Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Despise the GOP

I'm not sure than anyone who reads this blog much cares for my periodic political rants, but that's not going to stop me from making one.

It's no secret that I'm a Democrat. That wasn't always the case. As recently as 2004 I was a registered Republican in New York state (though I've been moving steadily to the left in my politics since about 2001). But I am a Democrat now, and next Tuesday I'll be casting my vote for Bob Menendez in the hopes that he will be a part of a Democratic majority in the United States Senate. On issues ranging from tax policy to immigration to homeland security to the war in Iraq, my views are better represented by the Democrats than the GOP. Plus, I'm sick to death of hearing Republicans demonize those who oppose the Bush Administration's strategy (or lack thereof) in Iraq and the fight against global terrorism as unpatriotic cowards at best, traitors at worst.

But one issue makes my blood boil: GOP hypocrisy on gay rights. As others have pointed out of late, demonizing gays and fighting same-sex marriage is a tried-and-true Republican campaign tactic. And with the recent court ruling in New Jersey granting gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, Republican anti-gay rhetoric has been turned up several notches. President Bush has been leading the way in fighting to "protect" "traditional" marriage.

Nevermind that I have yet to hear a coherent and convincing argument about how homosexuals wanting to make a commitment to each other is anti-family or threatens the marriages of heterosexual couples. (Indeed, given that many gay men and women are parents, I think opposition to gay marriage is the true anti-family position.) President Bush has perfected the art of demonizing his political opponents, so it's pretty easy to dismiss his rhetoric as a simple manifestation of his propensity to adopt immoral and dishonest campaign tactics.

What infuriates is that the GOP does this while relying on the talents and skills of gays and lesbians to, among other things, run the House of Representatives, implement global health policy, advise members of Congress and manage their staffs, and manage its political campaigns. I'm tempted to condemn those gays and lesbians who work for politicians and policymakers who demonize them and stand in opposition to granting them equality in their relationships. But my scorn is reserved instead for the GOP leaders, from President Bush to Senator Rick Santorum (whose chief spokesman is gay) to Karl Rove (whose adoptive father was gay), who so callously use these people for political gain while stomping on their dignity and humanity.

When I was living life in the closet, passing as a straight man, it was easy for me to not care much about all of this. Now that I am acutely aware that I as a gay man am a target of such hateful politics, I find it much harder to swallow. I see activism in my future.

18 comments:

Another gay dad said...

Amen, I feel the same too. For me activism is part of who I am especially since I came out. It is strange to be a new minority at this age.

santorio said...

well, when you believe, as does 'w' that you were called by god to your political position, it's easy to justify any means to achieve your political goals. the ends justifying the means is always the key element of fascist philosophy. let the golden rule be damned.

Jason said...

Chris,

Hey - was just checking out your blog to see how you did in the marathon. Sorry for the impersonal response - but congrats. As you know, I'm in the middle of training for the January marathon, and I'm feeling every mile right now!

Just had to post a question/comment on this subject. Not casting judgment here - I actually don't know where I stand on the issue, but I have been thinking about a few things since the NJ decision. First, is this really a GOP only issue? I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm fairly sure that 45 out of 50 states either have laws on the books, or constitutional amendments, banning same sex marriage. I think anyone would be hard pressed (including the NY Times) to suggest that 45 out of 50 states are controlled by the GOP or GOP registered voters. I think this is actually a cross-party issue.

Second - and this thought could be inflamatory, and its not intended to be - what do you feel about legalizing polygamy? I think it the same issue, from a policy perpspective. If the gay rights argument is, in part, that committed relationships between adults should be respected on par with "traditional" marriage, then I would think the same policy applies to polygamy. I would love to hear your take on this, but I'll warn you in advance - I think it is difficult from a policy perspective to differentiate the two. Either society has a right to dictate what relationships garner legal protection, or all relationships between consenting adults should be legal.

Right now, I'm more on the "traditional" Republican perspective of allowing states to make decisions on this issue. Of course, that currently only leaves 5 states open.

Anyway - just my thoughts. Keep up the running & let's plan a race for 2007.

Jason

Anonymous said...

I Despise the GOP

Karl Rove [in evil old man voice]:
“Good, I can feel your anger.

I am unarmed.

Take your activism. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.”


:-)

"I see activism in my future."

I hope you also see yourself in Utah at some point then; in 6 months we’ll need your help more than New Jersey ;-).

(And Senator Rick Santorum’s spokesman… wow, crazy world.)

Chris said...

Jason:

Democrats oppose same-sex marriage -- sure. But Democrats don't demonize gay people the way Republicans do, particularly come campaign season. That's what get me angry.

