Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gay Republicans are Widening the Playing Field

In August 1995, GOP presidential hopeful Bob Dole famously returned a $1000 donation to the Log Cabin Republicans, telling an ABC News interviewer, "I don't agree with their agenda -- I assume that's why it was returned."
 The New York Times reported on August 27, 1995,  
"But Richard L. Tafel, the president of Log Cabin, said he had dealings with several senior Dole campaign officials who had sought donations from his organization. He also said he prominently wore a Log Cabin lapel button as he discussed AIDS budget allocations with Mr. Dole at one of the Senator's fund-raising events."
"Mr. Tafel made available a letter he received from John A. Moran, the Dole finance director. "Per our discussion," Mr. Moran wrote, "I am attaching a list of upcoming Dole for President fund-raising events. Senator Dole and I would appreciate any assistance you could give us in turning out your members at each event. I am looking forward to working with you." The letter, dated May 24, closed, "With all good wishes. Cordially, John." 
A Dole spokesman said at the time that those discussions were unauthorized.

What different times we live in fifteen years later. Back then, Log Cabin was the only national conservative group of gay and lesbian Republicans, but the GOP wanted nothing to do with them. They were considered an embarrassment to the mainstream, mostly Democratic, LGBT rights movement. Most queer activists saw Log Cabin members as a manifestation of the stereotype of the self-loathing homosexual, trying desperately to be part of an organization that didn't want them.

In hindsight, isn't that what coming out and the whole LGBT rights movement has been about? Overcoming our collective self esteem issues, standing up to discrimination and demanding our place at the table is what drives us, regardless of our political affiliation. I think they call this "common ground".

Last year saw the founding of another, more dynamic group, GOProud, founded by former Lob Cabin staffers Christopher R. Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia, who grew disillusioned by Log Cobin's centrist positions. Now as the two conservative gay groups duke it out for influence in the GOP, mainstream (liberal) queer activists aren't sure what to make of the change in the political landscape. And there are some surprising conservative names and faces among their straight allies.

With last week's bombshell announcement by former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman that he is gay, after years of orchestrating ideologically-motivated, anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives, The Mehlman Factor has also created divisions within the GOP. Christian Conservatives, after decades of unlimited access to the White House and Congress, have lost much of their influence in most of the party. In a desperate search for leadership, the disaffected GOP base now follows Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sara Palin and company. Political pundits have more sway then either party these days.

The Tea Party is gaining political influence and siphoning off those who feel abandoned by the old-school GOP they helped build. As the Republican Party struggles to redefine itself after their 2008 ass-kicking, it's looking more and more likely that the new Grand Old Party is going to be a lot gayer. This new dynamic changes the game. For the last 21 months, the LGBT Community has grown increasingly unhappy with the Democrats and specifically Barack Obama over their lack of movement on promised reforms.

For decades the LGBT community has faithfully backed the Democrats, because we felt we had no options. Today's activists are more active, more aggressive, younger and more energized than we have seen in a generation. The "Don't Ask, Don't Give" campaign was formed last year to send a message to the Dems that our community will not be taken for granted anymore.

GetEqual has made headlines worldwide for staging sit-ins. For over a year, Lt. Dan Choi  was in every living room in America, via the 24/7 cable news feed, as our politicians continue to ignore that popular support for full LGBT Equality has long passed the 50% mark, we have entered into what I like to call "The New Gay Order".

As a community we have waited so long to have a president and congress in place that would help us move our fight forward. We thought we finally had everything in place, but all we've had is foot dragging and excuses from the Democrats. Suddenly the dynamics of the game have changed. Are we ready for LGBT rights to become a bi-partisan issue?
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments relevant and civil. Comments attacking other people will be deleted.

Subscribe in a reader