The LGBT Debate

Logo TV tonight had the LGBT presidential debate:

Logo and Human Rights Campaign Foundation present this historic and first-ever live televised U.S. Presidential candidate forum on issues of importance to the LGBT community, with the leading 2008 Democratic presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson....

I was able to see most of it. Obama went first and in my view, didn't impress. Especially when he said gay marriage should be left up to individual churches to decide. Edwards did a credible job. He came so close to endorsing gay marriage and then backed off. Too bad. Still, a positive step for him, he's clearly on as he says "a journey." I missed Gravel. Dodd wasn't there after all. Kucinich, not suprisingly, had the best and most heartfelt answers.

Richardson blew it big time. He was asked whether being gay is a matter of choice or whether you're born that way and he immediately responded "choice." Figuring he misunderstood the question, the panelists, including Melissa Etheridge and Margaret Carlson, gave him another chance. He still didn't get it and framed his answer in terms of equality, saying it didn't matter. Can someone please educate him?


Hillary was last and answered the tough questions about the failure of Don't Ask, Don't Tell with candor. She also said her opposition to gay marriage is "personal" and whereas Obama said it's a matter for churches to decide, she said it's a matter for states to decide.

Both are cop-out positions, of course. If you support equal rights and domestic partnerships, there's no reason not to support gay marriage.

Yet, Hillary came across as more convincing in saying that if President she would continue to fight their fight for equality. I think the audience reacted favorably to her.

Interestingly, or perhaps just predictably, Margaret Carlson mentioned that the Republican candidates had also been invited to the debate but none accepted.

It was the best debate format yet in that each candidate was on by himself/herself, answering the questions of the panel. There was none of the "time's up" that has marked the other debates. It allowed the candidates to express themselves in more than soundbites and give us, the viewers, a fuller sense of them.

Did any of you see it? What were your reactions?

Here's the replay schedule if you missed it:
Thu 08/09
9:00 PM
Thu 08/09
11:00 PM
Fri 08/10
7:00 PM
Sat 08/11
10:00 AM
Mon 08/13
9:00 PM
Tue 08/14
11:00 AM

Video highlights are here.

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    I agree with Obama (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by coigue on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:12:30 AM EST
    If the Churches have to decide, then all one has to do is find, or form a liberal church. Then the state has to accpt the marriage.

    I am not into forcing conservative churches to perform gay marriages....are you?

    On the other hand, if the states decide, then is a gay marriage made in California also upheld by Texas legally?

    You see where I am going here?

    That is the issue about DOMA (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by pioneer111 on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:27:26 AM EST
    Edwards wants to repeal DOMA, Clinton wants to repeal part of it and I think Obama is the same.

    This is a dicey political issue for people

    Kucinich and Gravel were great, but not electable, thus able to say whatever they want.  


    what Obama said.. from mydd (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by concerned on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 08:36:53 AM EST
    First up is Barack Obama. The order of appearance was according to the order in which they committed to the forum.

    On the issue of gay marriage:

    A: Govt must treat all citizens equally. The rights conferred by the state must all be equal. That's why he opposed DOMA and he supports a strong version of same sex union, "not a weak version."

    He doesn't think all religious denominations should be forced to acknowledge same sex unions -- "My denomination, UCC, does."

    As president of the US I'm going to fight hard to make sure those rights are available to every American.

    Q: Comes off sounding like separate but equal.

    A: He understands it intimately b/c his parents would not have been able to marry legally in many states. He would have advised the civil rights movement not to go after anti-miscegenation laws -- go after getting the rights first and foremost, then move the law.


    great answers (none / 0) (#28)
    by coigue on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 11:54:24 PM EST
    he is really a gifted communicator, isn't he?

