Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Democratic Party Gay Rights Flip-Flop #4,214

Democrats, we are told, are semi-reliable allies who, while they rarely support full legal equality for gay and lesbian people, at least can be relied upon to support gays serving in the military, and supporting symbolic statist window-dressing legislation like ENDA.

Libertarians, on this blog and elsewhere, have also long warned that Democrats who waver or "sell out" on marriage equality, constitutional rights, and other fundamental issues of gay and lesbian human rights couldn't be counted as reliable supporters even of basic Democratic Party talking points later. I must say, however, that our caveat is coming true even sooner than many of us likely thought possible.

Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, who has made a great deal of political hay for herself by citing her military career, has backtracked on a commitment to support the repeal of the military's gay ban. Gay servicemembers and their supporters, unsurprisingly, are unimpressed.
more . . .

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network put out a news release last week praising Duckworth, who lost both legs in the Iraq conflict, for supporting legislation that would repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

But a campaign spokeswoman told the Herald that Duckworth doesn't support the legislation. "I think she only supports a repeal [of the ban] if it was deemed appropriate by military commanders of the armed forces," Christine Glunz said. "The press release is incorrect."


"When I was serving in Iraq, it made no difference to me what the sexual orientation of my comrades was. It certainly did not matter to me what the sexual orientation was of the men or women who helped save my life after my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down over Iraq," Duckworth said in the statement, which her campaign acknowledges is correct. "Any qualified American who is willing to make that kind of sacrifice for our freedom should be free to do so."

Based on those words—and Duckworth's being listed as backing a change to allow gays to serve openly in the military on the Human Rights Campaign's Web site—"it seemed pretty clear to everyone involved on our side that her statement seemed to be one of support for lesbian and gay service members," Ralls told the Herald.

I suppose that, as one famous Democrat once said, it depends on what one's definition of "is" is.

And the beat goes on. As gay Democrats continue to accept their received-wisdom status as the familial whipping-boys-and-girls of the Democratic Party, this sort of flip-flopping will increasingly become standard fare.

Perhaps it's time for gay Democrats who support a military built on merit, not Machiavellian meandering, to support a party based on principle, not politics.