Category Archives: Politics

Happy Obama

Barack I slept in this morning.

We worked at CNN until the wee hours of the morning last night, watching and waiting for the ripe fruit of the last few states to fall into the big blue basket of the Democratic column and Obama's historic victory.

Even my big yellow dog didn't demand his Democratic victory walk until I was ready to stir this morning.

I walked out the front door of my building feeling the electricity in the air from last night, still. As I got to the corner, the crossing guard that protects the children going to that school I voted in yesterday from the onslaught of traffic at the crossroad of Classon and St. John's Place raised her voice and hand to everyone who passed and greeted them with a "Happy Obama!"

Happy Obama. Indeed.

It was amazing, gratifying. Brilliant. 

It was also maddening.

In many ways, the same voters who made history with the triumphant election of Obama, also opted to vote discrimination into the California constitution. And it is hard for me to separate that from my celebration of Obama's well-deserved victory.

We turn one corner, and come to another. We drive a stake into the heart of one fearful discriminatory impulse in this country that, it seems, rarely does the right thing the first time, and raise up another strawman of fear and loathing on which to focus immature and unimaginative minds.

I don't want to take anything away from this beautiful moment. But I think it is as much a sign of how degraded the American ideal has become in the past eight to 20 years as it is a moment to celebrate. And I think one of the things this President is going to require of all of us is honest self-appraisal.

And I am ashamed and dejected in equal parts to my pride and elation this morning.

I know one thing in my bones: expectations are high for this new President. Everyone is hoping that he is, as they say The One. I read an interview with President Elect Obama in which he spoke about "Gay marriage" (a term I'm not entirely comfortable with) in which he said he believed that "marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman" and he wasn't willing to degrade that in any way. 

How can such a brilliant man be so abysmally ignorant?

So, I have high expectations of this man, too. But I am also realistic in my belief that we are all bound to be disappointed in him in some way, at some point. But here is my pragmatic expectation: that someone, somewhere, somehow sits down with this brilliant and inspiring man and explain to him in painfully exquisite detail the gulf of difference between "holy matrimony" and "marriage."

Explain to him how the former is "church" and the latter is "state" and that somehow, in the same way that that unholy alliance once justified slavery and the oppression of Black people that we now justly celebrate the death of…is now being employed to hurt loving men and women, who pay taxes and raise children (or not) and are undeserving of having their civil rights, their human rights unjustly curtailed because of the superstitious tyranny of the majority.

Keep your "holy matrimony" President-elect Obama. 

Holy Matrimony is a religious ritual. Marriage is a civil right.

Give LGBT people the same, equal, civilly righteous protections every other citizen in this country has under the sacred language of our constitution, no matter how many times the radical religious right wastes our time, money and souls in the pursuit of their fearful discrimination.

And we will have those rights, Mr. President-elect.

Yes…we will.

On the line…

I got up at 5:30 this morning, posted the Gay Wisdom mailing to the internet, put on some pants and a shirt, a jacket and a hat, leashed Brewster and took him out for his morning business. It was still dark out, though the earliest light was visible on the far reaches of the horizon.

Booth     The first thing I noticed was the odd number of people out at this normally quiet time in my busy, noisy neighborhood, Prospect Heights, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Museum. Usually I might see a car in the morning, or an early delivery truck. But not people. This morning, I counted a dozen people, coming from different directions, but all heading in the same direction, the Elijah Stroud Middle School on the corner of Sterling and Classon Avenue. I rushed Brewster through his walk, took him back home and left him with my partner and, grabbing a cup of coffee and my paper, I dashed out the door, and out on to the street.

Even more people out there now. I walked across the street and down the one block to Stroud elementary, and turned the corner to see the line. I have voted in this neighborhood for the past seven years, and the longest line I've ever seen was one snaking out from the gymnasium where the booths are, to the front door, about 20 feet away.

This morning, the line stretched past that point, out through the cast iron gates, turned to the left, and went nearly halfway down the New York City block street to Washington Avenue. It was 6:00 a.m. There were hundreds of people already on line, waiting patiently to cast their vote.

There was definitely excitement in the air. And more African-Americans than I had ever seen on any election day before. And young people. My neighborhood is very Caribbean (the largest Caribbean Day Parade goes right down Eastern Parkway, two blocks from my apartment), and becoming "hip" so there is a huge influx of young people seeking low(er) rents.

You could hear people talking ("wow…look at the line!" "Can you imagine what it's going to be like later?") And everyone I looked at was smiling. Not as much as they were smiling when they came out of the voting booth. Then they were positively beaming…men, women, young, old. Everyone I saw coming out of the booth had this almost beatific grin on their face. Some people actually came out singing. They greeted one another. Joked. They had a spring in their step. It was beautiful…this was the place to be!

