Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gay Republicans?

Let me say that I pride myself on my ability to see both sides of an argument. It makes me a wonderful diplomat and a horrible decision-maker. Second, let me say that though I am a liberal, I really am not a partisan. Any regular reader of this blog knows I've had criticism and disdain a-plenty for the Democratic leadership. (And I voted for Bloomberg -- does that count for anything?)

So believe me when I say I completely understand and respect the traditional Republican viewpoints: that the government should tax us as lightly as possible and do only for us what is absolutely necessary, rather than trying to be every answer to every problem; a muscular foreign policy that doesn't shy away from the use of force to protect Americans and American interests; social conservatism and respect for traditional values, including opposition to abortion; supply-side theory and trickle-down economics. Historically, liberals and conservatives have seen the same problems but adopted different approaches to solving them.

Today, however, it's like we're living in different dimensions. Nowhere has this become more apparent to me than over at the blog GayPatriot, where in recent posts the authors have consistently argued that the Democratic party and liberals in general are more hostile to gay rights than Republicans.

Gay Republicans like to point out that many prominent Democrats, such as John Kerry, Howard Dean and Gov. Tim Kaine, who this past week gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union address, have gone on record as being opposed to marriage equality for gay people. They think we don't know this, or, they think we don't care. (They also seem to think that Democrats actually liked John Kerry, for some reason. Iowa: I will never forgive you. He got the nomination because the out-of-touch powers that were at the DNC kept insisting there was something called "electability" and promised us that only John Kerry had it. They kept touting his "gravitas," which was so heavy it sank him.) Liberal gay blogs, including this one, were full of criticism for Kerry's stances on gay rights.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, while gay Republicans gleefully point out that Kerry is anti-marriage, they stay mum when straight conservatives argue that Democrats want to force same-sex marriage on the rest of America, and even suggest that Kerry himself is a big 'mo.

Doesn't it seem far-fetched to try to paint the half-assed, ineffective Democrats as being more anti-gay than the GOP? Wait, strike "far-fetched." Delusional.

Last week, there was a vicious attack in a Massachusetts gay bar, where a neo-Nazi youth went after patrons and the bartender with a handgun and a hatchet. Bruce at GayPatriot wrote, "I thought we were all supposed to go around like nymphs in the fairie meadows in Massachusetts celebrating our gayness. Frankly, I feel more comfortable in Charlotte being who I am then I ever did in Washington, DC or Northern Virginia."

Okay, let's take a look at this. Massachusetts is presently the only state in the union that has granted same-sex couples the right to marry, giving them full equality under the law. Who opposed that? The state's Republican governor, Mitt Romney. (Also, to be fair, John Kerry, the twit. John Kerry would have opposed puppies, if Bob Shrum had told him voters wanted to hear it.) But the civil rights movement is not an all-or-nothing proposition, it's a step-by-step strategy, and bluer-than-blue Massachusetts is ahead right now.

Bruce then went on to say, without providing any evidence, "PatriotPartner and I both agreed that when you hear of gay bashing stories, a majority (though not all) actually seem to come out of Liberal Blue State America." Again, to be fair, it's impossible to find data on this. Why? Because states that don't have hate crime protections for gay people don't record gay-bashings in any way other than as a violent crime. And which states have no hate-crime protections for gay people? Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In the comments section on GayPatriot, I asked if anyone happened to notice a trend. "Yes," said one reader, "they're all listed in alphabetical order." I take it back. Republicans can see the obvious. True, there are several "red" states that do not appear in this list; however, there are no "blue" states that do not have legal protections for gay and lesbian people. If you're going to look at overall violent crime, then, seven of the top ten states for violent crime are "red."

Another GayPatriot fan responded to my list by saying, "Yes. Those are all states in which I would vastly prefer to live, rather than the liberal hell-hole states of New York, Massachussetts [sic], New Jersey, or God forbid, the Peoples’ Republic of California." (Incidentally, New York, New Jersey and California will legalize same-sex marriage this year.)

So let's talk about California. Last summer, California's Democrat-dominated legislature legalized same-sex marriage, only to have it vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor. The best part? After the endless rhetoric from Republicans about "activist judges redefining marriage," the Governator said he believed the Legislature acted improperly and that the issue should be decided by the courts.

Yet the folks at GayPatriot continue to insist that it's really the Democrats who are the bigots. ThatGayConservative wrote, "I have more faith in Bush than [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt] Foreman or [HRC President Joe] Solmonese in achieving gay rights. "


little-cicero said...

John Kerry was doing something you may not understand being an LGBT activist: It's called compromise. The religious right wants gay couples to stay in the closet about their relationships, the secular left wants gay couples to be honored and accomodated by the redefinition of marriage, and John Kerry and I want to create a compromise. Does that make us bigots?

The only difference between civil unions and gay marriage are the religious and traditional aspects of marriage. Homosexuality is neither traditional nor religious, so why can't you compromise? Leave the definition of marriage as it is, and form an equivolent which is unburdened by the demands and watchful eye of the religious right.

Jeff said...

Andy - they're delusional, is what they are. Clearly.

