Equal Rights

Ducks and Cattle

I got to thinking about what Cliven Bundy has said on the issue of “the Negro” over the last couple of days. And “bam”, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame came rushing back into my political head.

the Negro? Cotton Picking? Slavery?

the Negro? Cotton Picking? Slavery?

The similarities between these two asshats are amazing. Both seem to be focused on picking cotton and slavery. Someone in the GOP should tell Bundy and Robertson black people stopped doing that for free back in 1867. Maybe RNC Chairman Reince Priebus can tell them it’s time to get with the program. After all, he’s the one who issued this autopsy report back in December after President Obama beat Mitt Romney by 5,000,000 votes. Both love the scripture (who knew the Old Testament was so popular these days!).

But to be completely honest, I’m more fascinated in how the GOP has treated Mr. Bundy vs Mr. Robertson.

What did the Republican National Committee say about Phil Robertson? Nothing. Silence as a defense is amazing.

What did Senator Rand Paul say about Robertson? Not much.

Oh and my favorite is Senator Ted Cruz. He defended Robertson to no end. On Bundy, he said his “comments are completely unacceptable.”

I’ll just have to lump in Sarah Pahlin and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both huge defenders of Mr. Robertson. This piece from the Wire kind of sums it all up perfectly.

 But let’s go back to the cotton picking and the slavery because that’s what was said. There’s virtually no difference between Robertson’s and Bundy’s words. Yet, the GOP is now stumbling over themselves for distance from Bundy. This horrid cockroach behavior is sad, scattering around, stumbling over each other when the lights come on. A better analogy is when you’re in a gay bar and it’s closing time. The lights come on and you realize all of a sudden that the dude you’ve been hitting on the last hour is actually butt ugly. But ya know, you gotta just own that right? If he looked good in low light, you gotta own your really really bad judgement.

That’s what the GOP needs to do frankly. They really should just own their people, even the ugly ones. I mean, which bigots do they love, which homophobes do they support, which misogynists do they embrace? Otherwise, Americans are just going to remain confused about a political party that sometimes supports the bygone days of cotton picking.

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Today’s GOP: Modern-Day Pharisees

So this is the definition of a pharisee: a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. Another more, say modern-day definition of a pharisee would be someone who is “a sanctimonius, self-righteous, or hypocritical person” (dictionary.com).

I’ve met people like this throughout my life. I am in the business of politics after all.mcallister

The latest political pharisee comes to us via the Fifth District of Louisiana. This complete douchebag, Congressman Vance McAllister (R-LA), takes douchebaggery to a whole new level. First reported by the The Ouachita Citizen, a newspaper based in W. Monroe, Louisiana, it seems like the first term Congressman has stepped out on his sixteen year marriage. Here’s the video from  security cameras.

To be clear, I don’t care if McAllister is a Republican or a Democrat. My problem with him is that he’s a complete hypocrite. This guy ran as a Christian conservative on “family values” and is adamantly opposed to marriage equality. But here’s just how sick McAllister really is: he states right here on his website “As a father, Vance is worried about the type of future President Obama and career politicians are leaving for the next generation.” Is this guy serious? He’s a father and he’s worried about the next generation? Yeh McAllister, you’re a real role model for your five kids.

So who’s that young woman McAllister was caught kissing on camera with his shirt tail untucked? Well that would be one of his young Congressional staffers. Yep, that’s right. Louisiana’s 5th District Congressman is literally and physically screwing the next generation alright. And it’s all on the taxpayers’ dime to boot.

