by Isabel LaCoeur
First, the highlights:
9:03 –Obama is welcomed to the forum. He shakes approximately 6 people’s hands before approaching the stage. The moderators then refer to him as a rock star.
9:06 – Obama claims that all Americans should be treated equally … however, this doesn’t apply to marriage, apparently. The separation of church and state denies use of the word “marriage”, in his view, due to the religious connotations that have been applied to the word. So, the straight people get to marry, and the gay people get to civilly unionize. Have I mentioned that I really dislike these “equal, but different” spiels?
9:11 – I heart Melissa Etheridge <3 Sorry, just having a fangirl moment.
9:15 – Obama is a hope-monger! The way that he delivers this line kind of makes me want to give him a hug, or at least a plush teddy bear.
9:17 – Obama highlights the use of LGBT issues as a political football. He is then questioned as to how he can claim to be so supportive of gay rights while denying them the right to marry. Obama pulls out his dancing shoes. Is it just me, or does he have two left feet when it comes to this issue?
9:22 – Obama’s time is up, and Edwards makes his entrance. He does his best to beat Obama’s handshake record. Edwards is going to win Homecoming King.
9:24 – Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge asks Edwards about healthcare rights for gay and lesbian couples. Edwards drawls that he is a superstar when it comes to healthcare. For some reason, when he gets passionate about things, I often start looking for signs of bad acting. Maybe it is just me.
9:26 – Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge asks if Edwards is freaked out about being around gay people. Edwards vehemently denies it, while flashing his 60-watt smile. This is what I like to call one of his used-car-salesman moments.
9:30 – Edwards is very much against hate-mongering. I wonder how he feels about hope-mongering. I bet Obama could take him in a fight.
9:32 – Edwards considers Ann Coulter to be a source of the worst kind of public discourse. I may or may not be warming up to him.
9:33 – If Edwards had an employee that was coming out as transgendered, he would be there for them both emotionally and professionally. I want to believe that he feels this strongly about the rights of the transgendered, I really do. But, once again, I find it hard to suspend my disbelief, considering that he is, in fact, John Edwards.
9:37 – Edwards is on a journey, concerning his feelings about gay marriage. I somehow doubt that that journey will take him to San Francisco.
9:38 – Yes, he is still against same sex marriage. Period. Civil unions again, blaahhhh. Bring on Kucinich!
9:41 – Kucinich enters the room. My heart flutters. He gives the back of the room the peace sign. I hope he asks us to text P-E-A-C-E.
9:43 – Kucinich tries to think of one thing that the gay community wants, that he doesn’t support. He can’t name one thing. He is perfection.
9:44 – Kucinich discusses the importance of human love. I want to handfeed him small chocolates while listening to Justin Timberlake’s new album. Or maybe Sade. Undecided.
9:47 – Kucinich, as usual, comes off as the most genuine of the candidates. Even Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge is fawning over him. That’s how you know he is meant to win (even though he won’t).
9:55 – Kucinich is for universal, not-for-profit healthcare. And medicinal marijuana. And comprehensive sexual education. And being completely awesome.
10:00 – Kucinich gets a standing ovation. Hell. Yes.
10:05 – Gravel’s turn. Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge refers to him as “unusual”, in that he is one of the few men of his “generation” to support gay marriage. Gravel responds by thanking his friends, the gays in New York and San Francisco. Then he disses his generation. I like Gravel.
10:08 – He disses Obama and Clinton, and questions why the gay community would support a candidate that can’t “get their arms around gay marriage”. He’s not a fan of dancing around semantics. That’s okay, Obama will dance enough for us all!
10:13 – I keep waiting for him to go into a “Follow the money” rant, reminiscent of the YouTube/CNN debate, but I don’t think it is going to happen.
10:17 – Gravel does not think highly of Prohibition. He wants people to be able to buy pot at the liquor store. I can stand behind that, but he is definitely not going to win.
10:19 – Richardson’s turn. I am yawning already and he is still shaking hands.
10:21 – Civil unions, blah blah blah. He is delivering his lines as though he is sedated.
10:23 – Richardson is opposed to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I am opposed to him taking so long between words.
10:24 – Richardson is defending his use of the Spanish equivalent of the word “faggot”. Look at what I do, not what I say, etc etc. I think I may tune out for a while.
10:28 – I just found a potato chip that sort of looks like the profile of Ethel Merman.
10:30 – Hahahahaha! They asked Richardson if he feels that homosexuality is a choice, or something that you are born with. Richardson immediately and clearly answered “choice”. They asked him if he understood the question. Now Richardson is undecided as to whether or not homosexuality is a choice. He doesn’t “understand the science”. Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge is not impressed. I am not impressed that his ignorance distracted me from the Ethel Merman chip, which I absentmindedly ate while staring at the screen, aghast and amused. Oh Richardson, you fool.
10:36 – Richardson gets a standing ovation as well. I guess I haven’t been paying attention, and they are giving one to everyone. I still like to think Kucinich’s was special.
10:37 – And it’s Clinton time.
10:41 – Clinton always seems so relaxed and confident. No hesitation in her first (lengthy) answer about her determination to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which she says was never implemented properly.
10:42 – Clinton, like the other forerunners, is all about the civil unions. I understand the need to play it safe, but it’s just so frustrating. I’m a hopeless idealist, I suppose. Yes, it would be easier to legalize civil unions, yes, it’s reasonable… but I want gay marriage now now now!
10:47 – Her Majesty Melissa Etheridge expressed her disillusionment with the lack of legislation passed for gay rights during Bill Clinton’s term, and wants to know what Hillary will do differently. Clinton acknowledged that things may not be moving as quickly as people want it to. Gravel said earlier in the program “A good politician can tell you to go to hell, and make you look forward to the trip.” I’m not saying that Clinton wants us to go to hell, but her demeanour and delivery make almost anything she says sound reasonable. I could totally see her as President. Too bad she wants the states to have the right to make their own decisions on marriage.
10:51 – Clinton repeated her “I am your girl” line. I’m not still happy with a grown woman who is running for PRESIDENT referring to herself with such diminution. Though admittedly, she came off as the most Presidential during the .. interview, for lack of a better word.
With only 15 minutes per candidate, the entire endeavour was not very substantive. Semantics dodging abounded, and most of the candidates made it a point to list off the evidence of their gay credibility, thereby cutting into their Q&A time. Once again, Gravel and Kucinich were the only candidates to come forward as being unequivocally FOR gay marriage. Once again, everyone else preferred to demur, and spoke instead of civil unions. Basically, it was a rehashing of the CNN/YouTube debates. No new information was gleaned, except that Bill Richardson thinks that homosexuality is a choice. He is “not a scientist”.
The format was not ideal, admittedly. I’d have liked to see each question get more than a scripted answer. I’d have liked to see some actual debate on the issues. But it was a good first step. Now, if only the Republican candidates had agreed to attend. THAT would have been an interesting 2 hours.