Guest Commentary: Obama deserves our support

North Carolina 2008

On Apr. 17, 2008, Q-Notes let down North Carolina’s LGBT community by refusing to endorse either of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates (www.q-notes.com/2008/04/17/primary-concerns/). It makes no sense for Q-Notes to expect North Carolinians to “get out there and work your rear off” for the eventual nominee, while at the same time declaring your own support for the remaining Democratic candidates to be “remarkably tepid.”

My own enthusiasm for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign cannot be overstated, and I have friends who would fall on their swords for Sen. Hillary Clinton. If the editorial staff of Q-Notes could not have found something to get excited about in either of these remarkable candidates for the Democratic nomination, then they must not be following the same campaign as the rest of us.

Q-Notes endorsed another strong advocate for our community, former Sen. John Edwards, earlier this year. In doing so, the publication focused on Sen. Edwards’ demonstrated support for LGBT rights, rather than to let his more limited shortfalls (including previous statements about how his religious beliefs guide his opposition to same-sex marriage) disqualify him from consideration. I was thus disappointed by the different standards Q-Notes used to justify its refusal to endorse either of the two remaining Democratic candidates.

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One of Sen. Obama’s greatest strengths has been his ability to draw support from people across the chasms of race, gender and ideology. He has found allies not only in pro-choice and pro-gay stalwarts, including Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, quirky bisexual feminist Camille Paglia, and openly gay U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal, but also from much more conservative elected officials and other opinion leaders, such as pro-life Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, and conservative gay blogger Andrew Sullivan. Forging such coalitions across cultural and religious divides while holding true to core beliefs and positions will be imperative for any Democrat to win in November.

Q-Notes and others within our community understandably will have many disagreements with some of Sen. Obama’s advocates, including the anti-gay Rev. Donnie McClurkin, who unfortunately was part of the campaign’s early efforts to reach out to evangelical black congregations in South Carolina. However, it is the job of our community’s leaders and publications to draw a distinction between the beliefs and statements of the Donnie McClurkins of the world and those of the candidates they support.

As our next president, Sen. Obama will advocate for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the expansion of hate crimes legislation to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (including coverage for transgendered individuals), and enactment of domestic partnership and civil union laws that confer the same rights and benefits of marriage on same-sex couples.

Sen. Obama also supports the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, more than can be said for Sen. Clinton, who wishes to keep a portion of this indefensible legislation in place. With the notable exception of Sen. Obama’s opposition to same-sex marriage (a position shared by Sen. Clinton), it would be hard to find any space between the dreams and goals of the LGBT community and those of Sen. Obama himself.

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Since the beginning of this long campaign, Sen. Obama’s advocacy for our community in front of non-gay and even potentially hostile audiences has been unmatched by any other candidate. One of many examples of this came on Martin Luther King Day, when Sen. Obama spoke in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. In front of a predominantly African-American audience, Sen. Obama called on the black community to do its part to fight homophobia, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia.

It is a call to action that Senator Obama has delivered to audiences of all backgrounds since even before he so famously declared support for his “gay friends in the Red States” during the 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention.

Your publication thus could not have been more inaccurate or unfair than when it accused Sen. Obama of engaging in “political expediency.” And while Q-Notes brushes off Sen. Obama with a rhetorical flourish, declaring in relation to his campaign that “the less said about LGBT issues, the better,” Sen. Obama’s approach will continue to be one that speaks more about LGBT issues, even when it is politically inexpedient to do so. I encourage all LGBT North Carolinians to vote for Sen. Barack Obama on May 6, 2008.

Doug Ferguson was co-chair of UNC-Chapel Hill’s LGBT student group, now known as GLBTSA, in 1992-93. He also served as the editorial page editor of The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s mainstream student newspaper, where he published weekly columns on issues affecting the LGBT community. Doug is now an attorney for the federal government in Chicago, where he lives with his partner of 11 years, Chip Howard. Doug and Chip were married in Provincetown, Mass., on Sept. 10, 2005.

