Monday, January 28, 2008

LGBT Voters Debate the Candidates, Issues

With voters in nearly two dozen states going to the polls on the media-dubbed Super (and even Duper) Tuesday next week, this writer found today's article on gay Democrats in the New York Times particularly interesting. The movement for LGBT rights collectively recalls how social conservatives successfully used marriage for same-sex couples to drive their supporters to the polls in 2004. The scene at the LGBT Community Center in lower Manhattan was one of despair and even emotional devastation as this writer recalls his coverage of that night for the New York Blade. This election cycle seems vastly different as LGBT activists and pundits express optimism at the three leading Democratic candidates who support the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' a bill which would add sexual orientation to the federal non-discrimination laws and opposition to the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment.

Neither U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or former U.S. Sen. John Edwards support marriage for gays and lesbians but to assume LGBT voters would determine their support of a particular candidate based on one issue is simply foolish and arguably insulting. LGBT voters, like many Americans, concern themselves with pocketbook issues, the war in Iraq and other so-called mainstream issues that arguably transcend political affiliation or partisan politics. The fact LGBT issues have not dominated the political discourse of this campaign cycle is certainly no coincidence with a struggling economy, an unpopular war and other issues. But LGBT voters, such as those profiled in the Times and others across the country, will continue to make their choices. Some will undoubtedly focus on LGBT issues while others may choose to look at the bigger picture... let the games really begin!

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