Monday, September 1, 2008

Liveblogging the LBGT Caucus

Originally posted at Bluegrass Roots.

The LBGT Caucus opened with a special message from Nancy Wohlforth of the AFL-CIO: Support the Employee Free Choice Act. We need a transgender-inclusive ENDA, and we need the Employee Free Choice Act.
Alan Cummings from X-men gets a special shout out. He waves to the audience.

Dell Martin, who passed away this morning, gets a moment of silence.

Introducing the first guest speaker: he just helped provide universal health care to San Francisco. He also blocked the development of Treasure Island out of San Francisco. He also opened the gates of marriage, for a brief time, in California. Gavin Newsom! A huge cheer from the crowd.

Newsom speaks of Dell Martin and her partner, whose devotion he felt defined marriage.

He recalled listening to Dubya's State of the Union address in 2004 in which Bush declared his support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It spurred his decision to marry same-sex couple. Newsom had read the CA Constitution and didn't see anything about it barring equal rights and protection under the law. He wanted to put a human face on the issue, and Dell Martin and her partner Phyllis were the first people he thought of.

He arranged for their marriage, plus several others. The next day, the headlines screamed that the world was coming to an end. Restraining orders were filed and denied. Four years later, a largely Republican California Supreme Court decided that Newsom was right about the Constitution. Dell and Phyllis were remarried. Dubya's attempt to prevent same-sex marriage failed, but California has an anti-marriage amendment on the ballot.

Newsom: We need your help defeating Proposition 8. It would be a monumental setback in the history of your movement. This is about human rights and dignity, and is the second most important election in this nation.

Standing ovation.

Steve Hildebrandt from the Obama campaign is up now. We have handouts comparing Obama's stand on LBGT issues to McCain's. I notice that his listed opposition to same-sex marriage bans doesn't include support of actual same-sex marriage. However, he does support civil unions and feels that they should have the full equivalent rights and recognitions that marriage has. Why must people quibble over semantics? If it's the equivalent of marriage, then why not call it that? Or, if that makes people too comfortable, why not call ALL marriages 'civil unions' in the eyes of the law, and let individual churches decide who they want to 'unite in holy matrimony'?

Hildebrandt is urging them to vote for Obama, for everyone's benefit. Quote: "Barack is f---ing smart." The crowd cheers. "Give it everything you've got."

Howard Dean is speaking now. He recalls the battle over civil unions in Vermont, and the advances made over the last few years, despite the efforts of George Bush and Karl Rove to stem them.

He encourages the members of the audience to not only register voters, but encourage them to vote early. It circumvents the last-minute handouts in church bulletins and last-minute smears on television. Ask everyone to vote early or vote absentee. When the GOP make it harder for minority groups to vote, they also made it easier to vote early (since so many GOP supporters vote early). Take advantage of this. Every vote has to count.

They're introducing Linda Kettner, openly LBGT candidate for Congress in South Carolina. She says that she is the "Southern Strategy". However, she is not running to make a point, but to win. She is currently up in the polls.

Kettner has learned that people will vote for her when she asks them what's important to them and she really listens to them. Apparently, voters aren't used to that. Overall, people need and want the same things. She is not running for gay people, white people, or blondes. She's running for everyone.

Introducing Congressman Tim Wallace. He says that the message of LBGT equality is being heard as freely in Minnesota as it is in San Francisco. He won despite his pro-LBGT positions. When people said "Wow, you won a red district despite your positions," his answer was: "No, I won BECAUSE of my positions."

Barney Frank is coming to the podium now, accompanied by applause. He is definitely getting older, and his voice is grizzled. He's probably been making speeches all week. My question: will he run for Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate once it becomes vacant? I don't want to sound like a vulture here, but the term 'grim diagnosis' not one you usually live through.

He's talking about first running for office, and people learning he was gay. It startled the men, but didn't bother the women at all. Laughter.

Frank says that we are freeing people from homophobia when we come out. He complains, though, that When we discuss our sexuality, we are accused of shoving it into people's faces. Strangely enough, straight people talk about sex all the time, and it's just called 'talking'.

The parties' stands on LBGT rights is where they are most dissimilar. The more Democrats we have in office, the better off we are. It doesn't mean all Democrats are our allies, but overall our community will do better with Democrats in office. They are more supportive.

Also: the GOP has been trying to split minority groups away from the gay groups, using religious arguments, suggesting that we aren't real victims of prejudice, etc. However, the most supportive group to LBGT rights in Congress is the Black Caucus. Applause again.

Frank feels that in the history books, 2008 will be listed as the year Americans decided to legally end discrimination against sexual orientation. Be able to say, "I was there when we broke the back of bigotry."

No comments: