Tampa Observations

by Stephen H. Miller on September 2, 2012

Via BuzzFeed: The 5 Republicans Who Mentioned (Gay) Marriage on Stage in Tampa. Romney and Ryan spoke in code about honoring and defending marriage, while Huckabee, Santorum and McDonnell were only slightly more forthright. All, however, avoided the words “same-sex” or “gay,” or explicit appeals to pass the anti-gay federal marriage amendment. It’s what some call “dog whistle politics,” in which independents might hear nonthreatening words about respecting marriage while social conservative activists decode a harsher message.

All in all, outside of the platform, (red meat for the hardcore base, the right’s “wingnuts”), social issues were decidedly low key at the GOP convention.

Another BuzzFeed post sent reporters to the convention floor, where they observed two interesting findings:

I only saw one person wearing something for “traditional” marriage, and it was this pin. (#34).

and

This PRO-LIFE pin was the most popular pin. It was everywhere. (#31)

It’s a continuing shift, and it will take one or two more cycles (at least), but the energy in the conservative movement is moving away from anti-gay militancy. And that includes major donors, including the biggest players.

More. Openly gay former GOP congressman Jim Kolbe does the best a gay Republican can in giving a qualified endorsement to Romney. If Log Cabin Republicans don’t go at least this far, they will be frozen out of the GOP discussion with no access to White House insiders, as they were after their refusal to endorse the reelection of George W. Bush. If they do give a qualified endorsement, the LGBT left will go ballistic. But since Log Cabin’s mission is to work to influence the GOP, better to have the gay left upset, I would think. (GOProud, the more ideologically conservative gay group, already endorsed Romney.)

{ 24 comments }

Doug September 3, 2012 at 1:24 am

I want some of whatever you are smoking if you really thing the GOP is moving away from it’s anti-gay militancy.

Gus September 3, 2012 at 3:03 am

It is important to remember when the ‘Tea Party’ Republicans were elected in 2010 for state legislatures and governor’s offices, they took up anti-choice legislation and anti-marriage equality legislation as soon as possible.
In Ohio, with an amendment to the state constitution banning anything that might even look like marriage, the legislature and governor sought to block the state universities from offering healthcare benefits to partners, again. Also, they started putting fundamentalist and evangelical Christians on the state school board to monitor the schools’ anti-bullying campaigns and to add more David Barton/Christianist style American history. This while they said their whole focus was on jobs, lower taxes, budgets and breaking up the unions. The union busting got most of the media attention when all this other legislation was going on.
Instead of full throated Westborro Baptist Church public bigotry, Republicans now have a bigotry that dare not speak its name so they can get elected.

Tom Scharbach September 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

All in all, outside of the platform (red meat for the wingnuts), social issues were decidedly low key at the GOP convention.

The suggestion seems to be that because the Republican convention speakers stayed on script, the platform was a nothing more than a bone tossed to the “winguts” (social conservatives), a toss we don’t have to take seriously.

I don’t agree.

Defending Marriage Against An Activist Judiciary

A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.

A Sacred Contract: Defense of Marriage

That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. The current Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle – in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts – makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and State Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage

The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will deter-mine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

I don’t buy that the platform language is meaningless for a minute. Not even a New York minute.

Republican politicians in the state legislatures have been no less vigorous in pushing anti-equality legislation since 2010 than they were before, Romney (whatever his views might actually be) has made public commitments to the “wingnuts” on every issue mentioned in the platform, and Ryan is a “wingnut” — a hard-core, committed social conservative, as anyone who knows his voting record in Congress on “social issues” is well aware.

And, if the core language isn’t bad enough, here’s the kicker from the platform: “The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda. When you read “impose … homosexual rights” read the Obama administration’s muted efforts to deploy our foreign aid to oppose half a dozen African countries executing and jailing gays and lesbians for no reason other than that they are gay or lesbian.

Even GOProud doesn’t swallow that one: “GOProud – What We Believe – 6 -FIGHTING GLOBAL EXTREMISTS – Standing strong against radical regimes that refuse to recognize the basic human rights of gays and lesbians, women and religious minorities.

Stephen, if GOProud is looking for “radical regimes that refuse to recognize the basic human rights of gays and lesbians” it doesn’t need to go to Africa to find one.

The Republican Party can be turned, but it isn’t going to happen by wishing or counting buttons. It is going to be turned by a decade of hard work in the party at county, state and federal levels. If you want change, Stephen, get to work.

Houndentenor September 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

The folks scripting the convention knew not to yell about gay stuff too loudly for fear of scaring off moderates and swing voters. But since every mention of gay rights was negative (either outright or in code, as you mention) I don’t see that as any sort of positive move on the part of the GOP.

Also, Clint Eastwood is for gay marriage. Why didn’t he mention that subject when he was talking to his imaginary-strawman Obama?

