Diane Silver

Our Muddled Electoral Mess

Filed By Diane Silver | November 04, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Annise Parker, election campaigns, Kalamazoo, Maine, Ordinance 1856, Referendum 71, Washington

Anyone who says they know exactly what yesterday's election results mean for the future of LGBTQ people is a blowhard and a liar. Yesterday's results were decidedly muddled.

Marriage equality lost yet again, this time in Maine. For anyone who's counting, and that is all of the MSM, that's 31 defeats for equality. Damn.

"Everything But Marriage" won in the state of Washington. The victory was narrow - 51.03 percent vs. 48.97 percent - but it was still a victory for LGBTQ people and our families.

In Kalamazoo, Mich., a landslide of voters - 65 percent - shouted "NO!" to the right's effort to be able to legally fire or refuse housing to us.

Throughout the country, and in some surprisingly moderate-to-conservative places, out lesbian and gay candidates did very well. They range from Annise Parker's first-place finish in the Houston mayoral race to victories for out candidates for city councils in Detroit; St. Petersburg, Fl.; Akron, Ohio; Salt Lake City; and Maplewood, Minn. The mayor of Chapel Hill, N..C., is now the openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt. On a day when the fear of gays in schools helped defeat marriage equality in Maine, voters in Canton, Ohio, elected openly gay Eric Resnick to the Canton Board of Education.

I have no real answers about the true meaning of these results, but I do have some first thoughts.

  • Some folks are already saying that we should give up on or de-emphasize marriage equality, but I don't buy that. I personally believe that marriage is too important to the safety and security of our families for us to back off. Also, civil rights struggles are measured in decades, even centuries, and the marriage fight is still young. I believe we will never have full equality until people can see us as being fully human, and being fully human includes the right to marry.
  • The temptation is great to find a scapegoat for the loss in Maine. Some will target the No on 1 campaign. By all accounts, the No on 1 campaign did a good job. Nate Silver (no relation) may well be right when he notes:


  • I certainly don't think the No on 1 campaign can be blamed; by every indication, they ran a tip-top operation whereas the Yes on 1 folks were amateurish. But this may not be an issue where the campaign itself matters very much; people have pretty strong feelings about the gay marriage issue and are not typically open to persuasion.

  • Some are already attacking Barack Obama and the DNC-controlled Organizing for America for failing to rally voters to vote no in Maine. I personally suspect that if Obama, or OFA had intervened, they may well have moved the vote a bit in our favor. Whether that would have been enough for us to win is unknown. All of which means nothing about how I think we should approach Obama and the DNC. I say hold their feet to the fire. Enough is enough.
  • Our losses show that we're still politically weak, particularly on the issue of marriage, but our victories show that we're gaining strength. The success of openly lesbian and gay candidates is a clear sign that bigotry is beginning to go out of fashion. I'll be keeping a close watch on the run-off election in Houston. Conventional wisdom would normally make Anise Parker the frontrunner, but we'll have to wait and see if voters flinch at the last minute at the idea of having a lesbian as mayor.

I have no patience anymore. I am sick to death of people voting on my rights, on my humanity. I agree with David Mixner that we now live in an unacceptable state of gay apartheid.

And yet, I've lived long enough to see that even yesterday's decidedly mixed results show progress. There was a time when any victory for lesbians and gays was unthinkable. Yesterday an entire state gave us a victory and conservative, little Kalamazoo stood up to say discrimination is wrong. Running as an out candidate was once political suicide, particularly in places like Texas and Ohio, but look at all our victories.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Do we give up or fight on? Should we change our tactics or strategy? What do you think?


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Angela Brightfeather | November 4, 2009 5:23 PM

If you paint a pig pink, then who really notices?

It's time to sit back and think about where GLBTQ people are going and why we arfe so satisfied with victories that fall short of equality. Certainly we can agree on the fact that marriage equality is important to our families. But is it important enough to sacrifice millions of dollars and suck the life out of every other initiative that we need? Considering the fact that if the GLBT community follows the same kind of dynamics as the Hetero community, one has to admit that marriage equality only affects those who want or need to get married and in the Hetero Community that amounts to less than 50%. That being the case I do not feel it justifies being able to suck the life out of every other issue that affects 100% of our community. It's just not supportable right now and we need to leave it where it is and work on it as the opportunity arises. But we don't need to use it as a rallying cry, because no one is rallying behind it any more. Being close only counts in horseshoes.

