Friday, December 7, 2007

Kehoe, Atkins Among Members of Hillary Clinton's California LGBT Steering Committee

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton announced the formation of her California LGBT Steering Committee. It's Chaired by Senator Sheila Kuehl and includes among its 100+ members San Diego Senator Christine Kehoe and Councilwoman Toni Atkins. The press release touts:
Hillary has been a longtime ally of the LGBT community. She fought against the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) both times and has worked on legislation that would promote equality for LGBT Americans.
It also goes on to note that she has publicly stated she would repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and other positions. But as Paul Hogarth found out at YearlyKos, Clinton remains a fan of the Defense Of Marriage Act:
Defense of Marriage: DOMA, passed in 1996 when Bill Clinton wanted to deprive Bob Dole of a campaign issue, allows states not to recognize an out-of-state gay marriage. "DOMA served a very important purpose," she said. "I was one of the architects in the strategy of fighting the 2004 Marriage Amendment, and DOMA gave us a bright line to be able to pull back the votes."
So color me still perplexed by the LGBT support for Clinton, which certainly appears to be widespread. I can appreciate that Bill Clinton was the closest thing to an ally that the community has had in the White House in more than 25 years, so there's some (admirable) loyalty involved. And she is (thankfully) in favor of changing DOMA to allow federal recognition of state unions. But when she spoke to the Human Rights Campaign earlier this year, she wanted as little publicity as possible, and she still isn't budging on DOMA. So what makes her a better potential champion for LGBT issues as compared to other candidates?

Barack Obama caused a major kerfluffle a month ago by inviting popular homophobe and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to perform at a campaign event. Big flag there. But he then turned around and condemned Rev. McLurkin's beliefs on homosexuality in no uncertain terms and spoke strongly about supporting the same LGBT issues that Hillary Clinton's press release mentions while also calling for the full repeal of DOMA. That part, at least, seems better.

John Edwards, like Clinton, supports repealing the part of DOMA "that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships." He voices strong opposition to any discrimination based on sexual orientation and while he's still not sure about marriage, is all for civil unions just like Clinton and Obama.

So I guess that I don't see all that much daylight between the three leading contenders. Or at least, not enough that would spark a stampede towards Hillary Clinton's corner. I'm more than willing to have this explained to me and would actually appreciate some sort of explanation now that two of San Diego's leading LGBT political figures have joined up with team Hillary. It just seems like an oddly un-progressive choice for a generally very progressive community with generally very progressive issue priorities.

Like Lane Hudson said at HuffPo a few months ago, if the value of DOMA was as a tool to defeat the Federal Marraige Amendment, and the FMA is now dead, then hasn't DOMA run its course? Why would anyone- within the LGBT community or not- even accept this as something for debate? And why would they so overwhelmingly and enthusiastically line up for someone who isn't even on the correct side of that debate?


Charlotte Robinson said...

The California LGBT Steering committee needs to check out our trailer on Gay Marriage. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & creates an interesting spin on the issue:

Anonymous said...

As an openly gay Democrat, I was disgusted how the LGBT Caucus at the California Democratic Convention last April turned into a Clinton campaign rally, with Christine Kehoe announcing she supports Hillary.

Not only did Bill Clinton sign DOMA, for no reason than to deprive Bob Dole of a campaign issue (he signed it at midnight while denouncing it as gay-bashing), but he then turned around and advertised on Christian radio to brag that he signed it.

When Senator Kehoe told the LGBT Caucus that she supports Clinton, she told us that Hillary will repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. So I came up to her and asked about DOMA. Kehoe expressed surprise and said, "that's a good question. I don't know."

She endorsed Hillary without even asking her that important question first? Shouldn't our progressive leaders demand these types of questions -- maybe even get a concession or two -- before throwing your weight behind the candidate, giving them streetcred in the LGBT community?

There's one reason why Christine Kehoe -- and Sheila Kuehl, for that matter -- would endorse Hillary Clinton. Both are termed-out of office, and would love a nice job in the new Democratic Administration. They're going with the "winner."