Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
UPDATE at end: The Advocate endorses Obama, “IN OBAMA WE TRUST.”
As I’ve written before, there’s nothing like a close election to encourage evolving. And while Obama’s expression of personal support for marriage equality opened a lot of wallets, the recent actions of the DOJ regarding the Defense of Marriage Act are more substantive. I doubt the timing is accidental, but political motives aside, the steps are important in the Pride march toward equality. Also interesting is what’s happening on the Republican side of things, related to LGBT’s.
I’ll start with the money. Where else can one begin when talking about politics? Earlier this week, at NPR, Ari Shapiro reported Gay Donors Open Wallets On Both Sides Of The Aisle.
In politics, money talks. And money from gay and lesbian donors is talking louder than ever in this election cycle.
That’s partly a result of President Obama endorsing same-sex marriage, and it’s partly because Republicans are starting to see contributions as well. …
During the three days after Obama’s May 9 declaration of personal support for marriage equality, Shapiro reports, campaign donations nearly tripled over the previous three days, the campaign receiving almost $9 million in contributions of $200 or more.
But as Shapiro also notes, “gay donors” are also sending more dollars to Republican candidates.
The man who led President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, Ken Mehlman, is now a major fundraiser for gay causes. Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter was recently married. And a top supporter (Paul Singer) of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has started a superPAC to back Republican candidates who favor same-sex marriage.
And then there’s the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchinson. As Texas Tribune puts it, the fight for the Texas’ open seat is “the most expensive in the nation.” And we’re just getting to the July 31 run-off between the two Republicans, Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
‘Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Ted Cruz points with pride to the army of small conservative donors supporting him,’ writes the Tribune’s Jay Root, ‘But his largest longtime contributor is a gay billionaire who supports same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, campaign finance filings show.’
That “gay billionaire” is Peter Thiel, “German-born hedge fund manager and founder of the online payment system PayPal.”
Both Republicans and Democrats clearly have November in mind in recent actions related to DOMA. Think Progress sums it up nicely in “Justice Department Seeks Supreme Court Review Of DOMA.”
The Department of Justice has requested that the Supreme Court review two different cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing in both that the law should be found unconstitutional as it has in lower courts. House Republicans defending the law made a similar request for review, but arguing the Court should overturn the other rulings and uphold ‘traditional marriage.’ Meanwhile, Republicans attempted to delay another DOMA challenge while these cases proceed, but a district court judge in Connecticut ruled that such a stay would be unfair to its plaintiff, Joanne Pedersen.
For details, see Julie Bolcer at The Advocate, “BLAG Request to Stop DOMA Challenge Denied”; Lisa Keen at Keen News, “BLAG appeals DOMA to Supreme Court”; and Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly, “DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Take Two DOMA Cases, Maintains Law Is Unconstitutional.”
There are other, very clear indications of changing times, and no doubt, some connections to 2012 as well. You’ll remember that in May the NAACP passed a resolution in support of marriage equality. Before that endorsement was one of equal importance from La Raza. Via NGLTF:
The board of directors of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) … recently voted to endorse marriage equality.
And following Obama’s announcement, from LULAC:
The League of United Latin American Citizens … expressed its support of President Obama’s statement. LULAC has long supported equal rights for LGBT individuals.
Years ago, my preference – along with lots of others – was to make a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusive employment protection bill the big priority, since more LGBT’s would be included with ENDA. To a significant extent, marriage became the focus because those opposing LGBT equality saw it as the more emotional and more easily spun “issue” they, in fact, made it. It’s been a long and difficult process, with many “losses” for Queerdom. But DOMA and multiple state level actions made it very clear that LGBTs were being explicitly targeted for denial of equality, and while it took time, those very efforts began to backfire.
Then the “wins” started, largely at local and state levels, and more often related to non-marriage issues, like employment discrimination protections. All were based on a great deal of very hard and persistent work by equality advocates. When states, even if in small numbers, began moving toward marriage equality, that was another signal that perceptions were changing. More and more people were realizing, yet again, that it really isn’t okay for the majority to decide a minority doesn’t deserve equality.
Of course no one knows what will happen, if the Supreme Court chooses to take the two cases presented by the DOJ, challenging DOMA, but I tend to think Aravosis is correct when he writes: “I’m suspecting the administration wouldn’t take this position unless the gay legal groups wanted them to.”
For now, it’s all 2012 politics, of course. But somewhere in the midst of all of that, there really is progress being made.
UPDATE: The Advocate, an excerpt from
In Obama We Trust
Never has the substantial progress in equal rights and treatment of LGBT people been more at risk than in this presidential contest. This election presents a choice between starkly opposing futures.
Barack Obama is a leader of undeniable accomplishment, vision, and integrity on LGBT rights. His opponent Mitt Romney betrays equality on numerous issues and aligns himself with a faction of the Republican Party that does not include equality among its declared ideals.
The Advocate’s last endorsement was decades ago, but the president’s statement of May 9, unequivocally in favor of marriage equality, along with his record on LGBT rights, has distinguished him for the ages and has made it clear that he is a transformational leader and our best choice for president.
(Graphic via WipeOutHomophobiaFB)