Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

Tonight is yet another gathering of GOP hopefuls: “The Thanksgiving Family Forum.” Accepting the invitation were Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, and Santorum. Romney and Huntsman declined.

According to 2012PresidentialElectionNews, the event, which begins at 5:00 PM ET, will be livestreamed via CitizenLink and audio streamed via Bott Radio.

There will be no television broadcast since C-SPAN reversed its decision to broadcast the event citing budgetary reasons.

David Badash, at The New Civil Rights Movement has this to say:

Streaming live, straight (and I mean, “˜straight’) to you from the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, and sponsored by Bob Vander Plaats’ The Family Leader …, you can be sure that God, Guns, and Gays, along with abortion and religious freedom will be the central topics. …

The tag line is, “˜All great change in America begins at the dinner table.’ Ronald Reagan said that.

Ah, but whose dinner table, I wonder. And who gets an invitation?

Josh Dorner, at Think Progress tells us more:

If history is any guide, this event promises to be a veritable cornucopia of attacks on gays and women’s health care and a celebration of fringe social views.

Vander Platts is the guy who came up with the “Marriage Vow,” which he wants 2012 candidates to support. From Dorner, some key points of the “Vow”:

suggesting that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama (later removed after a national outcry) …

attacking gays as a public health risk …

fomenting the non-existent “˜Sharia’ threat to America

In a Friday press release, The Human Rights Campaign had this to say:

This debate-style forum … is hosted by leading anti-gay groups The Family Leader, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and Focus on the Family.

According to HRC, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed the “Marriage Vow.” Apparently signing it wasn’t a requirement for being invited to the “Thanksgiving Family Forum.” Or, perhaps signing the NOM’s “Marriage Pledge” was good enough, which HRC says was

… signed by almost all of the leading GOP candidates. In its Pledge, NOM calls on the candidates, if elected, to set up a McCarthy presidential commission to investigate claims of harassment against traditional marriage supporters.

You know, the kind of supporters who would get a dinner invitation from Vander Platts.

Okay, here’s where Obama comes in. Not to the forum, of course “” he’d never get an invitation “” but in the sense of thinking about the GOP hopefuls, and how they compare with Obama. Anyone who has read more than a sentence or two of my posts will know I strongly think we need more than the “lesser of two evils” choices, and that the Republican and Democratic parties both operate as a front for those at the top; the 1%, if you will.

I think the Dallas Voice interview with HRC president Joe Solmonese (he leaves the position in March) shows an obvious “lesser of two evils” approach, but it’s still interesting. What’s even more interesting is his explicitly expressed concerns about Obama’s re-election. John Wright, at the Dallas Voice, with Solmonese fears 2012 setback:

Joe Solmonese admits he’s “˜very concerned’ about President Barack Obama’s prospects for re-election. …

… Solmonese focused largely on the importance of 2012 elections, saying that depending on their outcome, major advances during his tenure could be all but erased.

“˜I don’t think that he’s going to lose,’ Solmonese said at one point, attempting to clarify his assessment of Obama’s chances. “˜I think that if everybody does what they need to do, I think there is just as good a chance that Barack Obama will be re-elected, but I’m as concerned that he could lose.’

Solmonese said Republicans already have a majority in the House, Democrats have only a slim majority in the Senate, and “˜everything about these [2012] elections points to us having real challenges.’ …

“˜If we care about continuing with the forward motion that we’ve experienced, then we as a community need to do everything possible to re-elect Barack Obama,’ Solmonese said. “˜And we can talk about and debate and press the administration on his ability to do more, and him coming out for marriage, or anything else that we want to talk about, but now is the time to sort of decouple that from all of the work we need to put into getting him re-elected. …

That same, either / or choice, about which we’re always told we can’t do anything until after the upcoming election.

Anyway, I started wondering about a Thanksgiving Family Dinner Forum at which all the GOP hopefuls and Obama worked together to prepare the meal, and then enjoyed the feast while they had an adult conversation about the needs of “this great nation of ours.” … And then I decided it was much more realistic to watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and be reminded: never, ever trust presidential hopefuls to do anything but pull the football away just as we’re running for the kick.

(Photo via New Civil Rights Movement)