LC - God isn't mentioned in the Constitution. Neither is tradition. The Constitution, in fact, was a radical document when it was written. I wish more people would understand that.

But given that they don't...

Frankly, I don't care so much about what our relationships are called as long as gay and straight couples are allowed to have all the same federal and state rights. If calling gay marriages "civil unions" is a step towards full equality, then I can reluctantly accept it for now, if that's what it takes. Although I do waver on that point.

little-cicero said...

So we agree Jeff. Great!

That makes it two to one against Andy!

Oh, and that ours is a secular government is irrelevant. Marriage is a religious and traditional subtype of civil union. If there are inequities such as hospital visit, then the logical thing to do is to compromise on civil unions, then iron those (which are unjust)out. However, it seems that the LGBT groups are more concerned with ideological agendas than they are with real gay rights progress.

Jeff said...

Actually, given that we're talking about civil rights, the fact that our government is a secular government is 100 percent relevant.

Andy said...

You're both irrelevant, to this post anyway. What say you, Little Cicero? Is the Republican party more pro-gay than Democrats? Inquiring minds want to know.

little-cicero said...

No, the Democratic Party is more pro-gay than the Republican Party, but so am I as I side with Kerry on this.

To Jeff: This is about the definition of marriage, not civil rights. Marriage is an ancient institution. Civil unions are unions to which we all have a right. Marriage is essentially a type of civil union differentiated by its religious and traditional qualities.

Jeff said...

You're both irrelevant, to this post anyway.


Andy said...

Jeff, I just meant that a discussion of marriage is kind of irrelevant, here.

I have a fantasy of a reporter asking Bush at a press conference, "Mr. President, some conservative bloggers have praised you, saying that you are a stauncher defender of gay rights than anyone in the Democratic party. Would you agree with that assessment?"

LC: So you are saying that the government should not recognize anything called marriage and instead should offer everyone civil unions? Because you can't have "marriage" for one set and "civil unions" for another. The courts will absolutely continue to hold that separate is not equal.

Also, I'm curious: how would you respond to a Republican who insisted that the GOP was gay-friendly and the Democrats are not?

Andy said...

PS, L-C: John Kerry was doing something you may not understand being an LGBT activist: It's called compromise

Did I not just write in this post, But the civil rights movement is not an all-or-nothing proposition, it's a step-by-step strategy?

Kerry wasn't compromising, he was "triangulating," as Clinton would put it.

Andy said...

From the Washington Post: Virginia Republicans oppose move to protect gays from government employment discrimination.

"Sexual orientation is a broad term," said Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg), who has proposed amending the budget. "There are eight different sexual orientations, including pedophilia and bestiality. I think we'd be opening up Pandora's box and allowing judges to interpret what that means." Yeah, those Republicans...they're really showing Democrats who's who when it comes to gay rights.

steve chapman said...


Your analysis is correct. It is difficult to understand how folks could see the Republican party has being more accepting than Democrats when it comes to supporting gay civil rights.

I am ready to issue a pox on both their houses. I believe that we has gays are better served by having Democrats in office, though I am not sure for all is banter, Clinton did anything of benefit for the cause.

I wish that it would get beyond party politics. I wish people would understand it is about equal treatment. Maybe someday...but not with the current Republican administration in power.

little-cicero said...

My apologies, Andy, I missed the line about civil rights being step by step, but you have never really agreed to settling for civil unions at any time, so there is an inconsistancy in that statement.

I believe that as it is there are few enough substancial differences between marriage and civil unions that, if LGBT organization like yours would work for compromise rather than all-or-nothing, you would be able to iron out any inequities that still exist. Compromise is usually the result of conviction on both sides of an argument.

The religious right is bothered by your interference with what they see as THEIR religious and traditional institution, as you redefine it thereby dilluting its meaning; and the secular left, of which homosexuals are largely a part, sees marriage as a form of civil union giving way to certain financial and statutory benefits. It only makes sense, then, to let the religious right keep gay marriage and let the secular Left keep civil unions. I should mention, by the way, that a great deal of liberals GENUINELY believe in what I just said.

Anonymous said...

I think you're being a little harsh on John Kerry (unless you're being sarcastic). Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if Al Gore was elected. Well he was, but you know what I mean........

Andy said...

I don't think I'm being harsh on John Kerry at all. George W. Bush had to have been the single easiest incumbent president to defeat in the history of the U.S.; Kerry's campaign was a disaster. It was all strategy and no campaign. "I voted for the war before I voted against it." To hell with that. He didn't even START to really get on-message until the first debate, and by that time it was too late. I also don't believe that John Kerry is really against same-sex marriage, I think he just adopted that position because he was worried about the swing voters. And that was his problem: had he just been a sincere candidate, he'd have won. But he came across like a big phony.

LeshDogg said...

Andy -

I am here at the behest of LC (did he gloss himself that??). I do have a fundamental question to ask, and please forgive me if this was covered already.

First, the issue at hand is one of marriage, correct? Is marriage not a secular concept? If it is, then what business is it of the government to "outlaw" a form of a secular act? Would that not be for the church to decide? I thought we had this thing in the country called "separation of church and state." But it seems that line is hazy of late, isn't it?

