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  • « Pick a president like me! | Main | Democratics woo independents in Calif. »

    February 01, 2008

    For gay GOPers - now what?

    Posted by: Kevin

    070517_lincoln_memorial_hmed_3phm_3 With the exit of Rudy Giuliani, who by any reasonable account was the biggest gay rights supporter to ever have a decent shot at the GOP nomination for president, a lot of air has come out of the balloon for gay Republicans this cycle.  What comes next is still a very open question.

    Some things are very clear.  The vast majority of gay Republicans I know were either declared or undeclared Giuliani supporters, many of them registered on his delegate slates to the GOP convention.  That was logical.  He was a Republican worth fighting for in the gay community for many years.  I backed his mayoral campaigns in 1993 and 1997, and I was lucky enough to speak with him a few times during my time on staff at Log Cabin Republicans.  At an event after the 1997 election, I saw him get booed at a high school in Queens because he had proposed an expansive domestic partnership law for same-sex couples after the election.  He didn't blink, and he lectured the hecklers about respect for people who are different, and why it made not only New York a great city, but America a great country.   I marched with him down Fifth Avenue on many a Gay Pride Day.  I never dreamed he'd run for president.  And just from the level of vitriol and attacks the partisan New York gay Democratic hacks stirred up from the moment he announced (if you understand New York City politics at all), you can be sure Rudy was indeed a stand-out Republican on our issues.

    Right off, as the campaign got serious, he started hedging on some important things.  It was very disappointing.  And it wasn't excusable.  Had his primary election strategy succeeded (i.e. had John McCain vanished early), he would have had to answer to the gay community, not the least of whom his many, many gay supporters, for his equivocations.  I was betting that he would come clean and be with us forthrightly before November.  But that's in the what-if category now.

    The other sure thing is that Mitt Romney must be stopped.  He is, embodied in one man, everything that is reprehensible and destructive inside the Republican Party of which I am a member.  Romney's lies and flip-flops on gay issues run the gamut so widely that he literally should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most heinous backtracking on more gay issues than any other politician in history.  But it goes beyond our community.  Mitt Romney has shown that he is not only incompetent as a potential commander-in-chief (see his laughable answers in the last debate),  but he is willing to say or do anything to get ahead politically, and the combination of the two at this moment in time could lead to the worst imaginable consequences for the world.  Romney in the White House is just a dangerous, frightening concept to imagine.

    Mike Huckabee is already a footnote in the race, and given the fact that he depended on a lot of rabidly anti-gay supporters to even peak his head out in this election it would be ridiculous to think we could count on him to be rational on gay issues.  His last minute, pre-Mega Tuesday fumbling to sound tolerant in San Francisco is more a sign of him being lost on the road to oblivion than anything else.

    And then there is John McCain.  He's a man I also supported very strongly in 2000 before he was knocked out of the race.  I also got to talk to him on occasion in my old career, and the balls he showed to Karl Rove, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell alone in the 2000 campaign will always make me proud to call him a friend.  The fact that many on the anti-gay right have said they hate him so much they'd vote for Hillary instead of him, frankly, is because his contempt for their politics is real.  But it isn't 2000 anymore.  And McCain is not with us on a lot of issues, even if he's with us gay Republicans on the fight against a common enemy.  In the end, the enemy-of-my-enemy adage just doesn't cut it anymore.  It's not good for HRC's boot-licking of the Democratic Party, or to let the Clinton Borg hack-o-rama off the hook for their uselessness.  So it can't be the reason for voting for McCain for president in November either.  He's going to have to do more.

    It's only February, yes.  But stay tuned.  If you haven't noticed, gay Republicans don't fit neatly into any box, despite the relentless trashing that we get from a few trolling gay lefties on the internet.  We're also not represented by a wide measure by friends of mine like Bruce Carroll, founder of GayPatriot, who despite my strong affection for him as a longtime friend, sometimes scares me with the intensity of his devotion to leaders who are unmistakably and unabashedly unreachable on whether gays should have any equality under the law now or ever.

