Breaking From Politico: Republicans Just Love The Gays!
Politico has some great news for gay Americans: Republicans almost, sort of, don't hate them. In an article today, writer Meredith McGraw describes how Republican National Committee chair Ronna (Romney) McDaniel tweeted empty platitudes at the start of Pride Month.
"Happy #PrideMonth!" she wrote, "@GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last 4 years, and we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs."
Inside the RNC, the missive barely registered. McDaniel, after all, had sent out a similar message in years past.
Hooray! According to Politico's moving folk tale, McDaniel bravely dismissed complaints from social conservatives, such as Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council hate group, and tepidly supported gay people. This is apparently part of "a quiet but consequential evolution" from a party full of people who don't believe in evolution. That's reading a lot from a disingenuous tweet. All but three House Republicans voted against the Equality Act just a few months ago. McDaniel is just borrowing the superficial language of tolerance that Ronald Reagan used, while simultaneously raining hell on Black communities.
McDaniel shamelessly used the acronym LGBTQ, as if the “T" stood for “the" instead of “transgender." Republicans have aggressively targeted transgender Americans in their latest culture war strikes. Republican Senator Rand Paul misgendered trans people while directly addressing Dr. Rachel Levine, a trans woman, during her Senate confirmation hearing. Mitt Romney has also embraced his colleague's aversion to trans girls playing team sports with other girls.
But Politico assumes we should celebrate because Republicans have more or less “conceded defeat" on marriage equality. It's apparently the rightwing bigot's Saigon or Kabul. Recent polling shows that 70 percent of Americans support marriage equality, but Republicans aren't big supporters of majority rule. That's a little too much like democracy.
In interviews with Republican operatives, former Trump administration officials, and conservative leaders, there is a widespread acceptance that debate over marriage equality is settled. There is no serious discussion about trying to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that ruled states are required by law to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples.
That's great! Now, where's our apology? Republicans argued for decades that same-sex marriage would somehow destroy the sanctity of marriage, as if they were unaware Elizabeth Taylor existed. They said it might lead to bestiality, but the past six years haven't seen a reported rise in human-goat couplings.
Former GOP Senator Daniel R. Coats from Indiana -- who went on to serve as Donald Trump's director of national intelligence -- declared in 1996 that “our urgent responsibility is to nurture and strengthen that institution [of marriage], not undermine it with trendy moral relativism." Even conservative Democrats warned about the perils of marriage equality. Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia justified his support for the Defense of Marriage Act with this garbage: "The drive for same-sex marriage is, in effect, an effort to make a sneak attack on society by encoding this aberrant behavior in legal form before society itself has decided it should be legal. … Let us defend the oldest institution, the institution of marriage between male and female as set forth in the Holy Bible."
How could a former Klansman and fervent defender of the Senate filibuster be so wrong? And conservatives were wrong on marriage equality, just like they were wrong on interracial marriage and supply side economics. Whatever they are saying today, you can be sure they're wrong.
But they've cut and run on marriage equality and civilization still endures.
"There is Republican support for LGBTQ issues. There is more energy in the GOP for help for gay and transgender issues than a lot of issues Biden cares about," said Tyler Deaton, a Republican consultant and senior adviser to the American Unity Fund, which works to advance LGBTQ rights.
Tyler Deaton is wrong. There is zero Republican support for LGBTQ issues, because transgender people are part of that acronym. Note that McDaniel promises to “balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs," but there's no actual “balance" in the party's platform. Republicans still prioritize religious bigots' rights to discriminate over queer people's right to exist.
Here's most absurd section in the Politico piece:
The real breakthrough, gay Republican operatives say, came with the nomination of Donald Trump. Though evangelicals flocked to his candidacy, conservative gay rights activists also saw an opportunity. A cosmopolitan minded business person, Trump did not prioritize LGBTQ issues during his campaign and, in fact, made overt appeals to gay voters, though not by pledging support for laws to protect them.
Yeah, Mr. Grab 'Em By The Pussy sure is “cosmopolitan minded." Trump did appear less overtly anti-gay when compared to GOP primary rivals Ted Cruz or even Marco Rubio. However, Trump was always willing to throw queer Americans under the bus when it suited his purpose. He picked noted homophobe Mike Pence as his running mate, so he didn't even make it through his first presidential campaign. Trump joked in 2017 that Pence want to “hang" all gay people (an interesting choice of words, now seen in light of what Trump's terrorists screamed about Pence on January 6).
Trump also tried to kick trans people out of the military. He was hardly a friend to the LGBTQ community. No Republican truly is. That's reality, no matter what fairy tales Politico publishes.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."