    Obama spoke of civil unions+enforcing legal rights (none / 0) (#15)
    by concerned on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 08:24:05 AM EST
    yeah I liked Obama-he did well-he's against DOMA (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by concerned on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 01:52:14 AM EST
    Obama is clearly a champion of civil liberties and I really like that. I thought Obama did well, but was actually kinda disappointed in Edwards because everything struck me as a soundbite story rather than focusing on the issues which is all they focused on with Obama (one issue, not really fair when they gave Edwards and others many different ones to comment on, including healthcare, wtf?) --thought they gave Edwards and others softballs, so it seemed a bit freeped to me. It also struck me that it felt like Edwards was just apologizing and changing his answer depending on who he was talking to..to just sound good and please his audience. I do like Edwards. Obama and Edwards are my favs. It was just more artificial than I would have liked. We did like the format, it was a nice forum for candidates, and Obama did well IMHO, but it would have been better if it was more fair and balanced for each candidate.

    Obama supports civil unions enforcing civil rights (none / 0) (#14)
    by concerned on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 08:16:55 AM EST
    the "let the churches decide" dodge (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by s5 on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 02:12:55 AM EST
    As far as the law should be concerned, marriage is a secular institution. It is essentially a binding contract between two unrelated people and the state, allowing them to define each other as family for the purposes of inheritance, property rights, immigration, and child custody.

    So, "let the churches decide" is irrelevant to public policy. Either the public policy allows a same sex couple to enter into that legal arrangement, or they don't. As far as the law should be concerned, a church should be little more than one venue of many possible choices. All the "church" dodge does is state the obvious, that the owner of a venue has the right to choose who they allow to use their facilities and staff.

    I'm a married atheist, and my wife and I chose to get married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. There was no mention of any invisible diety during our wedding, nor did any paperwork we sign or file have anything to do with a church or any religion.

    So, "let the churches decide" is irrelevant. After everyone leaves the church, you still have to file forms with the government. Will the government accept your forms, or will they deny your forms?

    No church can decide that. It's a policy question.


    The takeaway message I got... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Ramo on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:40:15 PM EST
    is that he wants to fold straight marriages into the  civil union framework, and then "marriage" becomes an entirely personal matter.  I don't find anything particularly wrong with that approach, though it's slightly irritating when he assumes that everyone's religious when he says things like that (on the other hand, such rhetoric makes his position more palatable to the fundies),

    not just the fundies, (none / 0) (#30)
    by coigue on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 11:59:54 PM EST
    i think

    I should add (none / 0) (#10)
    by s5 on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 02:14:00 AM EST
    that I haven't had a chance to watch the debate yet, so if Obama made similar points to mine, then great.

    nevertheless, the (none / 0) (#29)
    by coigue on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 11:58:59 PM EST
    argument against gay marriage is a religious one, so Obama very shrewdly made the point that many churches are pro gay marriage. The subtext of this message is that churches who claim that all religions are against gay marriage are trampling on other churches that are pro-gay marriage.

    The civil marriage may be where we need to head, but we have to deal with the religious argument first.

    -from a fellow athiest.


    I skipped it (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by andgarden on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 08:02:44 AM EST
    mostly because I already know where all of these candidates are on gay issues, and with some minor exceptions, there aren't really any differences. Kucinich apparently supports marriage equality now. Great, but he won't win. I can only hope that he moves the debate forward with the rest of them.

    Hmmmmm (1.00 / 0) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 04:54:28 PM EST
    For a group that is supposed to be for liberal values this candidate group did a fair amount of mealy mouthing. Why couldn't they just say:

    1. How or why someone is Gay has nothing to do with anything. "Is" and "Are" should be enough.

    2. Anyone should be able to marry anyone as long as they are both consenting adults.

    3. The state should function to enforce the contracts written and implied, regarding property rights, children, etc., involved in marriage. Nothing else.

    4. All churches should be free to accept, embrace or condem based on the desires of the church members.

    Seems pretty simple, eh??