As for the gay marriage issue and polygamy... I actually have no objection to legal polygamy in principle.

That's all I have time for now... gotta run.

Good luck with the training! (And thanks for the congratulations!)

jason said...

Chris,

Thanks for the response. I had to check the blog again - actually the most I have read in quite a while.

Only reason why I am posting again is that I think, from a pure visceral reaction from a straight guy who is certainly on the moderate to liberal end of the Republic spectrum, is that the arguments for gay marriage need to extend well beyond the "I hate the GOP" type argument, and that type of discussion was what I was trying to elicit in my initial post. I'm not trying to reduce your overall argument to that, but I must admit that your initial post basically smacks of that type of sentiment. Knowing you, I know that you have well reasoned arguments to support your position that you didn't post here.

There is actually much in your initial post that can be used directly against the basic premise of that argument. A hard line Republican would be quick to point out that, if anything, the fact of gay GOP staffers indicates the willingness of the GOP to reach out. The gay staffers don't need to work in GOP policy positions, and the GOP has no obligation to hire gay staffers. While I can't relate to the feeling of discrimination, the mere fact of opposing gay marriage alone does not seem to substantiate the feelings of "demonizing" or villification - people just have a fundamental disagreement over whether government should provide legal protection for certain relationships.

Pushing this a bit further, I actually think that the current gay rights movement is going about this entirely the wrong way. To be blunt, gay rights will not be won on a federal "equal protection" argument for quite a long time, particularly with the current composition of the Court. That's just the way it is unless something drastic changes on the Court. Which only leaves open state polls, which as I stated in my prior post, seem to be strongly against gay marriage. I think the gay rights movement needs to make an affirmative change at the grass roots level to change the underlying sentiment behind the state issues rather than focusing on the legal protection arguments - and I don't mean continuing to lobby/get legislation supporting gay marriage proposed in specific states. Rather, I think there needs to be a fundamental shift in how the gay rights movement relates to the American people generally. I know, I know - why pander, but I think the underlying sentiment for the majority of Americans is that gay Americans are just plan weird and the majority just can't relate. No policy change will occur until the hearts and minds of the majority are changed - which won't happen until the perception of the majority of what and who gay Americans are changes. All straight America sees, frankly, is pictures of mass weddings with people dressed up wildly, gay pride parades, etc (wild over generalization, I know). While I think this perception is slowly changing, there is still a general perception that the gay community wants to be exclusive, eccentric, and a bit standoffish. Blog posts titled "I Despise the GOP" with no real supporting/logical arguments in the body of the post (sorry, but in my opinion your post itself is lacking in rationale argument) only supports that misconception. Fortunately, I know you well and know that your post was a reflection of your frustration rather than your thought out arguments, but many won't get to that point.

The point being is that if you want change, the most effective place to make it is to reach out rather than close in. I think gay America needs to realize that the majority is currently skeptical/hostile towards you (not that I'm saying that is right, just being realistic) and you aren't going to "win" a moral/legal argument in that type of environment. You need to change the playing field, and the only way to do that is change the focus away from politicizing gay marriage towards a message (initiated by gay America) of inclusiveness, openness, reaching out, etc. I know this is probably happenning on same levels, but not enough from my perspective, at least I certainly don't see this happening.

Just 2 cents worth of thoughts from a straight guy. This is by far double what I have ever posted on a blog - and I may just disappear again after this post.

Give me call if you are ever in town.

Jason

Chris said...

Jason,

While I appreciate your interest in engaging the question, this wasn't a post about same-sex marriage. One of these days, I may get around to putting one up and we can have that discussion. This was much more emotional than that -- it was the reaction of one gay man who is sick to death of the Republicans trotting out the "threat to marriage" schtick and the gay bashing every election season. It's nauseating and hypocritical. And I despise the national Republican party and its leadership because of it.

Chris said...

Jason, a few more cents from me...

In many respects, I agree with you. I actually think the best thing gay people can do to advance the cause of gay rights is to come out of the closet and live their lives normally, quietly and peacefully -- and that's what most gay people do.

My hope is that in the next few years, gay marriage will be implemented not by court fiat, but by legislative action. Indeed, that's what just about happened in California, until Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. Even in New Jersey, the court case came about because the State Assembly enacted a civil unions law which was than challenged as not going quite far enough. The court has now put it back on the legislature to take further action. I think this is the right approach -- better than what happened in Massachusetts.

To be continued. Stay with me on this...

Jed Eye Thunder said...

