Thursday, November 25, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Last week, the Washington Post ran a "special advertising supplement" targeted to the black community that said gay people are unworthy of the equal rights that African Americans now enjoy. The supplement was in the guise of a publication called, "Both Sides Magazine", although it wasn't a true magazine and didn't present both sides.
This disgraceful propaganda - clearly backed by Focus on the Family's James Dobson - truly broke my heart. "Both Sides" tried to incite anger and contempt by using an inexcusably vicious combination of shocking pictures and bogus claims. Editor Dr. David Grier manipulated the facts and stuffed this trash bag with bogus social science designed to distort the lives of gay people.
Grier argued that gay people don't deserve equal rights because their "lifestyle" causes them an early death. He arrived at this conclusion by using phony stats that compare the "median age of death for a homosexual man without AIDS" to the "average age of death for a married heterosexual male."
Even more shameful, Grier got his information from Dr. Paul Cameron. In 1985, The American Sociological Association adopted a resolution that stated: "Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality and lesbianism."
Grier did not present science, but pap from the pulpit. It takes a total lack of integrity to smear a group with false "Bell Curve" style statistics. It is not befitting a man of God, but one who scrapes the gutter to find a way to justify prejudice.
Grier also uses the asinine argument that gay people are unworthy of equality because they didn't suffer as much as African-Americans.
"Where were the water hoses, attack dogs and midnight rides to terrorize the marriage registrants in Massachusetts and San Francisco?" Grier blithely asks.
This revolting message marginalizes gay hate crime victims and their families. It minimizes gay and lesbian Americans who have been fired because of their sexual orientation. It dismisses the pain and suffering of countless gay youth who have committed suicide because of people like Grier.
Most perverse, Grier puts victims of discrimination into a twisted contest to see who has suffered more. How would Grier like it if a Jewish person dismissed the horrible suffering of African-Americans, like himself, by thoughtlessly spitting out, "Jim Crowe is nothing, we had the holocaust, so shut up and get to the back of the bus."
In another article in the insert, James Canady Sr. makes a circular argument that gay people have equal rights because they can already marry the opposite sex. Well, sure, we can choose to have sex with a person we aren't attracted to and marry someone we don't love. But creating such unhealthy sham marriages is certainly not conducive to an enduring family. Perhaps Canady should have a discussion with the family of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey before he dispenses such pearls of wisdom.
The final argument is that gay people should not gain equal rights because homosexuality is not immutable, like race. Grier made the silly argument that, "If homosexuality is a genetic trait and homosexuals were true to their orientation, the trait would die in the first generation." Has the ignoramus ever taken Biology 101?
The vast majority of gay and straight people would agree that their sexual orientation is deeply ingrained and is not changeable. The American Psychiatric Association says attempts to change sexual orientation can lead to "anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior."
Nothing is more vulgar than minorities who bash other minorities. People like Grier and Canady display a remarkable degree of self-absorption. They are basically saying, "Now that I've got my rights, no one else deserves theirs." It is discouraging to see people who learned all the wrong lessons of the civil rights movement.
Thankfully, most black leaders such as Al Sharpton, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Nelson Mandela and Coretta Scott King have been leading voices for gay and lesbian equality.
"For many years now, I have been an outspoken supporter of civil and human rights for gay and lesbian people," Coretta Scott King said at the 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."
The beauty of the civil rights movement is that it had a universal message that laid down a simple moral principle: Caste systems where people are born into second-class citizenship should be abolished. It is a shame that in this day and age some people only believe themselves worthy of dignity, freedom, equality and respect.
by Wayne Besen
By now, most people have been sickened by the brawl involving the Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons and the drunken hooligans that pose as Piston's basketball fans. We looked on in horror as muscle-bound Pacer's star Ron Artest leapt into the stands - followed by a few of his teammates - to attack terrified basketball buffs after he was hit by a cup of beer. We watched in dismay as the scene escalated into violent chaos and mayhem.
Appropriately, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern suspended several players and kicked Artest out of the league for the remainder of the season. Although it is admirable that this alarming incident has been used to reexamine society, it is unfortunate that conservatives have exploited the fight.
"This is the hip-hop culture on parade," Rush Limbaugh coughed up on his radio show. "This is gang behavior on parade minus the guns. That's the culture that the NBA has become."
The subtext of Limbaugh's message is that conservatives and their celebrated "values" are the answer to saving society. But the truth is, right wing conservatives are not the solution - they are part of the problem.