There are countless other examples of elected officials who run on “family values” but literally screw over their own families. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had the same problem. Sadly, he had to pay money to a hooker to get “happy.” I hope all that money was put to good use since he’s now running for governor of the great State of Louisiana. What a role model! Clearly there’s something weird running in those swamps and bayous down there in the Pelican state, something that makes these men habitual hypocrites. davidvitter

So Congressman McAllister, do me and everyone else a huge favor. Don’t run on “family values” when you’re screwing someone other than your spouse. Don’t tell me as a gay man that my relationship isn’t as good as yours since you Congressman McAllister apparently don’t give a damn about your own marriage. You want to tell me I’m not worthy when you’re dipping your oil stick into the wrong car engine? I’d suggest you might want to take a long hard look at yourself and have an honest (honest being the operative word) look at just how stupid you look now.

I think what saddens me the most isn’t that McAllister cheated on his wife. It’s that he got caught by security cameras. It’s one thing to be a philanderer. It’s another thing to be just plain stupid.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, House Comments Off on Today’s GOP: Modern-Day Pharisees

Religious Liberty Disguised as Jim Crow

So I’ve been following this whole “religious discrimination” movement going on across the country. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) famously vetoed S.B. 1062, which would’ve allowed any business in Arizona to turn away customers if those customers weren’t up to religious snuff per se. I’ll give Republics (if they insist on calling us the “Democrat party” then fair’s fair right?)  their due when they do the right thing. Brewer did that this time and she deserves full credit for it. So do Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake for opposing the bill.

Seventeen other states however most likely won’t do the right thing. The latest example is the great State of Mississippi which just passed its own version of “religious freedom.” Governor Phil Bryant will most likely sign the bill. Who knew Mississippi would resurrect Jim Crow laws in 2014? I wrote about this a few months back but for some strange reason, I’m still shocked that this keeps happening.

My biggest problem with this sort of thing boils down to this: no one should be able to profit from bigotry. You want to be a private club or school, go for it. Please, I beg you, start yet another all-white school so your children don’t have to go to school with anyone who doesn’t look exactly like them. Raising little Mini-me bigots doesn’t well position your children for the 21st century folks.

But when you’re out there on Main Street peddling your “Made in the Land of Forced Abortions (China)” crosses, then you actually don’t have the right to determine your customers. You’re in the business of commerce not Jesus. You’re in the business of money not churches. If you want to be a mega-church and earn billions, that’s easily doable. Just look at these morons from my home state of South Carolina who peddled Jesus for millions. But in the public arena, you don’t get that luxury. I don’t care how you worship and you shouldn’t care who I marry. My late Aunt Susan once asked me how I reconciled my religious faith with my sexuality. It was a fair question. I calmly replied “Well, when I’m in church, I’m not thinking about screwing and when I’m screwing, I’m most certainly not thinking about church.”

I think we’d be a whole lot better off if corporate America kept its religiosity out of my bedroom. After all, I and millions of others don’t have to spend our progressive gay dollars in your Jim Crow shops. And see, that’s when paying the tuition to that all-white Christian “school” gets a lot tougher to pay.

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Gay Rights or Civil Rights, the Struggle is American

This column originally ran in thegrio.com on June 28, 2013.

Like many Americans, I wake up everyday and turn on my favorite morning television program (Morning Joe, of course!) to make sure I didn’t “miss anything” while I slept.

Luckily, the world didn’t change much Wednesday but I did arise yesterday morning to that ever-familiar voice of former Rep. Barney Frank (MA) throwing out pearls of wisdom.

Talk about a redefinition of  the wake-up call.

The black civil rights struggle went national

When asked to compare gay civil rights and African-American civil rights, Frank said “No black child has to come out to his parents when he’s born.” This struck me in a big way, especially before having any coffee, and this got me to thinking about the comparisons between different civil rights movements.

The struggle over civil rights in “black” America has held a very public place in our history since the beginning of the republic. The plight of our black brethren has been both a uniting and dividing thread in our national fabric. Some of the great historic Senate debates dealt directly with this issue. We fought an internal civil war over this. We as a nation watched on television as the “Bull Connors” of the world reared their ugly heads with fire hoses, German shepherds, white sheets and long ropes.