The line moved pretty fast. From the time I got on line, until the time I was waiting outside the voting book was precisely one hour. But the line was always moving. My district had two voting booths (like the one pictured…something like 513 moving parts!) but one of them was already broken. So, that slowed things down a bit. But start to finish, one hour, reading Dreams From My Father on my Kindle, listening to Mozart and Stan Getz.

It was the best line I have ever been on.

Circle Voting

Circlevotingsubhead_2 We want to call your attention to an important website in this election season. Long time Gay activist, Murray Edelman, who was the editorial director of the Voter News Service, a polling consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, and the Associated Press that famously was involved in the 2000 Bush/Gore contest and the fate of the Florida vote, has been developing the idea of Circle Voting.

Murray helped develop the first exit polls and has conducted them for over 20 years. One of his legacies is the only continuous body of Gay/Lesbian voting data from the exit poll since 1990. Edelman received his BS in Mathematics from the University of Illinois and his PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 1973. He has been the only out Gay President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the largest and most influential body of survey research professionals.

Please, check out Circle Voting.


A full conversation with Murray appears in the fall issue of White Crane, Community. But one of the most important ideas in his Circle Voting project is this: Fully 1/3 of registered voters who say they voted in the last election did not. That bears repeating: 1/3 of REGISTERED voters in the last election, who say they voteddid not. We can’t afford this in this next election. The stakes are too high.

Jesse’s Journal

Coming Out Politically

“Coming Out” has many meanings and can happen more than once in a person’s life. In previous articles I wrote about “coming out” as a Gay man, a Jew, a bear and a nudist. Now I want to talk about my “coming out” into politics. Though I never served in public office I consider myself to be a political person, if we define politics as a citizen’s healthy concern for his society and the way that it is governed. My political views, like those of other people, were shaped by my upbringing, my environment, my education, my life experiences and by events that changed my life. Two events were particularly influential in determining my life and politics: the Cuban Revolution (1959) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Movement (1969).
My political bent, unlike my thick dark hair (now greying), soft brown eyes, left-handed dexterity or homosexual orientation, was not inherited. But it was definitely shaped by my upbringing. My friend and fellow activist, Allen Young, once wrote about growing up as a “red diaper baby,” the son of Jewish-American Communists. My parents were the opposite: proudly conservative, fiercely anti-Communist, Couche_rouge Cuban exiles. Like most men and women of their generation, my parents experienced the Revolution as a disruptive force that destroyed everything they held dear and forced them to leave their home. Once settled in Miami (temporarily, they hoped) most Cuban exiles were firmly opposed to Communism and to anything that they thought led to it: socialism, progressivism, liberalism, homosexuality, etc. They saw the Democratic Party as hopelessly liberal and tainted by John F. Kennedy’s “betrayal” of the Cuban people after the Missile Crisis. The Republicans, on the other hand, seemed more willing to stand up to Castro and his henchmen, however ineffective their stand might be. For that reason, almost alone of all Hispanics in the U.S., Cuban-Americans vote overwhelmingly Republican.
Cubaposters Like other Cuban-Americans of my generation, I grew up in this conservative atmosphere. However, by the time I graduated from high school in 1972 I had developed a political bent of my own, one at odds with that of my parents or for that matter most people in my “hometown” of Little Havana. My political nonconformity can be attributed to several factors: my sexual orientation, which allowed me to question authority and the status quo; my natural curiosity, that encouraged me to go beyond my schooling to explore new ideas and personalities; and my own stubborn and rebellious personality. Whatever the causes, I was liberal where liberal wasn’t cool. I also realized, unlike my parents, that I was in the U.S. to stay. So on June 6, 1973 I became a U.S. Citizen, the first one in my family to do so. I also registered to vote that day.
Obviously, there was no political future for a liberal Democrat in Little Havana. In any case, by that time I had come to the conclusion that I was Gay, and that my sexual orientation trumped other issues as far as my politics were concerned. Many activists look back to a pivotal event in their lives that shook them out of their apathy and got them involved in the fight for GLBT rights and equality. In my opinion being openly gay in a homophobic society was in itself a political act; and my rights and freedoms as a gay man must not be taken for granted but fought for every day and in every way. For that reason, and in a time and place when most Gay men and Lesbian women were still in their closets, I refused to hide my identity.
Anita Being openly Gay in Miami in 1976 and 1977 was not easy, and it probably kept me from building a career or making a lot of money. But I did what I had to do and I think I am a better man for having done so.
I came out politically at an important time in our history, when Miami-Dade County first considered adding affectional or sexual orientation to its Human Rights Ordinance. The resulting campaign, which led to the repeal of the “Gay rights ordinance” by a 2 to 1 margin (June 7, 1977), did more than make singer Anita Bryant a symbol of religious bigotry. It also made people realize that there were homosexuals all around them, and that Jesse Monteagudo was one of them. Though I was not a polarizing figure like Bob Kunst, I was president of Latins for Human Rights, a vain but notable attempt to encourage Gay Hispanics to come out of their closets. As if that wasn’t enough, the day after the election my smiley face appeared on the pages of the now-defunct Miami News, wistfully embracing my then-partner. At a time when the most influential Gay group in Broward was fondly known as “Closet Clusters,” just being photographed was a radical act.
During the next few years (1977-1982) I graduated from Florida International University, moved to Broward County, and changed my job a few times. And I served on the boards of the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights and the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights. A new crop of gay activists emerged in those days, political realists who knew how to play the game: Tom Bradshaw, Brad Buchman, Karl Clark and Gary Steinsmith (all sadly gone) among others. They created the Dolphin Democratic Club in Broward County (1982) and made it the political force that it is today.  And while I was a member of the Dolphin Club from the beginning, I never served on the Board, nor did I ever seek public office.  A non-partisan, activist, “in your face” group like the now-defunct GUARD – Gays United to Attack Repression and Discrimination – was more my style.
But while I am not a politician in the traditional sense of the word, I remain political to this day. Instead of running for office I channeled my political energies into another direction, as a writer for the then-flourishing Gay and Lesbian press. In 1980 I began an opinion column, now  “Jesse’s Journal”, in The Weekly News (twn), for 29 years (1977-2006) South Florida’s gay community paper. Writing a column gives me the opportunity to express my political views in a medium that I am comfortable with.  And it’s good to know that people read my work, if only to complain about it. I took it as a compliment when certain people, including some who knew me from way back, wrote angry letters to the paper, calling me a radical, a socialist and a communist along the lines of Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry. When you’re compared to Ted Kennedy, you must be doing something right.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and proud liberal who continues to disappoint his mother by not keeping his mouth shut.  Reach him at

