Instead of racing each other to do the right thing, the two Democratic front-runners, Clinton and Obama, are lagging behind the also-rans when it comes to being noble. And neither one appeared to be troubled by that at the forum.
In fact, they appeared very much at ease. They know that if Kucinich or Gravel, the only two candidates who support same-sex marriage, had the slightest chance of winning the nomination, they’d have to work a lot harder to get the gay vote, because as the Los Angeles Times reported last Sunday, gays and lesbians take voting very, very seriously:
A recent study by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc. found an eye-popping 92.5% of gay men report they voted in the 2004 presidential race, and almost 84% said they cast ballots in the 2006 midterm election. Among lesbians, the results were almost as impressive; nearly 91% in 2004 and 78% in 2006. By comparison, the Washington-based Committee for the Study of the American Electorate puts the turnout for all Americans eligible to vote at about 61% in 2004 and roughly 40% in 2006.
But as it stands now, Kucinich and Gravel are about as threatening to Clinton and Obama as two kittens in Michael Vick’s kennel.
Kucinich is a good guy, that’s for sure. I like him; I like the way he thinks. A lot. But he’s not going to be our next president.
Gravel is quite a different story. He’s not only un-Presidential but often appears nutty and out of touch, especially with the gay community. He might mean well, but even with Gavin Newsom as a tour guide, I doubt he’d be able to find the Castro. His repeated references to the LGBT community as "the gays" on Thursday night were crude and just plain weird. Gravel might be on our side, but I, for one, am not comforted by that fact.
The Logo/HRC forum did little but confirm that we are, whether we like it or not, stuck with Clinton or Obama. We know that, and, more importantly, they know it. They offer us an inch when we want (and are entitled to) a mile, because they can offer it and still get elected.
If civil unions proved to be the slightest impediment to the presidency, they wouldn’t even proffer that little. And the reason is simple: Not only are our problems not theirs, but also they see the solutions to our problems as potentially greater problems for them.
However, what Clinton and Obama see as problems today â€” a series of backlashes from on-the-fence-voters should they support same-sex marriage â€” only reveal how shortsighted they are.
It’s inevitable that history will not look kindly on any dragging of feet or outright refusal to correct the injustice to our community. In the future â€” the very near future, I think â€” a majority of Americans will look on the gay-rights struggle as they now reflect on the civil-rights era, the struggle of suffragettes, etc. In due time, those who opposed full equality will be seen as ignoramuses, and those who were forward-thinking, who supported it from the beginning, will be praised as brave leaders.
For Obama to acknowledge that there are, indeed, similarities between the gay-rights movement and the civil-rights movement, but not do everything in his power to ameliorate the problem, and for Clinton to fervently claim to recognize the pain and urgency in the voices of our community, but then tell us we must be patient, are not only acts of ingloriousness today, but will likely be viewed as dishonorable exponentially as Americans continue to evolve.
Today’s presidential candidates â€” including and especially the Republicans who refused an invitation to appear in a similar platform on Logo in the future â€” should waste no time in rethinking their positions on LGBT issues if they care at all how they will be regarded in the years come.
And you can bet all your Susan B. Anthony commemorative coins and Martin Luther King, Jr. Days off that they care. If there is one thing they all have in common, it’s that each one wants to leave behind a legacy that ensures that future generations will think as highly of them as they think of themselves.
Watch video clips of the Presidential Forum at VisibleVote08.com.