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Holy Joe vs. Ned Lamont on LGBT rights

Blender Sportin’ Life, in an open thread, mentioned that support for Lamont against Holy Joe is growing, saying “MoveOn has joined the effort to elect an actual Democrat for CT.”

The thread got really lively, including this observation from Henway:

Joe Lieberman’s sorry ass needs to be retired now. He is getting a good challenge in Connecticut right now, and if Santa gets my letter, Joe will be put out to pasture and just spend his future as a lobbyist/shill for war profiteers.

Joe Lieberman is Hillary Clinton, but without a penis.

All of you should check out Pachacutec’s post over at Firedoglake, Ned Lamont Deserves Enthusiastic GLBT Support. It contains an interview with Ned Lamont on why Connecticut’s LGBT voters actually have a real gay-affirming Democrat to vote for:

FDL: The Human Rights Campaign, the principle lobbying organization in Washington DC on behalf of GLBT rights, has come out in support of your opponent, Senator Lieberman. Do you have any thoughts on that endorsement?

LAMONT: What’ I’m learning about the political process is that, at the national level, there’s a real tendency to support the incumbents, but at the local level – here in the state of Connecticut and I think you’ll find this elsewhere – you have a lot of members who feel differently. I’m finding that on the union front and I think we’re finding that on the HRC front as well. Sometimes the national organizations don’t necessarily speak for their supporters on the ground level.

FDL: In summation, then, why do you feel that supporters of GLBT equality should support you in the Connecticut-Senate primary?

LAMONT: Because I strongly believe that rather than us having a federal government that tries to take rights away from people, we need a federal government that guarantees rights for people. Guarantees them a right to privacy; guarantees them a right to live their lives without federal interference. I think the Bush administration has been wrong on this. I think Senator Lieberman is too likely to mix religion and politics, and I believe that, when it comes to gay rights, that’s the next civil rights struggle, and rather than take away people’s rights, we should be fighting to guarantee rights.

That’s quite straightforward support, as opposed to the incumbent’s positions. From an LA Weekly article by Doug Ireland:

Lieberman, who told the New Haven Advocate that “homosexuality is wrong,” joined with notorious homo-hater Jesse Helms in voting to take away federal funding from schools that counsel suicidal gay teens that it’s okay to be gay. On gays in the military, Lieberman has enunciated the now-discredited canard that “homosexual conduct can harm unit cohesion and effectiveness.” (Tell that to the dozens of countries, from England to Israel, that permit openly gay troops in their armed forces.)

In fact, Lieberman worked with Georgia’s Sam Nunn to fashion the destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which resulted in escalating expulsions of gays from the military every year after it took effect. Its Catch-22 provisions have directly stimulated a rising wave of violent gay bashing and harassment in the military because victims can’t complain without “telling.”

The important matter here is that Pachacutec, a gay man in a committed relationship, asks the obvious question in the FDL post – why is the Human Rights Campaign behind Holy Joe? It certainly can’t be because he’s a strong supporter of civil equality:

WTF is the Human Rights Campaign thinking endorsing anti-marriage, anti-privacy Joe Lieberman?  Rape Gurney Joe has never truly risked a thing for GLBT people, ever.  He’s helped install James Dobson endorsed judges to the Supreme Court like Sam Alito and he’s done everything possible to undermine a progressive agenda in America.  But the policy of the Human Slights Campaign is so wedded to its fancy black tie fundraisers and corporate connections that it’s more than willing to sell out the people it shakes down to finance its operations. 

It’s hard to come to any other conclusion than HRC is continuing on the path as another Liberal Failure Support Organization (LFSO), ignoring true allies of LGBT citizens in races and latching onto incumbents in order to maintain its access to power and buxxx.

If you need any more evidence, Pachacutec kindly provides it by interviewing Mike Mings, the HRC’s Deputy Director of Electoral Activities and PAC Manager. Mings gave responses that indicate exactly what the problem is, specifically, on the very subjective scoring that the organization gives to Holy Joe, despite his record (giving a lot of weight for his vote against FMA, but wouldn’t say how the vote for Alito, an opponent of privacy rights factored in Joe’s scorecard), and he’s cornered on a question about other progressive organizations that have jumped ship to endorse Lamont.

FDL: NOW and NARAL have looked at this race and have begun to approach their endorsement decision differently, taking not only the micro-view of Senator Lieberman’s vote on this or that piece of legislation, but looking also at the whole picture of Senator Lieberman’s record. They’ve come out in support of candidate Lamont’s campaign, recognizing that Senator Lieberman actually undercuts the advancement of a progressive agenda that protects women’s rights, as well, as many would observe, as GLBT rights. Why is that same calculus rejected by the HRC?

MINGS: We have a strict guideline of the way we endorse candidates that’s been approved by our Board, and those issues that we rank candidates on and score them by our card is what we have to go on. Given that the votes that we’ve scored for Senator Lieberman, he comes out at a place where he shows a strong support of fairness for the GLBT community.

FDL: Was Judge Alito supported by the HRC?

MINGS: No.

FDL: Senator Lieberman was part of the infamous “Gang of Fourteen” that cut off the ability of progressive Democrats to be able to threaten a filibuster in the Senate against any judicial nominee, thereby enabling the ascension to the Court of both Roberts and Alito, particularly Alito, for whom there may have been the votes to support a filibuster. Given that Judge Alito will serve on the Court for a good, maybe, thirty years, and given that he was the preferred and endorsed judge by people like James Dobson, why would that not be considered as a much larger issue than, say, a vote for ENDA which had no chance of passing, making it a “free vote?”

MINGS: Ah, like I said, I’ll have to see whether the Alito vote was scored or not, because I’m just not aware if it was.

Just so you know, Mings still hasn’t gotten back to Pachacutec about how that Alito vote was scored.

And on the matter of HRC’s propensity for suppoting the incumbent to retain access to power and money, regardless of the candidate’s actual performance on civil equality for LGBT citizens, Mings was refreshingly transparent — giving you all that you need to
know about HRC’s vision of this race in regards to its self-sustaining mission.

FDL: Have you looked at any of the positions of candidate Lamont in determining the extent to which he might support full marriage rights in ways that Senator Lieberman does not? Does that figure into your endorsement decision?

MINGS: Part of our endorsement decision is based upon incumbency, and when we have an incumbent who’s in office who is consistently fighting for our rights, then we tend to side on the side of incumbents to continue with that long record that’s been proven.

There you have it, folks. Are your needs being voiced, supported and represented?

But the larger question is what can be done to make organizations allegedly working on our behalf more responsive — to be able to support politicians who are willing to stick their necks out for our rights at a time when that is what is most needed? Supporting pseudo allies, or worse, actual foes in the overall battle for civil equality makes no sense for those LGBT citizens whose lives are profoundly affected by “friends” like Lieberman.

The only way, in the end, is to bypass those organizations and give directly to those candidates who do stand for equality..

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding