First, how about some full disclosure. I have never voted for a Republican candidate for president. I actually voted for Clinton in ’92, since that’s what gays were supposed to do, but then he tried to socialize the health care industry. Since then I have never been able to stomach voting Democrat, and have instead voted Libertarian in every presidential election since. I have voted for various Republicans in state and local elections, however.
The condescending attitude that many people, gay or straight, have toward gay republicans is pretty disgusting. This attitude is epitomized by people like the author of this post, entitled “Being a Gay Republican is Like Being a Black Klansman”. It’s digusting because it reflects a very one-dimensional view of politics.
There’s a lot more in the platform of any Democrat than “I like the gays”. Unfortunately, when you vote for a particular candidate, you don’t get to pick the issues you agree with and let them act on only those issues. You’re getting the whole package deal. For example, since Hillary seems to be very popular with the gay Democrats right now, let’s take a look at a few of her ideas from her campaign web site, bills she has introduced into Congress, and CNN’s summary of her positions:
- socialize medical care
- wants our troops out of Iraq… now
- in favor of fencing the US-Mexican border
- opposes same-sex marriage, supports civil unions, says leave it the states
- opposes allowing people to divert their Social Security taxes into private accounts
- opposes the Bush tax cuts and does not want them extended
- subsidize the deployment of broadband in rural areas
- subsidize ethanol production
I could go on, but let’s just say that I only agree with two of the positions listed here. Now let’s look at the current Republican front-runner, Giuliani. Unfortunately since he was just a mayor, we can’t look at what sort of federal legislation he would actually introduce. But we can still draw some conclusions from the CNN summary and his web site:
- wants market-based health care reforms (a surprisingly libertarian position)
- opposes a timetable on getting troops out of Iraq
- supports fencing the US-Mexican border
- pro-choice… kinda. Supports parental notification and opposes partial birth abortions.
- opposes gay marriage, supports same-sex domestic partnerships and legal benefits
- supports private retirement accounts as part of Social Security
- supports Bush tax cuts (and cut taxes as Mayor)
- supports the domestic surveillance program
- supports the gitmo detentions
Neither candidate supports gay marriage. Even if Hillary was a staunch supporter of gay marriage, that would still not in itself be an overwhelming argument in her favor. There are a lot of other issues on the table. One thing I think people often overlook is how much a particular issue actually affects your life – and I mean a real, noticable impact on your life.
The impact of gay marriage on my life is largely symbolic. It would be nice to be able to get married if I wanted to. But my employer already offers same-sex benefits, and a “civil union” or equivalent would fit the bill for other legal purposes.
The impact of abortion rights is similar. It’s not like my boyfriend or I would ever need an abortion. I know people who have had abortions, but it’s not like this is an issue that comes up in my life even every 2 or 3 years.
Social Security affects me very directly. I see the huge deduction on every paycheck. And I wonder if I will ever see any small fraction of that money when I retire. If it was going into a special account or even the 401k I already have, I could see it and know it would be there for me when I needed it.
Taxes affect me very directly. Again, I see the deduction in every single paycheck. The Bush tax cuts didn’t have a big effect on my budget, but having more money is definitely better than having less.
Hillary might be a huge fag hag, but she still wants to take more of my money and lock me into Social Security. That’s a problem for me. I’m sure there are plenty of other gay people out there that find one or more of her views hard to stomach.
Based on this, I don’t see any particularly compelling reason that gay people should vote Democrat in the next presidential election. Of course, that’s assuming that these two people are the candidates, which is far from certain at this point. There are some far worse Republican candidates and somewhat better Democratic candidates in the running, so we’ll have to see how it pans out. But if I was forced to choose between these two candidates, I would end up voting Republican. Giuliani is likely to have a much more real, noticable benefit to my quality of life than Hillary is, even though I’m gay. Fortunately there are other options, so I can vote for someone I agree with far more than either of these candidates.
The bottom line is this: to say someone should vote Democrat just because they are gay is incredibly short-sighted. This is true of presidential elections, and even more true with all the varied candidates in state and local elections. You’d do yourself a favor to read up on the candidates, study their policies and the effect similar policies have had here and in other countries, and vote based on their merits. Don’t blindly toe the party line just because they pay lip service to your sexual preferences. There are other important issues at stake.