Friday, August 10, 2007

Democrats discuss gay issues: semantics may be important to some

Some of the Democratic presidential candidates went to a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/whatever-the-term-is-for-“I’m not really gay, I just offered that guy twenty bucks to blow him ‘cause I’m afraid of black people” forum, which turned out not to be an actual debate. (For anyone reading this in another country or twenty years from now, here’s a link to explain that reference.)

Biden and Dodd skipped the event, then decided that skipping was itself kind of gay and decided to hold their own belching contest to prove who is the more manly. Jeez, between the hair plugs and the fathering a child in your sixties, I think you two have the over-compensation thing pretty well covered.

Since Dodd claimed a scheduling conflict, I hope someone tracks down what he was actually doing last night.

Obama is playing the race card for all it’s worth, and quite a bit more. Evidently he understands everything the LGBTW community goes through because he’s black and his name is “Barack Obama” and his parents couldn’t have gotten married in some states. (Later he says that isn’t what he was saying and that he’s not into “comparisons of victimology.”) But he is not in favor of letting gay people marry, says civil unions, “As I’ve proposed it, it wouldn’t be a lesser thing, from my perspective,” and the difference is just “semantics.” “Semantics may be important to some,” he said dismissively. He says he would have advised civil rights leaders in the 1960s not to bother trying to end miscegenation laws, but to focus on issues that have “real consequences.” And he reassured churches that no one would force them to perform gay marriages. In retrospect, I think he was saying that as long as everyone gets full legal rights, the state shouldn’t really have an opinion about what constitutes a marriage because the bond of marriage is a purely religious one. Maybe someone should ask him if atheists should be allowed to marry.

He even repeated the famous sentence from his 2004 convention speech, about which I wrote, “You’ll notice his ‘We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states’ line carefully avoided creeping out the homophobes of Middle America by keeping the Little Leaguers and the gays in separate states.”

As John Edwards walked in, the camera focused on an audience member with weird hair. He also understands what it’s like to be different, because he’s so pretty. Lord, right after I wrote that, he did actually say that he understands it because he grew up in the segregated South.

He repudiated his previous statement that he opposes same-sex marriage because of his religious views. But he still opposes same-sex marriage. “All I can tell you is where I am today.”

Asked what he’d do if one of his staff said they were trans-gendered and thinking about making the “transition,” Edwards says he’d help them “in every possible way.” Fine, you hold the penis while the doctor cuts it off.

He said he’s perfectly comfortable around gay people, no matter what you’ve heard.

Dennis Kucinich, who understands what it’s like to be different because he’s an elf and is the favorite of this crowd and of Melissa Etheridge, keeps talking about the power of love. He loves love (although he’s not in love with it).

This is not proving as entertaining as I anticipated.

Mike Gravel also loves love. Melissa Etheridge asks him how he can be so gay-friendly when he’s like really really old, and if there are many gay people in Alaska. Three, as it turns out, and they’re all in the front row.

He says all gays should come out of the closet. I don’t know why, but that’s the only thing I’ve heard so far that surprised me.

Do igloos have closets?

The non-debate format allowed me to fast forward through Bill Richardson (but not in a gay way). I put it back on play while I fed the cat, and he was so laughably out of his depth that I had to go back and listen to the whole thing. He said (sigh) he understands what it’s like to be different because he’s Hispanic. Asked whether homosexuality is a choice or inborn (sadly, no one else was asked this), he seemed never even to have heard of the issue before, first mumbling that it was a choice, then that it was a scientific matter and he doesn’t understand science. Gay people befuddle him (but not in a gay way). He refuses to say if he’d sign a gay marriage bill if one were passed by the New Mexico Legislature, just as Obama refused to say if he’d have voted for one when he was in the Illinois lege.

Hillary talked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act as “transitional” policies to fend off far worse Republican moves, trying to make essentially anti-gay measures sound progressive. No one is buying. Although they’ll probably vote for her anyway, and then act surprised when she does little if anything for them. She opposes gay marriage, and calls that opposition a “personal position.” Like Edwards, she seems to think that’s relevant, but a presidential candidate’s positions on public policy issues are not “personal.” She said prefers to think of her position not as anti-gay marriage but as pro-civil union. Margaret Carlson prompted her to say, “I’m your girl,” just as she did to the AFL-CIO two days before. She said it (I could swear I heard Kucinich say it too), but she isn’t. Her and Obama’s sort of “pragmatism,” their willingness to compromise with other people’s rights... hey, I was expecting to blog this forum with nothing but double entendres!

I don’t think there was more than that one question about transgendered people, and I’m quite sure there were none about bisexuals.

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