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Republican Chair Michael Steele: The GOP and NOM Are “On The Same Page”

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2010

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele’s job is up for grabs, even though he very much wants to keep it. And so he’s pulling out the issue that nearly all conservative politicians turn to when they want to shore up a base of support: marriage equality.

During the campaigns for midterm elections, the GOP and the Tea Party embarked on a concerted effort to downplay LGBT-related issues in order to reassure LGBT people and their allies that the GOP was no longer interested in fighting the culture war. But now that the elections are over and there are signs of growing discontent in the GOP over Steele’s numerous gaffs as party chief, Steele agreed to sit down with the National Organization for Marriage’s Frank Cannon for an in depth interview on the party’s plan to fight same-sex marriage.

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In particular, Steele celebrated the GOP gains in the governorships and state legislative seats where “the battle is going to be, my friend.” He also praised the GOP’s partnership with NOM “and others in the movement to make very clear that this is a line that we want to draw.” He added:

For us, going forward, we’ll look to the leadership in Washington, yes, for any legislative or federal efforts to address the issue of marriage, between man and woman, traditional marriage. But most especially at the state level where I think the battle is really going to be fought over the next couple years, and we want to be in partnership through our state party organizations working with state legislative leadership to stand firmly and squarely behind the defense of marriage.

But Cannon disputed that marriage was just a state issue, and asked Steele what he would do to  “extend the branding, if you would, of the Republican Party platform’s support of marriage out in the public domain.” Steele answered:

You and I are actually on the same page here. I did not want to give the inference that somehow one side of this fight is less important than the other or less effective than the other. We’re going to have to come at this as a pincer move from the federal and the state level because that’s exactly how it’s being played out nationally. It’s not just what we’re seeing happening at the state level at the state legislatures, but it’s also a national move afoot to block attempts to, for example, to get the Defense of Marriage Act passed [sic] in Congress or to propose some of the legislation at the federal level that weakens the efforts by pro-family movements at state legislatures from being effective. So we’re on the same page there.

My only point was that really is the front line right now because that’s where we see the battle being won and lost, if you will, on a day to day basis.

Steele then goes on to defend his position by saying that not only is it not anti-gay, but it is also not exclusionary. And in incredible Animal Farm fashion, Steele intends to reconcile that fallacy by controling the terms of debate. “How we approach people and how we let others approach us really defines how this debate is going to unfold,” he explained. Which means that it’s alright to talk about marriage, as long as we only talk about marriage on his terms, and no one else’s. So he’s not only being exclusionary in his position on marriage, he also intends to be exclusionary on the very parameters of the debate.

But was terms does Steele want to debate marriage? This is where it gets to be the most insulting.

My father died as a young man from alcoholism. So my family, from a very, very early age when I was four years old, was broken. My father was an alcoholic. He was abusive. I saw what he did to my mother, and I saw  what he did to our family over time. So I have this understanding of family and how it’s held together and why it’s so important. And despite the shortcomings of my father, despite the difficulties and his own personal demons that he had to go through, he was still a very important part of my life. And my mother would share with me that while he may have been difficult with her, he was gentle with me and he understood at least, through some mechanism in his brain, that this child that he was holding was of some value. And so he would then impart to me certain things and tell me certain things about himself. And so the reality of it is, that cohesion is important.

Steele then goes on to say that as Maryland’s Lt. Governor, he met with many young men in jail who did not have “the definitional structure” of a one-man-one-woman family — not even one as dysfunctional as his family. And after having met so many criminals who violated the law,  he believes that it is vitally important for children of LGBT couples to be denied the societal support that families headed by straight families receive. In Steele’s view, if teen gang members and petty criminals who grow up without a father represent some sort of second class existence, then teenage boys and girls who grow up in LGBT families are third class — behind everyone else, including families headed by the gold standard of fathers who drink themselves to death.

And so his fight, then, is to preserve that order, and he is happy to modify the Federal Constitution in the process:

Oh, absolutely. Without hesitation or doubt. In fact we would partner with our leadership in the House and certainly our governors and leadership in the state legislatures to create a very very strong front line if you will, on that issue. I can’t again stress how important that is for how we will lead as a people, and how we will see ourselves as a nation down the road. And again, that is not to the exclusion of anyone, it’s not anti- anyone, or any group. It is just so fundamental and foundational, I think it needs to be protected.

At least three others are vying with Steele for the GOP chairmanship. But before you pin your hopes on Steele’s downfall, consider this: they, too, agreed to interviews with NOM. Former RNC political director Gentry Collins said that same-sex marriage “devalues” his marriage, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus vows to protect “the sanctity of marriage given to us by God,” former Missouri Republican Chairwoman Ann Wagner calls efforts to ban same-sex marriage “a pillar of our Republican party and our platform,” and that the GOP should not shy away from it, and the Tea Party-aligned Save American Jobs Project Chairman Saul Anuzis — you know, he leads the people who really only care about economic issues — says that defending one-man-one-woman marriage is “part of our faith.”



December 31st, 2010 | LINK

I find it very, very ironic that a black person would not see the problem with all this talk of “fundamental and foundational” at this point.

Among the Tea Party crowd, a black dude heading the RNC is certainly NOT part of what they would consider to be “fundamental and foundational.”

The bad thing is, I’ve heard people are aiming to replace him, and I’m sure they’re even worse than he is.

Regan DuCasse
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Well, we’ve sure heard it all before. Gay men and women are required to pay for the shortcomings of the straight folks.
‘Scuse me people, but BULLSHIT!

