Sunday, February 10, 2008

We really don't count for much.....

I was an Edwards supporter for a variety of reasons, since he's dropped out, I've been spending time at both Obama and Hillary's websites, trying to find who I'd feel most comfortable supporting.

I've always been pretty aware of the fact that candidates in general tend to give alot of lip service to our issues, saying what they need to say to entice the pocketbooks to open and the proper levers to get pulled in the voting booth without any real commitment to our issues as GLBT citizens. And I've listened to plenty of "civil unions=good/marriage=bad" from all the contenders to know that this isn't really going to strike high on their agendas once the ballots are all tabulated.

But after researching, I've come to the conclusion that they really think we're that stupid, and it pisses me off to be played that way.

In spite of all the talk from all the candidates about ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell - damn if I can find it on their websites. Plenty of space for all the wonderful things they plan to do for veterans once elected, but nothing for me, a veteran who's career got ended when someone told.

In spite of all the happy words about repealing/changing DOMA - not one word again, I looked in the Families section, the Strengthening the Middle Class section, the Faith sections.

In spite of all the great rhetoric about civil rights and equality - I sure have a hard time finding GLBT information being included in any of those online issues pages. Are we not civil enough? Or maybe we've been too civil before.

And it dawned on me that the President isn't the one who would be introducing that sort of legislation in the first place - it would be a Representative or Senator (flashback to 8th grade civics class). And who do we have running this election? 2 sitting Senators, neither of which has introduced any legislation to rectify those issues they keep telling me they're so deeply concerned about and planning to fix once they get elected.

Now certainly, there are those who will tell me I should just suck it up and vote for anyone with a D behind their name because the one's with R are so much worse. After all, I shouldn't be such a "single issue" voter. I should take a look at all of the issues and make my decision based on that. So here is my recap of all the issues:

  • Taxes - my status as a gay man means that I'll pay about $4,000 more this year than if I was married)
  • Economy - I live in a state that is only attracting economic growth in one city, the one who happens to have the largest employer base of GLBT friendly companies in the SouthEast)
  • Healthcare - I am not eligble to be on my partner's health plan. And if I was, instead of him getting a tax break for it and paying for it with pretax dollars, he'd have to pay it with after tax dollars AND the gov't would impute the amount his employer paid on my behalf and my partner would have to pay taxes on that portion as well.
  • Social Security & Retirement - As it stands now, neither of us will be able to pass along whatever benefits we've accumulated through Social Security. And instead of a 401K passing on to me without a tax penalty if I recognized as a spouse, I get the joy having that income dumped on top of mine for the taxable year, pushing me into a higher bracket.
  • Civil Rights - Plenty of talk about equal access to all, regardless if woman or minority. But it rings pretty hollow to those of us in this country who are treated differently every single day. If I worked for someone else, I can still be fired for being gay. Imagine the uproar if I fired one of my employees for being black or a woman? But still perfectly legal to walk right up to someone and tell them they're fired for being a faggot or a dyke.
  • Faith - All the candidates are touting their personal faith and their commitment to strengthening the faith based communities. But that really only applies to those faiths that don't actively support equal treatment of all regardless of sexuality. Should my church provide their blessing/ritual/ceremony to support my commitment to Chris, those outside don't want it to have the same validity as when their church does the same for straight couples.
  • Strengthening Families - Yes, all the candidates are for families. Well, those that fit certain molds and societal norms. Because the family that came about when the gay couple chose to adopt the special needs child that no one else wanted doesn't need the same protections as the straight white couple down the street. Because I haven't seen any bills or amendments introduced by any of the candidates that would have cover the GLBT spouses or parents on an equal footing as everyone else. Or prevent states from discriminating based on that for adoption placements.
  • Immigration - Plenty of discussion about reforming our current immigration system, but haven't seen anything introduced by any of them that would allow a foreign born spouse of GLBT to be treated the same way as if they were actually married. Or even to recognize those who have been actually married in those countries progressive enough to allow that. But I do know couples who aren't living together because of these archaic rules as they wait for someone to finally clear all the hurdles that are only in place for certain people.
  • Poverty - I've seen plenty about the need to tackle the issues of poverty in this country, along with specific plans for certain people. But the concept of life partners where one dies and leaves the other in total poverty because the laws allow the deceased partner's family more rights to their combined assets than the GBLT spouse who survives (in spite of wills and all the other loopholes we have to jump through to try to protect ourselves) are still on the books in many states and I've seen no leadership from the Federal level to try to remedy that.

So the next time someone wants to criticize me for being a "single issue" voter, please take a look at this list again. I have a hard time finding any part of the domestic policy agendas that don't treat me and other GLBT differently that other Americans based on who I love. And if you think that I'm unfairly bashing your chosen candidate, please show me where they have actually done something to address these issues (not just talk about it at the gay friendly fundraising events). You see, they are real issues to many of us, in a country where we're all supposed to be treated the same under the law.

And if you can't understand that it really is different for some of us and can't bring yourself to say that we really do have a valid point and that it isn't right to treat some of us differently based on this one characteristic - please examine your own labels again. Perhaps it's time to stop referring to yourself as a Progressive.

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