Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Hillary Clinton and the Gays

Gay marriage was never a primary issue for me.  I always believed in it, but I bristled whenever anyone described it as the "civil rights issue of our time."  I did march for it once or twice.  I signed the petitions. But in the era of Guantanamo and the drug war, that claim struck me as short-sighted and a little lazy.  Yes, I know you could care about gay marriage and Guantanamo.  I just didn't like the myopia of so many of the gay rights activists I knew.  This isn't so much a reasoned response.  Just an emotional one.  Take it as you will.  

About ten years ago, though, I did develop a working theory on how to judge politicians.  Their position on gay marriage, circa 2005, seemed to be an indicator of character, an indicator that they might support many of the policies I support.  I think a lot of voters pick candidates based on one or two issues.  In my theory, a John Lewis, who categorically supported same-sex marriage, was absolutely the kind of civil rights, human rights, economic rights guy I would want in office.  John Edwards's obnoxiousness towards a young lesbian couple at a campaign event was evidence of smarminess (I WAS RIGHT!).  Bill and Hillary's history of cowardice and triangulation on the subject paralleled their middle-of-the-road policies that led to all the New Democrat policies that led me to vote for Nader in 2000.  

There were limitations to this theory.  The late Paul Wellstone opposed same-sex marriage.  An old-school business guy like William Weld supported it.  Dick Cheney, circa 2000, was to the left on the issue compared to Bill Clinton.  Still, you get the idea.

The latest email controversy suggests that Hillary holds LGBT voters in contempt.  She was furious with a State Department directive that decided to replace the terms "father" and "mother" on passports with "parent 1" and "parent 2".  I may have opposed the policy too, but I, like most of my generation, gay and straight, would probably not have couched my argument with the claim that I "could live" with the existence of non-traditional families.  I don't blame her for wanting to avoid a Fox News/Palin freakout, which was another of her concerns.  We all choose our battles.  I do blame her for angrily demanding that the default mode for families should remain based on "father" and "mother".        

In the end you're really just voting for the presidency.  If she gets the nomination - and I do think she will - I will vote for her.  She picks the next two Supreme Court justices. Still, this email is just one more piece of evidence that the woman I will be voting for in the general election cares more about her career than she does about her constituents.  It's proof that she lacks a moral imagination, the ability to understand that people with a different life experience may be hurt by just a small detail on a government-issued document.

Hillary compared herself to Lyndon Johnson during the 2008 campaign.  She's being a little too kind to herself.  Johnson was a bigot who wanted to help people.  When he said, "Let the niggers vote," he meant every single word.

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