Thursday, August 31, 2006

The "Gay Marriage" Dilemma for Progressives

Like many people, I am struggling with the issue of "gay marriage" and whether to support or vote for Democratic candidates who either oppose gay marriage or support amending the U.S. or TN Constitution to prohibit gays and lesbians from being able to marry. First, I don't think marriage should be the focus of the gay rights movement at this time, when we still do not have basic rights like protection from job discrimination when the majority of the public support that issue and a majority OPPOSE "gay marriage." Forces within and outside the gay community have forced the issue into our political and public discourse.

We are forced to choose between (a) supporting Democrats regardless of their position on marriage rights to end the Republican control of all branches of government or (b) not voting for Democrats or supporting third party candidates who DO support full equal rights for gays and lesbians but who cannot win and thus taking votes away from the Democrats. In this case, we are accused of helping to elect Republicans and we are always forced to answer the question "Would you prefer that the Republican or the Democrat wins?"

The argument that we must vote for the Democratic candidates regardless of the position on gay marriage to stop the Republicans has some persuasive power, until you consider the following questions.

How can a gay person, or any progressive who believes in equal civil rights for all people, support a "Democrat" who campaigns AGAINST the rights of gays and lesbians to have the same civil rights as straight people?

The CONSERVATIVE argument is that in "Red" states like Tennessee Democrats have to be against gay rights in order to win. If we vote for these conservative Democrats, aren't we rewarding these conservatives for OPPOSING our civil rights and aren't we confirming their position that that is the only way for Democrats to win?

By voting for anti-gay conservative Democrats, aren't we helping to push the Democratic Party further to the right? How will our continued support (vote) for these conservative Democrats make the Demcratic Party more progressive???

Aren't Democrats in Tennessee and other conservative states taking the votes of gays (and progressive Democrats) for granted, and as long as they do not feel threatened by the loss of those progressive votes won't they continue to move to the Right?

I do not think a single issue like "gay marriage" (politicallly a very difficult issue in the South) should determine whether we support a candidate, but we have some very different situations:

Steve Cohen was one of only a few Tennesse legislatures to vote AGAINT the TN anti-gay marriage amendment. This does not mean he SUPPORTS gay marriage. I have not heard or read where he has said he supports gay marriage. He may be forced to say he supports "civil unions" instead, but he can oppose the amendment as unnecessary and unjust. This was the same position John Kerry and other Democrats took on the national level. It seems like the best way to "diffuse" the issue, although the anti-gay Republican Right would still accuse them of supporting gay marriage, but I think the majority of voters would not mind a candidate who supports something like "civil unions." It's not full equality, but it gets pretty close. It's moving in the right direction. (Personally I would prefer "civil unions" for gays and straights, with the same civil rights, and drop the issue of "marriage" altogether.

Then there is Harold Ford Jr. HFJr went futher than just opposing "gay marriage," he voted for, supports, and is campaigning on his support for the Republican anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. He voted for the FMA in 2004, while the Democratic Party and it's Presidential candidate John Kerry were opposing the Republican amendment, correctly, as an attempt to write prejudice and discrimination into the Constitution. HFJr didn't mind, as long as it would help him win his race for the U.S. Senate. He continues to emphasize his opposition to gay marriage, as well as the leadership of the Democratic Party, on social issues like gay marriage.

Now I can support a candidate like Cohen who may not publicly support "gay marriage" but who does not campain AGAINST it or support constitutional amendments.

There is no way really to rationalize Harold Ford Jr's campaign against gay marriage other than a blatant use of homophobia and preducice against gays to win a political race. That I cannot support. That is why I will NOT vote for Harold Ford Jr.
Does that mean I "prefer" the Republican candidate win? No, it means that I prefer to support a candidate who is not running against progressive democratic values and who supports equality for all americans. That candidate may not be Democrat. Who is to blame if the Republican wins because many progressives did not vote for the Democratic candiate? I blame the Democrat who did not stand up for progressive values. Blame HIM, not those of use who used our vote to support a candidate who did not run a campaign bashing gays and lesbians (or Nancy Pelosi and "liberal" Democrats).

I was starting to shift my position to support HFJr to help the Democrats take control of the Senate, but after hearing more and more of his anti-gay, anti-Nancy Pelosi, anti-Democratic Party campaign speeches, his blatant attempt to pander to conservative bigots across the state, there is NO WAY I will vote for that S.O.B. He can go to hell!

Yes I will be voting for Green Party candidate Chris Lugo, a REAL progressive who supports my rights. He will not win.
Don't lay a guilt trip on me for helping Corker to win. My vote is not going to make the differnce between Ford or Corker, and if it does, blame Harold Ford Jr., not me. He could have had my vote easily. He blew it.

Stop Harold Ford Jr.

P.S. I am sick of the B.S. on DailyKos that we ahve to support Democrats regardless of their political positions: liberal, conservative, it doesn't matter, all that matters is that Democrats "win." This argument makes me sick. Throw progressive values out the door. Gay rights, women's rights, workers rights, etc... fuck them all. All that matters is that the Democratic party "wins." I don't consider having a spineless Republican ass-licker like Harold Ford Jr. representing us in Congress to be "winning." What do I win by having him in the Senate? Another anti-gay theocratic demagogue, who happens to have a "D" instead of an "R" after his name. If Harold Ford Jr. doesn't seem to care about supporting the Democratic Party, why do the dailykos ditto heads bash progressive like ME for not supporting the Democratic Party??? What fucking hypocrisy. The DailyKos and the support Democrats regardless of political ideology crowd can all go to hell. I want the Democratic Party to stand for something (more than political expediancy), and grow into an opposition party against corporate power and the coprorate rich and their takeover of the media and the government. I WANT to support the Democratic Party...and I will support progressive Democrats, I willl NOT support anti-gay, homophobic, racist, pro-corporate, militaristic Democrats. I don't think electing pro-corporate, anti-gay, theocratic Democrats is "winning," it is LOSING!


Evil said...

Do you really want to have this argument again?

I'm kidding.

Anonymous said...

Don't be petulant. Every additional Democrat elected to the Senate brings us closer to control of that body, which is the only way we will ever get pro gay legislation passed in this country. Harold Ford Jr. is not a liberal Democrat, and if he were rather than his race being neck and neck he would be 15 points behind in the polls, with no shot in hell of winning. Politics is not perfect, and it often requires compromises we may not be comfortable with and a clear eyed look at reality. The bottom line is Ford is not with us on marriage equality, but does support the adding sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws and to the Employment Non Discrimination Act. There is no value in running a campaign and being ideologically pure on the issues when such positions assure your defeat.