Phil Reese

A Come to Jesus Moment

Filed By Phil Reese | October 25, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
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Over here in the Midwest, we have a little thing we call having aPrinceofPeace.jpg "Come To Jesus" moment. Despite what it may sound like, or its likely origins, it almost never refers to a religious event. A "Come To Jesus" moment occurs when two sides of a quarrel spin wildly out of control, and the peacocking on both sides escalates so much one party or a mediator has to sit everyone down and talk some sense into some heads.

LGBT community, we're going to have a "Come To Jesus" moment right here.

Now, November 2 is a few mere days away. Conservatism is celebrating a massive resurgence after four years of embarrassing defeat. The Champagne bottles are being ordered. The tea partiers are measuring their future offices in state capitols around the nation, as well as in Washington DC. Cakes are being baked. Bankers boxes are selling out of Staples stores near legislatures nationwide, and Ryder trucks are in high demand. There is a feeling of panic in the air.

Amidst this pandemonium, the Democratic establishment in DC is repeating a patronizing mantra to the LGBT community: "Don't screw this up, because if you let the GOP in, you're screwed."

After decades of staunch support and aggressive pushing of the DNC cause, the LGBT community is exhausted and dejected. We feel bamboozled. We've been sold a false bill of goods. Quite literally. We were told if we help return Washington to the Democrats in 2006 all of our dreams would come true. When nothing came of that, again, in 2008 we got fired up and ready to go to go to bat, believing the story that if we pitched in and earned the Democrats overwhelming majorities in both houses, as well as help them take the White House, our rights will finally be dealt with.

For his part, the President expanded several benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, as well as ended same-sex partner discrimination in hospitals so that we can be with our loved ones in times of emergency, instead of relegated to the status of stranger and cordoned off to the lobby when our partners need us most, next to them, with them.

And the legislature did keep that promise, in part. In October of 2009 — after well over a decade of trying — we finally saw the passage and signing of an expansion of the Federal definition of 'Hate Crimes' to include us. This was the first time we've been explicitly mentioned in a good federal law that passed. This was a nice departure from three years prior when we were fighting to stop permanently writing discrimination against gays and lesbians into the Constitution.

The House of Representatives also passed a bill this year that included the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask Don't Tell" law for the military.

However, that bill did not yet become law, thanks to the Senate. In fact, we're still waiting for the lion's share of the promises made by the Democratic establishment for this very period of time to materialize. gender-identity and sexual-orientation inclusive employment protections were explicitly promised by the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, not just by now, first by the end of last year, then early this year, then Summer... and now... now we're edging ever closer to the reality that this just can not happen in this Congress.

To add insult to injury, their failure is being held over our head in this election. We're being told, "Well, it's not like the Republicans are going to pass the 'Employment Non-Discrimination Act,' now, are they? It's not like the Republicans will be repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' or ending discrimination against same-sex binational couples with the passage of the 'Uniting American Families Act.' You have to vote Democrat again so you can have these things."

So after months of broken promise after broken promise the blame is being shifted to us, the working, busy, out-side-of-the-beltway American voters that have trusted them over and over, only to be let down time after time.

We do not trust them, and we have very good reason. The Democratic establishment is offended and shocked that we want to hold them accountable for these failures. There really ought to be no surprise. Its shocking that the genesis of GetEQUAL was such a shock to everyone. Quite frankly, the real shock is that there wasn't a group so visibly putting pressure on the establishment before, outside of ACT-UP's successful pressure on AIDS and HIV issues in the 1980s and 1990s.

Own the anger. You have every right to be angry: you're right!

I'm glad we're angry, and I welcome it. I come from a blue collar union town. I've never in my life seen anything get done without someone getting up and getting their hands dirty to do it. This is just reality. Sitting and waiting has never accomplished anything before, why would it start now. As the old adage goes, "I can wish in one hand, and shit in the other, guess which one fills up first?"

What should really make us angriest is the establishment's dismissal of our anger, and pejorative belittling of our frustration. Don't patronize us! We may be ignorant to the way Washington really works, but we're not stupid. In fact, if Democrats are so keen on the way politics is played in Washington, they ought to have known they were over-promising in '06 and '08. They know better. Why did they do it?

I'm not going to guess at what was in their hearts. Honestly, I'm inclined to believe the Speaker and other lawmakers when they say they really did want to pass ENDA. But they knew the political realities, and they convinced us otherwise. This is fraud.

So when they pester us and arrogantly proclaim, "Well, would you rather have the Republicans? They hate you! At least we try!" you are right to feel nauseous and a little enraged. It's childish. They should stop.

But here's where you're not going to like me anymore. They're right.

Think like a hockey coach

Here's the core issue here: with the Democrats did not get the gains that we were told to expect. However, with a conservative majority in 2004 and 2006, we were fighting not to lose our citizenship.

