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Wayne Besen Headshot

Gay Group Smart to Endorse Obama Early

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BARACK OBAMA 2012

The GOP field is shaping up to be a disaster of epic proportions. Other than openly gay long shot Fred Karger, the rest of this motley crew is virulently anti-gay, or pretending to be in an effort to kiss-up to social conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina. This sorry batch of embarrassing contenders will only degenerate further if Sarah Palin gets into the race -- as it seems like she is likely to do.

In terms of the GOP field, there is no silver lining, no hope, and no pro-LGBT Republican savior. This is the truth and it is reality for those who choose to embrace it.

It is clear that Barack Obama is the obvious choice for the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT community's national lobby. Their early endorsement is wise because it sends a strong signal that the community will organize and mobilize to reelect the most LGBT supportive contender in the race -- one with a fairly good record on LGBT rights. While far from perfect, Obama did work to repeal Don't Ask/Don't Tell and used his bully pulpit effectively, even making an "It Get's Better" video. Whatever his shortcomings (No ENDA or DOMA repeal etc.), he is light years ahead of his Republican counterparts.

Anyone who argues otherwise is naive, obtuse, or in denial -- which brings us to the pathetic press release put out by homosexual Republican GOProud:

"Today, the Human Rights Campaign chose to endorse Barack Obama's re-election even though the field running for President in 2012 isn't even set yet. This pre-emptive endorsement ends HRC's charade of bipartisanship.



"LGBT people who are interested in putting policy before partisanship now know that HRC is little more than a puppet of the Democratic National Committee and an organization that has one goal -- to elect more Democrats."

So, the sophistic and shallow storyline put forth by GOProud is essentially that Republicans are willing to support LGBT equality, but have become anti-gay only because they have been snubbed by HRC. They are only throwing anti-gay tantrums and have horrible voting records because they have hurt feelings and are not getting the respect they deserve.

Sadly, there are naive or politically illiterate liberals who are buying this hogwash and questioning the timing of HRC's endorsement. They foolishly wonder if such a quick endorsement will deplete the leverage of the LGBT lobby.

Um, what leverage?

The hard truth is that the GOP presidential candidates desperately do not want HRC's endorsement and would see it as the kiss of death. Imagine trying to win the Iowa caucuses as a Republican with a Human Rights Campaign endorsement. It would end one's chances faster than endorsing universal health care!

Another silly argument postulates that in order to be more effective, the LGBT movement has to be truly bipartisan. I agree that we would be so much better off if we had the support of both parties -- because it would give us enormous leverage with Democrats who have sometimes taken our money while placing our issues on the back-burner.

Unfortunately, true bipartisanship at this moment in time is a pipe dream. The GOP has consciously chosen to embrace fundamentalists as a key part of its base. During the next election cycle they will do nothing to upset this crucial constituency and candidates will pander in any Iowa or South Carolina fundie church that will let them in the door. Anyone who doesn't understand these obvious political dynamics should not be working in the LGBT movement.

This, of course, doesn't mean we should stop working to gain the support of Republicans. Indeed, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a marvelous speech in favor of marriage equality at Cooper Union on Thursday. But, let's be honest and acknowledge that this is the exception and not the rule. Indeed, even as we have seen elite Republicans endorsing equality, we have not witnessed many political leaders in positions of real power or the grassroots change course. I wish I could report otherwise -- but the facts do not lie.

This is a critical election. The Republicans already run the House of Representatives and have a good chance of taking over the Senate. Imagine the nightmare of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney or, God forbid, Michele Bachmann occupying the White House with a Republican Congress?

Please, do not scoff at this horrifying possibility. Any student of history understands that the world is full of examples of unthinkable political outcomes that have caused havoc in the lives of vulnerable minorities. If by some chance unemployment rises another 3-5 points, the electorate will be in a foul mood and may be willing to rock the boat in unfathomable ways.

If Republicans control DC, they will be answering to those that brought them to the big dance -- namely the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and sundry fundamentalist organizations. They would likely pass all kinds of horrendous anti-gay bills -- many that would presumably be unconstitutional. Unless, of course, President Palin gets to pick one or two Supreme Court justices who would whiz through the Senate confirmation process.

What about the filibuster? Does any thinking person truly believe it would survive this lawless bunch that has no respect for precedent and history? This legislative option would disappear as fast as LGBT rights.

At times, my organization, Truth Wins Out, has been harshly critical of the Obama administration. As a nonpartisan group we will continue to hold the president accountable, as we do all elected officials. However, let's stop the game-playing and pretending that the Republicans have put forth palatable candidates. The entire bigoted batch is a disgrace to this nation and anyone who feigns otherwise should not be taken seriously as a political commentator.

Truth Wins Out does not endorse candidates. But, we think the LGBT community should stop the hand-wringing and childish game playing and embrace HRC's bold decision. The more time HRC has to organize and mobilize, the better off our community will be.

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