So, last night the Human Right Campaign and homo cable channel-bot LOGO hosted a forum for the Democratic presidential candidates in an Oprah-like setting for a candid grilling about "GLBT issues" -- luckily, for those of us who can't shell out the skittle for subscription cable, it was available live online, in a format that actually worked! Way to go, LOGO server bandwidth! (full disclosure: I was a commentator on the forum for CBS Radio. I'm so mainstream!)
Kucinich -- "magical love," as always
YES, as a big gay, I did of course get that warm, fuzzy, Pride-trained feeling I'm supposed to get when the folks in the big house descend to talk to l'il ol' me about what they think are my l'il ol' issues. Plus, the intimate "forum" setting (each candidate got 15 minutes in the hot seat while the others waited in back) was ideal for disallowing the candidates to dodge and highlighting their every squirm.
Still, I was prepared to scream "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TRANNIES!" into the ears of America as a commentator .... and the fact that Melissa Etheridge was one of the interlocutors rolled my eyes backward a bit (altho to her credit her questions were actually pretty potent -- once you got past all the fawning -- and she acknowledged she had no business being there as "neither a professional politician or activist." Tell it to your global-warming Oscar, sweetie.)
Here were some of my impressions, beyond the fact that -- wait a minute, you know what? I don't really care about the gay marriage thing as much as I kind of used to. I mean, I've never been a big fan of the whole marriage thing -- although I cried like a baby for a whole week during our Winter of Love. And I totally got baited in the last election with the whole Federal Marriage Ammendment threat. (Hey, I think Karl Rove is hottt! He's like a sexy bacon lard bucket with a Port-a-Pottie's stamina. So I've heard.) All of the candidates were for civil unions -- but only Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich would go all the marriage way.
Still I was much more interested in the health care questions -- Edwards and Obama were really supportive there, especially Obama on HIV/AIDS. Just because we gain spousal coverage doesn't mean every gay person will have health care, come on. And I was also interested more in ENDA the employment nondiscrimination act currently working its way through congress, which would be a big step toward including sexual orientation in matters of federal equality laws. Beyond that, I'm way more about foreign policy and economic justice and equality -- not all of us gays are upperclass DINKs, OK?
Oh, Obama, I'm your gay. R U stoned, tho?
AND YES -- there was actually a tranny question -- sorry, transgender. Susan Stanton, formerly Steve Stanton, was in the audience -- she was the former City Manager of Largo Florida who was fired when she announced she was undergoing reassignment surgery. Edwards was asked what he would do to protect folks like her, and he said he would do everything in his power to make sure transgender people were protected in the workplace. Fab.
Best OOOOPS! Wince-wince-wince!
--- ALL of Bill Richardson. He has a pretty good record on lgbt issues, but boy was he AWFUL in the hotseat -- very uncomfortable and waffly. He even at one point said he thought homosexuality was a choice -- prompting Meliss to ask if he understood the question. Poor thing. And bad dye job! eek!
--- ALL of Mike Gravel -- but in a good way. He's nuts, and a little like a pervy grandpa, but almost everything he says is right on -- even though you sense it's more for the grandstanding. He favors decriminalizing all drugs, etc. Which are great things to hear, but he just relishes his countercultural role a tad too much -- like it must really be getting him laid. Good for him!
--- John Edwards squiring squirming squirming when asked to provide a precise reason he didn't support gay marriage -- even though he's "totally on the side of" civil unions. All could say was it was "just something deep inside" (heh -- hi, denial) and repeat very gravely "I just don't support same sex marriage." Ew. He was also shocked -- SHOCKED -- that there were gay kids who'd been kicked out of their houses at an LA homeless shelter he visited. I guess we're not screaming loud enough ...
--- Hillary trying desperately to seem "compassionate" when Meliss confronted her, pretty tearfully, about all of her husband's broken promises to the gay community. See, Meliss had come out during Bill's campaign -- and somehow she felt that entitled her to all her political wishes come true. Hard lessons about coming out! No rainbows for Melissa! Just Rolling Stone covers with her ex ... Hillary almost, ALMOST, said "I feel your pain." Then she gave a string of (ok, pretty good, but prove it) excuses about how the Defense of Marriage Act was a line of defense against a Federal Marriage Ammendment in the Contitution and how Don't Ask Don't Tell was necessary because repealing the whole no gays in the military thing would have meant Congress would have fucked with Bill's defense budget or something ... It may be weird to judge hillary by her husband's stuff? But she's flying on the wings of his pop-u-larity a bit, I guess.
Kucinich, definitely, although he definitely addressed the community as a church revival meeting on Planet Dennis, goddess love him. His message was "love, love, love, gay marriage, free pot, and love!" He and Gravel also addressed the whole "great but unelectable thing" by saying, in essence -- "but you're the ones who vote! we're only unelectable if you don't support us." Good point.
Among the major candidates, I felt Obama did best -- not just because he was pretty suave and talked a good game, but because he emphasized that he talks about issues that affect LGBT people to folks outside the community (he's adressed homophobia at black churches, AIDS among the black community, he belongs to a church that supports gay marriage etc.). It's a good point -- Hillary and Edwards seem to shrink from gay subjects when they're not in front of gay cameras .....
ANYWAY! All of the republicans declined to participate in a similar forum, dammit. I wanted them to ask John McCain about his gay sweaters!