With all due respect, I must say that Jason might allow himself to think about the difference between marriage equality (gay marriage) and polygamy just a bit more carefully.
Marriage equality extends the rights, benefits, obligations, and legalities of "ordinary" marriage to people who have been denied access to it - kind of like extending the Priesthood to persons of African lineage. When the LDS Church did that in 1978, were they redefining the meaning of Priesthood?
Polygamy, on the other hand, is not at all the same because it is a question of NUMEROSITY; that is, how many people may enter into a marriage. It is a question of numbers. Marriage equality does not lead to polygamy any more than heterosexual-only marriage already does.
Extending marriage to same-sex couples does not redifine marriage any more than extending the Priesthood to Blacks redefined the Priesthood.
But Polygamy absolutely does redefine marriage because it changes the numbers; gay marriage doesn't do that.

Jason said...

Chris - i'm not trying to hijack your blog here, and i certainly respect that you did not intend for this to lead to a discussion of same sex marriage. But I just had to respond to Jed Eye Thunder. Please allow me.

Jed Eye - first, your analogy extending the priesthood to blacks is so far off that i don't know quite how to respond other than to say that we are talking about the LEGAL recognition of same sex marriage, not religious. I'm sorry if I confused the issue on this by mentioning polygamy, but the last time I checked the priesthood was not a legally protected right. Now if you want to equate same sex marriage to the civil rights movement.....I'll leave that up to you.

On the "Numerality" argument - that is just as fine a distinction as saying legally recognized marriage is only a marriage between a man and a woman. Changing the law to recognize same sex marriage presupposes that the law is redefining the legal definition of marriage. Once you do that, what's to say that it shouldn't be extended to all committed relationships between consenting adults. To say that there is a numbers requirement is just as artificial as having a gender requirement. My argument is that if you are going to take all all "moral" assumptions when it comes to the definition of marriage, then shoulnd't you really take at ALL moral assumptions. Numbers is just as much a moral assumption as gender. Sorry - from a public policy perspective you just don't convince me.

Funny that you think I'm a Mormon just because I mentioned polygamy. I don't think there is anything in my posts that would lead you to believe I know anything about the priesthood otherwise. Lucky for you you were right - but be more careful next time - you might just offend someone.

Sorry again Chris.

Jason

Robert Mangan said...

this is such an interesting world we live in all the same, is Bush a Christian or not? who can say! was the war a mistake? yes but something needed to be done. should same sex couples be able to adopt children, even after they can love a child and protect the child? no, because it is still not the right solution for children, unfortunatly, as studys have shown. why should homosexuals shove their sexual issues in other peoples faces? grow up!
finally, as a citizen of a different world I am neutral concerning your elections but I would prefer conservitive honesty to liberal lies any day. down with the left!

Chris said...

robert mangan:

was the war a mistake? yes but something needed to be done.

That's nonsensical.

should same sex couples be able to adopt children, even after they can love a child and protect the child? no, because it is still not the right solution for children, unfortunatly, as studys have shown.

Which studies?

why should homosexuals shove their sexual issues in other peoples faces? grow up!

Is that what you think I'm doing? Is that what you think gay people fighting for marriage equality are doing?

finally, as a citizen of a different world I am neutral concerning your elections but I would prefer conservitive honesty to liberal lies any day. down with the left!

And the Bush Administration has been a pillar of conservative honesty. Puh-lease.

ronin1516 said...

Well, the demonising of gay folks happen because of one reason, and yes, i'll say it - becasue of the way in which a lot of gay activists behave. their obnoxious, aggressive, always adverserail, and self-righteous sanctimonious way are what cause dialogue to break down.
For example - when Prop 2 was on the ballot in michigan, I went to the local GLBT group's office to volunteer to beat Prop 2. I did a couple of volunteer shifts, when I was asked to do a shift on a sunday. When i told them that I belonged to the mormon Church, and was willing to do shifts any day but sunday, I was verbally abused, and asked to leave. the gy folks who kicked me out ofthe office, did exactly what the GLBT accuses the GOP of doing - they demonised me, and treated me like an enemy, even though I offered my time to volunteer to help the gLBT community.
The net result at the end of the 2004 elections was this - Prop 2 passed in Michigan with a huge majority - I think it was over 90%!!! Even those folks who voted for Kerry, voted to deny equal rights to the GLBT!!!! talk about a major defeat.
i wonder how many people were insulted, and turned off the anti-prop 2 campaign, just becasue of the behavior of the gay activists?
I wonder........

Chris said...

ronin: Well, the demonising of gay folks happen because of one reason, and yes, i'll say it - becasue of the way in which a lot of gay activists behave. their obnoxious, aggressive, always adverserail, and self-righteous sanctimonious way are what cause dialogue to break down.

