Bil Browning

Gays: Voting 'Straight' Republican

Filed By Bil Browning | November 08, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics
Tags: republican gays

Michelangelo Signorile had an interesting show last week. He asked his listeners who voted for Republicans to call in to his show and explain why they voted that way. The responses were fascinating for their leaps of logic and incredible excuses.

So what do you think? Do their explanations make sense to you? Did any of you vote for a Republican in the last race?

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I don't get why the second caller doesn't make sense to Signorile, with the "you don't have a luxury not to put being gay first" stuff. With thought leaders like Signorile, I can't figure out why gays aren't winning all the time everywhere!

And the third caller in that video? Oh my. How is voting for your own civil rights not "greedy," at least as greedy as voting for your pocketbook? Voting for someone else's civil rights, now that's generous, but your own is pretty greedy.

Not that I have a problem with that - most voters vote for whomever they think will make their lives better. But to make it seem like voting for your own civil rights is less greedy than voting for an economy that you think will benefit everyone is just stupid.

Signorile's response is a great example, tho, of how liberals deal with rightwing economic talking points: respond with some abstract claim on people's consciences instead of just responding to the incorrect economic claims being made. The caller said spending was up just now since Obama took office and it's all the Dems fault, but that's not true. The caller thinks that money is a zero-sum game and that giving it to people who aren't working means there'll be less for him, which isn't true. The caller believes that spending is a bad thing that will hurt the economy, and that's not true. The caller said that people were sitting at home getting his money, as if not giving them the means to live will make them go out and get one of those nonexistant jobs, and that's not true.

There were lots of points of attack, but what does Signorile say? "You're greedy! Vote for your civil rights!" And we wonder why conservatives don't instantly think we're thoughtful, deep people, only concerned with debating ideas who never, ever insult people as a substitute for substantive policy debate. How could they have us so wrong!

I think you should replace Signorile. You're certainly more thoughtful and this conversation needs that.

Bil: I tried to post on Alex's article about the same subject, and for some reason, my post didn't get through. I'm still wandering through Mac issues. With heavy withdrawl symptoms.


I mentioned Michael's excellent radio show last week. I wish I culd listen more often, but I did hear it last week. He asked those among us who voted Republican to call in. He listened intently for over an hour, then he'd had enough. Some poor lady from Florida called and indicated she'd voted for their new Republican governor, and Michael basically said:

'Look, he thinks you and I should be second-class citizens. He doesn't like us unless we quietly go into the dark about our civil rights. How could you vote for him?' She was clueless. She kept saying "but the folks we voted for didn't do what we want so I wanted to throw them out."

In this woman's case, she was caught up in the right-wing noise machine. The incumbent whom she wanted thrown out was Charlie Crist, who was running for Senate. Her gubernatorial vote didn't even remain genuine to her stated beliefs.
As if that stops folks.

I'm para-phrasing, but you get the drift. And I decided, via Michael's excellent (as usual) guidiance, to draw the line here:

My friends, family and associates who want to talk politics with or around me, will know this:

I'm not going to be kind about any politician who seeks to diminish my already-reduced civil rigihts. Anywhere. Any time.

It's really that simple. The Log Cabin folks can pound their chests all they want about the California DADT lawsuit, and God bless 'em for that. But they supported some dastardly candidates. Our advocates in political circles, had better simplify the message. How about this:

Leave. My. Constitutional. Rights. Alone.

Trent Gifford | November 8, 2010 10:36 AM

The callers are certainly displaying a stunning lack of logic and it's incredibly disappointing to hear. But I'm also not okay with Signorile's suggestion that gay people ought to all be single issue voters (I know he doesn't say that outright, but that seems to be the implication). This is argue to say that Republicans have the answers to any of the non-LGBT issues that I deem important. They don't, and this election was devastating for so, so many reasons. But I fundamentally disagree with his statement that gay people don't "have the luxury not to put being gay first." Statements like this really overlook the other factors that create privilege, and they erase difference along the lines of race/class/power WITHIN the monolithic gay community that he's describing. His seemingly wealthy caller from Maine exemplifies this point, and this actually reminds me of how important class is in determining who NEEDS to be concerned about the benefits that civil rights like marriage provide.

Trent Gifford | November 8, 2010 11:52 AM

Yikes, that should read "This is NOT to ARGUE that Republicans have the answers..."

I think Signorile is generally right to call out the stupidity of voting Republican to punish Democrats, but I think what's even more stupid is this attitude that there are two opposing stances, pro-gay and anti-gay, rather than a complex set of positions on a whole range of issues that affect queer people. Issues, by the way, which are inter-related with all kinds of other issues having to do with the economy and labor and education and the environment, etc. etc. He assumes there's a checklist, a universal gay agenda, that we bring to evaluate each candidate.

Voting, I think, should be a process of deciding which candidate has views which most closely resemble my own on a variety of issues that are important to me. For me, that has usually been Democrats, but that is increasingly less the case. Voting Republican isn't a solution -- Republicans are even further away from my views. If people want to make a real statement about how ineffective Democrats AND Republicans are lately, don't vote for either of them.

In 1992 a loud and angry part of the gay community in Atlanta lashed out at incumbent senator Wyche Fowler. I don't remember exactly why but it was in the vein of "he let us down on "X" so we'll show him."

I was at Fowler headquarters in Athens on election night. Wyche won the most votes but not by enough to avoid a run off.

