Andrew Belonsky

Back In Power, Republicans Reclaim Anti-Gay Marriage Mantle

Filed By Andrew Belonsky | November 12, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, News, North Carolina, politics, Republican Revolution

With the rise of the Tea Party and fiscal conservatism, I truly hoped -- and believed -- that Republicans had moved on from divisive culture wars. contractwithamerica.jpg I sincerely thought the days of forcing gay marriage bans was in the past, an ugly history that would be rectified when the libertarian strains emerging across the nation solidified.

Apparently I was wrong, for Republicans in both Minnesota, North Carolina and potentially elsewhere are gearing up for a fresh battle around marriage equality.

Maybe it is 1994, after all.

Sixteen years ago, in the first Congressional election of Bill Clinton's presidency, the Grand Old Party swept state and national races in an event that would become known as the Republican Revolution.

With their new-found power, the Republicans helped force through DOMA and sparked a gay marriage craze across the nation, with great success. By taking control of the state levers, that party helped set the nation's agenda for the next decade, at least. Now they are at it again.

Pundits, politicos and the press have spilled massive amounts of ink comparing this year's midterms to those of 1994. And, yes, we can all admit the parallels are striking: a new Democratic president with a "radical" agenda under siege by a newly emboldened right. Back in 1994, however, the dominant ideology was social conservatism.

This year it was fiscal conservatism, leading many, including myself, to have faith that the new Republicans had bigger political fish to fry than marriage equality. We were sorely mistaken.

Now that they're in power, Republican leaders across the nation are stirring the pot of anti-gay sentiment. North Carolina's GOP, for example, has started laying the ground work to ban gay marriage in the Tar Heel State. And they feel entirely justified.

Said Rep. Justin Burr, "If you look at the last two years when the Democrats and the liberals here have pushed their ultraliberal social agenda in Raleigh, that's what really pushed the grass roots to fight back here and helped us win a majority."

In Minnesota, meanwhile, where Republicans have also seized control of the state government, conservatives are fully prepared to introduce a prohibition on same-sex nuptials. According to State Sen. Warren Limmer, there's "a lot of bottled-up desire" to pass such a law.

Considering this trend, the Human Rights Campaign is predicting similar moves in other states, like Pennsylvania and Indiana. "With the new Republican majorities, it's going to be a whole different ball game," explained state legislative director Sarah Warbelow.

This is quite the distressing development.

I've been accused in the past of being a "Pollyanna," because I've tried with all my might to put a positive spin on what can be an increasingly unsettling situation: gay progress. I took offense at the time, but now I'm feeling quite foolish, for my naive idea that Americans, regardless of political party, were starting to have a change of gay heart has started to crumble.

The light at the end of the tunnel I saw wasn't the end at all; it was simply a reflector, warning equality allies to prepare for a swift turn, one that will take all our might, ingenuity and stamina to surpass.

While some of us wanted to steer this old Jalopy of equal rights into a garage and enjoy a new era of American politics, it's time to refuel and get back out there to run down the prohibitive initiatives that are sure to pop up from coast to coast.

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So much for the idea of America as the land of equality.

I had a really funny feeling about those Tea Party people, and there was always little doubt in my mind that they were simply hiding their homophobia until after the election. I hate to stereotype, but just look at any photo of a Tea Party rally and tell me if those look like the kinds of people who favor GLBT rights.

Anyone with an eighth of a brain can tell that all this anti-gay business is just to distract voters from the fact that most of the Republicans have no real ideas for helping the economy and are solely concerned with making their rich friends even richer, at the expense of fiscal responsibility and the economy as a whole. If demonizing a vulnerable minority and blatantly betraying the ideals on which this country was founded is what it takes, then so be it. In the quest for extravagant power and wealth, sometimes you have to step on people.

If you've been accused of being a Pollyanna, I would say I'm the opposite. I really do think this country is a classic example of a crumbling empire, and the sociopathic behavior displayed by the GOP is as much a symptom as it is a cause.

I forgot to mention that there is one little ray of hope, as far as the GOP is concerned. Have you heard of Gary Johnson? He's the former governor of New Mexico and a Republican, and he plans to run in 2012. Here's the thing: He's a libertarian in the Ron Paul mold, but unlike Paul, he's pro-choice and supports GLBT rights and seems to be better at publicity than Paul.

