Gay GOP woman of faith

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2014

Ashley Rooney, an executive assistant at Log Cabin Republicans, wrote an opinion piece for TownHall arguing that Republican Party holds a place of promise for gay and lesbian people of faith.

The article itself is mostly twaddle, a sort of blind stabbing at “liberals” and “the left” and and extolling of the theoretical virtues of the Republican Party.

But, nevertheless, the message – if heard by the right ears – is an important one. Too often people on both sides of the political divide assume that orientation dictates ones political ideology. And too often both sides of the political divide assume that matters of faith do the same. Rooney argues that this need not be the case.

Similarly, LGBT Republicans need to expose the inaccuracy of the liberal claim that the LGBT community is “overwhelmingly” Democrat. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2012, one in four LGBT people consider themselves to be conservative or very conservative, and a deeper look into these numbers reveals that the demographic breakdown of LGBT voter preferences is similar to that of the overall population.

Relatedly, we need to stop assuming that being a person of faith and being a supporter of LGBT equality are mutually exclusive. The left’s smears against religious Americans as anti-LGBT not only outcast LGBT people of faith but also ignore the reality that many religious communities are increasingly supportive of LGBT equality. A 2013 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that a majority of white mainline Protestants, 62 percent of Catholics, and over one in four white evangelical Protestants support marriage equality. A strong majority in every major religious group favors protections from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there are a growing number of religious groups dedicated to advancing LGBT equality.

Now I know that the first reaction of many will be to think, “but she’s wrong, Republicans are vile and any gay person so registered is delusional and self-loathing.” And undoubtedly some will find it impossible to skip an opportunity to weigh in on their own political leanings.

But setting aside Rooney’s partisanship and the perhaps idealistic rose-glassed view of her political affiliation, there is value in her statement. Primarily because it is something that flies in the face of the assumptions of a certain target audience.

Which makes where I read this all the more important. Rooney’s TownHall opinion piece was picked up by the Christian Post.

The Christian Post has, to the best of my recollection, only ever presented one variation of gay person before: the kind that advances an anti-gay crusade. They’ve had “former homosexuals” declare that no one is born gay. They’ve had bitter and emotionally stunted gay people rant on about the horrors of the “homosexual lifestyle”. They’ve presented the wacky two or three that buddy up with NOM to argue that gay marriage will be the end of the world as we know it.

But I don’t recall ever seeing a gay person on the Christian Post insisting that gay people should live openly and honestly, irrespective of their political leanings. Nor have I seen there an appeal to readers to find commonality or recognize support for gay people from within their own community.

I don’t know that this is a major capitulation on the part of the Christian Post. Nor will it likely change the minds of those who pretend that gay people either don’t exist or are demon possessed or are out to destroy America and civilization. But it might jar some who have simply accepted the easy stereotypes about gay people being “them” and perhaps plant the seeds of thought.

And it will, without doubt, piss off the LaBarberas and Stavers and Donahues who assume that all people of faith should and will rally around them and their campaign for bigotry. And that, if nothing else, is always a good thing.

Rowan Bristol

March 21st, 2014

I’m just trying to figure out the benefit of being gay in the GOP. Even the most conservative gay groups aren’t allowed to speak and be present at the major conferences. A conservative hallmark: Marriage and the family is something republicans actively want to deny gay people.

Let’s take a look at Illinois, for example. Democrat Jan Schakowsky is in a race against republican Susanne Atanus. Jan has a strong gay rights record. Even if you believed that spending taxes on poor people is a mortal sin, she’s still out there working to ensure workplace protections, marriage rights, et al.

Susanne, the choice by republican voters to represent them against Jan believes that God is angry with America because of same sex marriage, and has sent calamitous weather to punish us. She defended her statement by saying that being a Christian, she cares a lot about the world and about her obedience to God in the right way.

If this were an isolated example of how Republicans campaign on behalf of their LGBT bretheren, it could be easily thrown aside. The fact is, it’s not. I don’t believe that an LGBT republican christian is delusional, but I am curious to find out what belief is so important that it’s worth acting against the interests of themselves, and their families. There’s self-sacrifice, and then there’s self-harm.

