GOP “Political Insiders” Support Avoiding Same-Sex Marriage As An Issue
January 15th, 2013
The National Journal hosts a panel they call Political Insiders, consisting of a selected group of about a hundred politicians (current and retired), consultants and strategists from each party. Obviously, the panel isn’t necessarily representative of the larger political class, but it can be a good indication of how the pulse is beating on several issues. A recent Political Insiders question asked the following:
|Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?|
|My party should support it||97%||27%|
|My party should oppose it||0%||11%|
|My party should avoid the issue||2%||48%|
A few select responses:
“Wouldn’t it be fascinating if for once the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?” one GOP insider asked.
…”The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it,” another added.
That second line is indicative of how far we’ve come in such a short time. It was only a few years ago when you’d hear Democrats muttering those rueful sentiments. But now, only 2% of the Dems on this panel want to avoid it, with 97% seeing it as both a winning issue and the right position to take. My, but how the wedge has shifted.
I wonder though, is there any other issue — any issue at all — in which nearly half of the Republican members of this panel think the party should avoid?
Virginia Republicans suddenly support gay judge
January 15th, 2013
Poor Belshazzar could be forgiven for not reading the handwriting on the wall considering how fast it’s been scribbling. I swear I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republican Party sent out a press release saying, “Hey, about that marriage thing, you knew we were kidding, right? I mean c’mon it was just a joke. Ha ha. Dude, I mean seriously, of course we support you.”
Well, okay maybe that would surprise me. But not much more than what’s happening in Virginia.
It seems that a Mr. Tracy Thorne-Begland was nominated as a General District Court judge. True, it’s more like People’s Court than Supreme Court, but last year the legislature just wasn’t having it.
Not cuz he’s gay, hrmph mutter mumble, but because he’s one of those ‘openly aggressively gay’ gays and had gone on TV as a Navy pilot opposing DADT. And that was violating military policy and breaking the law and so such.
Ah, but that was last year. And since then it seems they’ve seen the hand writing on the wall. And it was writing “mene mene of you are going to lose elections if you don’t drop the anti-gay crap”. So this year they have a whole new tune.
In the interim Thorne-Begland got a temporary appointment and, by golly it turns out that all his confirmation problems turned out to be a huge comical misunderstanding. (WaPo)
Republican leaders, who are hoping to de-emphasize some of the social issues that dominated the previous session, said they were changing course in this case because they had received more information. Morris said he initially believed that Thorne-Begland had violated Navy regulations by coming out on national television but later concluded that he had not because he was not in uniform on TV.
Well golly gee, I’m awfully glad that was all cleared up. For a moment there I thought it might have something to do with obvious political trends or the fact that Corporate America had a lil’ chat about what is good for business.
And so today a joint House and Senate panel voted unanimously to advance his approval to the floor.
“I share with you a high degree of comfort you will be certified and elected on the Senate side,” Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) told Thorne-Begland on Monday.
Ya think so, Mr. Majority Leader? Well, I tekel u-pharsin word for that.
Sen Kirk backs pro-gay Illinois GOP Chairman
January 10th, 2013
Confirmed bachelor, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) has weighed in on the brouhaha resulting from Illinois GOP State Chairman’s support for marriage equality. (WBEZ)
“Senator Kirk has full confidence in Pat Brady’s leadership as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and looks forward to working with him to elect Republicans in 2014,” Lance Trover, a Kirk spokesman, said in a statement.
Illinois GOP Chair Resists Calls To Resign Over Marriage Support
January 10th, 2013
The head of Illinois’ beleaguered Republican Party is staring down a revolt from some state party bosses after he bucked the official GOP line last week and urged state lawmakers to approve same-sex marriage.
State GOP Chairman Pat Brady faces growing calls for his resignation, at a time when some Illinois Republicans are rethinking the party’s image and stance on social issues, following a dismal showing in November’s elections.