Voodoo Economics

Feeling trickled on yet?

Voodoo The Republicans never tire of promising the average American great prosperity based on how many yachts the wealthy can ski behind, based on their never-ending tax cuts, tax breaks and the other nonsense…who was it?…oh yeah, George Herbert Walker Bush…back when he was in truth-telling mode…called “voodoo economics” shortly before he laid down, threw his legs into the air and became Ronnie Raygun’s partner in crime.

These crises, ladies and gentlemen, are the wages of voodoo economics.

Throw the bums out!

We’re being told on a daily basis that the sky is about to fall, and unless we act now, unless we act quickly, dire consequences will follow. Just like they did for the Patriot Act and just like they did for the Iraq war and the weapons of mass destruction. Are there no alternatives? Is this sledge hammer plan the only answer? Do we live in a world that has only one answer to any question?  A rather badly figured alternative "plan" has been circulating around the internet, calling for a mass redistribution of the $85 billion we’re buying AIG with…or the $700 billion the whole mess seems to be costing (and even that figure seems to be something they picked out of thin air…and the air is pretty thin at the levels this is being decided)…and distributing those monies to every 18-year-old-and-above citizen. The math is way off…but not too long ago all we were hearing was how expensive it was going to be to "save" Social Security…and now, all of a sudden, we can put our hands on $700 billion to "save" Wall Street and the credit market? I’m sorry…how’s that again?Fiscalconservative

Something stinks. Who do you trust? The banks don’t trust each other. The taxpayer is being held hostage by threats of economic collapse. And, even more disorienting, I find myself nodding when I hear Newt Gingrich talk!…and that’s just terrifying. And McCain is talking out of both sides of his mouth

Here’s one thing I firmly believe: Can’t we please take the microphone away from this President? Hasn’t he caused enough damage? What is served by his continued blathering drone, reciting the obvious and offering nothing but the grim face of his flaccid intellect?

And maybe…just maybe, the economic health of the nation shouldn’t entirely be based on the wealth of corporations? Isn’t this a perfect time to question the "personhood" of corporations? Why do corporations have the same rights…in some cases more rights…than you and me and every other individual taxpaying citizen? I would love to hear someone start talking about "corporate responsibility" and "corporate bootstraps" the way we get treated to "individual responsibility" sermons.

Stop holding an economic gun to our heads and start talking sense.