Earlier this week I criticized the HRC and LOGO for announcing their Presidential LGBT Forum with the absence of anyone of color confirmed aside from Senator Barack Obama.
Shortly thereafter, the HRC was criticized by others for not allowing gay friendly candidate former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel to participate in the forum. Apparently, the HRC has determined that Gravel is not considered to be a “viable” candidate and doesn’t want to waste the precious airtime on Logo that they have with candidates who basically don’t have a chance in hell at winning the nomination.
In a written response from the HRC to blogger Eric Norman, they said:
“…Unfortunately, the air time allowed for the forum is limited, thus requiring us to formulate criteria for how to select participants. We wanted voters to have the ability to evaluate candidates who have a higher chance of securing the Democratic nomination.
…In our experience, one of the measures of public support and ability for a candidate to launch a viable campaign is through fundraising. Based on the most recent candidate filings submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Mike Gravel had raised only $35,000. The next lowest candidate was almost ten times that amount or $350,000. We made the judgment call that if the public was so interested in Mr. Gravel’s candidacy, we would have seen more financial support. It is also unclear to us as to how a candidate with extremely limited financial means can maintain an effective campaign given the accelerated primary schedule for the 2008 campaign. As a result of this information, we did not extend an invitation to Mr. Gravel. This decision is in no way a reflection on Mr. Gravel’s position on GLBT issues or any other of Mr. Gravel’s attributes. Rather, we felt we needed to make best use of the limited air time available on LOGO.”
So let me then ask, since the majority of gays are not Black does that mean that we can expect the HRC to “formulate criteria” for how to best have Blacks represented? And since we are not are a part of the gay political agenda, does that also mean that we will have less representation during this forum because they felt they needed to make best use of the limited air time available on LOGO?
Since the HRC had the time and wherewithal to respond to the Gravel criticism, I want the HRC to tell their minority constituents exactly how their issues will be represented during this forum and how this forum isn’t going to be void of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. I want them to explain how we won’t just be in the hand picked audience and that we will be an instrumental part of the forum from beginning to end and that this isn’t going to be just another white gay event with a few colored tokens.
As I said before, this is an opportunity to show the rest of America that (A) gays aren’t just white, (B) we care about more than just gay marriage, serving in the military, and HIV/AIDS, and (C) that as gays we care about the economy, cost of living, access to education and affordable housing, social welfare programs, universal health care, and other critical issues facing Americans today. And quite frankly, I think that some of us in the gay community need to be reminded of that as well.
I am so tired of being tired of being an afterthought. It’s like, when you were putting the release together to announce the forum, it never crossed your mind to look to see if all segments or at least most segments of the gay community were represented? Knowing in advance that diversity seems to continue to be an issue for the HRC, that’s something that I would have expected them to deal with from the jump.
On the issue of Gravel and the HRC though I will say this. The HRC is a lot like the GLAAD when it comes to these things. Many of our groups are more concerned with “mainstream America,” whatever and whoever that is, than the groups they claim to represent. If Gravel is so gay-friendly, it would seem to me that the HRC might want to include him and put him against the not-so-gay-friendly candidates that we seem to treat more like celebrities than the public servants that they are. Why not really challenge these so-called “viable” candidates on the critical issues of the day instead of having a big get together where they say nothing, we applaud and go home happy?
At this point, the gay leadership is just as much a part of the “dog and pony show” that this campaign has become as everyone else is. We get impressed and excited over…nothing. None of the so-called “viable” candidates have said point blank, “if I’m elected I will support marriage for gays and lesbians.” And since that is the big issue that the political gay leadership seems to care so much about, you would think that they would press harder on it and not be satisfied with the “pansy ansy” answers that some of the candidates have offered. Ask me if I care whether or not a candidates door is open to gays when they can’t have the audacity to just say whether or not as President they would support gay marriage?
We’ve got to do better and if the leadership can’t, we must hold them accountable. You cannot represent me and not have my best interests at heart. At some point, you have to ask the hard questions and deal with the hard truth that maybe your candidate as popular as she might be at the end of the day doesn’t believe in her own rhetoric enough to just say (outside of your office) that she supports gay marriage. And you have to be willing to deal with it and not push her down our throats anyway just because you like her and she helps to raise money for your group. Let’s keep it real. Now tell me why again Senator Obama is participating?