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Libertarians Woo Disenchanted Gay and Lesbian Democrats

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Aired 7/1/09

Political candidates make promises to gain support from voters and contributors, and at times, because they really expect to accomplish them. Sometimes those promises are fulfilled after a successful election, and sometimes the promise remains a promise that (to take liberties with Benjamin Franklin) begins to smell after a few months. That’s what is happening with President Barack Obama in some sectors. During his presidential campaign, he appealed to the LGBT community with visions of what an Obama administration would accomplish on behalf of fair treatment and equality. But that’s not happening fast enough – if at all – for gay and lesbian Democrats who opened their wallets to Obama with high hopes.

(File photo) Gay pride participants hold signs in support of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at the 38th annual LA Pride Parade June 8, 2008 in West Hollywood, California.
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Above: (File photo) Gay pride participants hold signs in support of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at the 38th annual LA Pride Parade June 8, 2008 in West Hollywood, California.

People rally in front of the California Supreme Court Building after arguments were heard for and against Proposition 8 March 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California.
Enlarge this image

Above: People rally in front of the California Supreme Court Building after arguments were heard for and against Proposition 8 March 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California.

Political candidates make promises to gain support from voters and contributors, and at times, because they really expect to accomplish them. Sometimes those promises are fulfilled after a successful election and sometimes the promise remains a promise that (to take liberties with Benjamin Franklin) begins to smell after a few months.

That’s what is happening with President Barack Obama in some sectors. During his presidential campaign, he appealed to the LGBT community with visions of what an Obama administration would accomplish on behalf of fair treatment and equality. But that’s not happening fast enough – if at all – for gay and lesbian Democrats who opened their wallets to Obama with high hopes.

The latest frustration came when the Obama administration’s Justice Department defended the Defense of Marriage Act which holds that no state needs to treat a same sex relationship as a marriage, even if it is considered marriage in another state, and that the federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman. A statement by John Berry, White House personnel management director, the highest ranking openly-gay Obama official, added to the LGBT’s restlessness when he said that the gay agenda would be enacted before the sun sets on the Obama administration. Some bloggers are complaining about having to wait four to eight years to see gay rights at the federal level.

Enter the Libertarians. Sniffing out an opportunity to increase their meager numbers and limited funds, Libertarians are targeting gay and lesbian Democrats protesting Obama’s inaction on campaign promises. America’s 3rd largest party also mobilized in California to oppose Proposition 8 which bans same sex marriage in the state. Proposition 8 won and was upheld by the California Supreme Court. But Libertarians had taken a significant step toward a connection with gays and lesbians.

Now, the criticism is growing about Obama’s delay in dealing with the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule which prohibits gays and lesbians in the armed forces from revealing their sexual orientation. Here is another sore spot for the president’s LGBT supporters and it is an added opportunity for Libertarians to attract allegiance from disappointed Democrats. Political promises and voter expectations can make for strange liaisons. In this case, it’s the thickening link between those who are seeking equal rights for gays and lesbians and those who believe in individual rights without government interference.

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