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Formerly vocal anti-gay GOP leaders now moving on

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2014

The New York Times interviewed some leading Republican politicians about the now vetoed anti-gay pro-discrimination bill in Arizona and found nearly all speaking the language of conciliation:

More than anything else, the division was a window into a Republican Party that remains torn on gay rights issues, be it the Arizona measure, same-sex marriage or permitting gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Some of the party’s most committed voters continue to be intensely opposed to gay marriage, but their views are at odds with an increasing percentage of the American electorate, particularly younger and independent voters.

“The establishment’s reaction to the Arizona law reflects the reality that much of the country’s views on these issues have changed,” said Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Wait. Tim Pawlenty?

Just three years ago Pawlenty was signing the National Organization for Marriage’s Pledge that he’d push for a Federal Marriage Amendment and only appoint anti-gay judges. Just three years ago he was on Family Research Council’s bus tour promoting Christian supremacy and narrowly defined family values.

Frank Keating, a former governor of Oklahoma, said that while he opposed same-sex marriage, issues of public accommodation had long ago been settled. He said that he, too, would have vetoed a bill like the Arizona one.

“This isn’t 1964 anymore,” he said. “We’ve moved beyond that. If you open up your doors to the general public, you can’t pick and choose who you are going to deal with.”

And with that, the conservative Oklahoma Republican kicked institutionalized anti-gay discrimination into a grave.

Oh we will continue to fight battles and defend our right to exist. Marriage and other matters of full inclusion will remain contentious for a while.

But I think this article answers the question as to whether we’ve reached a turning point. We have.

The opponents of equality put up quite a fight and many of us were lost. But we have won the day. The river has been forded and the gates are in ruins. Never again will those who seek to impose their definitions of righteousness upon us be in majority nor hold the presumption of moral truth.

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TampaZeke
March 1st, 2014 | LINK

“And with that, the conservative Oklahoma Republican kicked institutionalized anti-gay discrimination into a grave.”

Since he’s still against equal marriage for gay couples it sounds more like he’s kicked institutionalized anti-gay discrimination down the road toward the graveyard.

Denying gay couples the legal right to marry is institutionalized anti-gay discrimination.

But I agree that we’re hearing the death throws of institutionalized homophobia. Unfortunately the Republican Party, and particularly the Republican base, are many years from becoming a Party that isn’t institutionally anti-gay.

FYoung
March 1st, 2014 | LINK

“But we have won the day. The river has been forded and the gates are in ruins. Never again will those who seek to impose their definitions of righteousness upon us be in majority nor hold the presumption of moral truth.”

Those are pretty bold statements, but I hope you’re right.

I would feel more confident if I understood what was happening and so could confirm that it is indeed irreversible, but I can’t.

According to Nate Silver, the change in public opinion on same-sex marriage in the US is due in equal parts to generational change and to intra-generational attitude change.

Generational change is irreversible, but I don’t think that we can safely assume that it will always be in our favour. We know that in Africa and much of Asia, younger generations are barely more gay supportive than older generations. So, it is culturally specific, not universal.

I don’t think we really understand why young Americans are so much more gay supportive. I suspect that TV shows (eg Degrassi High, Glee, Ellen Degeneres) and music stars (Madonna, Lady Gaga, Elton John) had a lot to do with it in the US, but why does it not work the same in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia? Why did South Korea move so much faster than Japan? I wish it were better studied so we could help it along.

There is only one factor that I can think of that works in our favour and is not readily reversible, provided a critical mass has been reached: coming out.

Once a person comes out, it is pretty hard to go back to the closet. And it creates a virtuous cycle; the more people come out, the easier it is for others to do so. And coming out dispels most of the stereotypes and hate propaganda. Once a critical mass is reached, it basically works only in one direction and tends to become permanent. I think that coming out is ultimately our best garantee.

However, in countries where almost nobody is out, coming out can have the opposite effect. It can be alarming to a population that had been blind to LGBts and now perceives that the country is overrun with them. It can stir up a vicious backlash. I think LGBT activists and foreign policy officials have been naive in not anticipating this and adequately planning to minimize the backlash and protect its victims.

Robby
March 1st, 2014 | LINK

FYoung — I suspect overall support for gays in America will NEVER go down — we are too important to businesses, and that is the bottom line. In fact, several industries could not even exist (Hollywood) without us. The high-tech industry is gay, gay, gay, and it rules the world. Therefore, in a very real sense, WE rule the world. The dwindling hardcore of bigots trying to defend their collapsing regime are trying to weaponize religion as a tool against us. But even mainstream Christians are waking up to this con, and this abuse of religion, which at its heart is supposed to be about love and compassion.

Therefore those who are abusing religion to bash gays and enforce “conservative” values are being stripped of their moral authority. And institutions like the Catholic Church can dig it’s heals in, but they have already lost — they will either respect and honor gays as equal to all of God’s children, or they will beome an increasingly irrelevent coven of morally bankrupt child diddlers looking to scold the rest of us for OUR supposed immorality. In the end, Churches will either embrace gays, or be empty. Its as simple as that — we won.

Ben in Oakland
March 1st, 2014 | LINK

Fyoung, I have maintained for decades the the enemy isn’t the antigays, but the closet. That’s their enforcement mechanism, where they get us to oppress ourselves.

Coming out is indeed the antidote.

Hue-Man
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

Fyoung: “….but why does it not work the same in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia?”

