Editor's note: John R. Selig is a writer, photographer and activist who lives in Dallas, Texas with his husband Rodolfo (they married in Toronto, Canada in April 2004). John produces and hosts the "John Selig Outspoken" podcast featuring interviews with LGBT role models and opinion. John's photos, commentaries, and bio can be viewed on his personal website www.johnselig.com.
This morning I received a media release from Witeck-Combs Communications concerning a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive. The poll showed that 68% of the LGBT respondents support Barack Obama, 10% support John McCain, 3% supported Ralph Nader, 1 % supported Bob Barr and 15% haven't made up their minds yet. Senator Obama maintains only an eight-point lead over Senator McCain in the total mainstream sample, which is unchanged from the July numbers. The poll was conducted online between August 1st and 7th among 2,834 adults aged 18 and over, with 178 (or nearly 6.3%) indentified as gay lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
I am sorry folks, but if this poll is representative of our community, and 178 seems to be too small sample to me, 32% of the LGBT community are morons! John McCain is staunchly anti-gay and yet 10% of us support him... that makes lots of sense, especially if McCain gets into office and we have to survive a U.S. Supreme Court comprised of a majority of "Strict Constructionists" for the rest of many of our lives!
Here are the ages of the current members of the Supreme Court. John Paul Stevens, 88 (liberal), Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75 (Liberal), Antonin Scalia, 72 (Conservative), Anthony Kennedy, 71 (Moderate), Stephen Breyer, 69 (Liberal), David Souter, 68 (Liberal), Clarence Thomas, 60 (Conservative), Samuel Alito, 58 (Conservative) and John Roberts, 53 (Conservative). Remember, the retirement or death of a liberal justice and the appointment of just one more conservative means the anti-gay conservatives will control the court. Only one of the conservatives is over 70. What is the likelihood that the next president will replace at least one of the liberal justices in the next 4 1/2 years... 8 1/2 years? This could be the most important issue to vote for Barack Obama!
Ralph Nader can't win, so a vote for him is a vote for McCain. Bob Barr was the author of the Defense of Marriage Act (remember DOMA). Though Barr is now a Libertarian who is against a marriage constitutional amendment, he has never been a champion for equal rights for LGBT folks.
15% of us can't make up our minds yet? This isn't rocket science. Gay people tend to vote in higher percentages than the mainstream because we realize whomever is in office has a huge impact on our lives. For 15% of us not to be able figure out who is the best candidate yet, with all the press coverage of the candidates over the past 18 months, is beyond me.
A friend of mine points out that this choice isn't as easy as I make it out to be. After all, Barack Obama invited homophobe Donnie McClurkin to campaign with him in South Carolina last autumn. Senator Obama hasn't made a concerted effort to speak with the local gay press and he has repeatedly stated his support of civil unions but opposition to same-sex marriage.
Come on people! Is there really any question as to whether John McCain or Barack Obama will do the most for gay rights? McCain will run on and support the Republican Party platform, which is staunchly anti-gay. Barack Obama has shifted to the center to win but he knows that "separate but equal" isn't acceptable. Obama believes that he can't do more than support civil unions with all the federal rights of marriage before he gets into office. Barack Obama has a strong record of supporting gays throughout his entire political career.
Our responsibility as a community is to put more pressure on a Democratic Congress and President once they are in office. The battle won't be over if we win in November. If Barack Obama becomes president, gays will be in a position to make demands, be listened to, and hold Barack Obama and Congress to their promises. If we don't do so, we are at fault as much as the politicians are!
I don't like voting for or against a candidate because of their stance on one issue. But when it comes to voting- and a candidate is anti-gay- that's a deal breaker. I had family that died in the gas chambers in Germany because they didn't think a candidate would be as bad as his public statements against Jews had been. I refuse to settle for being a second-class citizen and neither should you! Furthermore, I can give you a boatload of reasons as to why Barack Obama will make a far better president than John McCain and why John McCain will be harmful besides their stances on sexual orientation issues.
In 2000, 25 % of gay people voted for George W. Bush and in 2004 Bush received 23% of the gay vote. I consider the LGBT people who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 to be idiots except, perhaps, for the very wealthy who could buy their rights. Those people I find reprehensible for their lack of compassion for those less fortunate. Personally I believe that as a community we are failing if we can only convince 68% of our community to stand up for our civil rights. Yes, the final vote should be an improvement over 2000 and 2004 if the majority of the 15% undecided come to their senses and vote for Obama. A lot more than 68%, 73%, or even 75% of Jews would vote for their rights, and the same for African Americans, if a candidate publicly took stands against them the way John McCain and the Republican Party have against gays!
Don't be complacent during this campaign by assuming that Obama is going to win. 32% of gay people aren't backing Senator Obama and he only has an 8% lead over McCain in the August mainstream Harris Interactive Poll. Other polls have the two candidates closer. We haven't even hit the conventions and the Republican dirty tricks that are sure to come in September and October along with the voter suppression on Election Day.
Donate money, volunteer, talk to your friends and register people to vote. This may be the most important election of our lives and not just because of our sexual orientation. There is a laundry list of reasons that we need to get a Democrat into the White House and keep Senator McCain out.