Who am I? Why am I here?

I’m glad to have the opportunity to be a contributor to this blog. I’ve had my own blog over at Atlanta Public Affairs since January 2005.

Yes, I’m a Democrat. I’m socially liberal and fiscally moderate to conservative. Oh, and I’m gay.

I’ve been with my partner and had a monogomous relationship with him for over 5 years now. We’re both professionals, pay a lot of money in taxes, vote, own a home on a quarter of an acre, have a dog, have two cars, don’t do drugs, love our friends and families, and never been charged or convicted of a crime. It’s pretty much a typical, conservative if you will, family life. We’re actually pretty boring. We really just want to be contributing members of society.

While we’ve gone out and spent a bunch of money for an attorney to draft up wills, powers of attorney, etc. to protect us, it would be nice to be able to know for sure that these things would hold up if something happened to either one of us. We would take these things for granted if we were married. I’m not asking for marriage in Georgia, necessarily, but I do want the state to provide us many of the same rights that we would have if we were married. Call it marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, I don’t care. If you don’t want me to get married in your church then fine, I wont. Gay marriage, or civil unions, is actually a pretty conservative concept.

It scares us that some states are doing more than just defining “marriage” as between a “man and a woman.” The State of Virginia passed a “marriage protection” law that said that two people of the same sex cannot enter into contracts with each other (basically outlawing the arrangements I mentioned that we made above). How can you justify that?

I support the concept (not necessarily the Bush plan, but the concept) of private Social Security accounts. I do so because I want to be able to pass along some of the money I’ve invested into the system to my partner if I should die. Otherwise, I’ve just thrown a bunch of money into a hole and he would not currently qualify for survivor benefits. Bet you never thought of Social Security reform in that way, have you?

While I’m openly critical about the Bush Administrations handling of the Iraq war, I did not oppose invading Iraq (although I did so based on the theory that Iraq had WMD’s which we have not found and not spreading “freedom” as is now the reason for going to war). Nonetheless, I believe that if we left Iraq now and did not finish the job, we would leave a bigger mess than what we started with. That is unacceptable and would put our country and interests at risk. But the Bush Administration needs to start getting honest with the American people about what it will take to win.

Quite frankly, I could probably be fairly comfortable about being a Republican if it weren’t for the Republican Party’s current hostility towards gay people and its close association with the religious right. The left wing looneys (ala Cynthia McKinney and her ilk) drive me crazy just as much as the right wing fanatics. You people don’t even realize how many other gay and gay friendly people out there feel the same way, but are so repulsed by the Republican Party’s such outward hostility towards gay people, and a seeming obsession with gay sex by many in the religious right, they can’t bring themselves to be a Republican.

I don’t mean to imply that the Republican Party is the only party at fault here. Look, I’m the first to admit that the Democrats were in power in the State House when the marriage amendment passed in that body. And I respect the hell out of Republican Rep. Jill Chambers for the stand she took.

It took a lot of Democrats voting for it in order to pass the amendment. Former Speaker Terry Coleman is not a friend. We’ve got a lot of work to do within our own party. However, most of the outward hostility towards gay people seems to come from religious conservatives and Republicans.

I believe in freedom, whether it be economic freedom or social freedom. In general, I feel that less government regulation is the best policy, whether it be in our pocketbooks or whether it be in our family lives.

I don’t plan my posts on this blog to be focused on “gay issues.” However, I want you all to know where I’m coming from. I actually plan to do most of my contributing about Metro Atlanta politics. We have many local elections in 2005 this year that I want to cover. My first post later this week will be on city elections in the new city of Sandy Springs.

So, there you go. My first entry on Peach Pundit.

16 comments

  1. Bull Moose says:

    Good stuff and well articulated.

    Georgia would be well served by a Georgia Independent Party — fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

  2. Tommy_a2b says:

    I hope you remember “I respect the hell out of Republican Rep. Jill Chambers for the stand she took.” and help Jill get reelected. We need her in the House and we need Democrats to support, work, and VOTE for her.

