Letter to the editor: LGBT voters should know Michelle Nunn’s position on equality

Dear Editor:

Here is a thought with regard to Michelle Nunn’s opposition to LGBT equality.

(To be clear, all indications are that Michelle Nunn is not personally opposed to gay people or gay equality, but her official position is that the definition of marriage should be left to the states; in other words that gay Americans do not have a right to equality—as blacks and other minorities do—but must leave their equality up to will of the voters. Nunn has also refused to commit to voting for the bill pending in the Senate to fully repeal DOMA, a law which is still on the books and which continues to deny important federal rights to gay Americans even after one portion of the law was rejected by the Supreme Court.)

Many people have suggested that Nunn’s anti-gay position does not reflect her true beliefs, and that she is taking it only for political expedience. They believe Nunn is simply afraid that she will lose more votes from anti-gay voters than she will gain from pro-gay voters if she comes out in favor of LGBT equality.

But if that is Nunn’s electoral calculus why shouldn’t we launch a public campaign to educate pro-gay voters about her anti-gay stance and encourage them to refrain from voting for her? (They can vote for the pro-marriage Libertarian or abstain from voting in that race at all.)

If Nunn is right, and if she would lose more votes from anti-gay Georgians than she would gain from pro-gay Georgians by supporting equality with regard to marriage and the full repeal of DOMA, then such a campaign could help her win the election: Nunn could make sure anti-gay voters around the state know that “the gays” don’t support her because she doesn’t support us, and presumably she would achieve that net gain in votes she is currently seeking by taking positions against LGBT equality.

Personally I think Nunn is wrong about that math and that she faces very little risk by changing her stance; I think anti-gay Georgians won’t vote for her anyway, and that she could energize a lot of pro-gay voters to go to the polls if she fully supports LGBT equality.

But I could be wrong, and people I respect who disagree with me could be right; they have been involved in politics longer than I have and may well have a deeper understanding of the electoral math than I do. But if Nunn and her gay supporters are so confidant in their analysis how could they oppose such a campaign? If Nunn believes she has made the right choice, let’s make it clear to gay voters (with a well-funded public campaign) that she has made that choice. And if she is right, she will gain more votes than she will lose.

But whoever is right about the electoral math, why should LGBT voters allow Nunn to have her cake (by taking an official position that hurts us by giving credibility to arguments that deserve none) and eat it too (by counting on gay people for money and votes as she officially opposes our struggle for equality)?

So I propose that we start and fund a campaign to make sure gay voters understand that Michelle Nunn (although she seems to like us personally) does not believe we have a constitutional right to equality and will not commit to voting for the full repeal of DOMA.

OK, now here’s my real goal. Perhaps the best result of such a campaign would be to convince Michelle Nunn to change her mind and fully support equality.

To paraphrase Abba, come on Michelle, take a chance on us.

Dan Grossman
Atlanta attorney
GA Voice Person of the Year 2010