Democrats and Political Homophobia

Merriam-Webster defines homophobia this way:

Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

We all know practitioners of homophobia — mostly Republicans, right-wingers, Catholic leaders, etc.

There is, however, a version of homophobia that is much more insidious: Political Homophobia.

Political homophobes aren’t gay-hating in the traditional sense. In fact, publicly, most are strong supporters of LGBT equality. But, behind closed doors, many Democratic leaders, consultants, Hill staffers and the rest will vociferously argue that there is no political benefit to actually supporting LGBT rights. Political homophobia is rampant among some Democrats. In some ways, it’s worse than blatant homophobia, since we think most Democrats are on our side. And outwardly, they are.

Political homophobia dictates policy in DC more than we’d like to think. I believe it’s happening in the West Wing right now. I’ve been told by several people that while the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, isn’t a homophobe in the traditional way (he always voted the right way when he was in the House), he is always the first person to suggest that his colleagues (and now boss) avoid gay issues. He’d rather not deal with them because he thinks they’re bad politics.

Now, maybe in 1993 that was true. But Rahm, if he truly is the problem behind the throne, doesn’t grasp the change in society over the past two decades. He also doesn’t understand that the American people think Obama is a different kind of politician — one who will do what he says because it’s the right thing to do.

The West Wing’s political homophobia is not only damaging relations with the LGBT community, it’s damaging the Obama brand. And even a politician obsessed with “bad politics” knows that this isn’t good.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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96 Responses to “Democrats and Political Homophobia”

  1. JoshMorr says:

    It’s not just Rahm. Obama himself has no close gay friends or family. The whole thing to them is just an abstract issue. If a gay person is fired, bashed, or even murdered – it’s just another impersonal news story to them. It’s a remote issue, as if Obama is reading about the slaughter of Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

  2. I have no problem with a democratic politician avoiding gay issues in order to get elected or to stay in office….then voting correctly (in favor of gay rights) when issues come up. If they are too vocal about their support, they will not get elected. President Obama is the most supportive president the LGBT community has ever had. Why berate him just because he is isn’t out there marching in gay parades?

  3. TonySoprano says:

    > we think most Democrats are on our side

    And, they are not. Just ask Steve Goldman, of NJ Equality, how he felt when Democrats who controlled the NJ Governor’s Office (Corzine), and both houses of the NJ Legislature, failed to pass Gay Marriage in 2009. By just a few votes.

    The Libertarian Party supports the LGBT community. It’s right there in their platform:

    But, you all go right ahead and keep wishing on the Dems. Let me know how that works out for ya.

  4. stevetalbert says:

    It is better to have an enemy I know, than to have a ‘friend’ who might stab me in the back or run away or I have no idea if they are a friend or not…. I won’t Republican, but I won’t vote Democratic in an election where the person hasn’t fulfilled 2006 campaign promises. Look at how much action happened AFTER the Demos lost their ’60 vote filibuster-proof majority’ they had asked for but then wasted.

  5. stevetalbert says:

    To blame Prop 8 loss on ‘The Blacks’ misses all the whites, chinese, hispanic, philippino, russian, etc, etc, that also voted. The problem with the Prop 8 campaign was they thought directly addressing being gay was ‘a loser’ – like the internalized Roy Cohn comment in this thread… and the fact that the push should have been more than personal minority rights are NOT subject to majority rule and should not be put to a vote.

  6. stevetalbert says:

    Is this a serious post?!? One of the major campaign themes was that Obama can do more than one thing at a time. It doesn’t take all that much effort, maybe a couple of hours on the phone with the UK, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, and Austrialia about how to implement the change they did. There are a bunch more, but the bigger ones we are already working with side by side would probably be the best source of info.

  7. ewwww. i think i just threw up a little in the back of my throat.


  8. DesmoNYC says:

    Me too and we will get them. It has been a YEAR!!!

  9. DesmoNYC says:

    It will bloody well happen. This lack of patience is fracturing our community and playing right into the GOP’s hands. FOCUS people. Look at the world we live in. JEEZ!!!

  10. DesmoNYC says:

    Sorry but you are just plain and simple WRONG.

  11. DesmoNYC says:

    Plenty of blame to go around. The blacks voted the way they did in California because many were confused by the writing. We weren’t there to explain and engage in reasonable dialogue. The Mormons were in full force financially and orally. We dropped the ball expecting positive results to happen virtually on their own. We were wrong. The blame game is dull. The LGBT community is not unified either and that remains an issue that will prevent us from progress.

