Steve Ralls

Primary Questions

Filed By Steve Ralls | February 28, 2008 9:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, LGBT media, marriage, New Jersey

There was a time - not too many election cycles ago - when LGBT families were virtually invisible to politicians, and candidates sat in silence when it came time to speak out on issues important to our community or, even more importantly, when the time came to take action and expand the rights available to us.

Now, with the 2008 race for the White House, much has changed.

As Bilerico reported earlier, Senator Barack Obama recently launched an ad campaign in the LGBT media, reaching out to our community for votes as the Democratic race for the White House tightens. And on February 27, Senator Hillary Clinton sat down for an unprecedent conference call with reporters from LGBT media outlets in the critical, upcoming primary states of Texas and Ohio.

Senator Clinton's message was clear: She wants lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to hear directly from her . . . and she wants to take the time to talk with our community about how she will move us forward toward equality.

As the first article from Senator Clinton's interview with reporters in Texas and Ohio notes, "The Obama campaign declined an interview" with the Gay People's Chronicle, despite the paper "trying to get live interviews with both candidates after the Wisconsin primary on February 18."

And while there's no doubt that a Clinton or Obama presidency would arrive in the Oval Office as being the most pro-LGBT in American history, the courage in speaking up means something, too: Going on the record, explaining your own positions and making a personal, first-hand appeal for the support of our community leaves an impression.

Senator Clinton, surely aware that some tough inquires awaited her, did not shy away from the primary questions that are important to LGBT voters. She met them head-on, and spoke up, once more, for expanding our civil liberties.

Much of the article in today's Chronicle focuses on recognition of same-sex unions, and Clinton again notes that she, like Senator Obama, supports recognition of our relationships, including federal benefits for same-sex couples.

"[T]he biggest problem is the federal benefits, and I want to change the law," Clinton told reporter Eric Resnick, adding that the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act is the first thing that needs to be passed. The legislation, which Clinton co-sponsored, would provide benefits to federal employees on par with those offered to married, opposite-sex couples.

Resnick also questioned Senator Clinton about a recent New Jersey report which concluded that civil unions provide a separate, "second class" status to same-sex couples. "I agree with my friend [New Jersey Governor] John Corzine that the report raises some serious concerns,” she said, reiterating that she would support repealing federal law which limits important benefits like Social Security and tax benefits to married, heterosexual couples.

But what struck me about Clinton's interview was not just that she spoke out, again, in favor of expanded benefits, but that - in the midst of a truly hectic and grueling primary campaign schedule - she made sure that our community heard from her directly. She didn't send out a campaign aide to tell the LGBT press about her positions, or just issue a press release or place an ad with talking points about the issues. She went directly to the LGBT electorate, via our community's press, to make her case to gay voters.

That's significant. It is, as far as I'm aware, the first time a presidential candidate has done so as part of a primary state strategy. And it may mark an important turning point in how the candidates view our community.

In addition to talking with major media outlets like CNN or The New York Times - where our issues rarely come into the conversation - Senator Clinton also talked with our community's media, too. It's a credit to the gay press, which has come into its own covering this historic election, and it's a credit to Senator Clinton, too, who accepted their invitation, took the tough questions and made a case - directly -for our vote.

"No community has been made more invisible than the LGBT community by this administration, and I want to change that," Clinton noted when talking about the largely silent stance of the Bush administration when it comes to gay issues. "I am committed to the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans."

And as the 2008 race moves on, it's heartening to know that, this time, we and our families are not invisible. And that's a significant change in American politics - whether we support Senator Clinton or Senator Obama - that we can all take hope in.


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Jude Rene Montarsi | February 29, 2008 1:15 AM

This article is sorely lacking a critical approach to Senator Clinton's history of public comments and her actions in her official capacity as a U.S. Senator with respect to LGBT issues. "BEWARE OF THE BAIT AND SWITCH!"

MauraHennessey | February 29, 2008 7:56 AM

The misogyny against her did it for me. The attacks from many, including Democrats, have been vile. They were just as bad as the attacks against Lesbians that come from some of those within our own LGBT community and I felt compelled to support her as a woman.

Michael Bedwell | February 29, 2008 11:18 AM

Hey Jude, what's for lunch today in the Obama Borg hive? Croque de Merde AGAIN?

