Michael Crawford

Are Gays the New Blacks for GOP?

Filed By Michael Crawford | September 11, 2007 6:16 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay rights, LGBT rights, race, Republican Party, Republicans

The Boston Globe has a smart op ed pointing out the similarities between how the Republican Party is using LGBT issues now and the way that it used racial doublespeak to solidify its support amongst white evangelicals and appeal to social conservatives.

Opposition to gay marriage, along with other forms of gay rights that emphasize the equality of gay and straight relationships, is a key point of connection between Republicans and voters who might otherwise oppose the GOP agenda.

In recent years, gay issues have functioned to help build a Republican coalition in a way similar to the role once played by race issues. In the '70s, '80s, and '90s, the national GOP came out strongly against programs to create special opportunities for racial minorities, thereby gaining substantial support among white social conservatives.

Democrats often charged that the Republicans' opposition to busing for school desegregation and affirmative action hiring plans was a code for much deeper resistance to minority advancement. Democrats saw it as a way for Republicans to signal to voters who opposed voting rights and desegregation that Republicans wouldn't pursue those goals very aggressively.

The Republican game of dividing the electorate to win elections continues unabated. Their so-called "Big Tent" is less about inclusion that it is about building a fence to keep out all the Americans that they have contempt for including people of color, LGBT people and working Americans.

Considering the increasing diversification of the population and the more progressive views of younger generations, this does not seem like an effective strategy for a governing majority. The GOP of the future will reap the political costs for what the current Republican Party has sown through its commitment to divisive electoral strategies.

Read the full op ed here.

Cross posted at Bloggernista.

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I am in a comments thread on another blog today where the author complained about right wing Christians being linked with the KKK and pro-slavery groups. He didn't understand why. How interesting to see the Boston Globe with a corollary. Thanks for sharing this - I hope this gets more circulation.

I hope that coming generations will be better about these sorts of issues. But I just saw a commercial for the Tyra Banks Show about teens and racial, sexual, and gender stereotypes, and it promised to shock me.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | September 11, 2007 8:02 PM

It would also be great to have the Log Cabin Republicans stand up and comment on this, but I fear that they won't.

The GOP is able to continue its use of coded language because not enough people speak out against it.

Interestingly, if you look at the testimony before Congress when President Truman racially integrated the armed forces, it is strikingly similar to the arguments made against LGBT integration. In fact, there are several sentences where you can substitute 'gay' for 'black,' and the testimony is the same, word for word.

So much for the GOP 'big tent,' I suppose. It didn't seem to be there in the 40s, and it is sorely missing today, too.

Not exactly the same thing, but Suzanne Pharr's essay "Welfare Queens to Gay Marriage" still floors me every time I read it. The four pages are definitely worth the 10 minutes.


There is a famous quote by Bayard Rustin, a saying that he often included in his speeches in the years toward the end of his life, which goes something like, "In America today the gay man is the new nigger." [This has often been mis-quoted as "the gay black man" but according to his own writings, he often did not include the word "black".]

How prophetic, coming from a man who has been referred to as a "Lost Prophet": That two decades after his death, we are still talking about gay men (and lesbians) as being "the new niggers" for the GOP --- yes, Michael, I realize you did not use the n-word in the title of this post ... but that is essentially what you and the op-ed piece in question are saying, isn't it?

Of course, Rustin was talking about traditional America in general, and this post identifies the GOP specifically. But obviously the observation is the same.

To me, this point has been so unmistakeable for so long that I must ask, Why are we still discussing it, treating it as if it is still a question? I do not say this to denigrate your post, Michael --- only to point out, as a footnote and not as a criticism, that this "news" --- recent op-ed or not --- is actually about two decades old.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | September 12, 2007 9:39 AM


You are right that the use of coded language by the Republican Party to appeal to people's fears and biases is not new. But, it is something that needs to be repeated over and over again until people really get it. If it didn't work to some degree, then the GOP would not use it every election cycle.

We cannot let them get away with it any longer.

I think most Americans have become used to the GOP being racist and homophobic. It is what they've come to expect. Not that it's an excuse for them, just the reason why it's not "news" that the GOP doesn't have a lot of black, Asian, Hispanic or queer members in the "big tent." Folks have become blase...