From Kaine to Can’t

I’ve written before about the dilemma faced by gay Republicans, embracing a party that doesn’t exactly embrace them. But recently it’s occurred to me that gay Democrats or left-leaning gays aren’t faring much better on the other side of the political spectrum, when some candidates run to the right on some issues, in hopes of winning a few more votes.

Case in point, a few weeks ago I got an email from a blogging list-serve I’m on, asking me to post some code to put a button on my site for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine. At the time I didn’t think much about it before putting the button on my blog. I figured if Kaine was the Democratic candidate, He had to be better than whoever the Republicans were running. So, I didn’t check into his record or his positions before posting the button. That was my mistake.

Some time after I posted the button I got an email from Chance saying that Kaine had taken some anti-gay positions around same sex marriage and adoptions by gays. I made a mental note to check it out, but didn’t until today, Chance made a comment saying basically the same thing. So I checked it out.

If put in the best light, Kaine makes it appear that he’d really rather not deal with gay issues.

Here are some of the common-sense attitudes that the poll detected:

Voters are less interested in hot-button topics such as the death penalty, gun laws and gay adoption than in more fundamental matters: education, state spending, transportation and jobs, in that order. The candidates should tailor their advertising and their themes accordingly.

But when pressed on same-sex marriage and gay adoptions, both illegal in Virignia, he clearly doesn’t want to alienate those voters for whom those are “hot-button” issues. So he positions himself accordingly.

Kilgore and Kaine said they support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages. Both said they disapprove of adoptions by gay couples.

In case there was any doubt, Kaine clarifies his position.

Democrat Tim Kaine opposes adoption by gay couples, citing present Virginia law that couples can’t adopt unless they’re married. Virginia law forbids same-sex marriage.

“I very much believe that the law in Virginia right now is the right law,” Kaine said. “An unmarried straight couple can’t adopt, a gay couple can’t adopt, two sisters can’t adopt, a mother and a daughter can’t adopt a younger child. The only couple that can adopt is a married couple.”

But leaves himself some wiggle room.

Singles can adopt in Virginia if they can demonstrate to a court that they would be fit parents and if the adoption is in the child’s best interest. Kaine criticized as “mean-spirited” legislation this year that would have disqualified gays who live alone from adopting even if they can show parental fitness and that the adoption would serve the child’s best interest.

Based on the comments on Kaine’s own blog, it doesn’t appear to be going over to well with his constituents. And it isn’t going over too well with me either.

So, the Tim Kaine button came down, and it won’t be going back up. I regret having put it up in the first place. I’m not a Virginian, mind you, precisely because the state is so conservative, and we plan on adopting a second child. But even though Kaine’s policies wouldn’t directly affect my family if he won, I can’t see giving him the support of having a button on my blog.

It’s a cliche that politics makes strange bedfellows. It also makes strained marriages between political parties and long-time constituents when candidates make the decision that they have to move somewhat in the opposite direction of their values, and some of their constituents’ values, in order to win. Clearly that’s what’s happening in Kaine’s situation.

In a state as conservative as Virginia, a Democrat is going to have to successfully court some conservative voters in order to win, and they’re more essential to his victory than gay voters. So, gay voters and their families basically get thrown under the bus, for the sake of victory and supposedly for the good of the state and the party. After all, isn’t it better to have a Democrat in the governors’ mansion in the end? Well, maybe. But if you’re a gay couple wanting to adopt, not so much.

Across the progressive blogosphere, you’ll hear calls to place party unity above particular issues, like gay and lesbian equality or abortion rights, and you’ll usually hear those calls from people who aren’t all that directly affected by those particular issues.

Another example of a core Democratic principle — equality under the law. And from that principle stem civil rights, gender equity, and gay rights. It’s not that those individual issues aren’t important, of course they are. It’s just that they are just that — individual issues. A party has to stand for something bigger than the sum of its parts.

We have confused groups that are natural allies of the Democratic Party for the party itself. And the party has ceded way too much power, way too much control, to those single issue groups.

Yeah, the “important shit.” Maybe. Whatever. The thing is, the party’s stand may be “bigger than the sum of its parts” but if my issues are the one’s going overboard, I’m not sure I’m a part of that party, really. And how much is the party standing up for the principle of equality under the law if it’s tossing overboard issues that are all about equality under the law? Promises to return to those issues don’t carry much weight when I’m wondering how far to the right they’ll have to run to get back into power, how far right they’ll have to stay to keep that power, and whether they’ll be able to make it all the way back to a point at which they can address the issues that are important to me, even if they don’t fall into the category of “important shit.”

But then I happen to think my shit is important shit, at least to me and my family. And I can’t lend my support to a candidate who takes a position against my family. I don’t care what part they’re in. Not a vote, not a contribution, not so much as a button on my blog.

So, when it comes to Kaine — and other candidates like him — I just can’t. I’ve learned a lesson here. When a candidate — or a party, for that matter — comes knocking and looking for support, ask the hard questions. And if I don’t get the right answers, then I have to tell them I just can’t.

