New Times, Old Times

by Stephen H. Miller on February 12, 2014

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Carl DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, and he would be at least the third to serve in the House if he wins. But Mr. DeMaio on Thursday will take a step that none of them has, airing a campaign ad that features a shot of him with his same-sex partner.

The clips are brief: A shot of Mr. DeMaio holding hands with his partner, Johnathan Hale, as they march in a gay pride parade in 2012, followed by a clip of the San Diego candidate waving a rainbow flag that symbolizes the gay-rights movement.

The story goes on to note:

Mr. DeMaio, who presents himself as a “new generation Republican,” isn’t a long shot trying to make a splash. He is one of the party’s top challengers this year as it tries to unseat Democratic Rep. Scott Peters. Although other Republicans are running for the seat, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) has given Mr. DeMaio $10,000, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) contributed $5,000. Conservative Georgia Rep. Tom Price kicked in $1,000.

In addition to Mr. DeMaio, two other openly gay Republicans are trying to unseat incumbent Democrats in the House: Dan Innis in New Hampshire and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts.

It’s easy enough to focus on the troglodytes in the GOP, but to pretend that nothing has changed, or can change, is rank left-liberal partisanship. It’s what too many LGBT progressives hope the situation is—that would be the activists who opposed DeMaio’s run for San Diego mayor, which he then narrowly lost to progressive fav Bob Filner, who subsequently resigned after being exposed as a serial sexual harasser.

LGBT progressives also worked to defeat Richard Tisei in his previous run for Congress (another narrow loss by an openly gay Republican).

As I’ve said before, openly gay and gay-supportive Republicans are LGBT progressives’ worst nightmare.

More. James Kirchick reports:

Moreover, it’s not just social conservatives standing in the way of the gay Republican ascendance, but the progressive left as well. “If anything, the blowback has come from liberal Democrats,” DeMaio says when asked about how his sexuality has impacted his political career. “They are afraid this message could take hold and could allow Republicans to be more effective in advancing fiscal and economic reforms that they oppose.”

DeMaio and Hale were booed at the very 2012 gay pride parade featured in his campaign video—not by anti-gay protesters, but by attendees. That same year, a group deceptively named “Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012”—paid for “push poll” robocalls in which DeMaio’s homosexuality was put front and center. The group also paid for pamphlets featuring pictures of DeMaio hugging another man and standing alongside a drag queen, stating, “We conservatives know that liberty means that someone can pick a partner of their choice. We commend Carl on his conservative policies and exercising his liberties.”

Not until after the election—ultimately won by former Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, who resigned last August facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment—was it revealed that Democratic supporters of Filner had funded the shadowy group.

{ 24 comments }

Tom Scharbach February 12, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Does DeMaio finally support marriage equality? I hope he’s come around to open support. I hope so, even if he is trying to soft-pedal:

By highlighting his sexuality in an ad, Mr. DeMaio is hoping to diminish it as an issue so that voters focus on other concerns, such as his calls to pare the debt and overhaul the tax code. Messrs. Innis and Tisei have both highlighted those priorities, as well. Mr. DeMaio would also like to coax Republicans who are quietly supportive of gay candidates to embrace them more publicly.

Neither DeMaio nor Tisei did so in the elections you are complaining about, and both were running against candidates who did. How did you expect voters who support marriage equality and give that issue a high priority to vote? Obviously, you expected them to vote for the “gay supportive” Republican, presumably because he was gay, but for the life of me I can’t understand why you would think that.

We are long past the stage where just being gay was enough to get LGBT votes. I don’t know about you, but I cast my votes because of the positions candidates take, not because the candidate shares my preference for penises. I suspect that’s true of most LGBT voters.

Yeah, you’ve said before that “openly gay and gay-supportive Republicans are LGBT progressive’s worst nightmare.” We all know that, and most of us know that’s horse-hockey.

We all look forward to the day when both candidates in a race, Democrat and Republican, are strong supporters of “equal means equal”. But until then, we’ve got no reason to vote for the Republican.

But right now we are still fighting, and fighting hard We’ve got 45 lawsuits pending in 24 states, and hard legislative battles in 18 states, by my count. We have 30-odd anti-marriage amendments to undo. We have good reason to vote for candidates who strongly support us, and no reason to vote for candidates who oppose us or ignore the issue.

Focus, Stephen, focus. Focus on “equal means equal” and start working to change the Republican Party rather than spending your life bitterly complaining about “LGBT progressives” and dreaming up our “worst nightmares” for us.

Tom Scharbach February 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

It’s easy enough to focus on the troglodytes in the GOP, but to pretend that nothing has changed, or can change, is rank left-liberal partisanship.

So focus on the change and change agents in the Republican Party, instead of whining.

A few examples of focus, properly directed:

(1) Republican Senators Mark Kirk (Illinois), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) support marriage equality. Republican Representatives Richard Hanna (New York) and Ilena Ross-Lehtinen (Florida) support marriage equality. All face strong social conservative opposition because of their support. Kirk, Portman, Murkowski, Hanna and Ross-Lehtinen are Republican politicians that pro-equality conservatives interested in changing the Republican Party should be supporting, and IGF could (at a minimum) urge pro-equality conservatives to do so.

