Don Davis

What Would You Tell a Frustrated Gay Voter?

Filed By Don Davis | October 10, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: civil rights, Congress, Democrats, Don't Ask Don't Tell, election 2010, Political Strategy, politics, same-sex marriage, voting

I have a story that just went up here on the site that isAdvocate.jpg also posted at numerous other places around the Web, and a question has been raised at another site that has brought me here today looking for your help so i can give the best answer possible. The basic question is: if the Democrats have been an unreliable partner in the effort to advance civil rights, why bother voting for Democrats at all? AndyS in Colorado, a reader at Docudharma ("Blogging The Future"), has offered some thoughts on this year's elections, in response to a story that just went up a few minutes ago on this site, and about 48 hours ago at Docudharma:
I have been very interested to see the Democrats have no intention of ever doing right by us in the gay community and using us so cynically and openly as political footballs this last two years. And I've seen Democrats including such people as Meteor Blades getting angry at gay people who point it out, that there was never any intention, but every intention to preach to us to give a voting pony, again and again. I guess, the cynical usery and open, laughing hypocrisy is what made the Republicans the soulless assholes they are. And the LGBT example is just the example -- it goes for not just LGBT people, it is just more apparent and openly practiced, IMV. It's not Republicans versus Democrats. It's a general phenomenon of souless assholedom in our politics -- and the fearmongering and greater-evil-making that makes soulless assholedom possible in our elected officials. Democrats talk about how they want civil rights for gay people and how bad it is that out teenagers die. But, if they did anything to fix it -- they think that they'd lose whatever political mojo they think they need from us to get elected. So they don't do anything to fix it. And have no intention of EVER fixing it.
So what would you say to this reader? I would like to use the responses to create another story, to post around the web, and a big part of the reason I want to do that is because there is not a lot of awareness that this is even an issue within the Democratic ranks.

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"Soulless assholedom" is right. That's how politicians are in the current system. They will say anything to retain their power, but really, power of what? There's so much bullshit in politics with deals and fillibusters that prevents anything from happening in a fair amount of time. Forty-six million Americans are uninsured? Let's spend months voting away a public option and making deals to try and make a bipartisan effort. Politicians are out of touch with their voters because their eye is on having their cake and eating it too.

However, I wouldn't say that things never progress for the LGBT community. The Matthew Shepard Act was passed last year. The HIV travel ban is ending. Government workers are getting partner benefits. They throw us a bone every once in awhile.

I don't think many politicians really are pro-gay. Democrats will vote for gay issues, but the issue in question can't stand alone. It needs to be attached to military spending or to credit card legislation, so that their constituents that don't pay attention to detail will miss their pro-gay votes. When it gets there, I don't think ENDA will be a stand-alone bill. I can't even think about how DOMA will end.

Personally, I vote Green Party. I'd rather vote my values and against our fucked up two-party system. I live in Tennessee, and my Democratic representative voted against ENDA in 2007. Ds don't mean much here. Hell, Ds don't matter in this Congress.

just to take on one part of your comment: it's actually very common to "tack on" side issues in legislation--in fact, dadt, became law as part of a military appropriations bill.

in this case, however, dadt is actually an issue that affects the military, so the nexus between the "side issue" and the "carrier" bill is closer than i've seen on other occasions.

Politics is about supporting a candidate or party in the hopes that they will deliver or even be able to deliver. After Obama's election the LGBT community had 56 supportive votes in the US Senate - not 60, but 56. That's not enough. During the last 21 months not a single US Senator has changed their minds/votes about us. None. This despite millions of dollars, emails, calls and a few dozen street performances.

All Democrats are not created equal - some are very conservative. Party leaders cannot dictate their individual votes on any "moral" issue. Like it or not, WE are a moral issue. They can't even "influence" them. Moral positions reflect the beliefs of their constituents (the majority) and their own personal beliefs. They are non-negotiable. The only hope of change would have to be demonstrated in changed beliefs of their constituents. We have not invested anything in that regard.

The frustration is warranted, but instead of simply singling out Democrats for not accomplishing something they never had the votes to accomplish, what about Gay Inc. and activist groups? A significant amount of money was spent in the last 2 years and we have nothing to show for it. GetEQUAL resurrected 1960s styled civil disobedience and protest - without any measurable results and mounting evidence that we've simply alienated our only "friends." HRC spent millions lobbying Congress and yet they cannot show us a single vote they "changed."

There is plenty of blame to go around, but we continue to ignore the obvious: we do not have a strategy to win and we are not embracing accountability. Trying to embarrass politicians is not about accountability, it is simply public expressions of anger and frustration. I find no evidence that those actions do anything to help us. In fact, it is probably just the opposite.

If we don't agree to hold all tactics, methods, strategies and organizations accountable and create an honest, objective and verifiable "strategy to win," we are simply going to repeat the past. After November, it will be 1994 all over again. What we've done in the past has NOT delivered results and we seem geared up to simply do it all over again. That would put us in a similar place in 2026. I suggest our community is much smarter than that.

It is unacceptable that Gay Inc. still cannot provide a strategy to win - they have plenty of fundraising strategies, but they haven't figured out how to win. In spite of that, we give them $100 million a year. After 40 years, we should know better.

Not voting or thinking we can punish Democrats by withholding money will only help Republicans. That's hard to swallow, but true. We're in a tough spot and we need to re-think everything about our movement.

I would tell AndyS that we don't have 60 votes in the US Senate. We never have. That's the problem. Figure out how to solve that and, at least politically, we can pass some legislation. That's just how the Senate works - Alabama has as many votes as California. We need to change dynamics in individual States, or we will continue to be disappointed and frustrated.

Educate, enlighten and enroll.

as i noted below, i did not want to "steer" the conversation, but there's a lot here with which i agree.

the federal legislative trick here seems to be how to open and advance dialogue with some small number of republican senators and the blue dog coalition when these folks see being anti-gay as a political advantage...but i gotta tell ya, if the rs continue to contract into a party that represents a smaller number of states more vociferously, i don't know where that strategy is to be found.

that has been a fair amount of commentary, including some on this page, about the contradiction between "limited government" and "we need to regulate penises and vaginas for the public good", and maybe that's the way forward: trying to move public opinion among the tea party crowd by pointing out this contradiction...but i have my doubts that this will work, as i suspect irrational fear is behind a lot of the hate, and it's usually tough to overcome irrational fear with rational arguments.

in any event, i would agree that a lot of money has been spent without a federal legislative solution, even as it's been a good year in the courts.

Jim in Oakland CA | October 10, 2010 2:19 PM

I've been very disappointed with the lagging support from the Democrats. I'm 58 years old and I want to see more equality, less discrimination--and no suicides! But we need to vote Democratic next month and not recreate the apathy and anger among gay and straight voters that kept them from voting in 2000 when Gore could have defeated Bush. Could Gore have been elected with more votes from gays? Maybe. We know the damage Bush did by his election. Let's not repeat giving more power to the Republicans next month. Let's express our disappointment with the Demos and let them know what we expect. But let's also be sure to vote Democratic next month even though they aren't giving us all the support we'd like.

for what it's worth, i actually lived in an apartment a few blocks from lake merritt...but that was so long ago that there was still a white castle at telegraph and east 14th.

"The basic question is: if the Democrats have been an unreliable partner in the effort to advance civil rights, why bother voting for Democrats at all?"

I don't vote "for Democrats" or "for Republicans" or "for Greens." I vote for individuals, and I choose the individuals I vote for by comparing each one's record (as a person as well as a politician) and positions against those of the other candidates. I know the difference between "we will work tirelessly to repeal DADT" and "we will repeal DADT this year." And even then, I understand that all politicians overpromise and underdeliver. I know that any politician who has said "we will repeal DOMA this year" was blowing smoke out the old posterior orifice. DOMA is not and never was repealable in Obama's first term in office, even if he prioritized it above jobs, health care and the economy combined.

I understand that Democrats where I live and Democrats from Missouri or Montana or West Virginia are going to have different positions on issues that matter to me. I realize that Senators are elected for 6-year terms and that the two Senators from Idaho have the same voting power as the two Senators from California and that the Senators who are elected this year will probably have the opportunity to vote on confirmation of three new members of the Supreme Court who will rule on our rights for the next two to three decades. So come November, I'm going to vote, and on each line of the ballot I'm going to vote for the better canditate, because I understand that the perfect candidate is not among the choices.

i tell folks that i tend to vote around issues, supporting those who are working to advance issues that matter to me--and for what it's worth, it seems to be less frustrating to support ideas over personalities...a lesson that was brought home to me with particular force recently, as i was a john edwards supporter.

The first thing I'd say is there's a party in the party. Meaning, there's a progressive wing within the Democratic party. The party is not itself progressive, but there's a wing in it. They have some influence on the Democratic party, but they certainly do not have influence on the Republican Party.

