More reflections on the VP debate

So yes... I'm shamelessly stealing this video from one of my very favorite, check-it-several-times-a-day blogs, "Telling Secrets".

But I did have some original content that I wanted to share with you, and this video seemed like a worthy introduction to break up the monotony of plain text. There's just something about the quiet, but rhythmic music and chanting in the background that gets my emotions rolling. When you pair that emotionality with a really strong, important message that gets to the core of the candidate, it's unstoppable. This is the kind of political advertisement I wish Obama would have running in every battleground state.

So last night and this morning, in my circle of friends, there has been this email conversation swirling about the VP debate. One participant - a woman living in a same-sex partnership - who I happen to love very much, expressed her concern that both campaigns spoke against same-sex marriage.

While I generally agree with her concern in principle, I had the following to say in my response. Forgive me that it is slightly a repeat of my initial reaction last night. But it is, at least, a little more developed than last night.

Here's my email.

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I certainly agree with the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. But of course they both said they were against gay marriage. I think there's probably even a decent chance that Obama and Biden favor same-sex marriage, but they can't say it. If they do, that becomes what the election is about, and nobody wins an election on the grounds of not being supportive enough of equal rights for LGBT people. At least not yet.

Where my judgement lies is in the gray areas around what they said and how they said it in trying to answer the question.

Biden was full-throated and eager in his support for equal partner benefits for same-sex couples. While Palin gave lip service to supporting benefits, the bulk of her answer had two central components:
  • First, she danced dangerously close to answering with the "some of my best friends are gay" argument. She spent so much time talking about the diversity among her friends and how many of her friends would disagree with her. While she wouldn't even go so far as to admit that she knows any LGBT people, that seemed to me to be what she was dancing around. And the only reason anyone uses that kind of argument is as an attack. As in: "Some of my best friends are gay, so it's okay if I work with all my might to attack them and deny them equal rights"
  • The other central component of her answer was all of her talk about "tolerance" -- how tolerant she is, how much she supports tolerance. I'll agree that tolerance seems like a plus in the face of intolerance. But as an end goal for marginalized people, it's simply not enough. It's not enough for me to live in a society that systematically hates everything about me, but to have them "tolerate" me - to begrudgingly put up with me.
Both aspects of her answer represent a very undeveloped position on LGBT rights. They sound like someone who hasn't struggled with it. Like someone who doesn't want the political or social baggage of sounding like a bigot, and as such is looking for just enough to get by.

While the final answer from both campaigns is less than ideal, the Biden answer at least represents some level of respect. Of course that's not ideal, but it's a better place to begin that no respect at all.