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Post subject: Chris Crain on political debate in the US  PostPosted: Apr 18, 2007 - 02:34 AM

Joined: Sep 06, 2006
Posts: 1754

Those devilish details

Kudos to Lou Chibbaro and my former colleagues at the Washington Blade for an excellent report this week on how all the talk from the Democrats running for president about "equal rights" for gay couples hasn't translated into any real sense of what they're actually talking about.

We know that Hillary, Obama and Edwards oppose gay marriage and support civil unions. But what does that really mean, considering they're running for president and those issues are decided at the state level?

No one believes that Clinton, Obama, Edwards or the other Democrats support legislation to enact civil unions nationwide. Most Democrats are already on record favoring the idea of letting states decide what level of recognition, whether through marriage or some other form, to give same-sex couples.

Mr. Crain draws attention to a post he made back in February that provides much more interesting topics for presidential candidates to voice their opinions on.

Where is the debate on actual issues? And not just about marriage. What are our leading organizations pushing for, in terms of concrete commitments from those in the hunt for the White House who won't back full marriage equality? How about this list:

First, the given:

1. Full support and a strong commitment for early enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a federal hate crimes law. Both may be non-issues by '08, if the Democratic Congress passes them as expected. Would a lame duck Bush really veto? (I will leave it to the trans activists to wedge their way into inclusion on one or both).

2. Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This should be a non-issue, given all the recent momentum, and the similar positions taken by Al Gore and Bill Bradley in 2000, and John Kerry and John Edwards in 2004.

3. Full support and a strong commitment for early passage of the Uniting American Families Act (formerly known as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act) which allows gay Americans to sponsor their non-American partners for citizenship. Neither Clinton nor Obama has signed on as a sponsor, though Edwards did before he left the Senate in 2005.

Then, the harder issues:

1. Repeal the portion of the Defense of Marrige Act that blocks all federal recognition of valid state marriage licenses issued to gay couples. If the issue really should "be left to the states," as leading Dems are fond of saying, then the feds should respect the conclusions reached by each.

2. Federal recognition of state-issued civil unions, at least for tax and Social Security.

3. Full-throated opposition to ballot measures at the state level designed to amend state constitutions to block gay marriage. It's long past time leading Democrats found their voice in defending the role played by the judiciary in defending civil rights. Respecting constitutions and judges doesn't require agreeing with every ruling.

As the gay rights movement has learned, the devil is often in the details, and we'd be foolish to sit back looking for which candidate is speaking from the heart. It's not enough anymore.

"If you want the freedom, the abilities, you have to find a way. Just don't be so passive. We are capable of so much more." -- Larry Kramer
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