I've watched CSPAN when they debate DADT or the Matthew Shepard Act and I can tell you there most certainly are Democrats that are passionate about gay rights. Many of them are Freshman. But they need space, and they're not going to have that with a Republican majority.

The second thing I'd tell them is don't think of it as voting for Democrats, think of it as voting against conservatives. Look, anti-gay Christian conservatives have no problem holding their noses and voting for a Republican just to vote against gays or abortion.

I'm sorry that people were under the impression that we could really get this stuff done in 2 years. There are 420 bills backed up in the Senate. It's obvious to me that the Republicans were doing everything they could just to make the Democrats fail so that the progressive base would throw one of our predictable tantrums and not turn out.

I do understand. I was with the Green Party in 1996 and 2000 as I was unable to forgive Clinton. But whatever Obama hasn't done...he has not done anything so unforgivable as Clinton signing DOMA.

Political football? Maybe. But we're closer to a goal than we've ever been before. It would be awful if we dumped all that progress because we didn't get as far as we wanted to in 2 years. Because, trust me, with a GOP controlled House and Senate they will overwrite the progress we've made. The Matthew Shepard Act and repealing DADT were not even on the table 2 years ago.

Things have improved...but not with a cherry on top. We're not facing shit loads of anti-gay laws being thrown at us by conservatives. And there's a reason for that...they're weaker now. Once they get stronger, it'll be back to the defensive position for us with folks trying repeal every pro-LGBT law that's been passed.

yours is the one comment that mentions clinton signing doma as a "measuring stick" for obama, and i think that was an excellent reminder of where things are.

The 'progressive' wing of the Democrat party is a wet noodle. It has no - zero, nada, zilch - clout or influence. It's barely tolerated as left cover and if it gets too pushy they call the cops.

We should be building a democratic, anti-Democratic mass action movement to force change, not appear at the Dems back door begging for scraps. Democrats (the leaders, not the followers) are bigots, racists, misogynists, pro-war and anti-worker/anti-union.

The Democrats have a long and clear history of bigotry and of doing what they have to do to appease bigots and get their votes. Democrats voted for DADT and DOMA in large majorities and a Democrat bigot signed both bills.

Rank and filers and supporters are welcome to donate time and money and even attend conventions to watch their betters maneuver and scheme but they have no power. Those who think they're owed something for all their hard work are often as not summarily dismissed, out on the street with a bloodied nose. Ask around. Ask Mixner. Ask No on 8.

The Democrats are what they are - right wing, pro-war, anti-worker bigots and bigot panderers. That can't be changed.

ironically, the right wing of american politics (ok, the extra right wing) has had the similar complaints about the republican party sinmce at least the first bush administration, and i can recall a lot of analysis at that time around "what will the right wing do?".

hey, while we're here, and if i haven't done it already, do you have any ideas on how to more effectively reward candidates who are supportive, even as the democratic party is less than helpful?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 13, 2010 8:02 PM

1) Both parties are undemocratic and were long ago sold to the hightest bidder. ""An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." Mark Hanna, Republican National Committee Chairman (1896)

2) Reward Democrats and Republicans? The way Goldman Sachs rewarded Obama with almost a million dollars? Nah. We don't have that kind of money and that's why we have zero clout.

Democrat/Republican politics is about politicians getting rich.

couple comments:

--it's not just money: the christian conservative community has gained huge clout among republicans because they can turn out entire churches full of volunteers...and that's a big, big, deal, especially considering that they also do not have the same kind of money as corporations.

this suggests their model can be followed--but there's a cautionary tale as well: christians want lots more than they have gained so far, and they complain about it...although the tea party movement seems to have crossed that bridge nicely.

--there is clearly a difference between someone like whitehouse, who will reliably vote for civil rights issues, and demint, who...well, we all know about demint, right?

so, do you feel both should be treated the same, and if so, are you concerned that whitehouse would look at the situation and maybe lose interest in investing political capital on advancing civil rights issues when other issues are just as pressing, or even more so (ending two wars, dealing with a dysfunctional foreign policy, dealing with the us economy, and mitigating climate change would be four quick examples), and they are equally challenging or more challenging to move?

Why do you consistently blame "conservative Christians" on Republicans. In the Democratic we have many Black RELIGIOUS members that believe the same things about us that those conservative Republicans do.

It is religious belief, more than party affiliation. Ask those Democrats in Arkansas - they're part of the religiously-infected problem in politics.

Religion is more of an enemy than Republicans. It's time to understand that.

i'm not blaming republicans, or christians, or anyone else for anything...but it is a fact that there has been an effort, first called the "moral majority", to create a place for conservative christians to influence republican politics--and that effort has been highly successful in terms of getting professional republicans to acknowledge the goals of that group, even as the group has not been entirely successful in achieving some of the original stated goals of returning prayer to schools and outlawing abortion.

i have mentioned that group often in this string of comments because i see them as having used a little money and a lot of "feet on the ground power" to grow more influence than you might otherwise expect, and if you're looking to study an effective political organizing model...they have one.

i should add that, to my knowledge, the black church has not been as politically successful or as politically well organized as the republican evangelical christian base over the past 30 years or so.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 14, 2010 4:32 AM

These cults did do some self organization but it's also true that they were aggressively recruited to political activism by both parties.

First by Reagan and then by Democrats based on Clintons DOMA. Then it was Republican Turd Blossoms(1) job during Bush2's administration based on state DOMAs. Now it's the job of Joshua Dubois based on Obama's opposition to same sex marriage and the repeal of DOMA.

The White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which Dubois runs, is the funnel through which 'grants' are proffered and votes exchanged.


my own recollection from that time is a bit different, in that i recall reagan and the moral majority finding each other--but at the time, reagan was not "the republican party" as much as he (and falwell, schlafly, et al) was part of an insurgent movement within that party...and you may recall that after ford/rockefeller, poppy bush was the "establishment republican" candidate who reagan took out for the '80 nomination...and you may recall that among the establishment wing of that party, the christians, at the time, were seen as, well, to be blunt, rubes.

before that, republican presidents from coolidge to ford were more the "country club republican" type, and it seems to me that the moral majority, at that time, wasn't so much recruited by the republicans as much as the republicans were subsumed by the moral majority movement, an event that was symbolized, for me, by bush being chosen as reagan's vp.

by '94, of course, the "christian right" had taken over, not just by getting a nominee elected, but also by using those "feet on the ground" to get themselves elected to precinct chairmanships, to get involved in the mechanics of party operations, and to take over state parties in a big way.

(that effort to take over state party establishments has led to some crazy republican nominees over the years, christine o'donnell being one of the most recent: she was able to get the nomination in delaware with only a few thousand votes, and that kind of result is not uncommon in low-turnout races in small states.)

i don't recall clinton seeking the help of these folks, but i do remember him looking to the black church for alliances. if i recall correctly, the christian right was the "target audience" for whitewater, the lewinsky scandal, and all that went with it--and in fact, those same folks still try to associate the clintons with things like vince foster's death and secret cocaine smuggling in remote arkansas airfields.

i have to say that i'm too ignorant to provide a good analysis of obama's relationship with the office of faith based initiatives, and to tell you the truth, that's a pretty good idea for a story, and i'm going to be putting that idea on the back burner for use later.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 14, 2010 3:37 PM

According to Time Magazine

"By the time Clinton arrived in Chicago for his party's convention in August, nothing that hinted at liberalism was left hanging on him. When the President, who had begun his term advocating the rights of gays in the military, came around to supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition for gay and lesbian unions, Dole was wide-eyed. "Is there anything we're for that he won't jump on?" Dole asked. The answer, essentially, was nothing..."

Clinton definitely made a major appeal to christer bigots for support. He championed DOMA, signed it the day it was passed and rushed to ads which were primarily feateured on christer redneck radio stations:

"Protecting religious freedom. It's the foundation of our nation.

When the Justice Department went after a church to gather the parishioners' tithing money, the government was stopped cold because President Clinton overturned the government's policy and protected us. It's not the only time he's defended our values…

President Clinton wants a complete ban on late term abortions except when the mother's life is in danger or faces severe health risks, such as the inability to have another child.

The President signed the Defense of Marriage Act, supports curfews and school uniforms to teach our children discipline.

President Clinton has fought for our values and America is better for it.

"Paid for by Clinton/Gore 96"

It's a fool's errand to believe that participation in a rigged electoral system is the way to change. It's the road to perpetual lesserevilism, betrayal and defeat.

Elections can be used to organize and educate movements in struggle but elections don't bring change except in the sense that they (rarely) ratify changes forced by mass actions in the streets, workplaces and barracks. Those are the kind of battles we can win and those are the kind of battles that produce fundamental, permanent change as opposed to hopey-changey.