Having a gay parent is not the problem for those who have joined gangs, are incarcerated or who is an addict, but it’s ABANDONMENT, not getting love and support and discipline from a PARENT that’s the issue.
There is a BIG difference in knowing your parents don’t give a crap about you, compared to knowing your parent DOES.

It doesn’t matter if the parent is gay or not, what their religious affiliation or gender, whether they are single or not, but whether that child knows the parent loves them and has their back.

And good parents, ALWAYS have a network of people to fill whatever void there is to complete their parental and familial roles.
It’s not like ss parents are in a bubble with lives completely devoid and isolated from the opposite sex!
But to hear the anti gay tell it, gay people have absolutely no clue or understanding or experience with hetero parent couples (such as their own parents).

This is a very similar situation where you have say, white parents who have adopted a black or Asian child. Those parents know and understand that it benefits themselves and their child of color to have people who share that ethnicity in their social and family network.
In other words, it DOES take a village, NOT the Village People, to raise a child.

The reality, and the facts can’t be brought home enough that if other straight people aren’t paying with their rights and freedoms for the bad straight parents in our society, it’s even MORE unjust and unfair to make ALL gay people pay for the straight losers among us.

December 31st, 2010 | LINK

So because he was unfortunate enough to grow up with an alcoholic father, children of LGBT parents have to suffer, too? I’m having a hard time following what I will generously call the logic. Regan, you answered it very well.

Steele needs to shut up and go spend RNC donations on strippers doing lesbian-lite scenes again.

Happy New Year to all y’all. May we sweep more of this kind of rhetoric into history’s dustbin in 2011. May we see our way to a better future.

December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Hold on, I’d forgotten about that bit. So it’s OK for women to fool around with other women for the entertainment of Republican men?

But if two Lesbians who happen to be moms want to get married, and just do the normal family thing, that’s NOT OK?

It seems like if you endorse the former (As they apparently did with spending Republican National Committee money on it!) You have to accept the other, whether you like it or not, because otherwise you’re a hypocrite.

Richard W. Fitch
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

The concept of “hypocrite” is entirely beyond the grasp of the RNC (and probably GOProud).

December 31st, 2010 | LINK

So then let’s have a national drive to outlaw divorce and lets write that into the constitution.

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

Lots of things to criticize Steele over. But the donor party at WeHo’s hot Voyour Club is not one of them.

For one thing, he wasn’t there. And for another, this wasn’t some sleazy stripper club, it’s a chic club that takes “go go dancer” one step further – in a sometimes strange and almost ironic way. One night I was there when a topless female was sitting on stage on a stool reading a book.

Ben in Oakland
December 31st, 2010 | LINK

The heterosexu­­al majority in general AND the conservati­ve religionis­ts in particular need to take a good long look at themselves and their motivation­s, and ask themselves why they are so intent upon legislatin­­g against people they don’t know, know nothing about, and who have done them no harm, and THEIR equality before the law. Those people, if they are treated like everyone else, will serve their country, marry, have children, jobs and homes, just like the majority, and it will have no impact on them, other than to make our society better than it is.

No impact beyond that– and the death of an ancient and durable prejudice. However, it will allow GLBT people to be full citizens for the first time in history

December 31st, 2010 | LINK

We still have a lot of fighting to do, so, it doesn’t matter who their “leader” is. The battle will continue and we shall prevail!

Happy New Year everyone!

David in Houston
January 1st, 2011 | LINK

He actually proves that having straight parents does not guarantee a utopian upbringing. Far from it. Of course, we already knew that. But then again, intelligent people are not his target audience.

Emily K
January 1st, 2011 | LINK

One night I was [at the WeHo club] when a topless female was sitting on stage on a stool reading a book.

That sounds really f*ckin’ funny.

January 1st, 2011 | LINK

Personally, I have similar feelings towards Westboro nutcases and Michael Steele. I appreciate both because both, in different ways, make anti-gay views look especially backwards, illogical, and unkind. Michael Steele for president!

Rob in San Diego
January 1st, 2011 | LINK

Well I am shocked that I would agree with Michael Steele on any subject, but he is absolutely right, single heterosexual parents are horrible when it comes to raising kids, and often those kids fail and end up in jail, far inferior to single homosexual parents, or coupled homosexual parents.

I mean, what are the odds that every single person he talked to in jail came from homosexual single parents, 0%. This is a failure on the heterosexual side.

Paul J. Stein
January 1st, 2011 | LINK

Ok, if you count the divorced republicans (however many times) currently serving, will be serving in various departments in Washington it would boggle the mind of any sane person trying to get a grip on the “Sanctity of Marriage” bullshit. I have a previously straight same-sex partner. He has 3 girls/ 2 mothers, 8/4/7 yo. we get along fantastically with his ex-wife , her husband,2 kids. Their kids treat us like uncles/fathers. A family is comprised of who loves and takes care of whom. ALL 3 Girls and Little brother get treated the same. At 51 I didn’t really expect this but it makes my life really fun and worthwhile. You just never know what or when!

Mihangel apYrs
January 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“traditional marriage” supporters always forget the “for life” bit. In the Anglican (Episcopalian) liturgy, at least, the officiant seals the deal saying “those whom god hath joined, let no man put asunder”

A pretty final deal, and so in the RCC.

Of course even the anglicans have weaselled out of that deal (as can some wealthy catholics willing to pay enough for an annulment), but it doesn’t change the vows they make in their traditional marriage.

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