Coming Up Roses

BY NATHAN RILEY | Something new is happening this election year, and my anxieties don't gnaw anymore. When after the kiss and make-up, I made a contribution to Hillary Clinton to help with her debt, I felt optimistic without feeling manic.

Even in defeat, I see silver linings. The Supreme Court authoritarians terminated a 32-year-old gun control law in Washington, DC, finding that everyone who is mentally fit may have a gun, but only in their own home. I had a pleasant surprise – commentators started discussing the future of the Supreme Court under a McCain presidency

yFuture appointments now matter to men. Women harbor well-justified fears about the future of Roe v. Wade that guarantees them the right to choose. All of a sudden the nation is concerned. Men are asking, “Do we want more guns in the city?” The composition of the Supreme Court matters to everybody.

Marriage equality, the issue that clobbered the gay community in 2004 and made Democrats cringe, is experiencing a revolution. It looks like a winner in New York State and California. The decision of the California Supreme Court supporting gay marriage is moving moderate opinion. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on “Meet the Press” told Tom Brokaw he supports the Court's decision: “I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time my, you know, belief, I don't want to force on anyone else, so I think we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward. There are so many other more important issues. So I think to spend any time on this initiative I think is a waste of time.”

“A waste of time,” I couldn't have said it better myself. Schwarzenegger is firmly opposed to a referendum writing a gay marriage ban into the California Constitution.

Then I turn to New York State, and watch Governor David Paterson grow in office. His leadership entered a new phase when he endorsed a cap on the property tax. We have an African-American governor co-opting a conservative cause.

After four months in office, Paterson watched Joe Bruno resign from the leadership of the State Senate Republicans – a major objective of the Spitzer era. The new leader, Dean Skelos, is unhappy and complaining about the governor's power to define an issue.

Skelos told the New York Sun he will meet with Paterson on the property tax. But Skelos is on the defensive: “A cap is a four-percent increase every year. People are looking for a reduction in their real property tax.” The new Republican leader may pass a law that makes him and his fellow conservatives unhappy.

Paterson's growing strength bodes well for the LGBT community. It becomes easier to enforce his policy of recognizing out-of-state gay marriages. It means he will help the Senate Democrats elect a majority in November. And this puts New York State on track for its gay marriage first – the first state to have marriage equality result from a state legislative initiative signed by a governor.

The California Legislature passed such a measure twice, but Schwarzenegger vetoed it both times, citing the 2000 referendum by the voters. Paterson would sign the same legislation.

And then there is the big enchilada, Barack Obama. The candidate is mounting a vigorous counter-attack against those who say he is a secret Muslim. The rumor has had an impact with slightly more than one in ten believing what amounts to a calumny in post-9/11 America. Whether it is asking women dressed as orthodox Muslims to stay out of camera range or identifying the kooks who haven't figured out that his biggest PR fiasco resulted from his Christian minister, the Obama campaign is aware that this lie could fly out of control. He has a website devoted to deflating such rumors.

Obama also has allies pointing out the growing strength of the Democrats in the West and the candidate is making trips to the South, the greatest Republicans stronghold in the nation. The polls suggest the Clinton voters are sticking with the Democrats. But LGBT voters and their friends should remain steadfast – the Republicans have made it clear they will fight hard. McCain's reputation for fighting clean campaigns may well suffer.

Gay pride weekend always makes me feel stronger, but I have never felt more confident about our politics, with so many positive facts going in the right direction. Maybe in November, I will be in a novel situation where the candidates I support are winning.