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About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
This entry was posted in 2006 Election, Adoption, Current Events, Family, Gay Rights, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to From Kaine to Can’t

  1. Chance says:

    Governor Brad Henry is the same way here in Oklahoma. Then at election time, they come knocking on your door wanting money.

  2. Matt says:

    damn straight, Terrance!

    okay, maybe that wasn’t the most appropriate exhortation to choose in this situation…but I hope you get my drift.

    great post.

  3. Bart says:

    I live in Virginia, and I feel the same way…I’m pretty ambivalent about Kaine, even thought I think he did a good job as mayor of Richmond a few years back. I did notice that the independent Republican (Potts) who is way back in 3rd place in the polls has taken some very positive positions re: gay people:
    “State Senator Russ Potts (Independent) has found a way to distinguish himself from his two major party opponents in the gubernatorial contest. Potts — a church-going Methodist, grandfather and registered Republican — told the AP he unequivocally supported allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children. “We’re all God’s children. I don’t think that they ought to be precluded from adopting a child … I know of several situations in which a gay person adopted a child and [was] just a very loving, caring parent,” he said. Potts does not support same-sex marriage, but added “I can’t imagine that a gay person gets to the pearly gates of heaven and this loving, benevolent God is going to deny that person a place in his kingdom because he or she is gay.” Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) and Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D) both quickly distanced themselves from Potts. “I’ve said that I don’t support same-sex adoption or same-sex couple adoption and I don’t favor gay adoption,” said Kilgore. “I very much believe that the law in Virginia right now is the right law … The only couple that can adopt is a married couple,” explained Kaine.”

  4. Shaula Evans says:

    Terrance, you know we are GMTA on the “important shit.”

    Living in VA, and working in VA politics, is a huge frustration for me. (Remember, I’m Canadian. Places like Vermont and California look conservative to me. Virginia politics seem like a bizarre dystopia. And we’ve got Democrats here that other states would refuse to run as *Republicans.*)

    On a personal level, I really like what Potts has to say on a number of social issues. (I’m a “bad democrat” for saying that out loud, and I’m up for more slaps down here if anyone notices. But then, apparently, I’m a “bad democrat” any time I care about the “unimportant shit” that affects *my* life and the lives of people I care about.)

    The state assembly is controlled by Republicans. In this election cycle we’ve got a shot at picking up some seats, but we may well lose the gains we made in ’03 for a net loss. We won’t take back the the state house or senate–what is at stake is the veto-proof minority in the House (which we took back in ’03). But, if Kilgore wins as a Republican Gov on top of a Republican General Assembly, the commonwealth is well and truly sunk. The GOP, even under Warner, has been agressive in rolling out anti-women and anti-gay legislation, as well as doing their best to bankrupt the state budget. (At least Warner prevailed on the budget.) On a pragmatic level, Potts doesn’t have a hope of winning the election–so I can only hope he syphons more votes off Republican Kilgore than Democrat Kaine.

    I understand and respect you taking down the Kaine ad. On the other hand, we could really use some help in Virginia. If you are still feeling generous, you might want to check out Leslie Byrne, our Lt Gov Candidate. I don’t know her specific position on gay rights, but I know she does have a good progressive record, and the odds are much better that she’d bear up under closer scrutiny.

  5. RainbowDemon says:

    Right On, Terrence.

    Good luck to you, my Brothers, down there in that state of Virginia.
    Here in PA we have basically the same thing going on. The Dems have endorsed Casey, who is also against S-S marriage, and he’s running against sleazy incumbent Santorum… We all know what he’s against….

    The voting “masses” are all so indifferent, it is sickening.

    Also, we have a another Republican Candidate (Sandals) who says he is for Gay Marriage, and another Democratic Candidate (Pennacchio) who says he is for Gay Marriage. I have Pennacchio’s banner on my website, because I believe in him. I am not a Democrat, but I have considered changing my political affiliations to enable me to vote in the Primary Election. (I am a registered ‘Independent’).

    I think the whole election process needs a gigantic makeover. It is just so hopeless…

    “Queer Eye for the Straight Politician Guy”


  6. worldcitizen says:

    You are far too generous, Terrance. You’ve written a long and heartfelt post where a simple “f*ck that” was called for.

  7. taxin god says:

    The Catholic Church must pay !

    After this past Sundays’ (Oct. 2, 2005) event by the Catholic Church collecting signatures inside the building, regarding the initiative petition to end same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. This IRS regulation, continues on with regards to the 501 status, therefore, its time the tax paying Americans takes action to ensure that the Catholic Church loses it 501 status.

    The tax exemption status of religious organizations (501(c)(3) status ). It is very obvious that the Catholic Church does not qualify for this status any more. The church is actively attempting to influence legislation.

    In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

    Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

    An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

    Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

    Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.

    Under the substantial part test, an organization that conducts excessive lobbying activity in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, a religious organization is subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of its lobbying expenditures for the year in which it ceases to qualify for exemption.

    Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

    Organizations undertake voter education activities by distributing voter guides. Voter guides, generally, are distributed during an election campaign and provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. These guides may be distributed with the purpose of educating voters; however, they may not be used to attempt to favor or oppose candidates for public elected office.

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