It may be a belligerent, mocking tone, but the reasoning is sound. We are better off not allowing social conservatives take over our state houses or Washington.

Staying home on Tuesday, or voting against the progressive majority candidate is just plain throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Democrats are brats, but we aren't going to correct it by throwing an election-day tantrum.

I can't guarantee to you that if we maintain progressive majorities in our state capitols or in the US Capitol that we'll get any of our legislative agenda passed. The Democrats may be able to keep full control of both Houses in DC — hell they may even be able to expand their margins — and we could very well still be waiting for ENDA, UAFA, and DOMA and DADT repeal.

What I can promise you is that if conservatives stack our state capitols and DC, we will be fighting efforts to turn back the clock.

Any hockey or basketball coach knows that you'd always rather be on offense than defense. A game where a goalie is bored period after period is a game with a smiling coach in the end. This isn't just true in sports, this is life.

We all have only so much energy and resources to give to this movement, and most of us are maxing out anymore. We spend time, we spend money, we spend emotions on this fight, and time after time we are met with disappointment.

However, our disappointment today is that our President's administration won't drop these court appeals of laws that have been found unconstitutional in case after case. Our disappointment is that our pro-LGBT bill doesn't have enough votes.

Does that stink? Yes. It should not be that way, I'll be the first to tell you. We should be winning. We should have a fierce advocate in the White House who isn't afraid to stand up and do what's right. We don't. We have a politically calculating coward.

However, I don't doubt his intention to someday do the right thing--when he can. I don't doubt this President is more pro-trans, pro-gay than anti. We've seen it again and again. This President has done more for our community in the executive branch than any other in history. Though I agree with Pam Spaulding that if you look at the opportunity that other Presidents had had to do for our community, and then you compare that to the monumental opportunity this President has had, you see that he's certainly failed to act in so many instances he could; I think the gains ought to count for something.

The President made a mistake by signing presidential memos for the federal benefits and the hospital visitation. Not only were these arguably token gestures (surely important for some, but minimal in the grand scheme) they go away after he does.

The President continues to make mistakes by not ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," by signing a stop-loss order halting the policy, and he continues to make mistakes by allowing his Department of Justice to aggressively appeal the unconstitutional provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act and the military's ban on LGBT troops serving openly.

However, we really need to start passing Safe-Schools laws in states around the nation, and in the US legislature, if we want to empower teachers to combat bullying and try to decrease the overwhelming rush of bullycides that are the result of anti-LGBT bullying. This will not be done in conservative legislatures.

We need gender-identity inclusive employment protections in more places, places like Michigan or Georgia or Utah, and that will not be done in conservative legislatures.

Our families need recognition in order to be alleviated of many of the fiscal, social and policy strains that complicate house-holds headed by same-sex couples. This will not be done in conservative legislatures.

And in DC, we need DOMA repealed, we need DADT repealed and we need UAFA passed. This will not happen in a conservative legislature.

What will happen in conservative legislatures? We'll see gains we've made stripped from the books. Here in Illinois I've already reported to you that our front-runner for governor, Bill Brady, in his capacity as the Republican big shot in the Senate, attempted and almost got away with a sneaky maneuver back in March that would have allowed for the quiet passage of a bill that would have made our inclusive employment protections law unenforceable.

In Florida they've just ended a thirty-three year law barring openly gay people from adopting--a victory that may be allowed to be challenged by referendum by a conservative legislature.

In Iowa the pro-marriage-equality governor could lose his job and conservative leadership is vowing a recall of the Justices that unanimously decided that no loving, adult couple should be kept from the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. Certainly we could also see, in that state, a conservative legislature send to the people a proposition to end marriage equality in the only state outside of the East Coast to have won it.

In state after state we'll be fighting defense instead of offense.

Let's Make a Deal

Rock and a hard place, I know.

Listen, we can't let the Democratic establishment off the hook for all the grief they've caused us. We need to dog them, no matter how much they protest, until they can be upfront and honest with us, and until we can see some results for all of our work.

So let's make a deal.

I am asking you--as much as its going to hurt--to promise to vote on Tuesday. Not only am I asking you to promise to vote, I'm asking you to promise to vote for the Progressive in every race on Tuesday. This will require you to go to your county clerk's website, look up your ballot, visit Project Vote Smart and do a little research on your candidate.

This is step one.

For step two, I'm asking you to show this post to your other angry, hurt, frustrated friends. Tell them to feel free to vent their frustration (of course, keeping in mind tact and good taste, and never making death threats, allusions to violence or personal ad hominem attacks) and then make them look up their ballots, do the research and go vote. If you can vote early or absentee at your clerk's office, all the better. You can get your part done now and spend the rest of the week recruiting your friends.