    The 2008 election has the chance of being a real party-bender of major proportions, depending on who emerges from the ashes of the primaries.  With the gays, too.  I'm not close to deciding who'd I'd want in November myself.  But if the gay blogosphere is any indicator, don't be surprised if a surprising number of other gay Republicans decide to make history and get behind a man who (I must confess) has inspired many of us more profoundly than we expected, and has us all considering our options more widely than we'd ever considered before. 

    And I'm not talking about Mike Bloomberg.

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    Comments

    1. Andoni on Feb 1, 2008 3:55:35 PM:

      If the man you're thinking of is the same man I'm thinking of, all I can say is WOW!

    1. Craig Ranapia on Feb 1, 2008 5:33:59 PM:

      So it can't be the reason for voting for McCain for president in November either. He's going to have to do more.

      Kevin: You're right, but when Ann Coulter goes on 'Innanity and the Other Guy' and says she'd endorse Clinton if McCain wins the nomination, he's become a lot easier to support. OK, you've got to throw in the caveat that I don't think even Coulter believes 90% of the shit that comes out of her mouth, but the legions of Ann-droids who lap it up certainly do.

      (As a sidebar, was it just me, or did Coulter and Hannity have a mutual orgasm every time she said 'torture'.)

    1. Lucrece on Feb 1, 2008 6:10:40 PM:

      So it comes out to be the now obvious: The sensible choice for any rational gay Republican is-- surprise, surprise-- a Democratic candidate.

      I can only hope that Obama gets the pick, but the threat of Clinton keeps nagging me. I really dread the prospect of a government once again run by the ever triangulating Clinton ilk.

    1. Geena The Transgirl on Feb 2, 2008 1:06:42 AM:

      My Obama support hsd bounced down a notch. Last night their debate had a feeling of "Hey America look at us we are so cool, and you are putty in our hands". I'm not sure Hillary can drop that style, it's her blood. Obama still needs to remember he has only proved himself as an inspiring campaigner, not enough poltical capital to get cute and cocky.

    1. Tim Cottle on Feb 2, 2008 12:39:56 PM:

      For me, the best possible matchup in November would be a McCain-Obama contest. McCain is a seasoned veteran of both the Congress and international politics. Obama has at least as much experience as HST had when he became President, and he seems fresh and different. Yes, I wish McCain were currently more like the McCain of 2000, but, as a liberal Democratic officeholder I know said, "You know, McCain is probably the most honorable person to have run for President in a long time", and that carries no little weight. I think he can be counted on most to do what in the end is the right thing to do. Clinton would be a continuation of the same ol' same ol', with unending partisan warfare for four years. I know it takes both sides to play that game, but she makes it too easy. A McCain-Obama contest would allow me to walk away feeling like there is hope regardless of who the victor is, because Obama seems like he hasn't been around so long that the terminal cynicism hasn't set in and because I firmly believe McCain has been doing what he needs to do to win the nomination, and as soon as he's got the delegates, the old Straight Talk Express McCain will start to leak out again.

    1. Kary on Feb 2, 2008 1:24:43 PM:

      Quote for the day from andrewsullivan.com:
      "If you've got a Hillary and McCain race, you've got a third option: That's the pistol on the bed table." - Pat Buchanan.

      I think part of the democratic platform should be a free 22 caliber pistol for every Republican.


    1. Kevin on Feb 2, 2008 1:31:41 PM:

      Tim:

      Very well said. I know that gay Hillary supporters want the most evil, drooling, contemptible Republican nominee possible (for a long list of reasons), so they will try to assail your argument as being "Repug-something-or-another", etc. I think both their attacks on all others, and the empty reasoning behind supporting their candidate, simply prove how the Clinton Borg is without brain, heart or soul.

      Watching Obama in the debate was a revelation. He really isn't afraid of anyone. And never before have I heard someone assail the Iraq War so believably, so ethically, and engender even my confidence in his judgment. He's the first Democrat in a long, long time that has looked right through the TV screen to *convince* me rather than just play me like a banjo.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Feb 2, 2008 4:24:20 PM:

      I think part of the democratic platform should be a free 22 caliber pistol for every Republican.

