Gay PoliticsCalGal -- Sunday, June 08, 2003 -- 02:02:03 AM
In lieu of a better title, but I'm open to suggestions.This thread is tagged: lesbian, homosexual
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I see this as the continuing balancing between bowing to the social conservatives and religious right on the one hand, and not wanting to seem mean-spirited to the great mass of moderate voters on the other.
Ashcroft has broken his word to Congress on this issue; or to put it as charitably as possible, has changed his mind from the time when he testified that he would not discriminate against gays in the Justice Department. The business about there being no White House proclamation to support the gay event is a bit clever, but transparent.
But don't think the homophobes will go away happy. Ashcroft is not discriminating against gays in the most severe manner he could, namely by forcing them out of their jobs.
It would be very difficult for him to do so since Bush has not rescinded Clinton's executive order prohibiting the firing of gays from federal jobs on the basis of sexual orientation. Overturning that executive order is what the anti-gay religious right really wants, but has not gotten.
Nor did they get from Bush an amicus brief supporting Texas in the sodomy case, which will be decided very shortly, most likely in gays' favor. And they are still smarting from Bush's appointment of a gay ambassador.
Andrew Sullivan suggests that gays who believed GOP overtures may have been taken for suckers; but frankly, I don't recall any substantial overtures in the first place.
The Bush administration's policy seems to be that they will not make any serious outreach to gay voters so as not to alienate social conservatives; they will continue to oppose federal gay rights laws, gay marriage, and gays serving openly in the military; but they will not engage in loads of political gay-bashing, either. The homophobes are being thrown crumbs, and not much more. For now.
But if Ashcroft alone bans the celebrations and is inconsistent in allowing it one year and not the next, isn't that a problem?
I would imagine that if the fallout is not particularly great, he will ban them throughout his tenure. I think more than a few people expect him to act a little odd, anyway. Remember the draping of the naked women?
I don't think other agencies that have been more gay friendly will follow his lead. Even if there is pressure to do so from the White House, originating with Rove perhaps, doing more of this probably will cause more trouble than it's worth.
I could be wrong. They could be considering playing the gay card in 2004 and trying to push the Dems into looking more like the gay party than they already do, but I kind of doubt it. They haven't been acting that way so far, at least by my standards, and Cheney's lesbian daughter kind of argues against that tactic.
But who knows.
But that's my point. He allowed it last year, and the year before. So why suddenly stop it?
Pressure from the social right. He's more amenable to that than most of the other cabinet members, so he caved, I suppose. Maybe it comes from Rove, too. I dunno.
The anti-gay forces were angry about the silence over the sodomy case, and what they perceived as a lukewarm defense of Santorum, so there probably was some pressure to do something, some kind of gesture.
The Bauers and Dobsons want the Administration to come out and say homosexuality is immoral, etc., which I don't think they are going to do given that the vice president's daughter is an open lesbian.
Ah, okay. That makes sense. Thanks for explaining it.
But I still think the sudden change could make things difficult for Bush. Certainly if he wants to pretend that he can win California. Maybe he's gotten sensible and written that off.
I was just watching Late Edition, and Robert George made the same point about the switch in policy being politically motivated, not principle, and that this might hurt them.
Maybe. It does limit the appeal of the GOP and of Bush to gay voters, who are about 4 to 5 percent of the voting population nationwide, if we are to believe the polls available so far, and somewhat higher in states like California and New York. Gays vote GOP at about 20 to 25 percent if the candidate is not seen as particulary friendly; lower still is he/she is openly hostile. But up to 40 percent in the case of Giuliani, and I think quite a bit higher for Weld in Mass., when he was running against an anti-gay Democrat (Silber).
A good rule of thumb is that almost a third of gays will vote GOP if the candidate is reasonably acceptable on gay rights issues.
The number could be quite a bit higher if the GOP embraced gay issues, but it won't. It needs the religious right too much; they are far more important to them right now than a a couple of million gay votes in the race for the White House. Or so they think.
But in a close race, gays voting against the GOP could make a difference, just as Libertarians have done so in a few statewide races, and just as the Greens have hurt the Democrats.
Right now, I don't think it will matter because I expect Bush to win fairly easily.
But that could change if we have the economic growth rate staying below 2 percent going into the middle of next year. That could make it a tight race.
Ick -- thanks for making me think (as a BU alum) of the fetid John Silber. When will that dessicated one-armed relic curl up and die already?
It doesn't cut both ways in California. There's nowhere near the number of social conservatives needed to win the state.
I think a good deal of this article is delusional. But I didn't know (or had forgotten) that Gephardt's daughter is gay.
The problem for gays in California and elsewhere is that there is a certain amount of prejudice against them even among people who are not social conservatives. Straight men, for example, demonstrate a higher rate of anti-gay bias than straight women do, and I don't think that social conservatives are disproportionately male. It's just that a lot of guys think they are supposed to be against gays, period. In the locker room, evidenced by the jokes they tell, in the voting booth, and when the pollsters call.
Oregon voted for Dukakis, one of the few states to do so, while simultaneously passing an anti-gay resolution; a lot of Democrats and independents are hostile to gays, without being card carrying members of religious right groups.
Look, it wasn't long ago that a negative view of homosexuality was the norm, even among liberals. That has changed considerably, and is changing even faster now, judging from some recent polls on the subject. A majority of young people, for example, support gay marriage, even as they are more anti-abortion than their parents are. IOW, the movement towards gay equality continues, but it will take time. I am convinced that decades from now conservatives will wonder why they did not support gay rights, just as today they feel some discomfort over their failure to support black equality (and of course, most of those anti-black conservatives were Democrats from the South).
I call them as I see them, as Justice Scalia once said.
As for the rose-colored glasses of others, the answer is I think pretty obvious: they are mostly left-liberals, and as such imagine all sorts of things.
I am not a liberal, except in the long-forgotten classical sense.
But I will say that some social conservatives imagine there is more anti-gay prejudice than actually exists.
You state the obvious. You even say "even in California". And then you ignore what "even in California" means. Sure, there's anti-gay bias in California. Not as much as elsewhere. Then there are zillions more gays, and they vote.
So to say that anti-gay "plays" in California is silly. It might play in one district or another, of course, but not state-wide.
I have a hard time believing that a candidate who publicly espouses anti-gay views could hold elective office in California at either the state level or in any one of the half-dozen major metropolitan areas that make up most of the state's population.
Sure it does. Gays really don't have a lot of friends when it comes to the voting booth. The Dade County, Florida vote was supposed to go overwhelmingly in gays' favor according to the polls. The gay position barely squeaked by. (That illustrates my point about gays winning, slowly, in the court of public opinion, but it also illustrates my point about how gay issues are still volatile at the polls.)
People who have an anti-gay bias are much more likely to vote than people who have a live-and-let-live attitude. It's elemental psychology.