Democrats Can’t Do It Alone (and They Never Could)

What’s going on in the New York marriage struggle shows why winning over Republicans (even just a few!) matters greatly. But those who run our leading LGBT political lobbies still seems to be firmly committed to a one-party strategy. Their identity politics is all bound up in being Democrats.

More. Lady Gaga isn’t helping.

19 Comments for “Democrats Can’t Do It Alone (and They Never Could)”

  1. posted by Tom on

    Of course the Democrats can’t do it alone, particularly when Democrats are the minority in the legislature, as is the case in the New York State Senate (26 Democrats, 4 Independent Democrats, 32 Republicans).

    But here’s the rub: The Republican Party should be as committed to “equal means equal” as the Democratic Party, and it isn’t. It is, in fact, overwhelmingly opposed to “equal means equal”. And the Republican Party continues to get away with it because conservative gays and lesbians don’t lift a finger to do anything about it, as far as I can tell.

    Liberal gays and lesbians have labored long and hard for over thirty years to build support for “equal means equal” within the Democratic Party. It hasn’t been an easy fight and still isn’t, but we have been getting results, however imperfectly and haltingly.

    It is up to conservative gays and lesbians to do the same within the Republican Party. It don’t see it happening, to be blunt about it — not when GOProud, the voice of gays and lesbians within the Republican Party, issues dreck like this. What is there for GOProud to be encouraged about when up and down the line the viable GOP Presidential candidates endorse the FMA and promise to reinstate DADT?

    When are conservative gays and lesbians going to get serious and start pushing for “equal means equal” within their own party, instead of just complaining about the Democrats and the HRC?

    Why should Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, be the one responsible for lobbying Republican State Senators in New York? Why should the HRC, a left-liberal organization from the word go, be responsible? Why aren’t conservative gays and lesbians within the Republican Party front and center on this? Where the hell are they? Nowhere, as far as I can tell.

    I don’t mean to flame (too much), but I am beyond frustration with the idea that conservative gays and lesbians can sit on their behinds, supporting anti-gay Republican politicians, and then complain that liberal gays and lesbians aren’t doing enough to win over Republicans and/or doing it right.

    If you don’t think we are doing enough for you, or not doing it the way you want us to do it, then get your butt out of the chair and get to work. It’s your job, not ours, to turn the Republican Party.

    • posted by Matt on

      Tom, you ignore the fact that it is possible, at least in theory, to organize and work towards marriage rights in a nonpartisan fashion. That is what HRC, for instance, could, theoretically, do. (They are, of course, wholly owned and operated by the Democratic Party.)

      Your comment is full of the partisanship before all else mindset that is ultimately a dead-end. “It’s your job, not ours, to turn the Republican Party.” Someone who is really committed to gay rights might feel, instead, that it’s important to try and reach all Americans not currently supportive, even if those Americans voted for GWB.

      • posted by Tom on

        Someone who is really committed to gay rights might feel, instead, that it’s important to try and reach all Americans not currently supportive, even if those Americans voted for GWB.

        I don’t think that it is everyone’s job to do everything. I work within the Democratic Party, and have for years and years. That’s where my politics lead me, by and large, so that’s where I’m active. I work hard at keeping the Democratic Party of Wisconsin moving forward on LGBT issues. It seems to me that that’s my job, as a Democrat. It doesn’t seem to me that its my job to turn the Republican Party.

        In any event, it doesn’t seem to me to be likely that I could do much to turn the Republican Party. While, like most gays and lesbians, I’d like to see the Republican Party turn around on LGBT issues, but I don’t think that I’m in a position to change the party.

        I do reach out, of course. I know the entire leadership of the Republican Party in our county, and I’m on friendly terms with willing to be on friendly terms with a “homosexual activist”. I see them frequently, socially and politically. But friendship is one thing; influence another. None of them is going to listen to me when it comes to Republican politics. They are going to listen to gays and lesbians who are active in their own party.

        So I really do mean it when I say that it is up to conservative gays and lesbians to get active in Republican politics, as liberal gays and lesbians have been active in Democratic politics for decades. You guys need to turn your party around, just as we have turned our party around.

        Outreach extends beyond political parties, of course. My partner and I live in a small town (population about 2,500, cheek-to-jowl with another small town of about 2,000) and we are among a half dozen openly gay or lesbian couples living in town.

        As is the case with the gays and lesbians in town who are living openly, just living our lives — working on community projects, cooperating with neighbors, being part of community groups, even just working and walking around — is a form of outreach, because people’s experience with us dispels the lies that NOM and the gang love to spread around. I think that living out and open is the greatest single contribution any gay person can make to changing hearts and minds, and the studies back me up on that … Any gay person who is out and open with all and sundry, living outside the “gay ghetto”, is doing outreach and changing hearts and minds, just by living.

        But all of that begs the question that is at the root of my frustration: Why should conservative gays and lesbians depend on liberal gays and lesbians to turn the Republican Party? Why shouldn’t the conservative gays and lesbians do that work for themselves?

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          It’s not as if we haven’t tried.

          We all have conservative relatives, co-workers and acquaintances. It’s like reasoning with a brick wall. I make some ground. They seem to be getting it. And then when we talk again a few days later they are spewing the same right-wing talking points (from whatever radio or tv program they listen to/watch) and we are back to square one.

          Please tell me what I should be doing.

          I have found that even using the wrong word, “equal” for example, can be a conversation ender. (It seems that on the far right “equal” conjures up an image of us all walking around in ugly grey Chairman-Mao type suits and working on collective farms. I wish I were kidding.)

          • posted by Tom on

            We all have conservative relatives, co-workers and acquaintances. It’s like reasoning with a brick wall. I make some ground. They seem to be getting it. And then when we talk again a few days later they are spewing the same right-wing talking points (from whatever radio or tv program they listen to/watch) and we are back to square one.

            Please tell me what I should be doing.

            Well, I have the same experience.

            I just keep at it, trudging along, planting the seeds. I think that’s what most of us do. Whatever we are doing, individually, it is working, bit by bit, since we are winning over the American people.

        • posted by North Dallas Thirty on

          None of them is going to listen to me when it comes to Republican politics. They are going to listen to gays and lesbians who are active in their own party.

          That’s right.

          And gays and lesbians like myself in their party have told them that your whining and grousing about gay-sex marriage is bullshit, given how you support and endorse Obama Party members who oppose it and call them “pro-gay”.

          We’ve also pointed out what hypocrites you are, Tom: for example, you and your fellow Obama Party puppets scream about the necessity for the estate tax and want to apply it to everyone, and then demand that gays and lesbians get special exemptions from it. Same with your whining about marriage; you want everyone to pay higher taxes, but then demand that your own be lowered.

          Not to mention the hatemongering against gay conservatives and Republicans by you and your fellow bigots, who call them quislings, kapos, and Uncle Toms and harass them, their businesses, and their employers.

          And what we’ve told them is this: the economy, a positive business climate, and a strong national defense is what is important, not minority quotas, preferential treatment, and the other balkanization that the gay and lesbian community demands.

          The Republican Party has a very clear picture of what you and yours are, Tom, and that’s why they have no interest in pandering to you. They don’t much care for the lavender equivalent of Al Sharpton, and that’s really all that you and your fellow gay activists are.

          Perhaps when you grow up and start calling out the antireligious bigots and the anti-Republican hatemongers that are doing so under the guise of it being a required part of being gay, then you may have a point. In the interim, what both parties have realized is that you’re just an antireligious and anti-Republican bigot, and are responding accordingly; the Republicans ignore you, and the Obama Party knows you’ll do whatever they say, contribute whatever they demand, and give up whatever freedom or piece of prosperity they want as long as they give you free rein to hate Republicans.

    • posted by Jorge on

      I didn’t even know this was being brought up to a vote in the Senate until the Assembly passed it. I don’t follow orders out of nowhere unless I know what’s going on.

      New York, being a state which is heavily Democratic by party, is also very diverse within that party. Whether that’s relevant or not, the gay lobbies have a progressive-moderate streak that is able to communicate with the moderate streak of a New York Republican. I think you must be imagining things if you think gay Republicans are not exercising any influence on the party. It is simply that some of us do not share the priorities, timing, and secret mission briefings of everyone else.

  2. posted by another steve on

    I am beyond frustration with the idea that conservative gays and lesbians can sit on their behinds, supporting anti-gay Republican politicians, and then complain that liberal gays and lesbians aren’t doing enough to win over Republicans and/or doing it right.

    Well, a great many of us conservative/libertarian gays support and are active in Log Cabin (and some in GOProud). But the size and funds available to Log Cabin is a pitance compared to what HRC has available. HRC should, as Stephen has blogged, at least feign being not a totally Democratic-partisan operation. The counterpart of LCR should be Stonewall Democrats, not HRC. It’s the abandonment of its former nonparitisan stance to become a fully directed tool of the Democratic party that has made HRC unable and unwilling to approach Republicans.

    The same is true of many state lobbies. I don’t know first hand about New York, but in California EQCA is totally a Democratic outfit, run by Democrats and lobbying Democrats, and telling Republicans (including gay Republicans, and gay-friendly GOP office holders) to go to hell.

  3. posted by Houndentenor on

    Instead of blaming Democrats, how about getting busy and lobbying GOP legislators instead. It’s very hard to get anything done with only votes from one party. Is it HRC’s fault that there are so few Republican office holders for gay rights? Why aren’t LCR and GOProud doing the work of reaching out to Republicans? (And if they are, why aren’t they successful.)

    I don’t believe for a second that Republicans vote against gay rights only because HRC hasn’t been nice enough to them. I don’t even think HRC has that much influence on Democrats.

    So the question is: what specifically should be done to get a few more votes from Republicans. Can we get Ted Olson to talk to them? He seems better than anyone I can think of at making the conservative case for gay rights (including marriage).

    • posted by Hunter on

      “I don’t even think HRC has that much influence on Democrats. ”

      Not many people pay attention to HRC these days — except, apparently, Stephen H. Miller. It’s become painfully obvious in the past few years that HRC has no influence on anyone. They merely provide a convenient cover for Democrats who want to do nothing — they can always have a meeting with “leading gay advocacy groups” and come away with validation for what they were going to do anyway.

