37 responses

  1. Stephen
    August 27, 2010

    I’m more inclined to think that they reckon they can pick off some Democratic votes. They clearly care nothing about the economy and have no plan nor seem to feel any need to develop one. More to the point is that, like immigration reform, it is in their interest not to allow any resolution. They have nothing else to campaign on apart from social issues and I doubt they’ll let them fade away. Perhaps there is something we don’t know that prompted Mehlman’s actions?

  2. truthteller
    August 27, 2010

    I think the reason the Republicans have been mostly silent on gays is because they already have another group to scapegoat this season, the Mexicans.

    These people know accusing two minorities of wanting to destroy America, at the same time, will dilute their message and reveal them for the crazies that they are, so they stay focused and continue their present strategy.

  3. Jason D
    August 27, 2010

    the official party platform hasn’t been changed, though, has it Tim? I see the trend too, but I agree you’re a little premature. It’s encouraging, but don’t break out your glowsticks yet.

  4. TampaZeke
    August 27, 2010

    “…some will be furious with me for daring to suggest that their favorite boogieman may no longer be lurking under their bed.”

    How unbelievably offensive that statement is. “Boogieman”, as even you acknowledged, is a term used make fun of people who have an irrational fear of a non-existent threat (ie the “boogieman” under the bed).

    How can you insult gay people by insinuating that our fear and loathing of the Republican Party has been irrational based on a non-existent threat?

    And how about that new Republican Platform in Texas?

    After November the two parties will begin building their platforms for the 2012 elections. Why don’t we wait and see what the Republican National and State platforms look like before we go making outrageous claims about the demise of homophobic policy in the Republican Party.

  5. Everett
    August 27, 2010

    I generally agree with you Mr. Kincaid, although I do think some Republicans in certain conservative state and local races will use gay rights issues as a mean of drumming up financial support, if not votes.

    What saddens me is that it seems some on the right-wing are just moving from politically bashing gays to politically bashing illegal immigrants and Muslims in this country. It really troubles me that there are people out there still banking on prejudices and bigotry, even if it may no longer be fully directed at GLBTs.

    I also wanted to say, that republicans essentially did all that could to gay and lesbian people in 2004 and 2006 when they enshrined anti-gay marriage language into most states’ constitutions, and after realizing that the Federal Marriage Amendment was dead in the water. What more can they do to GLBTs politically and legally? I think the only way gay rights issues become a critical political issue again is if anti-gay marriage laws are declared unconstitutional in all (or a large section) of the country. And even then, the issue may only be politically salient to some heterosexuals and only for an election cycle or two.

  6. Cooner
    August 27, 2010

    Ditto the comments above. It’s well and good that a few individual Republicans can voice their support without reprimand (and it would seem that many of them seem to be already secure in their position or not facing primary challenges at the ballot box). I’ll wait and see when they start actually changing those party platforms to remove those anti-gay planks from their official positions.

    Besides, I have plenty of arguments with the modern Republican party both in principle and in practice. In man ways their anti-gay activities are one of the least of my concerns. ;)

  7. Soren456
    August 27, 2010

    Maybe. But I sure wouldn’t call it a “turning point.” As Everett says above, they’re still banking on prejudice and bigotry.

    Frankly, I think turning points occur only when minds are changed, and because Republicans are still fully involved in demagoguery and fear dealing, I don’t see changed minds in the party; we’re merely out of fashion in their circles. If ever we can be of use to them again, we’ll be back in their sights. Count on it.

    Even so, polls show a turn in the country itself and Republicans, though shrill and tone-deaf themselves, notice such things. That’s all that the drop in rhetoric means: the vogue has changed; we’re dated goods.

    If we subscribe to the idea/fact that we’re all in this together, we can’t feel relief. The gunsights are still aimed, just not so much on us. But since we know what happens to lives lived in the aim of these people, we need to affirm again what our higher aspirations are, as people in the world with other people.

    On those terms, I can’t see that there’s been a turning.

  8. Lindoro Almaviva
    August 27, 2010

    well, I think the only reason this is happening is because the republican party has found another boogie man, and I’ll call them the Republican’s M&M’s: Muslims and Mexicans. it is all to easy to throw the evils of the society on a group of people who 1. is too easy to accuse of terrorism and still be seen as patriotic and NOT xenophobic and 2. it is still cool to throw racist remarks about Mexicans and “illegal immigrants” since there is still a large part of the American population that lives their life afraid of strangers that are not white.

