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Dem senators take heat in closed-door session with gay leaders

“One of our concerns as a group is that they don’t necessarily hear enough back from the community on how we hear and perceive the sometimes tortured and hair-splitting positions they try to take. We are tired of being seen as the embarrassment to the party.”
Lambda Legal‘s Kevin Cathcart, summing up the whole problem with these clueless, butt-covering, spineless Dems at the national level.

Amen, brother. The meeting wasn’t open to the public, but information is trickling out about what went on when the following senators met with gay leaders, according to an article in the Washington Blade:

Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (Majority Leader)

Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Mark Dayton (D-Minn.)
Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Gay activists got to air out some of the frustrations that we’ve all expressed here about the spineless, gutless, pandering positions that Democrats at the national level have been taking on gay issues.

It’s apparent to everyone, particularly Republicans, that the party does not want to take a firm stand on civil equality, choosing to weave and bob or just plain put their heads in the stand rather than make a case for why discrimination is wrong. It sounds like these Dems got an earful.

The question is, what are they going to do about what they’ve heard?

Eight Democratic senators listened to complaints last week from gay activists that they and their party colleagues have hindered progress on gay rights, according to several participants in the meeting.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was among Democratic senators who met with gay activists last week and heard criticism that their party’s positions on gay issues were often ‘tortured’ and ‘hair-splitting.’

The activists say that by remaining passive or by taking ambiguous and “tortured” positions on same-sex marriage and other hot-button gay issues, the senators and other Democrats are hurting the gay rights movement.

The sometimes-blunt remarks by the activists came at a March 16 meeting on Capitol Hill organized by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in her role as chair of the Senate Democrats’ Steering & Outreach Committee. The meeting was closed to the media and public.

Exec. Director of Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Kevin Cathcart was there and laid it out on the line, saying that the standard fig leaf of “we’re against gay marriage but for civil unions” that the Dems (Kerry, Clinton, Dean leading the charge) have been hiding behind actually weakens the case for civil equality because it affirms separate and unequal treatment of gay citizens.

“We talked about the way [senators] appear to be largely passive, doing nothing affirmative on LGBT issues â€? in ways that actually are problematic for us and harmful to the work that we do…Particularly the rhetoric they use around the things like marriage, where instead of advocating for fairness and inclusion, they actually advocate discrimination,” Cathcart said.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry also made the salient point we’ve been making here that pandering to the winger voters by abandoning public support of a historically loyal voting bloc is not going to pay off in any more votes from the bigot crowd anyway. It’s about framing the issue of same-sex marriage in a way that will move the issue forward as a fairness issue.

“The Democrats are viewed as the party of gay rights because that’s part of their historic tradition of supporting civil rights for all Americans,” Wolfson said.

“They will never be anti-gay enough to satisfy their opponents” who strongly oppose same-sex marriage, he said.

The meeting was the third time in four years that the Steering & Outreach Committee has met with gay and AIDS group representatives, and this was also an opportunity to discuss the upcoming vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

***

These Dems need to wake up — the wind is at their backs — polls released this week indicate acceptance of gay relationships at levels that anyone with a spine should interpret as an opportunity to open the public discussion and make the Republicans look like the bigots they are.

From the March 12 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll, these are stunning gains in support:
* 51% oppose legalizing gay marriage, a significant decline from 63% in in February 2004 (after the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision leading to the legalization of marriage).

* A 60% majority now favors allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, up from 52% in 1994.

* In the South, the only region in which a majority of residents (55%) opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, the opposition is at an incredible 35%, with 58% supporting open service.

* Even when you look at Republicans bigotry is losing traction — 46% favor allowing gays to serve openly and 46% are opposed.

* 46% support gay adoption, up from 38% in 1999.

And look at this — Pew finds “strong” opposition to gay marriage has ebbed to a new low in almost every demographic group except the bible-beating, Dobson-approved, whining evangelicals (56% of them still strongly oppose legalizing gay marriage, down from 65% two years ago):

What do the numbers have to look like before the Dems grow a spine and begin to do the right thing? They are supposed to LEAD, not follow.

Hat tip, PageOneQ

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding