LGBT Chicagoans can help Barack the vote in key battle ground states.
At JohnMcCain.com, there’s a drop-down bar that lists various coalitions united for the Republican nominee. There are bikers for McCain, Arab-Americans for McCain and even racing fans for McCain. Gays and lesbians are not on this list, even though McCain has been endorsed by the gay Log Cabin Republicans. In fact, the only reference McCain makes to the queer community on his site is a reaffirmation of his belief that the “institution of marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman.”
While McCain has little interest in courting our vote, BarackObama.com offers numerous ways for the LGBT community to participate in the election beyond simply checking the box marked Obama on November 4. More importantly, the site tells us why we should care. “Barack Obama wants to bring about a level of equality we have never before seen,” says Jamie Citron, deputy director of the LGBT Vote Project at Obama for America. “Barack wants to repeal DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act], make schools a safer place for LGBT youth and make health care more accessible and inclusive to LGBT Americans and those living with HIV/AIDS. He wants LGBT people to be able to serve openly in the military and pass comprehensive employment nondiscrimination and hate-crimes legislation that will protect us on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.” McCain’s record on the issues is less inclusive. “Senator John McCain has never once voted to advance LGBT equality in America,” Citron says. (Obama opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions).
This election is gearing up to be nail-bitingly close, and gay Chicagoans—especially transplants—are in a unique position to help folks back at home. “A quick Q&A on the street in Boystown or Andersonville will reveal that many LGBT Chicagoans are not from Chicago,” says Citron. “They are from Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Iowa—all battleground states where we are engaged in really tight races. Every vote will count.” Citron encourages these swing-state refugees to participate in Hometown Pride (pride.barackobama.com/hometown), an online organizing tool. “The most persuasive voice is that of someone you know and trust, so we are asking [LGBT] people to pick five people from their hometown, be it family, old friends or classmates,” Citron says. “Let them know why you feel so strongly about Barack and why they should support him as well. Once you have persuaded your hometown contact to become a supporter, get their permission to share their contact info with us, and we will remind them of their voting location and give them more info.”
Hitting the streets is another way for LGBT Democratic supporters to become involved. The campaign is seeking volunteers to go canvassing door-to-door. Admittedly, reaching out to voters in rural and suburban areas can be an intimidating prospect for LGBT Chicagoans. “It is generally regarded as a safe activity in which to engage,” Citron says. “Go out with a friend, knock in pairs; that way you can support one another as LGBT people and as volunteers.” Supporters may sign up at BarackObama.com alone or with a group; the campaign will assist with transportation, locations and lists.
Meanwhile, queer McCain supporters need not lose heart entirely. At JohnMcCain.com, there is a blog of sorts called “Cindy’s Travels” in which we get to see pics of McCain’s platinum-coiffed wife visiting developing nations dressed in chic outfits. It’s not very gay, but hey, the dresses are fabulous!
Learn about more ways to get involved at pride.barackobama.com.