Matt Comer

The Recession Can Aid in LGBT Equality

Filed By Matt Comer | May 23, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Defense of Marriage Act, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Freedom to Marry, GOP, Jim Daly, John Boehner, Recession, republican

Freedom to Marry is touting today a World Magazine interview with Jim Daly, president gas-prices.jpgand CEO of Focus on the Family, wherein the anti-gay leader admits the struggle for LGBT equality in marriage is all but lost for the religious right and their Republican bedmates.

"We're losing on that one," Daly says in the June 4 issue of the publication, "especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age - demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that."

But it's not just young folks who are increasingly being turned off by the seemingly sex-crazed politics and wedge issues of the right. Recent polls are finding new majorities of voters in favor of marriage rights - or, at the very least, some sort of legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. And, with the economy still in turmoil - gas prices rising and the like - progressive and LGBT advocates might just find entirely new demographics opened up to their support.

A week ago, the price per gallon of regular gasoline was edging ever so slightly more toward four dollars - more than half the federal hourly minimum wage. The effect on the average American family is astounding, with prices of food and other necessities inching higher and higher.

At times like these, when an average paycheck can take care of bills and fuel but not much else, how much real concern could there be for the private lives of consenting adults?

My cousin, a Navy vet, is no friend to the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, or his governor, Bev Perdue. In the past, he's not been all that gay-friendly, either. His concern on marriage for gays? Close to zero.

"I took a look at the core values for Republicans and I have to wonder how many people that call themselves Republicans readily agree with the values," he wrote recently on Facebook, citing the GOP's principles on "individual rights and freedoms available to all."

He was commenting primarily on the May 17, anti-gay marriage rally staged by the North Carolina group Return America and attended by the likes of the Family Research Council's Tony Perkin's and AFTAH's Peter LaBarbara.

"Instead of sending 2,300 people to the capital for the marriage act, maybe we should have sent 2,300 people to protest the fuel tax, the lack of jobs, the fact that Bev vetoed the unemployment extensions, or the fact that our governor walks in lockstep with this disaster of a president," he wrote.

Clearly, being a Republican doesn't mean one can't also support LGBT equality. Take, for example, the push by wealthy GOP donors to fund marriage equality initiatives in New York. Though one might argue a person like my cousin doesn't really support us, I'm willing to take his non-opposition and run with it.

Mainstream Republican leadership, however, has evidently missed the memo detailing their constituencies' primary concerns. In Minnesota, an anti-gay marriage amendment will be placed on that state's 2012 ballot after passing both the Republican-led senate and house. In North Carolina, where Republicans swept into legislative power for the first time in a century, lawmakers seem poised to consider two versions of a similar amendment that could go so far as to ban recognition of domestic partner benefits offered by private companies and associations.

Federally, House Speaker John Boehner was willing to commit as much as $520 per hour up to $500,000 on defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. That's big bucks compared to $7.25; families that are struggling to pay bills and buy gas to transport their children to school, soccer practice, and doctor appointments should be outraged.

As bad as the recession might be, with so many folks losing their jobs and livelihood, it might also turn out to be a blessing in surprise. Spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in defense of a so-called "institution" that everyone knows is in decline (through no fault of gays, mind you) is a damn hard sell.

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