      I think the Democrats and their supporters would do themselves a favour by not accepting the invitation to a hemlock-flavoured Kool-Aid tasting. You do realise that people find Obama attractive becase he's NOT buying into Pat Buchanan's habitual rhetoric of hate, fear and division?


    1. Tim on Feb 2, 2008 5:31:10 PM:

      I like Obama's upbeat message, but frankly his and and Hillary's economic proposals sounds like a giant suicide pact. However I'm actually kind of scared of McCain's temper and have seen nothing to prove to me that he has it under control.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 2, 2008 8:03:34 PM:

      We're also not represented by a wide measure by friends of mine like Bruce Carroll, founder of GayPatriot, who despite my strong affection for him as a longtime friend, sometimes scares me with the intensity of his devotion to leaders who are unmistakably and unabashedly unreachable on whether gays should have any equality under the law now or ever.

      Keep in mind, Kevin, that there ARE numerous gays out here like Bruce and myself who aren't discriminated against in our work, who have the right to vote, and who can do everything that every other person can do; we simply can't have heterosexual-style marriages. We're OK with the fact that we have the same job protections and hate-crimes laws as straight people do (none).

      In short, you simply haven't convinced myself or possibly Bruce that our situation is so rotten that we need to set aside other concerns over it.

      Furthermore, I can't speak for Bruce, but when you have candidates like Huckabee out there, my impression is not to automatically dismiss what they say, but to look deeper into why they are saying it.

      For instance, Huckabee wants to quarantine people with HIV; given the statistics on the enormous percentages of HIV-positive gays who are having unprotected sex with unknown or negative-status guys twenty-five years into an epidemic that has killed untold millions of people, gay and straight, globally, from a strict public health standpoint, he has a good argument. It's not enough for you to just say that he's wrong; he has a point about gay promiscuity and spreading HIV, and the community needs to deal with it, instead of just calling him a bigot. We will not win hearts and minds that way.

      That being said, Huckabee left my short list a long time ago because the man's economic theories make John Edwards's look rational. I do not think Romney is quite the threat you make him out to be, but I agree with you that the man doesn't need to be in charge, mainly because I don't want someone who asks me if I want him to blow his nose, asks you if you want him to wipe his ass, and who will only do either when he thinks he can please the maximum, and piss off the minimum, number of people.

      That being said, the universe has neatly resolved my dilemma by removing Giuliani and putting forth McCain. While I disagree with McCain vehemently on immigration and on campaign finance reform, I am assured that he voted the way he did because his convictions lie in that particular direction. I would much rather have someone who has convictions and votes on them than on someone who tries to blow sunshine up my ass. With the former, the onus is on me to raise my game and persuade him otherwise; with the latter, I'm screwed either way, because he won't make decisions and he won't tell me the truth because he doesn't want to take the consequences for either.

      And that's all, in my opinion, that Obama really has -- promises of sunshine, daisies, and lollypops. The thing that strikes me most about his record is that the only thing he's demonstrated in elective office is how effectively and early he can campaign for the next one. His entire voting pattern seems to have only one consistent pattern: "Don't take a stand on anything that could ever be considered controversial."

      Finally, his confidence, in my opinion, comes from his holding the trump card in Democrat Party circles: "I'm black, so you have to do as I say and never question me." I mean, can you IMAGINE the ridicule a white person would receive if they claimed they would be able to best represent the United States to the Muslim world because they had lived in a Muslim country when they were six years old?

      The most amusing thing to me is that Obama, for all his talk of being the anti-Clinton, is following exactly the same campaign playbook that Bill Clinton did in the 1992 campaign -- pander, promise the moon, talk about "change" and try to emphasize your youthfulness and outsider status. And what's worse, he's also doing exactly as did Jimmy Carter in 1976 -- use charisma and a general distaste for "Washington insiders" to bypass nasty questions about qualifications and actual policies.

    1. Kevin on Feb 2, 2008 9:51:31 PM:

      NDT:

      I appreciate your views, of course, and we agree on many things (and we're pals). We just have some fundamental differences on what we want in a president, and how we look at the spectrum of issues in judging what is best for the world as we see it from our corners.