Brady told WBEZ that he hadn’t spoken to party members before speaking out in support of a proposed marriage quality bill. Brady calls the ban on marriage quality the “last condoned discrimination” in Illinois. It is unclear whether there are enough votes in the party’s state committee to force his ouster. Brady isn’t backing down from the threat:
“If people want to throw me out because I took a stand on an issue of discrimination [as] the chairman of the Republican Party, the party founded by Abraham Lincoln, then that’s – that’s up to them and they’re free to do it,” Brady said. “But I’m not backing down.”
Pat Brady lobbies for marriage equality
January 2nd, 2013
Though you probably haven’t heard of Brady, he has a rolodex to envy. It’s not from his years with high power law and accounting firms, nor his work with the state attorney’s office or the Department of Justice.
No, Pat Brady has the ear of a number of legislators in the state for another reason. He’s the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. (Daily Herald)
Brady said he was making the calls as a citizen, outside of his official role with the Illinois Republican Party.
“I think it’s time for people to support this,” Brady said.
2013 is already turning out to be very interesting.
UPDATE: Brady’s efforts are extremely important, as vote count by conservative site Illinois Review suggest that the bill cannot pass without some Republican support. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Heather Steans, says she has the votes, “if everyone shows up”.
Suburban Romney voters supported marriage equality
November 30th, 2012
Walter Olson of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute took a look at the voting results from this month and found something interesting: marriage equality passed in three states – and a ban was defeated in one – in part due to suburban Romney voters.
The Maryland ballot referendum, Question 6, essentially asked voters to confirm or reject a new law allowing same-sex marriage. In 11 of the 18 counties that Mitt Romney carried, Question 6 fared better than President Obama, a sign that GOP voters had crossed over in support. While the phenomenon could be seen everywhere from farm towns to blue-collar inner suburbs, the biggest swings tended to come in affluent bedroom communities. At one precinct in Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore, with 2,116 votes cast, there was a 28 percentage-point swing, leading to a landslide for Romney and the ballot question: Obama drew a paltry 37 percent, but Question 6 carried the precinct with a whopping 65 percent.
And it wasn’t just an odd quirk. Consistently, in all four states, a significant number of suburban Republicans went to the polls and voted for Mitt Romney and marriage equality.
This isn’t to say that Republicans supported marriage equality as a whole or that Democrats did not. Rather, it says that enough Republicans in suburban counties went against their party – exit polls suggested 20 to 25 percent – to make up for those rural conservative Democrats who voted to oppose our marriage rights.
It turns out that in 2012, demographics drove the marriage vote in significant ways. While party registration and presidential selection may have influenced most personal votes, the culture of the community voters live in had tremendous impact on Republicans (and to some extent Democrats).
One quick way to look for towns where Republicans were especially likely to approve same-sex marriage is to consult the state-by-state Yahoo.com “Best Places to Live” series, which highlights communities with high incomes, high education levels and low rates of property crime. The list of “Best Places to Live in Minnesota” is dominated by outlying Twin Cities suburbs, most of which tilt strongly GOP: Sixteen of the 20 supported Romney — six of them by 60 percent or more. But only one town among the 20 voted to ban same-sex marriage, and by an anemic 50.28 percent (had nine voters there switched sides, the outcome would have been different).
This sort of information is valuable in that causes us to nuance our thinking and opens possibilities that we might have been otherwise quick to dismiss.
Michael Lucas on party and politics
October 24th, 2012
Porn king Michael Lucas has an op-Ed in the Advocate discussing why he is not (yet) a Republican.
Here’s the simple truth: I’m not a Republican. And here’s the less simple truth: I wish I could be.
I’m an intensely political person by nature, so it’s infuriating not to have a party that I can support. In many ways, that party should be the GOP. As an entrepreneur and an individualist, I am drawn to the Republicans’ hands-off approach to fiscal policy. But although I believe that government should not interfere with business, I believe just as strongly that religion has no business in government.
Lucas’ perspectives are probably more common than many bloggers and blog readers suspect.
Mehlman: Conservative case for marriage
October 13th, 2012
Considering that Ken Mehlman is perhaps best known for being George Bush’s campaign manager during his “ban gay marriage” reelection campaign, it’s a bit ironic hearing him now advocate for equality. Nevertheless, the message – in this case – is more important than the messenger. And this is a message that needs to be heard.
