I'm sure you all have heard that Senator Arlen Specter has switched from Republican to Democrat. While it isn't specifically LGBT, such an event shouldn't pass without being noted on this blog.
Personally, there doesn't seem to be much of an upside to this for progressives. Unless Specter changes the way he's going to vote on major issues (which is unlikely), the Democrats are just as far from 60 votes in the Senate as they were Monday. And now Specter gets to pretend like he's actually part of the American "left" when he goes on TV to spread his conservative drivel.
Sure, it's symbolically bad for the Republicans and symbolically good for the Democrats right now. But as Glenn Greenwald points out, he agrees with the Republicans on all major issues, including the upcoming EFCA, which he specifically pointed out in his switching teams statement. I don't know about you, but these laws aren't a game and whether or not he supports the EFCA is a lot more important than whether there's a D or R after his name. This doesn't change much of anything for anyone except for Arlen Specter, who now won't have to face a Democrat in the general election in 2010.
"I will not be an automatic 60th vote," Specter said. "I would illustrate that with my position on employee choice, also known as card check. I think it's a bad deal and I'm opposed to it. I will not vote to impose cloture. If the Democratic Party asks too much, I will not vote with them."
Not an "automatic 60th vote"? You know what that means - he wants the Democrats to be falling backwards over themselves to get his support whenever they need it. He'll be worse than Evan Bayh (who I'm sure is crying somewhere now as he just lost his self-aggrandizing position as the most famous conservative Democrat). I'm sure he'll use his position as a conservative Democrat now to gut progressive legislation in the same way Bayh and Nelson were doing before.
So, yeah, primary Arlen Specter. He's got to know what no matter which party he's a part of, he can be challenged in elections from both the right and the left to make him more responsive to his constituents. Just saying you're a Democrat shouldn't mean a free pass to go as far to the right as you want because the only people who'll challenge you in the next election are Republicans.
(Just so that we're all on the same page, he got a 70% rating from HRC for the last Congressional session.)