    The Republican party might have abandoned homophobia for the most part, but has embraced xenophobia and racism instead. Kind of subbing meth for cocaine…

  9. David Wood
    August 27, 2010

    I believe there is devilish strategy at work and many of these factors point to it. The latest is Mehlman’s coming out! He is just Karl Rove’s gay-boy sent out to help SPLIT THE GAY VOTE against President Obama. It’s happening everywhere as republicans find the public opinion has changed. One more insidious way they will try to win at any cost.

  10. Riva
    August 27, 2010

    Call me self-absorbed, but as long as the Texas GOP platform stands, I will continue to view the GOP as both the boogiemen under the bed (how quaint) and drunken fool speeding down the highway.

  11. RWG
    August 27, 2010

    Perhaps true Mr Kincaid; one can hope. I think this can be attributed to 1)Jerry Falwell is dead, 2) Pat Robertson has blamed one too many hurricanes on the queers and 3)Ralph Reed is more concerned with staying out of jail than peeping into bedrooms. Besides, most of the GOP have at least one gay son or daughter, and the wife wants a wedding, dammit, gay or otherwise. That, and the fact that they are crafting ways to garner new sources of campaign contributions. It’s all about the campaign contributions…Constitutional principles be damned!

  12. Lucrece
    August 27, 2010

    The House Republicans 99% vote “Nay” on DADT repeal says hello to this essay.

    Turning point, ha! More like stagger. It will be a long, long, long time before the GOP can seek to gain the gay vote.

    This will play down just like blacks do with Democrats. Communities remember who voted against them.

  13. Uki
    August 27, 2010

    Changing? I don’t think it is a problem of changing opinions within the Republicans. I think it’s because those who are supporting gay rights within Republicans have becoming more visible and more open about it.

    I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of Republicans out there who are for gay rights, but used to be so afraid saying it, because it would make them feel left out.

    It’s kinda like what they say that there are more gay people today than a few decades ago. It’s not that we are increasing, we are just more visible than ever before.

    And I think, this is the same case as well. Not changing of opinions, but rather, something that has already been existed, just more visible than ever before.

  14. Uki
    August 27, 2010

    “And also, it goes without saying that some will be furious with me for daring to suggest that their favorite boogieman may no longer be lurking under their bed.”

    Well, of course they will be angry :P I mean….who wants to hear that the people they hated the most, could actually have the chance to do good and not against them.

    They want to keep the enemy to stay as an enemy. Because the adrenaline rush when hating something, is something that feels good =)

  15. Uki
    August 27, 2010

    oh, btw, Tim, this isn’t something exactly new.

    The British already have a similar situation a few months ago. Where the conservative party, the Tory, was advancing more gay friendly and marriage equality policies than the other parties. Maybe later you could make such comparison.

  16. Ray
    August 27, 2010

    I’m a Myers-Briggs INFJ. Intuition is my strong suit. I started getting this same sense of the GOP a couple of weeks ago so I agree with you, Timothy, but I can’t say it’s for the reasons you cite. I don’t keep records like you do. I collect feelings about the big picture and I’ve got a high batting average.

    I work on marriage equality at the ground level and a couple of weeks ago I had the shocking experience of having strident anti-marriage people say to me that I had changed their minds. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I started talking to them like “normal” people whose lives I cared about.

    I’m a conservative and I use Andrew Sullivan’s talking points to speak to conservatives. I assert that is is a core conservative value to embrace equality for all Americans and guess what; I can’t recall ever getting an argument on that. It has a way of stopping a conversation in its tracks. If you know what the core values of conservatives are, you can speak to conservatives in their own language and they hear you better.

  17. Ryan
    August 28, 2010

    The Boogeyman comment is a little rude, no? Are you suggesting the Republicans were an imagined threat to gays all this time? I think we’re a long way off from a true turning point. And I see no value in forgiving and forgetting anyway. Let’s see how they behave the next time they’re in charge, and their backs are against the wall in an upcoming Election. Then we’ll see if the Rovian tricks come out. If they do ever really change on gay rights, say 50 or 60 years down the line, guaranteed they’ll try to claim they were the pro-gay party all along.

  18. Jafuf
    August 28, 2010

    Personally I care about as much what a political party may think of me as I do a church.