      As for working to change the Republican party, as with the Democrats, nothing’s going to happen along those lines until we manage to convince office-holders that there’s more to their jobs than staying in office and collecting campaign contributions. Sorry if I sound cynical, but I can think of vanishingly few legislators anywhere who have managed to wrap their heads around that idea. It might also be helpful if everyone in office could manage not to be terrified of Rush Limbaugh.

      Maybe we can expect an essay on GOProud as a “gay advocacy group” working to change the Republican party’s stance on gay issues. (snicker)

  4. posted by BobN on

    Never could?

    Look up the roll calls for every single marriage and CU bill in the U.S.

    More like always have.

  5. posted by Tim on

    I am 100% with Tom on this. If HRC is largely, even entirely, “owned” by Democrats, why is that? Where does their money come from? Democrats. Where have 99% of LGBT-affirming votes come from? Democrats. Which politicians will openly, proudly support LGBT equality and promote LGBT civil rights? Democrats. I applaud and admire the few Republican state senators in my state (New York) who have promised to vote for marriage equality. But by and large, their party is fighting them. There used to be a GOP with men and women of fairness and principle, individuals I might have been convinced to vote for. But for much of my voting life (I am 53 now), a vote for any Republican meant a vote for a party that opposed my civil rights, equality and full humanity at every turn. I have had no option but to vote Democrat, Independent or not at all. GOProud should be ashamed for pandering to and apologizing for that assemblage of bigots who took the stage in New Hampshire.

    As for Gaga, what harm has she done? That’s BS. Every email and every Facebook posting I have seen the last two weeks has been urging me to call state senators, whether I am their constituent or not. There has been no nuanced call for “constituents only,” “let’s not bombard them,” etc. Gaga is urging her fans to be vocal in their support of equality. I don’t see the harm in that. Or is this some internalized homophobia on your part, Mr. Miller? Do you want to distance yourself from the flamboyant gays and assure jittery conservatives, “don’t worry … I’m not like them”?

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Gaga’s tactic of getting her fans to contact their representatives is probably how we got the DADT repeal through. It’s a much better tactic than relying on one-on-one meetings with legislators. Elected officials are aware of how many people in their district/state care enough to call/write/email/etc.

      HRC has accomplished NOTHING in their top-down, inside-the-beltway approach. The grassroots approach worked for the religious right. I don’t know why we haven’t been doing things this way all along.

    • posted by Tom on

      Gaga is urging her fans to be vocal in their support of equality. I don’t see the harm in that. Or is this some internalized homophobia on your part, Mr. Miller? Do you want to distance yourself from the flamboyant gays and assure jittery conservatives, “don’t worry … I’m not like them”?

      I don’t think that Stephen has ever really grasped the inherent messiness of the gay rights movement post-Stonewall, and would prefer a more top-down, buttoned-down, disciplined approach, carefully calibrated to win over conservatives, with tight message control.

      It just isn’t that way, and never has been. The movement has always been ground-up, messy, divergent, undisciplined and with no message control. That’s the best thing about it, in my view.

      In Stephen’s defense, the so-called “leadership” isn’t any different than he is in this respect. Remember how the “leadership” bemoaned the Perry lawsuit, because it wasn’t within the confines of the carefully laid state-by-state strategy?

  6. posted by JohninNM on

    Out of curiosity, why do you say Gaga isn’t helping? Because she isn’t playing by the HRC’s rulebook?

    • posted by another steve on

      Out of curiosity, why do you say Gaga isn’t helping? Because she isn’t playing by the HRC’s rulebook?

      If you were more familiar with Stephen’s blog, you’d know he has no affection for the HRC’s highly partisan playbook. His meaning, I believe, is that Lady Gaga’s “little monsters” aren’t exactly likely to have much sway over Republican lawmakers (actually, only constituents in their districts, and preferably above the age of 18, are likely to sway any legislator on any issue).

      Effective political lobbies can mobilize such voters on a per district basis, and give them pointers in what sorts of arguments are likely to be effective. I seriously doubt that Gaga’s anry little monsters are likely to do so.

      • posted by Hunter on

        In Lady Gaga’s defense, there’s something to be said for the effect she’s had on raising the profile on gay issues, which, after all, are not on most people’s radar. That’s the whole point of celebrity endorsements to begin with — you have to make people notice an issue before you get any action on it.

  7. posted by JohninNM on

    “If you were more familiar with Stephen’s blog, you’d know he has no affection for the HRC’s highly partisan playbook.”

    Hence my confusion.

    But perhaps a better question from me would have been… “Would you agree with HRC that Gaga is *hurting* the cause?” Because even if it doesn’t sway the legislators, it *does* get people thinking about the issues, which is perhaps even more important in the long-term.

  8. posted by GayPatriot » Gay groups’ failed one-party strategy on

    [...] the gay marriage debate in New York, Stephen H. Miller observes: What’s going on in the New York marriage struggle shows why winning over Republicans (even just [...]

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