An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times thinks there is a quiet change happening in the Republican Party when it comes to gay marriage:
As the “tea party‘s” outsider challenge to Republican Party orthodoxy grabs headlines, another, quieter revolution is unfolding inside the GOP. This rebellion has at its heart a truly surprising issue, one that could have long-term consequences for the party: gay and lesbian couples’ freedom to marry.
The latest evidence of this quiet revolution came with the release of the Republicans’ midterm-campaign “Pledge to America.” Though the pledge gives a perfunctory nod to “traditional marriage” (in a single line in a list of things, like “families,” that it supports ), explicit opposition to marriage for same-sex couples is conspicuous in its absence. The document never uses the word “gay” (or “homosexual”) — a stark contrast to past party platforms, which have made opposition to gay equality a centerpiece of their social agenda.
Is this an isolated development? After all, the 1994 “Contract With America” was also focused solely on fiscal issues and government reform. But in 2010, there is compelling evidence that the shift is deep, and possibly lasting.
The GOP, in large part, isn’t displaying its usual anti-gay election-year demagoguery, and not just in the “pledge.” As recently as 1995, a Republican-controlled Congress was holding hearings investigating “homosexual recruitment” and the “promotion” of homosexuality. During the George W. Bush administration, the party used its fervent opposition to marriage for gay and lesbian couples as a get-out-the-vote strategy, encouraging more than a dozen anti-gay state ballot initiatives geared at driving turnout in the 2004 election and engineering repeated efforts to pass an amendment to the Constitution. This year is the first election year in recent history in which anti-gay rhetoric has been significantly muted: No state is facing an anti-gay initiative on the ballot, and marriage has not been a focus of the national conservative agenda.
The opinion piece then goes on to list the number of conservatives that have come out in favor of gay marriage and the appearence of Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn at last month’s annual meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republican group.
So, what to make of all this, especially when we have stories of homophobes like Carl Paladino and Christine O’Donnell?
First, I think it’s interesting who wrote this article. Jon Cowan is the co-founder of Third Way, which a centrist Democratic think-tank. Evan Wolfson is the founder of the pro-gay marriage group, Freedom to Marry. It’s telling when a Democrat and the leader of a mainstream gay rights group, which tends to favor Democrats, are actually saying something good about the GOP when it comes to gay rights.
Second, I think this is a trend that the media has not focused on very much. We have seen folks that would we thought would never reach out to gays actually do so. However, such moves don’t get as much attention as say, Carl Paladino’s remark on gay marriage and gays.
Why? Because the media (as well as bloggers) have come to just expect that Republicans are anti-gay. Whenever some GOP candidate says something stupid on gay rights, watch how many hits those articles and blog posts get. It becomes major news on every major blog and news outlet. It has become common wisdom to believe that every Republican is anti-gay and no one ever questions that.
In the end, that’s lazy journalism. Journalists (and bloggers) are supposed to be asking questions that no one is asking, not simply following the herd. And yet, we do it all the time.
I can’t leave out bloggers because we are just as guilty. We make a big deal of the latest social conservative to say something homophobic, but we do little to praise or seek the conservative that is pro-gay.
Yes, we need to call out those hypocrites like Paladino. But we also need to praise folks like Ted Olson and Log Cabin for fighting the cause for gay rights.