Houndentenor September 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

About the “More” section…

So LCR has to endorse this heinous platform and ticket or they can’t be part of the discussions. But as long as they are endorsing it, what incentive does the party have to change? This IS the problem. They have your votes no matter what they do. Why shouldn’t they keep pandering to the religious right since there is no downside to doing so. Unless of course that pandering starts causing them to lose elections. I call that “enabling”.

Tom Scharbach September 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

If they do give a qualified endorsement, the LGBT left will go ballistic.

The only thing interesting about LCR’s endorsement will be the logic used to justify it. You can bet that they won’t use Stephen’s explanation (“If Log Cabin Republicans don’t go at least this far, they will be frozen out of the GOP discussion with no access to White House insiders …“), which is probably close to the truth of the mater.

Doug September 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

What the hell is a ‘qualified endorsement’? You are either going to vote for Romney or you are not.

Jorge September 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

It’s what some call “dog whistle politics,” in which independents might hear nonthreatening words about respecting marriage while social conservative activists decode a harsher message.

Or people who pay attention to politics. George W. Bush seemed to do the exact same thing in his 2004 (03?) State of the Union Speech. I swear up and down he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment. But when I listen to the speech, well he *did* move from marriage to attacking activist judges, but his actual support for the amendment was vague. By the way, the same observation can be said for abortion in these guys’ speeches.

I take a different meaning from it, though. Sometimes I take it as a signal that they’re resting the issue while they get fired up on other things.

Mind you, most of the time people who don’t pay attention to politics think politicians are speaking in code, they’re really just being paranoid.

It’s a continuing shift, and it will take one or two more cycles (at least), but the energy in the conservative movement is moving away from anti-gay militancy.

I’d worry about much the same thing about it moving away from the neocons, but then we saw Condi Rice’s speech and how well that was received. These people are all finding a way to endorse the Ryan-Romney ticket with at least a fake enthusiasm. I do not think they would be doing that without some assurance that things would be okay.

Jorge September 4, 2012 at 7:48 am

So LCR has to endorse this heinous platform and ticket or they can’t be part of the discussions. But as long as they are endorsing it, what incentive does the party have to change? This IS the problem. They have your votes no matter what they do. Why shouldn’t they keep pandering to the religious right since there is no downside to doing so. Unless of course that pandering starts causing them to lose elections. I call that “enabling”.

I don’t think the LCR should endorse Romney either. Their refusal to endorse Bush already influenced the birth of GOProud. Romney has explicitly spoken out in support of the federal marriage amendment, and his stated support for gay rights, so far as this election is concerned, is weaker than Bush’s in the 2000 election. Sometimes you have to play the role that you typecast for.

There is also the matter of agenda. GOProud is committed to very few gay rights causes, but the one Tom cites is a big one, so there will be some representation. Most of the other major issues have either already been accomplished (ending DADT), have been accomplished about as far they might be given the slow pace of change plus the current Republican House (building up support to repeal DOMA), or are better advanced by being in clear opposition to those in power (opposing the FMA).

Houndentenor September 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

Since Romney and the GOP Congressional leadership have pledged to bring back DADT, that’s hardly a settled issue. It could all be undone very quickly if they had the votes and the White House.

Jorge September 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

I don’t happen to agree with you, but I’ll keep my eye out.

Houndentenor September 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

I don’t know what there is to agree or disagree with. They have pledged to bring back DADT. Perhaps that is an empty promise to the religious right. In case the GOP winds up with the majorities and the White House again, I hope I am wrong.

Tom Scharbach September 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Whatever the Republicans do or don’t do in the next 3-6 election cycles, the positions of the parties are clear enough in 2012.

The Democrats just passed the 2012 platform:

We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.

This is what years of hard work by LGBT Democrats looks like …

Doug September 5, 2012 at 2:14 am

I guess it comes down to how badly you want to humiliate yourself by groveling at the feet, via qualified endorsement, of the GOP base to get a seat at a table where no one wants you there and doesn’t listen to you. No offense to others but I have more self respect than that and will not grovel at anyones feet to justify my existence.

Tom Scharbach September 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

I guess it comes down to how badly you want to humiliate yourself by groveling at the feet, via qualified endorsement, of the GOP base to get a seat at a table where no one wants you there and doesn’t listen to you.

GOProud and LCR are different in this respect.

GOProud does not consider “equal means equal” issues to be “gay issues” (“For far too long, the gay left in this country has been allowed to dictate what they believe qualify as ‘gay issues.’ We think that jobs, the economy, healthcare, retirement security and taxes are all ‘gay issues’ …“) and has never pretended to work for equality.

