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Another Man’s Wife

Jim Burroway

January 6th, 2012

Sigh:

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Stahl: So you’re pro-choice?

Diana Cantor: I am.

Stahl: Gay marriage? What does that mean?

Diana Cantor: I don’t-

Stahl: You disagree with him?

Diana Cantor: I do disagree. There’s really that respect. If I expect him to respect my views that could be different, I certainly need to respect his.

Here we go again. Yet another wife of an anti-gay politician supports gay marriage. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s wife Diana Cantor joins Cindy McCain and Laura Bush as being gay supportive in ways that contrast with their political husbands. It’s a long if not necessarily a well-trod tradition; Nancy Reagan fretted over the health of her Hollywood friends while her husband’s administration stonewalled on AIDS.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Mrs. Cantor holds those positions and is willing to speak up about them. More wives should. But more to the point, more wives — or more particularly, more Republican women — should speak up, become more active in their party, and even run for office.  Remember, we wouldn’t have DADT repeal today if it weren’t for Sen. Susan Collins refusing to let it die on the Senate floor. Rep. has signed on as cosponsor for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA. So, please excuse me if I’m appreciative but not entirely thrilled to my toes over learning that another anti-gay politician’s wife supports us. What am I supposed to do with it? Congratulate Rep. Cantor for choosing such a plucky little lady?

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TampaZeke
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

Truth be told a lot of these Republican politicians also personally support gay rights, including marriage equality but they couldn’t get elected dog catcher as a Republican if they said so. I think that is even more shameful than those who have genuine, yet misinformed, religious beliefs that cause them to be anti-gay.

And, to be clear, it should be noted than neither Obama, NOR (as far as I know) his wife, have stated support for marriage equality (the 1996 Senate questionnaire not withstanding).

Lindoro Almaviva
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

I understand the respect part, but excuse me for a moment while I disagree in certain aspects of this.

If my husband was a racist, I would challenge that until the day I die. there is no “well, he is a racist and I am not, he respects my views and I respect them…” type of thinking there. If my husband was a racist, there would be consequences for his behavior, one of them would be the biggest fight he will ever have with me and I would reserve the right to throw his ass on the streets for a week and change the locks on him until he commits to get the sensitivity training he needs to broaden his horizons.

If i was a political wife, i would be a thorn on the side of that husband util either he divorces me (and I take with me half of what he owns, a HUGE deterrment given his earning potential). I would seeks every speaking engagement i could get, and as publicly as I could to make sure people know how i feel. I would contribute to groups that support marriage equality and i would make sure my picture and name is displpayed in big letters, to make sure my dear husband knows that my campaigning will come to haunthim. I would be relentless until he either “evolves” on the subject or divorces me.

This might sound shortsighted, but the fact is that as wives/husbands we hold sway in how our partners behave and are perceived in public. For a public figure, there is nothing more humbling than a spouse taking a very public stand against a husband/wife that we know is wrong on something as basic as human rights. If this was an argument of sushi vs paella and the spouse goes public, well, we can safely say she is nuts, but we are not talking about minor things, we are talking about basic human rights and for me those are big enough that I would throw it all on the line.

Gus
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

Following the political model of the pol cutting public school funding, but the spouse supports a ‘reading’ program.

dan
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

it’s bullshit. this is how anti gay pols try to have it both ways. they can still be vehemently anti gay and secure the hate vote then their spouses can be trotted out demonstrating a “softer” side to try to secure the waffley people who are not so much haters.

Timothy Kincaid
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

The more that we hear that people like Diana Cantor support equality – however tepidly – the more it gives permission for equality to be an accepted position by republicans.

Most people have not really spent time thinking about every position of their party. They have an issue it two that they strongly identify with and the rest is just accepted as “what we believe”.

Once anti-gay discrimination ceases to be “what Republicans believe” and becomes just an option, we win. Other than theocratic dogma, they have little to commend their position.

andrew
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

First, yes, you should support the fact that he’s constructed a modern and respectful relationship with an intelligent and independent women — sadly, that is NOT a given in Republican circles — there is still a vicious streak of misogyny in the party.

Secondly, my personal feeling is that very few of these candidates either truly espouse or actually care about gay issues (the Santorums of the world obviously notwithstanding). In many cases, they are reflecting the base, engaging in cheap demagoguery (cheap for them because they probably weren’t going to get our votes, and they don’t pay a price by sacrificing us), or safeguarding against attack from the right. Their personal and professional beliefs on gay issues – which tend to be weakly held unless personal to them – are very likely to be entirely at odds. Assuming they give a shit in the first place.