  3. Yes, and contrary to the media’s idea of a third party that doesn’t really fall into either current party (think socially liberal and economically conservative) the actual opening in American politics is most likely socially conservative and economically liberal. Karl Rove is right about one thing (probably more than one thing), and that is that “swing” voters or whatever you want to call them aren’t really “middle” or “moderate” voters, but more correctly defined as unaligned voters.

    Does anyone doubt that a candidate with solid cultural conservative bonafides who also happened to be a populist on economic issues wouldn’t do well? People that blog and read political journals may be craving a third party of fiscal conservatives and social moderates, but the vast majority of the electorate do not read the WSJ and donate to museums.

    As for Jill Chambers, if she wants Democratic votes, I suggest she switch parties. If you’re gay or care about gay issues, why do you need Jill Chambers in the House? Has she moderated the rest of the Republican caucus or prevented any legislation from passing that otherwise would have? No. Do Democrats respect her, or is she able to work with that caucus to forward issues that gay voters care about? No again.

    To me, the idea that it advances a cause to have one token representative in a party that is otherwise hostile to that cause is ridiculous. It encourages the Republican attitude on gay outreach to be “well we’ve got Jill, that’s enough.”

  4. Decaturguy says:

    I respectfully disagree Chris. I believe that it is valuable to have a Jill Chambers in the Republican delegation even if you are a Democrat. I wish there were more.

    Could a Democrat in the minority party be more effective on gay issues that Jill? I don’t think so. However, it might be a different story if Democrats were in the majority. Would I support someone other than Jill for that seat if I thought they would be a better representative than she could be? You betcha.

    Although she could not stop certain legislation from being voted on before the House last year, and in fact actually voted for Ehrhart’s Druid Hills bill, at least she stood up and got Ehrhart on the record as stating that his bill did not prevent businesses or local governments from offering domestic partnership benefits. I think that was valuable. No Democrat stood up and did that.

    Most importantly, while we haven’t seen any results yet, Jill Chambers is important because it demonstrates that you can be a pro-gay rights Republican in certain districts and survive politically and, yes, even be embraced by the gay community with votes and dollars. Jill got a lot of Democratic votes in the last election. She got 55% of the vote as a Republican in her district, which voted 51% in favor of John Kerry. Her district also voted 52% against the marriage amendment.

    Based upon the results of the marriage amendment vote in some metro Atlanta Republican districts (under 60% in favor is the key number I think), I think it will be harder for some Republican members (Wendell Willard, Ed Lindsay for example) to vote against gay rights in the future and may actually benefit politically from doing so.

    And I’ve never heard from Republicans that Jill Chambers is their only gay outreach program. I didn’t know that they had one, quite frankly.

  5. Actually, Jill ran a brutal campaign (which is her right) against a guy that the electorate basically thought was a convicted criminal (after she got done with him). My guess is that more people in the district voted for Jill Chambers (or against Eric Ponder) because they thought Ponder was a convicted criminal they couldn’t trust than because they admired Chamber’s courageous stands on anything.

    That district would pick a generic Democrat over Jill Chambers probably by a 55-45 margin if they didn’t think said Democrat was an ex-con they couldn’t trust.

    A Dem candidate will get Chambers eventually, that district is just too good for a Republican to keep winning for long (kind of the opposite of what has happened in rural Democratic districts). Actually, consider Jill a Republican Mike Snow.

    If you think Chambers is so great on the issues, why not challenge her to run an issues based campaign where she stresses her great voting record instead of a negative one where she spends all of her time demonizing her opponent.

    Here is a story about Jill Chambers. I was at a candidate forum with her in Dunwoody in 2002 when they opened the floor to questions from the audience. A local “US out of UN” crazy right wing extremist had this rambling question about whether or not any of the candidates would overturn a law that allowed the governor to declare a state of emergency and authorize the state to give vaccines (in the case of a bioterror attack). Every single candidate on the stage (me, Fran Millar, Bart Ladd, David Adelman, Liane Levetan, Ralph Bowden, Denise Majette, Cynthia Aucken) said no, but Jill agreed with the guy.

    For me, that was all I ever needed to know about Jill. She is far out there. She is a radical. She chose to sit next to Bobby Franklin and Brian Joyce in her first legislative session, and only finally got wise to her situation in her second term — in time to vote against the gay marriage ban. She happens to be a decent politician and she knows what the activists and voters in her district want to hear, and that is what she gives them. But if her district was redrawn to be more of a Dunwoody conservative district, you would never hear from her again.