Because GOProud rejects the idea that “equal means equal” is a legitimate “gay issue”, the GOP platform runs afoul of GOProud’s agenda in only two respects — the platform’s support for the FMA and the platform’s pledge to support Christians Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and other African nations in oppressing gays and lesbians. GOProud doesn’t have to “grovel” because it isn’t in conflict with the Republican platform.

LCR is in a different position.

Historically, LCR has championed the issues that GOProud dismisses, and has been closely aligned with “the gay left in this country” on “what they believe qualify as ‘gay issues’“.

The Republican platform is at odds with LCR’s agenda in just about every respect.

That’s what makes the coming LCR endorsement of Romney-Ryan and the Republican platform on LGBT issues problematic for LCR. Unlike GOProud, LCR cannot endorse Romney-Ryan without saying something about the conflict between LCR’s positions and Romney-Ryan’s positions. That’s what will make the upcoming endorsement interesting.

I’m learning that an increasing number of libertarian-leaning gay friends in this area are planning to vote for Gary Johnson this year. In a “battleground” state, that seems to me to be a “throw-away” vote, but none of them can stomach the sharp backward turn in the Republican Party.

clayton September 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

“We think that jobs, the economy, healthcare, retirement security and taxes are all ‘gay issues’ …

I actually agree with GOProud to this extent, but here is something they don’t seem to consider: many of the problems gays and lesbians face with healthcare, retirement security and taxes are a direct result of the government refusing to recognize our relationships. I can’t carry my husband on my health insurance, because my state does not recognize him as my husband; we can’t shift assets to each other the way heterosexual couples can, because marraige shelters them from the tax consequences of shifting assets. We can’t designate each other as survivors on Social Security because the federal government does not recognize our marriage. And GOProud’s response? They want to leave the issue of marriage “to the states.” What a cop-out.

Tom Scharbach September 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Exactly, Clayton. Michael and I have to deal with the same problems.

Wisconsin passed a Domestic Partnership Act in 2009, which alleviated some of the problems vis a vis state law, but all the federal problems remain. And, just to add icing to the cake, the our Republican Governor is pushing a lawsuit to declare the Domestic Partnership Act unconstitutional because, in his view, it is too “similar” to marriage. We’ll probably win the lawsuit, but anyone who thinks that the Republicans aren’t serious about the platform issues should think again.

North Dallas Thirty September 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Not really, clayton; what they realize is that, if gays and lesbians like you really cared about these things, you’d be demanding your Obama Party change the tax laws.

An instructive example is the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Prior to this, only spouses could transfer tax-sheltered retirement accounts intact upon death; everyone else, regardless of your relationship to the deceased, had to take the account as a distribution, which imposes a massive tax.

Republicans, aided by people like yours truly, changed the law to be very simple; you now designate a qualified beneficiary, who does not have to be married, or even related, to you, and that person may accept the retirement account intact. The only distribution that is taken is if the recipient decides to take it and then pay the tax on it. The only reference to “spouse” in the law is that, if you are married, your spouse must consent to the designation of any beneficiary other than your spouse.

This law is highly beneficial. It allows people far more flexibility in arranging their estates, it allows for cross-generational transfers without tax penalties, and — this is the kicker — it benefits everyone regardless of sexual orientation. As a result, it was easy to get nearly universal Republican buy-in.

And the Obama Party fought it tooth and nail.

Why? Three reasons:

1) The Obama Party is desperate for tax revenue and believes that it should be allowed to take whatever it wants from you. This law allows people to arrange their affairs to minimize their tax bill, which the Obama Party adamantly opposes.

2) The Obama Party is viciously hostile to those of means and believes that they should have their wealth confiscated rather than giving that which they saved over a lifetime to who they choose. Hence why they cling to the estate tax despite the harmful effects it has on unmarried couples.

3) The Obama Party and its closet antireligious bigots like Tom Scharbach do not want solutions; they want sob stories so they can scream and cry and demand “marriage” as a pretext for attacking churches. They prefer gays helpless and dependent on the Obama Party; it makes them easier to control, just like the other Obama Party grievance groups.

All of these things you mentioned are simple and relatively straightforward to fix. Gays like myself and GOProud are well-versed in these issues and would have no trouble working them out with Republicans. Best of all, as I’ve already shown, it is perfectly possible to fix these problems without compromising peoples’ religious beliefs or anything of the sort.

But, since it doesn’t attack religion and it doesn’t increase peoples’ dependence on the government, the Obama Party and the LGBT community have no interest in it. And thus you rot as even more states pass marriage bans and the Supreme Court gets closer to punting the issue back to the states.

Tom Scharbach September 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

All of these things you mentioned are simple and relatively straightforward to fix. Gays like myself and GOProud are well-versed in these issues and would have no trouble working them out with Republicans.

