Who's better for the gays? (Plus a long-deserved swipe at Andrew Sullivan.)

gay-pride.jpgAndrew Sullivan announced his support for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton (surprise!) because 1) Obama is younger than Clinton, and 2) Obama is a Christian.  Seriously.  He forgot to remind us that 3) Andrew Sullivan would rather stab his own eyeballs out with a dull pencil than endorse Hillary Clinton for anything!  (Sorry, Sully–I just can’t forget or forgive your scurrilous accusation that after 9/11 was the real enemy as a “decadent leftist” “fifth columnist” humanities prof, and so I suspect your problem with Clinton is just as fear-driven and irrational.)  Although he is a plagiarist-enabling and fantasist-enabling turd, even Sullivan can’t convince himself that Obama is substantively better on the issues than Clinton because they’re so darn similar.  Thus, he offers us the youth and Christianity argument–by that logic, then l’il Ralphie Reed should be his man. 

Meanwhile, back in my world where people know facts ‘n’ stuff, and would lose their jobs if they worked only up to Sully’s shockingly low standards, Professorblackwoman has a nice post up at WOC Ph.D. comparing the two candidates’ records on GLBTQ issues, and it looks like a wash to me in terms of their policy positions.  (IMHO, neither is particularly courageous in affirming that true equality means equal civil rights too.)  Obama does not support gay marriage, while Clinton thinks its legality should be up to the states.  Obama says he supports a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while Clinton has suggested only modifying these (Bill Clinton-era) relics.  Obama has a cute rainbow version of his very cool logo, but he also issued that unfortunate invitation to Donnie McClurkin, an anti-gay ex-gay gospel singer.  (Pandagon notes though Obama addressed black homophobia with an African American majority audience last week, and was able to bring them along with him after some initial resistance.)  My guess is that they’d probably appoint similar kinds of people to the federal bench and the Supreme Court. 

Sully aside, Clinton seems to be winning more gay votes by a hefty margin–63% of the gay vote in California, and she’s working hard on reeling them in in Ohio, according to Professorblackwoman’s analysis.  That also tracks with my informal observations–my gay friends support HRC much more faithfully than my breeder friends, which leads me to suspect that queers aren’t as threatened by Hillary’s pantsuits and unapologetic toughness the way straights are (men and women alike).  Ambitious broads just push some people’s buttons, don’t they?  Shout out to Roxie’s World and GayProf to weigh in on this one!  Do you think HRC (this HRC, not that HRC) has more GLBTQ support, and if so, is it justified?  Who do you think is the better candidate for GLBTQ issues?

0 thoughts on “Who's better for the gays? (Plus a long-deserved swipe at Andrew Sullivan.)

  1. Uhm, Andrew Sullivan basically announced his support for Obama last fall with a very long article in the Atlantic, and his argument has more to it than what you say it does. I have rarely heard Sullivan invoke Obama’s “Christianity” as a reason for supporting him.

    I have a hard time seeing how Clinton and Obama are a “wash” on GLBT issues when the Clintons were responsible for “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the DOMA, and Obama is more forceful in his repudiation of the latter than Clinton is. He has also made GLBT issues part of his standard speech on the campaign trail, including in black churches where that is unpopular. Hillary Clinton has not. Why GLBTs support the Clintons, I don’t understand. What have they delivered?

    Although honestly given the way Hillary Clinton has run her campaign lately, I have a hard time seeing why anyone still supports her for president, but apparently lots of people do. So go figure.


  2. To David I would just point out that only one Clinton is on the ballot, so we only need to wonder why queers would support her, not him or his mixed record.

    To Historiann I say thanks so much for asking us to weigh in on this issue! We are humbled and flattered. You’re right, though, on why queers support HRC — It pretty much boils down to the pantsuits. The dykes love ’em, and the fags see an opportunity for a fashion intervention.

    Seriously, I have to admit that in Roxie’s World we never got over the McClurkin matter and the incredibly disingenuous letter sent out by a group of LGBT and black supporters of Obama about building common ground with those with whom we disagree. “Disagree” is just too mild a term for what we feel toward unapologetic homophobes like McClurkin. It was one of many examples where Obama’s soaring rhetoric (about queers, in his electrifying speech at the Democratic convention) did not match up with his actions, which often strike us as mild and conciliatory. Given the thinness of his record, small things like that add up to enough of a reason to throw our support to the woman whose command of the issues and time in Washington impress us, even if we wish she’d go the extra mile and just come out in support of same-sex marriage. Sigh. Maybe in her second term!


  3. Sorry, David–I have to dish out a little history lesson: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was a progressive, gay-friendly reform when proposed by President Clinton in the winter of 1993. (The policy in place up to then was that the military could investigate people’s private lives and fire them!) He was roundly derided by people on all sides when he did this early in his first term–it brought him no advantage, and the talking heads all agreed that it was stupid of him to advance such a left-wing crazy agenda as that. “Gays in the military?” Who ever had heard of such a dumb, marginal issue? Why would this new guy toss all of his political capital out the door in the first month of his administration? What a dumb hick from Arkansas! (The policy in practice, as enacted by the military, has made things worse for gay servicemen and women, but that’s not what Clinton intended.)

    Secondly, it was the Republican-led House and Senate that passed the DOMA, and unfortunately President Clinton signed it. It was an election year, but it still stinks. Even if you think Hillary Clinton is all to blame or deserves all the credit for this, the fact remains that the first Clinton administration put gay rights front and center from the get-go, and they were punished for it. (It probably didn’t win them any brownie points either, since most gays weren’t going to vote for Bob Dole anyway!)

