Endorsing Michelle Nunn

Last weekend, I saw Michelle Nunn speak at my university campus. As most of my Georgia readers probably know,  Michelle Nunn is a Democrat who is running for a U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia. I went to the event, because I wanted to form an opinion about whether or not to vote for her. Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression. There is not a snowball’s chance in Hell that I would vote for Phil Gingrey or Paul Broun, the two likeliest Republican nominees for the race. The question I wanted to answer for myself was whether or not I was going to vote Democratic or third party in this election. In the 2010 Georgia Governors’ race, I voted for Libertarian Party candidate John Monds, because Democrat Roy Barnes decided to engage in a one-upsmanship with Republican Nathan Deal over who could be the most homophobic. I was much more open to Nunn’s candidacy, because of an article I read about her support for same-sex marriage. According to the article, “Nunn said she agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision that left the definition of marriage to the individual states. ‘I also believe that marriage is not only a legal construct, but a sacrament, and every religious institution has to be able to define it for themselves,’ she said. But on a personal level, Nunn said she favors marriage equality.” The strong impression I got was that she supported the legalization of gay marriage, but I almost lost my balance stumbling through all of the commas, codas, semicolons, and “buts.” It seemed possible that she might, under campaign pressure, go the Mary Landrieu route of, “I personally believe in gay marriage, but I have to oppose it as a matter of policy because its what my constituents want.” Yes. There’s a Senator who actually said something to that effect. I was also concerned because of the influence she cites her father, Sam Nunn, as having on her. Sam Nunn was a Democratic Senator from Georgia who opposed ENDA and was one of the main Democrats to oppose Bill Clinton’s proposal to allow openly gay and lesbian individuals into the military. It was partly due to the bigoted obstructionism of Nunn that Clinton folded like a cheap suit and left the country with the abomination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” So in January, I decided to email her a series of five questions to determine her commitment to gay rights. The questions were as follows: “1. Do you support equal adoption rights for gay couples? 2. Would you support the legalization of same-sex marriage in Georgia? 3. Do you support the full repeal of DOMA? 4. Do you believe that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a bad policy and that repealing it was the right thing to do? 5. Do you support ENDA?” As you can probably tell, I tried to word the questions in such a way that answering them would require her to be as concrete as possible in her stances. For instance, in the question about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I made sure that an affirmative answer would have required her to admit not only that President Obama was right to repeal the policy but also that it never should have been in place to begin with. I still have not heard back. So when she was taking questions after her speech, I asked her whether she would support the repeal of Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act. This section, left intact by the Supreme Court, stipulates that, for instance, Virginia can refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in Vermont if the married couple moves to the Old Dominion. Repealing this section, of course, would not require Virginia to legalize gay marriage, only to recognize the marriages of gay residents if these marriages are performed in other states. (As you probably know, I think the federal government should force all fifty states to legalize gay marriage, but that’s another matter.) President Obama has consistently favored the repeal of Section 2, along with the rest of DOMA, while also saying he believes gay marriage should be decided by the states. Anyway, Nunn gave a fairly lengthy response–without actually answering my question. This left me not knowing anything more about her stance than I did before going to the event. It also left me feeling disconcerted, as it puts me in a precarious position. Nunn seems to be a good candidate, and I would like to vote for her, but I do not want to end up with someone who is not willing to help finish killing DOMA once and for all. Still, I am endorsing her for Senate. As referenced earlier, she has made far more of a commitment on gay marriage than Roy Barnes did in 2010 or than Democrat Jim Martin did when he ran in 2008 for the seat Michelle Nunn is currently trying to get. And she legitimately seems to have parted ways with her father on gay rights. I am going to make a judgment call and assume that her refusal to take a position on Section 2 of DOMA is motivated by an attempt to win the election and does not indicate support for big government discriminatory legislation. Let’s hope I’m correct.

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