  19. Ryan
    August 28, 2010

    Really? It’s not what they think about you, it’s what they do. A political party has a hell of a lot of influence over your life, even more than the church, even though they’re pretty intertwined.

  20. Priya Lynn
    August 28, 2010

    Timothy said “As Proposition 8 was overturned without a peep from nearly every prominent Republican, I was frankly surprised.”.

    So was I. I thought for sure the Republicans would be screaming spittle flecked rants for a federal anti-marriage amendment.

    David said “The latest is Mehlman’s coming out! He is just Karl Rove’s gay-boy sent out to help SPLIT THE GAY VOTE against President Obama.”.

    Precious few gays who typically vote Democrat are going to switch sides and vote Republican at this point.

  21. Willie Hewes
    August 28, 2010

    I agree with the commentors who said

    a) this is strategic
    b) this is because they have other groups now that scare people more effectively.

    They’re still playing the same fearmongering games. Same shit, different flavour.

    But yes, nice for the LGBTs. I don’t think it’s too early to call it a trend, I do think it’s too early to count on it staying steady.

  22. Ben in Oakland
    August 28, 2010

    The republicans have more to answer for than just their antigay policies. Large government, runaway deficits, intrusuion into private decsions, and two wars.

    The dems have more to answer for than being spineless and sorta pro-gay.

    I wish we had soem viable third parties. I don’t see much hope for the country if we don’t.

  23. customartist
    August 28, 2010

    Republicans overlap with Religious Groups. They are not distinct. Both support the other.

    When something, any issue, is unpopular, this does not mean that they, Republicans, are not funding initiatives against us. It only means that they are keeping their activities covert, or in the name of another group; reference huge Mormon initiatives condicted under the guise of the National Organozation for Marriage, and The Family’s involvement in Ughandan Legislation comprised predominantly by our very own Congressmen and Senators.

    To indicate that Republicans may have some redeeming qualitits because they may support SOME of our rights but not Marriage, is not different than doing the same for Blacks, or for any other group. Marriage is essential to our complete equality.

    Without lessening the importance of the emotional aspects, Marriage very importantly includes Financial Security and Political Power, as a result of Federal Recognition, and this is beneficial to the Entire LGBT community, even though all members may not personally care to enter into marriage. Marriage benefits all LGBTs.

    Ryan is exactly correct. Forgiveness comes with genuine reversal of conduct, not by fained nor incidental lapses in ingrained policy. Nothing significant has changes with the Republican Party line, nor with their Consituents, and even if greater approval does come at some point in the future, it will be only in their own political interests, not out of genuine concern for LGBTs.

    Republicans have sent jobs overseas for decades, they want continuing lesser taxes for wealthier Americans, and they perpetually obstruct even the best of Congressional initiatives in an effort to twart the perception of Democratic accomplishment. This is NOT in the best interest of the People.

    I will never, ever vote Republican.

  24. cd
    August 28, 2010

    I agree with Timothy, though the timing may not be entirely clear. The elites of the Republican Party are well known to generally be pretty socially liberal in private life though they obviously have had to give good lip service to the reactionaries in the ‘base’. See for example all the contradictory stuff Dick, Lynne, and Mary Cheney have said the past couple of years after their “outrage” at Kerry’s reference to their hypocrisy in 2004. Or Bush Sr.’s response about abortion when asked what would happen if there were an unintended pregnancy in his family.

    It all goes back to Russell Kirk’s definition of conservatism as “an attitude”, which is an admission that it’s a pose derived from unmet needs and sentiments- a skepticism of liberalism- rather than an actually coherent scheme of thought and action.

    The GOP is indeed changing. The Reagan-Bush era party that is about the restoration of Mayberry and the Religious Right’s vision of a White Christian America is receding. Now it’s going back to its historical roots as the anti-social democracy party, though that’s not necessarily more morally solvent or a winning proposition. But it gets them through until the Silent Generationers and enough Boomers are gone and that becomes a minority view, in about ten years.

  25. Jim Burroway
    August 28, 2010

    The turning point is one of details, not of substance. The Republican Party is known for two things: Finding vulnerable people to exploit as wedges issues, and message discipline. They have targeted Latinos and Muslims as the wedge issues of the day, and because they see an opportunity in stoking those bigotries, they see no reason to detract from those messages to go after the gays. People are much less likely today to personally know someone who’s Muslim or an immigrant than they are to know someone who’s gay.

