Monday, January 28, 2008

From an undecided Latino gay voter: Barack Obama and LGBT rights

Last week, I shared one particular article from the Politico website ("Obama Faces Off Against Both Clintons," Jan. 20, 2008) with more than 800 LGBT Latinos on an e-mail list I moderate.

My friend
Jorge Irizarry sent back this response and I asked if I could share it with you. He said yes so here it goes (keep in mind that, while I am supporting Barack Obama, Jorge is still uncommitted):

W
e will see more of this kind of articles in days, weeks, months and maybe even years to come. Scrutiny of different candidates' endorsers and concerns regarding what their endorsements mean. I am very cautious as to how to read this particular column by Carrie Budoff Brown. The title "Obama faces off against both Clintons," should have maybe been titled: "Two Clintons attack Obama."

Sometimes it is all in the wording or even the order of the words. Truth (to me) is that Obama has been forced to respond to attacks from both Clintons, which by the way, are sadly relying on a very stereotypical gendered division of labor when it comes to attacking Obama.


T
his particular title is problematic to me because it seems to be a presumption that endorsers must adhere strictly to all the candidates positions and even worse, that a candidate embraces all positions espoused by any given endorser. We know this presumption, or expectation, is impossible. It would be very simple to see that Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell endorsed Obama for whatever reasons he espoused to the public in his endorsement. I respect that afterwards, Obama, in spite of this endorsement continued to be firm in his support of the LGBT community. Support that I believe is too limited, just as limited as Hillary's support (both candidates not too long ago, had to stop and consult their advisers before they could call our relationships "moral").


I believe, Obama has been as clear as possible as to his commitment to work with the LGBT community, and he was supportive of us in his speech at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, that is not small feat and we should appreciate it for what it is, a show of solidarity with the LGBT community in a place that may have not been too receptive to this kind of support before. Let's not forget that the African American community as well as the Latino community has their own issues with the mainstream LGBT organizations and their obsession with white images in the media as well as with its many white leaders in most positions of power. That is the appropriate context in which I suggest we look at Obama's statement Sunday, it is better than to hear him and start searching for an endorser that may disagree with him.


All of us that have worked in coalitions and have worked to raise support for a particular cause knows that some times members of that coalition are not allies in many other issues. It is disingenuous to imply differently. I remember working with immigrant rights groups and prisoner advocates groups that would not support some of my queer agenda, but we all managed to find common ground to work together. Obama's campaign is no different, and is not necessarily about what different endorsers think; it's about the candidate's statements and commitments. So in the end we can say that Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell endorsed Obama, the same candidate that urged more than 2,000 people at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church to acknowledge that "We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them."

That, to me, is commendable.


As a disclaimer: I am not an Obama supporter and do not work with any of his campaigns. I am however, growing increasingly disappointed with Ms. Clinton, her own warmongering, her campaign of fear - and I may never forgive her for betraying the immigrant community in Spitzer's effort to provide every immigrant in NY with a license. As a Latino queer man, that betrayal is harsher than when she hesitated before calling our relationships "moral."

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Well, Mrs. Clinton's back pedaling on driver's licenses is the same modus operandi Bill did to the gays on gays in the military and marriage. In both instances they voiced support and then immediately retreated the minute there was opposition.

I believe that both the gay community and the Latino community will see this in the future from the Clintons if she becomes president.