LGBT-Friendly Third Party Candidates

There are lots of reasons to vote for a third-party candidate when polls open on November 4th. Maybe you just don't agree with either McCain or Obama and can't see yourself voting for either of them. Maybe you already know which way your state is going to go and you want to use your vote to support a third party. Maybe you want someone who represents all of your views, and that someone doesn't happen to belong to the Democratic or the Republican party.

Whether you're planning on voting for a third party candidate or not, it's nice to know that in the American political system you do have options. So I've done a bit of research on gay-friendly candidates. I'm no expert, and there are more third party candidates than I can shake a stick at, so if I've left out anyone you know about, please leave a comment!

Cynthia McKinney

Green Party

Vote for McKinney/Clemente this fall and you may actually make a difference. The Green Party is trying to break 5% of the popular vote this election in order to gain government funding for future campaigns. While this is a long shot, it is also a very real possibility. In 2000, the Green party's candidate Ralph Nader received 2.74% of the popular vote.

McKinney has been fairly quiet on gay issues, and has been criticized for that by gay activists. Her voting record has shown a commitment to gay issues, however. As a member of the House, she voted against an anti-gay adoption amendment in 1998 and another in 1999, voted against an amendment repealing domestic partner health care benefits in DC in 1995, and voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. However, she missed votes repealing don't-ask-don't-tell and including same-sex partners in the Family & Medical Leave Act.

McKinney participated in and won the support of the National Lavender Green Caucus – the Green Party's caucus centered on gay rights - and the green party platform supports gay marriage, the end of don't-ask-don't-tell, and nondiscrimination legislature that includes orientation and gender identity.

McKinney/Clemente will appear on ballots in 32 states this year and write-ins for several other states will be counted.

Ralph Nader

Nader is the other widely known third party candidate. He has been outspoken on gay rights issues and actually lists gay rights on the issues section of his web site. He has spoken for gay marriage, ending don't-ask-don't-tell, and ending employment discrimination.

Nader has been running for president off and on in elections since 1992. In 2000, as the Green Party candidate, Nader received the previously mentioned 2.74% popular vote. In 2008, Nader is running as an independent, although his campaign is being supported by several parties including the Peace and Freedom Party and the Independent Party. Nader will be on the ballot in 45 states.

Gloria La Riva

Party for Socialism and Liberation

Gloria La Riva's platform is based on civil rights – rights that gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. She has spoken for gay marriage and an end to employment discrimination along with an end to the patriot act and rights for undocumented workers.

Although La Riva has never held political office and has no voting record, she has played an active role in the fight for gay rights. She has participated in several pro-gay-rights marches and in speeches has often linked the fight against homophobia with the fight against racism and sexism. La Riva was the presidential candidate for the Workers World Party in 1992, and she has been a vice presidential candidate in several elections.

Charles Jay

Personal Choice Party, Boston Tea Party

Charles Jay's political views lean towards the libertarian. Unlike many libertarians, however, Jay realizes that gay marriage may by necessity be federalized and is in support of a pro-gay marriage constitutional amendment in that eventuality. He takes libertarianism to its logical conclusion – that the government should not put exclusionary limits on the rights of its citizens, gay or straight. Jay was also the candidate for the Personal Choice Party in 2004.

Sources: candidates' web sites, votesmart.org, ontheissues.org, washingtonblade.com, advocate.com


Ma'amselle Lezident said...

I think voting for third-party candidates is kind of a waste since fusion politics were outlawed in most states at the turn of the century. (In fusion voting, a third party has the choice to endorse another party's candidate in line with their issue or to put up a challenger candidate when the base of either party plus a contingency of independents are upset with the parties in place.) At present, third parties are only able to endorse their own candidates ("to make a point"), and it really has no impact on the binary party system we all hate so much. They also have the potential to siphon votes away from candidates who are ideologically similar, resulting in the election of someone way worse.

I think that if we are really serious about third parties, which I think we all should be, we all need to push for the reinstitution of fusion-party-politics in the states where it has been outlawed. We need to push our state and local legislatures to put up ballot initiatives that would allow this.

If you are unfamiliar with fusion voting, check out the Working Families' Party in New York, where fusion voting is still allowed. Their bottom line is economic populism, so they are able to endorse Dems or Repubs who have similar values as well as endorse WFP candidates in primary challenges when Dems and Repubs are not in line with the populous-at-large. Primary challenges are one of the most useful tools to take middle-of-the-road candidates to the left or right--something we could use here in CA, for instance, where people like Dianne Feinstein keep getting voted in just because she has a (D) next to her name.

Anyway, I would vote Obama in this election if I were you and I were for civil liberties, and then I would fight for the next four years for fusion politics at the state and local levels.

Sei said...

Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party. As for McKinney, I lived in Georgia a long time and I came away with a very deep feeling that she's got a screw loose somewhere.

In all honesty, I've never liked third party Presidential candidates since they tend to crash and burn too easily. It is nigh on impossible to get your name on the Presidential ballot in enough states to win, so it is a waste of time and money.

However, I do believe in third party candidates running for the House and Senate. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is officially an Independent, but he's really a Socialist. He was a member of the Socialist Party when he was Mayor of Burlington. He is now something of a power broker in the Senate and will continue to be one even if the Dems take a much larger lead in the Senate. I think that Nader and the others should find a nice, amenable district, move there, and run for Congress rather than aiming for the Presidency. Our most successful Third Parties in history have always done that, and ended up making a huge difference in how things operated in the country. You know, things like the direct election of Senators and the secret ballot. Those all came from a strong Third Party back in the late 1800's.