Here's a recent article about him in The New Republic:

Come 2012, I'm seriously thinking about voting in the Republican primary for him. A race between him and Obama would be a good way to pull the rug out from under the anti-gay bigots.

Kathy Padilla | November 12, 2010 11:06 AM

"I truly hoped -- and believed -- that Republicans had moved on from divisive culture wars."

There was absolutely zero evidence to support such a hope. The R's became more conservative over the last several years & shut out their more moderate voices. Club for Growth, Tea Baggers when pushed to comment on the issue (Angle, Miller, Armey etc.)

That was truly a triumph of hope over experience.

The views of society towards Gays are changing and improving. Gays need all the allies we can obtain in our continual struggle for full equality and civil rights. We have individuals Jill McCain who has recently spoken up in favor of repeal
of DADT and the end to Gays being treated as second class citizens.

There is an old saying "if you get lemons, make lemonade". The reality is that there are Republicans who were recently elected who did not get elected on anti-Gay platforms. Why not dialog with them BEFORE they are taken in by the Republican blocks at the state level or in Washington?

AJD should have stopped after his very perceptive original post. Like Andrew Belonsky's inital delusions about the 'teaparty,' this Gary Johnson stuff is not just wishful thinking, it's symptomatic of a bizarre determination to avoid reality.

No matter how hard TNR, Andrew Sullivan or anyone else tries to pretend otherwise, Gary Johnson is not going to be in the running for the Republican ticket. Rick Santorum isn't going to be there either, but he's got a lot better chance than Gary Johnson.

And the GOP's anti-equality efforts are not going to be limited to NC, MN, PA and IN; you can add IA and NH at the very least. And, of course, the lame duck session of the U.S. Senate re DADT.

It's not just wishful thinking; Johnson himself said he's determined to run, even if he ultimately loses the primary.

Scarlet letters
Salem Witch trial
Religious tests for public office
the illuminati
Catholic oppression
Mormon oppression
All are the keys to push back with.Call them on their religious persecution.

Hiram Walker | November 13, 2010 6:37 AM

Thanks for the article on Johnson. I like what I read about him.

Unfortunately, libertarians such as Rand Paul might believe that LGB people should be left alone by the government ... without believing that the government should recognize us in any positive way, such as extending hate crime protections or equal marriage rights. I also have known libertarians who believe the government should get out of marriage altogether, including straight marriage.

Like any other ideology, libertarianism can be twisted and tweeked to accommodate one's personal prejudices. Even so, being confronted with a GOP majority over the next two years (at least), the LGBT politically active ought to dialogue with, and support as appropriate, the libertarian thinkers that are more favorable to us. We should encourage and empower the libertarian thinkers among them to keep the rabid evangelicals at bay. And to the extent we can, we should get smart and use the "divide and conquer" strategy to our own benefit, for a change.

I don't think that's the case of Rand Paul or his dad. There are different strains of libertarianism, and the Pauls follow the socially conservative version. In other words, they think the government should keep its hands of commerce, but they have no problem with it locking up gay people, or worse. Ron Paul is affiliated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama, which is a major center of this social conservative libertarian thinking. The institute includes among its faculty Gary North, who was a protege of none other than Rousas John Rushdoony, the father of Christian Recontructionism (the people who want to abrogate the Constitution and turn the U.S. into a fundamentalist theocracy, complete with executions of gay people, witches, unruly children, etc.).

On the other side, you have the socially liberal libertarians, the ones who tend to favor gay rights, legalization of pot and so forth. Whatever the faults of their economic ideas, they don't scare me nearly as much as Ron and his son do.

Get your facts straight. Ron Paul does not support criminalizing homosexuality, he opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment and he voted to repeal DADT.

I didn't say he supports criminalizing homosexuality. I said he has suspiciously close ties with people who do, close enough that I would not be comfortable voting for him.

LGBT420supporter | November 16, 2010 4:16 PM

Ron Paul also favors marijuana legalization and ending the War on Drugs. I, too, will be pushing hard for Gary Johnson instead of the elitist jackass that is taking up space in the White House. He's younger and more energetic.