Republicans All In On Openly Gross Gay-Hatin', For Freedom
Last August, Politico ran an article claiming that Republicans had waved the "white flag in the same-sex marriage wars.” The party had reportedly “conceded defeat" on marriage equality. They’d moved on from overt homophobia to aggressive transphobia. Unfortunately, reports of an anti-gay GOP’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
According to Politico, there was "widespread acceptance” among Republicans operatives and conservative leaders 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.”
However, just last week during Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings, Senator John Cornyn foamed at the mouth about how awful the marriage equality ruling was and the undue burden it imposed on bigots. He whined:
"Do you share my concern,” he asked Jackson, “that when the court … creates a new right, declaring that anything conflicting with that is unconstitutional, that it creates a circumstance where those who may hold traditional beliefs on something as important as marriage, that they will be vilified as unwilling to assent to this new orthodoxy?”
Jackson, whose marriage would have been illegal in 16 states until 1967, probably doesn’t share Cornyn’s concern, but she avoided his less-than-subtle culture war landmines. Senators John Kennedy and Ben Sasse also lectured Jackson about substantive due process and courts “creating” new rights. If the Constitution, as written, doesn’t acknowledge the rights of queer Americans, then Elie Mystal is right: It’s trash.
Cornyn and other Republicans are also flat-out lying when they suggest Obergefell is somehow out of step with traditional views on marriage. Recent polling shows that 70 percent of Americans support marriage equality, which is why establishment Republicans had considered a tactical retreat on the issue. However, the remaining 30 percent is vocal, angry, and a significant segment of the GOP electorate.
Stephen L. Miller, contributing editor for the Spectator, recently tweeted a grossly homophobic comment about a gay couple who’d selected an egg donor for their child. Miller said: “Why aren’t one of them having the baby?” This open contempt for queer families was rarely expressed in polite circles, but it’s made an unwelcome return, sort of like jelly sandals. Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern observed: “We're seeing the party's media figures attempt to resuscitate the kind of casual homophobia that seemed to be waning."
Last week I wrote about the GOP ending its tactical retreat on same-sex marriage and turbocharging its anti-gay agenda. There's a cultural element to this, too\u2014we're seeing the party's media figures attempt to resuscitate the kind of casual homophobia that seemed to be waning.pic.twitter.com/pFYwUAvZBd— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1648654559
US House Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert have both made homophobic comments about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. There’s been little backlash or pressure upon the party as a whole to disavow their remarks. We’ve focused on the MAGA takeover of the Republican Party, but the QAnon wing is also ascendent. Florida’s repulsive anti-LGTBQ bill and the associated “sexual groomer” rhetoric reek with the stench of Anita Bryant.
In August 2021, Republican National Committee chair Ronna (Romney) McDaniel tweeted:
Happy #PrideMonth! @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.
Republicans have since abandoned any interest in “balancing” the competing interests of bigots and humans who simply wish to exist in peace. Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared that Austin schools' annual Pride Week celebration broke state law.
"The Texas Legislature has made it clear that when it comes to sex education, parents—not school districts—are in charge," he wrote.
"By hosting 'Pride Week,' your district has, at best, undertaken a week-long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent. Or, worse, your district is cynically pushing a week-long indoctrination of your students that not only fails to obtain parental consent, but subtly cuts parents out of the loop," Paxton said. "Either way, you are breaking state law.”
Equating queer identity with the contents of a RedTube channel is a classic homophobic tactic. The Pride week themes included "knowing your rights, creative expression and Pride history.” Pride, ally stickers, and flags are handed out, not sex toys. There are no courses offered in applied tribbing. Austin is a progressive city but even one anti-gay parent’s complaint could theoretically confine all queer students to the closet.
Donald Trump endorsed Big Lie promoter Paxton for another term. The New York Times wrote a puff piece in April 2016 about how Trump’s “more accepting views on gay issues set him apart in GOP.” Almost six years later, Trump’s GOP is united in a full-out assault on LGBTQ existence.
We really should’ve listened to Hillary Clinton.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."