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Steele: Civil Unions Are “Crazy”

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2009

Right wing radio host Mike Gallagher asked Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, “Is this a time when Republicans ought to consider some sort of alternative to redefining marriage and maybe in the road, down the road to civil unions. Do you favor civil unions?”

Steele’s response:

GOP Chairman Michael Steele

GOP Chairman Michael Steele

No, no no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy? No.Why would we backslide on a core, founding value of this country? I mean this isn’t something that you just kind of like, “Oh well, today I feel, you know, loosey-goosey on marriage.”

Comments

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Trevor
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Knuckle-dragging Conservative nit-wit! I called it weeks ago. I win.

Alex
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Wow, this idiot makes me feel ashamed to be a Marylander.

Bruce Garrett
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

I saw this coming. This is Steele. I saw it during the governor’s race he and Ehrlich won back in 2002. All that talk about reaching out to folks in his party that support gay rights was just something he put out there for the media rubes. He has no intention of moderating his party’s anti-gay planks. None whatsoever. He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with them. If anything, he just wants to put a moderate face on them. But not even that if it starts alienating the base.

Timothy Kincaid
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Ahem…

Those following the election of Steele will remember that Steele is not a moderate. He is not pro-gay. He is not in favor of marriage equality or civil unions.

What he is in favor of, unlike those who ran against him, is allowing equal standing in the Party to those who disagree with him.

homer
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

The founding values of our country included slavery…

Alex
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

…and not allowing women to vote.

Jason D
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Why is it that something as important as marriage, that is “one of the founding principles” of our country was never written down as such by those men in 1776?

And why, if Marriage was that important, did they need to start a new country? Marriage was arguably just as important to the British. Wasn’t freedom, and not being compelled to attend state sponsored religious services part of the deal?

Jim Burroway
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Re: What he is in favor of, unlike those who ran against him, is allowing equal standing in the Party to those who disagree with him.

Steele is now threatening to withhold campaign funds from GOP Senators who backed Obama’s stimulus package.

It looks to me that as far as Steele’s concerned, there’s no longer any room in the GOP for those who disagree with him.

John
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

I am really getting tired of this particular re-run. Predominantly white organization (in this case the GOP) puts forth an African American to promote anti-gay bigotry with the thought that it won’t be percieved as bigotry due the the fact that the person spouting the garbage is black. They think it gives them cover since a black guy is saying the same thing. I can’t wait to hear him mouth off on immigration issues.

It betrays a real ignorance about race issues if nothing else.

Swampfox
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

I had hopes for Steele……….I had hopes!

Jason D
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

This is Steele displaying the “new energy” “new ideas” and “inclusiveness” that Patrick Sammon of the LCR warned us about.

Good show.

Benjamin
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

What else do you expect from the Party of NO? Steele has little to no understanding or education on any of these important issues of LGBT equality. No worries, the party of No is the party of no Ideas and no substance. They are also the party of irrelevance so it would be best to just ignore Steele and others like him.

Dave
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Jim,

As much as I may disagree with Timothy on gay politics, I feel I must stick up for him here.

When Tim wrote,

What he is in favor of, unlike those who ran against him, is allowing equal standing in the Party to those who disagree with him,

he was referring, quite sensibly and truthfully, to Steele’s willingness to have open discussion and debate on gay issues within the GOP. Responses to Democratic spending measures weren’t part of the deal.

As for your assertions:

Steele is now threatening to withhold campaign funds from GOP Senators who backed Obama’s stimulus package.

It looks to me that as far as Steele’s concerned, there’s no longer any room in the GOP for those who disagree with him.

I’d say you’ve bitten off more than you can chew here. Steele made no threats and committed to nothing. Quoting Greg Sargent,

Steele was asked by Fox’s Neil Cavuto: “Will you, as RNC head, recommend no RNC funds being provided to help them?”

Steele confirmed that he would “talk to the state parties about.” When pressed on whether he was open to it, Steele said: “Oh, yes, I`m always open to everything, baby, absolutely.”

In what followed, Steele made clear he would take his lead from the state parties. To go from this to conclude that Steele thinks “there’s no longer any room in the GOP for those who disagree with him,” is absurd.

Attmay
February 24th, 2009 | LINK

Would he like it if gay organizations started using racial slurs? Because that’s what their position on marriage basically is the equivalent of.

tristram
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

“STEELE: Ok, but wait a minute. Is it going to — what is it? Is it going to you want the benefits or you want something else? If you want the benefits, there’s a little thing called contract law, you’ve got power of attorney. There’s a whole number of ways in which two individuals can care for each other and look out for each other without having to put the impramatur of marriage on their forehead.”

So the guy who couldn’t pass the bar exam is an authority on contract law?

Scott P.
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

A power of attorney can be ignored. just ask the survivors of Lisa Pond! NOTHING else has the power of marriage, so we should settle for nothing less!

Attmay
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

Actually, he does have a point. Civil unions are crazy. They undermined marriage in France, so there’s a way to give gays the benefits of marriage without undermining marriage.

It’s called gay marriage. And we need it now. And we will accept nothing less.

John
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

“So the guy who couldn’t pass the bar exam is an authority on contract law?”

You mean like the guy who couldn’t use Turbo Tax correctly is now Secretary of the Treasury? Couldn’t resist.