    I know it feels good to notice with relief that a bully is no longer beating you up and has moved on to beating up someone else. But the bully is still a bully, and he’s not changing a position for the sake of principle, but shifting how he uses his fists for the sake of power.

  26. Rob in San Diego
    August 28, 2010

    The current state of the Republicans is the Tea Party movement. They are all concerned about smaller government and fiscal responsibility. The former group of the republicans for the last decade has been the “we must save Terri Schiavo and get the government into the personal lives of Americans”. No, that group is being sequestered right now.

    Todays Republicans are worried about Mexicans being illegal, Muslims building Mosques, and saying NO to everything Obama does.

  27. John in the Bay Area
    August 28, 2010

    Timothy,

    In some ways, this less antagonistic approach towards gays by some Republicans may have more to do with Democrats than Republicans.

    Democrats have done a great deal over the last year and a half to alienate gay supporters. They almost seem to go out of their way to piss gays off.

    Republicans don’t have to offer anything to conservative gays to peal off some voters. All they need to do is not directly and blatantly offend these voters. Gays who only supported the Democrats for equality reasons who come to the conclusion that neither party is going to do anything of substance to bring about equality may decide to hold their noses and vote for a Republican. After all, the Democrats (in particular the President) are doing nothing to encourage gays to vote for them.

    It may be a shift, but I don’t think the shift is towards equality. I think the shift may be more towards not aggravating tensions, so that gays can concentrate on their anger towards the Democrats who have in large part betrayed them.

  28. writerJerome
    August 28, 2010

    Here’s a chilling thought: If the radical Right sees themselves being deserted by the GOP, we may see the shrinking number of rabid anti-gays get more desperate and violent.
    When anti-choice protestors lost their court cases and the court of public opinion, a few took the law into their own hands and took up guns. As a reporter I covered the “pro-life” killers who killed innocent people in the name of God.
    I see many similarities now, especially as so many Tea Party darlings ratchet up the “reload” rhetoric.
    The good news is that such people cannot ultimately win. The bad news is that they will hurt innocent people.

  29. Soren456
    August 28, 2010

    @writerJerome:

    I think the situation is explosive, as you seem to say.

    The rhetoric of the right is absolutely irresponsible and completely unchecked. There are no boundaries to it.

    Terms like “reload” and phrases like “second-amendment remedies” and “take out Harry Reid” (in the same sentence!) are not mere words. In the right ears, they are permission to act.

    It is the sense of permission, which grows each time the words are repeated, that threatens all of us in the rightwing gunsights. Unfortunately, the disingenuous cowards who use those words will admit, when violence erupts, no responsibility for the result. And they will go right ahead using them.

    Our political discourse today is from the bottom of the barrel.

  30. Richard Rush
    August 28, 2010

    I’ve always thought of the Republican Party as primarily existing to benefit the wealthiest Americans. But they have a problem, and that is there have never been enough wealthy Americans to win elections. Therefore they’ve had to appeal to people who can be persuaded to vote against there own self-interest. So the coalition with Super Christians seemed to become a match made in heaven. Republicans only needed to appeal to their prejudices and love of scapegoats, and they were/are happy to forget all about tangible issues that might actually make a difference in their lives.

    The Right Wing is beginning to realize that there are gay people among them as fellow Wingers (like GOProud), sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and even parents come out of the closet. This is one of the big benefits of Ken Mehlman coming out. So ultimately it’s easy to see how anti-gay animus is declining as an election winning strategy.

  31. Other Fred in the UK
    August 28, 2010

    @Uki

    The British already have a similar situation a few months ago.

    Whilst I agree that there was a turning point with regards to the Conservative Party and gay and lesbian rights a few months ago, I disagree that it was similar to one that Mr Kincaid describes. It was much further down the road of gay and lesbian acceptance than the point he believes the Republican Party has reached. I am not sure when the Conservative Party reached that point but, in my opinion, they had by the time that they elected David Cameron as their leader in 2005.

  32. L. Junius Brutus
    August 28, 2010

    writerJerome: “The good news is that such people cannot ultimately win. The bad news is that they will hurt innocent people.”

    True. Everyone who feels threatened, should buy a gun and get a concealed carry license. Protect yourself.

  33. cd
    August 28, 2010

    Here’s a chilling thought:

    My sense is that the right wing extremists see two rather different things at stake in the arguments about abortion and about homosexuality.