Admit it! There's not been "a critical approach" to ANYTHING in regard to the Dali Obama—or to HIS "capacity as a U.S. Senator with respect to LGBT issues." If, as y'all believe, he came out of the womb wanting to fight for the rights of LGBTs, why didn't he introduce a bill to repeal DADT on his Day 1 in the Senate; introduce a bill to repeal DOMA on Day 2, introduce his own hate crimes bill on Day 3; his own inclusive ENDA on Day 4; a bill legalizing LGBT adoptions on Day 5; a bill to increase AIDS funding and outlaw Bush's mandated one-third of PEPFAR funding going to abstinence programs on Day 6? Then, on the 7th day, like our previous God, he could have rested.

Thanks for bringing our attention in states not having primaries soon to Sen. Clinton's interview—and the fact that Obama refused. Just as he apparently did with LOGO and the "Washington Blade"—both of whom have recently interviewed Sen. Clinton. And before someone crawls in with "But she didn't say ______" might I reiterate the above means Obama hasn't said ANYTHING to those LGBT outlets. We don't even know that HE actually wrote his most recent epistle.

As for your comment, Steve, about an Obama "ad with talking points about the issues," you must have seen an ad I haven't. As referenced in another thread, the Ohio ad just had "STONEWALL RIOTS" in HUGE letters, mentioned "LGBT rights" without naming them [keep doing hair? home makeovers on Oprah? his now legendary MLK church "Right To Be Hugged"?]—no "talking points about the issues" thus avoiding the Repugs challenging him on any specifics, next to a large photo of him gazing HEAVENward with, at first glance, his hands folded in PRAYER.

Funny, I bet he and I are not praying for the same thing.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 29, 2008 11:26 AM

Steve,

You say

"And while there's no doubt that a Clinton or Obama presidency would arrive in the Oval Office as being the most pro-LGBT in American history, the courage in speaking up means something, too: Going on the record, explaining your own positions and making a personal, first-hand appeal for the support of our community leaves an impression."

Then how do you explain Hillary's willingness to only talk about GLBT issues in front of GLBT specific audiences?

Barack has spoken passionately about his support for GLBT civil rights many times in front of non-GLBT audiences most recently to a largely Black crowd at a campaign event in Beaumont, Texas. He also spoke loudly about the need to challenge anti-gay attitudes in African-American communities on MLK Day at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

It is great that Hillary will speak to GLBT audiences, but "the courage in speaking up" would mean more if she included us in her larger vision for America.

yes because speaking out is so much more important than cosponsoring legislation that GAURENTEES GLBT rights. If you ask me her legislation trumps anything Obama has or will SAY. "Put up or Shut up" is that not how it should be???

Michael Bedwell | February 29, 2008 12:07 PM

OK, Mr. Crawford, at the risk of getting banned because of your special status as a Bilerico contributor and editor, I'm calling you out. It's one thing for you to repeatedly fail to mention that you are an official part of the Obama campaign and another to repeatedly make broadbrush claims without backing them up.

First, disputing your claim re Sen. Clinton never speaking about us before non-LGBT audiences, she DID specify "gay rights" in her speech before NINE THOUSAND Iowans at their Jefferson-Jackson dinner in November. I think it safe to assume that at least 90% of them were not gay, and more conservative than most Democrats. And I'm sure that there are other examples. One alone, however, should be sufficient to silence your false accusation.

You claim, yet again, that "Barack has spoken passionately about his support for GLBT civil rights many times in front of non-GLBT audiences."

Please PROVE IT. PROVE that he has specifically spoken about our CIVIL RIGHTS----not just having us as "friends," not just not "blaming us" for whatever, not just no longer "scoring" us but "embracing" us. I want to see documented what he's said in front of "non-GLBT audiences" about civil unions and gay adoption and job protection and repealing DOMA and DADT. I want to see the "many times" he has even used the term "GLBT civil rights."

And, ya know what, since I haven't had a chance to look up his EXACT Beaumont words, I'll temporarily allow you that one.

But you claim "many times" just as you've made the same claim many times, so put up or, well, you know....

Oh please. That's all you can come up with? Iowa? Months ago? Wow.
Really now?

That pales in comparison to Senator Obama's repeated and consistent inclusion of LGBT people in his calls for fairness and inclusion -- and in some of the most hostile settings. Sullivan has a great example from Obama's visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church:

An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn't trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent.

So he took a different tack: "Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday," he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers.

"I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian," he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time.

Michael Bedwell | February 29, 2008 2:38 PM

Oh, fucking please, BLUNDERmachine! That account isn't about Ebenezer Baptist Church unless it was consumed in a cloud and set back down in Beaumont, Texas.

That description from Obamahead Politico was about the incident Mr. Crawford mentioned.