Do Whitehouse and DeMint agree on the need to close the 750 plus US bases on foreign soil combined with the total and immediate withdrawal of US troops and WMDs preliminary to demobilization and dismantling the weapons. Do they support pressing for comprehensive peace treaties guaranteeing an end to US invasions and occupations and convening an International War Crimes Tribunal?

Do Whitehouse and DeMint agree on the need for Constitutional amendments to guarantee socialized medicine, full employment at trade union wages and benefits, good housing, ample funds for retirement and free education?

Do they agree on the need to prosecute and jail banksters who defrauded millions and created the current Depression? Or managers and owners who create environmental disasters? Or cult leaders whose hate speech leads to discrimination and violence.

From the point of view of providing for the real needs of real people they're equally backward.

there is an unintended consequence of ending our international security arrangements of which you should be aware: it is highly likely that such a move would create a series of "mini arms races".

for example, if the us pulled back from the commitment to ensure israel's security, i would expect all involved parties to "arm up" even faster than they are today (particularly saudi, egypt, and the uae), particularly in the area of missile/countermissile technology.

india and pakistan might well do the same thing, and i would expect asian countries, particularly japan, taiwan, and south korea, to also do the same in anticipation of what china's military might do.

i mention missiles and countermeasures with particular interest because it's one of the most potentially destabilizing aspects of today's arms control regime.

it's an extremely vexing problem, and i'm not sure how to work it out.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 14, 2010 4:54 AM

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, far and away, the most warlike and dangerous power on the face of the Earth.

The US has used military power, or the threat of it, over 75 times since 1945. That's because the US economy is dependent on the continuous expansion of the military industrial complex and uninterrupted warfare. "The total value of the United States’ arms sales agreements for 2008 was $37.8 billion, accounting for some 68 percent of the world market."

Nothing justifies that. It has to be changed to protect world peace and to prevent further genocides like Iraq and the mass murder of civilians in Palestine and Afghanistan. It has to be changed to prevent the continued slaughter of GIs, working class youthes whose lives are callously traded for oil hegemony.

Most international disputes can be solved by disarmament and renouncing war as an instrument of state policy. That will begin happening in earnest when we change the government here.


i actually agree with pretty much all you're saying here, and my comment above wasn't meant to set out a place from which to begin a disagreement as much as it was an effort to put up a "caution sign" so that we know what we might expect.

in other words, disarmament won't just be achieved by us realigning our military commitments, it will also take an effort to mitigate some of these other conflicts so that we stop these problems before they begin.

i would also encourage you to give some thought to what happened in rwanda or sudan and what happened in kosovo/serbia, because we are going to have to figure out what to do when the next rwanda comes up, and inaction seems to, again, be the order of the day.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 14, 2010 3:46 PM

Keep in mind that when the US reverses its role as international pirate and invests in international efforts to mitigate global warming with green, socialist economies most of the causes of international conflict and communal conflict will be eliminated.

That will happen when we build a worker's party and create a workers government here and abroad. That, not dabbling in Democrat party politics in the vain hope of 'reforming' them, has be our goal.

i wanted to give this some thought, and i have to say i disagree with the basic premise here, and i'll tell you why:

there are a bunch of conflicts, in places like the philippines and myanmar and sudan and rwanda where the internal issues that are causing the fighting would exist even if the united states had never existed; many of these are issues of conflict between christian and moslem...or secterian and moslem.

another prominent example in that regard might be the ongoing troubles between russians and chechens and georgians and ukranians, and i just can't see how any change in us politics makes the dynamics of that conflict change in any substantial way.

would the chinese relate to their religious minorities differently if the us had a different political system? my guess is that the chinese would still see religious organizations as an internal security threat, simply because they represent an accumulation of political power outside the communist party.

"the troubles" in ireland come from a time before the us ever existed; changes in our political system probably won't alleviate those conflicts either.

obviously pashtuns and punjabis and persians and turkomen have been fighting over "afghanipakistindia" since...well, who even knows how long, and you can again imagine how any change in us internal politics would probably not do much to affect those historical relationships in any positive way.

wahabist ideology and the association with the house of saud seems to date to the 1800s, and my suspicion is that capitalism in the us did not influence that relationship in any meaningful way...and that relationship was well-established long before anyone knew there was anything of value under the saudi sands...and the interest in militancy seems to have extended first to the shi'a/sunni relationship, again suggesting political changes in the us won't automatically give us the ability to exert positive influence in all other world conflicts, nor will it automatically make others want to abandon their ancient grievances.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 21, 2010 3:09 AM

Historic cult differences are merely the canvas on which the US paints a policy of divide and rule.

American goals, or rather the goals of the looter class and the twin parties of imperial expansion are not religious but economic goals.

The US does exploit religious and ethnic divisions in places like Palestine and particularly in Iraq where the US fostered inter-communal mass murder to divide, rule and grab the oil. The US rings the world with over 750 bases, is the world's largest arms producer and seller, possesses vast stockpiles of WMDs and is currently fighting four wars of aggression. The power of the US is a danger to the entire world, including people who live here.

Pointing out that the American looter class is not involved in every little conflict on the planet is not an argument for fighting their imperialism. The US through the Pentagon or the CIA is involved in most of them. Nor is it a denial of the fact that the US government, to quote the Cubans, is the main enemy of the people of the world.

Bielat will defeat Barney Frank and Pelosi will no longer be speaker of the house when Republicans win the majority. In one sense that will be tragic yet in another it will set the tone for 2012 when progress can be made. I think it is the best change in recent history because the house will know lip service is what it has always been -- BS. Obama will also have to pay attention or he is toast in 2012.

you know, everyone says repubs will gain the house, but when i look at numbers i see a lot of dems "coming home" all of a sudden--but it's also fair to point out that virtually the only daily tracking polling that's going on here is the generic repub/dem "who should control congress" poll...and that means a lot of congressional races are being called based on occasional--and frequently, not so current--polling, which makes tracking trends difficult.

We need the young people that put Obama in office to turn out on November 2nd. Unfortunately, many in this audience have heard the GetEQUAL narrative that "Obama didn't keep his promises." Young people are likely to believe that "we're angry" and not vote.

The landscape us going to be littered with political victims of anti-incumbency and it'll likely hurt the Dem wing of the Dem/Repub party the most.

The next anti-incumbent Congress will do no better than the last anti-incumbent Congress and in 2012 the Republicans will suffer for it. They're as rancid and rightwing as their Dem cousins and even less popular, because they don't bother lying about it, Politics are going to be driven by more wars, a deepening depression, more mass unemployment, poverty and homelessness. Expect more environmental degradation and more global warming 'events'.

Those are the issues that will make the 2012 elections as volatile as those of the Civil Rights/Vietnam era.

this looks to me like it could be setting up to be a situation not unlike '94-'96...backlash included--but '12 is a presidential year, suggesting that democrats can look to a larger turnout of "inconsistent" and non-voters, a la '08.

if democrats could turn those folks into consistent voters, then it will probably change the fortunes of republicans in a serious, long-term way...but my suspicion is that most democratic congressional candidates will not figure out how to do this, and it's impossible to say if future d presidential candidates can recreate obama's coalition or not.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 13, 2010 8:17 PM

2010 will be bad for the Democrats, as it should be. They betrayed everyone except the corporations and they deserve the drubbing they're going to get.

The depression and the wars will be the engine of political volatility in 2012 and it's too early to tell how much more the economy will collapse or how many more GIs will come home in body bags because of Obama and the Congress. Unemployment and the body count of GI victims are rising steadily.

2012 could be as 'interesting'* as 1968 for the Democrats or as momentous as 1860 was for them.

* As in the purportedly Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".

with all respect, your understanding regarding both unemployment and us military casualties appears to be misinformed.

here's the numbers:

the bureau of labor statistics reports that unemployment peaked in september '09; the unemployment rate is about a half percent lower today than it was then.

us military casualties peaked in '07, and in fact, the reduction of deaths in iraq from '09 to '10 more than offsets the increase in casualties in afghanistan (466 deaths in '09, compared to 435 in '10).

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 14, 2010 3:21 PM

I didn't mention the unemployment rate but it is on the rise, although it fluctuates just as it did in the earlier Depression. (1) In this Depression unemployment remains high, fluctuates a bit and for now is on the rise. Here's a very helpful graphic.

BLS statistics show the U6 rate peaking at 17.3% last December and standing at 17.1% as of its last reporting in September. You're probably looking at the misleading BLS U2 rate which came into play during one of Reagan's recessions. The U6 rate measures real and total unemployment, the B2 rate only those colleting benefits. Try this site to keep a handle on mass unemployment:

Causalities in Iraq declined because BUSHco and the Pentagon armed shiites and sunnis and set them against each other in a divide and rule strategy. Causalities, or GIs murdered to protect and expand US economic hegemony in Afghanistan and the region continue to rise. In 2007 casualties in the AfPak war were US 117 and if you included American client states like the Brits they were 232. For 2010 to date US casualties are 1329 and if you add clients states they're 2157. I don't want to sound too extreme here but that looks like an increase to me. The AfPak wounded are US 5035 and if you add 'allies' it's 7266. I can't find any figures on how many were returned to duty but in Iraq about half of those wounded are permanently incapacitated.

