As a lesbian, I’m more exhilarated and infuriated by this year’s presidential campaign than I’ve ever been before. And at 55, I’ve seen more than a few presidential bouts.
On the one hand, the Republican Party continues to kowtow to theocrats who recoil at treating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens fairly.
On the other, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama support a dizzying list of proposals that would finally treat us equally. But even they don’t go far enough for me.
First, let’s look at the positive.
Both Clinton and Obama favor civil unions with full legal rights for same-sex couples. Clinton and Obama also support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. (Under that bill, I could be fired for acting like an idiot, but not for being a lesbian. Trust me; that’s progress.)
We would also get coverage of domestic partners under the Family and Medical Leave Act, equal treatment by tax laws, hate crime legislation and the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
But neither Obama nor Clinton supports marriage for same-sex couples.
Clinton’s candidacy carries extra baggage because her husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. It prohibits the federal government from giving same-sex couples married by a state the same benefits as heterosexual couples. One section of the law allows states to ignore same-sex marriage performed in other states.
Obama favors repealing all of that hideous law. Clinton would repeal only part of it, leaving untouched the section allowing states not to recognize marriages that are legal in other states. This means that if my Massachusetts friends Laurie and Deb visit me in Kansas, and Deb falls ill and is hospitalized, Laurie doesn’t have a legal right to sit at her bedside.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign booked the ex-gay singer Donnie McClurkin on a gospel tour in South Carolina. Obama said he opposed the singer’s views, but he didn’t pull McClurkin from the tour. Instead, he gave McClurkin a stage on which to declare that “God delivered me from homosexuality.”
On the Republican side, the candidates are simply unacceptable.
Mitt Romney has denounced every fair policy he once supported.
Sen. John McCain doesn’t want us to be protected from job discrimination, to serve openly in the military, or for our families to have the most basic rights. The best that can be said of McCain is that he doesn’t support writing marriage discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.
The less said about theocrat Mike Huckabee the better. Rep. Ron Paul’s positions are lukewarm or suspect.
Because of these Republicans failings, the most important vote I’ll cast will be the coming Tuesday when Democrats caucus in Kansas. I can’t tell you now who I will support.
But I will try to determine who will fight hardest for us — and for equality. That’s all we ask.
Diane Silver helped found the Kansas Equality Coalition. She blogs at hopeandpolitics.blogspot.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.