The 2011 Politically Aware AwardsTop Highlights, Commentary, Politically Aware, Bottom Highlights Friday, January 20th, 2012
Politician of the Year: When Time magazine isn’t distracted by groups (“The Protester”) or gimmicks (“You”), it gives its Person of the Year award to the individual, left or right or wrong, who most moves the needle and dominates the narrative. In that spirit, I give the Politician of the Year Award to Councilman Carl DeMaio. As it gathered signatures, his Comprehensive Pension Reform (CPR) initiative rivaled redistricting for media coverage. CPR has since become the focal point of the mayoral race, with two Republican competitors endorsing his vision and the sole Democrat drawing a line against it. We will certainly be talking about it in June, and unless CPR and DeMaio go down to defeat, in November as well.
Best New Thing: With a nod to Rachel Maddow, this award goes to the first Active Duty Military Pride Contingent. It needed to happen; it needed to happen in San Diego. Kudos to navy veteran Sean Sala for bringing it together. Speaking of Sean, he is also the choice for our Strange Political Bedfellows Award, normally reserved for a cross-party romantic pairing, like James Carville and Mary Matalin. Cupid would have a hard time finding a less likely merger than the San Diego Blue Dog Democrats and DeMaio’s reform initiative, which Sala supports in unison.
Best Issue Advocacy: Anti-bullying initiatives. Dan Savage’s It’s Get Better Campaign gave the anti-bullying movement a loud bark, but it still lacked teeth. In San Diego, it now has a sharp bite, thanks to Dr. Delores Jacobs of the San Diego LGBT Center, openly gay San Diego Unified School District Trustee Kevin Beiser, and a coalition of committed groups and individuals. Protecting LGBT children and the children of LGBT parents would be enough to win the award, but their work is bigger than that. The allies in this effort realize they didn’t give the LGBT community “special rights”, but the same protections all children deserve, a fact they’re unlikely to forget when those children grow up.
Hypocrisy of the Year: In the past, this would have gone to the most right wing, family values, anti-gay politician or preacher who came out that year. Which is why it would be blasé. So I give it to Wedding Pride, the gay marriage magazine published by a company owned by a company owned by News Corp. – the same News Corp. that owns Fox News, the microphone for conservative blowhards like Rick “byproduct …” Santorum. With lines like “Planning your wedding means redefining a process that has been set in stone for thousands of years,” Wedding Pride doesn’t come any closer to being “fair and balanced.”
Worst Year: Despite playing a major role in the losing “No on 8” Campaign in 2008, Equality California was widely regarded as the group that would eventually lead the repeal effort. That was before their board strangely announced their decision not to put same-sex marriage to the voters in 2012. Within days, their executive director of three months resigned, followed by much of the staff. Their Web site still lists no executive or political director, a precarious position given the looming battle to save the FAIR Education Act in 2012.
Comeback of the Year: The Log Cabin Republicans’ (LCR) endorsement of Presidential Nominee John McCain didn’t sit well with much of the LGBT community in 2008, but his sudden bizarre lust to keep Don’t Ask Don’t Tell made them positively nauseous. That was then. In 2011, LCR’s lawsuit helped generate the pressure that led to repeal, and GOProud’s love affair with Ann Coulter showed us what gay conservative extremism really is. At the local level, LCR San Diego has been a louder voice in the debate, participating in the LGBT Redistricting Task Force and daring to endorse a straight ally for mayor over gay and lesbian candidates.
Best Photo: Kissing your boyfriend at Bourbon Street is nothing new … unless you’re an active duty servicemember kissing him for the first time without fear of being discharged, in celebration of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While most couples that night got hugs and applause, San Diego Hospital Corpsman Second Class Dustin Washburn and John Adkins found themselves in an Associated Press photo that made the cover of the Huffington Post. Nice pose, guys!
Best Speech: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech in Geneva was amazing. Zach Wahl’s defense of his family was better. For those who missed Zach’s speech both times it went viral on YouTube, the 19-year old Iowan, raised by two women, rose to tell the Iowa House of Representatives why his family was no different than any other, and didn’t deserved to be ripped apart by reversing same-sex marriage. In a one-two punch against intolerance, his words make a compelling case for marriage equality while his poise and integrity crush any concerns about same-sex parenting.
Best Ally: Sorry, Mr. President, but signing DADT repeal was so 2010. And sorry, Friends of Hillary, but the secretary of state isn’t evolving on gay marriage any faster than her boss. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put his political capital on the line and made marriage equality a reality in the nation’s third largest state, through a Republican controlled Senate. Look for “Cuomo 2016” to be our first chance to put a fierce advocate of same-sex marriage in the White House.
Worst “Ally”: His vote against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was no worse than Rep. Issa’s or Rep. Bilbray’s, but Congressman Duncan D. Hunter took it a step further, becoming the point man for every attempt to reverse or obstruct repeal. I once asked his Washington D.C. staff how the congressman could support DADT when he must have served alongside LGBT Marines. They said the congressman didn’t know of any LGBT colleagues when he served. That may be true – I doubt anyone was in a rush to come out to him – but he must know it’s almost statistical impossible he didn’t serve with any members of our community. The congressman’s service deserves our respect, but the sacrifices of LGBT servicemembers deserve his. Hopefully he’ll talk to Rep. Filner about how to repent a bad vote by becoming a true ally.
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