Hope, But Hold Accountable

Audacity at its Finest?

“There has not been a stronger or more consistent advocate on LGBT issues than I have been.” – Barack Obama

 

Will Our Support Be Taken for Granted, Its Value Diminished?

Is our love affair with Obama an infatuation (with all the risks the word implies) or are we entering into a relationship of substance and mutual respect? Is it his aura or his deeds that have enraptured our hearts and imaginations?

If Obama wins the nomination, it will be easy for him to assume that he will de facto have the support of the gay and lesbian community: John McCain simply leaves little alternative. But is it in our best interests to support this assumption? Must we freely hand over our unqualified support, or should we negotiate along the way? Perhaps the general election will be our last opportunity to construct a framework that will hold an Obama administration accountable to promises made.

Are Loyalty and Accountability Mutually Exclusive?

Genuine and enduring relationships are built on support, loyalty and mutual respect. The bedrock of respect is accountability. We tend to think of loyalty and accountability as diametrically opposed: “With me or against me” or “I am 100% right/you are 100% wrong” advocate/adversarial approach of our legal system.

But before we fully segregate ourselves into “unquestionably loyal” and “unquestionably skeptical” camps, perhaps we should re-consider our common ground: 

As a community, LGBT’s are a minority on the national stage. For the simple reason we are different than the majority, we remain a premier lightning rod that attracts the hatred and villification of the ignorant – who sadly comprise a much-larger contingent of the populace. We may not like it, but the fact is we are a wedge issue and will be played as such by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The advancements we’ve enjoyed are by an large the result of the brave and determined work of people who tenaciously demanded to be afforded the dignity and respect due all Americans. But we’re still a long way from that goal.

A message of inclusion carries both hope and risk for our community. It may enlighten our antagonists; on the other hand, it may forego our interests in order to bridge larger groups.

Perhaps now represents the moment in our history where we can be both loyal to a candidate and hold him/her reasonably accountable to upholding their pledges of dignity, respect – and action – to our community. 

It’s The “Small Things”

Big, sweeping plans and pronouncements by politicians usually end up just that: big sweeping pronouncements. More often it is the small things – day-to-day attention to detail – that brings positive change.  But as human history attests, we instinctively prefer the endless search for the one “be all” messianic figure to the daily grind of detail. 

Problem is, those easy-to-ignore details can quickly morph into patterns. Calculated or not, those patterns send signals. In our case, it’s whether the President of the United States regards the LGBT community with  respect, ambivalence or scorn. Thus attitudes and policies are set.

Naturally, good politicians are adept at the art of denial. This has put our community in a lose/lose situartion for too long: If we protest patterns of slights, we are branded as trifling, extremist – or mocked as paranoid.

 

We Won’t Fall For That

With respect to presidential candidate Barack Obama:

We believe that small acts matter.

We will hold an Obama administration accountable for acts both big and small.

We will do so with a framework for accountability that keeps a factual record of actions measured against promises and ideals put forth to gain our support.

We will ensure all aspects of the framework is pubic, and remain open-minded with respect to suggestions for improvement.

We will not be deterred by rhetoric, browbeating, intimidation or pleas for “unity.”

Most importantly, we will be fair. If he is elected, it will either serve as a testament to achievement or an accounting of duplicity.

What We’re Talking About:

Obama’s actions so far are at best ambivalent, and frequently antagonistic. As a community, we seem disinterested in questioning the disconnect between his words and his actions. 

We have been eager to overlook misrepresentations Obama has made to us as well as his troubling associations with homophobic bigots. One case in point:

Remember Obama’s South Carolina Tour?

With the “cured homosexual” turned outspokenly anti-gay Pastor Donnie McClurkin? “

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