Friday, October 3, 2008

Why I Won't Vote

For either Obama or McCain

Well, let's just face it, there's no way I could support John McCain. While once a distinct possibility in 2000, McCain has rapidly deteriorated into a toady of the fundamentalists and neo-con conservatives. Remember when he called Falwell and Robertson, et. al. the "Agents of Intolerance"? Of course, he lost that election so now he fawns for their support. He has since provided the Commencement address at Liberty University, aggressively sought the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsley (who both almost make Falwell and Robertson seem "normal") and then selects as his running mate, someone who's home church recently staged a so-called "Love Won Out" (i.e. pray the gay away 'ex-gay', reparative therapy) event. No, the GOP is completely off my list.

So what of Obama-Biden? Nope. One of the stories coming out of the much ballyhooed - but in all honesty very disappointing - Vice Presidential debate in St. Louis was they completely agree on denying lesbians and gays marriage equity. As I've written before, marriage isn't a big issue for transgenders as we can marry either gender - it only depends upon in which state the marriage is held. Still, marriage equity for all would clear up a lot of gray areas and confusion on the part of transgenders and the law about our legal relationships.

When asked if he supported marriage equity, "Say it ain't so, Joe" replied, "No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage." Obama himself said he would consider the notion of "civil unions", but not "marriage" arguing that his faith guided his belief that "marriage" is one man/one woman only. Nevermind that his faith, under the United Church of Christ, holds no top down dogma - so his "faith" is basically his own - and that the UCC is actually the only mainstream, Protestant denomination to support marriage equity.

Biden hails from Delaware, a state with no employment protections for LGB or T people and no inclusion of Gender Identity in the state's hate crimes laws. Do you think if the widely popular Biden were to throw his weight behind our issues that perhaps his small state might be a bit more supportive? In truth, Biden has generally voted in support of LGB or T issues when brought to the floor of Congress, but he has been no real advocate for those issues either.

Obama was very quick last fall to declare his support for a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), then come spring started offering up the "but it might take a little longer" for the T-part mantra. Care to guess where he might have come up with that "incrementalist" notion?

And Obama has recently developed a hemming and hawing approach to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) saying he wouldn't do so "on his own". That's not leadership, that's prepping honorably serving gays, lesbians and transgenders for a sell out down the road. Count on it. People thought DADT was the big win when Bill Clinton went halfway in clearing the path for LGB or T people to serve openly and honestly in the military. How wrong was that support? Once burned, twice shy.

Also disturbing is Obama's continued outreach to very conservative faith leaders, one of whom is stumping for him in California while simultaneously supporting Proposition 8, which is the effort to overturn the state's Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for marriage equity. While Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec has been denied Communion for his support of Obama - who supports reproductive rights and choice for women - which is spiritual violence at him, the fact remains that Kmiec also supported Mitt Romney until his poorly defined candidacy collapsed. Kmiec is to be part of Obama's "Faith and Values" tour. Let us not forget that Obama earlier used Donnie McClurkin, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" minister and gospel singer in the primary campaign in South Carolina.

I truly hope that Obama does win the election and not just for the historical context. But I can no longer support someone based on promises or hope or simply being the lesser of two choices. I spent nearly 50 years of my life living "second best" and I refuse to accept that premise any longer. I will support, eagerly support, those that support me. Is it a "litmus test"? Sure, but if I don't stand firm about transgender issues, the others don't really matter much. Clear that hurdle - act, not promise, for transgender equality - and then I'll consider the other issues important to the nation. Neither candidate, nor their running mates, have done so and thus I will sit on the sidelines of this election.


genevieve said...

It's really up to us to secure the rights that we're suppose to have. I'm a transgender woman and I see that it's time for transgender people to go on their own and to tell our own stories.

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