  12. Desmond says:

    Patience dude. Obama will fulfill his promises to the LGTB community. Patience + support= positive results. It will happen. Have a little faith. These kind of harsh comment are not helpful either. We all need to stick together, focus and keep fighting. If he loses we are definitely doomed. The guys plate is stacked.

  13. FunMe says:

    Oh gosh, imagine if Obama and Rahm are closeted lovers.


    Nothing surprises me in politics anymore.

  14. ninjakiller says:

    I support don’t ask don’t give for this very reason. There’s a leadership vacuum right now. Obama’s an empty suit, even with his reelection infrastructure in place in 2012 he’s still going to lose. You can’t shit on/ignore your base as much as you have and not expect us to say “fuck you” and stay at home. Of course when the bloodbath happens this fall and republicans barely miss retaking the house and senate Rahm will read this as a signal to move further to the right. They really are idiots/morons.

    Sorry if it sounds harsh, but I didn’t donate/work phone banks for this. Not for this. With Rs I expected to be shit on/kicked with a D the betrayal just hurts even more.

    Stop telling me that it can’t be done/that you don’t have the votes. It never stopped Bush. IT NEVER STOPPED BUSH.

  15. caphillprof says:

    From the horses mouth:
    “You care far too much what is written and said about you. You don’t relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty. When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched,” Axelrod wrote in a memo to Obama.

    I think this goes far in explaining much of the problems in this administration, in the health care debacle and on the entire litany of gay issues.

  16. Daniel says:

    Obama, Pelosi and Reid are consciously avoiding repeal of laws like DADT and DOMA because doing so prevents them from having to take any other pro-gay actions that could be used to brand them as “liberals”. They’re working very hard trying to cultivate a Centrist image. Obama in particular has been devoting a lot of outreach to religious groups that hold anti-gay views. With laws like DADT and DOMA on the books he can tell the gay community that his hands are legally tied and he can’t help them. He can then turn to right-leaning religious groups and argue that he hasn’t done anything particularly pro-gay (or as they like to call it: “anti-family”).

  17. Crablaw says:

    In a way I don’t blame Team That One for ignoring LGTB concerns. Gay Rights, Inc., completely ruined No on Prop 8; they are not wartime consiglieri, but the well-meaning Tom Hagens who cannot quite think like Sicilians, and don’t see the assassination coming. So Rahm doesn’t want to engage gay issues and neither does Obama; they believe in winning and they aren’t going to back a bunch of losers.

    You know what I saw in the months leading up to Prop 8 in Washington’s Gay Village, Dupont Circle? Not a whole lot of action on Prop 8. Bet it was the same in NYC, Chicago, Atlanta. Meanwhile, their Mormon neighbors were donating like hell to Yes on 8. These peacetime consiglieri apparently didn’t think that Black turnout in California would be high and largely pro-8 (maybe less so than initially reported, but still providing the bulk of the margin.)

    It’s as if professional gay rights organizers have internalized the sense of the closeted homophobe Roy Cohn, who could not (in his mind) be a “homosexual” because to accept that definition would be to surrender all actual and self-perceived clout. It’s as if they are listening to Alec Baldwin’s Blake at the beginning of Glengarry Glen Ross, calling them failures, losers and faggots and accepting all of the labels. Where’s Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin? More HRC malpractice and this straight father of two will simply stop giving a shit. Why should I care about gay rights when most gay people in this country haven’t given a fucking $20 bill for the cause?

  18. thanks for pointing this out to the vast majority of non-computer programmers here.

  19. Crablaw says:

    I don’t know but suspect that Neal’s comment was an insider joke in computer programming.

  20. Indigo says:

    Tough, pioneer, resolute, inflexible.

  21. Indigo says:

    I wish I didn’t have to agree with you but I do.

  22. cowboyneok says:

    Understand, I think my ANGER overwhelms my HORMONES. LOL!

