This article does a good job of explaining (one of my reasons for) my reluctance to wholeheartedly endorse the Democratic party in general, or even Senators Obama and Biden in particular – they’re just not wonderful on LGBT rights. And before people descend like a horde of winged monkeys onto this post yelling BUT MCCAIN IS WORSE!!!! – I know, okay? It will be a cold day in Circles 1-8 of Hell before I vote for McCain or another member of the Republican party. But that doesn’t mean I have to be perfectly satisfied with the slightly more advocacy coming from the left side of the aisle.
To stress: if you care about LGBT rights, there’s only one way to vote (assuming you’re going with one of the two major parties). If you look at Obama’s website, it looks very queer-friendly, complete with a specific page devoted only to LGBT people, with several links and letters and so on, including a pdf chart detailing the policy and ideological differences between the two on the matter(s)*. McCain’s website, by contrast, only mentions Teh Gays on his “Human Dignity and Sanctity of Life” page, sandwiching in his fervent objections to same-sex marriage between same against abortion and stem-cell research (hilariously enough, clicking “Values” on his list of issues redirects to that same page). So Obama is actively soliciting the queer vote, instead of alienating them, and doing his darndest to convince them that he has their best interests at heart. For the most part, I believe him, but still think he has a ways to go.
One of my main sticking points is, as the Bilerico article put it, that
The conflation of a civil marriage right with a private religious belief and the argument in favor of “separate but equal” by a constitutional lawyer is jarring.
The above is in reference to Obama’s having said that his idea of marriage is entrenched in his traditional Christian beliefs, but that he believes fervently and completely in equal rights for same-sex couples. Well, buddy, I’m with you on the second half, but fail to see how your personal, subjective, and frankly somewhat arbitrary (insofar as anyone’s particular religion or even interpretation of Christianity varies widely from person to person) religious views should dictate other people’s civil rights. And I’ll cover this more fuly in my (I swear!) soon-to-come Enormous Posts on same-sex marriage and its relative legality in this country, but for now I’ll just point out that the whole “marriage is religious but civil unions are the same thing only without the religion and it’s okay because we have separation of church and state!” is bunk. As it currently stands, marriage in this country is a civil right. It is always a civil action, requiring a license to be legal, and requires absolutely no religious endorsement of any kind to have any and all of the same legal rights. If somebody is religious, they can certainly choose to be married in the appropriate ceremony, and presumably gain more benefits within that religion (possibly in the afterlife, and so on), but the fact that most people in this country are religious does not mean that the actual institution of marriage is. The Catholic Church doesn’t believe in divorce – does that mean people shouldn’t be allowed to get divorced? Orthodox Jews are not allowed to marry someone of a different religion – does this mean we all need to convert to Judaism before getting a valid marriage license? The idea is ridiculous, and so is the idea of your using your particular religious views to justify the denial of the availability of a secular institution to a select group of people. That’s the whole point of the separation of church and state: I shouldn’t have to care what my representatives in government’s religious beliefs are, because it shouldn’t in the least affect their decision-making.
So, yeah. The Democratic party’s somewhat mercurial views on marriage are a major bone of contention for me, and well-documented in the linked article (the mercurial views, not my feelings on them); just as a for-instance, apparently Biden’s ringing non-endorsement of gay marriage from the VP debate is being featured on the Vote Yes on Prop 8 website (no, I will not link to them. Look them up if you must, and haven’t eaten recently).
I’d just like to point out that it’s a sad day when even the supposedly “progressive” party in this country still refuses to speak out against the removal of civil rights from a group of people, after having purportedly been happy and willing to help them gain said rights in the first place. This is why I honestly can’t blame queer people, or women, or other historically marginalized groups, for not voting for Obama – sooner or later, the time will come when “hold your breath for the good of the party” no longer flies.
Let’s call this #45 on the list of reasons why I want to move to Sweden (no, they don’t have “marriage equality”, per se, but the unions are equal in every other sense since 1995 and there’s a growing movement to completely equalize them).
*This chart is actually a good primer on several legal battlegrounds within the gay rights movement, and on things you should know about if you care about that sort of thing. In every case mentioned, Obama voted or has stated the right thing (well, of course, as the data were cherry-picked to make him look good), which is certainly a good start and makes him light-years better than McCain. In particular note his acknowledgment of and opposition to the DOMA, DADT, and non-inclusive ENDA.