Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Presidential Election: Time for gay Colorado to ante up

By Todd Craig

I love card games, especially poker.  I also love poker because it makes for a good metaphor, especially when it comes to politics.

Since the gay rights movement began, we’ve been fighting an uphill battle for acceptance, understanding, and compassion.  We’ve also been fighting a mostly losing battle when it comes to politics.  Until recently, we haven’t been able to command a clear majority when it comes to gay-themed political issues.

In other words, we’ve been dealt relatively weak political poker hands to play, lacking power, face cards, and opportunities to bet big and win big.

Here in Colorado, we’ve done the smart thing.  Gay rights groups have aligned our political efforts strongly with state Democrats to target smaller races at the state and local levels to give a strong fundraising edge to gay-friendly politicians who have in turn been able to advocate and expand our rights from the ground up.

Considering that the poker hands they’ve been dealt haven’t been slam-dunks by any stretch of the imagination, they’ve had extraordinary results.  They’ve known that in politics, much like poker, if you don’t have a winning hand, your best option is to whittle away here and there and make enough progress to keep your momentum alive.

But this election coming up in November is something far different.

In case you missed the last five million Romney or Obama ads on every channel of your television, let me take a minute to tell you that there’s an election coming up in a few months, and Colorado’s purple mountains are a key battle ground that could swing the election one way or the other.

This is a big election, especially for us gays.  It represents our first big hand.

For the first time in the history of our nation we have an incumbent president and vice president who are ready, willing, and able to do something for marriage equality and expanding equal rights for gay Americans at the federal level.  The Obama, Biden, and Clinton triumvirate has done more for us than any other administration in history.  And more importantly, for the first time in history we have a president, vice-president, and secretary of state who all advocate for marriage equality.

There is no overestimating how big that reality is.

On the other hand, there’s Mitt Romney, who’s own website says that “… he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”

That’s right.  The guy wants to rewrite the Constitution to legalize discrimination against us.

Romney’s campaign is currently going all in, outraising Obama and purchasing a blitzkrieg of ads with the support of a Republican fundraising machine that’s all but declared war on the current President and his gay-friendly positions for the last four years.

So what are we doing here in Colorado?

Well the news of the month features a group called Fight Back Colorado, a group dedicated to opposing state legislators who blocked the civil unions bill last spring.

Kinda seems like small potatoes, doesn’t it?

I’ll be honest, I’m on record as being pretty lukewarm about the whole civil unions thing.  I appreciate progress, but I appreciate total equality a heckuva lot more, and civil unions are just too separate-but-equal for my liking.

And it seems to me that in the poker game of politics, we gays here in Colorado finally have a chance to make a difference, a huge difference in the biggest poker game of all, the presidential election.

We’ve finally got the face cards and the poker hand we need to win big on a national scale.

So let’s ante up.  Let’s quit playing these little games and go for the big win.  Let’s tell our political groups to aim higher and to think bigger.

Let’s think about what we can do to turn this state in Obama’s favor.

Let’s dedicate all of our money, our talent, our social networking, our media savvy, and our political muscle to try to win this swing state for Obama.  Let’s get him a second term.  Let’s allow him to nominate Supreme Court justices who are more than conservative puppets.  Let’s make the most powerful American and the leader of the free world our most powerful ally for another four years.  Let's give our first president to support marriage equality the chance to make it happen.

We don’t have to think small anymore.  This is our moon shot.  We have three queens who deserve a pair of fours.

So I’m calling on our state political groups to think big for the next four months.  I want to see One Colorado’s facebook page with its 5000-plus likes filled with reasons to vote Obama.  I want Fight Back Colorado to fight back against the Republican machine that’s playing for keeps at the national level.   This election is about going big or going home, so let’s do just that.

These groups will do a helluva lot more for Colorado’s gay community if they go all in on the national election as opposed to harboring grudges towards state legislators who beat them in last spring’s civil union debacle.  Even if they win their current focus on snagging those precious two or three seats to get civil unions passed, the whole kit and kaboodle could be lost if Romney wins and has the opportunity to write his homo hate into our nation’s Constitution.

Politics, like poker, is all about recognizing the moment.  Here’s hoping our LGBT political players make the most of our best hand ever.