In both Iraq and the AfPak region civilians are still being murdered in huge numbers as a result of the invasions and occupations.

(1) The unemployment rate for the years 1923-29 was 3.3 percent. In 1931 it jumped to 15.9, in 1933 it peaked at 24.9 percent. It fluctuated but stayed high until war production kicked in 1942.

i should add to my comment above that it is more likely than not that us casualties will be lower in afghanistan than iraq, if only because the harsh weather and extraordinary terrain along the eastern border region literally creates a "fighting season" of about 6 months--a notable exception being the marine operations in the winter of '09 in the somewhat less mountainous afghan southeast.

IMO, he's right. Between the DNC and HRC they both use GLBT and our struggles for gaining equal rights ONLY to generate money for their bottom line. How often have you heard or seen the some ad hack saying 'the fight has only begun and they need your dollars now!'??? A few weeks or months go by with the assurance that they're "doing everything possible" to secure the passing of ENDA, but they had to let that fall to give support to repeal of DOMA but they had to let that go to run after repeal of DADT. But don't worry, they'll come around in the bus next time to pick up our money. Just not us.

i've posed this question to a couple other commenters, and i want to pose this to you as well:

as you and others hold back on voting d this time, there's a "carrot and stick" argument to be made: you want to reward ds who do advance these issues (and rs, too, if any are to be found), but gay, inc, hasn't been up to the task.

any ideas on how those who do the right thing could be recognized and assisted more effectively?

There is no "carrot" and there is no "stick." There is only "hope" and there are only two teams.

Frustrating (and irritating) as that is, that's the game.

i have to say that i don't agree with you on this one; in fact, it seems to me that virtually every single political "transaction" in the history of politics has occurred because of the application of either carrot or stick.

"i'm going to do the right and noble thing because it will make my constituents want to support me": carrot.

"i'm going to support that cause because they'll help me with something else": carrot.

"hey, republican incumbent...if you don't move hard to the right--and fast--we, the tea party, will take you out in the primary": stick.

you mentioned how gay, inc. has failed to sway any senators up to this point, and i would suggest that any effort to sway any senators going forward will have to involve the application of some kind of motivational tools...and "motivational tools" is just another way of saying "carrot and stick".

I understand that perspective. But, it has never applied to "moral" issues and that's how we are perceived. If you remember during the faux healthcare debate Stupak and others didn't "negotiate" about abortion - they drew a line and the President honored it.

The truth is a Politician is in line with "moral beliefs" of their constituents 90% of the time. That's why constituents are the key - not the idiot in office. As an example, that weasel Harold Ford was in against same sex marriage when he was in Tennessee, but magically was in favor when he tried to enter NY politics. He's full of shit. He didn't change his mind, the new constituents did.

We had a Dem super-majority in the Senate.
We had a Dem majority in the House.
We had a Dem president.

It still was not enough to pass one single one of the four pieces of legislation we care about: DADT repeal, DOMA repeal (both introduced under Dem administrations), UAFA, and ENDA.

Not one single one.

Hate Crimes? Part of the deal with passing that was that the Obama DOJ would never actually enforce it. There have been numerous and egregious Hate Crimes committed over the last 18 months, but no prosecutions.

Not a single one. No plans for any. No intention of any.

We had a Dem super-majority in the Senate.
We had a Dem majority in the House.
We had a Dem president.

It wasn't enough. We need more. So let's use the only weapons we have for behaviour modification; our money and our votes, to make sure that the next time this can possibly happen, around 2020 (though 2028 is more likely), we won't have a repeat performance.

Because if we don't, we will.

A "Democratic Super Majority" is different than an LGBT-Majority. We have never had an LGBT super majority. In the current US Senate we have only 56 votes. After November we will have 51 or 52 votes.

Stop saying "Democrats." It misses the point. Our challenge is to find 60 US Senators that support our equality. During the last two years we have spent more than $230 million. None of that went to find new Senators. THAT makes us stupid.

I had a comment, but bilerico login ate it. Point well taken.

a place where this logic would apply would be arkansas, where halter was close, but lost to blanche lincoln...and you have to wonder if a bit more doorknocking and funding might have helped.

a comment, with two questions:

don't forget that the other gift the lbgt community has to offer is warm bodies at election time.

this is one reason unions have outsize influence in the democratic party: beyond money and votes, they also doorbell and make phone calls and drive voters to the polls, which is pretty much the same thing as money for pretty much any candidate who gets the "ground game".

the christian conservative community does the same thing for the rs in a big way.

so, question number there a place for "work parties" that present to a supportive candidate a group of energetic lgbt volunteers that are associated with the group that organized them?

and question two...any ideas on how to better target the "carrots" that money, votes, and volunteers represent?

ordinarily i'd be responsiung top these comments...but for a change i'll be just listening for about 12 hours or so; this to avoid "steering" the discussion in some way.

I hope more people contribute.

After reflection, I would add this: tell this "democratic voter" that there is no "promise" in politics, only "hope." As in life there are no "guarantees." All we can do or expect is our best efforts. The idea that politicians have "let us down" is not the exception, it is the rule. We should learn from that. We should understand we cannot "hire" politicians to save us - we need to do it ourselves.

Politicians are motivated by their constituents beliefs - it is what gets them elected. That is OUR job - changing minds. Instead of expecting politicians to handle the job, we should simply do it ourselves. We've spent 40 years betting on politics and we have little to show for it. That should make all of us think twice about continuing to believe "somebody else" will save us. Our equality is our responsibility.

I'm going to have to agree with all of what AndrewW has to say in response to this post.

Too often we get indignant and then throw parties where politicians and/or Gay Inc. come to collect checks after everyone has found their way to the bottom of three or four cocktails.

I've been to events in South Florida where the house is packed to meet a gay-friendly celebrity or the head of a national LGBT organization. But few people will turn up to canvass on behalf of local candidates who have passed laws protecting LGBT rights. Few people will work the phones to defeat candidates supported by the Christian Coalition.

It's clearly not a question of the time required. Three hours is three hours, whether at a cocktail event or at campaign function. So there must be some other variable which is lacking. Personally, I think it's courage. We have not the courage to stand up for ourselves. We have not the courage to push for our rights among those who will disagree with us.

Perhaps we have become too comfortable surrounding ourselves with other gay folks and straight allies. We're terrified of losing the only friends we've had in politics, so we cling to them despite the abuse.

We need to encourage one another turn our outrage into concrete action. Just feeling bad won't do any good.

i've been dying to ask you this question: is there some way to combine "party" and "gay-friendly celebrity" and "doorbelling"?

for example, could you offer a dinner party, with the friendly celebrity, for the most prolific donor of working hours?

advertise a few months before the election (say, june, july, or august), and...i just thought this up...why not make the prize something like "thanksgiving dinner with margaret cho and your mom" or "an afternoon of fabulous fashion christmas shopping with lady gaga"?

(for the record, i picked thanksgiving and christmas because they're both just after election day.)

as someone who has had to organize this stuff, tell me, is this just too impractical, or is there some potential here?

i think what a lot of voters of all stripes are afraid of is that they've lost the ability to influence politics or to create positive change through the good offices of government--and i suspect that if you throw in a bit of "hey, did you know obama's black", you'd also have a pretty good handle on what's up in the tea party.

hunter thompson once said reagan's election was like watching the tide of the 1960's begin to roll back--and i worry that we're seeing the same thing, right now, on marriage equality, and maybe dadt as well, and that the next best shot may be in '13, if republicans gain the house this time, and we see another '06- and '08-style electoral backlash in '12 that creates a renewed interest, on the r side, in reaching across the aisle.

(the counterargument: pew reports more or less 65% of r voters do not support compromises from their electoral representatives, and that would have to change radically before progress could be made.)

It's religious belief when it comes to LGBT-issues. I don't see a reason to divide Democrats and Republicans - it's the religious ones that believe we are wrong because God told them so.

We spend way to much talking about the "Religious Right," bigotry exists in anyone that accepts the traditional Christian belief that we are wrong. That's 70% of Black voters and they are primarily Democrats.

in the conversation i had with andrew at docudharma i actually was making the same point, and i used three members from north carolina for illustration, but the long and the short of it was that if you have a district that's 30% black, and 50% of those folks are irrationally homophobic, and that same district also have a 3% lbgt population, then the only way you swing those votes is by applying pressure (rewarding good behavior?) on those members from outside the district.

Third F'n try. Bilerico keeps coughing up blood every time I try to respond.

