The Democratic Party–Making Asses of Us?

22 Feb

There’s a great article in the February issue of the Advocate, in which James Kirchick explores gay voters’ and activists’ current frustrations with the Democratic party. As its blurb pointedly asks:

They’re fond of your checkbooks — and deaf to your demands for equal rights. What will it take for the Democratic Party to step up?

And its starting to seem like a pretty fair question–while many members of the LGBT community have remained loyal supporters of the Democratic Party for decades, we’ve seen relatively little inclusive change on the federal, and particularly, legislative, level. (The Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling against anti-sodomy laws may be the biggest win in recent years.) Queer voters, like myself, who championed Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, are beginning to worry that his administration, much like Clinton’s, will turn out to be one of much more talk than action. Sure, we made tremendous strides in political visibility during Clinton’s presidency, but it also saw the passing of DADT and DOMA, both of which we are still fighting. (Read here about Mass. attorney general Martha Coakley’s request for a federal summary judgment on DOMA.) Unfortunately, gay voters whose main problem with the Democratic Party is that LGBT rights aren’t high enough of a priority, aren’t left with a lot of options–Democrats remain the lesser of two evils in this regard. Activists like David Mixner support a gay moratorium on donations to the DNC until it responds to our demands, but if this lets Republicans get ahead in the money game, I’m hesitant to support such a boycott. What’s a queer voter to do?!

I, for one, will continue to support the Democratic Party (with my votes, if not my wallet–I am a lowly college student after all) and also to express my dissatisfaction and continue to call for action.

In the meantime, I think the LGBT community needs to diversify its focus and accept the fact that no president, even the most exciting and progressive in years, is truly capable of making the rest of the country do a 180 on any given issue, and particularly not in such a grid-locked political climate. We should invest (our time, money, support) in LGBT and ally candidates for political offices of all sizes. It’s easy enough to complain about President Obama, but what about state legislatures? Far fewer people vote for their state representatives, and probably even fewer know their representatives’ stance on gay marriage. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likewise, Obama (and no president after) will ever wave a magic wand and give us equal rights.

Visit the Victory Fund to find out about LGBT candidates across the country and how you can help.

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