IMHO, the answer is found to a related question – which I’ve put crudely here: “What explains the anti-black racism of certain white American teens?” When I watched “Prom Night in Mississippi”, the 2009 documentary about the first integrated prom at Morgan Freeman’s high school, I understood the answer to be: “My parents and all my family and friends taught me that way.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1334555/

If all you ever hear is gay hate at home, your church, your school, and from your national and local governments, the pro-gay sentiment of shows like Glee may not be a strong enough message for a straight Ugandan teen to ignore his anti-gay indoctrination. Ironically, what that teen needs is “gay propaganda”!

Hunter
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

I’m afraid I have to consider Timothy’s conclusion a little too optimistic. To paraphrase the Terminator: They’ll be back. The Arizona bill and related bills in other states are simply the latest manifestation of the right-wing strategy that has been used against reproductive rights and now voting rights: keep chipping away; keep throwing stuff at the wall and eventually, something will stick. They’ll take these bills back to the drawing board and re-introduce them, again and again, until they start to get what they want. When the lose court cases, they’ll appeal, and appeal, and appeal until they reach the Supreme Court, where these days anything can happen.

FYoung
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

@Huue-Man “If all you ever hear is gay hate at home, your church, your school, and from your national and local governments, the pro-gay sentiment of shows like Glee may not be a strong enough message for a straight Ugandan teen to ignore his anti-gay indoctrination. Ironically, what that teen needs is “gay propaganda”!”

But, the question is how can we overcome that? And that brings me to the question how was it overcome in the past where it happened?

I think in the past it happened extremely slowly, and only in societies where young adults could achieve financial and social independence from their parents, church and the state, and where there was a fair amount of law and order, as opposed to mob rule or theocracy. TV and music became influential quite late because there wasn’t a critical mass.

Today, I think people can come out to themselves and their peers through the Internet, including social media like Grindr. But, the Internet is not equally available in all countries and in all languages, and heterosexuals would typically only use the Internet to access sources that confirm their existing values anyway. While gay-friendly television shows already exist, they are only available in some places and in some languages, and I don’t think that has been mapped.

I think television and Internet are probably key vectors today, but their influence varies by country and language. I don’t think the influence of entertainment media and the Internet has been studied enough to understand what is going on, what to avoid and what to facilitate and stimulate.

I am concerned that we are operating blindly and may make more mistakes that could turn things in the wrong direction, as in Africa and the former Soviet block. South Africa moved way ahead, or at least its laws did, but South Africa was never followed by the rest of Africa, and all of Africa is now moving in the opposite direction; I don’t think we understand why, and I don’t think we can assume that South Africa won’t start undoing all the progress they made. The former Soviet bloc moved ahead a bit, but is now moving in the wrong direction. Why did the Caribbean not go the same way as North and South America?

It is crucial that we understand those cases so we don’t get China and India wrong.

Steve
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

Ah, Timothy shilling for the Republican Party again and pretending that things are better than they are.

tristram
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

Wow – lotsa happy-talk here. Are we forgetting that one of the big arguments against 1062 was that Arizonans were already free to discriminate against lgbts? And maybe discrimination never happens in Arizona, but there are plenty of places in this country where it does.

If (as appears possible) 2016 brings us a Republican in the White House and a GOP majority in the Senate (along with stronger GOP majority with a stronger teaparty tilt in the House), movement towards equality could quickly go into reverse – or at least into slow motion for a couple of decades. In that scenario, chances are high that the Roberts-Thomas-Alito wing of the Supreme Court will achieve a 6-3 majority position. Even the present ‘balanced’ court is fine with the states “chipping into” voting rights and Roe v. Wade.

Take a look at the state legislatures – including Arizona and even places like Michigan and Ohio, let alone the ‘deep South’. If more of these guys win in 2014 and 2016 and they think they have the backing of the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court, all the discriminatory legislation is going to come flooding back. Name me one credible GOP presidential candidate who would oppose it?

tim l
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

as trisram pointed out, it is already legal to discriminate and fire GLBT in Az simply for not being straight. The intent of this bill was to provide even more cover if the state looses the right to deny gays marriage….that is the reason it keeps popping up in other versions all over the country. I think when focus on the family and its off shoot political organization stop bringing in money I will believe you. But there are too many rich bigots to keep them funded for anything to change in the near future.

Zach
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

As others have mentioned, look at what is happening with reproductive and voting rights.
To declare victory when gay marriage is banned in 33 states and a lot of states have no laws protecting LGBT people on the books is premature.
I read an article about how it will be five years since gay marriage was made legal in Iowa.
The bigots and the Republicans there have made it clear they still want it put on the ballot for people to vote on, despite the fact none of the horror stories they predicted have come true.
They will never, EVER give up the fight to make up second class citizens and to celebrate like this is a bad idea.
We need to on guard more then ever.

Joseph Singer
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

The good news is that they’ve decided that the fight in the US is not constructive so now they’re putting their efforts in fomenting hatred hatred for gays overseas especially in Africa.

Nathaniel
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

The bad news is “that they’ve decided that the fight in the US is not constructive so now they’re putting their efforts in fomenting hatred hatred for gays overseas especially in Africa.”

Nathaniel
March 2nd, 2014 | LINK

I’m not sure Timothy means this so much as a victory speech as a pep talk. It’s half-time, and we’re winning, so don’t give up.

MattNYC
March 3rd, 2014 | LINK

@FYoung,

“but why does it not work the same in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia?”

Assuming that pop culture is a major player in changing attitudes, in these places the pop culture is decidedly anti-gay. Murder music (otherwise known as Dance Hall/Reggae) is widely popular in Africa and in the Caribbean. Their celebrities are as anti-gay as ours are pro-gay/pro-equality.

Furthermore, there are very few “welcoming” churches/clergy in these countries. Or at least it isn’t done so in public. So even non-gay, gay-positive people need to “come out” to make a difference. But they will face persecution (including possibly death) in the short-term.

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