Your point is well taken. Now Bilerico, please fix yourself.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 11, 2010 8:19 AM

On Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 and Tuesday, November 4th, 2010 vote left or cast your protest vote by sitting it out (barring important referenda, propositions or initiatives).

The only good vote is a protest vote. In a system run by competing gangs of like minded hustlers voting is not important except as a way of validating that system.

any thoughts on how supportive legislators, not in your district, can be positively incentivized that are more effective than today's incentive structure?

If they're in unions or one of the other struggle movements they should be encouraged to break with the Democrats and move left.

Their real incentives come from corporations so we have to provide an counterbalance of mass movements and mass demonstrations to get concessions. When the profit margin hits the fan, as it does in the case of ENDA and equal wages, expect no concessions.

some commenters have referred to the failures of gay, inc. in organizing voters as you've suggested here.

any thoughts on who might be better able to fill that role?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 13, 2010 8:20 PM

A mass movement with a mass action perspective, internally democratic and externally anti-Democratic.

We need to do it and stop lazily thinking that we can hire or elect a solution.

I appreciate Perdue's call for Mass Demonstration, but what is going to ignite that revolution? Anger won't. Frustration won't. Especially if we can succeed just by asking people to stand for the basic human principle of equality. Two-thirds of Americans will support us, but we're to afraid or too lazy to just ASK.

We should ask.

i ask who might fill the role because it seems that you need some sort of organizing group just to do things like identify potential "swayable" senators, coordinating and promoting events (doorbelling drives, for example), and obtaining permits where needed (rallies, for example).

I would tell them the same thing I have said many other times. If the Democrat is a true ally in actions and not in words then they deserve our vote. If not I will be voting for someone who is. We are where we are because the Democrats feel we have no where else to turn to. The politics of fear that we aren't as bad as the Republicans doesn't cut it anymore. Will things get worse if Republicans take at least one of the chambers. They shouldn't since we have a Democratic president who has the power of veto and the option of filibustering anything in the Senate we don't like if the Democrats have any balls. So the old scare tactics don't work. Democrats need to be held responsible for their actions.
We definitely should not be giving money to the DNC, DSCC, OFA, or the newest branch of the Democratic Party the HRC. That money is being wasted to elect the Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincolns of the world. Give money to candidates that are pro-gay be it Dem, Rep, or Green.

i have a question for you: there has been a lot of comment here about the ineffective efforts of "gay, inc."

how would you suggest that "community" voters who don't have a candidate to support locally "spread the news" about who should get support?

think about that for a minute, then i have a more targeted question.

ok, here it is: could you imagine a situation where a group held an "lbgt mini-block party" for a candidate, and, after the hot dogs are served (or before...?), the group fans out to doorknock for a candidate?

good, bad, unlikely?

please, readers...discuss.

I konw what I'd tell AndyS... last time I heard that name we were in a big fight with him on dailykos with Bil. Those were the days.

Anyway, yeah, and I don't think that telling him to vote will change much of anything. There is a large part of the population that is mad about real things and doing what Democratic leaders and activists (like Meteor Blades) usually do and just scold people for not being excited enough isn't going to change much.

It's a catch-22: If Dems do fine in November they'll learn that ignoring LGBT people was great and they should keep on doing it. If they lose big, then they'll think that they went too far to the left and they should do even less.

One would become suspicious about the fact that there's no situation where they become more responsive to public opinion and more queer-friendly, but we obviously can't question the Democrats' commitment to LGBT rights. That just wouldn't be polite.

andy and i have been busy over the past 24 hours (he's become very upset that he was quoted here), so i've been away...but i love your comment here, and i think you're dead on target.

I recently started publicizing the idea to stop supporting democrats that don't support us. I won't be voting for the Pennsylvania democrat governor candidate who does not support marriage equality but does support civil unions. While I understand the risk of giving republican's power, I don't think we have much gain that warrants a large risk. This conversation, along with the Get Equal campaign, "We'll Give when we Get" and other similar sentiments makes a big statement that the Democrats will hopefully listen to. Frankly, I'm rather annoyed with the moderates who don't stand up for my equality. Things are changing in the Republicans where they seem more interested in anti-abortion and anti-Christian than they are anti-gay. So, let these moderates get a taste of loss, and see if they don't come back with vengeance and with the memory, "and when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

What does work is spreading awareness and education. In Pennsylvania, we extended "Freedom To Marry Week" to "LGBT Freedom Week." We have many groups, big and small, with diverse focus, but all that in some way support LGBT. With LGBT Freedom Week, we have a series of events organized through separate efforts but supported, appreciated and publicized together. Shortly after LGBT Freedom Week 2010 a PA senate subcommittee voted down 8 to 6 (tabled) a move to add "one man and one woman" into our constitution. Two years prior, the same committee, with only one member change, passed a similar bill 4 to 10.... Four votes changed after a state-wide campaign to spread awareness and education over the LGBT plight for equality. While I like to give credit to spreading awareness and education, I'd be remiss if I didn't appalud the one new member of the committee, Sen. Daylin Leach, who played a huge role in both the campaign, and within the senate committee.

It's interesting that the 10 top Tea Party supported candidates all include anti-abortion in their campaigns and most include anti-gay while the Tea Party is suppose to be about small government and personal liberty. I guess the government shouldn't do anything except tell us what to do with out bodies and love. The point is, there are no gays in the Tea Party because we are so tied to the democrats. So there's no gays in their to remind them of their principles, and not compromise them for the far right vote.

i always assumed that the reason you don't see a lot of lbgt tea party activists was for the same reason you don't see a lot of 3000 person log cabin republican galas: if the environment is unwelcoming...why bother?

that said, i would suggest that your comment that not having an lbgt community around makes it easier to both ignore that community and to "other" it is dead on target.

I would tell a frustrated gay voter this: Own it! You vote. You make your choices. You allow yourself to be lied to, over and over, in a repetition of craving. It is time to look for candidates who support equality for all, and vote for them--even if they don't win. It is a natural consequence of change that the first people for whom we vote will lose.

But if continue to vote for people solely on the idea that they are "electable," then we will never build support for candidates that share our views, and thus, we ourselves destroy their "electability."

We are part of the problem, we need to accept that change only comes with the willingness to vote differently.

The classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Anyone through with being crazy yet?

i think in andew's case there's another issue: what do you do if there won't be any candidates at all who appeal to you in a particular election?

is not voting at all the better choice, is looking for outside candidates a better choice, or is andrew better off running by himself for congress?

in a situation where he perceives that no one's running, whaddaya think andrew should do?

Symbiote, this is very well stated. I've been anything but confident in my decision to stop voting for a Democrat because he's a Democrat or because he's better than the other guy. Your note here raised my confidence level.

i'd like to address the issue of how you reward democrats who are supportive but not in your district (especially when they act under some political "duress"), and i wondered if you have any thoughts on how to move beyond today's gay, inc. process to a structure that can bring some more effective "carrot" to the "stick" that many here will apply next month?

alternatively, do you see the democratic party as the "agent of change" here through a sort of organic, internal process because of fewer lbgt voters and donors, or do you see the potential for some more amorphous structure, not unlike the tea party itself, that reaches out through alliances to sway legislators and voters?

and i'll tell you in advance: i'm not asking this to argue, but instead to run out the thought process that is in this thread because i'm curious to see how it develops.

I think it is terrific you have started this conversation Don - I hope people stay engaged.

If we ante to play politics we need to get the US Senate, otherwise everything else we do is wasted. I'm not a believer that politics will save us, but that's where most of our money goes. I'd rather educate, enlighten and enroll. We KNOW that works.

i would extend this thought: obama, and many other democrats, are taking some heat for about a half-dozen democratic senators and some number of republicans who find no compromise a better choice than getting things done.

(of course, they're also taking heat for other reasons, and i'm not here to say that's undeserved, as john rutledge's comment below notes.)

i give a lot of heat to obama because i think it was his job to "campaign" this along, and if he had stayed in campaign mode longer i suspect more public "organized pressure" could have occurred as it did in fall of '08...but i suppose the "professional" response might be "let's not take a chance with the president's political capital on something that might fail" which i'd respond that "noble failure" creates political capital, as conservatives know all too well.

There is no evidence that any member of the US Senate has changed his/her mind since Obama's victory. That isn't a surprise. During the last 50 years not a single US Senator changed their position about LGBT-issues. Not one.

For them it is a moral issue. That's non-negotiable. The President doesn't have any influence over anyone when it comes to moral issues.

Our only political hope is targeting a few States where public opinion could change enough to turn the tide. Senators will either reflect the views of their constituents or they will be replaced. We need to change those views. The polling i'm doing (State by State polling) is the first of its kind. It will help us determine where we can make a difference. Alabama won't be on the list.

i post on left in alabama...and i'd suggest leavinhg them off the list is a pretty good call.

the response i gave above to you regarding carrots and sticks rolls right into this comment you've made: the best stick that might be available is turning a constituency, at election time, in a way that threatens the job of a senator.