Sure, this post hasn't been a ringing endorsement, but in the end the principle is clear. Vote for the progressive candidate in every case. If, by some chance, you live in one of those strange districts where the Republican is actually the progressive choice, go for it. Just make sure you vote for the candidate that supports LGBT issues and the other issues that are important to you. There are some tough choices out there--like in the Illinois Senate race where our Republican candidate has been a long-time supporter of ENDA in the US House (though we have no idea if he'll toss gender-identity under the bus if given the chance, he's co-sponsor of the bill, but he's not on record in terms of a Motion to Recommit). However, Mark Kirk voted against DADT repeal, and he's against marriage equality. Our Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias, wants to repeal DADT and is for full marriage equality. Stack them up and really examine them.

To be perfectly honest, issues that are important to me are LGBT issues, a women's right to choose, public education, social services, public transportation, improving health-care access, the environment, comprehensive immigration reform and small businesses (as opposed to big business) so we can guess where a lot of my candidates will come from. However, if a Republican sides with me more than the Democrat, I will vote my conscience.

I challenge you to vote your conscience too. Just think hard about every choice you make, and make sure you're voting to send someone to Washington, not make a statement. Don't vote in anger, vote strategically.

Its going to hurt, and it should. The so-called progressives haven't held up their end of the bargain in most cases. I'm still sore we had to fight Democrats to get the measly, watered-down, unhelpful healthcare bill through that we did get through.

Hold onto that anger. We're going to need it starting November 3.

However, vote for a pro-LGBT majority.

As for my part of this deal, I promise that I'm going to be a bear to them. I promise to do whatever I can to hold them accountable, demand answers and results, and push them to the proverbial wall when I think we're getting lied to again. I'm not going to be a good soldier, I'm going to be a pest, and you can expect it to be especially harsh this time around--after the terrible four years we've had to put up with.

No, I will not apologize for criticizing the leadership, and I sure as heck won't stop.

But on November 2, I'm going to go vote progressive. I'm going to make sure all of my friends go vote Progressive. And on November 3, I'm coming out, keyboard blazing, demanding that this time, we get some honesty.


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bigolpoofter | October 25, 2010 1:16 PM

So, Phil, you're a Bear now?!

I don't know. I get it - Zack Ford had a great piece too with the same sentiment - but...I don't know. Sticks, carrots. I don't think we're powerful enough to determine the election. And it's not like most gays are going to sit out. You'll probably see the same LGBT folks vote in the midterms as everyone else. And if the Dems lose the House and Senate, well, it's mostly because Bad Economy + Historic Midterm Issues (Incumbant Aversion + Midterm Voter Apathy + Lack of Youth Mobilization) + Non-Delivery on Non-LGBT issues. My take is that it won't matter, really, if we vote or not, and we want anything in the lame duck, we have to apply the heat now.

Giving carrots to opposition acting favorably, and sticks to allies acting stupidly is probably the best way forward. Or, better yet, ignoring party lines and rewarding those who act in our favor.

"we have to apply the heat now."

What "heat?" Anger? More calls and emails?

Haven't you figured out it doesn't matter how much you protest? We don't have 60 votes in the US Senate. We won't have enough votes in the lame duck session, either.

It's simple math.

No more of this "we need 60 votes" lie.

The Democrats never needed 60 votes in the Senate. They just needed to grow a pair early in the Congressional session, and let the majority work its procedural will.

Further, the national Democrats aren't even running anybody against John Thune in South Dakota -- giving a free pass to GOP seat in a cheap media market.

AND, the national Democrats are doing their best to let GOPer Richard Burr of North Carolina return to the Senate by not backing Elaine Marshall in her challenge to Burr (Burr is one of the weakest incumbents on the GOP side).

It's not about 60 votes. It never was.

If the national Democrats really cared about 60 votes, they would have at least pretended to put a fight in these two states.

It's about what the national Democratic leadership wanted to be on the agenda, and what they wanted an excuse to leave off the agenda.

The number 60 in the US Senate is merely an excuse.

Don't fall for this excuse from anyone.

You're actually suggesting that the Democrats don't care about those 60 votes? Remarkable. I'm speechless.

We had the votes, Andrew, and lost due to procedural issues. After doing just what you suggest for the past 5+ years. We don't have enough time before December to do educating to gather more votes. If we lose this year, yes, it's back to the drawing board. But not right now. Please absorb these facts instead of rehashing the same arguments on every blog post and comment I write.

That's the problem Jarrod we DIDN'T have the 60 votes. You can suggest it over and over, but we didn't and we never have. During the lame duck session there will be two new Republicans (maybe three). Are you suggesting something magical will happen?

