BY JAMES NIMMO
With great political expertise, the current mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett, not known for being gay-friendly except when it comes to receiving money and endorsements, is engaged in a rousing attempt at re-election and making great hay with some of this town’s best-heeled gay and lesbian citizens who have endorsed Cornett for a fourth term as mayor.
Recently there was a story in The Gayly describing the endorsement of Cornett by some A-list gay men and women who I know to be able to support themselves quite admirably by milking their business associations with the straight homo-haters who wield power all across Oklahoma, not just Oklahoma City.
This is a sell-out on the part of these A-list enablers. Has Cornett ever refuted or apologized for the positions he had in 2001 when he ran for Ward 1 Oklahoma City Council or the positions stated in his campaign video for 5th district congressman in 2007? These positions included that marriage is a one-man, one-woman arrangement.
There’s nothing wrong with this typical logrolling in elections. However, in the case of the OKC mayoral election between three-time incumbent anti-gay Cornett and first-term, pro-gay Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid we read of prominent gay men and women making deals with an unapologetic homo-hater.
We B-listers, who live one paycheck from financial disaster and one job dismissal from health insurance, don’t have the affluence to make expensive donations to Cornett’s campaign of future favoritism.
The A-listers can afford to perform the legal and financial hocus-pocus with the laws that discriminate against the rest of us. In short, A-listers can buy the equality that the rest of are dependent on the civil laws to provide.
Which in Oklahoma means we’re begging at Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
In exchange for their endorsements and dollars, are the A-listers going to hold Cornett up to public examination should he not follow through on a more supportive agenda for gay/lesbian equality in Oklahoma City?
Many of the A-listers in the Gayly story are astute lawyers and business people who do not sell themselves cheaply.
And there’s also the inevitable situation of some of these Cornett supporters running for elected office in the future. How will they spin that to their advantage?
And, of course, this endorsement plays into Cornett’s further plans to divide and conquer what there is of a gay/lesbian community by making it official that there are two levels of being gay: the A-list of wealth, position, contributors and connections, and the B-list of the working class living paycheck to paycheck.
The A-list will receive deference and shame-faced time with power and the B-list will get to live with a clean conscience. I’ll take the B-list any time on any issue.
Cornett won’t end his life as only the mayor of OKC. Cornett will be glad to have these A-list doormats to walk on as he constructs his road to higher office. Cornett is no friend of equality and never will be. As much of the rest of the country moves forward on equality, there’ll always be Oklahoma to bring up the rear.
Cornett’s acceptance of support from gay A-listers gives him cover to say he’s not a homo-hater and another opportunity to stick his thumb in our equality. It truly queers our pitch.
The strategy behind Cornett’s open acceptance of gay endorsement must be that he feels he’s far enough ahead of Shadid that should Cornett lose some flat-earth votes it won’t hurt his hoped-for victory. And in addition Cornett helps divide OKC’s gay community.
The late Paul Thompson, long-time co-chair of OGLPC [Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus], a B-list leader if there ever was one as well as a first-class gentleman, always viewed with dismay the recurrent fracturing of our civic resolve to achieve equality.
He said we can fight over the pie, but not until we get a pie and not just the crumbs.
– James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer
Photo of OKC’s City Hall: © Caleb Long, via Wikipedia