(the flip side of that: effectively supporting the election of a senator who evidences support for civil rights, and making sure that the new senator knows it, is a pretty good carrot.)

but that's tricky, because you have to either present a credible threat to a senator just as a bill is coming to the floor, or you have to elect someone and trust that they'll come through when the time comes--and that's a situation that a lot of folks mistakenly thought they had achieved after '08.

John Rutledge | October 11, 2010 9:54 PM

I have been in the same angry place as the writer before and will likely be again. After all, this is personal. This is our lives.
I just read the Obama interview in the Rolling Stone. I hear a brilliant mind, fair and balanced. Possibility is alive, like never before. It is also close to passing us by with the upcoming elections. Now is not the time to indulge in wallowing. I now this fight is tough, but we just can not give up. We have to continue to push. Being resigned and cynical is only being that. It makes one useless to bring about change. So choose. Go home and bitch to whoever is willing to listen, be ineffectively righteous, or suck it up and get in the game. Grow or blow.

i'm gonna put this in a very specific way, and it's absolutely meant as a compliment:

if i had to union organize loading dock workers or hotel staffs or wal-marts...i'd be looking to hire you.

If we really want to win this we need to educate, enlighten and enroll. That means we talk to neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It means we ask them to help us. It means WE change our future, instead of relying on the courts, the advocates and the activists - it means we do it ourselves.

THAT would be a "Movement." We don't have one now.

Yes, but the point is ALL LGBT-issues hinge on religious beliefs - it is a "moral issue." That's what matters to voters, whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

I think we focus too much on the "Religious Right" and not enough attention of those moral beliefs. Here's why: polling data indicates that two-thirds of Americans will support our full equality as a basic human principle. The one-third that won't put religion before equality. I have used some focus group research to determine how we can have those conversation and "ask for their support." What we've learned already it is best to leave "religion" out of the conversation and when you meet someone from the one-third just walk away - their beliefs are immutable. These are the religious "literalists," like Baptists and Mormons. The conversation with them is a waste of time. The second area is politics and we benefit from not raising that, either.

Two-thirds of Americans will put equality before religion and we are figuring out how to enable that.

I have said for some time that we need a strategy to win that is verifiable and by that I mean we use math. It's looking very promising and I believe that is how we will create a real, sustainable movement. It will inspire many members of the LGBT Community that out of frustration and anger have simply disengaged. We need them. In fact, we need everyone.

Thanks for providing this important conversation.

this may or may not be a religious issue, depending on who you are.

15% of the us population reports no religious affiliation at all, some other percentage are either buddhist or hindu, and for the most part neither religion cares, one way or the other, about gay issues.

out of the other 75%, many are "irreligious", meaning they might have an affiliation, but they don't practice; this seems to be true particularly among younger people, which is good news over time.

seems to me that if you're looking to sway populations, you need allies, and i wonder what groups you see as logical choices to target for alliances going forward?

Everyone but the religious "literalists." The make up less than 30%. Most of the others will put equality before religion. Half of Catholics support our equality and it similar for Lutherans, Episcopalians and others.

We need people as our allies, not organizations. We need to educate, enlighten and enroll our neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers. Two-thirds will support our equality - especially if we leave religion and politics out of the conversation. Both religion and politics divide people - we just want to ask people to stand for one thing, our equality.

Try it out over the next week. You'll be surprised.

Chitown Kev | October 17, 2010 3:39 PM

I'll come back to this post but before folks go off flapping their gums about black religious voters and hoe they might leave the party or abandon an incumbent candidate for their votes on gay rights issues show me any documented evidence of this at the federal level.

The one man who voted no on the hate crimes bill in the Congressional Black Caucus lost his bid to become the Dem nominee as governor of Alabama.

Check your records on Congressional voting before making these statements, please.

Kevin, I think you'll find a recent analysis of Black attitudes toward homosexuality and their source, discussed here:

It is religion and that's not a surprise. At the same time most Blacks are Democrats. My comments have centered on our real problem "bigoted religious beliefs" and they exist in both parties. Soon, we'll have data they clearly identifies the "literalists" within both parties. You might be surprised.

i've had quite a few things to say about how religious influence has affected republican actions around this issue--but it does seem to be possible to confirm, based just on a casual view of news and news stories, that there's an issue on both sides--and i would encourage you to look to the reaction to the news that anti-gay, black megachurch leader bishop eddie long might be mixed up with gay young boys and the reaction of his parishoners; in seattle it's the reverend ken hutcherson who beats the anti-gay drum in his black church.

Honey, I don't need you to tell me anything.

Show me the evidence at the federal (or state level, for that matter) that a black politician has been hurt by casting pro-gay votes (regardless of the the views of their constiuents on gay rights).

The TRUTH is that "gay issues" AREN'T all that central as to whether the black community votes for one candidate or another.

Stop projecting YOUR one issue politics on the black community in this particular case, 'cause you got nothin'.

For example, how did the only black US Senator vote on DADT?

The black community votes for openly gay and lesbian representatives

Yes, and the NAACP supports our full equality, right? Oh, wait.

Again, you obviously didn't read what I wrote nor did you answer my very specific criticism of your POV.

Don't derail this with talking about the NAACP (and for the record, some local branches of the NAACP actually do support our full equality)...


show me the case where any black politician, voted on by the black community, has had an electoral backlash visited upon him due to pro-gay votes...

since you pride yourself on doing research, do some and get back to me.

The truth is that "gay issues" are not so important to the black community that the black community would give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to a political candidate based solely on "gay issues".

Ask the NOM-backed candidates for city council in Washington DC how well the black community in DC loved them.

Blacks aren't the single issue voters that you project them to be.

Now if we're talking about a single-issue initiative...well, that's another story.

i would suggest to chitown kev that there's a multi-part counterquestion:

how many openly gay black candidates win elections from black-majority constituencies...and how many are discouraged from running by the attitudes we're talking about...and how many potential ballot issues that advance lbgt civil rights (same-sex marriage in the states, for example), are "dead on arrival" in the black christian community?

and just to add a bit of "equal time" here: it is fair to point out that sheila jackson lee is an example of a black candidate, with a district that has a large black population, who is supportive of civil rights in a way that chitown kev would presumably be happy to use as an example to bolster his arguments.

I think Kevin is trying to suggest that Blacks are not homophobic and yet they are just as homophobic as Whites. The distinction I am making is that 90% of Blacks are Democrats and the vast majority of Blacks are also religious. Their bigoted Christian belief systems still make homosexuality "wrong."

Therefore, we cannot continue to simply make this a Democrats Vs. Republicans argument. Both sides are infected.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2010 1:53 PM

That's not the point I'm making and you know it.

Don't duck and dodge it.

Elected black officials DO support our equality (by and large).

Yet RELIGIOUS black folk (by and large) elect them.

And I hate that this bogged down the thread.

i'm actually glad this conversation came up, and i wouldn't necessarily call it bogging down as much as i might call it "branching out"--and to me, the idea that a community who have demonstrably stronger attitudes against lbgt issues consistently elects legislators who vote for those same issues is fascinating indeed.

if i were looking to extend the analysis, i might examine the demographic makeup of the districts that are electing the members of the cbc as well as looking at where donations are coming from; the hypothesis there being that a candidate with a funding base from outside the district would be more free to vote on some issues in a way that did not line up with the district in a 1:1 manner.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2010 1:47 PM

Now that is a good question to which I don't know the full answer to.

There were two gay black men in DC that did go down to defeat but I believe that they were both Republican.

I do know that in the case of Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, he actually actively sought and received the support of black churches

I, probably more than anyone posting here, would love to see evidence that the religious beliefs of Blacks DID NOT effect their position on LGBT issues.

It is partly the same conversation about the varying opinions surrounding Prop 8 and the Black vote.

Clearly, the Republican Party is home to many Christians that put their beliefs before our equality. It is a fair question to try to determine to what extent religious Blacks do the same. That requires more than opinion and anecdotal evidence. The link I provided used actual research (Pew Foundation) to demonstrate that:

"“Blacks continue to oppose same-sex marriage by a wide margin,” the new report states. “In 2010, just 30% of non-Hispanic Blacks favor gay marriage while 59% are opposed. From 2008 to 2000, 28% of Blacks favored same-sex marriage and 62% were opposed.”

"The number of African-Americans in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military has dropped from 57 percent in 1994 to 48 percent in 2010. During the same period, White support increased from 51 percent to 63 percent."

The reason seems to be evident when you recognize the same research says:

"More than half of AfricanAmericans (53%) report attending religious services at least once a week, more than three-in-four (76%) say they pray on at least a daily basis and nearly nine-in-ten (88%) indicate they are absolutely certain that God exists. On each of these measures, African- Americans stand out as the most religiously committed racial or ethnic group in the nation."

