Thursday, August 09, 2007

Democratic candidates debate in LA on Logo

On Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007 six of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates participated on the debate on the GLBT MTV Logo channel debate ay 6 PM PDT in Los Angeles. The candidates were Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton. Each candidate had 20 minutes. Six Republican candidates were invited, and they declined. Melissa Etheridge, Joe Solomonese, and Jonathan Capehart moderated. The program was titled "Invisible Vote 08: A Presidential Forum".

Joe Solomonese of HRC questioned Barack Obama on gay marriage, and Obama said that the federal benefits of marriage should be “disentangled” from the religious concept of marriage. Formally, he supported strong civil unions.

John Edwards had a lot to say. He spoke about the GLBT center in LA, with teenagers who were thrown out of their homes by their parents after “telling.” Edwards supported educating public school children about gay parents, and supported gays adopting children. John Knight called and asked about “don’t ask don’t tell” and Edwards indicated that a president should have the power to overturn it, although that sounds hard to see if it is codified into the 1993 law. Edwards also supported ENDA. He also supported hate crimes protection and mentioned the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998.

Dennis Kucinich supported single payer health insurance and legalization of medical marijuana, and full gay marriage rights.

Mike Gravel talked about “second class citizenship” as a reality of gays, who are expected to make the sacrifice if it comes to drawing straws.

Bill Richardson apologized for an Imus-like gaffe where he used a slang Spanish word. He was quizzed about his record on same-sex couples as governor. He was asked by Melissa if homosexuality was biological, and Richardson said that he was not a scientist and he did not think that this is the relevant question; he saw it as human rights. . He supported equal immigration rights (regarding gay couples) but admitted that it was an uphill struggle without full marriage equality. Richardson also said that he is Hispanic.

Hillary Clinton talked about the witch-hunts under “don’t ask don’t tell”, with the military investigations involving “naming names” as outlined in Randy Shilts’s book. (“Conduct Unbecoming”, 1993). She summarized the history of the debate in 1993 and the passage of the law in November, with the comment that at the time it had been perceived as an advance (to stop formal “asking”). She saw 1999 as the critical time for her in her grasp of the witch-hunts, and said that in 2003, when she was put on the Armed Services Committee, she didn’t have a realistic chance to propose repeal of DADT with a Republican Congress. She also talked about blocking the attempts at a federal marriage amendment.

The candidates did not address what would probably sound like the right-wing question: that some parents feel that their children “owe them” grandchildren as “proof of love” as the price for having a good life. This notion is centered around the idea that in a world of inequality, people have to “earn” their place, partly by sexual mores, which was the idea that underlined Victorian England and the novels of Jane Austen (the film Becoming Jane comes to mind). Yet, this idea seems to hold sway with a lot of people, because they have to justify their own personal values in people. But one could pose the question as equal rights, equal responsibilities for others.

Jason Bellini hosted a “post-mortem” analysis.

The broadcast can be replayed and viewed at this link.

The Logo Network is still not available on Comcast in the DC area. (I watched over my Internet connection from the website, which worked fine; but I could not have recorded it if I were out.) It is available on Direct-TV. It is disturbing that satellite has more channels, it seems, since it may be less reliable technically and more trouble. Comments?

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