      It was curious you said that I hadn't convinced you or Bruce that your lives were rotten enough to set aside the other concerns you have in your life: I'm not a lefty, honey - that's not my thing :) But I am articulating what I see and what I believe. We see things very differently on many things. We couldn't disagree more on immigration (we've chatted a lot about that) and I also think that the point is that for some people (especially gay soldiers, qualified potential immigrants with HIV, bi-national gay couples, and the folks out there in the U.S. who have no legal protection against discrimination and do suffer it, among others) having to sit around another 20 years while we all gab about their plight in the abstract on the internet is beyond infuriating. It's a travesty.

      I am just really sick and tired of giving politicians of any party a pass on fundamental stuff they should get by now. The Huckabee quarantine thing, for one, was and is atrocious and totally beyond the pale. To suggest taking away a person's right to movement simply because they test positive for HIV (good old collective punishment - always a real success story) is something for an Islamo-fascist society, not the United States. Full stop. Call me crazy, but I have seen such treatment in other countries first hand and I can tell you -- it is not only a disastrous public health concept given the relationship between stigma/discrimination and HIV infection, but it has always -- always -- been an idea that has sprung from religious or cultural minds long before public health officials (go figure). Last I checked, Mike Huckabee wasn't exactly a gold-medalist in the sphere of epidemiology when he made that statement way back when, but he was courting a whole lot of unashamedly anti-gay folks in Arkansas.

      And that's the point here. I think we need a president now who is unafraid to touch the hot stuff, who truly gets it on social issues and stops playing games on them, and who is not driven by animus, anger or revenge in his ambition to be president. We've had a good 12 years or so of that now. Enough already. And where I part company with some gay conservative bloggers is that they tend to wallow in their anger and detestation more than striving for the shining city on the hill.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 3, 2008 12:48:22 AM:

      We couldn't disagree more on immigration (we've chatted a lot about that) and I also think that the point is that for some people (especially gay soldiers, qualified potential immigrants with HIV, bi-national gay couples, and the folks out there in the U.S. who have no legal protection against discrimination and do suffer it, among others) having to sit around another 20 years while we all gab about their plight in the abstract on the internet is beyond infuriating.


      Well, for starters, Kevin, yours and my differences on immigration are a matter of individual perspective on what needs to be done.

      I am of the mind that immigration laws need to be rigorously enforced and managed, and my way of dealing with the marriage exception is to eliminate it entirely. However, what doesn't often get discussed is that, for every heightened barrier and increased enforcement that we put in place, I would demand that we put an equivalent amount money and effort into streamlining, enhancing, and making more efficient the process that qualified immigrants would follow to pass through it.

      For example, you know that I am adamantly against any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants. But I am just as strongly in favor of repealing the blanket HIV ban, especially on work visas, which is a hindrance to US firms who are seeking qualified workers and does not jibe with US law stating that the health matters of a qualified worker are not grounds for discriminatory behavior.

      If I eliminated the marriage exception, I would work just as strongly to reduce the amount of time people have to wait for a valid entry. There are means of accelerating the immigration process, and we should be investigating, identifying, and implementing them.

      As for gay soldiers, the military is not civilian life. We do not now require our male or female soldiers to sleep, shower, and live with those who they may find sexually attractive or who might find them sexually attractive, and we bar them (fraternization policy) from any form of social interaction, because hard experience has shown us that sexual attractions and interpersonal relationships can and do interfere with the decision-making and prioritization under fire that the military has to do.

      If military service were compulsory or necessary, you would have more of an argument in my mind. But the simple fact of the matter is that it isn't.

      Finally, as for the "no legal protection" thing, both you and I know that laws do not stop discrimination. Changes in attitudes stop discrimination, and attitudes are not changed by legal fiat. I myself, despite living in Texas and the South for thirty-plus years and teaching at a Jesuit university, did not hear the word "faggot" used to describe me or to be threatened because I was gay until I moved here to San Francisco, which has laws that verge on Orwellian in regard to hate crimes and discrimination. If you want to increase law enforcement so that no crimes go unpunished, that I can totally endorse.

