CHARLOTTE LAWS - DREAM AND ACHIEVE TOGETHER
Gnomes, Smiley Faces and the LA Gay Debate
By Charlotte Laws
was one of the 250 people invited to attend the televised LOGO / HRC
Democratic debate in Los Angeles, which focused on lesbian, gay bisexual
and transgender (LGBT) issues. From my second row seat, I spent a good
deal of time bobbing around the head of a husky Department of Homeland
Security officer in order to get a view of the stage. He told me that he
had a mission: to protect Senators Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. I
don’t think “pissing me off ” was part of that mission, but I could
was one benefit to my seat: witty gay men surrounded me and editorialized
on every issue. Like smart, lovable gnomes, they guarded the gay agenda.
They opined when they thought a candidate had fumbled or advanced the
ball, and revealed the show’s behind-the-scenes happenings. This
included details about how half the crew had volunteered without pay to
help with the production—putting in hundreds of hours—simply because
they were thrilled the presidential hopefuls were addressing the LGBT
got the skinny on Bill Richardson’s aim to get skinny; the New Mexico
Governor had asked that no snacks be placed in his dressing room. He
didn’t want to be tempted off of his diet. One gnome said to me, “If
he can be tempted by Chex Mix, can we trust him when corporate campaign
checks get tossed into the mix?” I couldn’t quite grasp the
in the audience were Arianna Huffington, Doogie Hauser’s Neil
Patrick Harris, and California Assemblyman Mike Feuer. LA City
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl rushed to his seat and apologized for his
tardiness, explaining how he’d been backstage coaching his candidate,
Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Democrats were questioned in the order they RSVP’d for the event; Obama
was first, and Clinton was last. I could not help but think Clinton had
planned it that way, as part of an “I’m experienced, unlike my
opponent” strategy to get the last word. I could just hear her
practicing in front of the mirror: I refuse to meet with leaders of rogue
nations. I refuse to RSVP until after my rogue, I mean, esteemed
competitors have done so…
the “separate but equal” line and discounting the importance of the
word “marriage”--argued that the rights afforded married couples
should be given to the LGBT community. He described himself as a
“supporter… of a strong version (of civil union);”a platform that
did not produce smiley faces in the crowd because they felt the word
“marriage” was central to true equality. I felt Obama’s biggest
error was to suggest gay issues and homophobia are less important than
inner city jobs, but the interviewers threw him a towel and let him walk.
second victim tossed into the ring was Senator John Edwards--the
“barbers union” and “scissors lobby” favorite—who also shied
away from supporting same-sex marriage. Edwards blurted out, “it’s not
true” in response to a rumor that he was uncomfortable around gay
people. I heard my neighboring gnome mumble, “Thank goodness for that,
Senator. Cause it looks like we’ve got you surrounded.”
The audience was tightly wrapped in a U around the stage.
Bill Richardson made the most pronounced blunder of the evening when he
said that being gay was based on choice rather than genetic factors, a
comment that surely came from a deprivation of brain food, most notably
Chex Mix. Following the debate, his campaign sent an emergency email to
the press, reversing his position.
also refused to support gay marriage--pounded the line, “I’ll do
what’s achievable,” so many times that those around me wondered if
yanking him off the stage would be achievable.
Clinton—who wore a festive coral jacket--was not immune from the
innocent “candidate bashing” game. One gnome said, “she’s dressed
like one of us,” and another mused, “I almost wore the same outfit.”
Like Obama, Edwards and Richardson, Clinton did not support the LGBT
threshold issue: gay marriage; and like her opponents, she could not
explain why. She merely called it a “personal position.” Clinton’s
greatest stumble came when she said the LGBT community’s fight for
equality “has not been a long term struggle yet,” implying that a
group needs to suffer for a prescribed number of years before a politician
takes notice. Could this argument be applied to the 2008 election? Is
there a particular junior Senator from New York who has not struggled long
enough in politics to be taken seriously as a candidate for President?
Senator Mike Gravel, the candidate I affectionately call the “grumpy
outsider,” was not so grumpy that night, nor was he an outsider. The
crowd loved it when he tossed his support to same-sex marriage, and
predicted “five years from now, the marriage issue will be a
first the gnome to my left said Gravel’s shoes were not up to par, “I
am judging all candidates on their shoes and this one fails. This is a gay
forum. He should know better.”
after Gravel proved himself to be an advocate for LGBT issues, the gnome
altered his harsh position on footwear, ” I’ve changed my mind. I like
what he said, so I’ve decided his shoes are ok.” I’m sure Gravel is
Dennis Kucinich strolled into the room as if he was the reigning champion
of the LGBT agenda and gave his unwavering support to same-sex marriage.
Like a cross between Tarzan and a Vermont Teddy Bear, he radiated a cuddly
and caring confidence while beating on his chest that “the federal
government (should) be the agent for change” and that as president, he
would be a true leader, always taking a stand on principle. The panelists
gushed over him, saying, “They told me not to fawn over you” and
“you’re so evolved for a member of Congress.” My gnomes were all
smiley faces and applause.
feel Kucinich won the debate due to his sincerity and passion for the
issues, while Gravel earned second place.
gay debate was about the LGBT community “arriving” and formally
entering the hallowed political halls. The gay debate was about fun and
making tasteless jokes at the poor candidates’ expense. The gay debate
was about moving towards a necessary equality.
And there’s absolutely nothing the matter with that.