There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now O.K. to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.
~ Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
For far too long old white male, religious conservative and heterosexual politicians have held the floor on the gay marriage debate, both nationally and across the states. The voices of America’s gay politicians, on the other hand, are usually lost in the conservative vs. liberal megaphone. Well, that changed on a very historic level with the September 29 Wisconsin Senate campaign debate between openly gay Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin and former Republican governor Tommy Thompson.
I’d prefer to let Ms. Baldwin do the talking here. But I would like to point out how uncomfortable Mr. Thompson seems to be when given the floor. It seems as though he doesn’t really believe what he absolutely must to say for electoral purposes. Indeed, he seems to be ashamed that he has to toe the bigoted GOP line established by the religious conservative wing of the party. Thompson also seems rather ashamed that he must cloak the cynical pandering under the states rights argument—the very same mechanism that allowed former confederate states to segregate in the the post-bellum south.
Baldwin appeals here to the better angels of our nature, and it’s beautiful. But it’s also heartbreaking to watch Thompson channel the religious and social bigotry that denies Americans their equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Watch the debate clip below.