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Republican Party Resists Moving Further Anti-Gay

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2009

Most political pundits can take a glance at polling trends and predict that basing a party on conservative social policies is not a long-term winning strategy. But political parties, and those that direct them, don’t alway place logic, social change, or even the future viability of the party as a higher priority than entrenched ideology. And the Republican Party has been especially eager to hold firm to homophobic positions in the face of a decreasingly homophobic nation.

And today the Republican Party will make a decision about its future. It will choose a new leader and the choices represent either a sharp turn right, a stay the course, or a more moderate future social agenda.

None of the candidates can be considered advocates for gay equality. But one, Michael Steele, has illustrated an openness towards gay members and a common cause with some of those in the Party who are advocates for gay rights.

The voting isn’t over and the decision has not been made. However, reports are that the field has been narrowed to either the current chairman, Mike Duncan, or the more moderate selection, Steele (who appears to be in the lead). In either case, those who have build their identity on blatant and unabashed homophobia – including raging gay-hater Ken Blackwell – have now been eliminated. And that is a good thing for the gay community.

UPDATE:

Duncan has withdrawn his name. Steele is currently in the lead but does not have a majority.

UPDATE TWO: Michael Steele has won the chairmanship of the Republican Party. The former lieutenant governor of Maryland is also the Party’s first African-American to hold the position.

Steele has a difficult road ahead of him. He will be at the helm of a party that is shrinking in number, has control of no branch of government, and is fighting the perception of being old, white, and Southern. Steele will also oversee an inevitable fight between those who seek to keep the party the standard bearer for social conservatism and a permanent voice of dissent and those who seek to moderate social issues, reestablish fiscal principles and bring the Party into the 21st Century.

I wish Steele well and hope that he finds the wisdom to lead the party into an age of inclusion and away from sectarian dogma and social obstructionism. I hope he lives up to his opening comments:

“We’re going to say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us, and for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over”

Comments

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Lindoro
January 30th, 2009 | LINK

Steele won on the 6th round of voting. Let’s hope he will be able to bring the part from the radical hatred that it embraced the last couple of years

Leonard Drake
January 30th, 2009 | LINK

Michael Steele has been elected with, I believe, 95 votes.

Jayelle
January 30th, 2009 | LINK

Maybe some people in the Republican Party are finally getting it.

Swampfox
January 30th, 2009 | LINK

I am glad that he has been elected. And, I can only pray that the Republican Party decides to become less tolerant to the anti-gay community.

quo III
January 31st, 2009 | LINK

“Resists Moving Further Anti-Gay” does not make sense in English. I really don’t know what it means to “move” further anti-gay. Where would one put it?

Zack
January 31st, 2009 | LINK

“We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us, and for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over” sounds disturbingly like “it’s my way or the highway”. If so, then we’re not seeing a huge shift away from their past policies. I remain skeptical.

Bruce Garrett
January 31st, 2009 | LINK

Steele is no friend to gay people. I live in Maryland, and I watched his campaigns during the Governor’s race in 2002, when he was Robert Ehrlich’s choice for Lieutenant Governor, and again his Senate campaign in 2006.

In 2006 he made his opposition to same-sex marriage a big part of his campaign locally, and supported a state amendment banning it, along with civil unions. But the really telling moment for me was back in 2002, when he and Ehrlich were running against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In March of that year, Maryland’s gay community witnessed a horror at Maryland Shock Trauma, which barred William Robert Flanigan Jr. from his dying partner’s bedside, saying he was not “family”, and that “partners” did not qualify, even though he had power of attorney. Asked during the campaign about extending state anti-discrimination laws to include gay people, Steele =instantly= replied that there were already enough laws on the books protecting “gay white men”.

I wish I had a link for that but I don’t, but I remember it vividly. Also the outrage on the gay listserves I was on at the time. Steele took a question about sexual orientation, and turned it into a question about race and white privilege. And he did it reflexively. It just came right out of the man.

Steele puts his opposition to same-sex marriage firmly in a religious context. He uses the same rhetoric about marriage not being a human institution, but a God ordained one, that other religious right figures use. It’s a safe bet that will not even attempt to budge his party inch on granting same-sex couples any respect in the eyes of the law. If anything, he’ll try to harden attitudes on that issue even more. But where you really see the man in my opinion, was in 2002 when he was even opposed to including gay citizens in the state’s anti-discrimination laws, and he voiced his opposition to that in a way that turned it into an issue of race.

Let let it be said his running mate, Ehrlich, after winning the election, vetoed a very minimalist partner’s registry bill that would have given same-sex couples hospital visitation rights. If there was any difference in attitude between the two men toward gay citizens, you never saw it in public the entire time they held office together. If all that’s being said now is that Steele is no Sally Kern, that’s not saying anything.

Bruce Garrett
January 31st, 2009 | LINK

On the other hand…over at Pam’s House Blend I just saw a post about how David Duke is having an absolute cow about this…so it’s not all bad…

Trevor
February 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Sorry folks he’s just as much of a cave-dweller asthe rest of the Republican party. They ONLY picked Steele because he’s black and they just down understand why Obama was elected.

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