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About that throw away line…

Timothy Kincaid

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Log Cabin Republicans presents the Republican Party’s platform as outdated, desperate and abysmal.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.

Comments

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esurience
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I dunno, I’d rather that they not even be allowed to say that they believe in treating all people with dignity and respect. It’s clear that they don’t.

Instead of LCR lobbying to have that line included, they should have lobbied to have that line excised, because that would be the truth — the GOP simply doesn’t believe it.

What the LCR has done is endorsed a bit of a sugarcoating on a completely poison pill. They should’ve insisted the sugarcoating not be there at all.

Ryan
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I assumed they were talking about those who *don’t* support marriage equality with that line. Perkins, Brown, et al are always complaining about being portrayed as bigots and that their beliefs are under attack. I think it’s a pretty huge leap to suggest they’re calling for respect of those who support gay marriage.

Dn
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Given the broader context of what FRC has said about gay people, this line is especially offensive.

You want to call is paedophiles? Fine. But have the guts to do so consistently.

Hue-Man
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Practical examples of respect and dignity (I’ll use the gay man version since TeaVangelicals hate gays even more than lesbians):
1. We’ll treat you with dignity as we drag you kicking and screaming out of your husband’s hospital room.
2. We’ll still respect you when we order the police to remove you from the marriage licence office.
3. We’ll be very dignified as we collect the estate tax from your husband’s passing (even though it would have passed to you tax-free if you were “really married”).
4. We will allow you the dignity of calling a lawyer when we arrest you for sodomy, once we’ve corrected the errors of those radical judges.
5. We won’t call you bad names when we deport your immigrant alien husband for violating our sacred immigration laws.

Jim Burroway
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Yes, as I always like to say, context matters. So here’s some context.

I grew up in Appalachia. Most of the stereotypes you see about Appalachians are unfounded, even though you will always find examples of individuals who fit those stereotypes to a tee. In my home town and on the block I grew up in the 1970s, there were two families who had connections with the KKK. Believe it or not, one of those families were otherwise decent people. (The less said of the other family, the better.) They knew were my father stood, my father knew where they stood. And we’d get into these late-night discussions at the corner grocery store that my parents ran. They’d tell us how blacks (and yes, they said “blacks,” because they understood that it was unacceptable to refer to African-Americans using the “n-” word in the 1970s) are shiftless and lazy, how they’re inborn criminals that will steal you blind, how all black men want to do is have sex (i.e. rape) white women, etc.

When my father staked out a position that everyone needs to be treated with dignity and respect, they agreed. After all, they weren’t bigots, they said. Why there was even a couple of black people that they really, genuinely liked. Their daughter even mentioned someone at school that she thought was a really nice and sweet guy. Of course, she’d never go out with him because his sister, she said, was a thief and a liar and I don’t remember what else. So no, not all blacks are like that, and that’s why they deserve equal treatment. It’s just the criminal blacks you have to watch out for.

This is how context works. The dignity and respect line has nothing to do with dignity and respect, but is instead an inoculation against suspicions of bigotry. And a rather weak one at that.

So when I read a paragraph which says that kids of gay parents will drop out of school, be physically and emotionally sicker, use drugs or alcohol, and become pregnant teenage criminals, while their parents take away our freedoms and impact our economic wellbeing, but hey, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, I get a really heavy blast of deja vu. We’ve all heard this before. And to see this as even a tiny smidgen of progress, well…. that’s just too sad to think about.

Ben in Oakland
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I have to agree with Jim. It is a throwaway line, very much like love the sinner, hate the sin.

Mark Barnes
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

If you value the dollar more than your own-self worth, join them.

TampaZeke
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I challenge anyone to find ONE bigot who identifies as a bigot and/or who doesn’t take great offense to being labeled such. I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960′s and 70′s and I NEVER met a bigot, if you go by self reporting. I never met a person who constantly used the N-word who didn’t get furious when challenged for being a bigot. I also never met a bigot who didn’t agree “in principle” (JUST as the RNC platform qualifies) that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It always came down to how one defines “people”, “everyone”, “dignity” and “respect”. Since the FRC wrote the plank I have to assume that THEIR definition of these words is the one that was intended and they’ve made it VERY clear that GLBT people are not included in their definition of everyone and we all know how much dignity and respect they offer to the GLBT community. Even they have throw away lines in their manifesto that speaks of “dignity” and “respect” tucked away among the mounds of denigration and disrespect that pervades the rest of their screed.

