08/10/2007 11:52 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If You Don't Ask, You'll Never Get It

That's what a friend said to me at the end of the historic LOGO debates.

She's right.

I was fuming about the lack of content. I watched Obama side-step the issue of homophobia in the black community. I watched Edwards recommit to his stance against gay marriage while looking like he was about to wiggle out of his seat in discomfort.

When Obama had the audacity to tell Joe Solomnese that the difference between civil unions and marriage was merely "semantics," I thought I was going to throw my shoe at the television.


My friend's simple statement brought me back.

We asked. We asked the questions. Regardless of the answers, the political pandering, for the first time in history, presidential candidates answered questions from the LGBT community.

Not only were gays and lesbians addressed? But issues facing the transgender community, too. John Edwards stumbled and bumbled around the question about how to help someone who was transgender, but it was asked.

We asked.

Civil rights for the LGBT community will have to come many shapes and forms. It's going to take pulling together a lot of people and listening to everyone's needs. We are all races, all genders, and all socio-economic levels. Obama didn't quite grasp that reality when he pointed out he would not have chosen interracial marriage as a cornerstone of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Marriage is an issue that -- for better or worse (pardon the pun) -- covers a great deal of concerns AND is something so traditional, so basic in heterosexuals lives, it could be packaged in a way to appeal to a wide section of voters. You know, puppies, kittens and lesbians with babies. It's hard to hate babies. When you pick white, middle-class lesbians? You have a shot.

In Massachusetts? We won.

I love those white, middle-class lesbians who put themselves out there. Was it perfect? No. It was, however, the first step. A huge first step. Did anyone believe -- really believe -- we'd ever get this passed in any state?

We asked. We got it.

Marriage equality is much more than state level tax breaks; it is health insurance, hospital visitation rights, and the recognition we are a family no matter what. Marriage has years of legal precedents that go with it -- can you imagine our current government ever being able to draft a separate but equal institution?

I was disappointed by most of the responses in the debate. Gravel and Kucinich? Made me feel like wanting rights was a far out fringe request. When I put my kids to bed? I don't feel like a lesbian activist. I feel like a mom.

The debate was like so many I've watched. Politicians mugging, smiling, trying to say the right thing. Bright camera lights. Elusive answers that lead to applause even when the crowd has no idea why they are applauding.

My friend asked, could you even imagine this happening seven years ago? Which, historically speaking, is a nanosecond.

Last night, Obama gave political double talk, Edwards squirmed, Clinton gave the same kind of political strategy talk that I heard in the gay and lesbian community when seven plaintiff couples walked into Boston City Hall and asked for marriage license applications. Can't be done, get what you can, work the system...

I'm grateful they didn't listen. Sometimes playing nice and within the rules gives the powers that be the sense that they can pat you on the head and say, not now.

I'm not even going to discuss Richardson. Did anyone mention to that man he was walking into a room full of LGBT folks?

Last night? We asked. We asked about marriage, we asked about hate crimes legislation, we asked about the employment act, we asked about the ridiculous military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, health care protection and programs in school settings that allow our families to be discussed.

Because ultimately? If you don't ask, you're never going to get it.