  23. Arouete says:

    Your ‘zealous advocates’ want you to believe that Obama has no choice but to defend DOMA. Rubbish! You might want to ask what they are up to with that. Instead of attacking the person who finally speaks truth to lies and who breaks the silence you might want to nail their feet to the floor for again we see inability to make distinctions with a real difference. Clearly some members of this community march in lockstep because they have been so kept in the dark that they can no longer tell the victims from the executioners. There is no scarcity of scholarly authority supporting my arguments. Legal scholar Saikrishna Prakash, at University of San Diego School of Law, wrote;

    “The critics are correct in arguing that the President lacks a discretionary power to refuse to enforce unconstitutional statutes. Instead, the President has a duty to disregard such laws that arises from two sources. First, the Constitution never empowers the President to enforce unconstitutional statues. He no more has the power to enforce such statutes than he has power to enforce the statutes of Georgia or Germany. Second, the President’s duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution requires the President to disregard unconstitutional statutes. When the President enforces a statute he regards as unconstitutional, he acts to violate the Constitution no less than he would were he to imprison citizens without hope of trial. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson argued that executives could not enforce unconstitutional statutes, with Jefferson being the first President to actually invoke the duty of Executive Disregard. Upon entering office, Jefferson ordered the termination of Sedition Act prosecutions on the grounds that the Sedition Act was unconstitutional. Jefferson justified his non-enforcement decision by arguing that the Sedition Act was no law at all and by noting that he had a duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, a duty that prevented him from implementing measures that violated it.” (See “The Executive’s Duty to Disregard Unconstitutional Laws,” by Saikrishna Prakash University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-95.)


  24. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Tim, I would be very interested in how you turn off that part of your brain. I even find some Repugs hot. How they look doesn’t influence my political outlook or my desire for my civil rights, but I’m breathing, and I have eyes and hormones.

  25. jpjones says:

    Right you are. Obama aggressively lobbied the shit out of Congress to get his energy bill passed, but when it comes to DADT and DOMA, he sits passively on the sidelines, assuring us he’ll sign the bill as soon as Pelosi and Reid come up with the legislation, move it through committee, cobble together enough votes in both houses to get it passed, send it to a conference committee, iron out the differences, bring the compromise bill up for a vote, cobble together enough votes to get the compromise passed …

  26. jpjones says:

    I don’t see THAT happening. Dumping Rahm would be perceived as tantamount to admitting Obama had made a mistake by appointing him, and as this presidency grows to resemble Bush II more and more each day, I can’t imagine Obama doing anything which might expose his fallibility. There is surely no one left at this blog who still thinks we’ll get an apology for the DOMA brief, is there?

  27. John says:

    Obama is ultimately for all decisions coming from the White House. It doesn’t matter what Rahm says or doesn’t say.

    And bouncing the ball to Nancy doesn’t exactly solve the problem. As the president is well aware of, the problem is the United States Senate and – incidently – his own administration. The House has passed much of this stuff already.

  28. Arouete says:

    That’s only true if you don’t know a pimp from a whore and judge people by what they wear and not how they act.

  29. cowboyneok says:

    I disagree with the idea DOMA and DADT would require a lot of political clout. The two are conflated too much, even by members of our community. Everyone knows DOMA would require a lot of political clout at this time. The decision to not defend DOMA would NOT require as much political clout, but was done anyway. On the other hand, DADT does not require NEAR the political clout to do a STOP LOSS EXECUTIVE ORDER. In fact, America is READY for Obama to make the nation safer by signing the order. DADT is the biggest indication of some kind of institutionalized homophobia within the Obama Administration.

  30. cowboyneok says:

    “Unfortunately, many people believe they are the only ones that are deprived of certain rights and can’t be bothered to help anyone else.”

    I think its more insidious than that. I think many people believe their minority group is the only who has a LEGITIMATE claim on equal civil rights. Not EVERYONE in minority groups are that way, but there are quite a few in some groups who absolutely do believe others should experience discrimination and don’t deserve rights.

  31. cowboyneok says:

    I don’t care what people look like, or how hot they are, in the White House. I want my civil rights.

  32. Guest says:

    Good god, it’s like watching someone blame the miniskirt-clad coed for getting date raped.

  33. ?

    if i was misunderstood, i think that john’s assessment was brilliant.

  34. NealB says:

    right. the problem is Obama.

  35. NealB says:

    Wisconsin here. What’s “Kansas mean?”

  36. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Do you have any evidence to support that statement?

    I find him incredibly hot, but I don’t think that exempts him from being involved in the problem.

  37. Lepanto says:

    the problem is not Rahm

  38. NealB says:

    Typo correction: …306 million… (not material)

  39. NealB says:

    My other many misgivings notwithstanding, I still wish Obama was a decent man.