MattNYC

March 21st, 2014

So how is 75% NOT overwhelming?

Isn’t it considered a landslide when an election is won by 75%? (Exception: if it’s a Republican, a .01% margin is called a “mandate”)

Richard Rush

March 21st, 2014

There’s an amusing irony concerning gay Republicans. The only reason that we know they exist is because they finally mustered the courage to come out of the closet in recent years. And, why is that? It’s because the people they love to whine about ~ the gay left ~ paved the way for them, beginning with the drag queens who poured into the streets at Stonewall in 1969. I’m still waiting for the gay right to express their gratitude to the gay left for improving their lives.

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2014

Richard,

A bit of history:

Gay Republicans were among our pioneers. I’d have to look more closely, but I think that our earliest activist were mostly either Communists or Republicans. This was, of course, when the Christian conservatives were predominantly Southern Democrats.

And more than an incidental number of those in the streets at Stonewall, including the drag queens, were Republican. For that matter, I know Republican drag queens now.

And as for Log Cabin, it was founded in the 70s and is among the oldest continually-operating gay advocacy organizations. There was an organized national Log Cabin before there was a national gay Democratic organization.

Until the 80’s, gay activists included a large number of Republicans.

Currently, gay leadership is predominantly Democratic. As is the vast majority of our support. But that was not always the case.

Steve

March 21st, 2014

Oh stop it with your endless, idiotic shilling for the Republicans already. It’s getting tiresome.

Bose in St. Peter MN

March 21st, 2014

I’m open to the reality that coming out as a (gay) minority of a (right-wing religious) minority is a somewhat different thing from my mid-90s coming out as a progressive Episcopalian. Even though some close family members were firmly far-right on LGBT issues, it didn’t make sense to me that the relationships might still be distant-to-nonexistent decades later, as they have been. No doubt, for those in the inverse world of mostly right-leaning family, faith and political circles with a few progressives sprinkled in, it’s often tougher.

And yet, I don’t mind owning my frustration with broad generalizations like “The left’s smears against religious Americans as anti-LGBT not only outcast LGBT people of faith but also ignore the reality that many religious communities are increasingly supportive of LGBT equality.”

C’mon, are left-leaning folks uniformly anti-faith, or are many of them supportive and inclusive of LGBT folk in and out of their faith communities because of their bedrock beliefs? You can’t have it both ways.

Ben In Oakland

March 21st, 2014

Sure they can, Bose. Some people can believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Rowan Bristol

March 21st, 2014

Timothy-

When you provide your bit of history, could you provide names and organizations? Or dates of events that would prove what you’re saying? You say during stonewall there was more than an incidental number of republicans present. Who were they? How did they champion our rights? What made the change?

I would love an article that provides this information, because it seems you have access to a secret history of the gay rights movement, that I’d love to see documentation for.

TampaZeke

March 21st, 2014

I’m afraid that the only real purpose that people like this serve is to be the go-to “some of my best friends are gay” that anti-gays always refer to after they have said or done something horrendously homophobic. That’s precisely why she was published on the Christian Post. She is willingly allowing herself to be that person that anti-gay Christians will point to and say, “Seee, even homa-sek-shals agree with us”.

TampaZeke

March 21st, 2014

Timothy, comparing Republicans of today with those of the 60’s and 70’s is a stretch beyond reason. I was one of those Republicans. The Republicans that you speak of have largely become Independents or Democrats and the racist, homophobic, xenophobic Southern Democrats have largely, almost entirely, become Republicans. Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud can hardly argue that they are Republicans because of what the Party was in the 1800’s or the 1960’s. In fact, in many ways, the Republican Party is just about the polar opposite of what they were in the 1800’s and the 1960’s. So is the DemocratIC Party.

