Thursday, November 04, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Not even the fabulous RuPaul could find a shade of lipstick glamorous enough to pretty up Tuesday night’s election pig. The excruciating defeat was an unmitigated disaster for the GLBT community. With the Supreme Court thrown into the equation, there is the very real possibility that some aspects of the movement could be set back decades. Many of my good friends and colleagues are depressed, even despondent, as they well should be. A couple of buddy’s are even thinking of moving to Canada.
My advice? Before you buy your parka, get plastered. That’s right, go out and get drunk. Then, get up in the morning and get over it. To quote our reelected President George W. Bush, we’ve got a lot of “hard work” to do.
Here is a snapshot of the precarious new world we now face:George W. Bush:
The president is not obsessed with gay issues, nor does he appear particularly uncomfortable with gay individuals who tow the GOP party line. To underscore his semi-comfort, Bush said right before the election that he would not care if states offered GLBT people civil unions. According to Bush:
“I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so. I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others.”
Nonetheless, Bush has never hesitated – and has often enthusiastically embraced – using our lives as fodder when it became politically expedient to do so. A few examples: Bush favored keeping Texas’ sodomy law on the books. He is against hate crime legislation. This year, he pushed for a divisive constitutional Amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Now that Bush no longer needs the extreme right for reelection, will he move more to the center? Will his alliance with the Neo-Puritan crowd be symbolic or substantive? Unfortunately, the greatest indicator of future behavior is past behavior, which means I am skeptical that Bush will move to the center.
With a decisive electoral victory and all branches of government at his disposal, it will be tempting for King George to reward his zealous, faith-based followers. I suspect that one of the first prizes will be a ferocious push to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment.FMA:
With 11 states overwhelmingly passing Constitutional Amendments on Election Day, including eight of these states banning Civil Unions too, passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment has momentum. Supporters of FMA have one legitimate shot to capitalize on their referendum successes and pass this hateful desecration of the Constitution. If Democrats and moderate Republicans can hold firm now, the FMA will likely lose steam for the remainder of Bush’s term, barring a Republican landslide in mid-term congressional elections.
Although I don’t think it will pass, don’t be shocked and brace for the distinct possibility that it may.Supreme Court:
This could be known as the Almond Joy Court – lots of nuts from the Bar.
The Supremes are so old that they refer to the Golden Girls as “kids”. It is possible that Bush will appoint up to four Supreme Court justices. The President has said that his favorite Justices are the horribly homophobic Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
The Democrats are going to have to be strong and stop combustible, judgmental judges from winning confirmation. If they fail to do so, our community will lose reasonable access to the Supreme Court for at least a decade.
Republican moderates will also have to do their part to rein in attempts to nominate lunatics to the Supreme Court. Sen. Arlen Specter, who is expected to head the Judiciary Committee, has already cautioned Bush against nominating zealous anti-abortion judges.
Speaking of which, Roe vs. Wade is in immanent danger. If a new Supreme Court overturns the right to choose, at least 30 states are poised to quickly outlaw abortion.
This will, of course, ultimately backfire. Those who can afford abortions will flee to other states. There will also be a thriving black market for the pregnancy termination drug RU-486. Ultimately, the only people who will not be able to safely end pregnancy are poor women. The result will be horrific back alley abortions, with the bleeding victims live on CNN. There will also be intrusive Inquisition-like trials of young women. Ending Roe v. Wade will not stop abortion. It will, however, create a lot of victims and ultimately be a public relations nightmare for the conservative movement.
Finally, the ramifications of Bush’s victory affect more than just the Supreme Court. Bush will likely try to ramrod through federal judges recommended by ideologues at the right wing legal group, The Federalist Society. This has the potential to stack the court with virulently anti-gay judges. Let’s face it, the Democrats will not be able to filibuster every single nutty nominee.Worst Case Scenario:
A Supreme Court packed with ideologues decides to overturn Lawrence v. Texas, which legalized consensual sodomy. Currently, Virginia’s sodomy law, although unconstitutional, remains on the books. If three Scalia clones are named to the court, I could foresee the court using the Virginia law as a pretext to retry Lawrence, effectively criminalizing homosexuality in many of the Red States. Legal experts tell me this is highly unlikely, and I tend to trust their wisdom. My gut, however, tells me that the overturning Lawrence remains a distant, but conceivable threat.Senate:
The Republicans picked up six seats in the Senate to gain a 55-44 majority, with one Independent. These folks aren’t your father’s garden-variety moderate Republicans. In fact, these neo-Puritans make Trent Lott look like Ted Kennedy. They are flat out scary. I exaggerate not when I say they are mean, bizarre, hatemongering bigots who will defile the institution the same way Newt Gingrich debased the House.