We do need to concentrate on widening our base and making it more stable. That means we need to get ENDA passed ASAP. More money, more jobs and more momentum is what an inclusive ENDA brings to the fight and we need all three of those basics to continue to even think about fighting over SSM.

I've been saying it for years and now David Mixner is finally saying it.

We have to meet our enemies in the streets and in some of those cases our enemies are our own GLBT organizations like HRC, who act like a bunch of tuxedoed, swooning, fools when they see Obama at their dinner. Come to think of it, why would anyone invite any poltician to a big national dinner who doesn't agree with SSM if it's that important. Why even give them the podium and a place to talk?

We have got to pull support for groups like HRC until they stop funding the wrong people and the wrong causes. How much of our money has HRC devoted to SSM as compared to a winable fight like ENDA? Why is HRC giving brownie points to Democrat politicians or the DNC when they are threatening to vote against ENDA? Why isn't HRC helping to sponsor Democrats in congressional primaries who can actually commit to 100% backing for all of our issues?

We also have to start thinking more along the lines of Ghandi and start practicing some real civil disobedience techniques. Immersing ourselvs in Pride celebrations should rather be turned into marches on City Halls, State Capital buildings and Congressional home offices who continue to block our progress across the country.

We need to recognize new leadership that is committed to hard and decisive action that is comprised of young and energetic youth who have not been invested in the old, more gentler ways of doing business and who refuse to have their futures and their freedoms voted on by others. We need to be led by people who have no patience with the word "incrementalism" and who connot concieve of that philosophy as anything other than a compromise on mediority and a roadblock to our futures.

Lets start to hold our rallies right on the doorsteps of places like Friends of the Family and the Falwell Institute and hold them accountable for their prejudice first hand.

I beleive it is time to rethink a lot of things that we have been doing and to start demanding instead of asking nicely.

It continues to amaze me that people draw such a huge distinction between HRC and the Equality March organizers like David Mixner. Like HRC, Mixner's "top-down" modus operandi of organizing is long established, and (to his credit) very honestly set forth in his autobiography.

BOTH invited Obama to speak, but only HRC landed him. BOTH have fawned before him, and neither have made demands of him that had any bite.

How does one make a demand that has real bite? Threaten retribution, like sitting out or voting 3rd party in the 2010 bielections. If that sort of demand was made from the stage at the Equality March we might might not have gotten the White House "no position" on Question 1 line out of Eric Holder.

The Dems got a scare Tuesday night because their base in NJ and NC sat out the gubernatorial elections. If LGBT people want to get somewhere with this administration, we've got to play hardball with the Rahm Emanuels and David Axelrods. That's the only thing they respect, not the fawning whether from Cleve or HRC.

I agree - we shouldn't make too many conclusions off this very close election, or at least the "win" or "lose" part of it. If it were 51-49 the other way, that wouldn't be too different in terms of voting patterns or demographics, but all the difference in terms of results.

As for Mixner's use of the term "gay apartheid," I'll wait until we have separate schools, drinking fountains, can't work in government, are being rounded up in prisons, etc., before we get there. Mixner says that what we're experiencing, in terms of marriage, is technically the definition of apartheid, but it's really not. The UN defines apartheid as:

International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid,
Article II[2]

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term 'the crime of apartheid', which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:
A. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person
i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;
B. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;
C. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
D. Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;
E. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

The Rome Statute says:

The 'crime of apartheid' means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.[12]

The crimes in "paragraph 1" include enslavement, torture, mass deportation, genocide, and rape. I really don't think that marriage rights rise to that level, as supportive of them as I am.

I know he tends towards the inflammatory, and it's useful sometimes, but this instance is disrespectful.

Good point on the use of the term "apartheid," Alex. I stand corrected.

