Gay Marriage, the GOP and Political Courage

Steve Schmidt, the former campaign manager for John McCain’s presidential campaign has been making news today for saying that it is time for conservatives to back same sex marriage. In a speech to the national convention of the Log Cabin Republicans he makes a conservative case for gay marriage:

“There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage…I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one’s liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage. In a marriage, two people are completely responsible to and for each other…”

…If you are not willing to accept and faithfully discharge those responsibilities, you shouldn’t enter the state of matrimony, and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you’re straight or gay. It is a responsibility like no other, which can and should make marriage an association between two human beings more fulfilling than any other.”

He makes a pretty sound argument based on the conservative belief in responsibility. Marriage is in the end about being responsible. You stop simply living for yourself and live for that other person. When they hurt, you hurt. When they are happy, so are you.

Schmidt understands that a younger generation, personified by Meghan McCain, is much more accepting of gays and doesn’t understand what all the big deal is. Younger voters will be turned off by what they see as intolerance.

While appreciating the argument put forth by Schmidt, political writer Marc Ambinder doesn’t think that the GOP survive without social conservatives. He writes:

I know that there are many Republicans who support gay rights, and that most members of the Republican elite are pro-gay, and that the business wing of the party could care less about the issue. I know that suburbanites are turned off by conservative intolerance of homosexuality and gay rights. I know that younger Republicans tend to be pro-gay and are alienated from the rest of the party. But I also know that the possibility that the Republican coalition will find some way to organize itself without social conservatives is a ways of a way off. Schmidt’s concerns may be valid, but urging the GOP top adopt a tolerance platform WITHOUT figuring out how to declamp itself from the social conservative hook — that’s not terribly realistic. That’s why so many Republican strategists, even as they’re sympathetic to gay rights (and virtually ALL of them are), don’t advise their clients to so much as acknowledge the dignity of gay people.

If one were to look at this with the steely eye of politics, this might make sense. And I don’t doubt that the GOP would lose votes in taking a step towards gay equality.

But as a gay man who is a Republican and who is partnered, this isn’t an issue that is that far away from me. It IS me. It is my issue. It has been said that when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, he said that the Deomcratic Party would lose the South for a generation. He was right. The segregationist wing of the party basically walked out and became Republicans.

Of course, we know what the upside was. African Americans were allowed greater freedoms and, well all you have to do is go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to see some of the results.

The other thing is that while the Democrats did lose a substantial voting bloc, they also picked up other voting blocs to become the party they are today.

The Republican Party faces a hard choice. If the party does become more tolerant of gays, then they will lose a substantial voting bloc. But they could also gain new voters, especially young voters who would normally vote Republican but don’t because they are so intolerant of gays.

Ambinder refuses to dream. He refuses to see that things can change. Yes, for the GOP to make such a leap would be a big risk. Courage to do the right thing always comes with a cost. But there is a payoff down the road. One wonders what would have happened had LBJ not sign landmark civil rights legislation because he was worried about losing votes in the South.

Ambinder forgets that the status quo is killing the party NOW. Republicans are already losing votes. So, either way we lose votes, but I can say that what we gain by standing for gay equality is far more valuable than what we lose.

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Author: DENNIS SANDERS

  • http://www.themoderatevoice.com Patrick E

    A good speech by Schmidt.

    I don't know if I still qualify as a young voter but it is the social issues like this that make me uncomfortable to be a Republican.

  • superdestroyer

    Considering the massive level of incompetence demonstrated by the McCain campaign, why would anyone want to listen to the fool who was in charge of it. He has zero credbility and is demonstrating that McCain is not really a conservative, was never interested in conservative issues, and just needs to go away.

    At least he could have tried to dress it up in libertarian language or inssit that the government should never, never ask anyone what their sexual preference is. However, Mr. Schmidt is wanting to look hip and cool to the DC set that he is not smart enough to think about the long term consequences of adding sexual preference to the list of thngs the government can ask about and recreate programs to reward.

  • DaGoat

    This illustrates well the GOP dilemma – if they adopt more socially liberal ideas they will lose members. If they do not adopt more socially liberal ideas they will have trouble attracting members. This relates to abortion as well as gay marriage. Unless the Democrats fall flat on their face, which they are fully capable of doing, it will be a long time before the GOP is relevant.

  • superdestroyer

    Dogoat,

    The Repubicans will not be relevant again. It is much more likely that the U.S. wil become a one party state where the issues are decided in the Democratic Primary. If Chicago can be a one party state for 50 years, there is no reason why the U.S. cannot be the same.

  • Braindead

    It is not the federal governments duty, position or constitutional right to tell anyone who they can marry and who they cannot marry. That is the right of the states ala the 10th amendment.