Uh, bull. That may be one reason many people are turned off, but I assure you that anti-gay sentiment is rooted much deeper than that.

Jed Eye Thunder said...

One of your very wise friends wrote:

"I think the gay rights movement needs to make an affirmative change at the grass roots level to change the underlying sentiment behind the state issues rather than focusing on the legal protection arguments - and I don't mean continuing to lobby/get legislation supporting gay marriage proposed in specific states. Rather, I think there needs to be a fundamental shift in how the gay rights movement relates to the American people generally."

I think I know what your friend means: if gay people want the same rights as heterosexual people, they'll have to behave only about 10 times better than straight people do.

I'm glad you're this guy's friend, Chris. He sounds like he could use a few intelligent friends.

Jason said...

Chris - feel free to post this or not, but I feel compelled to respond. I know this topic has been dead for a few weeks, but I haven't been on your blog again until yesterday.

To Jed Eye - I'm sorry that we have obviously gotten off on the wrong foot, and that is partially my fault and I'm sorry for that. I think you took one of my prior posts more personally than I intended, although in hindsight I can understand why you did. With that said, I don't really understand your post above. Your subtle jabs at my lack of wisdom or intellect not withstanding, I think you misunderstood (either deliberately or intentionally) my post that you referenced.

First, my post was not intending to suggest that gay people must act better (whatever that means) than straight people, but they must certainly act differently. It is incumbant upon any group who seeks to change the law or the opinion of the majority in a society to act or "behave" differently if they want to effectuate change. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that gay people must behave 10 times better than straight people, but certainly gay people must act in general if they want change. I don't know how to quantify or qualify what the action or behavior is, but the gay community must (and of course is on many levels) act differently than the majority if they want change.

My real point was that I am in many respects (and not because I am arrogant, but rather because I am probably considered to be smack in the middle of the majority) the exact type of person the gay community needs to reach out to if they want support at the ballot box for legal change. Married and straight, I am a member of the majority that needs to be made to feel that change is not only right but required. I for one got loads and loads of direct mailings, e-mails, etc. from gay marriage opponents during this past campaign season, but nothing from gay marriage supporters (just as an example). And just so you don't jump too quickly on this point - I'm not a registered Republican or Democrat and I've never solicited, either directly or indirectly, these solicitations.

The bottom line to me is that the gay community does need to change its political (rather than personal) tactics a bit and reach out to the straight community in ways that the straight community will respond to and understand. I'm sorry if you think that I mean that gay people must somehow qualitatively live "better" lives or "behave only about 10 times better than straight people." That is not what I mean.

Your not so subtle jabs and sophomoric ribbing of my intellect only serve to reinforce what many would feel is one of the problems with the gay community's approach and is the wrong way to convince me or others in the majority to change our opinions. I, for one, think you have much to say on this topic and, frankly, you have thought more about this topic than me. I've never claimed to be an expert on this subject, which is the reason I started posting on this blog in the first place - more to engage in a discussion than to claim I know anything about the topic. I'm trying to come up with what I think on this subject myself rather than trying to convince anyone of my opinion.

And yes, I am proud to be Chris' friend. And yes, Chris may agree with your assessment of my intellect...

Chris said...

Jason,

I'm happy to post any and all contributions from you to my blog. I don't have many friendships that are longer lasting than the one I have with you, and my coming out seems to have only renewed and strengthened it, even as we have grappled with difficult issues and conflicting perspectives.

jed eye thunder and I have interacted online in the past, and he was actually a valuable and important resource to me as I struggled to come to grips with my sexuality and then with the actual coming out process. He connected me to resources that proved influential and helpful.

Jason, my hope is that you will give those of us who are gay a little extra emotinal leeway when discussing these issues--they cut to our very core. And jed eye thunder, I hope you'll consider Jason's contributions to the discussion to be sincere and thoughtful, because I can attest that he himself possesses both qualities.

jason said...

Chris - I'm sorry to keep putting you in situations where you need to vouch for my credibility. I do find it odd, however, that when a straight person tries to engage in this type of discussion that he/she is somehow branded as the enemy and assumed to have malicious intent. While I certainly understand and appreciate the fact that these topics are very personal and emotional to gay people I don't think that should mean that either side should treat the other with animosity, and if I have I apologize for that. I do feel, however, that there is a "You're either with us or against us" mentality that brands neutrality, even if it is just temporary for the sake of establishing one's one personal conclusion/opinion, as malicious. I wish that could change.

To be fair, I have not felt any of the above from you or many of the others that I have interacted with here and on other blogs. I have found your friend Scot, for example, to be a fair, respectful, and thoughtful voice on these topics. Thanks for referring me to his blog.