Log Cabin takes up mantle of liaison to House
November 3rd, 2010
As the control of the House of Representatives shifts to Republicans, so too does the primary responsibility for lobbying the House leadership on matters of importance to the LGBT community shift to gay Republicans. And Log Cabin is cautiously optimistic that they have built bridges towards the leadership which could result in more movement on our issues than might otherwise be expected. (Washington Blade)
Although Democrats retained their control of the Senate, most political observers — including LGBT advocates — agree that major LGBT-related bills would have no chance of passing in Congress next year without the consent of Republican leaders like Boehner. And most observers believe House Republicans won’t allow gay bills to come to the House floor for a vote.
Cooper, however, said he and his Log Cabin team have a plan for persuading congressional Republican leaders to consider and agree to a vote on at least two gay bills. According to Cooper, one is an as yet to be unveiled tax reform bill that would address “tax inequities that affect the gay community.” The other is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which Democratic leaders declined to bring up for a vote during the past two years. The measure calls for banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Cooper said the tax bill would appeal to “the broader conservative community” while addressing inequities in the gay community.
Although I am not privy to information about the tax bill, I speculate that it would eliminate the tax on insurance premiums paid by companies to dependents of gay employees. This could be packaged as an undue burden on businesses as well as an unnecessary and punitive special tax.
Another area which Cooper may consider approaching the leadership could be on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This policy is universally unpopular with virtually every demographic in the country and would cost individual congressmen very little to support the repeal. Leadership could play both sides by allowing a free vote while opposing the change “during wartime” thus avoiding offending their “base” but allowing for future credit for the change.
I don’t know whether Cooper is basing this on realistic expectations or just blowing smoke. But the truth is (and I think we all know it) that the relationship between the gay community and the Democratic Party is at an all-time low. Exit polls show that not only did fewer gay people show up yesterday than two years ago, but they had much less party loyalty. (AmericaBlog)
Percent of gay voters who voted Democratic in House races:
2006 House races: 75%
2008 House races: 80%
2010 House races: 68%
And ironically, the Republican Party really has to do very little to do if it wants to further disillusion gay voters and add to the decay of this dependable Democratic voting bloc. President Obama’s lack of adequate communication with the community accompanied by what is perceived as either stalling or even tactical hostility on issue of DADT, DOMA and other legal battles has gays and lesbians doubtful about the Democratic Party depth of commitment to civil equality.
It is possible – though I think unlikely – that political calculations could lead Republican leadership to strategically concede on some issues of importance to our community based on the recognition that social change will force their hand eventually anyway Even backing off and not aggressively “fighting against the homosexual agenda” could leave some gay voters without any loyalty to Democrats or fear of Republicans and that could plausibly shift the vote by as much as 1% in some crucial races in 2012. (I am aware that this may be more wishful thinking than reality)
In any case, I wish Log Cabin well. They have a thankless job, and will receive from our community leaders all of the blame for anything harmful that the Republican Party does and no credit whatsoever for any success that they are able to achieve. But if they are able to bring about a vote on ENDA, they will indeed have my respect.