Gay Marriage is the Left's Iraq
"I got an idea! Let's send Hillary Clinton into South Carolina to campaign on a gay marriage platform. That way we can retake the Congress and the White House, and restore two party rule. Sounds like a plan!"
In a bizarre move that resembles George Bush's 'stay the course' attitude on Iraq, Alan Van Capelle, Exec. Dir. of NY's Empire State Pride Agenda, has demanded that Hillary Clinton come out publicly in favor of gay marriage. (Clinton supports legal equality of gay couples in civil unions, not marriage.) Common sense tells me that Hillary is the last person we want to come out for gay marriage. Clinton is a media lightning rod, and I can think of, oh say, a hundred thousand better progressive uses for her high media profile than to catapult gay marriage right back into the national spotlight just in time for the congressional elections.
Honestly, Bill Frist must think he died and went to heaven. Hillary support gay marriage? That could swing ten votes in the Senate in favor of the Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. Right now, Frist's re-introduction of the Amendment looks like a bare-faced, pathetic attempt to divert attention from: Katrina, Quailgate, Abramoff, Medicare Part 'Duh', domestic spying, Iraq, Iran, etc., etc. But if Clinton, the Democrats' vaunted and most polarizing rock star, came out in favor of gay marriage, Frist would appear justified in placing the Amendment before the Senate once again.
Van Capelle criticizes Hillary for 'political expediency'. But ESPA was willing to exclude transgendered people from New York State's gay rights law, since it was politically impossible to pass the law if it protected transgenders; ESPA stabbed the most vulnerable members of the gay community in the back, out of expediency. (By contrast, black New Yorkers refused to support a state Hate Crimes law that did not also protect gays, despite a rash of high profile hate crimes against blacks in NYC). Now ESPA demands that Hillary Clinton torpedo the entire Democratic agenda as a matter of 'principle' (the only principle being the feather in Van Capelle's cap that a New York state marriage win might, theoretically, bring, that is, if it didn't lead directly to a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage).
Did you notice that the Religious Right did not demand that Samuel Alito commit suicide in his confirmation hearings by stating publicly that he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, even though everyone knows that's what he stands for.
It's the Bush-like, speaking-in-tongues nature of Van Capelle's demand that frightens me as a liberal. Van Capelle lists a string of small-time local politicians who support gay marriage in New York state, then calls on Clinton to do the same, as if Clinton were running for Westchester County Executive instead of President. How can Van Capelle think that gay marriage is not a national issue? Is the guy just blocking out the 2004 elections? You remember, the elections in which a manifestly incompetent, corrupt, lying, blundering imbecile with septic tank approval ratings was re-elected President with decisive majorities in both houses of Congress and a mandate for a Pre-Cambrian makeover of the Supreme Court, riding a wave of Red State fury over just this same gay marriage issue. You remember that, don't you? I don't think there is enough crystal meth on the planet to erase that memory.
Has it not occurred to Van Capelle, in light of the 2004 across-the-board disaster for progressives, to change his strategy? "Stay the course!" on gay marriage, Van Capelle insists. Sound familiar?
Parallels between gay marriage for the left and Iraq for the right
What's the difference between marriage and legal equality for gays under civil unions (Clinton's plan)?
In NY, the only practical difference is "full faith and credit". Say a gay woman grows up in Utah, escapes to New York and enters a civil union with her long-time lover. Then her mother dies, so she moves back to Utah to live in her mother's resplendent 10-room house. (Why else would anyone want to move back to Utah?) A civil union might not cut it if she wanted her partner to have legal rights in Utah to her mother's house. Without full faith and credit, there is no practical difference between gay marriage and civil unions.
So gay marriage is an interstate question. If we want marriage, we can't delusionally disdain the very existence of the Red States, like Van Capelle does when he demands that Hillary Clinton commit political suicide on behalf of his self-indulgent pipe dream of gay middle-class Americana. Just like George Bush did when he delusionally denied the cultural complexities of Iraq when he imagined that we would be greeted with roses.
Beyond FFC, there's the idea that gay marriage is a powerful symbol of total equality, fundamentally changing the American culture of homophobia. That's not a plan, it's a theory, just like Richard Perle's neo-con strategy to remake the culture of Islam by spreading democracy, thus ending terrorism. And like Perle's theory, the gay marriage theory of ultimate liberation through marriage is so far proving false. So let's re-think the theory, not 'stay the course' straight to permanent Republican hegemony.