      Relative to all of this, Kevin, Rome was not built in a day, and it wasn't because you weren't the foreman. :) These are large changes to society and to a governmental structure that was built seemingly to resist and destroy those who would advocate anything differently. It will take the twenty years you decry, if not more, and we need to think in terms of that timeframe, rather than chase after the delusion that society will suddenly transform if we just elect this particular individual.


      To suggest taking away a person's right to movement simply because they test positive for HIV (good old collective punishment - always a real success story) is something for an Islamo-fascist society, not the United States. Full stop. Call me crazy, but I have seen such treatment in other countries first hand and I can tell you -- it is not only a disastrous public health concept given the relationship between stigma/discrimination and HIV infection, but it has always -- always -- been an idea that has sprung from religious or cultural minds long before public health officials (go figure).

      That's fine, Kevin, but then you'd better come up with another means of handling the enormous numbers of gay men (or people period, for that matter) who are having promiscuous and unprotected sex with each other and spreading like wildfire, not just HIV, but previously-nonexistent diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

      I prefer to meet people like Huckabee head-on by acknowledging there IS a problem and laying out a meaningful plan of action to deal with it that doesn't require quarantine. But if promiscuous people can't be bothered to exercise their freedom responsibly and continue to make people sick, it can and it should be taken away from them, stigma or no stigma.


      I think we need a president now who is unafraid to touch the hot stuff, who truly gets it on social issues and stops playing games on them, and who is not driven by animus, anger or revenge in his ambition to be president.

      I would agree, Kevin.

      But in terms of touching the hot stuff and truly getting it on social issues, I think that would require someone to be brutally honest about issues that minority groups have been sweeping under the rug.

      And I don't think minority groups are ready for that.

    1. yoshi on Feb 3, 2008 12:33:39 PM:

      The vast majority of gay Republicans I know were either declared or undeclared Giuliani supporters

      Count me as one that was never a Giuliani supporter. I am not a single issue voter. Giuliani may of been the most supportive of gay rights but he was a disaster on everything else. The guy was a joke - how could anyone support him?

    1. Kevin on Feb 3, 2008 1:26:44 PM:

      NTD:

      >>>That's fine, Kevin, but then you'd better come up with another means of handling the enormous numbers of gay men (or people period, for that matter) who are having promiscuous and unprotected sex with each other and spreading like wildfire, not just HIV, but previously-nonexistent diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.<<<

      It's called explicit, science-based, publicly-funded prevention education about HIV-transmission and STDs, both for the general public and targeted at high-risk populations specific to the behavior they engage in. It's been the best solution since 1984, and we've never embraced it fully as a society.

      HIV is a public health problem, not an excuse for ad-hoc, state-sponsored revenge against people because we don't like what they're doing in the privacy of their homes. The latter will do nothing to stop HIV. We're foolish to think otherwise.

      I just get the sense that you're trying to base public policy on your anger about people's sexual behavior. Anger is never a good basis for policy. It's what made ACT UP's political agenda about as kooky as Jesse Helms' back in the day. I think, instead, we need to face reality as Americans, much like the rest of the entire developed world has, and put aside our childish aversion to explicit and science-based sex education and do what is necessary to deal with HIV. As a gay community, we also have to grapple with and deal with the reasons why so many of our members are getting lost in a haze of self-destructive behavior, and figure out what we need to do as a community to help those lost in it and prevent new folks from falling into it.

      p.s. - Stats show the national trends for new HIV transmission, late diagnosis and delayed-starts for treatment are overwhelmingly among people of color far outside the urban gay ghettos, where stigma of homosexuality and HIV has driven at-risk populations further underground, further from the ambit of prevention education, further from testing and further outside the net of public health. So we throw them in camps? How do we find them? Test the whole citizenry, and isolate the 'bad' ones? How do we define 'bad'? Where does this line of thinking lead? Hence - this is why Huckabee's position was absurd and scary. (He wasn't a gay guy in the heart of the Castro making that proposal, either. He was a politician in Arkansas trying to get the votes of ignorant people.)