Precisely what conservative lessons do Limbaugh and others of his ilk believe they can impart? Based upon their behavior, here is what a conservative values-based curriculum might teach:
English: First, Dan Quayle will prepare students for the spelling bee, followed by Prof. George W. Bush's grammar class. At the end of the semester, Head Master Dick Cheney will teach kids how to tell a cardboard cutout of Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy to F*******.
Ethics: Tom Delay will instruct your children in the skill of changing the rules to make sure they can succeed even if they are indicted. After all, you can't break the rules, if you make the rules!
Math: Liberal professors spend too much time on mathematical theory. What's the point? Seen a rhombus lately? Values guru Bill Bennett will take your children out of the Ivory Tower and into the casino where they can learn "the virtue" of how to run numbers with the best of them. This is practical math at its finest.
History: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will guide you through the evolution of the Electoral Map. Well, not evolution - that's a bad word. Newtie will teach how after Alabama's racist Gov. George Wallace left the Democratic Party to become a Dixiecrat, the majority of voters in southern states followed him out of the party. Learn the nice euphemism for this race-based electoral switcheroo: "Red States".
Physical Education: We offer P.E. with our token conservative Democrat Zell Miller. He'll guide your budding conservative progeny on the finer points of dueling. The semester will end with California Gov. Schwarzenegger teaching the gymnastics of how to slaughter countless people as a Terminator and still be the darling of conservatives who abhor Hollywood violence.
Industrial Technology: In case your son is ever accused of having his hands on a campaign aide during his political campaign, Prof. Gary Bauer will take the hands on approach and show him how to replace the wooden door to the campaign office with a glass door.
Marriage and Family: Culture warriors Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Bob Barr will tag-team lecture on the minefield of Third Marriages. They will answer pertinent questions like, "Is it OK for the third bride to wear white?"
Health: Rush Limbaugh will teach your kids how to bash evil drug addicts while high on Percoset. He will impart the skill of "Dr. Shopping" to make sure they always have the prescriptions they need.
Business: Prof. Kenneth Lay will teach the art of bankrupting a company and landing with a golden parachute.
Law: Learn how to settle a lurid sexual harassment suit out of court with Prof. Bill O'Reilly. Then, anti-activist Judge Roy Moore will teach your kids how to respect the law by explaining how they too can place a two-ton replica of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse and then refuse a court order to take it down.
Bible: Trinity Broadcasting Network's (TBN) founder Paul Crouch will school your children the heavenly hypocrisy of starting an evangelical empire that condemns homosexuality while having an alleged gay affair with your employee.
Computers: Republican National Field Director Dan Gurley will teach your child that just because something is on the Internet, does not mean it's private. Gurley will show you how his Internet profile trolling for unsafe sex proved embarrassing with the abstinence-only crowd.
It is evident by looking at this curriculum, that only when conservative culture stops growing in a petri dish have they earned the right to lecture the rest of us. Until then, I suggest they take a long look at the conservative culture they've cultivated. They will find it looks a lot like the one they piously preach against.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
by Wayne Besen
The gay movement is the canary in the coalmine for the future of the Democratic Party. If party leaders move right and abandon basic fairness and equality, it is a strong signal that they will capitulate and surrender their other core principles too. This may lead to widespread disillusionment and the creation of a powerful third party that will shake-up American politics.
For the record, I have always been a proud Democrat and I still expect to die as one. I have loathed the ego driven third party campaigns of megalomaniac Ross Perot and egomaniac Ralph Nader.
The Democratic Party is far from perfect, but it has always been home. It certainly is a no-brainer alternative to a Republican Party that calls bigots "The Base". But in the wake of the election defeat, there are some Democrats who want to scapegoat gay people for Bush's victory.
"I think that whole issue [the freedom to marry] has been too much, too fast, too soon. And people aren't ready for it," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Some Democrats want to veer to the right in the vain hope of pandering to the 22 percent of voters who picked "moral values" as their top issue. They believe the first step in this futile process is to tell gay people they should "know their place" and gladly accept their fate as second-class citizens. That's right, just shut up and take one for the team!
The harbinger is the upcoming vote to pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. Karl Rove told Fox News Sunday that the Republicans would "absolutely" push to enshrine discrimination. If the Democrats buckle and allow gay relationships to be written out of the Constitution, they should not be surprised if many gay people write off the Democratic Party.
This alone, of course, won't cause the formation of a third party with a legitimate chance of winning. Openly gay people, after all, are only 4 percent of the electorate. But it will signal a move to the right, which will make it easier, for example, to freeze Howard Dean out of a possible chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.