    Richardson is a Catholic (none / 0) (#1)
    by timber on Thu Aug 09, 2007 at 11:04:05 PM EST
    No education will work

    It was not his worst answer (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by pioneer111 on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:24:48 AM EST
    Did you notice when he was asked would he sign a law in his state that had been passed by the legislature approving gay marriage.  He could not or would not answer, but kept talking about working with what is possible.  The hypothetical already specified that the law had passed, so it was possible.

    He passed DOMA and he is totally uncomfortable with gay issues.

    He was inarticulate and I cannot believe that he was a particularly effective diplomat.  I think he is a great promoter of himself but he cannot speak clearly.


    well someone got to him (none / 0) (#3)
    by coigue on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:13:19 AM EST
    or he would not say it didn't matter.

    I understand (none / 0) (#7)
    by BDB on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 01:14:54 AM EST
    why the three major candidates hedge, but it's still very frustrating.  I think it as Digby who pointed out they're going to be painted as the gay party anyway.

    I'm both disappointed in Hillary and defensive of her.  She's the one of the big three I think is probably the most comfortable with gays and I wish she'd just come out and say she has no problem with gay marriage, but many parts of the country just aren't ready for it and she isn't going to force it on them.  

    At the same time, I understand why she's so reticent to do so - her husband took a real beating on the gays-in-the-military crap.  Maybe he backtracked more than he should've, but it's still fascinating to me that so often there is more anger directed at him (and by extension Hillary) even though he tried than there is at some of the folks who went after him.  I remember the gays-in-the-military kerfluffle and the military leadership and Congress, including some Democrats, were brutal.  

    I do think DADT was intended by Clinton to be an improvement, it just didn't work out that way.  I've always thought the military leadership deliberately implemented it badly - they were always out to get Clinton.  It's shocking what they've silently gone along with under Bush, which has brought the military to the breaking point, when they were up on the Hill complaining about every little thing Clinton did.  

    As for Obama, he's the youngest candidate and is trying to sell himself about being the face of change and taking on the Washington establishment.  I'd believe it more if he took positions that actually differed from the Washington establishment.  This is just another example of him not doing that.  Also very disappointing.

    I've thought for awhile now that Richardson was an empty suit and with every debate/interview, I simply become more convinced.  

    Nice (none / 0) (#17)
    by Dulcinea on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 08:47:07 AM EST
    This is an objective analysis, Bob, and a good one.  Richardson is a (big) bag of wind.  Senator Clinton has to defend her husband's record and that is just crazy.  It's maddening that the so-called progressive blogs repeatedly fault Hillary for just about everything no matter how lame the accusations against her yet blast the traditional media for not fact-checking. Sheesh!

    Experience (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jgarza on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:04:02 PM EST
    It is fair that she gets called on her husbands record. She touts her experience.  She was first lady, if that counts as experience then she has to defend him.  She can't have it both ways.  She also supported his policies.  She would have to defend them less if she distanced her self on them.  She said Doma was a good thing, and said DADT was a good at the time.  

    Churches? (none / 0) (#11)
    by koshembos on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 04:07:58 AM EST
    Obama's answer is puzzling and inappropriate. First the puzzling, does he really mean churches, or does he include imams. rabbis and other religious institutions? Then what happens when some denomination splits, as we all know, do we leave the gay couple to the whims of factions?

    Obama's approach is, up to this point in the discussion, "keep that status quo." Beautiful solution for gay people or would I say it's the Republican approach.

    Second the inappropriate part, what about civil marriages? Is Obama taking care of "people of faith" only? I find this approach beyond the pale and even Republican!

    Initially I sent money to Obama's campaign, but the last month my disappointment grows almost every time he opens his mouth.

    i did not read it that way (none / 0) (#31)
    by coigue on Sun Aug 12, 2007 at 12:02:43 AM EST
    i read it that the marriage would occur in an institution that supported it, then a regular marriage license would be filed with the county and recognized throughout the country.