    1. Kevin on Feb 3, 2008 1:37:04 PM:

      More NDT:

      >>>>As for gay soldiers, the military is not civilian life. We do not now require our male or female soldiers to sleep, shower, and live with those who they may find sexually attractive or who might find them sexually attractive, and we bar them (fraternization policy) from any form of social interaction, because hard experience has shown us that sexual attractions and interpersonal relationships can and do interfere with the decision-making and prioritization under fire that the military has to do.<<<<

      Not so in the militaries of the UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Australia and countless other U.S. allied militaries (many of whom variously have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside ours) that have no such ban. In fact, all of the peer-reviewed evidence laid out in full by the Michael Palm Center (www.palmcenter.org) not to mention the Rand Corporation have proven that DADT is totally unnecessary. To argue that DADT exists out of anything other than political and cultural intolerance rather than sound policy judgment is not borne out by any evidence at all.

      You're right that military life is not like civilian life. It is about standing up, saluting and saying "yes sir". It was so during racial integration (done at a time when white soldiers' families and townsfolk were lynching blacks back home), and it will be so when this idiotic policy is repealed. It requires leadership, period.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 3, 2008 4:34:17 PM:

      I'll give you and Chris the option of whether or not you want to publish or delete my first response, Kevin, which got hung up in the spam filter. If you think it's a bit too salty and caustic (which I do), I accede to your judgment in either direction.

      But let's deal with one thing specifically first.

      I just get the sense that you're trying to base public policy on your anger about people's sexual behavior.

      You're partially right -- and there is a reason.

      The numbers suggesting steady condom use among gay youth don’t harmonize with 23-year-old Kelvin Barlow’s experiences in Atlanta. “A lot of my partners are not thinking about condoms,” said Barlow, who was diagnosed with HIV at age 17. “I think I’m usually the first one to bring [condom use] up [in sexual situations]. Sometimes my partners know my status and sometimes they don’t — they just want to jump in the bed.”

      Barlow believes a combination of ignorance and emptiness led to his seroconversion. “At that time I was the dumbest thing walking — I thought I was invincible and could do whatever and not get ill,” said Barlow, who was 15 and dating a 35-year-old man. “I thought I was in this relationship with this man who loved me, why do we need to wear condoms?”

      That to me exemplifies everything that is wrong with the gay community. A thirty-five-year-old man exploited an underage teenage boy for sex and gave him HIV in the process.

      What's worse, this boy knew full well the importance of wearing condoms -- and chose not to use them.

      Furthermore, Western Europe and Canada, which have the "explicit, science-based, publicly-funded prevention education about HIV-transmission and STDs, both for the general public and targeted at high-risk populations specific to the behavior they engage in" whose lack you decry in the United States, are seeing the same explosion in HIV and other STDs that the United States is.


      In my opinion, we are past the point of educating people being good enough, and well into the point of having to decide whether or not we are willing to put some teeth into stopping HIV and STDs -- or whether we simply will continue to tolerate situations like the one I mentioned above where we just write it off to "private sexual conduct".

      In addition, Kevin, we need to take a good hard look at what the gay community has habitually opposed. Repeated studies and evidence from WHO have shown that the average number of sexual partners each person has -- or, if you will, the promiscuity index -- is the best predictor of HIV rates in a population. HIV has not made inroads among white heterosexuals in the US for that exact reason; there are ultimately strong aversions to promiscuity and promiscuous behavior, and much more emphasis on sexual responsibility. Conversely, it has spread like wildfire in communities that openly support and promote promiscuous sex, where high status is accorded to those who regularly "score", and where sexual restraint is either looked down upon or actively discouraged as "repressed" and "closeting" -- i.e., the black community and the gay community.


    1. Kevin on Feb 3, 2008 7:08:45 PM:

      Salty or savory? A matter of taste, right? :-)

      Since I know you for real, NDT, I wouldn't misunderstand your views to be anything but heartfelt, whether I agree or not.

      I really appreciate the lengths and the depths you have gone to explain. We don't agree on stuff, but we're civil and we like each other. That says a lot. Reciprocal gold stars? :)

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 4, 2008 3:30:03 AM:

      Platinum. Splurge, baby, splurge. :)

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