August 23rd, 2012
Log Cabin Republicans presents the Republican Party’s platform as outdated, desperate and abysmal. I think that all those who favor freedom and equality would have to agree.
But they also present the rather lukewarm assurance that “in certain places the 2012 Republican platform is an improvement compared to the 2008 document”. Weak praise indeed. It would be difficult to get worse.
And one of the comparitive improvements they list is “we appreciate the inclusion of language recognizing that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect”.
I agree that such language is always welcome. And I’m certain that virtually all readers – if this were in any context outside a national election – would agree that such language is better present than absent.
But as this is an election year, this sentence has been received with – shall we say – less than trumpet flair and confetti. In some instances it has been met with derision and contempt.
Perhaps the best example of this comes from Stonewall Democrats who not only mocked Log Cabin for their pleasure in the inclusion of the line, but claim that it is nothing new. In a press release titled “Gay Republicans Mislead LGBT Americans on GOP Platform” they assert the following:
“What’s even more ridiculous is the idea that this language is something new. The Republican Party platform has included similar language since at least 1996. This is just a rewording of a generic principle that few Republicans would construe to include LGBT equality.”
They go on to list what they insist are examples of statements that are substantively the same.
But is that true? Is the sentence that Stonewall says Log Cabin “touted” (but which Log Cabin says was “an improvement”) nothing more than a recitation of a meaningless phrase that has been around since 1996?
The answer is, as it so often is in politics, both yes and no.
Can Stonewall claim that those words – or similar ones – were used in the past? Yes. Similar words have been used. But not in the context in which they are presented in the 2012 platform.
The words that Stonewall quotes – in each of 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 – are in the preamble and speak to a generic sense of equality of all and are not intended to apply to any particular policy. However, in 2012, the words that complete the section titled Marriage are: “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” This is a non-generic and policy-associated statement.
In other words, for the first time the Republican platform has stated that within the context of the marriage fight, all Americans (and by implication, specifically those who seek same-sex marriage) should be treated with respect and dignity.
It is not the same as previuos years. Yes the words may be similar, but as we so often tell our opponents, context matters.
Now this may mean little to many who see it as a pittance. And, indeed, it is a pittance. And if we are seeking to measure whether this redeems the platform, no it most decidedly does not. It’s still atrocious.
So is that throw away line really all that unimportant? That depends on what you’re looking for.
Does it suggest that Romney/Ryan is an acceptable choice? No, not at all. Even Log Cabin makes no pretense that their efforts were effective in swaying the “base” of the party. It’s a nasty platform reflecting the nasty policies of a collection of people who – or at least a majority of whom – really don’t like us and want to do us harm.
But those who watch trends and measure social progress may find it quite interesting. Tony Perkins may brag about “writing it”, but I very much believe that this is a concession he would not include if he could have avoided it. And, as Log Cabin notes, the future of the Republican Party trends towards inclusion. Even as a trailing indicator, it’s worth attention.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
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