“Conservative” can mean adherence to a specific set of political positions. However, it also can also refer to a way of life, an approach to thinking and the manner in which one structures their personal affairs. While “conservative” (in this sense) may have a loose correlation with the political term, a far-left Democrat who has a wife and children, a college fund, and retirement savings invested for the long term is far more conservative than a Republican playboy who throws lavish parties and is invested only in risky schemes.
I suspect that because the terms are the same, many people (especially those who live in conservative areas) believe that while they cautiously plan and prepare and value tradition and family, those liberals out there in San Francisco are irresponsible and wife-swapping and are all divorced and their kids run free like animals. That may be an extreme, but I do think it likely that they genuinely believe that liberal people do not value marriage and family as much as they do.
Which raises an interesting disconnect. What do you do with the gay folk who are clamoring for the right to marry, raise kids, live in a white picket fence neighborhood, volunteer for the local boy scout troop, and march in the Halloween Parade? That’s so… conservative. Those aren’t “San Francisco values”. How can this be?
One answer, the one pushed by those who have an interest in dividing the nation and living off the discord, is that Teh Gheys are only trying to get into marriage – and other conservative institutions – to destroy it! They don’t really want to marry, they hate marriage (because it was designed by God) and they want to bring it to an end.
And if you live in that bubble and are looking for a way to make your conflicting impressions make sense, this is an appealing answer. And besides, it’s championed by people who claim that they are good conservatives, the same people who value tradition and family and morality and decency, so it must be true.
Which makes it all the more important that another answer be heard. And that it too be championed by people who are good conservatives. They don’t want to hear from the people who insist that there be no crèche at Christmas or those who think it’s better to live together before marriage or those who think that more taxes are the solution to an economy without jobs or the folks who insist that Palestinians have as valid a claim on Jerusalem as the Jews. They don’t trust their judgment and they aren’t going to agree with anything you say.
But a conservative – especially one they trust – well, they’ll maybe at least listen. So I love that Ken Mehlman starts his op-ed this way: (StarTribune)
What do Clint Eastwood, Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, and John Bolton have in common? All are strong, lifelong conservatives. Each has fought on behalf of smaller government. And all support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.
You may think Eastwood a doddering fool, but they LOVED his speech about the empty chair. You may think Cheney a war-monger, they think he’s a defender of the nation. And John Bolton, well he’s that Fox News guy who stood up to the United Nations or something.
And Mehlman speaks their language.
But this amendment would put a one-size-fits-all government mandate on all private institutions, including our churches, by telling them that any marriage they choose to perform is null and void for the purposes of Minnesota.
As Republicans, we respect the individual and work to empower people to live as they see fit, with as little intrusion by the government as practical. This idea is grounded in an important Judeo-Christian value that we should all treat others as we would like to be treated.
The argument isn’t new. It’s not really that revolutionary. And to those who think conservative lives equals conservative politics, this is an appeal that allows them the ability to hear our appeal and to consider us as maybe, just possibly, a little bit, well, conservative.
This is the message that will eventually win them over. And let’s hope that Mehlman’s appeal will work with voters in Minnesota. (And some day later we can deal with the eventual outcome: the day that conservatives start ranting about how The Gays need to settle down and find a good man and get married and raise a family like decent people and lesbians do.)
Roy McDonald (Republican Four) appears to have lost primary
September 24th, 2012
The National Organization for Marriage finally has a non-made-up-totally-bogus reason to celebrate. It appears that Roy McDonald has fallen victim to their attempts to punish those Republican New York State Senators who voted for equality. (Times Union)
Marchione was up by 110 votes when counting began Monday in two counties of the 43rd State Senate District. McDonald gained 23 votes in Saratoga County, but was offset by a 26-vote pickup for Marchione in Columbia County, according to election officials in Saratoga and Columbia counties. Elections officials in Rensselaer and Washington counties tallied their absentee ballots last week.