This was a turning point in our history and the catalyst which gave rise to Congress and the courts to begin walking down the road of righting the wrongs of our past. It wasn’t until the visual horrors of Americans beating, enslaving, and killing other Americans that we “changed.” And yes, that struggle still continues despite the progress we’ve made.

Just this week the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 despite widespread, modern-day Jim Crow-type voting restrictions popping up all over the country. I wonder day in and out if we’ve actually reached the mountain top Dr. King spoke about and I sometimes have my doubts.

Gay rights battle is eerily similar

The same type of struggle can’t be said of the gay civil rights movement. Gays weren’t enslaved by the millions or enshrined into our Constitution as three-fifths of a human being or as personal property. Nor were gay Americans lynched by the hundreds in public squares across the south (and elsewhere) just for being gay.

Indeed, to Congressman Franks’ point: gay Americans could hide their identities whereas black Americans simply couldn’t.

It’s more than ironic that the “closet” so many of us have come out of, sheltered and saved the earliest gay Americans from many of the horrors we watched America’s blacks live and die through. I never thought I’d say it but thank God for the early closet in gay society.

Not that gay America hasn’t seen horror. San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk was brutally murdered in cold blood. Matthew Shepard was tied up to a spit rail fence, beaten, tortured, and left to die alone. He was discovered the following day by a passing cyclist who recounted he thought his body was that of a scarecrow instead of a human’s.When that cyclist found Shepard, he didn’t know he was gay. He just knew he was a fellow human, struggling to live. Even on the brink of death, Shepard’s skin color was a kind of closet.

I could list numerous examples of hate crimes against gay Americans or discrimination against my community from housing to employment to marriage equality. All of that is documented and well-established. But in the eyes of many African Americans, my community will never match, can never match their struggle for the mountaintop.

Indeed many in the African-American community have recoiled at comparisons to the gay civil rights struggle, including Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter.

A big win — for a select few

This narrow-minded approach doesn’t help either group. To move Rep. Frank’s position further along, no one chooses to be black and let me be clear, no one chooses to be gay (ask Exodus International and similar groups how that’s working out for them). Being gay isn’t the same as being black or vice versa. But being discriminated against should be a singular unifier, a common denominator.

In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that “separate but equal” wasn’t a remedy for black America. Brown v. Board of Education was a broad ruling that applied to all of America. This week, the Court told gay Americans they have the right to equal protection yet it left out a core group of gay Americans who don’t live in marriage equality states.

While that’s a big win for gay America, it’s only good for a select few.

Imagine if the Court had ruled in Brown that separate but equal was OK in 30 states but not in the states where black and white children already sat next to each other in classes. I don’t think black America would’ve been pleased with the outcome.

Glass half empty or half full

But a glass half full is better than a glass half empty and both cases are progress (that’s the root word for “progressive” by the way) for an America that rejects a three-fifths human being or a skin color or who you fall in love with and want to marry.  It’s that common link, that discrimination that binds us together, gay and black, white and straight and any and all in between. It’s that struggle for the mountain top that makes us all climb together. Indeed, it’s that progress that makes us simply American right?

Last year I ran across this ad from the Anti-Defamation League. This is really powerful stuff. The only thing all of these people have in common today is that they’re all dead. But when they were alive, they were all just living their lives. They were just being black or gay but they were all “being” American.

It’s easy to daydream but  I suppose if I could have one wish, it would be for Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk to have known each other. Maybe Matthew Shepard could have known James Byrd Jr., could have sat at a bar in Laramie, WY and had a beer or two together. Maybe I’m just a daydreamer but that’s just the modern-day struggle I see as the American civil rights struggle of my time.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll wake up tomorrow morning or the next morning, turn on my television and see yet another chunk of discrimination being chipped out of that wall. That’s a lonely dream if I can’t dream it with my fellow Americans who just so happen to be black.  I’d rather dream that dream with them.

