Dear Ilyssa,

I know the presidential election is coming up, and as a lesbian everyone tells me that I should be voting for Obama but as a fiscal conservative I was originally going to vote for McCain.  Now I’m just confused and unsure because I’ve been hearing that McCain and Palin are not very gay friendly when it comes to their policies.  Could you give me a little more information on both candidates when it comes to their stance on LGBT issues?
Thanks so much,
“The Gay Republican”

Dear Gay Republican,
This is actually a very interesting and important question and I am so glad you asked it because there are many gay Republicans who are in a toss up this election year about who to cast their vote for so let me give you the facts.

Obama believes that we should treat people with respect regardless of our sexual orientation and he feels that too often the issues that divide us stem from this.  On the other hand McCain sees people first (not gays or lesbians) and fails to recognize that our identity is central in our lives and how we vote, and in turn, form whom we vote.

Barack Obama is very steadfast in his fight to give the LGBT community equal rights and equal protection under the law.  Unlike John McCain, if Obama is elected he will work hard for the community in implementing programs that will expand hate crimes statutes, fight discrimination in the workplace, and promote LGBT rights.  Obama also supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.  McCain on the other hand supports a Constitutional Ban on same-sex marriage and does not believe that we should add sexual orientation to the list of reasons for discrimination.  In my eyes this opens the door for workplace discrimination and hate crime to take place against people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgendered.  Obama also wants to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the military, expand adoption rights for same-sex couples, and promote HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the LGBT community.

Furthermore, if we look at Obama vs McCain on the issues we find even more that Obama is the candidate who will fight for the community.  When it comes to fighting discrimination, Obama supports legislation that would outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He even sponsored the Illinois Trans-Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act Bill which later passed after he had been elected to the Senate.  McCain voted against extending the civil rights act to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation.  He is quoted as saying, “I don’t believe that [homosexuals] belong in a special category.”  On the issue of adoption, Obama supports full adoption rights for same sex couples while McCain says that he “doesn’t believe in gay adoption.”  When it comes to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Obama supports a full and complete repeal of the act.  He believes that we must enact federal legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ legal rights that are currently provided to married couples would be extended to same-sex couples in legally recognized relationships.  John McCain voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

When it comes to the issue of marriage amendments, Obama voted against a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and he opposes state led bans on same-sex marriage, while McCain boasted proudly about his efforts to ban same-sex marriage in his home state of Arizona.  McCain has also shown his support for the California same-sex marriage ban which would overturn current statutes. On the issue of relationship recognition Obama supports civil unions that provide rights that are equivalent to legal marriages.  McCain opposes civil unions saying that they are just like same-sex marriages which he doesn’t believe should be legal.  On the issue of gays and lesbians in the military, Obama wants to repeal, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and create a policy in which members of the LGBT community could serve openly.  McCain believes that the current policy works well and does not need to be revamped.

Finally, on the issue of hate crimes, Obama wants to pass laws that would add sexual identity to the list of hate crimes, and plans to enact the Matthew Shepard Act which would include completely outlaw hate crimes against the LGBT community and in the workplace.  McCain voted against strengthening federal hate crime legislation to included gender and sexual orientation in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

I hope you can now see that although you might side with McCain on some issues such as the war in Iraq, the economy, and the environment, sexual orientation (other than being straight) is incompatible with John McCain’s platform and his ideals.  I would strongly encourage you to vote for Obama and to spread the word to all of your friends about John McCain’s homophobia.
Sincerely,
Ilyssa Fuchs
Special thanks to the Obama Pride Campaign: (The information in the above letter was provided by pride.barackobama.com)