Tag Archives: gay rights

Battle of the Gay Conservatives

Frum Forum’s Jeb Gonklin wrote a great post a while back on the differences between the two gay conservative groups: Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud.  Since I’ve been involved with Log Cabin for almost a decade, my sympathies lie with them.  Gonklin does a good job of describing what both groups have done in the last year, and Gonklin seems to have little good to say about GOProud.  Regarding the latest controversy regarding the Conservative Political Action Conference and GOProud’s role, Gonklin has this to say:

Conservatives tolerate GOproud precisely because they know the group won’t actually push them to address substantive issues involving gay rights.  GOProud’s motto might as well be: “Gays should not ask what the Republican Party can do for them. Gays should ask what they can do for the Republican Party.” But for those gay conservatives who would like their organization to speak for their own interests too, little is to be gained at an event like CPAC.  LCR realizes, I suspect, that it doesn’t need to fight such public wars as the tides of progress flow in a pro-gay direction. LCR’S absence from CPAC is a sign of LCR’s strength. GOProud may have provoked social conservatives into a petulant and self-destructive display, but CPAC remains as hostile as ever to a gay civil rights agenda. GOProud’s participation does nothing to correct that offense.

Gonklin’s post might come off as a bit strong, but I also think he’s on to something here.  GOProud has done a lot of big, spalshy events, like Homocon, but they have done little when it comes to advancing gay rights.  On the other hand, Log Cabin was very involved with trying to get “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repealed.

In a 2009 column, I had this to say about the inception of GOProud:

Does Log Cabin have problems? Yes. I disagree with the support for Hate Crimes legislation, which I disagree with on philosophical grounds. I also think they should have spoken more forcefully when gay GOP staffers were being outed. But that said, on the whole, this group has been a good organization showing that one can be gay and conservative.

As for all this talk about how Log Cabin has become “liberal?” Pure bunk. Please tell me, what is “liberal” about wanting the right to civil marriage, or the right to not be fired from your job because you are gay? What is “liberal” about wanting to serve in our military? The “liberal” term is used by those who are more interested in a “small tent” GOP, than in creating a movement and working to make the party that we love a more tolerant and welcoming party. Just because I believe in that doesn’t make me accept single-payer health care…

I could be wrong since the group’s purposes have not been released yet, but I fear that GOProud will be a group of gay Republicans not so interested in making society and our own party, more tolerant of gays, than it is about preserving the status quo. It’s interested in rallying around the GOP as it currently is and adding a dash of gayness to it. So they will promote the current GOP agenda, but do very little to change it. If that is there agenda, they are welcome to it, but I will remain with Log Cabin, imperfect as it is. My African American heritage and my upbringing in the Black church remind me that one must fight for their rights and that is what Log Cabin does.

It seems that my predictions came true.  GOProud has really done little to advance gay rights.  Last year during the California primary for Senate, they decided to attack gay-friendly candidate Tom Campbell, who they deemed as too liberal, and supported Carly Fiorina, who was supported by the anti-gay marriage National Organization for Marriage.

I know I’m biased, but I think Log Cabin will have a more lasting impact on gay rights and in making conservatism more inclusive than GOProud ever will.

The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I’m sorry I didn’t get to this sooner: I was out of town overnight for a family celebration.  It’s is a great thing to say that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the ban on gays serving openly in the military is basically dead.  It’s another step in the march towards equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Being a Republican, I do think thanks are in order for the six Republican Senators who voted for fairness, especially Maine Senator Susan Collins who worked hard to get the DADT repeal to come to a vote.

Reasonable Voters, Radical Pols

Blogger Jay Bookman says that at least according to Gallup, Republican voters are pretty “reasonable,” but it’s the pols in Washington that are radical.  His last paragraph is the kicker:

In other words, it’s not merely that Washington Republicans won’t compromise with Democrats. They won’t compromise even with their own voters. The national party is in the grip of radicals who accept no deviation from the approved party line, and who demonstrate no tolerance for the broader, more reasonable range of opinions that exists within the Republican electorate they claim to represent.

The takeaway from this blog post is supposed to be that Washington Republicans who are “radicals” need to listen to their more “reasonable” voters. 