Oklahoma’s new Republican Senator, Tom Coburn is the worst. He is a strong proponent of “abstinence-only” sex education and had a surreal campaign moment when he said that Oklahoma’s schools had “rampant lesbianism”. As a Congressman, Coburn once complained that NBC should not show Stephen Spielberg’s acclaimed holocaust film Schindler’s List during family hours. He was quoted in a news release as saying the film took network television “to an all-time low, with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes.” Any person who sees Schindler’s List as pornographic is one sick, psycho-sexually stunted bastard who desperately needs to seek professional help. Oklahomans who voted for this priggish Neo-Puritan, should be ashamed of themselves.
Jim DeMint, South Carolina’s new senator is not far behind Coburn in the Loony-Toon sweepstakes. He supported a GOP platform prohibiting homosexuals from teaching in public schools, saying, “I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children.”
Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez apparently learned nothing about the dangers of Fidel Castro’s tyranny when he fled Cuba to become an American citizen. He won his GOP primary by out-gay bashing his opponent, Rep. Bill McCollum. In this primary, The St. Petersburg Times took the unprecedented step of reversing its endorsement of Martinez.
“The Times is not willing to be associated with bigotry,” the editors wrote, citing Martinez direct mail that branded McCollum “the new darling of the homosexual extremists” because he supported hate crimes legislation. Sen.-elect John Thune, who defeated Tom Daschle in South Dakota, is a fundamentalist zealot who refers to himself as a “servant leader”.House:
In the House, legislation to advance GLBT equality is DOA…Dead On Arrival.
The Republicans are headed for a gain of at least four seats in the House of Representatives, bringing their total to a minimum of 231-201, with one Independent. Much of this gain was due to corrupt Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s sleazy redistricting scheme in Texas. With wider margins in the House, it is doubtful that anyone will restrain DeLay’s immoral and possibly illegal subversion of the Democratic system.Wild Card:
The GOP may look unified today. But that ends tomorrow when George W. Bush will likely pursue his radical foreign and domestic agenda. The most potent opposition, however, may not come from Democrats, but moderate Republicans.
I suspect that fiscal conservatives may revolt when Bush tries to pass permanent tax cuts, which are really permanent deficits. I would also wager that Bush would have to begin telling the truth on foreign policy or face a rebellion by John McCain, R-Ariz., or Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Saying “freedom is on the march” when things are imploding will no longer cut it.
If Bush overplays his hand, this may lead to a further realignment of the electorate. My guess is Republicans who are moderate on social issues or deficit hawks may leave the party in droves if the party grossly overreaches. If the Taliban wing of the GOP runs wild, Democrats should spend the next four years wooing moderate Republicans into the fold. After all, the Democrats have become the party of fiscal sanity and personal responsibility.
Finally, if the war in Iraq becomes another Vietnam, all bets are off on what happens to voting patterns in 2008. If you think America is divided now, just wait and see how things are if we are still bogged down in Iraq with little progress to show for our sacrifices in three years. Bush has about a six-month grace period to show he can get a lid on this volcano. If not, the lava will consume his presidency.Disaster:
If conventional wisdom ends up blaming anti-marriage constitutional amendments for losing Kerry the election, there could be some ugly skirmishes over support for gay rights in the Democratic Party.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times, “I think it [same-sex marriage] gave them a position to rally around. The whole issue was too much, too fast, too soon.”
If the more conservative faction wins out, this would essentially put GLBT Americans in the political wilderness. It would also, of course, hurt a Democratic Party that depends on our money, votes and incredible energy.
