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Election 2008 for dummies (and smart folks), part 1
Election 2008 for dummies (and smart folks), part 1
by Mark Segal - Courtesy of the Philadelphia Gay News

Here's everything any member of the LGBT community needs - even Log Cabin Republicans - to know about the candidates to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president:

Sen. John McCain is a tax-and-spend conservative. Over the last eight years, he's supported the Bush administration's legislation that has made this the largest and most expensive government in our country's history and voted for almost all of the Bush spending bills. He is one of the reasons that we are now in financial crisis. Not to mention his campaign pledge to tax healthcare.

If you're a member of the LGBT community, it gets even worse. His positions on adoption, nondiscrimination, hate crimes, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," marriage equality, reproductive rights - all negative.

Add to that his insult to the American public: his choice for vice president, Sarah Palin. She might be a great small-town mayor and a good Alaskan governor, but the reality is she's not ready for primetime. With two wars, problems with Pakistan, Iran and our housing and credit markets, it's too much to chance on someone who doesn't know how to navigate

Washington, D.C. Or at the very least know the job of vice president as outlined by the constitution. There's no time for on-the-job training.

To members of our community who say, "I don't vote on Gay issues alone," I say: economy. As Colin Powell said, "McCain has been all over the field." On defense, McCain knows one word: surge. On education, he said he'll continue Bush's failed No Child Left Behind program. On taxes, his administration will give new tax breaks to the same companies that got the country into this financial mess. On Social Security, he wants to privatize it, e.g. invest it in the stock market. Do you want McCain to pick the next Supreme Court justice?

So what kind of man is Obama? In April, this writer took Obama to task for refusing to address the LGBT community directly and answer hard questions, not softballs. We insisted on his public opinion on legislation to amend the definition of marriage in state constitutions to one man and one woman. Instead of ignoring me, he went out of his way to assure me he was strong on LGBT issues. He later came out against the referendum to amend California's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

His campaign made it a point to embrace LGBT media. Which led to the Gay History Project's interview with him, which I was honored to author. He knew it would be tough, and it was. The questions were very pointed. He answered with knowledge of each issue without hesitation and without pandering.

McCain has never in his political career spoken with the LGBT community - and we certainly offered him the opportunity. Does he know about our issues? Well, he voted against hate-crimes legislation twice and said he'd do it again. He voted for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and said he wants to keep it. He's against Gay adoption and supports Prop. 8 in California, and - saddest of all - he is opposed to equal rights. He'd allow your employer to fire you simply for being Gay. He does not feel that you deserve the same protection we now offer on race, creed, religion and ethnicity.

Obama is proud to be called the most Gay-friendly candidate for president in the nation's history. Isn't it time for you to take pride in your community and yourself? Vote for Barack Obama for president.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com



Election 2008 for dummies (and smart folks), part 2
by Mark Segal - Courtesy of the Philadelphia Gay News

Sen. Barack Obama picked Sen. Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. Biden is well-respected for his knowledge and work on both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees in the Senate.

On the other hand, Sen. John McCain chose a little-known governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin. After current VP Dick Cheney, it seems almost ironic to say Palin is an embarrassment.

Just a few points about Palin. Foreign policy: She can see Russia from her back door, and when Vladimir Putin rears his head, he goes into Alaskan airspace (September 2008). Environment: Feds shouldn't list beluga whales as endangered (August 2007). Sued U.S. government to stop listing polar bears as endangered (August 2008). Troopergate: Investigated for trying to fire her ex-brother-in-law after a custody battle. Found by a non-partisan committee of Alaskan legislators to have violated state ethics laws and abused her power (October 2008). But most important is her lack of knowledge of what the vice president's constitutional authority is. In June, before being chosen as McCain's running mate, she told a reporter, "First, I'd like to know what the vice president does" (June 2008). In her debate with Biden, she stated that she agrees with Cheney's interpretation of the role of VP as part of the executive branch as "flexible" (October 2008). That is not only unknowledgeable, but dangerous. Do we need another Dick Cheney?

Now onto her real record on LGBT issues. Like McCain, she stated, "No special hate-crime laws" (July 2006). During her campaign for governor, she said it was OK to deny benefits to same-sex couples (August 2006). The Alaskan legislature passed benefits for domestic partners and she stated that she was going to veto it, but was told by her attorney general that she'd lose in court and reluctantly signed it. In her 2006 campaign, she stated that her top priorities included preserving the definition of "marriage" (July 2006). Then, she went further than McCain when asked if she'd support the legislation in Congress for a constitutional amendment that would ban Gay marriage: no support of anything but traditional marriage (October 2008).

But what kind of Gay man would I be if I didn't make a comment about her $150,000 wardrobe bought for her by the campaign? This week she said, "I'm back to wearing my own clothes. Just like the lights and sets, they all come down after we're gone." Sarah, you couldn't be more right. Like the lights and sets, you're just a prop: makeup, wardrobe and a script. This is not show business, but a campaign to end the disaster of the last eight years. No matter how diplomatically you put it, McCain is 72, not in the best of health, and picked a prop for vice president. Hopefully, the sets will be torn down, lights turned off, and the props carted away this Tuesday.

As the most important vote in your lifetime, vote for Obama and Biden.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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