Get over the 60 votes. Bush II never had 60 Republican votes in the Senate. But his White House had the balls to do what they said they were going to do, even if it meant shitting on Colin Powell and Valery Plame (sp?) not to mention the Constitution and Human Rights. Obama has done as little as he can get away with and claims it is a great achievment; and, that we should be greatful for the crumbs.

Great point Cadie. I am sick of people like Andrew parroting the administration's talking points. Bush never had 60 and passed a whole lot of his agenda. The 60 votes is a red herring. The Democrats just haven't had the balls to stand up to the Republicans plain and simple.

What agenda did Bush pass? Especially any "moral" issues? All he accomplished was similar to Obama - negotiated mediocrity.

We won't pass anything LGBT-related without 60 votes. It's simple math.

I don't know. I get it - Zack Ford had a great piece too with the same sentiment - but...I don't know. Sticks, carrots. I don't think we're powerful enough to determine the election. And it's not like most gays are going to sit out. You'll probably see the same LGBT folks vote in the midterms as everyone else. And if the Dems lose the House and Senate, well, it's mostly because Bad Economy + Historic Midterm Issues (Incumbant Aversion + Midterm Voter Apathy + Lack of Youth Mobilization) + Non-Delivery on Non-LGBT issues. My take is that it won't matter, really, if we vote or not, and we want anything in the lame duck, we have to apply the heat now.

Giving carrots to opposition acting favorably, and sticks to allies acting stupidly is probably the best way forward. Or, better yet, ignoring party lines and rewarding those who act in our favor.

You vote for the party. It's not possible to ignore party lines. John Boehner as Speaker of the House is going to hurt us as would Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

And take relatively pro-gay, moderate Republicans, Collins and Snowe. They caved to Republican party pressure to join the filibuster against DADT repeal.

We can put pressure on the Democratic party. But pressure on the Republican party? Ha! They like to corner the anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigration and racist vote. It's not even because they're super villains, but because they believe they receive a net gain of votes even as they turn off moderates. It's their strategy.

Yep, pressure on the Dems. How do you do that, absent from calling them out when it matters?

There's a very poor chance of getting anything done post-lame duck. And the only way we'll get anything in the lame-duck is if we push now, and demonstrate anger now. I get it, it sucks. But unfortunately voting along party lines and abstaining from criticism because the target is Democrat goes against our objective of seeing repeal of DADT in December. When two objectives conflict (and I would argue against the former, anyway), you choose the one that comes at the least cost comparable to the possible benefits. If we don't have the power to sway the elections either way - we don't - than pushing for a lame-duck repeal is in our best interests. I have yet to see a compelling argument otherwise.

Yep, pressure on the Dems. How do you do that, absent from calling them out when it matters?

There's a very poor chance of getting anything done post-lame duck. And the only way we'll get anything in the lame-duck is if we push now, and demonstrate anger now. I get it, it sucks. But unfortunately voting along party lines and abstaining from criticism because the target is Democrat goes against our objective of seeing repeal of DADT in December. When two objectives conflict (and I would argue against the former, anyway), you choose the one that comes at the least cost comparable to the possible benefits. If we don't have the power to sway the elections either way - we don't - than pushing for a lame-duck repeal is in our best interests. I have yet to see a compelling argument otherwise.

I don't see the majority even caring about DADT in the Lame Duck, however, if we don't do all we can to turn out the vote for them. I hate it, it sucks--rock and a hard place--and we didn't put OURSELVES in this situation, they did. But at this point, I'm willing to be a bigger man and help clean up the DNC's mess for them. Do they deserve it? ...not really. Then again, we all make promises we can't keep. We all bite off more than we can chew. We all tell people what they want to hear in order to get them to like us, and we all eff up. DNC leadership OUGHT to know better, but ultimately this is a human institution.

I know attention spans and energy is finite this week, but I truly think we need to push both, and I hope we can. Let's get out the vote AND communicate to Dems we're ONLY doing so understanding there's going to be some reward (finally, after 18 years of being good liberal soldiers!!).

Phil,
I still don't get how they are going to get the message by what you propose. Again if I was at the DNC I would be sitting back laughing that so many in the blog community have drank the kool aid. You, Alvin, Joe. It's like Lucy. They keep pulling the ball away and we keep saying well we will vote for them this time but our patience is running out. My patience has run out. I am sick of being used and I sick of being lectured that the alternative is worst. I refused to be a victim any more plain and simple.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

Enjoy your omelet.

Politics is based on "hope." Nobody really believes "political" promises. They'd have to be crazy.

Politics is a game, a game we cannot win. We will simply continue to be used as one of the few remaining "moral" issues.

The only solution is to change enough minds that politics no longer matters and we are no longer "used."

That's a lot more work than voting, but it will work.

Renee Thomas | October 25, 2010 2:15 PM

The President has not made "mistakes" he and the Democratic leadership have engaged in a cynical political calculus. Seeking truth effectively requires that one first discipline one's self to see things as they are and not as we continuously (and naively) wish them to be.