I'm not arguing with you Kevin. I am just saying that Blacks are much more likely to be anti-homosexual than other groups because of "religious intensity." That's what the research confirms. I believe it is simply useful information in any effort to seek a solution.

The data I have commissioned indicates that nearly 40% of Democrats are anti-LGBT, while the number for Republicans approaches 60%. Not coincidentally, that is nearly identical to the "religious intensity" within those groups.

The information is helpful. Democrats are not 100% committed to our equality and it appears that those Democrats that make religion "important" are the one that DO NOT support us. I think they're primarily Baptists.

That is simply what the research says - not suggests, but actually says.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2010 3:03 PM

But how do those facts affect the votes of those that blacks choose to represent them in federal AND state legislatures?

That's all I'm asking you Andrew?

I'm not talking about the positions of blacks as a whole on gay issues (and even there, most of the studies indicate that it seems to be dependent on the specific issue).

Although, this IS interesting:

"The number of African-Americans in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military has dropped from 57 percent in 1994 to 48 percent in 2010. During the same period, White support increased from 51 percent to 63 percent."

Now does that suggest that blacks are actually becoming MORE religious and thereby more homophobic?

And why?

Or does that indicate something else?

We've had that discussion here on Blierico before.

Nobody said Blacks were becoming more homophobic, but as a percentage of the Democratic Party they are becoming the most homophobic. That's religion.

My comments are directed at the beliefs of individuals, not politics. Blacks are more likely to be homophobic because they are more religious. A few examples of gay-friendly politicians in heavily Democratic areas doesn't change that conclusion, in fact it confirms it.

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 9:45 AM

Andrew, I'm through with this because you are quite consistently ignoring the point that I made, maybe when Dan receives the info that he requested from NBJC, we can talk again.

Your primary thesis for Gawd knows how long is that politicians vote the way that they do because that's what their constituents belive.

I provided you with what I know to be a fact: the black politicians OVERWHELMINGLY vote for our equality IN SPITE of the feelings of their constituents.

That utterly refutes your thesis...

And it's not just "a few examples either." This can be empirically verified at both the state and federal level (i.e. look at the New York Senate votes on marriage equality, for example; Malcolm Smith and Ruth Hassell-Thompson explicitly said that they knew that their constituents didn't agree with their yes votes on marriage equality.)

Dan Davis actually did pose a number of substansive questions upthread which I am curious about myself.

I understand what your emphasis is; you want to look at the beliefs.

I AM looking at the politics in action.

I have nothing more to say at this time.

Don't be silly Kevin. A few random examples do not make a point. Whether or not an individual supports our equality is a result of their "religious intensity." Many Democrats (especially Black Democrats) do not support our equality. To dismiss that observation is juvenile.

You can look at the polling. I provided you a link.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2010 1:37 PM

Andrew, it's not a "few random examples.

It's all but one member of the entire CBC delegation in Congress.

All you have to do is check the record.

I'm not dismissing your observation.

YOU are dismissing my refutation of the thesis that you have pounded on here ad infinitum...that Congresspeople vote the way they do because of anti-gay people that they represent.

I just provided you with a sizable voting bloc in the Democratic caucus that defeats your thesis.

It's John Conyers.

It's Maxine Waters (though technically, I believe her district is majority Latino).

It's Barbara Lee.

just to get another voice in here looking at this discussion, i sent a note to katina parker, who is the senior communications strategist for the national black justice coalition, and i'm hoping that she'll offer some insight on these issues as well.

Oh, I see...

Your thesis all along, AndrewW, is that politicians vote down gay rights (and GLBT people) becuase of who the represent.

The record shows that black constituents vote for pro-gay candidates, in spite of the fact that said constituents are not pro-gay.

Stop looking at the NAACP and look at John Lewis.

Look at John Conyers.

Hell, look at the President of the Detroit City Council.

Look at the votes of members of the Congressional Black Caucus on gay issues.

Do your research, buddy; it ain't all that hard.

Because the salient facts would seem to defeat your thesis.

as i just mentioned to andrew, i just this minute sent a note over to katina parker, who is the senior communications strategist for the national black justice coalition, and i'm hoping that she'll offer some insight on these issues as well.

90% of the time US Senators vote with the majority of their constituents on "moral issues." In a few urban areas that are dramatically less religious, this still seems to be evident. While those urban areas may have an increase in Black-Democratic voters (very religious), there is also a greater percentage of non-religious voters. That doesn't happen in rural areas with a high percentage of White-Republicans because there is a much lower percentage of non-religious.

A color-blind observation of the data might be limited to the percentage of Religious Vs. Non-Religious in a given area or State. The more religious intensity there is, the worse we do. Period.

Chitown Kev | October 18, 2010 3:21 PM

Well, at least you're trying...

Still, if what you say is true and anti-gay votes were so important to the black community, then wouldn't Alan Keyes be running for reelection?

Would Mark Kirk even feel the need to talk that nonsende about majority black voters "jiggering the vote" for a marriage equality supporter like Alexi Giannoulias?

And wouldn't we be seeing a whole lot of black legislators getting primaried for their pro-gay votes?

Dan actually brought up a better set of questions upthread than you did.

Oh, and there is only one black US Senator. And he was a co-sponsor of the DADT repeal? And the (white) Dem nominee who will hopefully replace him has support in the black community.

Admittedy, not because of his positions but in spite of them.

My comments have been about Blacks attachment to religion and their beliefs about homosexuality.

Julian Bond said the same thing:

"Homophobia is rampant in Black America, and it is driven by preachers like [Eddie] Long, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the most virulently homophobic Black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement. Black Christians are more likely to describe homosexuality as morally wrong than white Christians, and homosexuality is a major topic among many Black pulpits."

The math is posted above.

The link to Bond's editorial:

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 3:31 PM


Let's look at the mayor's race in Houston, AndrewW, a city which is 25% black and 1/2(?) Latino.

Not only did Parker win but the anti-gay campaigning in the last few weeks of that Locke-Parker campaign didn't give Locke the black turnout that he would have needed to win...

"Parker won the runoff election with nearly 54 percent of the vote in a city that is 25 percent African American—against an African-American opponent, no less. Despite a series of mailings and smears targeted at Parker and engineered by conservatives, the 40 percent of black voters who were undecided in mid-October seem to have gravitated toward Parker and pushed her over the top. What’s more, late-stage polls suggest that 77 percent of voters “didn’t care about Parker’s sexuality.”

It seems as if Parker owes her victory, in part, to Houston's black voters.

Which still doesn't change what I have stated and what Julian Bond stated. It was a fun trip to Houston, but it still doesn't address the point.

If you want to explore how and when Black voters put Political-Party-before-religious-beliefs, I think that would be interesting. But, the fact remains Blacks are more religious than Whites and therefore more homophobic. Period.

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 4:08 PM

I've been addressing the point all along, you simply want to avoid it for some reason.

I understand that your emphasis is own changing bigoted beliefs and we do agree there.

However, you also say this:

"I'm not a believer that politics will save us, but that's where most of our money goes".

And you're very disdainful of politics, overall.

However, you are living in a fantasy world if you don't think that a good portion of the solution to "our equality" doesn't involve the political process (and I'm not saying that it's the sole component to the solution of our equality).

And the black community seems to offer a model of how to get people to vote for those that represent their best interests as opposed to their religious beliefs.

Even if it means that blacks will vote for someone who makes a "lifestyle choice" that they feel is religiously wrong.

Again, your sole focus is on religious beliefs.

My focus is on "winning."

You are addressing the point with anecdotal evidence, not facts.

My focus on "religious belief" is because that is the primary source of LGBT discrimination.

Of course I have "disdain" for politics - who doesn't? Just have a quick look at the last two years. What's been accomplished "politically?"

No, politics into our salvation, people's beliefs are. That's what needs to be changed and that's how we "win." Our equality is determined by how many people believe we are equal. If that is demonstrable "majority" it is game over - politics or not. Equality isn't measured in political victories, it is measured in the changing beliefs of our fellow citizens. I would suggest that is true for racism also. Laws didn't end racism and in 45 years since the Civil Rights Act the percentage of those considered racist has gone from two-thirds to one-third today.

I think your point is interesting, but supported by just anecdotal evidence it doesn't dismiss the polling data I presented. It does though raise an interesting question that I believe should be answered somehow: Do Black religious Democrats put Political Party before bigoted religious beliefs?

I haven't seen any studies relating to that question and it might invite another look at the Prop 8 polling data.

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 5:20 PM

Well, we do disagree a bit (not entirely) on whether it's the religious beliefs that are the issue; personally I think religious beliefs is the veil under which bigotry hides.