All things considered, McDonald trailed by 113 votes with 50 ballots set aside.
This is very sad news and probably will hurt us on some level with close legislative votes in which we need some Republican support. But on some level, this is an inspiring story.
Sometimes victory comes in unexpected ways. Sometimes someone goes against the odds, does the right thing… and loses anyway. But there is nobility in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, and sometimes in the loss comes a different victory, the victory of example. Of honor. Of respect. Sometimes this year’s loss gives birth to next year’s greater success.
I don’t know if this is one of those times. Maybe politicians will see McDonald as an example of why you always put the safe bet first, of why you use polls rather than conscience, of why you should kowtow to right-wing extremists. Maybe they will see this as evidence that ill will and malice are tools more effective than integrity, of how you win by following instead of leading.
But maybe (and I know I’m often too optimistic), maybe this off-the-cuff, unprepared but totally honest answer that Sen. Roy McDonald gave to the press at the time of the vote will live on to encourage others:
You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.
You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.
I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.
Saland (one of the Republican Four) wins primary
September 24th, 2012
Steve Saland, one of four Republicans in the New York Senate to vote for marriage, has won his primary. On election day the results were too close to call, but now that the absentee ballots have been counted it is clear. (Poughkeepsie Journal)
After the remaining absentee and affidavit ballots were counted today at the Dutchess County Board of Elections Saland received 286 and Di Carlo 217, said Fran Knapp, Democratic election commissioner.
This gives Saland a grand total of 5,288 votes and Di Carlo 5,181 votes in Dutchess and Putnam counties — a 107 vote lead for Saland.
There are 34 ballots set aside for judicial review before the results become official.
Of the four, Sen. Alesi did not run for reelection, Sen. Grisante won his primary on election night, and Sen. McDonanald’s absentee ballot count has not been completed.
DADT Is Still An Issue for GOP Base
September 18th, 2012
ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) at last week’s Values Voter Summit and asked wither he would support re-instating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gay military personnel serving openly which was rescinded one year ago this Thursday. Jordan answered, “We’ll look at guidance from our military, but I’m certainly supportive of going back to the previous policy.” ThinkProgress explains why we should pay attention:
Though first elected in 2006, Jordan is no back-bencher. He chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 160 Republican congressmen dedicated to pushing conservative causes that wields major influence within the GOP caucus.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said earlier that DADT’s revival was “not something that I would personally bring up.” Gov. Mitt Romney, too, has said that he would not pursue its implementation if he wins the presidential race. That’s not exactly a principled stand against DADT’s revival, but it does recognize that DADT is not a burning issue, even among a very substantial number fellow Republicans. But not being a burning issue is not opposition; it’s just a complacent acceptance of the status quo. And that complacency ignores the fact that there are still a lot of Republicans for whom it is a burning issue, and they have been ascendant in the GOP for the past four years.
And so, I would have to say that those statements from McKeon and Romney answer the wrong question. The real question is this: If DADT’s revival were to gain traction, would you oppose it or support it? Because personally, I cannot even begin to imagine that a President Romney would suddenly grow a principled backbone and veto such legislation if it were to reach his desk.
NY primaries pit anti-gay Republicans against pro-gay incumbents
September 13th, 2012
There’s nothing that angers an anti-gay more than a pro-gay Republican. They consider it traitorous for someone who runs as a conservative or a Republican to vote for equality and they vow revenge.
The National Organization for Marriage has, for example, made it a high priority to “punish” those Republican legislators that voted for marriage equality. The top article in the NOM blog today is:
We promised that we would hold accountable all the politicians in Albany who betrayed us on marriage. We have delivered on our promise to not let the actions of those who flip-flopped and voted against the will of the people be forgotten.
We have fought the good fight, in the name of honor and integrity across New York State—but today we need your help to finish the job!
Today is Primary Day in New York.
But NOM is not alone. Primary opponents too have taken up marriage as an Alamo cause. Though perhaps not exactly wisely.
