Chaz Bono Comes to South Florida in Support of President Obama
"Our whole way of life, in a sense, is on the line," warned Chaz Bono last Saturday afternoon at the Obama for America campaign field office in Wilton Manors. "We've made a lot of progress in the last four years."
The LGBT activist and reality television star was in South Florida to mobilize campaign workers as the Presidential election nears.
More than a dozen volunteers assembled to hear the transgender Dancing with the Stars alum - and son of gay icon Cher - talk about why the election was important to him.
But, there's more than marriage equality and LGBT issues on Bono's agenda during this election. He told the intently listening volunteers about the importance of protecting the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, because he lost a girlfriend to cancer years ago. Then he spoke about education and the economy.
After a few snapshots and words of encouragement, the small army of volunteers was dispatched to the corners of Broward County to begin canvassing neighborhoods and Bono sat down to talk politics with SFGN.
Politics is nothing new for Bono. His father, Sonny, served as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif. and was eventually elected to Congress in 1994 during the Republican Revolution. Bono was tragically killed in 1998 in a skiing accident. Chaz, while still living as Chastity, came out as a lesbian in 1995 and became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign a year later.
Ironically, Bono's first memories of politics date back to 1976, when former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was elected president:
"The first political thing I remember, and I remember it pretty clearly, was when Carter was running. My mom was married to Gregg Allman at the time and the Allman Brothers were from Georgia and big Carter supporters. Mom spent the first night of the (Carter) presidency in the White House. I've been a Democrat as far as I can remember," he said.
While working for HRC during the 1996 election, Bono recalled how the Republicans used gay marriage as a wedge issue to divide LGBT voters from President Bill Clinton.
"I spent a lot of time going to events to get [LGBT] people to support [Clinton] despite DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). It was a clear, calculating move designed to put Clinton between a rock and hard place, but at the time, he couldn't have come out against it."
Bono said this election certainly brings the contentious issue of marriage equality full circle, now that President Obama is running as an advocate of gay marriage and support has been written into the Democratic platform.
"Now we're using marriage equality against the Republicans for the first time," he said. "It makes me really happy."
Regardless of his public stand on marriage equality, Bono enthusiastically supports the President.
"Every group wants to see their stuff happen and happen quickly, but he's more than made up for any time it took. Obamacare is huge for the community. Gay and lesbian people aren't just interested in gay and lesbian issues. Every American is interested in the economy and where we're going to go from here," he said.
From the first time Bono heard the President speak at the 2008 Democratic convention, he knew Obama was "a principled individual who truly does care about people."
Bono added, "If we're going to move forward and be fair minded and take care of our citizens, we have to be invested in health care and education. The Republicans have moved so far to the right and I really don't think that's representative of how most Americans feel."
Bono is certainly not the first celebrity to speak up during a pivotal election-he is even hesitant to consider himself a celebrity-but, as he put it, "for these purposes, if I can come out here and get people to listen a little bit because of who I am and get them excited, that's what I can do."
As for his own future political ambitions, Bono isn't saying, except that he might consider running for elective office someday, "if the right situation presented itself."