  40. NealB says:

    .nail meet, hammer

    .analysis brilliant

  41. chris10858 says:

    Perhaps instead of the lgbt community targeting groups such as HRC or Democratic leaders to do the right thing, the lgbt community (who has eyes and ears everywhere) needs to work to excise those like Rahm out of a position of influence. If we let polticos know that we will work to ruin their careers if they fight against us, I think they might be more reticent to argue against lgbt equality.

  42. alex02139 says:

    I knew Barrios in college. Not shocked that he wants to hang out with the A-list crowd, and principles be damned. The only thing worse than Fraudbama are his enablers in the Gay establishment.

  43. alex02139 says:

    The Obama “brand” is Fraudbama. The administration has abandoned all its fundraiser promises to the LGBT community, which is indicative of their impotence on domestic issues. Watch the climate and energy bill die in the Senate; watch health care reform die a similar death without the public option. Fraudbama’s political homophobia is an indicator of his general incompetence.

  44. EsseIsPercipi4 says:

    Politicians would pay a lot more VALID attention to LGBTQ rights if other minority groups believed in them. There are a lot of vocal members of several minority groups that fight against gay rights, while fighting for their rights at the same time. Look at the black pastors and community leaders with the DC gay marriage recognition bill. 70% of blacks that voted on Prop 8 voted YES.

    If other minority groups actually bothered to not be hypocrites and believe in ALL minorities’ rights being protected from the majority, then everyone would be a lot better off and we would have had gay rights a long time ago.

    Unfortunately, many people believe they are the only ones that are deprived of certain rights and can’t be bothered to help anyone else.

  45. DougStamate says:

    “…it’s damaging the Obama brand.”
    That is what will get things moving. A politician only has clout if he/she can show results. If a politician suffers defeats, for whatever reason, that decreases their clout. It also hurts their egos.
    I don’t believe that the Obama administration has decided to “throw gays under the bus”. I do believe that we are not their highest priority at this moment. Any action taken by the Obama administration on DOMA and DADT will entail the use of a lot of political clout – there are many Congressmembers who, while they might not lose their seats if they support the administration, will face tougher battles to retain those seats and will be reluctant to get on board.
    I’m reserving my anger for a little longer as it’s only June 2009. The economy, global warming and health care reform can go first. If those aren’t handled, my civil rights may very well be a moot point anyway. After those, however, I want to see some positive action on DOMA and DADT.
    And I fully agree that a financial boycott of the various Democratic funding organizations, with the reason why when possible, is an excellent beginnning. It may be what is needed to get the attention of some of those Congressional waverers.

  46. perljammer says:

    You keep using the word “homophobia” when you should be using the work “hypocrisy”. The Obama administration obviously isn’t afraid of or repulsed by the LGBT community; its just treating you as cannon fodder: listen to our empty promises, go fight the fight, donate your money, work to get us elected, then STFU like the powerless entity you are, while we work on our real agenda.

    Don’t worry — they’ll be back with their promises of change for a better tomorrow just as soon as they think they need you again.

  47. Indigo says:

    So we heckle Rahm out of his Oval Office appointment and see what happens next? We probably can do that. If there’s enough bad buzz, Obama will toss him under that bus without a second glance. He’s that kind of Kansas mean.

  48. Kuyper says:

    As they say in the Mafia: nothing personal, just business.

  49. Blueflash says:

    The home page of the NYT has an article on this very topic. It quotes leading anti-gay hater Tony Perkins. Guess what? He’s rather pleased with Obama, but Barney Frank assures us major legislative victories will be coming soon.

  50. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    There are a lot of people in the gay community that are apathetic, but I rather suspect that all groups that have fought for civil rights have the same problem. I sometimes think that it’s the younger guys who are the most apathetic. They don’t remember how things were. I don’t really remember Stonewall, but I do remember a lot of bad things that have happened since. If they could only have witnessed the Reagan Administration’s handling of the HIV crisis, they would be a lot less apathetic.

    The problem is how to motivate those that are apathetic. We really can’t depend on repealing DOMA to motivate them. A lot of the younger guys are not ready to settle down, so they’re certainly not ready for marriage. Of course, there are a lot of older guys who have been burned and are also not interested in marriage. Of course, the DOJ’s brief on DOMA probably did get more people motivated. If anything will motivate the gay community, it will probably be DADT. Everybody can see the absurdity of DADT. There are also several charismatic victims of DADT who should appeal to a lot of people.