    Ask yourself, is that the kind of politician you want to glorify?

  6. Bill Simon says:

    Chris, I believe you are incorrect. How could she, as a first-time Republican in a House run by Speaker Tom Murphy choose to sit anywhere she pleases? Murphy decided where people would sit, especially newbie Republican legislators.

    Regarding Eric Ponder, if you call pointing out someone who is a liar as “brutal campaigning,” then you apparently haven’t been awake for the history BR (“BR” = Before Republican control), or, you conveniently ignore what Dems did in the past in their campaigns.

    Since you are wrong about why Jill sat why she sat where she sat in her first session, I’m going to presume that you are also incorrect, if not out-and-out lying, about anything else you try to claim about Chambers. Perhaps you should learn to preface all of your comments as “Well, I heard this, but I don’t know if it’s true…”

  7. Hissy Fit says:

    BillSimon: Let’s clear up one thing about seats on the House floor under Murphy. The members, new and old alike, sent in their seat preferences before session began. The most senior members had plum pickings while new legislators took what was left. He left his staffers plug people in as they saw fit according to the preferences the members stated. So, it could be that she did request to be near Joyce and Franklin her freshman year. But, that paperwork is probably in a box somewhere on the West Georgia campus.

  8. Bill,

    Jill Chambers got elected in November 2002 for the first time, which also happened to be the same day that Tom Murphy lost. When she entered the House in January of 2003, Terry Coleman was the speaker. Members use a seniority system to go after coveted seats on the aisles, in the front row, and in the back row. All other seating arrangements were determined as follows: if you previously sat in a seat, you had dibs on that same seat in the next session, unless you were trying to move up to an aisle seat etc. Since probably no one would want to sit next to Franklin and Joyce, it is possible that she was stuck there as a new member, but nonetheless she sat next to them her first term and voted with them on a number of occasions her first year.

    As far as dirty campaigning goes, I said in my first post that that was Jill’s right to do. I probably would have done the same thing if I was her. Calling Ponder a convicted criminal for the incident that she pointed out was dishonest though — an overzealous traffic cop arrested him outside of the capitol and the charges were immediately dropped — but hey, again, that’s her right to do that.

    So, Bill, as you can see, you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to where Jill Chambers chose to sit in the House in her first term — you didn’t even know who the Speaker was. And then you have the audacity to call me a liar. I was at that candidate forum, on the same stage as Jill Chambers, and I know what she said.

    Trying to attack me for dishonesty also ignores the point of my post — Jill is no courageous leader for the gay community to glorify. She’s a cynical politician who happens to personally be extremely right wing (at least before she got elected) who has her finger in the wind and is giving the activists in her district exactly what they want to hear. If she were really the liberal they think she is she would just switch parties.

  9. Bill Simon says:

    I stand corrected on who was Speaker at the time…all Dem spekaers tend to be equal in my mind. My apologies for calling you dishonest, Chris.

    However, I know Jill, and I know she was NOT “extreme right wing” either before or after she was elected.

    Someone who agrees with a statement made by someone you might call an “extreme whacko” at a point in time does NOT make that person a whacko themselves. It is a pattern of consistency associated with being a whacko that makes one a whacko.

    As an example on my side of the aisle, just because Bill Fritz (spelling intended) has decided to soften his stance on stem cell research, because of his nutty, whacked-out (in other words, stupid-assed) stance on Terri Schiavo a few months ago, I do not consider him to be a sane individual. One act of lucidity does not clear-up years of being nuts.

    As an example on your side of the aisle, Cynthia McKinney is a whacko because she is consistently off her rocker. If at any one time she might make a statement of lucidity, some folks on the right might happen to agree with her at that moment…that will not classify them as being whacko.

  10. Decaturguy says:

    I don’t think someone is is extremely right wing would go wander around the gay pride marketplace with her husband for several hours (I was there and I saw her) or go to virtually every Georgia Equality event that occurs.

    I think she is very libertarian in her beliefs if anything. And yes that means often times taking right wing positions. But it also means opposing a lot of them too.

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