TampaZeke
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, my grandmother would have rightly observed that you are desperately trying to put lipstick on a pig. Acknowledging how dirty the pig is doesn’t change that fact and looking forward to the day when earrings might be added won’t change the fact then either.

I applaud what the LCR is trying to do. I’ll anxiously await their endorsement decision to see how much credibility they have in all of this. THAT will say more about them than their platform participation.

Timothy Kincaid
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Oddly enough, I don’t exactly see Republicans as the equivalent of KKK members.

Robert
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

If the entire platform on Marriage is a reiteration of the heterosupremacy, and states that marriage should be between OPPOSITE sex couples ONLY, then the statement you are crowwing about specificly speaks of ONLY opposite sex marriage. maybe they have finally come to the conclussion that opposite sex inter-racial couples are now acceptable.

One would have to be incredibly disengenious to try to paint it as affirming to homosexual people at all. One can’t read the last line of a platform while willfully ignoring the stuff that comes before, or try to impose an idea that it reflects anything other than the dignity of the concept about which they are speaking.

in other words: “NO GAY MARRIAGE. NO GAY MARRIAGE. Hetero Marriage Only. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity. But NO GAY MARRIAGE”

Lord_Byron
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

“And, as Log Cabin notes, the future of the Republican Party trends towards inclusion. Even as a trailing indicator, it’s worth attention.”

I honestly feel that will only happen when the old, white, homophobic, sexist, racist, chauvinistic, and often misogynistic members of the GOP die off. Just like the younger generations support marriage equality and we need to wait for the older ones to die off. The GOP may be moving towards modernity, but they will only happen when the younger ones take charge. However, in many cases I don’t see much changing with the younger ones since many of the young GOP stars share very similar views on other issues with the older GOP members.

Just have to say I do find it funny to see the words conservative and modernity used in the same sentence. In my opinion you can not claim to be a conservative, i.e., things should not change much and be modern.

The Lauderdale
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

“Oddly enough, I don’t exactly see Republicans as the equivalent of KKK members.”

That’s your response to Jim’s anecdote? What a derail. Ironic too, particularly after his discussion of context.

Priya Lynn
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Mark said “If you value the dollar more than your own-self worth, join them.”.

I don’t know why people keep trotting out that stereotype, the vast majority of Americans would be financially worse off under republicans. The days when that stereotype was true are long gone and yet half the American public buys into the con job that its still true.

If you value the dollar and your self-worth vote Democrat.

Timothy said “Oddly enough, I don’t exactly see Republicans as the equivalent of KKK members.”.

An analogy isn’t about situations being identical, its about an aspect of both situations being similar. The KKK chooses to see a minority as inferior and deserving of less rights, the Republicans choose to see a minority as inferior and deserving of less rights – I see a LOT of similarity there.

Blake
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

No, Timothy, they were Democrats. And rather active in that party too. Jim nailed it.

Mark F.
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I’m not going to defend the GOP platform. But things are changing in the party. Romney, if elected, is not going to try to bring back DADT, for example. New York Republicans provided crucial votes in favor of marriage equality and a huge block of NH Republicans voted not to reverse marriage equality. You can’t look at platform planks (which nobody feels obligated to follow anyway)as telling the whole story.

Just a few years ago Obama was trumpeting anti-equality nonsense, for heaven’s sake. He changed, other people will as well. Even Republicans. Polling shows anti-gay opinion keeps decreasing. A big chunk of Republican voters favor marriage equality (including my 75 year old father). Sooner or later, the platform plank will be taken out.

We are winning. I hate stories that suggest we are not. You need to look at all the evidence.

Jim Burroway
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Oddly enough, I don’t exactly see Republicans as the equivalent of KKK members.

Me neither, although I do happen to know that the family we got along with (let’s call them the Smiths) were very strong Reagan supporters.