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights Comments Off on Gay Rights or Civil Rights, the Struggle is American

Racial Entitlements & the Supreme Court

NOTE: this column was originally published at MSNBC.COM on March 2, 2013.

Back on November 8, 2012 I wrote this column about President Obama’s legacy after securing a second term. It seems I grossly underestimated myself, especially in light of this week’s oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder.

341-10-WH65Shelby is the latest case the court will use to determine the viability of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson after the nation saw the ugliness of the Southern states during one of our nation’s worst periods of social unrest. The law erased discriminatory barriers to voting, specifically for black Americans, and forced many Southern states to pre-clear any changes to the way they administered elections and the ability to vote. Since 1975, the Congress has expanded the reach of the VRA to other minority groups, including Hispanic Americans. In 2006, the Senate unanimously voted to reauthorize the VRA and the House voted overwhelmingly the same. In recent years, various conservative Justices have questioned the constitutionality of the VRA but have never gone so far as to strike the law of the land down in part or in whole.

The life of the Voting Rights Act may be short, for all of that changed this past week when the far-right’s favorite Justice, Antonin Scalia, uttered something remarkable from the bench when he called the Voting Rights Act “a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Yep, he went there. He went there in a very Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh kind of way. He went where no Justice in my lifetime has gone. He went where I expect political conservatives to play, to the sandbox of the Rand Pauls and Steve Kings of our political world. He went where I’ve never heard a Supreme Court Justice blatantly go: into the politics of race.

I am a son of the South, grew up in South Carolina, a state where my family has lived since the 17th century. I’m proud of “my people” but I’m not proud of our past or current racism whether it be overt or blatant. I was graduated from the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, SC, in 1989, the same college that was founded to “put down” a slave rebellion in 1842 and the same college that fired the first shots of our nation’s Civil War in January 1861. I firmly believe my home state has come a long way from 1861, from 1961 but even today, the Confederate flag flies prominently in front of the state capitol in Columbia. Racism, my friends, isn’t gone. There’s simply less of it but the immoral cancer still lives in the body of our nation.

Justice Scalia’s comments from the bench of “racial entitlement” were code to white Americans. Let’s be clear: he sent a strong message to the entire nation that the Voting Rights Act isn’t constitutional because it gave black America an entitlement that’s found no where in his view of our Constitution. This interpretation of our Constitution should scare every American regardless of political party. Scalia Image

The court has had a long history of oxygen masks, walking canes, and hearing aids. Justice William O. Douglas served on the court for nearly 37 years, retiring in 1975 after suffering a debilitating stroke nearly a year prior which left him both wheelchair bound and mostly incapable of participating in the Court’s proceedings. It wasn’t until his close friend, former Justice Abe Fortas, stepped in that he retired and even then he tried to remain active within the court, much to his former colleagues’ collective chagrin. There are myriad other examples of this but you get the point: these Justices will stick around, even after disease and mortality have rendered their minds and bodies weak. Justice Scalia might be 76 years old, but he’s is one tough bird.

To date, President Obama has appointed two to the high court: Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan. The court currently has four Justices over the age of 70: Justice Scalia is 76, Justice Kennedy is also 76, Justice Breyer is 74, and Justice Ginsburg is 79. The latter has indicated she won’t step down until she matches former Justice Brandeis’ tenure, putting her retirement in 2015. A little known fact: the last 10 justices to retire had an average age of 80. So yeah, the above are all knock-knock-knockin’ on the court’s door.

It’s possible President Obama could appoint up to four new justices before he leaves office in January 2017. While the court is tilted slightly to the right at this point, a Scalia retirement coupled with a Kennedy retirement could turn the court solidly left, leaving Justices Thomas, Alito, and Roberts as the sole conservatives left. Of all the legislation to be passed in the coming four years, nothing and I repeat nothing is more important than Obama’s future appointments to the Supreme Court. Elections matter–they have consequences. In the coming months, the Supreme Court may destroy the Voting Rights Act and with it, a barrier to racial discrimination this country still needs.