    I have a lot of hope for the guys who were vicitims of DADT. One of them may become the leader that the LGBT community needs. Both the Black community and the Feminist community had leaders, the LGBT community only has a few pathetic leaders. They are our version of a “self satisfied, latte drinking, unaware generation”.

  51. EML says:

    They support it in a very lukewarm way. They don’t actually CARE about it. That’s the difference. Obama is willing to let DADT and DOMA languish because he is spending his political capital on things he can get them to CARE about.

  52. timncguy says:

    would you like to explain how Obama ISN’T shitting on us right now to help Obama? Or, at least in a way he THINKS will help him?

  53. timncguy says:

    I think he is referring to the recent polls where on EVERY issue except marriage equality, the majority of the public supports the LGBT issues. THis is true for repeal of DADT, foe ENDA for Hate Crimes legislation. It is true for every issue except for marriage. And, even without support for the “word” marriage, the public supports full state and federal benefits for same-sex couples.

  54. you have no idea who i associate with or what i confront on a daily basis. virtually everywhere i go, i’m inside a bubble that doesn’t support glbt issues in any way, shape form or fashion (but i do read and see that MY situation is becoming obsolete for more an more GLBT people every day) so let me clue you in:

    i live OUTSIDE a town of less than 200 people in a county that votes 90%+ REPUKE.

    if you look at the data, a MAJORITY now supports the repeal of DADT and about 58% support marriage equality.

    even in my little narrow-minded community (where i have lived for more than 10 years), i am completely OUT and have had people i don’t even know come up to me in the general store to say, “i know who you are and even though i can’t condone your lifestyle, i respect you as a person”.

  55. EML says:

    Actually, you don’t dave. You aren’t going out and meeting people who don’t agree with you. It’s periously easy to live in a bubble and only speak with people who agree with you. I’ve lived all over the USA and I’ve had to live cheek and jowl with people who saw homosexuality as a great evil (they saw feminism that way too). Those people were actually the easy ones. It’s the one where it’s more subtle, where they just don’t care because they don’t really know anyone who is openly gay and struggling. There isn’t even anyone on TV or in the movies who is suffering under DADT or DOMA. Did Will for “Will and Grace” ever even come close to getting in a permanent loving relationship. Oh hell no, because that would be too difficult for America to actually contemplate.

  56. AdamBlast says:

    Will Obama look Ferhenbach in the eye on Monday and tell him he’s proud of his service, that he’s a hero?

    My guess is he won’t even allow a brief chat, Obama’s not going to let anyone pin him down. What can he say given his current lack of moral courage other than “Sorry, bad timing?”

    I said it yesterday, but: Guess what Obama and the Democrats in Congress gave us for Pride this year? TWO parties of NO.

  57. Arouete says:

    Wake up! You are all getting it wrong! While you sleep and carp and bitch and moan you miss the forest for the trees. You are being duped and bamboozled by your own activists . And, aside from the few we read here, our activists have become toothless yapping lap dogs and mere sycophantic cocktail part activists.

    Wise up! See “The Big Chill: Why Obama Must Defend DOMA as He Works For Repeal” at

  58. EML says:

    I disagree with you nicho. If you count the states that weren’t allowed to cast their ballots…. Okay, but let’s agree to let the historian hash it out. And being a historian, I would love to be the first to publish a book about it. But I’m NOT willing to do anything that might mean that Clinton might not get a shot in 3 or 7 years down the road.

    So, let’s concentrate on the agenda before you and feminists like me. And the sad truth is that Phyllis Schafley may be right. Feminism might be dead. The funny part is that in my opinion it died under the weight of the self-satisfied, latte drinking, unaware generation who grew up without remembering how women were treated by the Civil Rights Movement. I go and listen to young women complain about the glass ceiling and then when I point out that they can’t even bump their heads on the glass ceiling without doing it on the back of a whole host of women who clean their houses and watch their children, I get looks of utter blankness. Makes me want to cry.

    Anyway, I wonder to a certain extent if the same thing isn’t happening in the gay movement? There is a part of your community that is so happy to no longer be pursued by cops and to have some protection against job loss, that they just seem willing to accept the present situation. How do you mobilize them?