Dissing Dean won't cause the Democratic dam to break either, but it will cause considerable tension between the progressive and conservative wings of the party. Another fissure might occur if weak-kneed Democrats allow the Supreme Court to be stacked with Antonin Scalia clones.
A fatal rupture may come if the party establishment tries to undercut Hillary Clinton's bid to be president in favor of a Southern conservative. At his point, I believe a third party is a viable possibility with Howard Dean as the nominee. If he has no future in the party, it makes sense that he will look for an alternative platform.
The problem with third parties is that they have traditionally lacked money, the ability to disseminate their message and effective grassroots organizers. However, the machinery is already in place for a new progressive third party.
Money will flow from the Internet and from liberal groups such as MoveOn.org, Americans Coming Together and Howard Dean's network. Air America radio will broadcast the message, along with a host of progressive magazines and blogs. Further, Dean already has name recognition, which will save millions of dollars introducing him to America.
The new party would also be the recipient of the talent, money, political savvy and grassroots support from millions of politically homeless gay people. The GLBT community would give the new party the crucial jumpstart it needs to effectively launch. I believe within ten years such a party could be competitive. If the Electoral College could be abolished, (doubtful) I would say it might be surprisingly competitive now.
Of course, I hope this never happens and that my Democratic Party fights for its core principles. But the last thing America needs is a Democratic Party that is a cheap imitation of the Republican Party. Actually, the last thing America needs is the real Republican Party, but that's another column.
To win, the Democrats must hone their message while patiently waiting for the fragile GOP coalition to implode. I firmly believe Neo-Puritan excesses will soon force moderate Republican's out of the party. A Democratic message of social liberalism, fiscal sanity and tenacity on terrorism would make it possible to lure these former Republicans.
Watch and wait for the gay canary to emerge from the Democratic coalmine. The coughing canary may be sick from newfound conservatism, but it will ultimately endure. I'm not sure I can say the same about a Democratic Party that would abandon the bedrock principle of equal rights for all people.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Religion and politics used to be two issues polite company did not discuss at the dinner table. But as the ill-mannered Neo-Puritan Right belches and bellows victoriously over their bread, it is clear that they have changed the rules of American civility in the most unappetizing ways. A Crucifix now dangerously adorns the body politic and threatens to crucify anyone who doesn't pander to the pious.
At its best, religion is a deeply personal tool to build a better life, much as Bush did when he used his faith to overcome alcoholism. Praying can give profound strength and bring great happiness to believers. Martin Luther King Jr. used his brave faith to guide him.
On the other hand, religion has also been used as an oppressive weapon. Its followers have brought us such catastrophes as the Crusades, the Inquisition, opposition to women's suffrage and support for slavery.
Perhaps the left is guilty, as Neo-Puritans claim, of denying religion a more prominent space in the public square. But the right is at greater fault for its cavalier dismissal of legitimate concerns over religion's unique combustibility in the civic realm. Simply put, thousands of years of history show us that dogma can be deadly.
Religion and secular society can happily coexist and prosper, as they traditionally have in America. But this delicate balance can only succeed if faiths are constructive, rather than destructive. A constructive faith makes rules for which it expects its followers to abide. While it desires society to share its views and moral standards, it has no interest in abusing civil law to persecute nonbelievers.
A destructive belief system, on the other hand, aims for a hostile takeover of civil law to coerce nonbelievers into living according to its harsh dictates. It turns Godly humility into gleeful humiliation for those who hold different views.
The current political religious revival is clearly destructive and has wounded this country. Indeed, twenty-four years after Rev. Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority, civility has been undermined, our culture has coarsened and our nation has been profoundly fractured. Politics and religion are the new potatoes and rice at the dinner table. We are divided into Team Red and Team Blue, like Bloods and Crips. Thanks, Rev. Falwell!
For all the pious talk of morality, the tragic truth is that the red states were won with bloody red meat. Bush's campaign slogan could have been, "Vote Your Fears, Four More Years." The Republican elite frequently derided America's cradle of democracy by derisively sneezing out Mass-a-CHOO-sits. The humanity of ho-mo-SEX-u-als was degraded, as extra syllables of contempt vaulted from the vicious vernacular of "values voters".
With Neo-Puritans, it seems the ugly means justifies the ends, as long as it's in the service of ushering in the End Times. Now, Bush has to deal with the consequences as preening political preachers are bombastically boasting they won him the election.
"Hour by hour, we observed a 'slam dunk' as the Church of Jesus Christ made the difference…" said Rev. Jerry Falwell.