    Abortion is the far more serious of the two. For those extremists, abortion is utterly crucial. They understand that if they’re wrong about the morality of abortion then they’ve staked their lives on the wrong things. If they’re wrong about abortion they realize they’re wrong about everything else in which they’ve sided up against the Modern world as well. Being an anti-abortion absolutist forces the activist to conform (imho, warp) all kinds of other beliefs and ultimately their life around anti-abortionism. Leaving that and unwinding the social circles and defensive pseudoscientific beliefs it entails is a lot like leaving a cult.

    Being right or wrong about homosexuality is far less important. All of them know of (usually closeted) gay people who behave admirably according their criteria. They have to resort to abstract and dicey theories of disastrous long term consequences to make a case against homosexuality as real social danger. They know they don’t have persuasive answers of any kind when an activist for gay rights asks “Just how does gay people having sex harm you?” It’s all about preserving a relatively remote and secondary or tertiary element of their worldview. None of them, or practically none, is willing to put their life or even their careers on the line to prevent gay marriages. Nor is there any real price or consequence (outside the wingnut welfare cliques) to being against gay rights, or to then changing your mind in favor of them.

  34. Jason D
    August 29, 2010

    What I don’t get about the tea party/republican mantra about ”
    Jobs and smaller government” is this.

    If we make the government smaller, that will mean fewer people work for the government. How can ya be complaining about jobs alongside an issue that means MORE people will be out of work?

  35. JT
    August 29, 2010

    Mr. Kincaid: I think you might be capturing the glimmer of what’s happening, but I think that you miss the larger picture. I think that the Republican platform is going to make gay and lesbian rights a “non-issue.” In other words, I think they are going to make us invisible…just as the Democrats have done. We are, simply, irrelevant. Our constituency is too fractious to be a threat or benefit to anyone. The truth that we are everywhere is not lost on the two parties. There is just no unified voice and certainly no voting bloc to pander to. That Mr. Mehlman has come out is nice, but it just proves that we are represented in every stratum of society.

    Public opinion is swaying our way, but that doesn’t mean that the two major parties will make us a priority…as either an ally or as an enemy.

  36. CPT_Doom
    August 30, 2010

    I think one other aspect to what is clearly a change (but like turning an aircraft carrier 180 degrees, it’s going to take a lot of time for the change to be fully realized) is that the GOP is trying to figure out a way to dissassociate themselves with the Religious Right, which the GOP economic elites have been using since the Reagan years, as Richard Rush points out above, without losing the important grass roots organizing and ground support those “values voters” provided.

    Ever since the “Southern Strategy” was launched by the Nixon campaign in the 60s, the GOP has relied on fear and hatred to motivate voters. It really started with the Commie with hunts of the 50s, but was not fully refined until Reagan made nice with the Ralph Reeds of the world. Until the election of Obama, there wasn’t much to motivate conservative voters except for abortion (which is getting a bit tedious for all but the die-hards) and TEH GAY!

    Unfortunately for the GOP, their ranks, at least in DC, are full of gays and, to a lesser extent, lesbians. DC has always attracted the fabulous, and the politicians love us because we are more likely to have the time needed to be a full-time politico (a career where children really can get in the way). So many of them (a la Rick Santorum and his openly gay chief of staff) have realized they were simply telling lies to get votes, and they don’t much like that.

    Now they have the perfect scapegoats – the Kenya/Muslim/Anti-American Obama (in their words, not mine) and his related band of illegal immigrants and Muslims. Since most people do not live in areas with either large contingents of Hispanics or Muslims, it is easier to make them out as hated and motivate voters, but those voters are not necessarily the “values voters” of old, providing the GOP with a new lifeline and a chance to chuck the fundies.

  37. Wayn Besen
    August 31, 2010

    I think it may be accurate to say that the Wall street, corporate, elite wing of the GOP has reached a tipping point.

    But, as long as the party is still catering to the Religious Right – and beholden to its interests, the party as a whole has not reached a turning point.

    The extremely powerful wing of social conservatives has not budged an inch. We also have the presidential race coming up, where all the contenders will be trying to outdo each other to win over social conservatives.

    So, it will get much uglier before the party, as a whole, has embraced LGBT equality. Indeed, this could turn into a huge battle, leading to the eviction of the Religious Right from the GOP tent — or gays may be cast into the wilderness, for the sake of political expediency.

    That bloody battle has yet to take place. Rest assured, it is looming, as long as people like Tony Perkins are major voices in the party.

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