September 03, 2007

The Political Closet

That's a term used in this essay in the Gay City News, referring to a politician who touts their support for GLBT equality yet stops short on the issue of same-sex marriage.

As the writer, Yoav Sivan, points out, that is one crowded closet here in the United States. Should the GLBT community still support presidential candidates who support issues like hate crimes legislation, ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but settle for civil unions instead of full marriage rights?

The task before gay politicians is how to emerge from two closets - their personal closet in which they can choose to hide their sexuality and their political closet in which they can choose to hide their pro-gay stands.

No one watching the recent Human Rights Campaign/Logo forum of Democratic presidential candidates could doubt that all three of the leading contenders, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, remain in the political closet. None of them was convincing in claiming to be against marriage equality.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, the Democratic presidential hopefuls are attempting to court gay voters without coming out as too pro-gay. Even LGBT organizations tend to play along by providing them auspices, helping them fundraise while not asking for the political token in return.

They convince themselves that it is worthwhile to keep low profile now in order to install a friendlier face in the White House. But isn't about time that gay rights be allowed in the White House through the main entrance and not merely through the back door?

Yes, closeted liberal politicians - we know whom they are - can keep their private life out of view of the cameras. But due to the continuous efforts of gay rights activists, a politician cannot ignore the gay agenda any longer.

If those politicians want to keep to their personal closet, it cannot be at the expense of our rights. If they are not willing to advocate what's in their hearts - marriage equality and nothing less - we gay activists must drag them out of the political closet by whatever tools at our disposal and never let them back in.

I strongly agree with the principles Sivan expresses here, but the problem right now is the execution. If the GLBT community does not support the Democratic nominee, warts and all, they give the Republican candidate a greater chance of winning, which almost certainly would be a setback in the struggle for greater rights.

What would be needed is a Democratic candidate with the courage and strength of conviction who could also obtain the resources needed for a successful campaign. Sadly, that individual has not forward, if he or she even exists at all. That leaves voters interested in GLBT equality with a lesser of the evils decision.

Hopefully, a Democratic president who at least moved the equality ball upfield, even if they fall short of the goal line (full marriage rights) would encourage more support for equality and eventually make supporting same-sex marriage politically expedient.

That is the ONLY way I ever see it becoming reality.

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