Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Gays/lesbians should be one group sought after for a Cabinet post

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Originally published on on Fri, 12/19/2008 – 3:00pm

Congratulations to Hilda Solis, the expected incoming Secretary of Labor. As little work as a Labor Secretary does under a Republican watch, a Labor Secretary under a Democratic watch can work non-stop and still not get enough done.

But I confess it would have been nice if Mary Beth Maxwell had been named. There were a number of people who were excited about having an openly gay Cabinet post member.

We talk about adding a [Category A] or [Category B] to the presidential cabinet. Even if Republicans pick some strange examples, even George W. Bush selected African-Americans, Asians, and Arab-Americans.

And it’s not like we haven’t had cabinet members who are gay, just not “out.”

Women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians — all factors to make sure there is some cross section in the president’s top advisers. There was even a movement to make sure someone from the South ended up in Obama’s cabinet (Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for U.S. Trade Representative).

But why not have someone openly gay or lesbian in the Cabinet, or work hard to find someone?

I was thinking about that last night after I finally saw “Milk.” Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to high public office, says throughout the movie that if they just get to know us, they are more likely to support us.

When Thurgood Marshall was selected for the Supreme Court in 1967, there were a number of Americans who wondered about having a black man on the nation’s highest court. Marshall proved himself well beyond the expectations.

Hillary Clinton has been nominated as the Secretary of State, and in weighing the good and bad points in the selection, none of them has centered on gender, because she would be the third in the last four who is a woman. It has become so usual that the gender issue is no longer an after-thought.

But there is a segment of the population that needs to be exposed to someone such as Maxwell, or Harvey Milk. Yes, there is Rosie O’Donnell and Melissa Etheridge and the cast from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” But that is Hollywood: there is an expectation in this field.

Rachel Maddow is another quiet example of someone who does her job well and happens to be a lesbian. What our American society really needs is a Cabinet person to come in, do their job well, and who happens to be gay or lesbian.

And some of those people who need exposure to more gays and lesbians outside Hollywood are followers of Rick Warren and the Saddleback Church. They get a lot of their information from religious sources, including Warren, that tells them that gays and lesbians are different from the rest of us, that they doesn’t deserve the same rights as everyone else. They are told “love the sinner, not the sin” without really knowing what that means.

Those on the left are told that we have to be understanding of those on the right, what they think and how they feel. We have to know why they feel about gays and lesbians the ways that they do. We have to know their thought process when 30 years, those in California who tried to pass Proposition 6, which would fire teachers who were gay and also fire those who supported gay people, ultimately defeated thanks in large part to Harvey Milk.

The left thinks it’s ironic when evangelical Christians react in a “victim mentality.” They refer to far away instances of discrimination against Christians and behave as if they were happening next door. Yet, those U.S. evangelicals, who think they are victims, don’t see how they are treating their fellow citizens, all created by God, as victims. True victims of discrimination who are next door, down the block, and even in aisle 5 of the grocery store looking at salad dressings.

As Harvey Milk put it, if only they got to know us, they would support us. A Mary Beth Maxwell or someone such as her in the world of politics would have gone a long way toward helping those who don’t understand to better see that gays and lesbians are like the rest of us.


Written by democracysoup

December 19, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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