  59. EML says:

    Well, we can’t go back and undo the primaries. As a Clinton supporter, I always thought she was the more honest candidate. So, what can you do to move this forward. As a straight feminist, I have my own agenda which in some ways parallels the gay agenda. One thing I want is to see the ban on women in combat recinded. Heck, women and gays are already in combat, but we can’t even get that acknowledged. I want political parity. When the Clinton supporters asked for parity on the cabinet, Obama’s advisors told them they wouldn’t be able to find enough qualified candidates – which showed clearly the sexism that we were up against. Because in a country of 360 Million people they honestly believed they couldn’t find 8 or 9 qualified women to hold cabinet posts.

    I agree with you that Obama never really had any gay friends. In fact, I could say the same for most of the great middle America and that’s the problem. To people like Obama and Emmanuel and for most Americans, your agenda doesn’t really effect them (the same could be said for the feminist agenda). So, how do you get through to them. Obama and Emmanuel are now in the White House bubble. They aren’t going to be making any “new” friends. But the rest of America is open game.

  60. nicho says:

    The problem with Hillary is not your straw man, but the fact she ran a wretched primary campaign. She chose absolutely shitty advisers and stuck with them. She agreed to an outdated and incorrect strategy and, even when it didn’t work, she stuck with it. She and her advisers totally underestimated the threat from Obama and couldn’t react when they found themselves outmaneuvered.

    In short, all the things you do not want in a president.

    Add to that the fact that the Clintons’ primary loyalty is to the Clintons. They will shit on anyone who isn’t going to help the Clintons. Why else do you think so many supposed Clinton friends supported Obama? The Clintons had screwed them over in one way or another.

  61. nicho says:

    The problem with Hillary is not your straw man, but the fact she ran a wretched primary campaign. She chose absolutely shitty advisers and stuck with them. She agreed to an outdated and incorrect strategy and, even when it didn’t work, she stuck with it. She and her advisers totally underestimated the threat from Obama and couldn’t react when they found themselves outmaneuvered.

    In short, all the things you do not want in a president.

    Add to that the fact that the Clintons’ primary loyalty is to the Clintons. They will shit on anyone who isn’t going to help the Clintons. Why else do you think so many supposed Clinton friends supported Obama? The Clintons had screwed them over in one way or another.

  62. ChitownKev says:

    Excellent post, Joe

    The only thing that I would add to is that poltical homophobia exists within some rank-and-file sectors of the Democratic coalition itself (i.e. racial and ethnic minorities, Reagan Democrats, union workers). Not only that, but the Democratic Party has simply swept the issue under the rug among those constituencies. As a result, you have a divide between the politicos who are very pro-gay rights (e.g. union leaders, the Congressional Black Caucus) and many of the voters of those constituencies who are either neutral on the issue or even anti-gay.

  63. that’s why they fawn over us when in “campaign mode” (gAyTM, anyone?) and then ignore us in office.

    won’t they be surprised when their pleas for cash fall on deaf pink ears?!

  64. maybe it’s just me, but rahm sets off my gaydar. maybe he doth protest too much?

    i pointed this out to my partner, who said, “no, it’s not just you…i think the same thing.”

  65. slight correction:
    you said, “when we have enough straight allies…”

    we have enough, what we need is for our elected officials to pull their collective heads out of the orifice below their belts and see that THE PUBLIC has left THEM BEHIND (no pun intended).

  66. gig says:

    It’s sad that you feel the need to pretend it’s just political. They do not like us. Where are Obama’s gay friends? Has he ever had any? Oh, maybe that fellow he admired because he didn’t “proselytize all the time.”

    Obama never seemed comfortable with gays. Hillary did. Oh, but she’s a lying, racist bitc_, I forgot.

  67. brilliant analysis.

    hammer, meet nail.

  68. S1AMER says:

    Absolutely. If there were more of us than there are people who dislike us, we’d be a powerful force. Instead, as George Bush showed in 2004, there’s profit in catering to (or at least not offending) the practitioners of homophobia.

    This country finally got somewhere on civil rights for African Americans when the number of white people who favored equality exceeded the number of practitioners of racism. That made it safe for Lyndon Johnson to push civil rights legislation, and that made it safe for sufficient numbers of legislators to vote for rights.

    The same thing will happen with equality for gay and lesbian Americans. When we have enough straight allies to convince legislators it’s safe to vote for us, legislators will vote for us. But, until then, only very brave politicians and those with very safe seats believe they can afford to be our allies.

  69. Zorba says:

    I’ve always assumed that it was Rahm behind the whole “Let’s throw gay people under the bus” thing, but now you’ve got me wondering, too, about the other, as you said, “outrageous moves,” Eagleye. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if a lot of that was instigated by Rahm.