Paula Brooks said...

I agree... at this stage of the game a third party vote would only serve the Republicans and their anti Gay platform.

Ma'amselle Lezident said...

Just to further illustrate my point on fusion politics:

In New York, the Working Families' Party is feared because it has the ability to make or break someone's campaign, Dem or Repub. Because the WFP is allowed to endorse either way (or neither), both Dems and Repubs must come courting the WFP with a more economic populist message in an effort to get a WFP endorsement. The Dems and Repubs know that if they don't make the effort to connect with the WFP, the WFP will endorse someone else and make their lives hell.

Imagine now for a minute that the Green Party or the Libertarian Party had the chance the endorse campaigning Dem or Repub candidates. You can bet your ass that the Dems and Repubs both would suddenly come up with a whole bunch of Green or Libertarian agenda items on their platforms in an effort to keep these parties from endorsing challengers. In this way, third parties would make a much bigger difference than they do.

Let's imagine a Dem candidate came up with a bunch of Green Party agenda items and then the Green Party endorsed the Dem candidate for office; in this way, the Green Party would matter also in both getting Green Party items on a Dem agenda as well as in getting the most correct candidate elected (because now Dem and Greens would be voting in FUSION to elect someone who pleases them both).

So let's all vote for Obama now and fight for fusion for next election cycle.

Sei said...


This is why I believe that Third Parties should be focusing less on getting a Presidential Candidate out there and more on getting a bunch of local (and Congressional) offices. If they build up their power, they can be powerful. If they, instead, waste their time, effort and money on a Presidential Candidate who doesn't stand a snow ball's chance in hell of winning even one electoral vote, then they loose out in the end. Sanders has been a hugely successful Senator and Congressman because his views have slowly seaped into the Democratic platform so that they could get his vote.

Anonymous said...

I third. Far too dangerous to vote for third parties in this election -- though I absolutely appreciate why they are important

Sinnerviewer said...

Cynthia McKinney is a nutjob! I am embarrased that we share Atlanta as our home. She was the one who assaulted a Capital security officer because he didn't recognize her. Nice...

Bob Barr is the Libertarian candidate and who is working to overturn some of the bad legislation that he helped to pass when he was a republican. He's also a Georgia boy and the one that I am likely voting for.

Anonymous said...

I simply think that a vote for a third-party candidate when the election is soooo tight is a total waste.

Let's face it, none of these candidates stands a chance of winning. So by voting for them, we are taking a chance away from Obama, and McCain will then be even more likely to win, God-forbid that.

So yeah, not a good idea in my opinion. :(

Brigid Shaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brigid Shaw said...

(whoops, hit post too early)

I figured I'd get a lot of comments on how third party presidential candidates are useless and how voting for them is a BAD IDEA. I personally think it would be great if the Green Party could get their 5% and get federal funding to break into the two party system, at least a little. Mostly, however, I feel like it's nice to be reminded that the American political system is not fundamentally based on choosing the lesser of two evils - and to be reminded that there are, in fact, politicians that support gay rights, whether they actually have any chance of getting elected or not.

sei, I agree with you - if you're looking for someone to actually get elected, there are a LOT of fabulous local and state officials running this election. I wish I had time to do an article on them all ;)

Sei said...

Brigid, I agree that it would be nice if a lot of these parties were stronger, but I honestly believe that it is a bit futile for them to run Presidential candidates. Here in Vermont, the Progressive Party has been slowly building for about a decade. It's been an uphill slog to get there, though. This year, they're fielding more candidates for the State Legislature than ever before.

Basically, I think that voting for a third party Executive cadidate is possibly damaging, I do think that voting for a third party legislative candidate is a great idea. Executives weild very little real power, but legislators weild quite a lot, and with enough of a share of the vote (just ten or so Senators for instance) a third party could weild a great deal of power. However, that relies upon people actually knowing how the country works rather than believing that the President is all powerful. Alas, too many believe that the President is more powerful than he really is.

Ma'amselle Lezident said...

Brigid-- I think you are unfamiliar with the history of third parties. Third parties used to serve a function up until the late 1800s, and they still do in local races in some states where fusion voting is allowed (see above). The problem is not third parties; the problem is that fusion-party-politics were outlawed by rich people.

"I personally think it would be great if the Green Party could get their 5% and get federal funding to break into the two party system, at least a little. Mostly, however, I feel like it's nice to be reminded that the American political system is not fundamentally based on choosing the lesser of two evils - and to be reminded that there are, in fact, politicians that support gay rights, whether they actually have any chance of getting elected or not."

This was exactly my point, which I think you ignored above. Voting for a third party "whether they actually have any chance of getting elected or not" is using your vote to prove a point rather to actually change any one damn thing about the political system itself. I suppose you think that if you vote for a third party candidate, you can go about the next four years feeling a sense of superiority because you sure didn't vote for the people in power, by golly, while you don't give one thought past that to *why* the system is broken or *how* you could actually fix a system where third party candidates never stand a chance. It's like a mental band-aid that you can apply that tells you, "Well, I'm not part of the problem." Well, aren't you exactly part of the problem if you feed into the binary party system by participating in the election, whether voting for a fringe candidate or not, rather than challenging voting rules themselves when there isn't an election happening? You are saying, "The system is broken, and you should highlight the broken parts by participating in the system. This proves a point." You should be saying, "The system is broken, so let's fix it by changing the rules."

In the absence of fusion politics, voting for a third party candidate in this election is wasteful at best and irresponsible at worst.