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I Wouldn’t Really Call it a Debate

I decided to watch the presidential debate on LoGo last night. For those of you out there without expanded cable, LoGo is a gay cable network (if African-Americans, women, and catholics can get their own TV station, why not the homos?) and the presidential debate was more of an individual question and answer session than a debate. Actually, I rather prefered this setting since there wasn’t one candidate constantly interrupting or yelling over the other candidate. Still, in the end, it would have been great to have the candidates do their Q&A session as the first portion of the show and then an actual debate afterwards.

Still, the fact that six of eight democratic candidates are willing to appear on a gay TV network is pretty impressive.* Even more impressive is that every candidate running today is either for civil unions (4) or same-sex marriage (2).

I’m really glad I watched. Obviously, the focus of the Q&A sessions was to find out where the candidates stand on gay rights…everything from DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, same-sex marriage/civil unions, ENDA (emplyment discrimination act) to non-gay specific issues like health care.

Essentially, there are two candidates (Kucinich from Ohio, Gravel from Alaska) who are about as gay-friendly as a candidate could possibly be. I wish Kucinich has a change since his social views are just about identical to mine. However, he’s so lovey-dovey that I question how he’d handle the other important issues that require a more firm stance (tensions in middle-east, etc…)

Gravel was a hoot. He must be in his 70’s and he’s for everything (even stuff I’m not for). By the end of his session, he was advocating selling marijuana in liquor stores and having doctors prescribe hard drugs, like heroine and cocaine.

As for the other candidates, I learned a lot.

Obama came up first. He kind of bored me. He took forever to answer questions (speaking slowly with long pauses to think). It came off as though he was trying to find the answer that would most please the current (gay) audience but wouldn’t hurt him if he’s quoted in the straight media later on. I was leaning toward him before the debate, but now I’m not. I think I’d want a president who can react more quickly on his toes.

Edwards was up next. I just don’t get it with him. He’s more of a sweet-talker. He’s got the charm, but he doesn’t have the strong convictions. Even more than Obama, he would skirt around direct answers (like why, exactly, is he against same-sex marriage but for civil unions). In fact, he was asked twice and I still don’t know the actual answer.

Richardson was a let down. I didn’t know much about him, but the few things I read made him sound like the underdog with the heart of gold. He performed MISERABLY in this debate and was so full of contradictions I’ve lost all respect for the man. When Melissa Etheridge asked if he thought homosexuality was a choice or something you’re born with, he responded “it’s a choice.” When she (and everybody) was shocked, she said “I think you misunderstood the question.” She asked it again, and he responded in a round-about way, but it essentially made it sound like he really does believe it’s a choice. And his response that he’s vehemently against DOMA and feels the states should decide whether to allow same-sex marriage, yet he wouldn’t push for same sex marriage in his own state (despite basically insulting other states for forbidding it) just pissed me off.

Finally, there was Clinton. I didn’t like everything she said, but I liked her balls in being more straight forward than any other candidate. She admitted her faults (being for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the beginning), but also made some valid points. She also alluded to something that struck me as true (whether I liked it or not).

Back in the 1990’s when DOMA was approved, I was livid. How obscene, I thought, that the government was permitted to NOT recognize same-sex marriages, and that individual states could choose to forbid them. But a decade later I think DOMA was the best thing that could have happened for same-sex marriage equality. Without DOMA, the minute the first state permitted civil unions (Vermont) or same-sex marriage (Massachusetts), congress would have immediately pushed for a constitutional amendment banning such things. And that would have been the end of it. But since DOMA (a law, not an amendment) already existed when G.W. Bush pushed for the amendment, democrats AND republicans said there was no need for it since we already have DOMA.

This allowed for individual states to start licensing these unions and also allowed for society to realize that Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut haven’t falled off the face of the earth, or morphed into SatanLand. Other states, like California and New Mexico started offering domestic partnerships that offer similar benefits. Granted, it sucks that none of these options provide federal benefits (thanks to DOMA), but it’s a start. And it’s expected that other states (Maryland, New York) will follow suit and start offering some sort marriage/unions.

It’s a slow process, but it’s moving in the right direction. And, although DOMA was implemented for all the wrong reasons, it actually appears to have helped in the long run. Gravel predicted that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide within 5 years. I don’t think that will be the case…at least not that soon. I do predict same-same marriage will become a non-issue someday, but it’s going to take some time.

*A similar invitation was made to all of the republican candidates. Not a single candidate replied.

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