Already, there is chatter about choosing a presidential nominee in 2008 who is more palatable to the Red States. Don’t be fooled, this simply means less gay friendly. Progressive Democrats must fight to make sure the party stays committed to advancing GLBT equality.Hope:
Yes, even at a funeral, solace can be found. In Massachusetts, the pro-marriage faction of the legislature was strengthened in the elections. This increases the likelihood that the state’s Constitution won’t be amended to prohibit the freedom to marry.
Cincinnati overturned a repugnant 10-year-old law that prevented the city from passing legislation to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.
This is real progress and we should be proud of the activists in Massachusetts and Cincinnati that provided a ray of sunshine on the dimmest of days.Hopeless:
Even though the Log Cabin Republicans refused to support Bush, twenty-three percent of gay voters cast their ballots for the president. This shows how deep the roots of self-loathing and internalized homophobia can run. The president wants to write gay families out of the Constitution. Just like Lynne and Dick Cheney, these folks won’t even stand up for their own families. It’s hard to respect or trust people who will sell their own partners and children down the river. I certainly don’t want to hear any of these folks whine if their votes come back to bite them in the ass.Hard Work:
We have a huge problem on our hands. A wave of religious fanaticism has swept much of America and threatens to eviscerate the Constitution and turn our nation into the Christian version of Iran.
Over the next four years we must fight like hell to roll back this dark tide that threatens to cast a shadow on the Enlightenment. If there is one goal we must accomplish in the next four years, it is to make the word “conservative” as politically radioactive as “liberal” is today. To win, we must change the culture to respect freedom and diversity.
This can be done by proudly standing up for our core values. We must contrast our hopeful vision of America with the bleak ideology presented by the Neo-Puritans who threaten to destroy pluralism in America. We can succeed by uniting secular Americans with moderate religious leaders.
Nations that embrace fundamentalism do not prosper. Religious extremism inevitably brings wars, debt, international bellicosity and internal division. If you look at the Bush administration’s record, these are the “gifts” he has brought the world.
Liberals and moderates have to win the war of ideas. To accomplish this, we must continue to build organizations that can effectively counter the right wing’s vast media and think tank empire.
Media, such as Air America must be expanded. A farm team of moderate talk show hosts must be developed who can effectively communicate in the Red States. We need more groups like Media Matters, to monitor the distortions of the right wing and mainstream media. Grass roots organizations like Americans Coming Together, MoveOn.org and Howard Dean’s base must be expanded.
Finally, gay organizations have to focus on telling our stories to the nation. Cut the political spin and slick “Inside the Beltway” language. It is imperative to speak from the heart and introduce our families to middle America over and over again.
We must launch a project that tours the nation, particularly college campuses, and effectively articulates why we want the freedom to marry. If we move the numbers a mere ten percent in our favor between now and the 2008 elections, we will have done an enormous amount to help defuse this issue.
The good news is, polls show a plurality of Americans believe GLBT families deserve varying degrees of legal recognition. Marriage is a greater challenge. But this is ultimately about family values, so it’s an issue we can win.Thanks:
We need to thank John Kerry and John Edwards for running spirited campaigns that sought to unite America. Sure, there were stumbles, but overall they fought hard for the election. They simply could not overcome the ugly, despicable campaign of fear and smear that sent Bush back to the White House.
Look, 75 percent of Bush’s supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11. It is clear the Bush campaign fostered ignorance and then exploited the ignorant.
So, ironically the war hero was defeated by the war zero on security issues. The class act lost to a class clown. Look on the bright side - at least we get to laugh at Bozo and his buffoonish gaffes for four more years.
FOUR MORE YEARS! If we don’t laugh, we might cry.
Finally, there are great lessons to be learned in defeat. Up from the ashes we will rise to build a powerful coalition to defeat forces that want to turn America into a Neo-Puritan state.
Of all people, Rev. Pat Robertson can teach us an important lesson.
After he lost the 1988 Republican primary to George Bush, Robertson turned his mailing list into the Christian Coalition. His goal was to create a Christian nation. Today, we elect lunatics who complain that Schindler’s List is pornographic. In less than 20 years, he has accomplished much of his agenda.
Defeat leads to introspection, and ultimately action. This is the beginning of a long, bitter struggle for the soul of America. If we stick together with steely resolve, America will remain a free, pluralistic nation that celebrates and respects all its citizens.
posted by sexy, at
posted by sex, at
posted by Sexy喵, at