And if that happens, his future appointments to the high court will matter to every American: black, white, male, female, gay, straight, Latino, etc. If you don’t believe me, just listen to Justice Scalia’s words again and again and again: “racial entitlement.” This jurist thinks the right to vote is racial entitlement and I’ve never looked so dimly on the future of our country than I did when he uttered those words in 2013.

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights, Presidential Comments Off on Racial Entitlements & the Supreme Court

Narrow Justice

Justice has been served.

Today a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced former Penn State University Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of his career. The picture above is that of a monster and he will rot in jail until God takes him from this earth.

As a victim of sexual abuse  many years ago, this day couldn’t have come soon enough. It was just under a year ago that I took a leap of faith and revealed on MSNBC that I too had been through the same thing those 10 boys had gone through. I said at the the time that I allowed the abuse to happen over a number of years and never took steps to stop it until I reached an age where I knew what my abuser was doing was morally wrong. I stand by that statement and am not ashamed of what happened to me nor am I ashamed that I let it happen to me. It’s a part of my life and while it was tragic and hurtful, I forgave that evil man many years ago and put his fate in God’s hands.

Jerry Sandusky’s fate is now determined. He will never walk out of a prison as a free man again. Judge John Cleland said “The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live.” Cleland is right on, specifically about the “larger community” where this type of grotesque behavior happens daily.

It begs the question: had Sandusky not been such a prominent figure within the Penn State family, would his actions have caused the amount of publicity they did? Probably not. And that’s the triumph and the tragedy that we have to realize. Countless kids are abused every single day and yet no one speaks up. That’s the tragedy. The triumph is that because of Sandusky’s fame, thousands of watchful eyes will be turned on in our locker rooms, in our parish halls, in our school corridors.

Sandusky’s victims may now move on. Some of them will and some of them won’t. I don’t judge them either way. Instead, I think of how I handled my own abuse and how it affects me in the future. I’m not sure of the answer to that except to say that I don’t think about the man that violated me everyday. He didn’t make me a gay man and he doesn’t play a significant role in my life today as a 45-year old grown man. But if this sort of thing could happen to me, I fear the spotlight will fade and that it will keep happening to our children.

And that’s why today, justice has been served in a narrow sense. Today we close the door on Sandusky. Today we cannot close the door on this national tragedy. If we do, there will be thousands more Sandusky’s and that’s even more tragic.

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights Comments Off on Narrow Justice

Romney vs. Ryan

I’ve been asked over and over again for my opinion on Governor Romney’s vice presidential pick of Representative Paul Ryan (WI). Ryan is, if anything, authentic. And that’s a HUGE problem for Romney.

Listen, Ryan is a smart guy. He’s a serious policymaker and he has proposed serious policy positions, many of which I’ve legitimately disagreed with. Ryan has gone places where most Members of Congress would never go and I respect that. There are some votes where I’ve agreed with him, specifically his vote in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And there are plenty of votes where I’ve disagreed with him, including his vote in favor of Medicare Part D (because it wasn’t paid for and added trillions of dollars to our national debt), his vote against my marriage equality, and obviously I disagree with much of what’s in his proposed budgets. But again, Ryan actually believes what he’s proposing. I’m going back and looking at his record and I can’t find a single time where he’s flipflopped on a single policy position.

I don’t need to rehash Governor Romney’s habitual flipflopping. That’s widely-reported but now his inability to come up with a single position and then stick with it is under even more scrutiny because of his running mate’s record. By picking Ryan, Romney has inadvertently turned the spotlight directly back on himself. The contract between the two couldn’t be more stark. Romney will say anything to be elected POTUS and Ryan doesn’t shy away from anything.