But all snark aside, the point was not to call Republicans the equivalent of KKK members, but to illustrated how incredibly banal bigotry really is. As we all know, you don’t have to be a KKK member to be a bigot. And you don’t have to have KKK ties to sit on the GOP platform committee, although it doesn’t appear to hurt. When Tony Perkins went to Washington, he brought with him David Duke’s mailing list, and he participated in White Citizens Council activities before joining the FRC. The shoe usually doesn’t fit, but in some instances it does.

Back to the banality of bigotry, more than 30 years later, I actually kinda surprised myself as I typed out the words that I knew — and was even friendly with — a family who were KKK members. They don’t all wear white sheets and pointy hats. In fact, most of them never do. I’m not saying this to defend KKK members. Not in the least. But when my father died, Mrs. Smith was very generous in her condolances and help for my mother. When Mr. Smith died, the whole nieghborhood, including my mother, pulled together for Mrs. Smith as well. Mrs. Smith’s daughter, who graduated with me in my high school class, facebook friended me a few years ago and says hi from time to time.

And yet, their views were as odious as they come. And they’re not just my neighbors; some of them are your neighbors as well. And not everyone who shares views like these join the KKK. Judging by the wording of the Marriage Plank, more than one of them joins GOP platform committees.

Robert
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Mark F:

In regards to Rmoney not bringing back DADT. What does that matter? He might not bring it back, but I can assure you that the Republican Party (as it is currently and likely to be next Congress) would indeed try to bring it back if a Republican is in the White House. And they would do it in the first term, and Rmoney would sign it to ensure a second term. I always here this meme about COngress being the ones o pass laws, not the President. He only signs what Congress sends him, or doesn’t. He may send up requests and bills for consideration, but since it is Congress that passes them, it doesn’t matter what Rmoney says about it now. If given the repeal in passed legislation, he would sign it in a second. And he has indicated as much in past statements. Although it’s hard to pin him down on which stance he still holds.

TampaZeke
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

“Oddly enough, I don’t exactly see Republicans as the equivalent of KKK members.”

Timothy is certainly a master of many forms of rhetorical fallacy.

Timothy Kincaid
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Jim,

The problem with your analogy is that to be comparable, the Republican platform committee would have to be homogeneous. Each line of the platform would have to reflect the view of each person in the room.

Because that is how you portrayed the Smiths. They all shared the same views. And yes they were odious.

Referring to ‘what the Smiths believe’ requires no nuance or clarification. They shared one view and spoke with one voice. And when the Smiths said “everyone needs to be treated with dignity and respect”, it was in context of their bigotry – the bigotry of all of them.

But the platform committee did not all share the same views. And the sentence that we are discussing was not written by Tony Perkins or reflect his views.

And I’m not saying this to defend the Republican platform any more than you are defending the KKK. It is odious.

But it is also changing. There was vigorous debate. Those who wanted to drop the hate lost but it should not be ignored that they were in the room and that they were there fighting for equality or that there were more of them than ever before.

And when they get one pittance, I’m not so blinded that I see it as more than a pittance. But I also see the very hard work that they are doing and have done to get this far.

And I know that they have laid groundwork for the next battle and the one after that.

So they got one tiny vague sentence included. It’s not a huge accomplishment, but it isn’t nothing at all either. It’s more than you, me, or Stonewall did to get any concession at the Republican platform committee and it represents a damn sight more work than I would want to do.

So I praise that effort. I also praise their efforts that lost, but that framed the debate. I praise the work they put in year after year and convention after convention. I praise their expansion and coalition building with Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. And I sure as hell praise their “throw away line” – the one they got included.

You chose to “bless their little hearts” instead.

TampaZeke
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I’m always amazed by people who have never lived in the South and who have never met a Klansman who seem to think that they lived 24/7 dressed in sheets and riding around on horseback looking for a **** to lynch. Just like FRC and other hate groups, the vast majority of Klansmen (particularly in the latter 20th Century) were church going, family men who were “pillars” in the community (law enforcement, mayors, council members, Senators…) Most would NEVER have considered actually lynching a black person or anyone else. Most Klan hate was behind closed doors and took the form of hateful language and the proliferation of misinformation. Unfortunately, I had/have Klansmen in my family and they were very careful of what they said in mixed company and only let their true hatred of Blacks, Jews, Catholics… when they felt they were in the company of sympathizers. They took great offense to the label “bigot” and claimed that they were just good Christian men defending “tradition” and family values. FRC is MUCH more like the Klan than anyone seems willing to imagine but yet, in 2012, they were allowed to write full planks of the RNC platform.