"The voters have delivered a moral mandate," cooed Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, in Fort Lauderdale.
Bush should be wary because freedom and fundamentalism rarely co-exist peaceably. Liberty demands compromise and cooperation, values that Neo-Puritans confuse with appeasement and capitulation. The Falwell crowd is already trying to submarine Sen. Arlen Specter's, R-Penn., bid to chair the Judiciary Committee because he warned Bush against nominating extremist judges.
Additionally, on NBC's Meet the Press, Karl Rove said that the president would "absolutely" push for a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay people the freedom to marry.
The catch is, extremists are never satisfied until they vanquish the opposition. In Israel, Ariel Sharon thought he could handle the fanatical settlers in the Gaza Strip. Now, some are openly calling for the murder of their former patron. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah thought he could make nice with Osama bin Laden until the zealot literally blew up that arrangement.
A healthy nation is like a fish tank with a diversity of species of different sizes and colors. The various schools don't have to socialize or even get along. The only rule they must abide by is "live and let live". If you throw a piranha into the fish tank, the predatory fish devours and consumes all that cross its path, undermining the fragile ecosystem.
"I think America is turning back to what it once was, a biblical America," Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition told USA Today.
While Bush and the Neo-Pures stir a witch's brew of politics and religion at the dinner table, the president may find he's the main course and his second term is reduced to fish food by his fanatical followers.
Friday, November 05, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Conservative leaders have earned the right to rejoice after voters approved Constitutional amendments banning the freedom to marry in 11 states. But after the party ends, conservatives may find these to be hollow victories that accomplish little and serve as a catalyst for the advancement of gay rights in America.
On Election Day, Amendments were passed in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.
Presumably, the two goals of conservative groups who pushed these amendments were to shove gay people back in the closet and take a stand for traditional marriage. I don't believe they succeeded on either count.
Certainly, gay and lesbian Americans went to bed Tuesday night somewhat depressed over the rout at the polls. By morning, however, the political dust settled and many of these citizens kissed their life partners and went to work, just as they always have.
The defeat did not magically turn gay people into heterosexuals, nor did any same-sex couples break-up because of these referendums. And surely the gay bars and restaurants will be as crowded as ever.
So, nothing really changed; the 1950's didn't suddenly reappear. Gay people are here to stay and no Amendment or conservative political posturing is going to return gay people to the closet.
Instead of rolling back the gay rights movement, these bigoted belches will energize the thousands who voted against these Amendments and offer gay rights organizations an unprecedented platform to discuss same-sex marriage.
With grueling Amendment battles behind them, gay activists can now transition from political fights to the kinder terrain of public education, turning America into a giant classroom on same-sex families. The educational process may take ten or even fifteen years, but demographically time is on our side.
Let's be honest, record numbers of people are coming out at younger ages. Polls show that people under 30 are much more likely to support same-sex marriage. Following the passing of these amendments, our relationships are going to become more visible - not less.
And once the discussion over same-sex relationships truly begins, it is inevitable that most Americans will eventually come to favor same-sex marriage. As people meet more gay couples, the current system of relationship apartheid will unravel.
People will not want to see their friends suffer discrimination and be denied equal benefits such as pensions, inheritance and hospital visitation rights. Americans will recoil when the children of same-sex couples are left vulnerable because the one parent with legal custody dies unexpectedly.
Americans have yet to hear from the many adults who grew up in same-sex households who will demand an explanation as to why their first-rate parents are being treated like second-class citizens. And as more gay people come out, an exponentially high number of families will start demanding equal marriage rights for their gay sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
As for the conservatives' other goal of saving traditional marriage, even less was accomplished. I'm not sure how many heterosexual women woke up the day after these votes and said, "Gee, now that marriage has been saved from homosexuals, maybe I shouldn't ask my third husband for a divorce after all?"
Or how many guys said, "Now that gays can't get married, I can finally respect the institution, marry my girlfriend and take care of our four out of wedlock kids."
Instead of helping to rehabilitate the institution of marriage, the polarizing debate over these Amendments served as distractions. Bashing a minority is a lot easier and more lucrative for "pro-family" groups than facing true threats to the family like divorce, abuse, addiction, unemployment and infidelity.
Now that the Amendments have passed and gay people can no longer be scapegoated, do these pro-family groups plan to offer any substantive plans to fix the real problems that end marriages? If not, it reveals that they are not pro-family, but simply anti-gay.
America has changed for the better, with gay families no longer invisible. There is no hateful Amendment that can amend this reality.
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.