Like Bush in Iraq, Gay marriage advocates unwittingly triggered a self-destructive 'insurgency' in the Red States, where Americans cut their own throats by voting for a manifestly inferior President to block gay marriage. Unlike Bush, gays can be forgiven for failing to anticipate the anti-marriage insurgency. But we can't be forgiven today for pretending, like Bush, that the 'insurgency' doesn't even exist, not adapting our strategy to quell that insurgency, and instead inflaming the insurgency by demanding that Hillary Clinton, of all people, go into the Red States and come out for gay marriage. This is like sending Ariel Sharon to piss on the Temple Mount as a gesture of peace to the Palestinians. It's just plain dumb.
Alan Van Capelle. Frankly, I don't trust the guy. It's not inconceivable that he's vulnerable legally or financially, and some Republican dirty trickster forced him into making a move that clearly helps the Republicans. In this case, the demand that Hillary endorse gay marriage came in the form of a leaked in-house memo that Van Capelle claims was never meant to be made public. Yeah, right, an experienced political operative claims he never meant his e-mail to everyone in ESPA to get out. Everything about Hillary gets out! It's a worm-like move that suggests a dirty trick by somebody in the background.
Alan Van Cappelle is not an activist, he is a lobbyist. A paid lobbyist. Lobbyists don't have any guts. Lobbyists don't lead. Lobbyists are just like politicians. On the left, lobbyists and democratic politicans capitalize on the groundwork laid by grass roots activists fighting in the street. No lobbyist and no Blue-state elected politician is ever going to get national marriage rights for gays.
The bottom line is this: If gays want marriage, we are going to have to go into the Red states ourselves and start grass-root organizing for basic gay rights. Not send Hillary Clinton to Alabama on some kamikaze mission on our behalf. If you want marriage, then go into the red states at a grass roots level and lay a sound political foundation for marriage, not the quicksand that sank under our feet in 2004. And if we don't have the guts to go into the Red States and face the dogs and the hoses, like Rosa Parks and Dr. King, who fought bigotry right in the heart of klan country, not from the relative safety of the internet and the Blue States, then maybe we don't really want marriage that badly.
Van Cappelle is blaming Hillary for his marriage frustration because he doesn't have the nuts to go into the Red States himself -- Van Cappelle is a Blue State Closet Case. The reason he's blanked out on pragmatism is because he's conceded in his heart that marriage isn't a practical goal. He's sending Hillary out on kamikaze missions as if the war is lost, but the war isn't lost . It's just not a war that monied, co-opted lobbyists can ever win. It's a grass roots war in klan country, a war gays have just barely begun to fight. Hillary can't give us total equality any more than George Bush can give democracy to the Middle East. And no Blue State Closet Case soft-bellied upper middle class Hamptons lobbyist is ever going to lead us to battle in klan country. What are we, dreaming?
And I have a suggestion for marriage activists who are "tired of accepting political compromise." Tired of dealing with reality, are you? I can understand, it's been a tough, frustrating haul. Nothing like the fight against AIDS, of course, but you've had a rough two years. Take a break! You are burnt out. The place to escape reality is on vacation. I know politics is sickening. But when you are tired, burnt out and frustrated, you make tactical mistakes, like playing right into Bill Frist's hands on the Marriage Amendment.
Gay marriage doesn't even have total support within the gay community itself. Some think it smacks of 'whiteface'. Many gays think, sure, marriage, yeah, right, fine, but healthcare, AIDS, two-party rule, economic justice, peace, a rational national security strategy, are vastly--vastly--more important issues. Particularly when we compare the marginal advantage of marriage over Clinton's civil unions.
On two of those issues at least, healthcare and two-party rule, our tough-talking superstar lady Senator, the mastermind who orchestrated our last Democratic victories, is our biggest gun on the national stage. She deserves our support, either as a candidate, or as our highest profile critic of Bush. She does not deserve cherry-picking weak spots in her overall strong progressive record, and swift-boat style second-guessing from people who have never won an election. Right now, Republicans in New York are tripping over themselves running away from a challenge to Clinton's Senate seat. Just like 'tough-guy' Rudy Giuliani ducked an ass-kicking from Hillary in 2000, claiming his butt was already too sore from prostate cancer. (If you'd watched Clinton feed Giuliani stand-in Rick Lazio into the cheese-grater in her 2000 debate, you'd know why Rudy ducked.) Can we embrace a winner for a change?
I believe in marriage equality, but if I have to choose between gay marriage and Hillary Clinton, I'm with Hillary all the way!