My point is: 1) you don’t have to wear a sheet and you don’t have to physically lynch someone to qualify as a hateful bigot, 2) hateful bigots have no business writing political platform planks for mainstream parties in a modern society and 3) gay rights organizations have no business making any statement that the 2012 RNC platform has ANY redeeming feature just because they got them to put in a line of bullshit that they clearly didn’t mean.

Jim Burroway
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

You chose to “bless their little hearts” instead.

I most certainly did. Because if that is a measure of progress, it has to be the most microscopic measurement I’ve ever encountered.

Timothy Kincaid
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Then I guess we disagree.

I will continue to support those who work hard for the progress that you mock.

Mark F.
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Robert:

You forget how many GOP Senators voted to repeal DADT. Even if the GOP gains a slim Senate majority, the votes aren’t there for repeal. And there is the filibuster, so you would really need 60 votes to repeal. Not gonna happen. DADT is dead, Romney knows it’s dead, the GOP knows it’s dead, and an overwhelming majority of the public wants it to stay dead. Republicans won’t beat a dead horse. I guarantee it.

I suggest you familiarize yourself more with the actual reality of the situation.

Mark F.
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I should have said “reinstatement” in my post, not “repeal.”

Mark F.
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

GOP Senators voting to repeal DADT:

Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

Robert
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Mark F: I completely understand the reality of THIS Congress, but the next Congress will have an influx of Tea baggers. And as such, I have not the faith you do of things remaining as they are. We see all types of rhetoric out of the GOP that goes against the recent votes, but that doesn’t mean they will not try. I believe they will, and as such, intend to vote in a manner that will not allow them the possibility.

MattNYC
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Whether or not individual Republicans run on it or not, it is used as a banner for the GOP. I’m in Central Florida at the moment and practically have to drive with my eyes closed for all of the disgusting, hateful billboards on every major road. And you can bet that no one who cares is going to pay any attention to one little, mousy line in it when it has all of the other hate-filled crap in it–whether explicit or implicit.

That said, I am willing to extend an olive branch to the LCRs for this milquetoast line–AS LONG AS they do not endorse the ticket. If they do, then they are no better than GOProud, and phrases like “Uncle Tom” will abound.

That said, the GOP platform is mostly window-dressing on both sides of the spectrum.

The Anti-Choice plank has been on the GOP platform since 1973. If abortion (and everything to do with us) were to become 100% illegal tomorrow, there would be tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of unemployed right-wing hacks, mostly in Washington, DC.

Anti-Choice, Inc. (like Anti-Gay, Inc.–with MUCH overlapping) needs their foil in order to keep the dough rolling in. As long as the ones doing the real work passing laws pay lip service and homage to the RW whackos, they can keep getting funded and the leaders of the whackos can keep making six and seven figures and buying their third and fourth homes (and keep their mistresses and gay lovers on the side). But they know that the second the taps run dry, their gravy train is over.

MattNYC
August 23rd, 2012 | LINK

…and then we’d have to do without our highly-enjoyable, “Email of the Day” entries…

Susan
August 25th, 2012 | LINK

This is far worse than a pittance. That adage of good writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Social conservatives have, for a long time now, reversed it. By telling, you can avoid showing. If you put it into your platform that you respect everybody’s dignity, if you say that you love the sinner but hate the sin, then you don’t actually have to do those things. You can point and say, “But look what we said! You can’t say we don’t respect you!”

Even when none of their actions actually impart dignity on others. The very same section is saying that same-sex marriage is morally degenerate. They’re *saying* they respect the dignity of same-sex couples, and then acting like we are responsible for the downfall of society. That isn’t an improvement. Not even a tiny one. It’s an attempt to distract, to divert the discussion from their actual policies and positions.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2012 | LINK

Well said, Susan.

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