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Last night, two friends and I hunkered down around a laptop to watch the two-hour live online stream of Visible Vote '08, presented by LOGO and the Human Rights Campaign.
The broadcast was the first-ever LGBT-specific presidential forum. What’s more, it was hosted by an LGBT (that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender) rights group on a gay-oriented television channel.
So what did I think?
The presidential candidates — all Democrats; Republicans had been invited but uniformly declined — were generally willing to promise action on a short list of priorities:
Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (the “Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue” is silent), which prohibits openly lesbian, gay or bisexual people from serving in the military.
Extend nondiscrimination protections in employment.
Talk enthusiastically about equality.
The main issue that came up over and over, though, was — you guessed it — marriage. And there were no real surprises there. Kucinich and Gravel support full marriage equality; the other candidates generally supported civil unions. (Barack Obama spoke earnestly about “strong civil unions,” suggesting that he’s unaware of the current failure of New Jersey’s separate-but-supposedly-fully-equal civil unions.
Melissa Etheridge’s newest incarnation as interviewer was entertaining — methinks she aspires to be the gay Bono — but ultimately disappointing. She and the moderator allowed John Edwards to fly through his minutes without actually answering a single one of their questions. (Watch the clips. Not addressing their questions, right?) Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart was refreshingly hard-nosed, especially in comparison.
All in all, the broadcast was pulled off with few surprises. Discussions of marriage eclipsed larger efforts to strengthen the stability and security of diverse households and families, and (as in any debate) many issues fell by the wayside. Still, for what it’s worth, these candidates did express historic levels of support for the LGBT community.
Now let’s see how they carry that forward outside the realm of LOGO.