Seek redress in the courts, support demonstrably pro-LGBT candidates and let the poseurs hang.

Ho hum more of the same. I am angry and again we get patronized with well look vote for the lesser of two evils. I am a hockey fan so I will make a different analogy. You are getting blown out. The team you are playing is rubbing it in your face. What do many hockey coaches do? They send the goons out. It sends a message that if you are going to do this to our team there is consequences. We aren't going to win with the goons but it delivers a message for the next time we play.
That's what we should be doing this election. By all means if your Democratic candidate is for full equality then by all means vote for them. If not vote Green or independent or as someone suggested on another blog write in Harvey Milk.
I am sick of the vote by fear. The DNC must be laughing their heads off when they read posts like this. Look we can treat the GLBT community like dirt and they will vote for us. The Come To Jesus moment we should have is vote those out who don't support us. Even in the worst case scenario the Republicans take the House and a very small majority in the Senate. There is still the filibuster which is Dems have balls they use and a president who has veto power. Enough is enough. Maybe if we send the goons out on the ice it sends that message.

Angela Brightfeather | October 25, 2010 3:21 PM

As far as I'm concerned, groups like HRC set the agenda of the GLBT movement when they capitulated early-on and stated openly, right from the begining, that "I-N-C-R-I-M-E-N-T-A-I-S-M" is the best way to go.

It has been proven to be the accepted way in the White House, with things like "partial" gains instead of total gains. The GLBTQ agenda set by the "people at the table" like HRC, allowed the POTUS to grant the little things which are supposed to lead to the big things. But like heath care reform, partial gains are better than single payer, which was taken of the table, just like ENDA, DADT and DOMA were put on the back burner.

The acceptance of the GLBTQ leadership to prove that they can "play team ball" with the White House has led to the baby step progress that has been the mantra of the White House. They work well together because neither has enough backbone to fight for what their base really wants, and making substantial gains may run them out of an excuse for a paycheck.

How can we expect a full meal, when our own leaders are willing to eat appetizers for four years straight so that the boat is not rocked and they can maintain their special invitations to White House luncheons? We have been sold out for a meal ticket if you ask me, but I'm still voting progressive...not because I think they deserve it, but because it's the lesser of two evils.

Of course it's incrementalism - they don't want the LGBT-issue to go away. It's a money maker - for politicians and LGBT Advocacy groups.

The other obvious thing that many comments above want to ignore that while it is mostly a Democrat Vs. Republican issue, LGBT-issues are still "moral" issues. We have several Democratic Senators that will never support us.

WE have 43 US Senators against us on moral grounds and that is non-negotiable. We have never had a US Senator change their position about us - despite HRC lobbying away $550 million in 30 years.

After November 2nd we will have 45-47 US Senators against for those same moral grounds. The only way to end that roadblock is with new Senators or a compelling reason for them to change their minds. The only way to get a politician to change their mind about us is to get their constituents to demand it. We don't do that. Instead we have delusional expectations about politics like Obama (or even our community) could apply "pressure" on Senators. We can't. We have to go after their employers - their voters.

My Partner and I are very concerned about the political situation and the disturbing trends that are occurring.

We do not understand the wide spread concept among other Gays that since they are doing fine, there is no problem or that the Republicans will really not do anything that will harm them.

Paige Listerud | October 25, 2010 4:56 PM

I will be frank. If I had seen Obama and the Dems bust ass on the getting the economy hiring again and bust ass on the BP oil spill then they would be getting my little bisexual vote whether ENDA had passed the Senate or DADT had been allowed to die in a natural death in the court system.

The appalling thing about Dems blaming the LGBTQ for not voting them out of trouble in the mid-terms is that their attempts to respond to our whole country's most critical needs has been too little, too late.

Centrism is dead. They haven't read that writing on the wall and they haven't even tried to sound like FDR or even Harry Truman on this in-the-toilet economy. The fight has gone out of the Democratic party and they are now best known for running with their tails between their legs.

Maybe getting fired from their jobs will teach them what it is like to be searching for work for two years and still need unemployment extensions! Take that, you lazy-ass, self-centered, self-absorbed whiners! Come back when you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore, either from the right or from corporate America.

Don't wait for the queers to save your sorry asses, Democrats. You did it to yourselves.

So, did I vote for no reason, because the rest of you have just fucking decided that since you haven't gotten everything you wanted you're not going to vote for the Democrats? You really want to see John Boehner as Speaker of the Orange-Tan House? Is it really a good idea to vote for Sharron(you have to carry your rapist's baby to full term, no abortion) Angle to take Harry Reid's place in D.C.? Christine(I am not a witch, but I used campaign money to pay my rent) O'Donnell? She's a walking punch-line. What about the many Repugnicants who are so homophobic they'd like to see us wiped from the face of the earth? Wanna help get them elected? I hope this election is not one where LGBT people are going to regret not voting. Too many young people are counting on us to lead the way; refusing to vote is not leading the way.