If it is “simple and straightforward to fix”, and GOProud “will have no trouble working them out with Republicans”, why is it that GOProud has made no visible progress at all within the Republican Party on the following GOProud objectives: (1) domestic partner tax equity, (2) repeal of DOMA and (3) opposition to the FMA?

I know that GOProud works its magic in mysterious ways, but I don’t see any visible sign of progress at all on these objectives. If anything, it seems to me that the Republican platform this year doubles-down in opposition to these objectives, rather than the other way around.

I guess I’ll be patient and wait for GOProud to pull the rabbit out of the hat when I’m looking the other way.

… closet antireligious bigots like Tom Scharbach …

Ah, the usual dreck.

But, since it doesn’t attack religion …

I would point out to you that a strong defense of the principle that our country should continue to base our laws on the common good rather than on the dogma of a particular religion supports religious freedom, rather than the other way around.

If, for example, we were to base our laws concerning divorce and remarriage under civil law on Catholic teaching and banned divorce and remarriage under civil law, we would be “compromising” the religious beliefs of Jews and other religions who do not take that view of divorce and remarriage, not to mention the beliefs of Christians who do not hold to Catholic dogma in this respect.

What is true of divorce and remarriage is also true of same-sex marriage. If we base our laws on the religious views of Catholics, conservative Christians, and Mormons, and ban marriage equality under civil law, then we “compromise” the religious beliefs of Reform Jews, for example, who routinely perform religious marriages between same-sex couples, marriages which are valid under Jewish law.

If we change the basis on which our laws are created from the common good to religious belief, it is inevitable that we will be forced to pick and chose among particular religious beliefs in creating our laws, in each case favoring the religious beliefs of one religion or denomination over another. That is exactly what the First Amendment was intended to prevent.

The only way to avoid that result is to base civil law on the common good, which is religiously-neutral, and allow religious bodies to practice their faith as they see fit.

Mark F. September 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm

“They have pledged to bring back DADT. Perhaps that is an empty promise to the religious right. ”

It is. The Congressional votes aren’t there now, and won’t be in 2013 either.

Houndentenor September 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

Just in case the GOP gets those majorities again, I hope you are correct. Even so, I would rather feel confident that the people elected to represent me believe that gay people are entitled to full rights under the Constitution, rather than hope that their anti-gay rhetoric is empty rhetoric. Bush wasn’t pushed around by the religious right that much on these issues. They believed he was one of their own. Romney does not have that advantage and I fear he would be far more willing to pander to the theocratic elements of his party.

Mark F. September 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

“I’m learning that an increasing number of libertarian-leaning gay friends in this area are planning to vote for Gary Johnson this year. ”

Delighted to hear that. This, along with the dissatisfied Ron Paul voters, could cost Romney the election — in which case the GOP may be singing a new tune in 2016.

TomJeffersonIII September 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm

I have been told that this is what happens time and time again at Republican National Conventions, except maybe like in 1992. Basically, the party pretends that ‘aw, sucks we are just a bunch of moderates, gosh, darn it, really and those other reactionary folk are just colorful characters.

The Republican Party platform, not that platforms in major parties actually matter (and have not for a long time), is not as overtly anti-gay as say the Constitution Party, but it basically leaves open the possibility to do about the same thing.

I cannot see much of a substantive policy difference between Romney or Bush jr on many things, including gay rights…. or his annoying VP candidate. So, why exactly should the gay Republican group endorse Romney, when I was told it did not endorse Bush?

I did not really hear or see much in the way of smugness at the Democratic Party convention. I saw people trying to figure out to address real problems and challenges like, you know, pragmatic adults.

Again, people on the far left and right link to spin things a certain way or use creative buzz words, but I would like to think that people do not blindly listen to whatever some talking head on the far left or right says.

I am sorry, but just do not see pragmatic Republicans have any real power in the GOP.

I hear this from gay/bi Young Republicans all the time; they are being told that they have no future in the GOP, much less in leadership or candidacy if they support gay rights.

Maybe, that will change, great if it does, but it has not changed today.

Tom Jefferson III September 9, 2012 at 11:53 pm

yes… and speaking of blindly following whatever the far right says…

1. It is pretty sad that a marginal amount of civility and respect for the office of the President is not readily felt. I did not like it when the far left did it and I do not like it now.

2. Actually, tax policy under a Republican or Democratic president does not actually change that much. Their will always be taxes and while they may get messed with here and their, not too much is going to change in that area.

What does change in terms of tax or economic policy is whether or not folks are going to play by the rules. Avoid paying your taxes, is not exactly playing by the rules, its more like doing whatever heck you want and then crying like a baby whenever some catches you breaking the rules.

3. I have not seen too much overt hostility to people being successful. I only seem people tired of people being successful by breaking the rules or deciding that they no longer apply to them anymore.

4. Again, I do not see or hear too many ‘religious bigots’.

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