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Queer as Votes

By Natalie Davis | Posted 1/17/2001

Being Bill Clinton

Sweet Little Lies

It May Be Necessary to Destroy the Democratic Party in Order to Save It

Brother Bill

The Hustler

Queer as Votes

Role Over

Oh Danny Boy

10 Years After, or A Tale of Two Ex-Presidencies

Before 1992, I'd never seen a presidential candidate reach out to my people--queer people--with open arms. Then came Bill Clinton. Gays and lesbians (and, I assumed, bisexual and transgendered people) were part of his "vision," he told us. Anti-gay discrimination was wrong, he declared. He felt our pain, he convinced us. And he made promises: He would launch a Manhattan Project-like effort to find a cure for AIDS. He would work to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He would end the ban on gays in the military. And many of us foolishly believed him. Hell, many of us proclaimed him our secular savior.

So when Clinton licked Bush the elder in '92, ending 12 long years of heartless Republican rule, we felt an unfamiliar yet absolutely intoxicating sense of elation. Finally, we thought, America has a chance to be all that it pretends to be. Finally, America could become a land of equality and justice for all.

It didn't take long for that bubble to burst. Before his first 100 days in office had passed, Clinton's politically expedient "don't ask, don't tell" compromise was in place, a policy that has actually increased expulsions of queer people from the military. There is no federal legislation protecting gay Americans from discrimination at work. There has been no Manhattan Project AIDS effort--in fact, the Ryan White CARE Act has been under near-constant threat in Congress. And when the U.S. House and Senate stuck it to their queer constituents by passing the egregiously homo-hating Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, Clinton not only signed it into law, he crowed about it on conservative talk radio. Slick Willie may not have had "sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," but he fucked queers royally. I guess the executive order protecting gay federal workers from discrimination (which the new president-appointed will likely overturn) serves as the 10-spot on the dresser.

It seems obvious to me: Clinton's lies, his double-dealing, his lack of character, and his refusal to consider anything but his own political concerns are ultimately responsible for the latest tragedy America faces: another Bush presidency. Clinton now moves on to life as a Senate spouse and, I suspect, a well-paid corporate-meeting-circuit speaker. And queers--many still blinded by Clinton's lies--are left to deal with the sting of betrayal. Our 1992 elation is now anguish--and anger. I wonder if this is how Juanita Broaddrick felt.

Natalie Davis is a City Paper contributing writer.

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