4 good reasons to vote for Democrats

Dire warnings won’t mobilize LGBT voters, but signs of progress made, and progress yet to be made, should provide good reasons to bring the community out to the polls

Since the 1980 election, Democrats’ favorite voter mobilization tool when faced with a bad election year is to issue dire warnings of what might happen if “they” take over. Instead of repeating apocalyptic prophecies, I thought I would point out a few reasons why the

LGBT community here in Dallas should be enthusiastic about our Democratic ticket and go to polls this year with gusto!

It is certainly no secret that many in the gay community are disappointed by the frustratingly slow progress repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) or the Defense of Marriage Act. It is not unreasonable to believe that substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of congress should have resulted in immediate progress.

However, considering the year-long titanic struggle to pass a modest health care reform bill, passing legislation has proven to be enormously difficult.

Shortly after President Obama put repeal of DADT at the top of the nation’s agenda in his State of the Union Address last January, the House passed the Murphy amendment in May. The good news is that the Senate will be passing its own version in the next few months.

Our Democratic Congress is poised to finally eliminate the most insulting anti-gay policy on the books 58 years after it was first instituted. And for that, we can put aside any lingering cynicism and impatience and go to the polls knowing that the LGBT community’s support for the Democratic Party has been well worth the investment.

This year we can have our greatest impact on the future direction of Texas and Dallas County. I’ve identified just a few things the LGBT community has at stake and why it is more important than ever that we get out and vote.

1. We have the opportunity this year to elect and re-elect two capable, openly gay candidates. Electing supporters is great, but nothing beats electing your own.

As your Dallas County district clerk, my exemplary stewardship of the office is well known and a matter of public record. I have saved taxpayers millions in cost-saving initiatives, come under-budget every year since I took office, and initiated innovative new projects to bring Dallas County into the 21st century.

Of the 67 elected judges in Dallas County, not one is openly gay, in spite of the many LGBT members of the bar. This year we have the opportunity to change that by electing Tonya Parker to the 116th Civil District Court. Parker is a young, successful and energetic attorney who is already a rising star.

Parker has the kind of talent that leads to the federal bench, but she cannot get there without the enthusiastic support of this community both financially and on Election Day.

2. By electing Elba Garcia, we have the best chance in 16 years to unseat a county commissioner who has proven time and again that he is no friend to our community.

For those of us who live in North Oak Cliff, Dr. Garcia is a household name. We are proud of her outstanding leadership on the Dallas City Council, and I can think of no other candidate better suited for the Commissioners Court.

Of all the races on our ballot, this is the one where LGBT voters can have the greatest impact.

3. It is critically important for this community to stand up for its allies and friends. Judge Tena Callahan’s courageous ruling in a gay divorce case last October proves that judicial philosophy matters. Her integrity and courage is just the kind of thing we need to keep on the bench. Supporting Judge Callahan not only shows our gratitude, but also gives us the chance to stand with the litigants and their attorneys who rejected the prophets of pusilanimity and asserted their rights under the law regardless of the outcome.

4. The experience of the LGBT community since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s has proven to us that government plays a vital role in ensuring the health and safety of citizens. Reps. Allen Vaught, Carol Kent and Robert Miklos are legislators the LGBT community can be proud of.

In District 105 in Irving, we have the opportunity to elect Loretta Haldenwang and replace an incumbent whose ethics are ill-suited for public office.

The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, under the outstanding leadership of Erin Moore, have an aggressive plan to get-out-the-vote and communicate this message to voters. They need your financial support and your time now.

We Democrats have much to be proud of over the last two years. We have passed legislation that offers a real alternative to Republican politics of anger and ignorance. We have only just begun to set a new course for our future.

We here in Dallas live big and dream even bigger. Dallas never apologizes for success; we never hide it. LGBT voters are an important part of the Democratic Party’s success and we have good reason to be enthusiastic about our ticket.

Gary Fitzsimmons is openly gay and the district clerk for Dallas County. He is also a co-founder of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

RCD's Mike McKay on the State of the Union: 'It's time to move beyond speeches'

The following statement was just sent over by Rafael McDonnell at Resource Center Dallas on behalf of Executive Director Mike McKay:

“President Obama’s pledge to work with the legislative branch to end the misguided ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is worthy of praise. It’s important to note, though, that GLBT Americans have heard these words before. As a candidate, President Obama said them on the stump; and just last fall, he said them at the HRC dinner in Washington. Talking is for campaigns; action is for leaders.

“The time is long overdue to move beyond speeches and put the ‘fierce advocacy’ we were promised before the 2008 elections into action. A line has been drawn in the sand: the GLBT community must hold both the President and Congress accountable for getting rid of this archaic, discriminatory policy. Audacious action and leadership are needed. We will help with the roadmap to get us to that goal.

“Regrettably, the President chose not to speak on two other issues of importance to our community: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Defense of Marriage Act. Every day, GLBT Americans here in North Texas and across the country lose their jobs for simply being who they are. Every day, GLBT Americans are denied hundreds of federal benefits bestowed on married couples. The United States of America, where we pledge allegiance to a flag that promises ‘liberty and justice for all,’ needs action and leadership on these issues – sooner rather than later.”

—  John Wright

Would he or wouldn't he? He did – and he didn't

Would President Barack Obama address the issue of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when he delivered his first state of the union address tonight? And if he did, how far would he go?

Those were the questions national LGBT activists were asking in the days leading up to the president’s speech tonight. The answers? Yes — and no.

The man who during his campaign described himself as a “fierce advocate” of the LGBT community tonight once again called on Congress to repeal DADT. But he didn’t say anything about suspending discharges under the policy until it can be repealed. And he didn’t set any deadline for addressing the issue.

“This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do,” the president said.

His statement drew a standing ovation from Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But many LGBT activists were not impressed.

Richard Socarides, an advisor to former President Bill Clinton – the man who signed DADT into law – told The Washington Post that just talking about ending the ban “without a moratorium on the witch hunts and expulsions and without even a plan for future action just won’t cut it. Look, we are not second-class citizens and our rights are not second-term problems.”

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said: “The time for broad statements is over. The time to get down to business is overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps tonight.”

So, tell us what you think. Was it enough? Or should he have gone further? Is this the issue to push the president on now? What do you think?

—  admin

Suspense builds over State of the Union

The gay suspense continues to build over tonight’s State of the Union Address, which begins at 8 p.m. Dallas time. The question is, will President Barack Obama say anything about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and if so, what will he say? As Adam Bink notes at Open Left, if Obama merely states that he wants to repeal the 17-year-old ban on openly gay servicemembers, it would be nothing new and should be viewed as a huge disappointment. Instead, Obama needs to say when and how he plans to repeal DADT, and then actually do it. Chris Johnson of DCAgenda, formerly the Washington Blade, offers a nice primer. And then there’s this. Anyone hosting a gay watch party?

—  John Wright

If you want Obama to talk about DADT tomorrow night, leave him a message

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, indicated yesterday that he expected President Barack Obama to talk about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” during his State of the Union Address tomorrow night. But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reportedly sidestepped questions about the matter today, saying only that the ban on openly gay servicemembers is under consideration for inclusion in Obama’s speech.

In any case, local gay veteran Dave Gainer says he’s tired of all the delays on DADT, and he’s urging people to call the White House switchboard to make their voices heard. Gainer, a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network whom I profiled last month, sent over this link.

—  John Wright