Take a host of LGBT celebrities, sit them down and make them talk about President Obama’s advocacy and what do you get? This inspiring video:
That’s Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billie Jean King, George Takei, Wanda Sykes, Zachary Quinto and Chaz Bono sharing why, on LGBT issues alone, they support President Obama over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Why is this video significant? Well it’s a quiet milestone. President Obama’s advocacy hasn’t just been lauded by the administration, it’s been used as a wider selling point.
That Obama’s campaign team has seen fit to put out a video specifically targeting LGBT Americans, in much the same way as they have targeted other minorities such as Asian Americans, demonstrates how the Obama team values the LGBT vote, an emphasis that has until now been rarely expressed.
We note too that the video touches on all that a Romney presidency might do not just to halt progress but, in the case of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that Romney has vowed to support, reverse LGBT equality.
The video also keeps a more civil tone than perhaps is deserved. There’s plenty to pick from by way of anti-gay fodder. Both Romney and Ryan were against the DADT repeal, and Romney long ago abandoned any notions of supporting LGBT-inclusive employment protections. Romney has also shown a propensity for treating gay veterans with a disdain that is quite frankly shameful.
Romney can be glad for the absence of one thing from the video however: the high school bullying incident, of which Romney has said he has no memory, wherein he allegedly helped forcibly cut the hair of a believed-to-be-gay fellow student because he and his cronies had taken a disliking to said student’s foppish style. We have, all of us, done things in our youth of which we are not proud. Few of us, however, would claim amnesia about such an episode.
What is interesting however, is some of the criticism the Obama video has garnered. For instance, some have opined that while Obama’s support for gay people is fine, what about jobs? What about the economy? This is single issue voting, they scoff.
Such an argument is ridiculous on two counts. First, simply because the campaign creates a video targeting certain demographics, in this case the LGBT community, does not detract from Obama’s work in other areas. The two are not mutually exclusive, as though one idea kicks the other out from play.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, Obama’s support for LGBT equality should matter to everyone — and it is a message to everyone.
Why? Firstly because nearly every one of us knows someone who is LGBT, whether it be our relations or our dearest friends. And their rights should matter to us. Their being valued by a presidential campaign should matter.
Further, when we are talking about basic civil rights, the issue is singularly about our foundations, our principles on which all else is built. No more, no less. It should not win a candidate a presidency because advocacy for civil rights should go without saying, but opposition to those rights should in the same way contribute to disqualifying a candidate.
As Glee star Jane Lynch says in the above video:
The fight for LGBT rights is consistent with that most important part of America’s character, which is to constantly expand opportunity and fairness, to everybody. We’ve seen a profound cultural shift just in the last decade…This isn’t a matter of strangers, these are people we love.
No doubt about it, Obama’s video isn’t perfect.
A promise from Obama himself on legislation like ENDA, a firm commitment to passing the employment protection legislation beyond the affirmative message in the Democratic platform, might have had more resonance.
But, Obama’s campaign made a video reaching out to the LGBT community. That, in itself, is important. We all know that Mitt Romney wouldn’t even bother.
And it is that, if anything, that is perhaps the most telling and motivating statement this video could make, and it does so without even needing to mention it at all.
Image taken from YouTube video, no infringement intended.