I find it interesting that some of the reaction to my coverage of Ken Mehlman coming out generates a lot of assumptions. My stating the obvious – having more out LGBTs in both parties working for equality is better than having all your eggs in one political basket – is not the same as endorsing the entire GOP agenda.
We’re simply entering an age where decision making is more complex and nuanced. You can work together on overlapping issues of equality, and strongly disagree on policy matters that do not intersect. Regarding LGBT rights, we’ve had it easy – one party hates us, the other takes us for granted. Once that simple framework starts to fracture, people have to realign their thinking. Some only see good vs. evil, some are pragmatists, others are idealistic candidates for doormats. It’s part of the process.
Ken Mehlman’s past has made it difficult and polarizing to see the long view — we’re a community that now has a much more visible political spectrum. And that can be disconcerting.
Dan Savage has an interesting take on things that should spur quite a few comments, as he says he cannot vote Republican because he cares about many other issues that don’t mesh with a conservative agenda. But the Dems have really f*cked up.
Here’s what happens to the gays and our issues when Republicans win the White House or control Congress: not a whole hell of a lot. There’s no progress on our issues under Republicans-all forward momentum ceases-but things don’t get appreciably worse.* We have to endure small outrages and insults, put up with slights, and be vigilant about legislative malice, but we don’t see a big rollback of previously secured rights. The Bush administration got everything it wanted out of Congress but it didn’t get the FMA or a ban on same-sex couples adopting. Eight years of Bush meant no progress at the federal level on our issues-lots of bullshit at the state level in the form of anti-gay marriage amendments (most of them orchestrated by some straight guy named Ken Mehlman)-but no ground lost.
When we open our wallets for Democrats-and vote for them-the hope is that electing a Democratic president and Congress will result in significant progress on our issues. That’s not just our delusional hope; that was an explicit promise made to us by Democrats. Once the Democrats were in power, everyone from Obama on down promised us, we would see real and significant progress on our issues: an end to DADT and DOMA, action on ENDA, a president willing to use the bully pulpit to aggressively defend our rights. But if, as we’ve seen, working to elect a Democratic president and give Democrats control of Congress results in no progress on our issues-no action on DADT, ENDA, or DOMA-then why the fuck should we bother?
If we get no progress under Democrats (just empty promises meant to excite their base), but no regress under Republicans (just empty threats meant to excite their base), why should we waste our time-and our money-worrying about who’s in charge?
Still, I don’t think Ken Mehlman going public with his cocksucking and his regrets and the Democrats refusal to make good on a single significant campaign promise made to the gay community during the elections of 2006 and 2008 will result in gays and lesbians abandoning the Democratic party in favor of the GOP. Being reminded that DOMA and DADT were signed by a Democratic president-thanks again, Bill-didn’t move us into McCain’s camp in 2008. We know who our friends are-our pathetic, ineffectual, useless friends-and we know who our enemies are.
…* I’m setting Reagan and AIDS aside, and that’s one great, big, enormous, huge set-aside, I realize. But that was a pretty exceptional circumstance (that’s why we called it the “AIDS crisis”). The Reagan administration failed to act and allowed gay people to die-with an invaluable assist from a gay sex culture bent on suicide and self-destruction-but Reagan “revolutionaries” didn’t undo what few rights we enjoyed when they were swept into office.
Your anger about Mehlman is eventually going to subside, or at least move to the back burner because we will have many more political fish to fry down the road, so what do frustrated LGBT progressives and moderates do in relation to the Democratic and Republican parties?
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