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6 Replies to “Guest Commentary: Obama deserves our support”

  1. Apparently since Mr. Ferguson left the Great State of North Carolina for a Federal Government job in CHICAGO, he has begun to drink the Obama Koolaid. North Carolina’s Gay and Lesbian community is well aware of the homophobic campaign waged by Obama in South Carolina. Thank you Mr. Ferguson for remembering to include this in your comments. Q-Notes has been more than fair in their coverage and the belief that it take a lot more than a comment in a speech to actually support our community. We are not forgetful that our true friend this election is our longtime advocate, Hillary Clinton.

  2. Nathan,

    It is unfortunate that the tone of your comments is so toxic. In my column, I recognized that Hillary is a strong advocate of the LGBT community and avoided the types of uninformed attacks that you made in your column and in your many postings.

    While I appreciate the strength of your support for Hillary, I still do not understand the venom in your comments, especially when Obama has been an outfront advocate of LGBT issues during his Presidential campaign, as a U.S. Senator, as an Illinois representative, and as a community organizer.

    In your column, you also incorrectly stated that Obama did nothing for the LGBT community when he was in the Illinois legislature. In fact, Obama was a key advocate of the Illinois version of ENDA (which passed) when he was in the Illinois House and would be a great advocate for the LGBT community in North Carolina and the rest of the country.

    Please continue to be a strong advocate for Hillary. But I think all Democrats would agree that — for the sake of the party — you should direct your most venomous comments at McCain and the Republicans, who, for the most part, couldn’t care less about LGBT rights. Thank you.

  3. Upcoming events for the Obama campaign:

    FRIDAY, MAY 2

    Charlotte, NC
    GET OUT THE VOTE RALLY WITH BARACK OBAMA
    Cricket Arena
    2700 E. Independence Blvd.
    Charlotte, NC 28205

    Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis during these hours:

    Thursday, May 1 – 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
    Friday, May 2 – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

    Click here to find a distribution Location near you: http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/zachedwards/gGCnQM

    AIDS WALK Charlotte, SATURDAY, MAY 3

    A group of volunteers supporting Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign have formed a team to participate in the AIDS WALK Charlotte this Saturday.

    The OBAMA 08 Team already has raised more than $1,000 to support AIDS WALK Charlotte and the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (“RAIN”). RAIN provides support for individuals impacted by HIV and AIDS in the Charlotte area.

    Anyone who wants more information regarding how to support the OBAMA 08 Team is encouraged to visit the AIDS WALK Charlotte website at http://www.aidswalkcharlotte.org to join the team or make a donation. Same-day registration is also possible beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Gateway Village Atrium downtown.

  4. Venomous? How are they venomous? Just because someone is not qualified or exprienced and I have pointed it out, does not mean that I am venomous. I would argue that the venom is actually being directed toward Q-notes, as far as I could tell.

    And it’s a FACT that Obama waged an anti-gay attack in South Carolina. He needed African-American votes more than Gay votes. And he pandered to the religious Black Churches to get the votes. And he’s dodged the gay press and strong gay fundraisers for his campaigns and he strongly controls his message regarding our issues.

    You can attack me all you want. But Obama does NOT have a record of supporting our issues. He might give lip service to them, but that’s not enough for this educated voter.

  5. I’m glad you’re so educated, Nathan. I guess my UNC Law Degree (with honors), UNC Journalism degree (with distinction), and 19 years of activism in the LGBT community and in Democratic politics makes me unqualified to support any candidate.

    I’m not drinking any “kool aid.” I’m supporting a very well qualified candidate who will bring this country together in a very challenging time AND be the most effective advocate for LGBT issues of any of the remaining Presidential candidates.

    It’s time for the NC and Indiana voters to decide. After that, and after the reamining primaries, caucauses, and superdelegate selections … I am confident that Obama will be our Democratic nominee. When that occurs, I hope you will be a good Democrat and support our nominee. I would do the same for Hillary were she nominated.

    Yours,

    Doug

  6. a good democrat???? i would hope, doug, that all your training would have trained you to think before you swallow. this election shouldn’t be about parties, but about people. bottom line: obama doesn’t have the experience or the balls to be the leader of the free world. no way would i want our president ASKING kim jong il to play nice. his daydreams about international policy are shockingly naive. lgbt issues aside, barack obama is not a good candidate, this being proved by his inability to end this primary campaign. if he is the chosen one, as you seem to believe, why hasn’t he closed the gap and taken the nomination yet? because a lot of good democrats know he’s a lousy candidate.

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