Friday, August 31, 2007

Gays and the GOP

This is probably the best assessment of The Republican party's relationship with the gay community:

From the top of the party to the bottom, few Republicans personally and viscerally dislike gay people. President Bush has had friends he knew were gay. So has Vice President Cheney. Even the most prominently and vigorously anti-gay Republican, Sen. Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, had a gay spokesperson whom he defended when his homosexuality became known.

The big, open secret in Republican politics is that everyone knows someone gay these days and very few people – excepting some committed anti-gay activists – really care. It’s one of the things that drives religious conservatives crazy because it makes the party look like it’s not really committed to traditional sexual morality.

So to keep religious conservatives happy the party has done two things. First, it has steadfastly resisted efforts to ease anti-gay discrimination in public policy, even when Republican politicians know better. I can’t tell you how many Republican staffers told me, for example, that their bosses privately opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment but would be voting for it anyway.

The best evidence for the "talk a big game" explanation was the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that President Bush floated around during the 2004 election. Discussion of that idea summarily died shortly after John Kerry's concession speech. At various local levels Carpenter's assessment probably does not hold much water, but among the national party I think it's pretty accurate.

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