A Gay in the Life for Sept. 13, 2012

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 10, 2012 

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The straight meat in a big gay sandwich

More than a dozen leaders spoke out for marriage equality at last week’s Democratic National Convention, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the President. The online current affairs magazine, The Slate pointed out that Michelle Obama, in one of the greatest speeches by a first wife in convention history, positioned marriage equality as a new ingredient of American greatness. “If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.”

In addition, this year a record-setting 8 percent of the delegates are LGBT. The Slate goes on to point out, “There you have it: For the first time ever, Democrats at their most public, high-profile moment are treating gay rights as a political winner.” To top it off, with Mexican officials recently ordering all 31 of its states to recognize gay marriages performed in Mexico City it places the U.S., in the words of South Carolina native Stephen Colbert as “the straight meat in a big gay sandwich.”

It wasn’t the same story a scant four years ago but things were turning. In 2008, the Logo Network made history by holding the first presidential debate focused on LGBT issues. The 90-minute debate was the first time that candidates had ever directly addressed the LGBT community. As I reported then, Joe Solomese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, stated that “there is no doubt that voters will demand answers to important questions affecting our community.” That is even more true today. After President Obama announced his change of heart on the issue of gay marriage earlier this year, there was a surge of donations into Obama’s campaign. According to Dan Eggin of The Washington Post, “Obama campaign officials declined to say how much money has come in...but one source involved in the effort called the response ‘astounding.’ A spokesman discounted reports that $1 million was donated in the 90 minutes after the president's announcement.”

In 2004, Republicans used marriage equality balloted amendments to secure a strong turnout from ultra-conservatives in key states including Ohio. It worked, George W. Bush was re-elected and marriage was banned in states across the country. Even First Lady Laura Bush pointed out four years later that the issue was generational and marriage equality would come in the future during an interview on “Larry King Live.” “When couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has,” said Laura Bush during the interview to promote her book “Spoken From the Heart.” In 2008, the LGBT vote was estimated to make up four percent of the voting population. Today, that combined with a growing number of progressive thinkers on the issue primes the market for a clear time when supporting gay rights just might have made it to its “right side of history” moment.

Don’t get me wrong and don’t get lazy on the topic and the work ahead. The Romney/Ryan ticket is still anti-gay equality and not just on the marriage amendment. They’d like to bring back “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” despite the fact that a full year after the repeal the first academic study of the military’s new open-service policy just found that there have been no negative consequences whatsoever. The study was published on Monday by the Palm Center, a research branch of the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School.

The Romney/Ryan ticket seems pretty much anti-anything though, except the filthy rich white straight male constituency. In states such as Minnesota, they are hoping that history will repeat itself and putting a marriage amendment on the ballot will bring out the religious right to vote and also vote Romney. I won’t even get started on the fact that the same folks are just as passionate about the voter ID issue.

The choice is pretty clear to me this election season. The world isn’t a perfect place, our country isn’t at its most perfect time in history and there’s a lot to do on multiple fronts, but to answer the most popular question this political season – yes, I am better off than I was four years ago, and most importantly, my hopes for the future are even higher.

During his keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in 2004, Obama said: "We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states." He has spoken on his stance for a unified country of equality since Day One and he continues to stand behind the idea that we are all equal, with the opportunity to live the full American dream.

In the first positive highlight section during a national political convention, Zach Wahls, the son of two lesbians who has become an activist for LGBT marriage equality since speaking in a public hearing in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, said “my family is the same as yours.” Let’s make sure that we spread the word on the families we think of when we go to the polls in November – our families, your families and American families – all of which include gay and lesbian families.

OUT & ABOUT

Saturday, Sept. 15 On Saturday, it’s pageant time at Time Out! C.C. Royal presents the Miss Time Out! USofA 2013, a preliminary to Miss S.C. USofA. For those interested in competing, call Time Out! at 488-1180 for more information. Pageant entry fee is $50 and the winner receives $150 in cash, a crown and free entry to Miss S.C. USofA. Categories will include interview, gown and talent. Registration starts at 4 p.m. and the interview category will start at 5 p.m. Kristina DeeVine, Miss S.C. USofA 2012 will perform. Come out and check out the rising stars in the Myrtle Beach drag community to see what it takes to make it to the state level. Time Out! is at 520 Eighth Avenue N. in downtown Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, Sept. 29 Careteam’s Annual 2012 AIDS Walk kicks of Saturday, Sept. 29 at Plyler Park on the corner of North Ocean Boulevard and 11th Avenue North in downtown Myrtle Beach. The community-based event raises money to support those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties. If you are interested in participating in this year’s AIDS Walk, registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 10:30 a.m. Minimum donation is $5, although all walkers are encouraged to raise as much as possible by getting friends, family and co-workers to sponsor them or forming a team of folks to raise money. All of the proceeds go directly to help Careteam and its services. For more information about the walk, visit www.careteamsc.org or call 236-9000.

Friday, Oct. 5 The First Friday Happy Hour group will meet from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 at Damon’s Oceanfront Grill, at 2985 S. Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. First Friday is a gay professionals after work happy hour where everyone is welcome. For more information, email FirstFriday@GambleLivingston.com

Saturday, Oct. 13 CLAWS, the Coastal Leather Allegiance to Wisdom and Service, will host its monthly Happy Hour social at PULSE Ultra Club, 803 Main Street in downtown Myrtle Beach. The group meets monthly for fun and entertaining themed happy hour events and have found a new home at this new nightlife venue. For more information, visit www.clawsllc.com.

Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Chris Rudisill an e-mail to SouthernGayWriter@gmail.com. You can also follow along on Facebook.com @SouthernGayWriter for more news and events.

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