November 05, 2004

So, Maybe We Won't Have a Gay Old Time

As they process their grief in classic Kubler-Ross style in an effort to understand Tuesday's election results, there has been much talk among otherwise progressive, liberal Americans that gay marriage hurt John Kerry.


Homophobia helped George Bush. (Even though only 22% of voters identified "moral values" as their primary reason for voting for Bush, in a race as tight as this one those voters helped put him over the top.)

Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, is taking a lot of the heat for allowing gay couples to marry this year, with some saying it provided the right with just what it needed to motivate its base and with still others going so far as to call gay marriage the "Nader of 2004."

Again, bullshit.

Nader siphoned votes from Democrats by claiming in 2000 that there was no difference between Bush and Gore, a claim that anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last four years knows to be patently false. Newsom allowed tax-paying, law-abiding, adult couples who love other to enter into a legally sanctioned, binding relationship. Nader supporters in 2000 were right to abandon him in droves in 2004. Gay rights supporters in 2004 will not abandon their beliefs in 2008.

And although though his position on civil unions was more a matter of political convenience than conviction, I now have some newfound respect for Senator Kerry. Apparently, President Clinton recommended that Kerry come out in favor of the state ballot measures banning gay marriage. Now, I waited in line for six hours to get Clinton's autograph when his book came out, but I feel ashamed that a president who did so much to lift up so many people was willing to sacrifice an oppressed minority on the altar of appeasement. Kerry, to his credit, did not flip-flop and did not take Clinton's advice.

I wrote a letter to the editor of echoing some of the statements in this article about the gay marriage factor and this year's election. I don't know if they'll publish it, so here it is:

To the Editor:

Heroically, Mayor Newsom identified a a deep social imbalance and did
everything in his power to correct it. While taking a stand on gay
marriage in San Francisco might not seem like an act of courage, I would
like to believe that Newsom considered the national implications of his
plan before moving forward. The mayor acted, and acted decisively. Isn't
that the same kind of assuredness so many Americans admire in President
Bush, even if they don't agree with his policies?

Institutionalized racism was not overcome by counting on federalism. It
took Supreme Court decisions, an executive order to desegregate the armed
forces, Congressional legislation and a president to sign it to push civil
rights to the forefront of this country's domestic agenda. Would that we
had such courageous leadership in Washington today.

I am afraid that wait-and-see paths to equality will give false hope to
those seeking justice. Counting on younger, more tolerant generations to
grow into older, more tolerant voters is a weak strategy if there ever was
one. Political identification tends to grow more conservative with age,
and the idealism of young voters today might be pushed aside by their
concern for personal economics in the future. And, let's face it, the 92%
of Mississippians who voted to ban gay marriage aren't going to stop
teaching their children and grandchildren to hate faggots anytime soon.

It is not liberal, progressive Americans who should be doing the soul
searching, it is moderate Republicans - who allowed a radical agenda to take
over their party - who now have a serious question to ask themselves. Are
their tax cuts worth the disenfranchisement of tens of millions of

Instead of decrying a mayor's decision to cure one of society's ills,
moderates and progressives of all stripes should be decrying the
president's top political advisor for exploiting it.

I'll go back to covering celebrity marriages and grooms stuff shortly. For now, I leave you with this story, forwarded to me from a friend who found it on this blog. I think it perfectly illustrates the idiocy of blaming a minority for the troubles heaped upon it.

An SS officer walks up to a Jew on the street, pushes him onto the ground, and demands, "Who is the cause of all the troubles in the world?" The Jew answered, "the Jews." "That's right," says the Nazi. "And the bicycle riders," adds the Jew. The officer asked him "Why the bicycle riders?" and he responds, "Why the Jews?"

UPDATE: Salon published my letter.

Posted by Doug at November 5, 2004 03:20 PM

Although I don't completely disagree with your assessment, it's worth noting that almost 2/3 of voters support some sort of legally recognized status for gay couples. Granted, while my attitude towards gay marriage may be more liberal (or classifcally conservative as I don't think it's the government's place to legislate the parameters of a relationship between two consenting adults), I don't think that attitudes towards homosexuality decided the election. While such a hot button issue likely contributed to the result, I think the most galling statistics I've seen relate to a complete lack of due diligence on the part of the voting public. Bob Herbert of the NY Times reported that nearly 70% of President Bush's supporters believe that the U.S. has uncovered "clear evidence" of Saddam Hussein's working closely with Al Qaeda. 33% of the President's voters believe we've found WMD in Iraq. ( ) Unlike views on homosexuality, this information does not lie in the realm of opinion. The electorate remains ill-informed, and for better or for worse, they will reap what they sow.

Posted by: David at November 9, 2004 10:07 AM