With less than a month to go before the Nov. 4 general election, voters across America are making their final choices on which boxes they’ll check when they head into the polls.

A plethora of issues are on the minds of Americans: the mortgage crisis and ensuing economic turmoil, terrorism and national security, foreign policy, the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic, healthcare reform, Social Security, climate change, the continuing military conflict and occupation in Iraq, immigration, civil liberties and civil rights.

For LGBT Americans, the stakes couldn’t be any higher. With marriage equality on the hot seat in California and constitutional amendments on the ballots in three other states, LGBT community members and activists are hitting the streets to pump up a vote they hope will turn their way on Nov. 4.

Other issues LGBT Americans face include hate crimes protections, employment non-discrimination legislation, the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and more. With the expected resignations of at least three members of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the president’s role in filling those vacancies, voters have crucial choices to make — choices that will have an impact on American politics for the next five decades, or longer.

Q-Notes’ 2008 election coverage ramps up in this issue and will continue into the Oct. 18 issue. In this article we’ll take a look at the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees and where they stand on important LGBT issues. The Oct. 18 issue will feature a look into local and state races, a piece comparing the two presidential nominees’ positions on HIV/AIDS issues and a piece exploring America’s current economic crisis through the eyes of Carolinas LGBT business owners.

Employment non-discrimination
Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has publicly stated his support for ending discriminatory practices against LGBT employees. He supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as supporting the inclusion of gender-identity in the bill.

Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and cast the deciding vote against it in the U.S. Senate.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
Obama supports repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. military, but has recently stated he will work toward the goal through “consensus” building with military leaders.

“I want to make sure that when we revert ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ it’s gone through a process and we’ve built a consensus or at least a clarity of what my expectations are so that it works. My first obligation as the president is to make sure that I keep the American people safe and that our military is functioning effectively,” Obama said in an interview with gay press. “Although I have consistently said I would repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ I believe that the way to do it is make sure that we are working through a process, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be.”

McCain has opposed repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Marriage equality, Constitutional amendments
Both Obama and McCain have stated they do not support same-sex marriage recognition on a federal level. Obama and McCain have both said the decisions should be left up to individual states and their voters. However, Obama has come out against discriminatory constitutional amendments that would ban marriage recognition at both the state and federal levels. McCain supports the anti-LGBT, anti-family amendment on this year’s ballot in his home state of Arizona, as well as those in California and Florida.

Obama supports relationship recognition and equal benefits for same-sex couples. McCain opposes equal benefits and recognition, including civil unions.

Obama supports the right of same-sex couples to adopt children. McCain has stated his opposition to gay adoption.

In July 2008, McCain told The New York Times, “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.”

Judicial nominations
Obama has consistently opposed judicial nominees chosen by President George W. Bush who have anti-LGBT records.

McCain has voted to confirm anti-gay judicial nominees chosen by the president.

Obama supports the Uniting American Families Act, legislation that would grant recognition and American citizenship to the foreign partner of an American citizen.

McCain has opposed the bill.

Hate crimes
Obama supports the act, including protections for victims of violent crimes on the basis of gender-identity.

McCain voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act three times and has stated his continued opposition to LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation.

Register to vote!
In order to cast your ballot in North Carolina, you must register to vote on or before Oct. 10. If you forget, early voting sites across the state offer same-day voter registration. The deadline for voter registration in South Carolina was Oct. 4.
info: www.sboe.state.nc.us . www.scvotes.org

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.