(COVER DESIGN: MICHAEL SHIREY)
It scarcely seems necessary to reiterate the urgency of President Barack Obama’s reelection, but given the “qualified endorsement” the Log Cabin Republicans offered to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on October 23, a brief summary is in order.
In 21 months in office, the president has:
· Enacted hate crimes legislation, offering specific protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
· Ended the ban on HIV-positive visitors entering the US;
· Repealed the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy;
· Articulated a National HIV/ AIDS Strategy long sought by advocates;
· Established requirements that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding –– virtually 100 percent of them –– allow visitation by gay or lesbian partners as family members;
· Established requirements barring any housing owned, operated, or financed by the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and placing the same guidelines on the issuance of federally-insured mortgages;
· Enacted a healthcare law insuring access to care for all Americans regardless of pre-existing conditions and protecting transgender and gender-nonconforming patients from discrimination under its terms;
· Concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and directed the Justice Department to stop defending it in court;
· Endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA and give all legally married couples federal recognition regardless of where they live
· Recognized gay and lesbian-headed families as “family” for purposes of exercising prosecutorial discretion in pending immigration cases in order to forestall deportation proceedings; and
· Endorsed marriage equality.
Romney certainly does not support anything close to this agenda; in fact, it’s unclear he supports even one element of it.
The LGBT community, in addition to supporting Obama’s reelection, should do everything it can to help elect Democrats to the House of Representatives and the Senate. Without a majority in at least one house, the president’s efforts on our behalf on matters like the long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and –– more ambitiously –– repeal of DOMA will surely be stymied.
There are at least nine toss-up races among the 33 in the Senate. New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, eminently deserving of reelection, is a sure bet. Other standout candidates are Elizabeth Warren, challenging incumbent Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Representative Chris Murray, facing self-funded World Wrestling mogul Linda McMahon in Connecticut, former Governor Tim Kaine in Virginia, and Senator Claire McCaskill, who is opposed by Representative Todd Akin, the source of reprehensible comments about rape victims earlier this year.
Democrats would need a net gain of 25 seats to recapture the House of Representatives, a goal observers on both sides of the aisle see as an unlikely outcome. Even if that is not in the cards, however, trimming the radical-right GOP majority that John Boehner bows to as speaker is a laudable aim in and of itself. Two New York area Democratic challengers who deserve LGBT support are Mark Murphy, who is taking on Staten Island Republican freshman Michael Grimm, and Sean Patrick Maloney, who is challenging GOP freshman Nan Hayworth in the Hudson Valley. Maloney would become the first out gay member of Congress from New York if elected.
Finally, there are four critical marriage fights –– in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. To pitch in on those efforts via phone banking from New York City, White Plains, the Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, visit 20MillionMore.org. This push is sponsored by more than 50 organizations, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, Queer Rising, PFLAG, and the Metropolitan Community Church.
To join the gay effort on behalf of the president, visit barackobama.com and click on LGBT Americans under the Get Involved tab.
For information on assisting the Murphy campaign in Staten Island and Brooklyn, visit the Stonewall Democrats’ website at SDNYC.org. To help Maloney become New York’s first gay congressman, visit seanmaloney.com.
Whatever you do, don’t waste the next 14 days.