Angela Brightfeather | November 4, 2009 7:23 PM

Alex,

The only thing that I might disagree with is the use of the word aparthied as applied only to SSM.

Outside of that, if you substitue the words "sexual and gender minorites" for the word "racial", you exactly have most of the situations that UN definition describes as intollerable and aparthied.

It reads almost exactly like the present situation for many GLBTQ people.

I think David Mixner is dead on adn perhaps we should use these revisions and in the context of "aparthied" as a basis of our complaints.

i.e.
"A. Denial to a member or members of a sexual or gender minority group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person
i. By murder of members of a sexual or gender minority group or groups; (See Remembering Our Dead)
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a sexual or minority group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (Hate Crimes)
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a sexual or gender minority group or groups; (Bar raids by Atlanta Police)
B. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part; (The Fair Housing Act that deliberatly excludes Transvestites from participating in public housing grants, thanks to Jesse Helms.)
C. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a sexual or gender minority group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a sexcual or gender minority group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work (ENDA), the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education (No mention of diverse lifestyles), the right to leave and to return to their country (Only if you don't have AIDS), the right to a nationality (Only if your not gay or lesbain and used to live in Mexico), the right to freedom of movement and residence (Except in public housing), the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (except in gay clubs);
D. Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along sexual and gender lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups (like the Castro?), the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various sexcual and gender minority groups (SSM), the expropriation of landed property belonging to a sexual or gender minority group or groups or to members thereof;
E. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a sexual or gender minority group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid."

Nothing muddled about. In fact it's all pretty clear.

The defeat in Maine illustrates why the right chooses to attack us on this issue. Look at the difference in the votes on SSM and state DOMAs and their smashing defeat in Michigan where the question was employment and housing discrimination.

It also means that sooner rather than later people will begin to see that electoral politics are a crock. Those who think that we pick these fights or that part of the movement can exempt itself from these fights because marriage is a crock will isolate themselves.

The question boils down to why homohating and its cousins racism and misogyny, which began in pre-colonial times and have lasted through the centuries are so integral to the bankrupt profit system.They're maintained at all costs because the looter class reaps huge profits from their ability to pay us, minorities, women and immigrants less and less.

And profits mightily. Since 1975, the wealthiest 1 percent have enjoyed a 232 percent hike in their income… Over the same span, the bottom 90 percent watched their income creep up by just 10 percent. http://onyeije.posterous.com/issue-clash-on-pbs-now-maggie-debates-phil-ke]

That stark statistic is the foundation for their maintenance of bigotry in all its forms. The looter class got richer:

by busting unions and paying lower wages (Reagan, the Bush's, Clinton, and Obama),

exporting union jobs and speedups (Clinton, Bush2)

draconian cuts in welfare forcing people into low paying jobs (Clinton),

tax cuts for the rich, NAFTA and deregulation (Reagan, the Bush's, Clinton, and Obama)

and preventing the passage of meaningful anti-discrimination laws which means lower wages for ourselves and others (LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Bush's, Clinton, and Obama).

The hate crimes bill might help compile statistics but it’s far too weak to prevent hate crimes and has no provisions for the harsh punishment of cops who commit them or politicians and cult leaders who promote them. Current civil rights and anti-discrimination laws are intentionally and inherently feeble and its likely ENDA will be the same.

We need to accomplish the following tasks before we have a chance of winning:

Break with the twin parties of bigotry. Not by feeble threats to stop contributing or voting for some one else, but a public, final declaration that they're the problem and we're going to seek our own solution.

We have to build organizations with a democratic internal life that can use mass demonstrations, including civil disobedience on a massive scale to persistently build pressure for our equality.

Then and only then will the legislators, the bigot panderers in the White House and the courts pay attention to us. Then and only then will our potential allies in unions, minority communities and the women’s and feminist take us seriously.

I deliberately didn't post about the Big 3 today, Diane. I didn't want to be one of the blowhards either - and I still hadn't sorted out what I wanted to say other than, "This sucks for Mainers!"

Bil, I wholeheartedly endorse the "This sucks for Mainers" comment!!! One problem with blogging is that it forces us to come to instant conclusions. I don't think there's any instant truth to be found in this situation.