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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Staying at the front of the bus

Howard Dean, the integrity-challenged chairman of the Democratic National Committee, believes the shift in power in Washington will make it easier for gays and lesbians. At least that's what he told the International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference. The group just wrapped up a four-day conference in Houston and Dean was one of the politicos chosen to address the group.

An interesting choice of words, that "easier." One can assume he meant it would be easier for gays and lesbians with the Democrats controling both houses of Congress rather than the Republicans. The latter, it seems, would settle for legislating us out of existence (only because it wouldn't be politically correct to declare open season on us.) By comparison, it will be easier under the Democrats. They only want us to move to the back of the bus instead of throwing ourselves under the wheels.

According to an article in The Houston Chronicle, Dean told the conference:

"My advice to — not just this community, but every community that plays an important role in the Democratic Party, and this one certainly does — is to try not to do everything at once. ...

"We need a careful, narrow, targeted agenda to make it clear what the difference between the Democratic Party and Republican Party is before we go into the next election."

Uh-oh. You can almost hear an unspoken and you ain't part of it right after that bit about needing a careful, narrow, targeted agenda.

Dean, it seems, is squeamish about Repugnantcans and fun-D'uh-Mental-ists poking a finger at the Democratic Party and declaring, "See? They really are the party of homo-seck-shuls! Now vote for us or else they'll be teaching the finer points of anal intercourse to kindergarteners!"

I'm ashamed of Dean. I'm also ashamed that the Democratic Party isn't ashamed of him. This flirtation with gay issues only to run back to the right has got to stop. Sure, Dean signed the nation's first civil partnership law while governor of Vermont, but let's not give him a medal for doing what the courts and legislature told him to do.

His record on gay rights since heading up the DNC has been lackluster at best.

Let's not forget that he did away with the DNC LGBT outreach office and fired a gay staffer whose partner was critical of Dean in print. Even more troublesome was his appearance on senile Bible-thumper Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club" during which he either "mispoke" - or maybe out-and-out lied - about the Democratic platform on gay marriage.

"Think how you felt in the last six years when you were being run over roughshod by an administration who used your community to beat up on folks and scare them to get them to vote Republican," Dean is quoted as telling the group.

I wonder if Dean can imagine how many of us feel now, after being demonized by one party and marginalized by the other? I wonder if he has any idea how offensive his "step to the back of the bus" message sounds to those of us who worked so hard to vote out the bigots and tools of the religious right like Missouri's Jim Talent, Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, Virginia's George Allen and others? I wonder how long he thinks the Democrats can hold onto their narrow win without acknowledging the LGBT community's role in that victory?

According to some analyses, a coalition of LGBT voters and their allies may have played a major role in handing Democrats a one-vote margin in the Senate. A post-election article in The Falls Church (Va.) News Press puts it this way:

An analysis of the voting pattern Tuesday in Virginia suggests that the so-called “marriage amendment” on the ballot as Question 1 might have cost U.S. Senator George Allen the election. If true, it would mark an ironic twist, the backfiring of an effort Republicans hoped would spur a stronger turnout for their incumbent. ...

The analysis is based on a comparison of votes cast for Question 1 compared to the other two amendments on Tuesday’s ballot, and especially to Question 2. Question 2 involved granting churches in Virginia the right to incorporate. It was strongly pushed by the same religiously-based forces that backed passage of the anti-gay marriage measure.

But Question 2 garnered 133,411 fewer votes than Question 1, meaning that many more voters were moved to vote on the gay marriage measure.

Of those additional votes, more than that entire margin voted “No” on Question 1. With all but three of the state’s 2,443 precincts reporting as of late yesterday, 231,727 voted against Question 1 than voted against Question 2.

It can be credibly argued that a significant portion of those extra 231,727 people who voted against the gay marriage ban also voted against Allen. Many of them, in fact, may have been motivated to come to the polls by the aggressive campaign led by a well-organized collective effort of civic and religious groups known as the Commonwealth Coalition.

With Allen’s margin of defeat in the Senate election being only 7,307 votes, any significant percentage of the 231,727 additional “No” voters on Question 1 would have been decisive. Allen’s opponent, James Webb, stated publicly his opposition to Question 1 during the campaign.

So there you have it. Rather than telling us - even politely - to move to the back of the bus because are issues just aren't important, Dean should be kissing our collective asses. Without us and our supporters, Senate leadership would still be in the hands of the Republicans.

No thanks, Dr. Dean. I believe we'll sit up here by the bus driver. And we won't hesitate to tell him when he starts to take a wrong turn.