Thursday, April 2, 2015

Announcing an Announcement

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled to open in theatres in December 2015. Its sequel, Episode VIII will open May 26, 2017 and its sequel will open in May of 2018. The announcement of these dates is not really intended for the movie going public to make a notation in their calendars, but as a stake in the ground for the other movie studios. Disney plans to “own” that weekend with the big release, so the others should just plan around it. The competition may then “counter” program with a romantic comedy or something else for audiences to choose from or just wait a week or two for their opportunity. It’s not unlike the other big industry town, Washington. In politics those running for office take it one step further: announcing their intention to announce.

At the end of March 2015, 22 months before the inauguration of the 45th President Senator Ted Cruz is the only declared candidate for the office.  Another dozen or more from various parties are considering or announcing that they’re considering or announcing that their announcing their consideration to run for the highest office in the land. In the grand scheme of things, it’s about as important and consequential as the Star Wars movie opening in 2018.

On February 27, 2015, 23 months before the inauguration and with no announced candidates, Equality California (the nation’s second largest LGBT membership organization) became the first LGBT organization to endorse Hillary Clinton for President.  Never mind that Sec. Clinton has not announced her intention to run – in fact repeatedly stating that she had nothing to say on the matter. Never mind that there might be any other candidates to challenge any eventual campaign. It’s a pretty safe assumption her hat's in the ring, but, technically she’s not in the race.

Executive Director Rick Zbur said in the press release: “We’re enthusiastic about her candidacy because she has the best record of accomplishment on LGBT issues of any potential candidate. Equality California is ready for Hillary!” It’s an interesting assertion given that there are no actual candidates to measure Sec. Clinton against and her legislative endeavors are, at best, limited.

In terms of her record – she gave a powerful speech on International Human Rights Day at the United Nations in Geneva in 2011 that “went viral.” Sec. Clinton said: “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” It was a powerful and important sentiment and words matter.



In terms of accomplishments, however, there are few. The Clinton administration devised Don’t Ask Don’t Tell which codified discrimination into federal law that took over 20 years to abolish and was tremendously damaging to tens of thousands of LGBT lives. In its 1996 re-election campaign the Clinton administration conjured up, endorsed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act that has taken nearly two decades to dismantle, with the Supreme Court still working on the issue. The “religious freedom law” that Indiana (and 30 other states) use as a template to justify discrimination against LGBT people was conceived of and signed into law by President Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton, so the troika of anti-gay actions that he took as President (and has never apologized for) is not her burden to bear. Just as Jeb Bush should not bear the responsibility of the decisions of his brother George W. or his father George HW – each potential candidate are their own person. Their relationship to others policies is a fair thing to ask about, however, especially as they try to take credit for the accomplishments of those same people.



In June 2014 Sec. Clinton was “testy” during an exchange about any ‘evolution’ that she has had on Marriage Equality. The reporter reasonably asked about how and why she went from being opposed to Marriage Equality to supporting it – all of which has been in the public record during her long public life. Sec. Clinton forcefully challenged the premise of the question, never denying the facts nor answering the question.

This is the best that the LGBT community can do? Endorsing an individual who has no record of accomplishment on LGBT issues and isn’t even announced as a candidate? Not even waiting to see if another person rises up more forcefully supporting the cause? In the end Hillary Clinton may well run and win the nomination and may well be the leader on the issues – but doesn’t it make sense to actually wait and see who’s running first? Shame on Equality California – and organization that has had a record of leadership in the past but now seems to be seeking headlines and access over servicing its community. I hereby announce my intention to no longer support EqCA.

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