Did I hear "Joe Sixpack" and "hockey moms" enough times to choke on my own vomit? Darn right I did.
Sarah Palin can rub me raw and chap my ass in a way no other politician has since George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. But it was this exchange in the debate which fired up my thrusters:
BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.
The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.
It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.
IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?
PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.
But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.
But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.
But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.
But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.
IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?
BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.
The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.
Many people have argued, and I strongly support this notion, that the government should get out of the marriage business. Provide civil unions for all and leave marriage alone. Let the churches decide if they want to perform marriage ceremonies for same sex couples or not. I have no problem at all with that notion. What bothers me is that it's never on the table in a debate. What we hear is a resounding "NO" from politicians when the issue of gay marriage is presented.
To say I'm fed up with this is obviously an understatement. I'm tired of my orientation being treated as if it is one of the top five problems facing the country. I'm tired of being kicked in the gut. I'm tired of watching Congress scramble all over themselves trying to pass a $700 billion bailout package, now laced with enough pork to feed an army, while simultaneously refusing to provide equality to LGBTQ taxpayers. And speaking of army, I'm tired of a military still embarrassed that gays and lesbians are serving in their ranks. I'm tired of politicians unwilling to take a step to rectify that problem.
And I do not want to wait 55 years to have my relationship with my partner recognized and validated. txrad is not my roommate.
Now, regarding Cynthia McKinney. It is refreshing to go to a candidate's website and see the word "equality." Do I think she has a chance in hell of being elected? Of course not. Am I really going to "throw away" my vote? I don't even know if she's on the ballot in Texas. However, this being Texas, and thanks to the electoral college, does it matter? I might as well write in the name Dennis Kucinich, although I have no idea how you write in a name on an electronic touch-screen.
As for Biden answering the gay marriage question with a "no," it was his tone as much as anything which set me off: the immediate snarl and a resolute no. He might as well have added who in their right mind would support undermining such a bedrock sacred institution as marriage?
The reality is that, despite my emotional meltdown last night, I'll most likely vote for the Obama/Biden ticket simply to send a message to the nation that not all Texans are gung-ho supporters of a Bush failure, nor are we eager for four or eight more years of the same disaster. Obama and Biden may not be able to save the nation but it's pretty darn clear they are a better choice than the McCain/Palin ticket.
However, on most of the issues, I am far more closely aligned with the McKinney/Clemente ticket. It would be nice if someday I could be as enthusiastic in voting for a pair which have a chance of winning. It is refreshing to see candidates who speak the truth and are unashamed of their beliefs and who refuse to pander to a lower common denominator, be it Joe Sixpack or soccer moms, who never have to give a second thought to their spousal hospital visitation rights or pay taxes on their partners' health insurance coverage simply because of their orientation.