It hurts to admit that a series of press releases can push me to write a post, because then I feel like a pawn for a campaign. But the point the Henry Sanders team is making of gay rights is newsworthy in and of itself. So congrats, Jason Stephany.
First, Sanders put same-sex marriage as one of the 18 points in his economic agenda. OK, I nice little tip of the cap to progressives. Interesting, but not surprising. Then, Sanders supplemented that with an op-ed which argued that marriage equality is "key to economic recovery." Now Sanders is holding a fundraiser at Willy St gay bar Plan B, titled "OUT for Henry Sanders." For $500 you can be a "host," $250 you can be a "sponsor," and for $100 you will be a simple "friend." An original Cindy Lauper vinyl does not count as a contribution.
This is probably smart. When nobody is paying attention to the LG race, what better way to get media and voters to care than to bring a juicy social issue into the mix of all the predictable rhetoric about job creation? But that's just the beginning of the strategy. Sanders is looking to corner the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He is also establishing a strong base of support in Madison, among liberal activists and students, as well as among the many Democrats in government or the party both groups are heavily gay and heavily female.
While I see this as mostly a strategy to jump ahead in the primary, it also hints a turn on gay rights in Wisconsin politics. Democrats nationwide are no longer playing defense on the issue. They're easily pushing repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and many candidates are now comfortably supportive of gay marriage. Even Spencer Coggs, who Christian Schneider (my newest facebook friend) once described as a potential Republican ally on certain social issues, told me last week that he unequivocally supports same-sex marriage.