You can never vote for no reason. You vote to make your opinion known. That's all we have in politics. Many of us wish it worked differently, but it doesn't.

Unfortunately, during the last 9 months we have been subjected to this juvenile Aravosis-Spaulding-GetEQUAL idea that we could just embarrass politicians into submission. It was a bad investment. I hope we wise up. We need smart organizations, not self-serving ones.

What part of "there is NO CLEAR LGBT MAJORITY" is unclear???

Gambling depends on a behavior phenomenon of the power of intermittent rewards. Little, random positive stimuli are more powerful than consistent positive reinforcements as we we get excited about the possibility of the "miracle win" that beats the odds. It's one of the reasons the house always wins. The GLBT community has been doing this to itself politically for decades.

We don't always need to look to Democrats. It was William Weld, a Republican Governor, who signed the Safer Schools amendments for GLBT students into existence in Massachusetts. I was there, and a part of the process.

We need to start looking beyond party affiliation, which means seems to mean little to most candidates, and look at their votes and their promises and see how they align. This is work, but it is the best way to ensure accountability. All the strategical maneuvering in the world doesn't help us if the strategy is unsound--and voting for candidates that don't follow through on their promises is not a sound strategy.

In two years you will be writing nearly this exact same column. How it is of the utmost importance to vote for not only Obama for re-election but ALL Democrats down the ballot to retake the House and state legislatures because "this time" they will finally listen to the GLBT community.....

For me personally this was the last stand. I will be voting for CANDIDATES that support the issues will I believe in. I am finished with a political party that has played rope a dope with the GLBT community for too long.

Hell this probably plays in to Obama's hands. In their minds they know now when they speak to gay groups in the future they will say its the Republicans blocking any progress. Please give us donations so we can take back the House and pass those issues that are so important to you.

The era of the Democratic Party holding a monopoly on a minority group needs to end.

Let's be VERY clear here. I explicitly say in this very column that I am not saying "this time around they'll do it." In fact, I make the opposite point. I say that voting will not guarantee ANY of these bills passed. What is CERTAIN is that if Republicans win in state houses this year, they will control the gerrymandering of the new districts. In most states they have an agenda to push Constitutional amendments banning marriage equality in states where they haven't passed, and there are several states where we will see constitutional amendments banning gay adoption.

Here in Illinois the Republicans are very much looking forward to repealing our LGBT employment protections if Bill Brady wins Governor and they generate enough support in the legislature.

In Iowa they're very much looking forward to removing as many of the Justices that unanimously brought marriage equality to that state. They're also pushing hard for a Constitutional amendment reversing the decision and banning marriage.

Nationally, we've had Dick Armey explicitly admit if the GOP takes control of both houses, a Federal Constitutional amendment barring marriage equality is back on the table.

Let's step back from the cutesy prime-time issues, though. Republicans are looking to slash social services budgets in every state--I mean, this is the TEA PARTY MANTRA! We will see AIDS hospice, housing, medical and food programs cut. We will see prevention programs disappear. We will see grants and funding for youth homeless shelters dry up. We will see anti-bullying eduction programs go away.

I'm incredibly disappointed--no livid--with our Democrats for what they've done. But a temper tantrum is incredibly short-sighted and, well, stupid. If you want to cut off your nose in spite of your face, then have at it. Don't pretend it is what it isn't though.

You all really want to stick it to the Dems? Pay attention next year in the six months before your state primaries. Find the viable truly progressive candidates with truly progressive credentials, and pour money and people-power into them like crazy. UNSEAT THE BAD DEMS IN THE PRIMARIES. Not the election.

Its like chickens with their heads cut off out there sometimes. I swear.

Good luck with that strategy!!!! The fact of the matter is the Democratic Party puts all their weight behind horrible candidates in the primary and the lemmings in the Democratic Party vote for them see Blanche Lincoln. But you continue to support the Democrats and see what it gets you. Frankly I am sick of the Democrats using us every election. I'd say it's no wonder we are at the back of the bus but we aren't even on the bus we are under it.
As I said before I refuse to vote for someone motivated by fear. It's the coward's way and I refuse to be a part of any more. Actually your reasoning makes no sense. We are talking about voting out anti-equality Democrats. How is that going to make any different if they have a D or R after their name. Your post couldn't have been written better by the DNC themselves. Vote for the Dems because the scary Republicans are worst. Fear just in time for the Halloween season. How sad it's come to this. The problem is the Democratic Party. It's broke plain and simple. Spineless politicians and apologists who continue to allow this to happen to us.
I agree with Josh. You and maybe others like you will be posting this same type of article in another year and a half telling us I'm angry at Obama for not repealing DADT, DOMA, or passing UAFA and EDNA but we really need to vote for him. Insert whatever boogeyman is much worst. In fact you are contributing to it by not sending a clear message now to this administration. I'd rather take the risk now and send a message now before the next presidential election. If not we will find ourselves in the same place 2 years from now.
The stakes are even greater in 2012. The Dems need the message and they need it NOW. Time to send the goons onto the ice so when we vote again we've sent the message.