    I thought he was merely saying that he did not want to force conservative churches (etc) to perform marriages.....and I am ok with that


    Choice is the natural way (none / 0) (#12)
    by Lacy on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 07:35:31 AM EST
    It helps in reasoning out whether "being gay" is a choice or inate if you can fathom that zeroing in on the opposite sex is itself a choice, typically directed by environmental factors.  Why is there a problem with that?  

    Consider the fact that we humans are all "born that way", which typically is as blank slates. We, as the highest critter around, lack the birds and bees pre-programmed, instinctive driven behavior.

    The fact that a reproductive system evolved with humans is a mandated necessity. We wouldn't be here to ponder things had it not.  Yes, it is creationist style beg-the-question thinking to claim MF is the "natural" way. But it is a similar error to claim something inate about other pairings. It is a belief of convenience. We just have to explain ourselves as "normal" when the concept of normal may itself be perverted by those to whom we desire to defend our behavior.

    You see, if humans were incapable of higher thinking and had no idea what caused babies, adolescent human males would be humping animals, other males, females, and what have you, with no one caring a whit about it.  And enough of those  pairings of M-F could easily impregnate more than enough human females to keep the species going in a very primitive, but purely natural, indeed a normal way.  And in fact, our earliest ancestors could have lived precisely that style of life.

    And as researchers seek some defining gene on a chromosome that makes someone gay, maybe they should be looking for one that supposedly makes people "hetero". Despite some false claims of successes, I don't think they'll find either.    

    What brilliant snark! (none / 0) (#24)
    by Sailor on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 02:24:13 PM EST
    Unless you were being serious.

    Carlson (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dulcinea on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 09:12:20 AM EST
    Just an aside, Margaret Carlson has been beating up on the Clintons for years.  Interesting she was on the panel.  I'm glad I missed Maggie.

    Clinton (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jgarza on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 10:26:01 AM EST
    Did we not watch the the same debate? Clinton seemed more sincere?  She said that Melissa thought it was moving to slow, was because of her "illness." She threw out being in NYC's gay pride parade as sign of her support.  How superficial is that?  Then she had the nerve to claim Doma was helpful to gays.  Her line on why she hasn't introduced legislation to end DADT, was pretty bad too.  The only reason I can't classify her performance as terrible was because Richardson was there.  In general she said she would fight for gay issues, but couldn't explain away the lack of history of her actually doing that.  She made it clear, if you are LGBT and supporting her you have to hold your nose.

    It sounds like Obama is saying... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Ramo on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:35:59 PM EST
    that "marriage" is not the province of the state.  His issue seems to be that he doesn't believe marriage should be a civil matter.  So, the state would give gay or straight couples a civil union certificate, and then they could choose to call themselves married or not.  The stance seems a little bit better than the "separate but equal" position taken up by the other front-runners.

    Not that such nuance particularly matters, since as Gravel pointed out, this isn't going to be an issue in another couple Presidential cycles.  Opposition to gay marriage will be placed in the dustbin of history and all that...

    I should add that... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Ramo on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 12:50:59 PM EST
    since he framed marriage as a matter of personal conscience, and pointed out that his Church accepted gay marriage, he implicitly accepted gay marriage.  Not the most courageous of positions, but still better than anyone not named Kucinich or Gravel...

    One of the sponsors (none / 0) (#25)
    by dutchfox on Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 04:00:37 PM EST
    Human Rights Watch, is closely tied to the Democratic Party, but its membership is primarily white and middle class. Note, although Gravel and Kucinich are the only candidates who support same-sex marriage, the Democratic Party platform does not. Actually, the Green Party is the only party that endorses universal marriage rights.

    "choice" (none / 0) (#27)
    by diogenes on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 11:49:57 AM EST
    Most gay men are born that way, but many women choose their partners.  Think of the college phenomenon of "LUG" common in my college town-"Lesbian until Graduation" and of many women who are divorced and partnered with women, whereas very few men marry, have children, divorce, and then partner with men.