Simply put, Ryan has a core and Romney doesn’t. That’s harsh. That’s tough. But it’s fair. By choosing Ryan, Romney has exposed his ultimate wound. He’s shown he’s the Stepford husband of the pair. There was plenty of me to agree with when Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts, yet very little of me to agree with as the eternal “conservative” candidate for the presidency. He’s devolved in his positions whereas Ryan picks a position and sticks with it.

I’m of the school of thought that most Americans just want someone who’s authentic to lead this country in these troubled times. In 2008, most Americans thought that was going to be then-Senator Barack Obama. Then the reality of Washington slapped him square across the face with its ugly partisan hand.

Four years later, the country is being asked to make a decision: pick a man who lacks a core or a pick a man who’s been schooled as a sitting President. It’s a “choice” election and Ryan’s pick I think will backfire on Romney and hand the Democrats the White House for four more years. We’ll see in exactly 86 days.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, House, Presidential 1 Comment

Supreme Court’s Ruling is a Game Changer

Today’s Supreme Court decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, is watershed and a game changer. Simply put, Roberts’ decision will change the face of healthcare in America because now not only is it constitutional, it forces the GOP to be in favor of actual reform (something they’ve only given lip-service to for years). 

The conventional wisdom inside the D.C. beltway today was that “Obamacare” (or ACA) would be struck down by a 5-4 decision and that the decision would be written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. Very few in the smart crowd actually thought a) Roberts would side with the liberal Justices and b) that the nexus of agreement between that unlikely group would be Congress’ ability to levy a tax versus whether or not the individual mandate was constitutional under the Commerce Clause.

That’s a lot of D.C.-speak, which sounds remarkably similar to Charlie Brown’s teacher: “whonk whonk whonk whonk whonk.” What this reminds me of is the fallout from Brown vs. Board of Education, something a large number of Americans remember or have studied in civics class.

In Brown, the Court combined several high profile cases into one and issued a sweeping ruling. Like Brown, ACA was highly controversial leading up to oral argument before the Court and after the subsequent ruling. Social unrest throughout many parts of the country was prevalent, notably with Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, Alabama George Wallace, Virginia Senator Harry Byrd’s “Massive Resistance” and the “Southern Manifesto.” For the record, all of these men were Southern Democrats.

The political outrage was palpable then and it is today. I’ve written before that the day President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, he told his aides he had delivered “the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.” I’m not sure what happens at the ballot box this November or precisely how today’s ruling will affect the public’s perception. What I do know is the opinion issued today by Chief Justice Roberts matters. It matters because it validates Congress’ actions, which declared universal healthcare to be something we should strive towards. That we are the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of the world but with over 22 million uninsured is embarrassing and the Roberts court today has said what Congress did is perhaps not popular but without a doubt legitimate.

Legitimacy matters to me and ultimately I believe to the American people.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, Presidential 1 Comment

Thank You, Ms. Donna Summer

The death of Donna Summer isn’t political. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t write a brief post on the impact this woman had on my life. This five-time Grammy winner gave us great hits like Last Dance, MacArthur Park, Bad Girls, and She Works Hard for the Money. But what she gave me, with my stacks and stacks of “45’s,” was an ability to “escape.” Like many kids my age, the ability to dive into a world of rhythmic beats, glamour, fashion, and Disco was transformational. Summer sang about so many issues: sex, love, not being loved, women’s equality, and the like. To a 12 year old struggling with his sexual identity, this was heady stuff.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this here, but as a kid I’d sneak into my room shut the door,  and dance to her records in front of my mirror. The real world went away and I was in a place where I could think and feel the way I wanted without fear of being called a sissy or faggot. On more than one occasion, my mother would bang on my door and implore me to “turn that music down!” I assume I wasn’t the only kid with the desire to “escape” and by the widespread sympathy being reported in the media, I definitely wasn’t the only kid who Ms. Summer affected so deeply.

Even though growing up gay in 1970’s South Carolina was at times stifling, Donna Summer was there with me. Like millions of other gay (and straight) kids, I was moved in a very positive way by her message and her rhythm. I can’t say that about many other musical artists from that time period.

