Self preservation is human nature. It is in fact animal nature. However, one of the fundamental components of the American psyche is a sense of community. That those defined in common by geography, demography or other common factor will look out for each other and, to some extent, advocate on behalf of others within the same community.
We stick together for the greater common good, and we know that if one of our community is harmed, we are all harmed. Unlike wild animals, we do not see an attack on one as the benefit of the rest. When the weakest wildebeest becomes lunch the remaining herd breathes a sigh of relief. When the weakest among our community is harmed, we share a collective concern and we figure out how to prevent it from happening again.
For many years I have had much discussion with Log Cabin Republicans and other LGBT people who were supporting Republicans for office, and I have attempted to be open minded and learn from them. I, at one point, even advocated for support of Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR). However, I keep coming back to a massive struggle with this type of support, for a number of reasons.
For this post, I will limit the dialogue to the comparison between Obama and McCain. I am of the opinion that a vote by an LGBT person for McCain is one of either personal greed or misinformation. Furthermore that decision runs counter to the sense of community preservation that separates us from other animal species.
I am not a single issue voter. I am a primary issue voter. I place the most import on LGBT issues because we, as a community, are still in a place where community preservation is more vital than self-interest. If two candidates' stands on those issues are the same, then I will look at additional issues in determining who to cast a vote for. This is how I originally came to support Hillary Clinton and why I now support Barack Obama.
I honestly believe that all LGBT voters, and even some of our friends and family, need to take a similar approach. The LGBT community is under constant attack, both physical and rhetorical in the United States. The laws of this country and many of our states treat us and our relationships as second-class citizens. Until such time as this isn't the case, for an LGBT individual to choose any other issue as a primary issue must be based on either personal greed that stems from an "I got mine" attitude or a head in the sand mentality that comes as a result of blissful ignorance of the actual impact of the laws and policies of this country on our community.
Basically, they either consciously or unconsciously choose to place self-interest over community advocacy.
Let's start with the greedy. I have heard McCain LGBT supporters talk about their fear of higher taxes, their desire to get a 5K tax credit for health care, the energy policy vote, etc. They have idly dismissed the two candidate's rhetoric and record on LGBT issues as they claim to not be "a single-issue" voter. How nice for them. Each and every one of these people that I have spoken to has a supportive family, live in a supportive area, own their own business or work for a supportive employer. It is a thought pattern based on the idea that if they were able to carve out a safe place for themselves, then why can't every other gay person simply stop worrying about all this LGBT stuff and just live their lives. I got mine, the rest of the people can worry about themselves. Moreover, it casts the notion that LGBT Equality is a single issue. It is not.
I honestly will not care about the tax rate as much as the collective of LGBT issues until my rights are equal to everyone else. I won't be concerned about tax credits for health care until I know that every LGBT individual in the US will not worry about losing that health care when their bigoted boss fires them. I will not be as concerned with our presence in Iraq until those of my community who choose to be there are allowed to openly. When it comes to energy, I am more concerned, honestly, with Exxon's record profits which piss me off not because it means I'm paying a bit more at the pump, but because they refuse to use any of that profit to offer domestic partner benefits to employees.
Those members of the LGBT Community who consciously chose to support a Republican for office must have the opposite world view. They must feel that the plight of people in our community is not as important as their own wealth. This group of people simply angers me as it is the utmost in greed and self-promotion.
The other group of LGBT people who support Republicans do so, I have found, because they don't take the time to research the actual impact of bigoted laws on themselves. Let's start with marriage. This debate is not about a ring, a cake and a honeymoon. This debate is about the 1100 Federal rights, the 500 some odd state rights and the local rights that flow from marriage. Those who decry tax cuts while putting people in office who deny us marriage don't quite grasp that filing joint taxes might accomplish both. How can you feel comfortable in talking about the work that you do with your partner when you may be forced to testify against that person if something ever went wrong. Can you really place any worry in the stock market or other retirement planning when your non legally married wife could be left in the cold if you were to pass away suddenly?
Being a primary issue voter when it comes to LGBT issues does not make one a single issue voter. It does not make one LGBT-centric. We are not yet at a place where we have the luxury to not be concerned first about ourselves. We must maintain a community focus. To those who would , as LGBT people or anyone who cares about LGBT people, cast a vote for John McCain or support a party that across the country has vilified our community for their own gain, I ask: How can you look me in the eye and put yourself first when many other of our brothers and sisters suffer? How can your own personal wealth be more important than a real opportunity to move our equality forward? Why are you that much more important than us?
There is a clear difference when it comes to LGBT issues in this election. The statements and records of both of the candidates vary vastly, and almost more importantly, one party has repeatedly and systematically used our community for their own personal gain. By voting in favor of them, we are guilty of the same.
(Crossposted from www.bearsleft.com)