Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Are There Gay Republicans?

Originally published in 05/05/12

It’s a question that I’ve often asked myself, and given the events of the past week, indeed the past year or so, it’s one that bears asking more than ever. Why are there Gay Republicans?

Two weeks ago the Romney campaign hired former G. W. Bush UN Spokesperson Richard Grenell as their campaign spokesperson. Mr. Grenell had a reputation for being a polarizing figure, and he was also known for some rather off-color tweets about Michelle Obama, Rachael Maddow, even Calista Gingrich. This is not a person who is worth shedding any tears for. Frankly, he was the Republican version of Perez Hilton…mean and nasty, snide and condescending, mainly for its own sake. Four days ago, Mr. Grenell resigned from the Romney campaign, the same day he was supposed to officially start working. The resignation wasn’t because of his off-color tweets, or for being a polarizing and controversial figure. The reason he resigned, despite the campaign’s protestations to the contrary, was because he was Gay.

Grenell wasn’t forced out by the Romney campaign. In fact, the campaign seemed to go out of its way to convince him to stay. Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades…
“We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons. We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”
I’ll get to the second sentence of Mr. Rhoades statement in a moment, but let’s start at the beginning. “…his own personal reasons…” according to Mr. Rhoades. As it turns out, those personal reasons are because of blowback not from the Left, but from the Right, specifically Bryan Fischer and the American Family Association, who called the resignation a “huge win” for the Religious Right.
“The Grenell resignation represents a huge win for the forces defending the family in America, since it will be a long time before the governor appoints another homosexual activist to a prominent position in his campaign.”
Other groups like American Values, and the Family Research council also expressed dismay at Grenell’s hiring. Gary Bauer (American Values) in his daily e-mail to members of the Campaign for Working Families called the hire an “unforced error”.
“[Romney’s] campaign still has some work to do when it comes to reassuring the conservative base and values voters. That's why his appointment of Richard Grenell, who worked in the Bush Administration, to be his spokesman on national security issues was a disappointment to many conservatives.”
The second part of Matt Rhoades statement, the “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications…” part, is even more intriguing. While Ric Grenell was officially to begin his job on May 1st, he was doing work for the campaign from the moment he was hired two weeks prior. Last week (as of this writing) Grenell set up a campaign conference call to pre-empt Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy speech. However, questions arose when Mr. Grenell wasn’t heard on the call. Per Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast…
“Some even called and questioned him afterwards as to why he was absent. He wasn't absent. He was simply muzzled. For a job where you are supposed to maintain good relations with reporters, being silenced on a key conference call on your area of expertise is pretty damaging. Especially when you helped set it up.”
As it turns out, according to the New York Times, Grenell received a directive from the Romney campaign by way of policy aide Alex Wong to “not speak on this call” and to “lie low for now.” The Times also adds from an anonymous Republican, “It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay, they believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”

So the gist is that Romney knowingly hires a Gay guy (who, incidentally, was also Gay when Bush hired him), tries to keep him on the DL, and when the nut-jobs in his party get all…nut-jobby, Romney pretty much leaves the guy to fend for himself. Not one word of repudiation to the religious homophobes in his party. Not even a half-hearted defense of his guy, or his own decision. It’s not as if he had to come out with a full-throated endorsement of same-sex marriage, which incidentally would have put him miles ahead of Obama. (Evolve much, Mr. President?) All he had to do was have the back of the guy he hired. Instead he got his flacks to give mealy-mouth tepid statements of half-assed support and crocodile tears because he’s afraid of pissing off the bigoted church-folk in his party, who don’t really have a problem with Gays, so long as they stay in the closet…or in the men’s room stall. This should give you some idea of the position he plans to take on Gay issues…none at all.

So I ask again. Why are there Gay Republicans?

This coming Tuesday, along with electing their primary candidates for President, North Carolinians will be voting to instate what could be called the most extreme anti-Gay initiative in the country. Amendment One, as it’s called, would define marriage in the state as being between one man and one woman…exclusively. It would effectively invalidate any kind of non-heterosexual union, and affect unmarried heterosexual couples as well. From the Bay Area Reporter…
According to Protect All NC Families, a coalition fighting the measure, the amendment would "threaten protections for all unmarried couples in North Carolina." The group's website says that Amendment One would ban civil unions, and eliminate health care and other benefits for public employees and children receiving domestic partner benefits, among other provisions.
The wife of North Carolina state Senator Peter Brunsetter (R), a supporter and sponsor of Amendment One touted the preservation of the White races, of all things, as the reason behind the amendment.
According to the alternative Yes! Weekly, writer and campaigner Chad Nance spoke to a pollworker who told him that Jodie Brunstetter said, "The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce."
So not only is this an anti-Gay amendment, it’s a White supremacist amendment as well. Incidentally, when I wrote about just this type of White fear back in February, I didn’t realized I’d be quite so right, and you know how I love being right (see “Makin’ Babies” in the Source List below).

So once again, why are there Gay Republicans?

In 1995, during his campaign for President, Republican Senator Bob Dole found himself the recipient of a check for $1000. The check was from the Log Cabin Republicans, a Gay Republican group. As with Romney’s hiring of Richard Grenell, Dole’s possession of a check from a group of homosexuals incensed the religious right, and Dole ended up giving back the money, even though he had accepted donations from Gay individuals in the past. His rather tepid statement at the time was that he opposed accepting money from any group with a “special agenda”. So this is the thanks Gays get when supporting Republicans. Right wing anger, candidate angst, and the proverbial kick in the teeth.

Why are there Gay Republicans?

What do groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud hope to accomplish by supporting a party that openly hates them? Do they think that someday the GOP will come to its senses and suddenly give them the respect and consideration they crave? Do they think that their very presence will bring their issues to the forefront of Republican politics? Do they think that if enough Gays join the GOP they can take over the party from the inside? If that’s what they’re thinking, then it would appear they are far more misguided than anyone could imagine. Of course, there are some who would claim that the Democrats take the Gay and Lesbian community for granted. I’m more than willing to concede that point, but there is a big difference between taking a group for granted, and out and out hatred for that group. That is all that Republicans feel for Gays and Lesbians, and it’s all today’s Republicans are capable of feeling. Remember, this is the party that wants to reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to keep Gays out of the military. This is the party that allowed its audience in a primary debate to boo a gay soldier fighting in Iraq. This party wants a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. This party has adopted anti-gay legislation in states across the country, and yet there are some who are so desperate for acceptance that they’re willing to hang with the rest of the GOP closet queens, dating out of airport bathrooms.

Someone please tell me. Why are there Gay Republicans?

Washington Post - Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney spokesman, resigns – Bryan Fischer – Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer Side with Bryan Fischer on Romney’s Openly Gay Staffer – Romney Campaign Silenced Gay Spokesperson

The Bay Area Reporter – Wedding Bell Blues: Amendment One

Huffington Post – North Carolina Anti-Gay Amendment 1 Written to Protect “Caucasions”

The World According to Me – Makin’ Babies

New York Times – Reversal on Gay Donation Embroils Dole