“The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.” – U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona), 1981
I’m going to depart this week from my usual tones of conciliation and tolerance because, as my grandmother would say, My Irish is up. This sort of mood often accompanies casting caution to the wind, and speaking in broader generalities than with I am normally comfortable. So be it. My feeling as I write this is that anyone who decides to vote for a Republican U.S. House candidate come November must harbor some— realized or unknown—degree of homophobia, or at least a well-honed sense of Schadenfreude that is focused on one group, namely us.
(Note that I said “decides” to vote: I recognize that there are many factors that go into casting one’s vote, not the least of which are a predisposition to choose a political party based upon one’s parents’ voting habits, or one’s geographic region of birth, which also relates to the first. If you vote solely based on one of these criteria, I am hard-pressed to think of you as homophobic—more properly, you lack self-identity, or may just be lazy.)
In the reverse, any GOP House candidate who supports LGBT rights (to my present, captured-in-amberin- the-moment way-of-thinking) must be either a) insincere, or b) in the wrong party (but there’s redress for this). Sorry, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I believe that 5 million guncontrol advocates should get together and join the NRA (which claims a membership of 4.3 million), vote out the hard core gun nuts (the ones who think Junior should get a howitzer for Christmas), and the next day add the Brady Law to its membership platform. (But, see “laziness,” above.) and I am not saying that there aren’t good Republicans—gay and straight—who want the same things for themselves and their families that I want for mine.
I was a very right-of-center member of the Grand Old Party during the mid-90s—a reaction, I realize now, to the entitlement and corruption that marked the early Bill Clinton years. I have since made peace with Clinton, and both my beliefs and my political self-discovery have matured into selfknowledge that I am left-of-center, with some traditionalist values (like a gay Mike Logan on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” but less boozy). On Tuesday, July 31, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant, in Hartford, Connecticut, issued a 104-page decision, in which she ruled that a provision in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. This is the fifth federal judge to rule that DOMA is repellant to the U.S. Constitution.
Bryant—who was appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush—ruled that the provision, which denies federal recognition of tax, health, and other benefits to married same-sex couples, “obligates the federal government to single out a certain category of marriages as excluded from federal recognition, thereby resulting in an inconsistent distribution of federal marital benefits.” She added that “many courts have concluded that homosexuals have suffered a long and significant history of purposeful discrimination.”
The ink on Bryant’s ruling was barely dry when the House Republican leadership—which has made itself the guardian of DOMA’s sacred screed since Attorney General Eric Holder decided last year to no longer waste tax dollars defending the indefensible—announced that it would continue to represent the interests of bigots and the narrowminded, by hiring outside legal counsel to fly to the nation’s far reaches when danger exists that American citizens might exercise their rights as free men and women. That sends a powerfuly bad message that is impossible to ignore.
Although I have no allegiance to the party of Jefferson, Jackson, FDR, and Obama, I would challenge any gay American to name another issue as important to the future of civil rights as marriage equality. I don’t think that civil unions are a terrible idea, but I understand the outrage of those who believe that a right for one should be a right for all. This is plain fairness. For House Republicans to throw ideological red meat to bigots and demagogues is an endorsement of hate, and in this moment, those gay Republicans who give their political or monetary support to GOP House candidates are endorsing hatred, plain and simple.
I don’t know if North Miami pastor Jack Hakimian hates gays as much as his words would indicate, but through his sermons, he is creating another generation of bigots and small-thinkers, and for what? A regular paying job? The satisfaction of being shepherd to the anchorless and rudderless? Maybe 5 million LGBT Americans should descend upon Chick-fil-A and order “Santorum shakes” to make the point that we may not like bigotry, but we think so little of it that we will ignore your narrow-mindedness, and show you true power, to forgive as well as to buy. But I would rather take my money—and my vote—elsewhere.