Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

In signs of election year politics the Lesbian PAC and Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry were recently launched. For a bit of LGBT related political context, see Gay Rights Supplants Abortion as Major Platform Battle:

Family Research Council Action, a leading crusader for social conservative values, is sounding the alarm: Support for gay marriage is creeping dangerously close to the Republican platform.

Also, The Advocate’s “Romney’s Potential Veeps: How Antigay Are They?”

About Lesbian PAC, announced on July 11:

Today a group of activists and donors launched LPAC, the first of its kind lesbian political action committee. …

“˜… we created LPAC because we were shocked by this past year,’ said LPAC Chair and Treasurer Sarah Schmidt. “˜Lesbians could no longer stand by and witness continued attacks on reproductive freedoms, marriage equality, and be immersed in a political sphere where women are not given a meaningful voice in politics.’

… LPAC will support candidates who champion a range of issues that impact lesbians and their families, Democrat or Republican, male or female, gay or straight. These values include:
– Ending discriminatory treatment of … LGBT … individuals and their families;
– Protecting access to reproductive freedom and quality healthcare; and,
– Furthering social, racial, and economic justice for all Americans.

You can see the list of the LPAC Advisory Board at the same link. The Washington Post headlines its article, “High-powered lesbians launch first-of-its-kind super PAC … ,” which seems a fair description. The WaPo piece begins:

As a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, her politically active family’s sole Democrat, and a sister with three brothers, Laura Ricketts is comfortable being the odd woman out.

But it has not escaped her notice that lesbians such as her are in the minority at political events for gay donors, whether it’s a White House reception or a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who hopes to become the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.

A qualifier: “lesbians such as her” have a significantly greater chance of being at a WH reception than most of us. But it’s also accurate to say there is a greater presence of gay men than lesbians at such “high-powered” events, mirroring gender discrepancies in general. John Aravosis, at America Blog Gay addresses the inevitable gender questioning:

Sounds like a good, novel idea. Though I wonder what would happen if a bunch of gay men got together and launched a gay male PAC.

It isn’t an unfair question, but it might be a bit out of touch with the male to female ratio present, for example, among Electeds. And the use of the word “novel” is … interesting. I wish Lesbian PAC was unnecessary, both from the gender and LGBT equality perspective. But reality says differently. As LPAC’s Sarah Schmidt writes:

After decades of being a small subset of players in both women’s … and LGBT rights political efforts, with LPAC lesbians now have an organized way to engage in a significant way.

Note the focus is on “women’s rights,” not exclusively on lesbian rights. They talk about working with other organizations, LGBT and otherwise, toward shared goals. Something similar happened that lead to the creation of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. At Autostraddle:

The idea for the campaign arose from meetings last year that Freedom to Marry hosted with conservatives and libertarians. It was made clear in those meetings that young conservatives are increasingly in support of marriage equality.

They actually talked. What a concept. Freedom to Marry was begun in 2003, by Evan Wolfson, and is a nationwide campaign to win marriage equality. This organization included “young conservatives” in conversation, and so the Young Conservatives Campaign is up and running.

Public opinion polls demonstrate that young Republicans, Libertarians, and others who identify as conservatives are increasingly favoring the freedom to marry for all couples. In May, a poll from The Washington Post and ABC News indicated that 46% of self-identified Republicans ages 18-44 support the freedom to marry, and the rate of increase accelerates every year. …

See the list of leadership committee members at the link above.

An Advocate piece provides further indications of conservative shifts.

A Republican-controlled legislature in New Hampshire defeated an attempt to repeal the state’s marriage equality law in March, while last year, the New York state senate became the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a marriage equality law. Since then, marriage equality laws have passed with bipartisan support in Washington and Maryland … . In addition, Paul Singer, a … major Republican fund-raiser, recently created a super PAC to support GOP lawmakers who back marriage equality. …

And from The Daily Beast:

Given the way George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign demagogued against gay marriage, it’s amazing to contemplate how many prominent figures from the Bush team now support it. Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and John Bolton all back marriage equality. Ted Olson … is now at least as well known for fighting California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 as he was for litigating Bush v. Gore. Ken Mehlman, Bush’s 2004 campaign manager, came out of the closet in 2010 and now limits his political activities to championing gay rights.

The article goes on to talk about the “fissure” that is “opening in the GOP,” but also notes that a “majority of Republicans continue to oppose marriage equality.” It’s a process. It takes time. And time is something the “young conservatives” have, more so than the slowly but steadily declining numbers of Republicans who continue to oppose LGBT equality. The “fissure” shows up in multiple ways, as a HuffPo post indicates: “Young Conservatives Rally For Same-Sex Marriage, Remain Unsure On Romney.”

Fundamentally, both LPAC and the Young Conservative campaign are politics as usual, but with some less than “usual” players and positions. One other story to check out, which is also politics as usual, but with an unusual twist: at Buzzfeed, “Cantor Urges Tolerance On Gays, Muslims.”

(LPAC Logo via LPAC
LPAC Poster via LPAC
Young Conservatives For Freedom to Marry Logo via Young Conservatives)