Richard Rush

March 21st, 2014

Timothy,

One bit of history that I remember is that the Republicans of several decades ago were not the religious-right tea-party zealots that we have today. I literally remember when Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York and then Vice President of the United States. Surely, he would not recognize today’s Republican Party, and the Party would not accept him today. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the R-word.

MattNYC

March 21st, 2014

Richard,

One doesn’t even have to go that far back. Ronald Reagan (based on record–not rhetoric) and Bob Dole (champion of the Heritage Foundation-created Health Care Reform now known as “Obamacare”) would be drummed out of the Republican Party of today. They wouldn’t even get invited to CPAP [sic].

Paul Douglas

March 21st, 2014

Timothy:
The party of Lincoln has become the party of Jefferson Davis.

Paul Douglas

March 21st, 2014

Read the article. Had to hold my nose though. She’s got some God’s Own Party messaging going on there and would fit right in to CPAC if she weren’t a dyke.
How can any woman with a brain not be a feminist?
Just don’t get it.

tim lusk

March 21st, 2014

Here we go again, another attempt to put conservative politics in the bright gay corner. To be fair to Timothy, we are all multi-faceted. If one is born into the upper classes and hangs out with the moneyed people of the world, there may be a good chance that though you are GLBT that the moneyed interest out weight the GLBT interests in your mind, so you are vote Republican. I am the son and grandson of coal miners and the first college graduate of my family. Among my children are two medical doctors, a nurse practioner, and bio scientist. This was made possiable by a progressive system of govt that gave true opportunity through education and hard work for those who wanted to move beyond their present situation. The GI Bill after WWII created the middle class of the 60’s and 70’s. The decline of this progress began with Reagan and was followed in part by Clinton (a republican in democratic clothes). At the center of Republician desire, when you push past the propaganda words like: liberty, freedom etc. is to move this country back to the Gilded Age. I am sure there were a few rich queens in the 1% families of those days, but like today I am sure that were well covered up. There is a connection between progressive politics and the rights of GLBT persons. I fail to see in today’s climate what possiable reason a GLBT person would have for being republican unless it was self hate or the other thing: their upper class status is more important in their life than their GLBT status.

Lord_Byron

March 22nd, 2014

There is no denying that lgnt people is a diverse group and we are not a monolith, but the fact remains that the GOP has decided to become the anti-gay party because their base is old, white, and doesn’t like change. The average age of a republican voter is far older than the average age of a democratic voter.

“The left’s smears against religious Americans as anti-LGBT not only outcast LGBT people of faith but also ignore the reality that many religious communities are increasingly supportive of LGBT equality.”

There are plenty of liberal christians, but the fact also remains is that support in those religious groups is coming from the youth. A large majority of people under 30, no matter what faith, are supportive of lgbt rights. It is those that are older than thirty, specifically older than 60, that are anti-gay.

Timothy Kincaid

March 22nd, 2014

Zeke and Richard – yes it’s a very different party.

BobN

March 24th, 2014

“yes it’s a very different party”

So why write crap that pretends it isn’t just because they’ve kept the name?

Nathaniel

March 25th, 2014

I think we lose focus when we forget that there are a plethora of issues that guide Republican v. Democrat thinking. The problem with the two party system is that many people will fail to find a party they fully agree with. I think the issue this article (both Timothy’s and Ms. Rooney’s) is trying to get at is the fact that there are more important issues than the religiously-conservative social issues. Granted, for Ms. Rooney, the most important issue might be overturning Obamacare, but the point stands: if Republicans want people to focus on “the real issues,” then they will have to stop fighting so hard trying to deny LGBT people their rights. By couching this lesson in the misleading language she chooses, Ms. Rooney may actually be reaching those who are always up for opposing all those that are vaguely ‘against what we stand for’: “Oh, so Libruls are against us supporting gay marriage? Then by golly, I’m totally for it!”

Meanwhile, instead of merely trashing the GOP and any body that might agree with some of its policies, we should be working to fight the corruption in our political system. I regularly hear good ideas in that front (like instant run-off elections that make 3rd party candidates more viable), but obviously, they are not the focus of this blog.

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