Monday, October 25, 2010
As President Obama roams the country in the days before the November 2 midterm election, desperately trying to rally support from nation thoroughly disenchanted with his administration, the president and the party have lost the support of one of its most reliably Democratic groups: gay Americans.
Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry at the lack of progress on a variety of issues. From eliminating workplace discrimination, to uncertainty over Mr. Obama’s commitment to repeal both “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as the administration’s failure to improve the employment outlook. Some are choosing to sit out the midterm election or look past the Democrats for other candidates.
Kate Coatar and James Wyatt are two such voters, Coatar is seriously considering voting for Green Party candidates instead of Democrats, whom she normally supports. Wyatt won’t cast a ballot at all because he no longer trusts anyone to fight for causes important to him.
President Obama shot himself in the foot with the controversy over the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when less than two weeks before the election, a Federal judge overturned the ban, then Obama’s Department of Justice decided to fight the judge’s decision by filing an emergency appeal. While the president prevailed and won the battle, he very likely lost the war.
“It’s all talk and nothing’s happening, and I’m just over it. I don’t know who to vote for and the election is a week away.”
Wyatt sounded even more disillusioned:
“Once they’re elected, they’re not fighting for things like civil unions or same-sex marriage or ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because they’re hot-button issues. We’re just used as a piggyback for them to get into office. It’s absurd.”
Volunteers for Equality Illinois who’ve been calling its 18,000 members to urge them to vote have been getting an earful. Many members say they won’t vote or will vote against incumbents as punishment, regardless of their party affiliation or stance on gay issues.
Rick Garcia, director of public policy for Equality Illinois said:
“People were clamoring and very excited about the change candidate Obama promised America. Now I see lethargy at best and disgust at worst.”
Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of the national gay-rights organization GetEQUAL calls the mood among gay voters a “disappointment canyon.” She is refusing to donate to or volunteer for any candidate this year and members of her group are protesting wherever President Obama appears on the campaign trail.
“We can’t not take advantage of the right to vote, but that doesn’t mean we can’t vote smartly. If I was a leader in the Democratic Party, I would be worried. Right now we’re being treated like we’re worth losing.”