Videos of the appearance are finally up. The link to the relevant section is below. While it does not include the question, the source says it was, “What are your thoughts about human rights, specifically the LGBT community.” And, watching his answer, I give him credit for sounding better than the printed quotes. At least, unlike McCain, he doesn’t have to have “LGBT” defined for him, in fact, HE defines it for the audience. LOL. [at least partially—we assume Rebecca will now flame him EQUALLY for not mentioning transgenders].

If he had said all of these things in one place before, rather than bits and pieces of them spread across various places, AND identified by name the examples of “discrimination” [again, relationship rights, gays in the military, job discrimination] I would think higher of him. It wouldn’t explain his lies about his role in the timeline of the gay rights bill in Illinois, nor make up for his frequent, “let ME explain ‘full equality’ to YOU,” but I give him his due here. Watch for yourselves at:

http://www.kfdm.com/video/index.php?bcpid=1138292619&bclid=1338937316&bctid=1437076216

In addition to the example I gave disputing the lie that Sen. Clinton NEVER speaks about gay rights in front of nongay audiences, as “symbolic speech” is even a legally recognized concept, how much MORE could Sen. Clinton demonstrate PUBLICLY her support for LGBT rights for MILLIONS of nongays to see via newspaper and TV coverage than when she marched in New York’s Gay Pride Parade WHEN SHE WAS FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES? And several times since as Senator? Out in public, in the sun, year after year... and if you don't think she knew that pictures and video of that wouldn't be used against her by the Repugs in any future run for President then there's no hope for you.

I can’t say that Obama has never done the same in Chicago, but I doubt it. Bravo if I'm wrong. What IS known is that Obama REFUSED to even be photographed with SF Mayor Gavin Newsom shortly after Newsom became world famous for ordering The City to MARRY gay couples in 2004. And that was even after Newsom had RAISED MONEY for Obama’s Senate campaign. How do you say, "Actions speak louder than words."

More VERY LOUD action: as Steve revealed, Obama's relying only on his gay newspaper paid blank slate ads on which one can project whatever they want to believe, and REFUSED to give interviews to gay newspapers in Texas and Ohio, as he has refused with LOGO and the “Washington Blade.”

As referenced in another thread, the Ohio ad just had "STONEWALL RIOTS" in HUGE letters, mentioned "LGBT rights" without naming them

The Obama ad specifically mentions the Stonewall Riots in a positive light!?

I wonder how he'd feel about a bunch of queers bashing cops and smashing squad cars if it happened tomorrow instead of 40 years ago. Especially once he’s head of the executive branch.

Of course, I always wonder how the Stonewall Democrats and other mainstream groups would feel about any such a suggestion as well? I mean, would any organization that uses Stonewall in it's name actually advocate violent resistance to police and state oppression?

Michael Bedwell | February 29, 2008 3:46 PM

Here's a link to one of the ads, Nick, complete with the picture portraying his as St. Barack of Assisi [they apparently only vary from place to place by local campaign information inserts]:

http://towleroad.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/02/27/obama_lgbt_ad_2.jpg

Note, the reference to STONEWALL RIGHTS is hardly revolutionary. It's more like, "Now that I have your attention." Someone should have told him that he'd have attracted more gay moths and fruit flies by putting

MADONNA!!!! and

JUDY GARLAND!!!!

in huge letters.

While you may have complaints about the superficial content of the message and Obama's vaguely religious pose, you must agree that it is an excellently crafted ad. Stunning and beautiful in terms of both visual impact and graphic style. Somebody was definitely paying attention in their typography course.

And you do know that the Stonewall Riots really happened because all the gays were pissed and distraught from Judy Garland's death on June 22nd, right??

Michael Bedwell | February 29, 2008 5:09 PM

Have never said Barack doesn't have style. He SHITS style! It's the substance I'm still waiting for. Compromise: let's elect Sen. Clinton President based on her substance and she can appoint B.O. Secretary of Style...or National Deacon...or Ambassador to the Vatican...or....

"At the campaign’s 'Camp Obama' - a training programme run ahead of primaries in key states - volunteers are schooled to avoid talking to voters about policy, and instead tell of how they 'came' to Obama, just as born-again Christians talk about 'coming to Jesus'.” - London Telegraph

hmm Yep Politics is a Contact spot just look at some of the postings if you dont belive me.Otherwise sitting this one out carry on!

It's one thing for you to repeatedly fail to mention that you are an official part of the Obama campaign

Michael has often disclosed his connection to the campaign in his posts, MB - and you know that. To piss and moan that he doesn't do it in every comment he leaves that you disagree with is going a little far. Lighten up. This is a primary - not a war. The real enemy is the conservatives - not every Obama supporter you can strike out at.

It's one thing to argue forcefully. It's another to be simply insulting - and you've skirted that line a lot the past week or two.