by Thomas C. Waters
In the Primary season, some LGBT activists criticized the leading Democratic candidate for not being progressive enough. They claimed Dan Onorato’s history on LGBT issues and women’s issues wasn’t strong enough. The most progressive candidate came in last in that race, mostly because Pennsylvania is a state with 2 progressive pockets on either end of the state, but with the vast majority being voters who are more conservative generally speaking. Since then, most LGBT bloggers across the state have refused to really give Dan Onorato a chance, and have said practically nothing about his opponent in this November’e election Tom Corbett. Will progressives simply not vote this November because they couldn’t gather more than 10.4% of the vote in the Spring?
This would be a grave mistake, because if progressives stay home (or don’t vote democratic) the REAL conservative in the general election, Tom Corbett could be elected, and this would extremely bad for LGBT issues. Consider this:
The 13 states represented in the attorney generals’ brief, meanwhile, include Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
I chose this particular website for the URL on purpose because I want you, my readers to see how the extreme religious right is salivating already over their potential gain in Pennsylvania if Corbett becomes governor.
Earlier this year, Corbett as the PA Attorney General joined the lawsuit against the Health Care Reform, which demonstrated how far to the right he was- practically Tea Party right on general issues. He is clearly a part of the Party of “No,” which in itself doesn’t bode well for our state which needs an active and thoughtful approach for growth.
However, he has now demonstrated a part of his real agenda which could not be more anti-LGBT by filing a brief in the California Prop 8 case. To be clear, the Prop 8 case, by everyone’s estimation wouldn’t have any bearing on Pennsylvania directly. It will affect California law and California residents only. So why are 13 states (more on the number 13 in a minute) stepping in on this one if the outcome of the appeals will not affect them? For Pennsylvania, the answer is clear. Corbett has already pledged that if elected he will support and push for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. His campaign has tried to portray him as being all about cleaning up Harrisburg politics and reigning in state spending, but that is just a facade. Social conservatism is his real agenda.
The Prop 8 case matters to his agenda because if the Federal government can overturn a California law as unconstitutional, then a PA constitutional amendment could also be challenged. Corbett needs a Prop 8 win to help set the stage for smoother passage of a PA constitutional ban.
It is both interesting and amusing that there are 13 states that filed briefs. Where has that number 13 come up before in a political context. 13 colonies perhaps? The social extremists have been doing everything that can to paint social change as tyranny. In fact the entire appeals of Judge Walker’s Prop 8 decision is to suggest that a requirement of laws to be constitutional is tyranny against religious freedom.
The same is true for other progressive issues such as a woman’s right to choose. Corbett is an anti-abortion Catholic who has pledged to make PA’s abortion laws even more restrictive once Roe v Wade is struck down. Onorato on the other hand, has vowed to leave PA law exactly as it is. I’m not suggesting current law is excellent from a progressive standpoint, but it is a far way better than rolling back all women’s rights entirely. For many PA conservative voters, abortion is their top motivator.
So, what will Pennsylvania progressives do in November?
They may stay home and not vote. This will assure Tom Corbett and the radical social agenda a victory, and all legislative efforts for greater equality in Pennsylvania will be for naught.
They may vote Green Party. This in theory makes sense. It allows progressives to share their voice via their vote, and that is not a bad thing. The problem however, is that like the vote in the primary, their percentage is so small, it won’t make any different FOR progressive purposes. It will be a feeble attempt to show the rest of the state that there are some progressives around. This desire to make a statement to the Democratic Party and overall base is meaningful but poorly timed. The way to move the entire Democratic party towards the left isn’t on Election day. That work must begin the day after election day, and take the form of constant work over the following 2 years. The other problem with this strategy is that it also assures Corbett’s win.
I believe the only useful choice to advance progressive issues in Pennsylvania, is to turn out in a big way, and urge others to turn out and vote for Dan Onorato, and to vote Democratic in State House races as well. The choice is between allowing progress to continue or setting the stage for all of our past progress to be wiped away.