You can always reference the HRC scorecards (for what that's worth). They are not very up-to-date but there are an awful lot of black politicians on there with 100's (e.g. Chaka Fattah, Keith Ellison, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jesse Jackson Jr, Danny Davis...and there are more...)

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 5:36 PM

"Do Black religious Democrats put Political Party before bigoted religious beliefs?"

I think in part they do, but blacks really do look at things other than what supports their "bigoted religious beliefs."

Take Alabama, for instance.

Artur Davis only had an HRC score of 45, so obviously as far as the relationship between religious beliefs and voting for GLBT equality he was pretty much in line (do remember that this isn't simply the blac community, we're also talking about the South).

Yet he took the black community for granted and lost (for the record, it was probably his "no" vote on Health Insurance Reform that did him in).

And Davis lost to a white guy.

Take Houston for instance.

Remember that in the leadup to that mayoral election the campaign got very homophobic, in part, as an attempt to increase black (homophobic) turnout.

Not only did that fail. It seems to have backfired.

My suspicion here (and Monica Roberts is a Houstonian, so she may have more insight into this than I) is that generally (based on my observations) black voters are fair when it comes to voting for political candidates.

There may have been a perception that the attacks on Parker were unfair and that swung undecided black voters to Parker...that's just my guess.

I simply think that the black vote is more multifaceted than people give it credit for.

"personally I think religious beliefs is the veil under which bigotry hides."

Actually religion teaches those bigoted beliefs. The beliefs don't go looking for a "veil." Young children are taught that at a very impressionable age and like the article stated black women are very religious and that is perhaps part of the early age "enforcement" of those beliefs.

It would be interesting to see if there is a difference among races and whether or not they will compromise their moral beliefs for political reasons. I haven't seen much compromise from the "literalists" (like Baptists) in any race. Not yet, at least. By comparison Catholics are 50/50.

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 7:02 PM

Nah, religions teach those beliefs for a reason...

but I don't want to discuss that, as that would involve too much history, anthropology, psychology, etc.

As far as the other question...well, that doesn't seem like the right question to ask for some reason...

"Nah, religions teach those beliefs for a reason..."

Yes, for Christian "literalists" it is because "God" told them to or else eternal punishment.

The truth is if we had never invented religion we wouldn't be having this conversation. Religion made homosexuality "wrong." Our job is to un-wrong it.

Right now it seems the cultural conversation is making more progress than we are. That's because we haven't learned how to have that conversation or we avoid it. Wait, did you just "avoid" it?

Chitown Kev | October 19, 2010 8:08 PM

But if women (of any race) are more likely to be churchgoers, then why does nearly every poll (if not all of them) suggest that men are more homophobic as a whole?

Anyway, there's lots of theories out there about the origins of homophobia (religious and otherwise), you can find them on your own.

I don't believe in one size fits all answers, by the way AndrewW

As far as what I would tell a frustrated gay voter, vote for pro-equality candidates your conscience really.

You can avoid or apologize all you want, but religion is the only institution that teaches homosexuality is wrong. That isn't a "one size fits all" or a "theory" it is just the truth.

There is plenty of polling data that simply concludes the more religious someone is the more likely they are to be homophobic. The same is true for denominations, Baptists are more homophobic than Catholics because they're more more serious about their faith than Catholics.

It's not complicated.

Andrew have I told you lately how cute you are? When you get all worked up against God and religion I get very excited.

actually, it seems to me that it's a lot more complicated than that.

it is not enough to have 78% of the american people supporting "open service" if you have an absolutely intransigent jim demint standing in the way.

i've interpreted your thinking to suggest that to get around that 60 senator roadblock you need to change the minds of voters in key states, who will then impose their will on those key legislators, leading to the outcome we're looking for...and all of that is retail politics, carrot and stick style, just as we discussed above.

the plain fact is that religion and fear and politics and reason all collide in this space--and i would suggest that if you want to change the minds of those who are "irrationally religious" on this issue, in a targeted way, you're gonna need to apply political tools and tactics to get that done.

Are you suggesting that "conversation" is a political tool?

There is no "carrot and stick" to understanding. We can't threaten or reward people for supporting us, we can simply thank them. Two-thirds of our fellow citizens would support us if we'd simply get off our ass and ASK. If you bring either a carrot or a stick to that conversation you defeat its purpose. They aren't necessary - being authentic is.

the carrot and stick part comes in when targeted senators either begin following the will of their voters, because they like reelection (carrot), or they don't, at the threat of losing their jobs (stick).

now if you're going to influence large population groups to adopt a philosophical position that's different than the one they get at church, that in itself is a process that's amenable to political tools; data collection and analysis ("how are we doing?") would be just one example.

media messaging strategies and trying to figure out how to allocate resources to get the most bang for your buck are additional examples of how the political "skill set" can be put to use in this "conversational" process.

"it is not enough to have 78% of the american people supporting "open service" if you have an absolutely intransigent jim demint standing in the way."

Time to retarget. DADT was signed by a Democrat and its they who are blocking it's repeal with a little help from their Republican cousins.

Congressional Democrats refused to repeal DADT (the compromise keeps control of military bigotry in the hands of military bigots)and Obama defends it in court, usually using the rancid language of christer bigots.

Our movement long ago won over the majority of the people on DADT and ENDA and its neck and neck on DOMA repeal and same sex marriage. The people are not in the way, political bigots and panderers are. The only historically effective way of having a 'conversation' with bigots in the two parties is in the streets with an ongoing campaign of mass actions and targeted direct actions like those of GetEqual.

You mention Jim DeMint and then you suggest 78% support for the repeal of DADT. Not in South Carolina - 78% of that State makes religion "important."

Your childish references to "national polls" makes you just like the kids at GetEQUAL. I suppose you believe, like they do, if we complain enough magic will happen. And you think religion is crazy?

i think you misinterpret where i'm going here.

i understood you to say that there are certain states where the senators we need are acting in a way that's driven by their voters, and that christian voters, of both parties, stand in the way.

i understood that you are looking to an approach that changes the minds of voters in targeted states to make that happen.

that suggests the same thing i'm saying: that having a large majority among the larger public means very little when you have states who back a senator who chooses to be intransigent.

we will, as you note, have to apply pressure, presumably emanating from voters, to get a 60th vote out of the senate for dadt and repealing doma...but we'll also have to apply enough pressure to keep the demints of the senate from using personal privilege to block this stuff forever...and my point here is that in the absence of a democratic leadership to lead the way, we need to create more than a majority, almost everywhere, to make federal changes, at least in the short term.

i would suggest to you that mass actions in the streets are one tool in a process of changing minds, but i would also suggest that if you're really looking to move minds you want to apply that tool in concert with several others, all at the same time.

look at the opposition to health care reform: at the beginning of the process, voters were far and away in favor of radical reform, but mass street actions ("town hall meetings") combined with bribery ("lobbying") and mass communications efforts (issue ads...and thanks for that, chamber of commerce) led to this administration and much of congress not feeling the pressure that was there in january of '09, and they caved.

on the other side, the vigorous application of mass street actions has not really done much to slow down the wto or the g-20, suggesting we need more than just mass street actions, even as we acknowledge how effective those actions can be.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 20, 2010 5:15 AM

There was no health care reform. It didn't happen. The Town Halls were the focus of attacks by rightist Republicans against rightist Democrats. The AFL-CIO entered the fray and scared the hell out of the Teabaggers.

The actions against the WTO/G20 have mostly be led by ultralefts in this country. In Europe they have wide trade union backing and leadership and as events in Greece and France prove (France is headed towards a repeat of Mai 1968) they're a good deal more powerful.
By street actions I mean mass actions with wide support that are not organized in a way that gives the cops an opening to attack. Publicity campaigns can be helpful especially in building wide unity and mass actions.

I can't see any positive effects of lobbying. It seems to benefit movement hustlers like HRC and etc but I know of no accomplishments that can be traced to it separate from the fights the movements for change produce.


I think the carrot-and-stick in politics is limited to the voting booth. While "mass demonstrations" may sound appealing or possibly effective, they aren't going to happen. The biggest crowd in D.C. is likely to be for two cable-tv comedians at the end of this month.

Polling data indicates the religious grip on "beliefs" (including the traditional Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong) is weakening. Of all those that define themselves as "religious" only about one-third are "literalists" and I would suggest their beliefs are virtually unchangeable. I'm not suggesting we try to change those minds, but rather we marginalize them by enrolling the other two-thirds. Most of them will put equality before religion.

The other dynamic is age - we are much more likely to get support from those under the age of 40 because they are less religious.

Our challenge is to demonstrate those numbers, not create them. In certain targeted States we could have campaigns and frequent polling to measure results.

I think the time for confrontation and fighting is past - we have succeeded in changing minds but we have failed in being able to prove that in individual States. When we do, we can use those carrots and sticks.