One rabble rouser who wants to see Sen. Grisanti replaced decided that the smart way to attract people to his arguments is to email them gay porn. Matthew Ricchiazzi, some bisexual dude who unsuccessfully ran for Buffalo mayor (and who evidently opposes equality) sent out this:
Yeah, that wouldn’t have been my first choice of campaign literature but I get the impression that he’s not very bright.
And then there was Juan Reyes who decided that Republican NY city councilman Eric Ulrich was too friendly with gay people. So he sent out this:
That didn’t exactly go as planned. As a result, Rudy Guiliani, who had stayed out of the race, endorsed Elrich.
After seeing what his campaign has done, which is disgusting, Juan doesn’t belong in politics. I don’t know where he belongs, but he belongs someplace else… I find these attacks, the gay-bashing attacks, childish, silly, and a real indication you don’t belong in public service.
It will be interesting to see how the primary goes.
UPDATE: Both Grisanti And Ulrich won their primary races tonight.
David Koch endorses marriage equality
September 1st, 2012
From Fox News
Billionaire businessman David Koch has helped direct millions to Republican candidates but he disagrees with the party on gay marriage.
“I believe in gay marriage,” the 72-year-old Koch told Politico. He was in Tampa as a New York delegate and to attend an event held by Americans for Prosperity — the political advocacy group he helps fund and lead.
And that could make things interesting. When a billionaire speaks, politicians listen.
August 29th, 2012
In an article entitled “GOP friendlier to gay community — at least behind the scenes“, CNN tells the story of Barbara Ann Fenton and Themis Klarides who propose and seconded, respectively, a proposal that the GOP platform endorse civil unions. It seems to tell a tale of party bosses and right wing activists who craft the voice of the party to be ragingly anti-gay, and delegates who don’t all necessarily agree.
Check out the article and see what you think.
Fenton said after the meeting she had only one disturbing run-in.
“One person did come up and tell me I should renounce my Catholicism — that what I was spewing was pure evil,” Fenton said. “It was hard to keep a straight face.”
But for the most part, the reaction she received from other delegates and Republican staffers was positive. She said she felt that behind the scenes, the party was much more supportive.
“People kept buying me drinks and kept coming up to me saying how they wanted to support my group for doing this. I don’t have a group,” Fenton said. “Some people asked me if I was gay. I told them you could still be for gay rights and be a heterosexual. I don’t think that’s political suicide. If it was, I wouldn’t be a part of this party.”
She said, “One guy even dropped a note in my lap. I thought I was going to get bashed with some nasty note, like you’d get in fifth grade. But what it said essentially was, ‘I’m in the closet. Thank you so much for this.’
“People may now realize you can be gay and still be welcome in the GOP party.”
Personally, I’m decidedly less optimistic than Fenton.
The Republican Convention, circa 1992
August 29th, 2012
20 years ago, at another Republican National Convention, Mary Fisher stood up to say that “the AIDS virus is not a political creature” and challenged her party to see her as “one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection.”
It’s not far-fetched to believe that George W. Bush’s record on worldwide HIV/AIDS (called PEPFAR, the “President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief”) was partly inspired by this amazing speech given when his father was up for re-election. In 2012, however, “HIV” and “AIDS” do not exist in the party platform in terms of US-based efforts (PEPFAR’s focus is Africa); instead, where the platform mentions publicly-funded research it says that “research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups” and lists things like “breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and other killers.” If HIV/AIDS were implied here, it is at the very least unclear and, by any reckoning, an obvious repudiation of Mary Fisher’s call to action.
This year, the Log Cabin Republicans in their most recent National Update in July had this to say:
As Republicans it is time to recommit to the defense of life and liberty and renew the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This month the International AIDS Conference was held in Washington, DC, focusing on the need to fight complacency, particularly among gay and bisexual men. Despite medical advances, LGBT minorities continue to be devastated by the crisis. While GOP leaders work to rein in government spending, funding for HIV/AIDS programs should remain the priority they were to the Bush administration.
Strong words and yet, thus far in Tampa, not a word has been breathed about HIV/AIDS. The focus for LCR in addition to a full page ad in Tampa has instead been on marriage equality.