|by Hastings Wyman|
Gay Games Compete with Elections
The 2002 Gay Games, to be held in Sydney, Australia, are scheduled for November 2-9 to take advantage of the balmy clime in the Southern Hemisphere that time of year. These international games are extremely popular, not only with the participants but with lots of lesbians and gay men who enjoy watching healthy young athletes compete. However, no one seems to have noticed that the games will take thousands of gay and lesbian voters out of the United States on November 5, Election Day.
Thats a serious oversight. The 2002 midterm elections could be very important to the gay community. Issues involving job protections, hate crimes, adoption and marriage rights, and other concerns of gays and lesbians are likely to play a major role in the campaigns for congress, governor and state legislators, as well as in ballot initiatives. Moreover, each year more and more openly lesbian and gay candidates are running for office. Some win, some lose by narrow margins.
If changing the date isnt feasible, the Federation of Gay Games should set up a first-class absentee-ballot programthere are lots of political consultants who specialize in just that sort of operation. Every gay vote countsand needs to be counted.
To March or Not to March?
Much like NATOs Kosovo policy, the strategy of those opposed to the Human Rights Campaigns proposed Millen-nium March on Washington has been to keep bombing until they bring HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch to her knees. The critics, who organized the Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process, helped persuade Kerry Lobel of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to resign from the MMOW board and got the National Organization of Women to qualify its endorsement. Their latest salvo called for HRC to open its books and make public the marchs financial arrangements.
But stopping the march may be easier said than done. Unlike Milosevic, Birch has some big guys on her side.
For starters, theres the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. By forging an alliance with gay and lesbian churches, HRC may have solved one of its biggest problemsa lack of ground troops. Thousands of lesbians and gay men attend MCCs in major cities all across the country. African-Americans were the first to use pulpits to push their politics, and the religious right wasnt far behind. Now the HRC-MCC alliance is seeking to harness a similar power for the gay movement.
The Millennium March also has the endorsement of PFLAG Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gaysa group that, judging by the applause at Pride parades, is just about the most popular in the gay galaxy. The National Latino/Latina gay groupLLEGOand the Names Project (which oversees the AIDS Quilt) are also supporting the march. And the gay and lesbian Internet company PlanetOut is hosting the official Web site (www.mmow.org).
Proponents argue that next year is the right year for a march, that the communityenergized by widespread successes on the state and local levelis up for it, and that a massive outpouring of highly visible support will boost our cause big time. Critics charge that planning for the march should involve a wider range of activists. They also criticize the proposed march message, "Faith and Family," for being too, er, straight, and for not including a broader array of causes similar to those attached to the 1993 marchabortion, affirmative action, "economic justice," ending the death penalty, etc.
During the next few months, the debate is likely to continue throughout the community, ending, on April 30, 2000, in a march that may or may not be as well attended as the one in 93. You have to make up your own mind about where you fit in this family argument. As for me, I believe HRCs basic idea is a good one and Im going to march.
Ohio: DeLovely for DeWine?
Right after the presidential impeachment fizzle, Democrats had their hopes up that theyd beat first-term Congressman Mike DeWine, a conservative Republican from Ohio. But the moment has passed, and the current outlook for DeWine is bright. One by one, potentially competitive Democratic candidatesCongressmen Sherrod Brown, Dennis Eckart, and Ted Strickland, and ex-state Attorney General Lee Fisherhave taken their names out of contention.
Now, the party standard is likely to be hoisted by four-term Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Commissioner Tim Hagan. Though his views on gay issues are not well established, Hagan has a reputation as a party liberal. If he proves compatible, Ohios gay Democrats are likely to be involved on his behalf. "We got behind Mary Boyle against Voinovich last year," notes Brian Schinn, president of the Central Ohio Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club.
DeWine has not been as right-wing as many observers had expected him to behe has shown independence from GOP conservatives on such issues as gun control and health care. He doesnt rate a zero on the HRC legislative scorecard, but neither is his 33 percent impressive.
The Ohio Poll in March showed DeWine beating the strongest Democrat by 55 percent to 33 percent and lesser hopefuls by better margins. In these politically volatile times, however, the tide can turn more than once between now and November 2000. Stay tuned.
Hastings Wyman has been a D.C. insider for more than three decades. He publishes Southern Political Report, a nonpartisan biweekly political newsletter. He can be reached in care of LETTERS from CAMP Rehoboth or at HwymanSPR@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 8, July 2, 1999