An article in today’s New York Times says that as more Republican gays come out, overt gay bashing is on the outs in the GOP.
The muted reaction reflects not only changing values in the country generally, but also, more notably, among many Republicans and conservatives.
The center of gravity of the conservative movement in this election season is with fiscal conservatives. The Tea Party is infusing the Republican Party with new energy, and Tea Party leaders and supporters say they do not want to talk about social issues: even if they do not personally support same-sex marriage or abortion, they think the Republican Party spent too much time talking about them and not enough time trying to rein in spending.
The war over gay rights in America and other modern nations has been largely won. Too many people have come out of the closet and will never go back in for the clock to be turned back.
Most of these out individuals have loyal friends and family members who offer unequivocal love and unqualified support. We have reached a tipping point where LGBT people are even coming out in traditionally conservative bastions where the issue has long been seen as taboo.
This huge shift in society is why we are holding our noses and welcoming people like Ken Mehlman (after his redemption tour), in hopes that thousands of other Closet Kens will come out and end state sanctioned homophobia. This process is happening at an stunningly fast rate, as social conservatives are losing momentum.
“There are now more and more Republicans, and conservative Republicans, who have talked about this issue through the prism of being an equal rights issue, and being an issue that should not define the conservative movement and the party,” said Steve Schmidt, who was part of that inner circle as a spokesman and strategist for Mr. Bush’s 2004 campaign.
This shift is occurring because cynical Republicans that rely on wedge issues to win elections are seeing that gay bashing is losing its power. It seems that border fences, tax giveaways to the rich and launching ill-advised wars in the Middle East pack more punch, these days.
Matthew Dowd, another top strategist for Mr. Bush who broke with him after the re-election campaign, said that same-sex marriage had ceased to be a big issue for many voters — including conservatives and religious ones — even in 2004. In polling and focus groups before that election, he said, Republicans and conservatives cited terrorism, taxes and the war in Iraq as the issues that would move them to the polls.
Of course, the Caveman Cabal will fight like crazy to make sure the GOP remains firmly entrenched in Medieval times.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Mr. Mehlman’s announcement helped explain “the scandalous failure” of the Republican establishment to fight same-sex marriage. “It is important for the conservative movement that the Republican Party remains committed to its longtime stance on core social issues,” he said.
Perkins can bleat and beat his chest all he wants, but the numbers are no longer on his side:
In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in March 2004, a plurality of Americans under 45 — 35 percent — said there should be no legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. Forty-five percent of Americans 45 and older said the same. By April 2010, just 24 percent of Americans ages 18 to 44 surveyed said that there should be no legal recognition, and 35 percent of Americans 45 and older said the same.
For the past decade, every time voters wiped away LGBT rights at the ballot box, Perkins and others of his ilk would bellow, “majority rules.” I’m curious if these neo-Puritans will still respect the will of the people when they are entrenched on the minority side of public opinion. My hunch is that they will suddenly lose respect for “the people”.