and contribute to this blog do amazing work in their communities on a regular basis, so let's shift the focus back to that, at least a bit. In fact, I'm officially putting in a request: Bil, Alex and other esteemed editors of Bilerico, can we declare an upcoming week "No Primaries Week"? And can the sub-theme be, "Talking About the Issues the Candidates Won't Address"?

I wish....

It'd be more than impossible, as Bil pointed out, it would actually be counter-productive, I think, to advancing necessary discussions. People do want to talk about these issues, and we can try to talk about them in ways that advance substantive discussions on queer youth, health care, etc. etc.

But I totally agreed with being annoyed with the primaries. I posted about it here and here. You might be interested.

I'm concerned that a lot of us, Dustin included, are falling into a trap baited with our own sweet delusion - the idea that the Bush administration has screwed up so badly that the candidate with a (D) after her/his name is going to cakewalk straight to the White House. My little reality check says that the (R) guy has a 67% chance (that's better than 2 to 1 odds) of doing the dancing.

Take a look at the latest annual portrait of the Supreme Court. Then listen to how Rudy Giuliani, the most 'gay-friendly' of the (R) candidates, is describing his criteria for federal court appointees. That ought to get some of us thinking a little bit about which (D) candidate has the best chance of winning come November and what we can do to improve the odds.

I agree with both Alex and Bil, and not only that, but I think part of what makes Bilerico a great read is that you can not only read a lot of us spouting off about politics, but you can also find Michael Buckley going off about Brittany Spears, Bil posting about hairless rats he thinks look like Dick Cheney's penis, advice to the Queer lovelorn, and so much diversity there's something for everyone here.

Also, while I certainly agree there should be a lot of focus on getting things done at the state and local levels, we all know that there are areas of this country that will never see LGBT-protective laws become a reality unless they are passed at the federal level.

I live in a state that protects all of its LGBT citizens from workplace discrimination and very soon hate crimes (as soon as the Governor signs the newly-passed bill into law), but a lot of my friends don't and will never see those kind of protections at the state and local level where they live, probably in their lifetimes.

In addition, I believe having federal LGBT-protective anti-discrimination laws be the law of the land has far more impact socially and culturally than just having such protections available in a patchwork fashion as they are now.

There are plenty of good reasons to keep up the fight at all levels of government for equality and fairness, and winning the big ones at the federal level helps us to be able to focus our efforts on other important less all-inclusive issues at the state and local levels as well.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | January 25, 2008 4:26 AM

1. Dustin that pic of you by your bio is super cute.
2. I agree with your premise that no candidate will be aggressive about these issues.
3. I think its okay if we care about the other issues that they will be aggressive about.
4. Seriously it is a cute pic.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 25, 2008 5:42 AM

Dustin,

As a member of the Bilerico editorial team, I think you idea of a focus on issues that the presidential candidates won't talk about is fantastic! I would not frame it in exactly that way, but I do understand what you mean.

There seem to be a set of issues that get attention in the LGBT community and its activism while others are either not dealt with or receive less attention than they should.

Email me at michael@bilerico.com and we'll see what we can come up with to shine some light on some of these issues.

for certain high-profile issues, anyway, like marriage equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ENDA, Hate Crimes...

Hillary will not repeal DOMA. She said so in the LOGO/HRC sitdown.

She only supports repealing article 3 of DOMA and the rest of it can stand.

In fact, Mrs. Clinton has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to the table to sign-on to the most core issues impacting the LGBT community.

Michael Bedwell | January 25, 2008 5:35 PM

Christopher, Christopher, Christopher. Just set down the Kool Aid and step away from the Clinton Haters Car. One could express that softer but anyone who repeats hyperbolic partisan crap like, "In fact, Mrs. Clinton has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to the table" needs to be ticketed for WUI—writing while under the influence of bullshit.

Guys, ya gotta help me here. Please. I can't afford an full page ad in every gay and straight paper; one even.

1. "Full repeal of DOMA" is a phony issue that the Obama campaign has played like a violin. Even the gay press, who have the responsibility of KNOWING better and TELLING their readers about it, constantly parrot, "Obama supports full repeal while Hillary doesn't."

