February 01, 2008
For gay GOPers - now what?
Posted by: Kevin
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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