November 07, 2008
The slo-mo death of pro-homo Republicans
Posted by: Chris
- In Colorado, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the original sponsor of a federal marriage amendment, was defeated by Democratic challenger Betsy Markey.
- In conservative North Carolina, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who scored 0, 0, and 20On on respective HRC report cards, was decisively beaten by pro-gay Democrat Kay Hagan.
On the other hand, Democratic gains are most likely in districts previously held by moderate Republicans, and Tuesday witnessed the defeat of two of the three most reliably pro-gay Republicans in Congress:
- Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, a primary co-sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was narrowly defeated by Democrat Jeff Merkley. Despite Smith's record, HRC did not issue an endorsement in the race.
- In Connecticut, moderate Republican Congressman Chris Shays, a primary co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, was defeated by Democrat Jim Hines. HRC and Log Cabin had both backed Shays.
- In New Hampshire, Log Cabin endorsee John Sununu, the incumbent Republican, was defeated by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu was not exactly in the same league as Smith or Shays, given successive scores of 25, 33, and 20 on HRC's report cards.
- In Ohio's 15th congressional district, vacated by Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce, who co-sponsored ENDA, Log Cabin endorsee Steve Stivers leads by just 150 votes.
- Another longtime Log Cabin ally, Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, retired his seat and was replaced by a Democrat. Davis had backed ENDA and opposed efforts to overturn pro-gay legislation adopted by the District of Columbia.
It wasn't all bad news for gay Republicans, as several moderate House members including Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Most significant will be the return of Maine Sen. Susan Collins -- HRC's only GOP Senate endorsee and a primary co-sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Act -- who was easily re-elected.
Even still, the trends are disturbing, and follow the difficult loss two years ago of Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, another outspoken pro-gay Republican.
In this environment, as the GOP caucus in Congress looks more and more under the tight grip of social conservatives, the Log Cabin leadership would be much better served concentrating their limited efforts on the waining number of Republicans in Congress who are truly pro-gay, rather than wasting their credibility inside and outside the gay community acting as apologists for the likes of John McCain and Sarah Palin.
Remember than neither McCain nor Palin backed a single piece of gay rights legislation -- a stark contrast with Smith, Shays, et al. After Log Cabin prematurely labeled Palin, the Alaska governor, as "a different kind of Republican," she even came out in favor of a federal marriage amendment.
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