During the campign leading up to the run off I watched in shock as good friends, gay friends, actively campaigned for republican Paul Coverdell. It was a deranged act of vengence, a collective cutting off of noses to spite faces. It's a rare case where a republican is a better long term choice on LGBT issues.

Coverdell won by a slim margin in the run off and went to Washington as the first republican senator from Georgia since reconstruction. He was the foot in the door.

Oddly, I can't even rember what it was Wyche did to piss people off.

That's Isakson's seat now. Sitting next to him is the charming Saxby Chambliss. Rember Saxby? It was his office the "all f**s must die" comment came out of a couple months back.

This "Democrats vs. Republicans" is hurting us more than either Party. We need to take the issue of our equality OUT of politics and directly to the people. Until we do that we will simply be used as a polarizing issue and we will never win.

Rick Sutton | November 8, 2010 1:37 PM

Well, Andrew, I'd love to. But in today's political climate, it's a fact, that an overwhelming majority of Republicans want us to curl up and die, civil rights-wise. So do too many Democrats.

JP, I rememmber that Georgia nonsense. And don't forget, Cmabliss is the lovely gentleman who mocked then-Sen. Max Cleland for his alleged lack of support for veterans' issues. On a debate stage in Athens.

Now, mind you, Chambliss STOOD at that debate. Cleland sat in a wheelchair. Because he lost his legs in VietNam.

He had served as Veterans Administration director under either Carter or Clinton, yet this numb-nuts Chambliss had the audacity to challenge his Veteran streed cred.

And he won.

I have no faith in, or respect for, voters who aren't smart enough to sort this out.

"Well, Andrew, I'd love to. But in today's political climate, it's a fact, that an overwhelming majority of Republicans want us to curl up and die, civil rights-wise. So do too many Democrats."

I'm not aware of anyone that actually wants us to "curl up and die," but 50% of Republicans are anti-LGBT and about 35% of Democrats are anti-LGBT. Those beliefs are directly related to religious-intensity.

It might be a good idea to try to enroll the good 50% of those Republicans and the good 65% of Democrats, don't you think? We never will if we keep playing the game.

Rick Sutton | November 8, 2010 6:22 PM

No, Andrew, think again...

Please tell me any legislature, or session of Congress, where less than 80% of Republicans voted against us on a particular GLBT issue.

And, 20-30% of Dems, sometimes, regretably more.

It isn't a game. It's our civil rights. And one party has made a cottage industry out of smashing us from coast to coast.

The other one just smashes our dreams.

I know which is worse. Most of the time.

Interesting observation about religion. I'll have to ponder that. Heretofore, I'd just chalked it up to ignorance.

I was referencing members of those parties, not their elected leaders.

Politics is NOT our civil rights. Politics is a game. Only one-third of adult Americans even play that game. Most have figured out it is generally useless.

In my lifetime I can't name one significant thing that any president accomplished. Regarding congress, I won't even try. I'm not sure why some people are obsessed with something that doesn't work.

I would replace the "civil rights" with "equality" and I would suggest that is a better goal. Civil Rights are what we'd have to settle for - with equality they wouldn't be necessary.

If the majority of Americans supported our equality would you care what political party they were members of? I think enrolling people to support our equality is much better than playing a game ... a game that really doesn't have a very good track record of accomplishment.

Sadly the problem appears to me to be that the Democrats do not seem to exert the same level of control over their own side of the isle as the Republicans do. Very few times in the last two years did we observe the Democrats vote in unison to pass a bill. Add to this the fact they just did not wish to have it appear as a defeat so in cases like ENDA we never seen it even brought out of committee. On the other hand the Republicans seem to be able to marshal their troops into voting in mass. Some in the Democratic Party may say how great a job Pelosi and Reid did but I feel as they both failed in many ways. They rarely managed to even slightly dent the Republican block, and often did not even manage to get all the Democrats inline on the same page.

I wish I could say I was optimistic about the future for ENDA or Civil Rights and Equality for LGBTQ Americans but given the fact it could have, and should have happened over this last two years I am not sure when we will see it for some time. Those who argue we can bring the Republican Party into thinking that Bills like ENDA are a good idea, are by and large living in a dream world. Too many in the business world oppose them. It is counter to the Tea Party/Libertarian thinking that opposes Government interference in their business and lives. The Republicans and Tea Party people depend upon those who oppose LGBTQ Rights far too much ever openly support those Rights and they have proved they tend to deliver all their votes in unison to oppose what they feel is big Government. I am not sure what they put into the KoolAid they make Republicans drink but it seems to work for them. They can do what the Democrats cannot seem to manage.

Some LGBTQ Americans voted against the Democrats, some stayed at home and did not vote. The results are all known now ( except possibly Washington State and Alaska ) so all we have to look forward to is two years of the Party of No saying No to any of our Rights. Enjoy.

Nicholas Sherman | November 12, 2010 11:26 AM

The argument regarding spending issues democrat vs republican is such a phony issue look at the records over the past 40 years. Republicans have NEVER balanced the budget, they have increased the deficit more than the Democrats (wars, tax cuts for the very wealthy, tax breaks for big corporations just to name a few items).
The great conservative (laughable) Ronald Reagan grew government, increased taxes and increased the deficit more than any previous president.

It is sad that people buy into the propaganda put forth by the right-wing. Look for yourselves people the records are there if you put forth a little effort and find out for yourselves.