I must say though that I’m disappointed by Steele’s remarks. I expected him to be a social con but these comments do make me suspicious about how “open” he really is when it comes to Republicans who do not agree with his faction of the party on gay rights issues.

occono
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

Attmay, I believe some CU-supportive Conservatives might try excluding Civil Unions from Heteros under 65, like with Domestic Partnerships in California. (Which are more like New England/New Jersey Civil Unions then what Domestic Partnerships are in other states)
That’d avoid a France PACS theoretical situation in their mind.

Jim Burroway
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

Dave, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You have the most amazing capacity to argue that what someone said is not what someone said.

When Steele was asked about those who voted for Obama’s stimulus package, he had a choice on how to respond. He could have responded with what he said just a few weeks ago, about the GOP being a big tent and the need to allow for people in the big tent to disagree.

You know, the kind of thing that Reagan often said when he was asked about Connecticut Sen. Lowell Weicker. He often pointed out that the GOP was like a big family, that yes, people in a big family don’t always agree and often bicker, but in the end it’s still a family. The GOP, he often pointed out, was big enough and confident enough for these honest differences to be aired. That reaction was part and parcel of Reagan’s dictum of never speaking ill of another Republican.

You see, Steele could have been Reaganesque. He could have said something like that, or similar to what he said merely a few weeks ago.

But no, the Republican Party’s official National Leader held out the possibility — indeed the endorsement — of sanctioning those three Senators who voted on the stimulus package. Yes, he said that he’d that he’d “talk to the said parties about” it. But oh yes baby, he was definitely open to it.

When the National Leader of the Republican Party is willing to abdicate his leadership to speak so enthusiastically about retaliation rather than emulating Reagan — who all Republicans profess to revere — well, to pretend that he doesn’t think that retaliation is a swell idea is beyond absurd.

Dave
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

Dave, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You have the most amazing capacity to argue that what someone said is not what someone said.

It is with considerable bemusement that I read this accusation, Jim, as saying I said something other than what I said has been done to me more times on this blog than I can count.

I quoted from Steele more extensively than did you, so I don’t see how you feel you have the right to accuse me of saying Steele said something other than what he said.

Saying he is open to whatever the state Republican Parties wish to do vis-a-vis Senators Collin, Snowe, and Specter is decidedly not the same as saying “there’s no longer any room in the GOP for those who disagree with him.” It takes some gumption on your part to put words into Steele’s mouth and then accuse me of misrepresenting him when I attempt to correct the record.

As for your comparisons of Steele with Reagan, well Reagan was President. Steele is the head of the RNC. There is a big difference in those positions.

There is also a big difference between Weicker’s ineffective disagreement with Reagan and the GOP majority back in the 80′s and Collin, Snowe, and Specter making a possible a hugely expensive spending bill that directly contradicts the governmental and economic principles the GOP wants to stand for. You are comparing apples and pineapples.

If Steele came out and lead the charge to retaliate against these three senators, it wouldn’t mean he thinks there is no room in the GOP for anyone who disagrees with him on anything whatsoever — which is what you accused him of. It would only mean he thought these three senators deserved punishment for one particular action.

However, it isn’t clear from what he told Cavuto that he thinks “retaliation is a swell idea”; it is only clear that he will take his lead from the state parties on such retaliation as on other matters. Steele said,

My responsibility is to follow the lead of the state parties, to get their advice, what their intent is… we’ll follow their lead. It’s just like anything — when the state party says ‘we’re going to endorse a candidate and support a candidate,’ the RNC’s behind them. When the state party says ‘we have a problem with that candidate,’ so does the RNC.

You, as a gay activist, had a knee-jerk reaction to Steele’s civil unions comments. We’d get along better if you didn’t allow your antipathy to conservative politics get the better of you.

Jim Burroway
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

I’ll repeat again, Steele had a choice in how to respond. His choice spoke very loudly. If I read you right, you’re defending his choice to abdicate his leadership to those who would push for retaliation. “Oh, yes, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely” sounds very enthusiastic to me.

Once again, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

John
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

I think that it would be great for Steele to target Collins, Snowe and Spector. The Dems only need one more senate vote to be able to cut off debate. If Steele could give the Dems a filibuster proof majority, he could well go down as the absolutely worst Republican Party leader in history.

He might even be able to succeed by alienating these senators enough that they switch to the Democratic Party even before the next election.

It is always nice to see somone with the ambition and dedication to really make a difference out there.

Dave
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

If I read you right, you’re defending his choice to abdicate his leadership to those who would push for retaliation.

No, Jim, you aren’t reading me right. (This isn’t surprising as I’m seldom read correctly here.)

Steele doesn’t see himself as abidicating any leadership. He sees his proper role as RNC head to help the state parties do what they wish to do regarding any particular candidate.

What I am saying is I see no reason to argue with his position on what is proper for RNC leader.

In any event, as I said before, even if Steele were actively supporting retaliation against these three senators you would have no cause to go so far as to say “as far as Steele’s concerned, there’s no longer any room in the GOP for those who disagree with him.”

As for agreeing to disagree, that’s fine by me. But you could have taken this attitude before you accused me of having a “most amazing capacity to argue that what someone said is not what someone said.”

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