Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do I Hold My Nose and Vote for the "O?"

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

There's every reason not to vote for McCain. He's against gay marriage, for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, and lately announced his opposition to adoption by lesbian and gay couples, though in an amended statement, he added that as president he wouldn't actually legislate against it. That was up to the States.

The poor Log Cabin Republicans who took such a beating with Bush, have only been able to boost McCain by saying he did vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment a couple of years ago, and frankly, gay issues aren't really that important anyway. "Like all Americans, gays and lesbians have wide-ranging concerns -- from foreign policy to the environment to soaring gas prices to the size of the federal government and more."

Unfortunately for them, McCain doesn't shine there either. He'd let that genius Phil Gramm monitor the "mental recession" as Treasury Secretary, allow Afghanistan and Iraq degenerate to bitter ends, and in general continue to pursue disastrous Bush policies everywhere else from social security to the Supreme Court. And he's anti-abortion.

It's also a bad sign that he hasn't bothered to learn to use the internet. It's not a sign of old age, senior citizens surf with best, but of general stupidity. He obviously doesn't think the internet's relevant. Like keeping up with the casualties in Kabul. Or acting on the mortgage crisis.

No, McCain's certainly not gonna win my vote. But Obama might not either.

Like McCain, Obama's against gay marriage, though he sometimes talks about gay rights, or used to, before he adopted the campaign strategy of "faith guru" Mara Vanderslice. She believes Democrats should never mention the separation of church and state, and should generally avoid mentioning the word "gay," much less be seen with any of us.

Obama has snubbed LGBT events, largely ignores our press, and instead, campaigns with many of the same right-wing, homophobic, evangelical preachers that promoted Bush. Chief among them is Kirbyjon Caldwell, former bond-trader, and currently prosperity gospel pastor who was hand in glove with W., giving the benedictions at his inaugural ceremonies, and reaping the reward of faith-based dollars.

Now, Caldwell's on the phone almost every day with Obama, and it's no secret who's going to benefit when Obama comes through with his own faith-based funds, now a "critical part" of his administration because "...social services to the poor and the needy have been consistently under-funded."

I remember when queers would have dumped any Democrat or Republican candidate giving dollars to churches and campaigning with bigots like ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin or Caldwell, whose own church hosted a ministry that reportedly was "created to provide Christ centered instruction for those seeking freedom from homosexuality."

It's also worth mentioning that Obama's imminent nomination is marked by the first Democratic National Convention ever to open with a religious service.

To elect Obama, it seems, is to elect the Bush of the left, pandering to the same right-wing evangelicals, and paying them off in with the same cash. Don't get me started on his vote on unleashing wire-tappers, again, right in line with Bush.

Let me be clear. I'm not a single issue voter. I don't need pompoms and cheerleaders for gay marriage when there's a war on, and the economy's on the road to hell and I can't afford allergy medicine, much less a mammogram. Obama is better than McCain on issues like health care and Iraq. But I cannot go to the polls in November and vote for a man sending the message that gay people are an embarrassment, worthy only of the back of the bus.

And I cannot vote for a man committed to policies that either protect the status quo, or in some cases make gay lives worse. Already under Bush, faith-based programs have siphoned money away from LGBT programs focused on everything from AIDS to job-training. LGBT employees have been thrown out of their jobs with Christian charities without recourse. Forty percent of homeless youth are queer. Many are thrown out because of it. And at faith-based shelters, they're hassled, abused, and ridiculed. Nascent self-loathing is confirmed. The 1964 Civil Rights Act Obama says will prevent discrimination simply doesn't include us, and won't for the foreseeable future.

If Obama wants my vote, he'll have to earn it. He could start with very public meetings with lesbian, gay and transgender leaders and speeches focusing on LGBT issues from gay marriage to gay-bashing in schools.

The rest of it's up to you activists. Frankly, I need assurances from Obama gay fan club members that if I vote for him I won't be the only one holding him accountable for broken promises. He's already backtracked on campaign finance and the electronic surveillance bill among other things, and he hasn't even been elected yet.

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