Gay Marriage, Gay Candidates

Interesting piece by James C. McKinley in the Times:

There are currently at least 445 openly gay and lesbian people holding elected office in the United States, up from 257 eight years ago, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a political group that supports gay candidates.

And while Ms. Parker's victory in Houston, a city of 2.2 million people, was the biggest victory for gay rights advocates this year, gay candidates made strides in other places in the last election cycle.

Charles Pugh, an openly gay former broadcaster, swept to victory as City Council president in Detroit in his first bid for public office. Akron, Ohio, elected its first openly gay council member, Sandra Kurt, an industrial engineer at Goodyear Tires.

Some political scientists say the rise in openly gay candidates' winning public office is a better barometer of societal attitudes than are the high-profile fights over same-sex marriage.

"Gay marriage ballot measures are not the best measure," said Patrick J. Egan, a political scientist at New York University who studies issues surrounding gay politicians. "They happen to be about the one issue the public is most uncomfortable with. In a sense, they don't give us a real good picture of the opinion trend over the last 30 years."

Right. It'd be like if interracial marriage bans were constitutional, and on the ballot. I suspect that there'd be some states that, into the early 80s, would have banned them. There's also the difference between state politics, and urban politics. I'm not saying that gay marriage is popular in Houston, but I bet it's a lot less popular in Texas, as a whole.

And lastly, and most importantly, there's the difference between thinking someone can do the job, and being unprejudiced. Just because you cheered for Jackie Robinson, doesn't mean you want Leroy Jenkins marrying you daughter. Just because you voted for Obama, doesn't mean you aren't a racist.