"Sending the Democrats a message" is not an effective strategy. It suggest that they don't know that the LGBT community is disappointed or frustrated. They know.

You are really jut trying to punish Democrats and that might make you feel better, but it doesn't have a positive result.

WE are not a threat. WE have never been a threat.

November 2nd will be about "turnout," not "angry gays." While it is clear some LGBT voters will refuse to vote or cast protest votes, those actions will be insignificant compared to the Republicans turnout. The Sunday before election day the churches across America will invoke the "God needs you to vote" directive. Older, very religious voters will ensure the Democrats massacre, not the gays. We'll just compromise some relationships and alienate some friends.

I did my homework and have my suggested list of candidates. Out of 11 candidates in my state, I have 8 that are must vote for democrats, 1 republican/independant and 2 that seem not to matter and could be fun to go 3rd party for or just miss. I think I only get to vote for one though and its a badly republican gerrymandered district with a silver-tongued incumbent devil. (Frank Wolf)

I perhaps get 3 ballot measure to vote on. In any case, I'll give this district a democrat's best shot...but sadly, he doesn't seem to attack hard enough to get his vote out.

Could it be that people are hanging too much hope on our broken political system? Yes, go vote, but, seriously, people seem to think that DOMA and DADT would have been repealed in two years, ENDA passed, gay teen suicide ended, hate crimes over with, discrimination done for, etc., etc.

There's plenty of work to be done outside of the political system. And I'm speaking mostly about myself here - we should be able to see these issues out of the context of the government and see the government as one tool of many to solving these problems.

Alex, I absolutely agree with you, and I don't often find activists who end up working on the politics ends of things like myself, espousing that politics solves all of our problems. I know they're out there, but they ought to wake up. Passing ENDA WON'T STOP anti-trans, anti-gay firings, it will merely give us an avenue to fight back. Its a long and winding road.

I do think that politics is an important part of the puzzle, however, and I do hear a lot of ANTI-politics leaders who say "these bills are unimportant, there's this and that that's more important, and if we just do this work here, then everything will be better, so quit politics and come do what I do instead." In fact, at least once every two weeks or so we actually get those postings here at Bilerico.

Here's the problem with that logic. Bullying, violence, domestic abuse, homelessness, mental illness, healthcare, HIV/AIDS prevention are all very important very immediate problems that need a lot more attention than they are getting. However, there are problems with the law and enforcement that overlay over some of these issues, especially when they start melting into one another.

The unjust laws create a sort of glass ceiling effect with this social service work. So we ignore politics, and we work to help trans youth get healthy self-image, homes, healthcare, and education, and then they go and get a job and they can't use the bathroom and they get fired when it comes out they're trans.

We work on trying to create a better safer world for LGBT youth so that they can feel confident enough about themselves to lift themselves out of depression and self-hating, which allows them to embrace the community and find friends and then some of those friends become lovers, and then they meet one particular lover that knocks them off their feet with awesomeness, so they move in together, and they live in a state where its legal to get married even, so they do, and then bam, their spouse's student visa is up and once again, the unjust laws prevent from taking effect our work making lives better for LGBT folk from.

I think many folks like me who end up focusing on the political and policy aspect of LGBT advocacy started out on the social service end of it, not caring about the politics, but wound up here because they smacked against that glass ceiling. As you know my ex who I moved to Illinois for is a Turkish citizen and was not allowed to stay here after he finished his doctorate. No amount of good will and liberation theory could have kept us together. That's part of what drives me in politics. In reality as long as there are unjust laws on the books, LGBT people seeking happiness are going to keep smacking up against that glass ceiling.

It happens over and over. I was fired from a job because I'm gay, I know this all too well. Until there is a legal system that sees us as equal, even if we move into the gay ghettos of the big cities and create a little safe-haven for ourselves, whenever we dream to participate in our American system in a way that's not been prescribed to us by the tyranny of the majority, we're going to smack right into that glass ceiling.

Not everyone is going to be passionate about politics, I respect that. And not everyone is going to be passionate about every one of the bills that majority white-male gay activists are pushing, and that's fair. So many people could care less about DADT repeal. So many people were against Hate Crimes for very legitimate personal reasons. I dig that and encourage that. However, politics cannot be eschewed as just a useless exercise in futility. Its important that we recognize the value of equalizing our laws and legal system to treat LGBT people the same way all other citizens can reasonably expect their system to treat them.