    Finally–I know you don’t understand why anybody would support Clinton! Like Andrew Sullivan, your mind is made up, and it was before considering who would be better on GLBTQ issues. (Please click the link provided to see Sully’s reasoning about Obama’s Christianity and support for gay rights.) But amazingly–half of us Democrats do support Clinton! I know it’s inconvenient, but there it is;)


  4. Hi, Roxie–thanks for weighing in! Interesting points about McClurkin–it seems like Obama has tried to repair that rift, with his recent discussion of homophobia in Texas, though. But, it may not be enough–and if most gays are (relatively) satisfied with Clinton’s record, then they’ll stick with the person they feel they know better.


  5. HistoriAnn –

    What’s up with “questioning”? How did they become a marginalized special interest group? Lumping the questioners in with GLBT makes the question seem biased at best and a coy game at worst. I don’t get it.


  6. I’m just fed up with the Clinton campaign’s tactics. I seriously hope that Obama deals a devastating blow to her in Texas today, but we’ll see.

    As for the gay issue, I would think it would matter a great deal that Obama’s rhetoric on DOMA has been tougher than Clinton’s. Also, personally I don’t remember don’t ask, don’t tell as a progressive measure at the time. It sure wasn’t perceived that way where I was living. People saw it for what it was, a cave-in to bigots who wanted to keep gays out of the military.

    As for your last question on the thread, I wonder how this could be reversed. In other words, you assume that straights who don’t vote for Clinton must have a problem with a strong woman. But why not the other way? Maybe GLBTs and other Clinton supporters feel threatened by a black man running for president. That’s the way this race seems to be turning out. If you vote for Obama, it means you are sexist. If you vote for Hillary, you must be a racist. Hopefully the next time we can get a black female candidate that we can all get behind, and then we’ll be neither racist nor sexist. One can dream.


  7. Alas, I have no special insight (but always love being asked to give my opinion). To be honest, I am on neither the Obama nor the Clinton bandwagon. I will happily campaign for whoever gets the nomination to prevent McCain from taking office (who has shown that he has no moral center).

    Either Obama or Clinton seem to have some basic competency for the job (which might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but given the past seven years, it’s a quality that we really shouldn’t take for granted). I think that progressive queer groups could work with either to get some minimal changes done (this would require, however, getting new leadership for the HRC.org (which is a different issue entirely)).

    As for why the queer community supports Clinton more than Obama, I think that it’s probably a combination of factors. Obama’s invite of Donnie McClurkin certainly didn’t help his cause. I wonder, though, if the queer community is voting based on queer issues. Queer voters might be opting for Clinton for reasons beyond their sexuality. But, I have also seen around the interwebs a number of (white) queer people who have decided to switch their support to Obama, especially after Clinton’s scare-ad.

    It’s a mystery, Scooby Doo!

    As an aside, I have never understood why Andrew Sullivan gets any attention at all. He isn’t that bright, doesn’t represent the views of most queer people, has been caught by his own hypocrisy on more than one occasion, and really hasn’t come up with anything original to say. So why do people prop him up, even as a strawman?

    And, finally, I am still annoyed that the Democratic Party (including Obama and Clinton) “punished” Michigan by ignoring the state and disenfranchising voters in the primary. Michigan is a state in serious economic trouble and will be critical to the general election. It is also a state at war with itself (the recent passing of both ant-gay and anti-affirmative action amendments to the constitution, for example). Neither Obama nor Clinton could be bothered to address concerns of Michigan voters and showed that party politics was more important than, you know, actual people. Thus, their claims about deeply caring about the problems of Ohio (a neighboring state) seem disingenuous at best.

    Those are my rambling, steam-of-consciousness notions about the current election.


  8. I’m sure that there are gay racists–but not all gays are white, of course. It’s very possible that racism plays into some of Clinton’s support–this is America, after all!–but it hasn’t been a big factor so far in the Democratic primary. Obama’s results have consistently matched or exceeded pre-election polls, so there’s been no “Bradley effect” of white people saying they’ll support him and then failing to support him with their votes. But one of the things that strike me about Clinton supporters is that they really like and admire *her,* they’re not voting for her because they hate or mistrust Obama.

    As for DADT: it was the end result of Clinton trying to get the ban on “gays in the military” lifted, despite the fact that only 16 percent of Americans polled at the time strongly approved of this initiative, and the (Democratic controlled) House passed a resolution 3-1 against the initiative! See Bill Clinton, _My Life_, 483-486.


  9. Hey, GayProf! Thanks for your comments. (The comments posted above were in response to David, BTW–we were apparently writing at the same time.)

    I agree with you that Michigan voters got screwed–why not let Michigan vote before Iowa or New Hampshire? It’s bigger, more ethnically diverse, and is complexly both urban/industrial and rural/extractive industry. On the other hand, it would be unfair to seat delegates according to the meaningless primary vote, where Clinton was the only Democrat on the ballot. You should press your party leaders for another primary, because Michigan voices should be heard loud and clear!

    And p.s. about Andrew Sullivan: I agree with you–his success is a mystery to me. But, our line of work has much higher standards!


  10. Andrew Sullivan gets a lot of readers, I suspect because he’s somewhat unusual in some ways. He’s a mostly conservative gay man who is from Britain but lives in America, a Catholic who is in a gay marriage and has HIV. He does not claim to represent gay people, but I agree he’s a hypocrite and a bore. But he’s no worse than most of the other mainstream bloggers out there.


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