Monday, July 04, 2011

Holding Democrats Accountable in 2012

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

My god, there actually is one Democrat committed and competent enough to keep a promise to queers. I'd think our victory in Albany was a dream, except that straight and gay people alike continue to ask me if I'm getting married. I'm noncommittal. Some of the financial and legal benefits would be nice, but there's the fact that marriage itself remains kind of repulsive.

Especially for dykes. We're still saddled with the word "wife," with all its disgusting history of women being largely equivalent to cows bought and traded from one family to another, with an obligation to breed, be submissive, and lactate on demand. Just like queers in the Democratic party.

Still, I welcome every new right. Getting same-sex marriage passed in New York is a big step forward at a moment when we're still faced with Obama waffling at LGBT fundraisers, and garden variety hate on the street.

Two days after the 19th annual New York Dyke March, which was finally covered by network TV news in another notable victory, and one day after a gazillion queers filled the streets for LGBT Pride, I was walking around the East Village and heard one teenage boy tell another, "I don't want to seem like a faggot, but..." A couple of blocks later, there was a table of sneering heterosexuals talking about a longhaired "thing" that you just knew had a dick.

I wasn't particularly surprised, except that both conversations happened within a couple of minutes of each other. Homo- and transphobia aren't going to disappear just because we can trek to the altar. Even hets avoid the outdated institution. At least until they see how much it costs to get things squared away at the lawyer's.

Nevertheless, the relics on the national scene don't realize how much the New York victory has shifted our perception. A couple of weeks ago, I could have heard that monstrosity of a New Jersey governor Chris Christie dissing gay marriage and thought, "What an asshole." Now, I think, "What a fossil. With a tin ear like that, he'll never be president." There's no way Log Cabin Republicans will settle for vague assurances anymore. Not when GOP votes turned the tide our way in Albany.

Obama should be warned, too, sucking up LGBT dollars as he hems and haws about his evolving view of same-sex marriage. He's going to have to do better than that if he wants gay votes in 2012. Letting us into the sinking military isn't enough as long as the Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books. There are an awful lot of queer voters, and we don't just have the dream of equality, we've had an actual taste of it, and we want more than promises.

Worse, for the Democrats, Andrew Cuomo has shown us what real friends look like. And it's time for queer activists (and editors), to stay mum in the next election, rather than cast their weight behind ineffectual half-hearted "allies" that take our money and our votes and despise us. If we don't have higher standards, we'll get what we deserve, which is nothing.

As for me, there won't be any more internal struggles as I try to chose between the lesser of two evils. I won't do it. And I won't sit at home sulking, either. I will actively encourage queers to reward the few gay-friendly Republicans running for any office at all. And if there are no gay-friendly candidates actively working for us, I'll encourage people to put their vote in their pockets and keep them clean. I mean it. This is the moment. We have momentum, or should, if we dare to seize it. And if the Democrats want to rely on their usual tactics, threatening us with the evil Republicans if we don't passively vote for them, I say okay. No problem.

The truth is a Republican president will continue most of Obama's policies, because he has continued those of Bush. Guantanamo, I believe, is still open. Domestic spying continues. Horrible homeland security measures have been renewed under Obama's watch, and even more added. Sure, he was a better choice than McCain in the financial department. Obama at least acknowledged there was a crisis going on. He's better than Bush was on the international front, kind of. He passed a very mediocre health reform bill. And he's thrown a few bones to women and queers. But I hate to say it, Bush did, too.

If the Democrats want our votes, they should earn them. If Republicans earn our votes, they should get them. Simple as that. Consider this a declaration of independence, submitted for review on the Fourth of July.

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