    The GOP would do well to return to fiscal sanity, smaller government while turning back to the states those powers that the federal government has usurped in the process. Then all that federal income tax money the left is hollaring about can stay at home…..or more precisely the federal government can reduce their percentages of federal income taxes while the states can increase thier state sales and income taxes thus making up the shortfalls that they are experiencing by a ravenous freaking federal government that hasnt seen a dollar they cant spend.

    States rights. If done right would provide each state with the impetus to determine their own gay rights, abortion, welfare, health care etc. as its proscribed in the 10th amendment of our constitution which the federal government has usurped because we have let them.

    Just imagine how nice off California would be if the federal government adopted a flat tax of 15 percent and that California could then raise their income taxes by 10-30 percent? Raise their sales tax by another 2 percent etc…etc….they would actually have a balanced budget and be able to afford all those programs they only dream about. Instead of like our friends on the left keep proclaiming sending their money to kansas or wyoming.

    Friends. This nation was never intended to have this massive federal hydra in charge of everything up to an including telling us what kind of toilet paper to wipe our arses with. Our founding fathers would committ suicide after touring the USA if we could bring them back to life.

    States rights for the GOP and let each state make that call.

  • Silhouette

    Interesting you would bring up youth in the argument…

    My daughter who is young explained in detail to me one day how two of her friends who used to be interested in boys were aggressively stalked and seduced by a lesbian repeatedly. She was of the girls age and a peripheral to their group. Repeatedly if one of the girls would dare to try to date a boy, the lesbian became openly hostile to them, menacing and would belittle them daily for their choice. The girls to this day are now confused, bisexual and wrestling with what happened to their sexuality.

    I'll tell you what happened to it: aggressive recruitment. Having left the only other school in her district because of a stalking incident, my daughter said (after-the-fact) that the new school she went to had a “gay culture” that consisted of members who actively and aggressively sought to “initiate” heterosexual kids into their fold and that an informal point-system or bragging rights existed wherein homosexuals who “converted” the most number of heteros were held in high esteem amongst their friends.

    She was sickened by this “cultural” phenomenon in her school and watched as friend after friend got sucked into this web. Apparently it is common knowledge spreading amongst kids that of the two high schools in this certain district, one is the “normal” school and one is the “gay school”. And the kids know and will tell you of their prediction that if a kid goes to the gay school, no matter what their orientation going in, they will emerge bisexual at the very least and most likely homosexual. It's unfortunate because so many of the kids know this but the parents don't believe them, or there simply is the normal teen/parent communication breakdown. And because the school is located in a more yuppie area and has the (undeserved) reputation of a better staff, many well-meaning parents send their kids into boot camp for homosexuality.

    And I have found too amongst several lesbian women I know of and have heard chatting amongst themselves, that they consider conversion of heteros to their preference something of a sport. Several open lesbians were allowed to TA (teacher's assistant) at my kids school K-8. The 8th grade had one as the TA. Constantly she chided the girls to stay away from boys, “why would you want anything to do with them?”. Comment like this daily when she was out of earshot of other staff and only in the presence of kids (who naturally have second voice next to an adult staff member). She patted girls on the rump and openly lusted after one of them in class, making inappropriate comments to her in the presence of the other girls.

    Gay men have a phenomenon similar. The street word I've heard commonly is “Twinks” or “Twinkies”. It is a word for vulnerable young men who are sexually charged but frustrated in their drives for girls who are harder to get in bed. So they are easy prey for gay men to seduce and fixate into homosexual release for their drives. “Young meat” is another word I've heard. The conversion kudos are similar and again, for a homosexual to convert a vulnerable (usually young adolescent) heterosexual is considered almost a sport and those who acheive this inappropriate contact and successfully bend the normal sexual drives of adolescents to fixate in homosexual conditioning are considered something of folk heros in gay culture.

    Of course, not all gays behave this way. Some believe in allowing others to fixate their own preferences. But I can tell you that a vast majority of them I've seen, heard of and talked to personally will laugh and agree that in a perfect world everyone would be homosexual, or at least bi. It is the sport they won't tell you about. And I'll tell you that their pleas for marriage rights are a smokescreen by and large, again with some exceptions. Civil unions would suffice but they don't when it comes time to go to the adoption agencies. And that is why they want the “right” to marry, to adopt a new generation to rear…

  • Silhouette

    The title of this article infers too, via psychological clubbing I've become so familiar with in PC-land, that if you're not in support of homosexual marriage you are “chicken” [not courageous] by default.

    So if you aren't in support of gay marriage, in the gay view, you are either “homophobic” or “chicken” or [insert derogatory phrase here intended to whip]. And it follows logically that if you are against gay marriage you are completely without merit and always basing that opinion on hatred, whim, or religious dogma and absolutely NOT on known socialogical phenomenon, hard science [see the AI industries findings that sexuality in mammals is malleable], or real anecdotal accounts of homosexuals attempting to recruit as a cultural sport.