Lastly, I want to commend you for highlighting the contribution (as rare as they are) of Republicans in our issues. With good reason, our community often has a kneejerk reaction relative to party, and it’s great when we can actually get “gay” out of partisan straitjacketing and actually get Republicans to appreciate that some gays have conservative views on many topics, and to remind Democrats that the gay community is not beholden to them and cannot be taken for granted.

Joseph Singer
January 6th, 2012 | LINK

What’s your problem? You don’t go picking fights with your allies. Complain about their husbands who are not as enlightened but you have no right to whine about people who do support us.

Andrew
January 7th, 2012 | LINK

Joseph, I know you weren’t talking to me, because I’d have to remind you that until the current administration, the most progressive governor in the state I grew up in (MA) with respect to gay rights – the guy who invented gay/straight alliances – was a Republican (Bill Weld) – after decades of Democrats (ex, Dukakis – http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/15/us/gay-rights-groups-question-dukakis-on-foster-care-issue.html) who did nothing for our community. I’d have to remind you that although DOMA and DADT were overwhelmingly supported by the GOP, it was Democrat Robert Byrd who made enshrining DADT into law his personal mission (no gays in his grandson’s army, he said), and a Democrat president who signed both bills into law. I’d have to remind you that the current occupant of the White House is on record as being opposed to gay marriage. I’d have to remind you that when California (my adopted state) considered altering its constitution to ban gays from teaching in the 1970’s, one of the most prominent opponents was (wait for it)… Ronald Reagan. Oh, and Dick Cheney is pro-gay-marriage (lesbian daughter is also one of his political operatives), G W Bush appointed more gays to office at the Federal level than any preceding president (including Clinton), and even Rush Limbaugh is in favor of civil unions.

Please excuse me while I throw up a little bit into my mouth – you just made me defend the worst president in recent U.S. history, the most craven VP in all American history, and the man who has single-handedly ruined political discourse *and* AM radio for America while causing the collective IQ of the nation to fall so hard, it was picked up by seismometers at the USGS – all while criticizing someone I admire greatly (Clinton).

But the facts remain: the GOP is not always our enemy and the Dems are not always reliable friends. By and large, the GOP sucks on gay issues. And by comparison, Dems usually do a better job. But it’s not something any of us should rely on.

The only language politicians understand is expediency, and as a minority, that means it’s incumbent on us to hold their feet to the fire, and never EVER let them take us lightly, either as foes or as supporters.

I mean, for crying out loud, we are getting the bare minimum out of this administration – something that only happened at the 11th hour after the Dems had controlled the White House and BOTH chambers for 2 years. You know which administration I mean, right – the one that invited a vocally antigay preacher to preside over the inauguration? The progress we made in Dec 2010 only happened after normally overgenerous gay donors withheld their cash, and after loud, vocal, public criticism mounted to an untenable level. That’s what we get – we’re the afterthought. That’s what it took to get one piece of legislation taken seriously — we still have no action at the Federal level on DOMA or ENDA. And ENDA (Employment Non-Discriminations) bill has been promised to us by the Dems for over 20 years now. They just can’t ever quite find the time.

Nationally, Dems just look good by comparison, and locally, it’s easier to find allies on both sides of the aisle. It just gets a little tiring when my support is supposed to go to the person who offers to beat me the least.

So… “allies”, my shiny red ass. The reason Mrs. Cantor is our ally is because she’s not running for office. Gays aren’t allies to politicians – we’re a reliable source of donations, a group that turns out at over 90% (http://tcf.org/commentary/2007/nc1658) with just enough population to swing key districts (the 50% gay support for G W Bush in 2000 arguably won him Florida), and one that is easily subjected to fear and intimidation because the other party’s operatives, some of whom are actually gay themselves, are using homophobia to manipulate the GOP fringe for donations and turnout.

As the Christian Right discovered in W’s 2nd term, there are no such things as “reliable allies” in politics. So: applaud anyone who does the right thing, especially when it comes from unexpected quarters. Hold everyone accountable. And never give someone a “pass” because you know, in your heart of hearts, that s/he would totally support your fundamental rights if only it weren’t so darned politically costly (but secretly, they love you).

Unless, of course, you weren’t actually talking to me. In that case, um… does “sorry” cover it?

Man I’ve got to stop hitting the Redbull and posting after midnight.

Mary in Austin
January 7th, 2012 | LINK

Well said, Lindoro Almaviva!
As a Texan, it drives me crazy that Mrs. George W. Bush, pro-choice and relatively sane, gets a pass for a lifetime of enabling the hateful idiocy of her husband. Imagine if she and the other helpmates of Republican pooh-bahs would rouse themselves to use their power for good!

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