"Gay republicans..." funny...I didn't think they existed outside of a Tony Kushner play...

Andy said...

Benjamin: are you here to defend LC or me? LOL.

Well, the answer to your question about whether marriage is secular or religious depends greatly on who you ask. I have yet to come across an objection to gay marriage from a secular person; most people who oppose it, like Little Cicero, do so on the basis of what they claim is a tradition stretching back for thousands of years, but of course they mean only the Judeo-Christian tradition, and they conveniently ignore that polygamy was common in the Old Testament and even King David had Uriah assassinated in order to marry Bathsheba. They also generally disregard that the idea of "marrying for love" is pretty much limited to our own culture within the last 150 years or so.

My mother and stepfather, for the record, were married by a judge in a private suite in a hotel over 20 years ago, and there was no mention of God at the ceremony. To my knowledge, no government official or agency has ever suggested that their marriage might not be valid; so yes, that implies to me that marriage is a secular institution in the eyes of the government.

The federal government has no power to regulate whether religious institutions recognize or perform same-sex marriages; nor should they; nor is anyone arguing that should not be the case. An orthodox Jewish girl can run away and elope with a Catholic boy. The government will give them tax credits, even if the synagogue disavows the girl and the family disowns her.

During the 55 drunken and hung-over hours that Britney Spears was married to Jason Alexander, their relationship would have been recognized by any state in the union; they could have adopted a child; and, in the unfortunate event of one of their deaths, the survivor would have had sole responsibility for determining the handling of the remains and would have inherited any property, pensions or bank accounts in the deceased's name. I'm not defending what Britney did, I'm saying it was LEGAL. That's all we ask.

chiron said...

Great post Andy!

little-cicero said...

You believe that marriage is a secular institution. Well, as far as the marriages you outlined, those were secular. Most marriages are religious, as they have been for thousands of years, which is not to say that religious marriage is better than secular marriage, but they are two VERY different things, so shouldn't they have different definitions?

Let's say you had civil unions for all of the Spears-Alexander hook-ups and for Same-Sex unions. The civil union is simply defined as "The civilly recognized union between two people" and marriage as "The civilly recognized union between a man and a woman" By establishing these two forms of union, both marriage and homosexuals benefit.

Though I do not believe that it is of ample logic to not allow homosexuals to form a civily recognized union, I recognize, as do my Religious Right counterparts that changing the definition of marriage can be percieved as damaging the institution of marriage. By creating two seperate and equal institutions, Marriage is left in tact, there is an equal alternative for homosexuals, atheists, those who do not value the institution as seriously, such as Britney Spears. It is not for the benefit of those in the latter group, but for those in the former group, who indeed view marriage as a religious institution. Then the debate is over and we can get on to more important punishing gay bashers with castration (Yes, I know, it would never be allowed, but it would take care of their feelings of masculine superiority)

LeshDogg said...

Andy -

Nope, not here to defend anyone...just draw a little fire. I like your argument for "marriage" being a secular issue, and I agree that far more is being done to defame the sanctity of marriage by heterosexual couples that most homosexual unions (marriages, whatever) can and will do.

What is the divorce rate now? One in three?

That is not to say, LC, that we should march on the capitol (or Vatican) and demand to enact change immediately. I agree with Andy (and you, incidentally) here about the need for a gradual shift in the paradigm.

little-cicero said...

I'm not convinced that Andy is arguing for a gradual shift here. Maybe he is hinting at one and doesn't want his LGBT bosses to find out that he's negotiating with conservatives.

Andy said...

Little Cicero, I fully expect that the shift toward full equality for LGBT people in America will take some time, two steps forward and one step back for much of it. That's being pragmatic. For example, I agree with the present marriage strategy of winning state by state, building up data and precedents, and expanding. Since same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was legalized, the overall marriage rate went up, the divorce rate went down, and, not that it's related, but the crime rate also dropped. Conservatives keep saying the sky is going to fall, but it hasn't and it won't. When marriage was first legalized, there was a significant conservative opposition and it looked like they had a shot at overturning it at the ballot in 2006. Well, after a couple of months and everyone saw that NOTHING HAD CHANGED, the conservatives utterly lost momentum and they couldn't even get enough signatures to get it on the ballot. Similar anti-gay intiatives have failed to garner enough signatures recently in Florida and California.

You ask why I'm opposed to civil unions, and I say because separate is not equal. That doesn't mean I said it isn't a step in the right direction. You are advocating a "gradual shift." Fine. Civil unions are entirely appropriate step along the path to full marriage rights. I've never said otherwise.

Andy said...

PS, Little Cicero. Can you stop threadjacking my posts? This was not about marriage, this was about the deluded perception that some right-wing gay people have that Bush is on their side. All this stuff is totally irrelevant.

little-cicero said...

I apologize Andy. I like having this discussion with you, but I should wait until the appropriate post comes up.

As it pertains to the post, I simply argue that "anti-redefinition of marriage" does not necessarily mean "anti-gay" intentions are in play. That means I disagree with both yourself and GayPatriot, but to be perfectly clear, there are a great deal of anti-Gay Republicans, whereas there are far less anti-Gay Democrats.