On the surface, there is some truth to that, but that’s only if you have a very simple view of party politics.  But I think Bookman leaves out a lot of factors that has made Washington pols more conservative than their supposed electorate.  Continue reading

Log Cabin, Collins, Reid and DADT

A Press release from Log Cabin Republicans on lifting the ban on gays and lesbians in the military:

 Log Cabin Republicans call upon the Senate Majority Leader to follow through on promises to bring the National Defense Authorization Act to the floor with enough time for a fair and reasonable debate.

“Several Republicans, including Senators Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski have made it clear that they are ready to support repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Now it is up to the Majority Leader to make that possible by dealing with the tax issue and moving swiftly to a debate on defense authorization,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Senator Susan Collins has presented the majority leader with a plan that is entirely reasonable, accepting the Majority Leader’s suggested number of amendments and simply asking for four days time to debate this complicated and consequential bill. There has been no response from the majority leader. “ Read on

Twilight for John McCain

I’ve tried to be somewhat  judicious in my criticism of John McCain’s transformation into Jesse Helms. That’s partially because I don’t see the value of getting mad at him and partially because I’ve always been a bit cautious of him.

That said, I think blogger Jonathan Rauch is correct when he says this:

Back in 2006, when John McCain was still John McCain, he said that the time to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would be when military leaders called for repeal. Then, when military leaders called for repeal, he demanded a full study of the consequences.

Now the study is done and the military leadership still wants repeal, and McCain has moved the goalposts. They need to think the matter over another year. Then we can talk.

PolitiFact.com excavates the record and rates McCain’s position a “full flip-flop.” What a shabby sunset to a great career. And what a sad comparison to the man whose Senate seat McCain occupies, a fellow named Barry Goldwater.

Indeed.  I can understand some of the subtle shifting of his policies when he was running for the presidency and for the GOP Senate primary earlier in the year.  I understand politics and how pols have to meld their positions to fit the electorate. 

But I he’s not running anymore.  Unless he plans on running again in 2016 for another Senate term, I  guess he is pretty safe in his seat.  So is he block the way of progress on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

It is sad and fascinating to see this transformation happen.  I don’t think we will know until after McCain dies why he has made these changes.

All told, it is a shabby end to a political career.  The sad thing is when he does pass from the scene, he won’t be remembered fondly by anyone.  Conservatives never trusted him and see him as a squish, and liberals and moderates will now see him as a “Judas,” a betrayer.

It’s sad to say that I’ve lost  respect for the man.

Moderate Republican Voters Want DADT Repealed

From Greg Sargent:

As you’ve heard by now, the fate of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rests in the hands of a few moderate Republican Senators. With Senator John McCain continuing to threaten a filibuster of DADT repeal, only support from a handful of moderates, such as Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Dick Lugar and possibly John Ensign, will be enough to make repeal a reality.

Maybe someone should tell these moderate GOP officials that according to the internals of the new Pew poll, moderate Republican rank-and-filers strongly favor DADT’s repeal. Indeed, the only group that opposes repeal are conservative Republicans.

The Pew poll finds that Republicans overall are closely divided on DADT repeal, 40-44. But the breakdown of Republicans is striking. It finds that “moderate” and “liberal” Republicans strongly favor repeal, 62-26. The only reason Republicans are closely divided at all is because conservative Republicans oppose it, 28-52.

This becomes even more pronounced when you factor in Republicans and Republican “leaners.” It turns out that this group favors repeal of DADT, 44-39. And the only subset of this group who oppose repeal are those who support the Tea Party: They are against repeal 38-48.

By the way, independents overall also strongly favor repeal, 62-23.

My hope is that enough moderate GOP voters write to those moderate Senators asking that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell go the way the dodo.

Military Recruiters Can Accept Openly Gay Applicants

This is a good sign:

The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, given the recent federal court decision that bars the military from expelling openly gay service members, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The guidance from the Personnel and Readiness office was sent to recruiting commands on Friday, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits he or she is openly gay, and qualify under normal recruiting guidelines, their application can be processed. Recruiters are not allowed to ask candidates if they are gay as part of the application process.

The notice also reminded recruiters that they have to “manage expectations” of applicants by informing them that a reversal of the court decision might occur, whereby the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy could be reinstated, Smith said.

Republican Evolution on Gay Marriage?

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? 

Two things.

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.