It's true she doesn't but it's also true that:

a: repealing Section 2 which actually forbids NOTHING would accomplish NOTHING. It was merely the federal government patting the long held principle of "states' rights" on the head. Would that all three were willing to take on that historically treasured two-edged sword when it denies civil equality but give her credit for at least being honest about it while Obama [and Edwards, too, though not as loudly or shameslessly] does this hat trick of claiming he will make Section 2 of DOMA disappear but don't look at what is up his sleeve: he would STILL support a state's right to outlaw/refuse to legally recognize gay relationships. Don't believe me, read past the silly attempt to smear Hillary to find Obama's real position at:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/print?id=3468949

WHY AM I APPARENTLY THE ONLY PERSON OUTRAGED BY HIS TWO-FACED CRAP?????!!! Anyone is free to "a priori" believe that Jesus was just paving the way for Barack and that Obama is the real Son of God; the Messiah; the Prince of Peace; blah blah blah but duplicity is duplicity is duplicity is reason to doubt anything else he says.

As for Dustin's original point, I agree there's much to be said for empowering and informing people about issues in local areas where there is hope of change. But framing it as "what the candidates aren't talking about" or the like is only to encourage more candidate-supporter wars.

WHOEVER gets in the White House is going to be totally dependent on a cooperative Congress to get anything done, LGBT-related or not. While I think he was far less the Devil that others do [yet still wrong again and again], we should have learned the "There Are No Political Messiahs Lesson" after, not just HRC, but every "professional" gay group save for the Log Heads thought Bill could sweep in and sweep out homophobia and, thus were unprepared to help him when he met opposition. Well, some of the worst obstacles to gay equality are gone from Congress, but enough are still there with constituents who demand they stay that way that we need to stop believing in Miracle Workers and committing ourselves to WORK!

Bill Perdue | January 26, 2008 1:56 AM

It takes a village idiot to think Hillary is going to champion GLBT rights.

Everything in her background says she won't, what ever she promises when she's desperate for votes. Even for a Dixiecrat she has an unwholesome relationship with the totalitarian christian right. She had regular meetings with them as a member of the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart and as Mother Jones magazine reports, “Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection."

“With Santorum, Clinton co-sponsored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act; she didn't back off even after Republican senators such as Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter pulled their names from the bill citing concerns that the measure would protect those refusing to perform key aspects of their jobs—say, pharmacists who won't fill birth control prescriptions, or police officers who won't guard abortion clinics.”

“Clinton has championed federal funding of faith-based social services, which she embraced years before George W. Bush did; Marci Hamilton, author of God vs. the Gavel, says that the Clintons' approach to faith-based initiatives "set the stage for Bush." Clinton has also long supported the Defense of Marriage Act, a measure that has become a purity test for any candidate wishing to avoid war with the Christian right.” “Now, Brownback considers Clinton "a beautiful child of the living God."

In addition to being a closeted religious nut she supports the essential parts of DOMA and, like all loyal Dixiecrats, says it’s a state rights issue. George Wallace, an earleir Dixiecrat said the voting right and civil rights were a states rights issue. They're both wrong. Clinton unconditionally supports the war, the division of Iraq into three colonial provinces, the theft of the Iraqis oil industry by US Oil companies and the extension of the war into Iran. She’s Bush Lite

Rupert Murdoch, gazillionaire head of Faux News, the guy who's the 'neo' in 'neo Nazi'' hosted a big fundraiser for Hillary, inviting the elite at his NY Fox News HQ. He, his son, and coincidentally all the Fox executives gave her big bucks.

In an interview Rita Braver of CBS News Sunday Morning asked Pat Robertson, one of the worst of Republican theocratic totalitarians, “On the Democratic side, of course, everybody's talking about Hillary Clinton. What-- what would you and your followers think about her? “ His answer is illuminating. “Well she's-- tacking to the right as hard as she can tack. And-- you know Hillary's got some good points.”

Pat Robertson and Rupert Murdoch know a good thing when they see it