Monday, June 04, 2007

Dems Show Little Guts on Gay Rights

For whatever motivation, the Human Rights Campaign did manage to release its gay-related Where the Democratic Candidates Stand survey for maximum press interest, immediately before the New Hampshire debate. HRC's conclusion is that the announced Dems are almost unanimous ('ceptin' for same-sex marriage, of course) behind its goals.

Gaynewswatch has a recap, with links to the candidates' responses (and non-responses).

Cynics may say that the questions were heavy handed and lent themselves to this conclusion. Also, columnist Andrew Sullivan thinks that HRC may have rigged the questionnaire for Hillary. It broke down the DOMA her husband rammed through and she supported into discrete components. She almost certainly would have opposed its repeal, but could cherry pick aspects like fair tax treatment to claim she's one fair politician.

My take is that we can expect a lot of states-rights talk in this campaign. The historical and political humor cannot be stressed too much. While the issues around federalism and states rights were crucial in defining and framing our government, the latter was often usurped by the worst of us in this nation. Slave owners, segregationists and others claimed such rights when it helped them keep others under their control and maintain their power, influence and wealth.

In the HRC responses, the seven candidates invoked states rights repeatedly. I can only assume they think they are more electable if they don't say they intend to have states be fair or come under federal strictures. Perhaps that's savvy politics with so many states having passed anti-marriage-equality legislation or amendments or both in the past five years.

On the other hand, it speaks poorly of the seven. Only the perceived crazy guy, Dennis Kucinich, had the morality and guts to say he was for same-sex marriage.

Otherwise, this questionnaire was like a needlepoint sampler. There were 15 rows of questions with seven columns of plus or minus signs. There were 99 pluses and six minuses. The "Supports allowing civil marriage rights for same-sex couples" had one brazen plus and six tuck the bill under the wing minuses.

Both-Ways Obama. Sen. Barack Obama, as is his wont, tried it two ways. Civil unions should have "the same legal rights that accompany a marriage license. I support the notion that all people -- gay or straight -- deserve the same rights and responsibilities to assist their loved ones in times of emergency, deserve equal health insurance and other employment benefits currently extended to traditional married couples, and deserve the same property rights as anyone else." In the next lawyerly breath, he added, "However, I do not support gay marriage. Marriage has religious and social connotations, and I consider marriage to be between a man and a woman."

Yes-But Edwards. John Edwards was even spongier. He wrote, "I support civil unions to guarantee gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples...Gay marriage is an issue I feel internal conflict about and I continue to struggle with it." Amusingly enough with that milquetoast view he concluded "the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships." That seems like he is saying he isn't that president-to-be.

Uber-Attorney Richardson. Gov. Bill Richardson chose to B.S. his way and not answer these plain questions. In what clearly was a hack aide's wording he noted that he supported the failed domestic partnerships act in his New Mexico. In response to the angle about whether the feds should recognize SSM and civil unions from states that have them, he kind of said yes -- "...states have generally recognized other states' family laws and the federal government should do so as well." No promises implied, mind you.

Out-There Dennis. Kucinich was the only one with, as they say in Southie, 'nads. In their entirety, his answers to these were, "I believe that equality of opportunity should be afforded to all Americans regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. For that reason, I support the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons to have the full protections and rights afforded under civil law including the right to marry the person of their choice." "The decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court to recognize and uphold this civil right is a victory not just for gay and lesbian citizens who have been denied their civil rights and relegated to second-class status. It is a victory for all Americans who believe, as I do, that the promise of the U.S. Constitution and the bill of Rights should be upheld for everyone."

DINO Dodd. Sen. Chris Dodd lumped his answers together in a flag-waving mumble fest. "Above all, I believe in fairness as a fundamental American value. While I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, I believe with all of my heart that same-sex couples must be afforded all the rights and obligations of heterosexual couples...that's is why I strongly support civil unions..."

Meaning-of-Is Hillary. Sen. Hillary Clinton obfuscated with the best of them. She did states rights with, "The question of marriage is one that has been left to the states." She bragged about her opposition to the recent Family Marriage Amendment, while neglecting to mention her strong support of the Defense of Marriage Act. She favors separate but equal here too, writing, "I believe gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans and that civil unions are the best way to achieve this goal." When she got around to mentioning DOMA it was to say that it was time to let the feds stop holding benefits from gay couples who have married or gotten civil unions. Uh huh.

Blind-Eye Biden. Sen. Joe Biden didn't even have a veneer of ownership of his clearly staff-written statement. "Senator Biden supports letting state determined how to recognize civil unions and how to define marriage. He believes that legal recognition should not be denied to same-sex couples." His minion didn't seem to get the federal recognition of SSM/unions, writing that "Senator Biden believes that we need to re-examine federal laws, including the federal tax code, to ensure that our national laws do not impose unfair burdens or obstacles to the provision of employee and other benefits."

This is no league of superheroes. Only Kucinich showed vision and courage and well, American ideals.

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1 comment:

Ryan Adams said...

I don't get how so many people, for so long, have been saying our candidates are leaps and bounds better than the Republicans. The only reason they're favored to win this thing is because they have a D attached to their name. If Bush didn't ruin the reputation of his party with Iraq and other forms of idiocy, no one would be excited about any of our candidates.

Why don't we have one non-nut who supports full equality? Who supports getting out of Iraq? Who supports fiscal sanity? Who supports Universal Coverage? Who supports real reform in the environment? Is it really that hard to get one decent candidate in this country?

The good news is we have a few good ones brewing, between our governor and New York's. Let's hope for more people like them because they're truly the progressives that could both help our country and actually win because they stand strong and don't back don't.

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