On Oct. 10, the day before National Coming Out Day, the Democrats running for president convened for a town hall on the topic of LGBTQ rights. It was a historic event, especially for those LGBTQ people who never thought they’d see something like this in their lifetimes, myself included. If you had told me when I was a teenager that one day every single major Democratic contender would fully support my right to live and love, I would have said you were out of your goddamn mind.
And yet, here we are. And it feels pretty great.
Of course, not everyone agrees that LGBTQ people are deserving of equal rights, let alone worth expending political capital on.
In fact, John McCormack of the National Review called the town hall “disastrous,” arguing that there are other more pressing matters going on.
McCormack wrote, “The Democratic field was catering to a domestic special-interest group on CNN for several hours at a time when war is breaking out between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Syria — a war that was given the green light by the sitting Republican president.”
He went on to imply that the Human Rights Campaign somehow strong-armed Democrats into talking about LGBTQ rights when the town hall’s focus should have switched to what Trump did to the Kurds.
Now, McCormack has written a lot about what he calls Trump’s “worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency,” and absolutely no one is arguing that this isn’t a big deal (except, perhaps, Trump himself). But to scold Democrats for daring to talk about something else implies that LGBTQ rights are not important. And this is perhaps true for National Review readers. But LGBTQ rights and the issues of equality are important topics, especially to Americans like my family and me. McCormack also seems to be implying that since the Democrats were focused on LGBTQ issues, they don’t care about what’s happening in Syria. This is, of course, not true.
Was the timing of the town hall bad? Perhaps, but that isn’t the fault of the Democrats or HRC. If the Democrats had to scrap any and all planned appearances to respond to whatever the last thing Trump has said or done, they would literally never be able to plan ahead. You couldn’t write a speech or even outline remarks without being usurped by another reckless and ignorant comment or act from the dangerously unfit man in the White House.
McCormack then goes on to lambast Democrats for their support of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people, calling it “extreme.”
McCormack echoes claims that the Equality Act is a threat to religious liberty. He quotes Professor Douglas Laycock, who said, “This is not a good-faith attempt to reconcile competing interests. It is an attempt by one side to grab all the disputed territory and to crush the other side.”
As if what we currently have, where it’s totally cool to discriminate as long as you can say your religion made you do it, isn’t a one-sided grab of its own.
McCormack calls out Elizabeth Warren for joking that a man who believes in one man/one woman marriage should just marry one woman.
“If you can find one,” she added to much applause and laughter.
“Long gone is the Democratic Party of the 2000s that tried to unite blue-staters and red-staters under the Obama-esque rhetoric of hope and change,” McCormack lamented. “You’re a supporter of Elizabeth Warren but respectfully inform her your religion teaches you marriage is a union between one man and one woman? Candidate Warren would like you to know she thinks you’re probably an incel. Not merely a cuck.”
If McCormack thinks this is disrespectful, wait until someone tells him what Trump has said and done to women. Always bears repeating that Trump is currently accused of sexual assault by a large number (I’ve lost count) of women. Also, as if Warren was ever going to get the incel vote.
McCormack calls out Joe Biden’s rambling about “round-the-clock sex” at “gay bathhouses,” and I don’t blame him. It was weird! Jesus, Joe. But McCormack leads with this tidbit to paint the entire town hall has as a joke.
It wasn’t. LGBTQ people have gotten a bruising under the Trump Administration. Democrats don’t exactly have a long history of support for LGBTQ people. So, this town hall helped assure LGBTQ people that they are not an afterthought in this election or in this country.
What is a joke, however, is the man we’re currently supposed to call president. And there is absolutely no humor to be found. n
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.