It’s not lost on me that a fierce black woman I never even met helped me get through some pretty tough spots as a child. I guess that’s why today, nearly 40 years later, her death is a loss for me. No doubt, “I Feel Love” for her and the legacy she leaves behind.

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights 2 Comments

Gay President? I Don’t Think So.

There seems to be much ado about President Barack Obama being the first “gay President. Newsweek and the New Yorker magazines devoted their latest covers to this cause du jour. I get it but I’m not comfortable with it. This kind of hyperbole was used when then-President Bill Clinton was declared America’s first “black” president.

I’m sorry, but Bill Clinton isn’t “black.”  And President Barack Obama isn’t “gay.”  And while both did and continue to do great things during and after their presidencies to advance equal rights, I take exception to this notion that just because someone advocates for something, they become it.

If we in the press are going to use this standard, then I’d suggest we reach back and declare the late-President Lyndon Johnson to be the first “black” president. After all, he exhibited leadership by sending civil rights legislation up to the Congress and then bullying it through as only he could have past racist southern Democrats and reluctant northern Republicans. Johnson even declared the same day he physically signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that by doing so, he would deliver “the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.”

Actually, let’s go back even further and declare President Abraham Lincoln the first “black” president. That neat little document known as the Emancipation Proclamation certainly entitles him to that honor right? But wait. He then followed that up by ushering through the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, declaring slavery to be illegal throughout the entire United States.

See, that’s leadership.

I voted for President Barack Obama. Chances are, I will again. He brought this country back from the brink of economic ruin and has been a calm and steady hand in the White House, something I greatly appreciate. His efforts so far in the arena of equal gay rights are, yes, unparalleled. Maybe I’m selfish, maybe I want more than just a declaration of support. Maybe I want the President to do more than just tell me he thinks I should be able to marry the man I love (who doesn’t exist but I keep the faith!). Maybe I want him to stand in Lincoln’s shoes or LBJ’s shoes and actually send legislation up to the Congress and dare them to be against me. I know he’s “with me” but frankly that’s just a step above the wink and nod the Republicans have been giving gay people for years.

Speaking of the Republicans, let me be clear: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out my civil rights aren’t even remotely a part of their agenda, an agenda controlled by rightwing extremists. This isn’t the same Republican party that was led in the Senate by the likes of Everett Dirksen (IL) in the 1960’s. The Senate of 2012 is a shadow of what it was just 50 years ago. Back in the “good ole days,” Senators actually debated bills. Back then, they actually knew each other; their families knew each other. Filibusters were few and far between and when bills were filibustered, Senators actually stood up on the Floor and owned their dilatory tactics.  Hell, some of them even read cookbooks and used religion to deny blacks equal rights. Most of that was done by southern Democrats by the way. But more than a handful of Republicans stood out and used their positions of power to empower the downtrodden and those who were being discriminated against. Can you imagine the Senate Republican Leader today, taking to the Senate Floor in favor of my equal rights? That’s the shame of the current state of politics. That’s one reason why the public currently gives Congress a 13% approval rating. It’s actually pathetic.

I’m sure I’ll take a rash of hell for writing that Obama isn’t the first gay POTUS. Many on the left already think I don’t “defend” the President enough. And frankly many on the right think I defend him too often. Perhaps that’s a good thing, that I hold both sides of the political aisle to task for not doing enough. After all, it takes acts of courage for me to stand up and take notice. I want this President to succeed more than any Commander-in-Chief in my lifetime. Calling him the first gay president, however, isn’t to me up to snuff.

I’ll end by asking this question: what will we in the press do when America DOES elect its first openly gay President? Therein lies the rub. After all, we will have already given that title away to someone whom isn’t gay. And then will we have lessened the historic nature of it all?

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights, Presidential Comments Off on Gay President? I Don’t Think So.