    Ask yourself, what exactly is the term “Bi-curious” when used to invite youth to gay-sponsored events in your community? Is it not a de facto admission on behalf of the gay culture that sexuality is learned and that youth are impressionable? And that inviting youth [implied as the events are tailored towards youthful activities] to explore homosexuality via the gateway of bisexuality is active recrutment of youth?

    Bi-curious. A term they invented, not me..

  • DaGoat

    Personally I think the government should handle the civil union business and religious organizations should handle the marriage business.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    Sil, what you mention has nothing whatsoever to do with “gay marriage”. Needless to say, hetero boys are similarly aggressive in attempting to seduce girls, virgins especially. And just as you describe “bragging rights” for homosexuals who seduce hetero girls or boys, heterosexuals get similar rights for seducing gay boys or lesbians. Your comment is a nonsequitur.

  • Silhouette

    My comment is relevant if the majority of the voting public does not wish our society to become predominantly homosexual.

    I think we should put it to a national vote and have done with it.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    That is not true, Sil. And I'm straight, and married. Prohibiting gay marriage doesn't affect how teenage gays behave. What are you thinking? I do have a few gay friends, some partnered. They do not behave in ways you describe, and would never encourage youngsters to do so either.

  • Braindead

    Yes its actually the left who hate Gays, not the right. The right prays for them. The left doesn't like gays because they are not a big enough pac. There needs to be more gays in order for the left to stand up for the Gay people.

    So what Sil is saying is true. The left demands that we all be injected with the gay virus so that we can start multiplying gays at an accelerated rate and make the gay activism worth the while of the Left.

    They only give lip service to it. It seems as if there just arent enough gays. Thus as sil points out we should have a vote and be done with it because we dont really want the Democrats to unleash that gay germ they are secretly hiding.

  • Chase_T

    Silhouette,
    You're take on gay people recruiting people is beyond ludicrous. In 1978 Ronald Reagan said, “Homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles, Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” (Google it if you don't believe me) His quote was very true. In fact the prevailing opinion today is that gay children are born gay. (It's unknown if it's genetic, occurs in pregnancy, or of other causes) Census data from the United States, and data from other countries as well, indicated that Gay people come from every background and that between 5%-8% of the population is gay. There is no difference if someone is from a city, suburb, or rural area. Your entire argument is based on the basis that “gays' recruit,” which the theory behind it has been thoroughly disproved decades ago.

  • whitetrashlib

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Do you even know any gay people? Do you think because of some second-hand story from your daughter about a lesbian, you have special insight into this issue?

    The truth is the gay community is more diverse, and yes, conservative then you know. I am a gay man who does his best to be a good citizen, to be respectful of others opinions, is religious and agrees with many issues poised by social conservatives. I am by no means alone.

    Let me tell you this one more time:

    1. Gays don't recruit. There may be individuals who pursue people out of misguided desire, but it is not part of a recruitment effot. We're just not that organized, nor do we care who is gay or who isn't.

    2. Gays aren't sex fiends who can't control their desires. Contrary to what people believe, I as a gay man am not attracted to EVERY man. It is amazing how many men think that their possession of a penis qualifies them as some object of universal gay affection, no matter how fat, stupid or unattractive they are.

    3. The only right most of us want is the right to be left alone, but that seems to much to ask. All I want is to live me life without being dragged into this ridiculous arguement, but it just seems to much to hope for.

    So thanks again Silhouette, for making my life more difficult than it needs to be. Oh, and let me say it again. You really don't know what you're talking about.

  • CStanley

    I enjoyed your comment, whitetrashlib (afraid to ask about the screenname!)

    I think what you describe is true for the vast majority of gay people. I wonder though if you'd agree with me in my opinion that the vocal minority who lead the 'in your face' sort of protests and who do promote the promiscuous part of gay culture (which has it's counterparts among heterosexuals, of course) are part of the problem?

    I don't think that all gays are represented by those types, by any means (certainly not true among the gays that are personal friends and acquaintances of mine.) Nor do I think it's fair for people like you to have to defend yourselves against that image. But unfortunately I think that's the reality of political movements- the fringe gets the most attention and then the fringe from the other side reacts to that stereotype. And even people who are more moderate on each side often go along with the caricatures and try to leverage the sterotypes of extremism on the other side, in order to win more favor with undecided moderates.

  • whitetrashlib

    I do indeed agree with you about the vocal minority. Pick a controversial subject, and the fringe will always get the best press. This is because cable news is ratings driven, rather than content driven. They are beholden to their stockholders and turning a profit, and journalistic integrity doesn't help in that area.

    CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc…take a look at their websites, or even just turn them on for a bit. Normally one has to read The National Inquirer for that sort of reporting, but no more. The tabloids have taken over, and in the tabloids, gay people have traditionally been held up for ridicule.

    As for the name, I am from a small rural Oklahoma town, but have lived on the Upper West Side for a number of years now…I just combined the two.