Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
We’ve heard a lot about Obama’s expression of his personal support for marriage equality, and a good bit about the growing number of Dems calling for a marriage equality plank. But what have Mitt and the Republicans been up to?
One good round-up of some recent GOP reactions to Queerdom comes from Think Progress, in GOP Doubles Down On Anti-Gay Agenda.
The list includes Romney’s 24 hour “flip-flop” from support to non-support for same-gender couples adopting, and his speaking at conservative Liberty University. While not on this list, there was also the disclosure of Romney’s youthful days of what today would be called bullying – the target was a student who was assumed to be gay. Romney didn’t defend the action, but he did talk about those days as when he played “pranks.”
Other GOP-ers made their current anti-LGBT positions quite clear. Frank McNulty, Speaker of the Colorado House, “killed” a civil union bill. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had called a special session for the bill that had “strong bipartisan support.”
Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) said that it should be OK to fire people just for being gay, because he says being gay is a choice … .
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an anti-gay joke about the president that was too offensive for even anti-gay crusder (sic) Tony Perkins … .
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) denied that workplace discrimination against LGBT people, which is legal in 29 states, even exists … .
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), who voted against a bill to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination (ENDA), mistakenly claims that ENDA is already the law … .
Meanwhile, contrary to an earlier U.S. Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Act which included LGBT victims of domestic violence, and in face of a threatened veto by Obama, the House approved (221 to 205) a version which removed LGBTs, but retained the Senate addition of immigrants and Native Americans.
Prior to the vote, R. Clarke Cooper of Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement urging that the non-inclusive VAWA bill be rejected, noting.
… at least three Republican representatives tried to push for inclusion of LGBT provisions. They include Judy Biggert and Bob Dold of Illinois, and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. …
An indication of that change is seen in a memo circulated by Jan van Lohuizen, a respected Republican pollster. According to Politico, the memo was sent to “Republican operatives,” including candidates. Lohuizen notes that “support for same sex marriage has been growing” in the “last few years … at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down.” He adds that the increasing support “is taking place among all partisan groups.” The support is greater among Democrats, he says, but
… Polling conducted among Republicans show that majorities of Republicans and Republican leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians.
That support includes protections related to employment, bullying and harassment, hospital visitation, “legal protection of some form” for same-gender couples, and the repeal of DADT. The list is followed by a very interesting recommendation of how to express these developments:
‘People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle … will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples … . People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.’
There’s more that points to the same thing. It’s slow, it’s far from all-encompassing, but there is what a McClatchy article terms a
… quiet transformation … taking place in the Republican Party, which has begun to embrace openly gay candidates – and among gay Republicans, who now feel more comfortable speaking out in a party that may have accepted them but didn’t always show it.
While differences still exist, the party is on the cusp of a generational shift in which the longtime foes of gay rights are replaced by younger party leaders who are more accepting.
‘It’s an exponential change from a few years ago,’ said former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe. …
Kolbe, who represented the southeast corner of Arizona from 1985 to 2007, was one of only two openly gay Republicans ever to serve in Congress.
Kolbe predicts that “at least one gay Republican for Congress” will be elected this year. One possibility is Richard Tisei, Massachusetts, running for the state’s 6th Congressional District. Tisei openly disagrees with the party platform, and supports marriage equality. In spite of that, the National Republican Congressional Committee “has designated Tisei as a ‘Young Gun,’ meaning he’s on the national party’s radar and can expect to get more resources for his campaign. …”
The McClatchy piece correctly notes that Democratic Electeds don’t always vote in favor of LGBT rights. Fifteen House Democrats voted to keep DADT in place, while fifteen Republican House members and eight Republican members of the Senate voted to end DADT. Four Republican Representatives and three Senator “are co-sponsors” of ENDA. And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) supports repealing DOMA.
Of course, the 27 co-sponsors in the House of a federal constitutional marriage definition amendment are all Republicans.
The outcry regarding Obama’s profession of personal support for marriage equality was loudest from organizations like the Family Research Council. As the McClatchy articles notes, “Republican leaders were more muted,” including Romney and House Speaker Boehner.
I’ve seen no one claiming that the Republican Party is ready to celebrate Pride next month. But changes are happening. One more time: hats off to the grassroots advocates who make such changes something people on Right and Left can believe in, even if gradually.
(Darwin Gradual Change poster via Laughing Squid)