  70. gaynumbers says:

    Well- but these things have always existed, and not just with homophobia and heterosexism. When dealing with racial discrimination, one finds these same sorts of insideous more down-low forms of discrimination and mindsets that propectuates legal and de facto discrimination. The trick is to get people to realize that it is happening. That’s why I applaud this diary. When someone asked me whether I thought President Obama is a homophobe, my response was that it does not matter. It is the laws he promotes that are homophobic, and he allows them through his inaction to continue to impact our lives. Or, to put another way, it does not matter whether you cut my legs off because you really don’t like me or because you think others do not like me. It’s the same harm being done.

  71. barthome says:

    Rahm is becomming a democratic Cheney.

  72. jpjones says:

    I just saw Jarrett Barrios from GLAAD interviewed on CNN. Absolutely pathetic. He’ll be at the White House shindig Monday. That’s one we now know for sure. If anyone hears of any other confirmed invitees, please post it here so we’re all aware.

  73. Chris From Maine says:

    its all about getting elected and getting votes.

    If the Dems thought that gay rights would get them re-elected, it would have been passed years ago.

  74. NealB says:

    This is a what comes first distinction though. The political homophobia exists because of homophobia-in-general borne of that adolescent male squeamishness many boys have about same-sex sexuality. Obama’s a rigid, cold, stand-offish guy who wants to be perceived as “all man.” When he gives his speeches, they’re not inspirational because they’re heartwarming or because they ask us to embrace our humanity or love one another. He’s cold, chilling; not warm. His speeches are forceful because he’s upstanding, rigorous, and commanding. His words and delivery don’t ask us to work together, like Bush, they say ‘just stay out of my way.’ It seems to be what America wanted to hear.

    It’s been an assuring act so far, but it’s already come to the point where it rings not just dissonant, but hollow. These guys, this White House, like Bush, are terrified of dissent, or losing control lest they’re perceived as being weak. They’re immature, they lack vision, and every time when push comes to shove, they get beat down and lose the offensive.

    It would take a president much more secure in himself to have the courage and grace necessary to use his power to put down hatred of homosexuality. Politics is the problem, surely, but lack of character is the root problem in all of Obamas failures as president so far.

  75. psychodrew says:

    Excellent point!

    I am a PhD student who studies sexual prejudice (homophobia). I have a colleague who is convinced that we need to re-consider how social scientists conceptualize and measure sexual prejudice. I’m going to send this post to her. Very interesting idea.

  76. eagleye says:


    Your post has me wondering if Rahm Emmanuel is the root of the problem with the Obama administration– and not just on gay issues. There have been some outrageous moves made by our Justice Dep’t. on detainee issues which are at odds with everything that Obama claims to stand for. Maybe Rahm is the rot at the core….

  77. Indigo says:

    Conventional wisdom in pre-Stonewall days was that to keep gays quietly invisible in your business, you needed one conforming old queen in a power spot. “She” will see to it that no other gays get anywhere in the office. That sounds like Rahm to me.

    It’s the Bible-belt argument: we have nothing against them, we just want to be sure that the “very best” person is in the right spot. Um . . . define “very best” and let’s see whether that somehow fits the Bible-belt profile of externally conformist religionism.

    So . . . if it’s Rahm
    and we know it,
    let’s dethrone him!

  78. nicho says:

    I’m not sure you can classify it as homophobia. I think it’s worse. We’re not people — we’re merely numbers on a spreadsheet.

    Politicians do two things well — count money and count votes. They whip out the calculators and spreadsheets and decide what they will do based on what will give them more money and/or more votes.

    We can threaten to withhold our votes and we can withhold our money, but they’ve already done the math. Policy A will bring them more votes/cash overall than Policy B.

    Yes, they will lose us, but they will gain more on the others side — so it’s a net benefit. If the spreadsheet showed the reverse, Obama and Rahm would be fawning over us.

    But it’s not personal, as Don Corleone would say — it’s just business.

    If you’re expecting anyone to act on principle, you’re in the wrong game.

  79. dale8 says:

    There is a treatment for political homophobia. Cash deprivation.

  80. tlsintx says:

    you have hit the nail on the head, my friend.
    maybe this will be the difference for us…precisely clarifying the specific issue/problem/reality and then forcing Obama to answer to it.

    justice is on the side of equal gay rights.
    we’ve just got to persuade the f-ing politicians.

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