Let me also be VERY clear before I get jumped on--I do think that youth homelessness, AIDS/HIV prevention, bullying, and other things are VERY UTTERLY VITAL and important work for everyone to participate RIGHT NOW, which is why I DO do local youth work and volunteering, as well as AIDS/HIV prevention work. I'm arguing, however, against what I consider the false dichotomy of 'its one or the other. if you believe in fighting youth suicides you shouldn't be in politics.' You know?

But I do whole-heartedly agree that working with the youth groups and center, working with AIDS hospice, survivors women's shelters, HIV prevention efforts, soup kitchens, support groups and other social work is urgent and important, and everyone ought to feel obliged to lend a hand!

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 31, 2010 2:44 AM

1) The decades of Democrat (and Republican) betrayals of the LGBT agenda didn't occur in a vacuum. They're part of the general crisis of a political and economic system that is now in its death agony.

2) We're not the only ones left on the side of the road. There are no solutions for Obama's wars, for the failed economy, now in the third year of a new Depression (a), for an environment nearing the end of its equilibrium, (b) or for the resurgence of the right except radical political leftwing change.

3. The Democrats (and Republicans) continue to turn right in response to these questions. On economic questions their policies of imposed austerity, as I said in January 2008, will continue, deepening the effects of the Depression. (c) They'll hold out in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan until they defeated militarily (less likely) or by the antiwar movement (more likely). Both parties will move to the right on 'social questions' - laws to defend LGBT folks, reproductive rights, immigrant bashing, racism - because their allegiances are to institutions and classes who profit from bigotry and discrimination.

4) In the light of that this year's round of hoopla, of threats of dire consequences is particularly silly. Smile. Take deep breaths. Be calm. This election, like all elections, is not crucial, vital, important, decisive, key, significant or momentous in any way shape or form. Don't pay the slightest attention to fear mongers, apologists and propagandists.

Politicians are apt to get panic-stricken every two to four years and start ringing fire bells and turning on the sirens. Their jobs are at stake. But the truth is all they have to offer is an endless round of lesser evils and ever increasing incompetence. The Democrats captured the WH and Congress, had the veto proof majorities and proved themselves to be the political equivalent of modern Keystone cops. (d) Voting for Democrat or Republican candidates and their wars, union busting and bigotry is both unprincipled and sordid. In truth, because both parties chained themselves to the welfare of the looter classes and betrayed everyone else, they're doomed to political extinction, and sooner rather than later. They're the Kadets and Whigs of the new century.

(a) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/opinion/28krugman.html
(b) http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7150251-massive-storm-hits-mid-west/content/65773089-massive-storm-hits-midwest
(c) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0&feature=player_embedded
(d) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sahm3ot89cc&feature=related

This was a great exchange of ideas.

I have a question for you based on what Alex was asking:

Would you rather have the support of the "people" or the success of "politics?"

Less than half of Americans vote.
Less than 30% of those voters believe politics is "effective."

One-in-five American adults think politics is "effective." About 80% think it is mostly useless or completely useless.

Do you believe politics will save us?

I say in this very post and the prior post that politics isn't the answer to everything, and its not the only solution, nor will partaking get us everything we want. HOWEVER, ignoring politics, brushing off candidates, blowing off elections will lead to DISASTROUS consequences. We have to care about and pay attention to politics or else we will become the victims of politics.

Look around the world and you will find examples of groups of people who enjoyed relative comfort and didn't really take politics seriously--until there was a dramatic shift and they found themselves very unfashionable, to say the least. Generally its the aristocracy or an ethnic group, but its also sometimes a religious group, political party, or other unique constituency. And the smaller the group, the easier to demonize and turn the nation against them.

Here's what happens when we ignore politics: Not only might we get a Federal Marriage Amendment, we could have a Federal law that undermines other state laws that have advanced our rights on local levels--say a ban on LGBT job protections. Or ban gay adoption Federally or in more states.

We could have restrictions put in place that disable us from operating very healthy, community-specific things like LGBT-specific community centers, clubs, homeless shelters or charities.

Sounds far fetched? Attach children or youth to any issue and suddenly you've got a recipe for public support. Without proper preparation and counter-campaigns, it would be easy to do. Homeless gay youth shelter? The Far Right would call it a 'recruiting grounds' for desperate and vulnerable children, and the hoards of stupid people out there would believe them. It only takes 51% to pass almost everything!

No, politics won't SAVE us. No, we won't get everything we're seeking from politics. But politics is such an important part of the puzzle. Politics is the vehicle by which BOTH sides seek to accomplish their goals. We have to be informed aware and active participants because of that.

But, if you had the "support of the people" you would own the politics and the politicians.