(2) Carl DeMaio is running for Congress in California. Both of his opponents in the June Republican primary (Kirk Jorgensen nor Fred Simon) oppose marriage equality. Dan Innis is running for Congress in New Hampshire. His opponent, Frank Guinta, opposes marriage equality. Richard Tisei is not opposed in the Republican primary, but will face a tough battle in the general election. DeMaio, Guinta and Tisei are Republican politicians that pro-equality conservatives interested in changing the Republican Party should be supporting, and IGF could (at a minimum) urge pro-equality conservatives to do so.

(3) Governor Brian Sandoval, Republican of Nevada, supported the state’s withdrawl from defending the state’s anti-marriage amendment in federal court. Social conservatives are in an uproar about it, and he will almost certainly face a primary challenge. Sandoval is Republican politician that pro-equality conservatives interested in changing the Republican Party should be supporting, and IGF could (at a minimum) urge pro-equality conservatives to do so.

(4) Two weeks ago, the Indiana House voted 57-40 to put Indiana’s anti-marriage amendment on the ballot. Eleven Republicans (Braun, Clere, Eberhart, Heuer, Huston, Kirchhofer, Kubacki, Saunders, Torr, Truitt, Ziemke) stood up to the social conservatives and Tea Party constituencies, and voted for equality. All will face primary challenges from those constituencies, funded by anti-equality donations coming in from around the country. The “Indiana Eleven” are Republican politicians that pro-equality conservatives interested in changing the Republican Party should be supporting, and IGF could (at a minimum) urge pro-equality conservatives to do so.

(5) The Kansas House voted yesterday to enact HB 2453, a so-called “religious conscience” law that protects discrimination against gays and lesbians (but no one else), by a vote of 72-49. Twenty Republicans (Alford, Barker, Becker, Bollier, Clayton, Cocannon, Dierks, Doll, Finch, Ghandi, Hill, Hinneman, Jennings, Johnson, Phillips, Rooker, Sloan, Swanson, Todd, Waymaster) joined Democrats in voting against legalizing anti-gay discrimination. You can bet that conservative Christians are going to go after them in the next primary. The “Kansas Twenty” are Republican politicians that pro-equality conservatives interested in changing the Republican Party should be supporting, and IGF could (at a minimum) urge pro-equality conservatives to do so..

A friend of mine has a saying that he uses when someone can’t seem to get their head out, so to speak: “He hasn’t heard the pop yet.” Stephen, hear the pop.

We are still in a knock-down, drag-out fight for equality. The fight is being fought at both federal and state levels, in the courts and in the legislatures. The primary legislative roadblock to “equal means equal” remains the Republican Party. We need to change the Republican Party. It isn’t enough to decry the Evil Progressives who vote Democratic in general elections. That will not change the Republican Party. The “battle for the soul of the Republican Party” will be fought and won (or lost) in Republican primaries.

So pull your head out, take a look at the political landscape as it exists today (not the 1970′s when you left GLAAD), stop sounding like the Globe decrying the latest (and largely invented) sins of the “Evil Camilla”, and start focusing on changing the Republican Party.

Aubrey Haltom February 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

Another point that has been addressed previously, but not in this thread, is that electing a pro-equality Republican to the US House (unfortunately) means another vote against equality in the US House.

I live in Massachusetts, though not in Tisei’s district. I know a lot of people here who were very happy to see Tisei come out (he had been ‘undercover’ for quite a while) and then run for the congressional seat. And these people were hard core ‘gay-progressive-Democrats’.

But they recognized that another Republican in the US House meant another vote for Boehner, Cantor, etc… It meant another vote for agendas that so many lgbt progressives do not support. It has nothing to do with Tisei. Tisei himself acknowledged this fact during the last election. He tried to assure the largely Democrat-registered voters that he would not be a party operative. Which is a difficult argument to make – first, because most party representatives (of any party) support their party’s leadership. And second, because Tisei ran as the Lt. Gov candidate for the Republican Party in 2010. He’s definitely a Republican – meaning, he will most likely vote the straight party ticket. Pun, yes.

I know, anecdotally, that a significant number of lgbt progressives would feel a loss to someone like Tisei was the 2nd best option. The first option would be the Dem who has a long history of supporting equality (even before it became required for Dems in the northeast) – and who will provide votes in the US House supporting issues of import to these same progressives (ENDA, marriage equality, etc…)

Unfortunately, Stephen didn’t include the balance of the WSJ article – which discussed how the greatest opposition to the candidacies of these gay Republicans came from… wait for it… CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS.

NOM’s Brian Brown (per the article) even called the Republican Party’s support for DeMaio an attempt at tokenism. Y’know – so the Party could announce that ‘see, we’re not bigots, we support this gay guy here’.

Stephen Miller’s long-since worn out meme re: lgbt progressives and their nightmares has passed the expiration date. His insistence on this ‘argument’ (delusion?) only serves to discredit Miller.

Aubrey Haltom February 13, 2014 at 11:23 am

I can think of other reasons those pesky lgbt progressives – who have this amazing ability to control the Republican Party, but only in relation to all those gay Republicans running for offices – might not want to support someone like DeMaio.

Didn’t DeMaio accept (and defend) some significant financial donations from Prop 8 supporters? And while defending that fact, he also asserted that he would not let his personal thoughts on lgbt issues affect his policies?

Brian Brown (NOM) said in the WSJ article that the ad Miller references is an attempt by DeMaio to attract outside funding. It’s obviously an attempt to counter the deeply held suspicion in the San Diego lgbt community that DeMaio has no ‘community-orientation’. That DeMaio would not be an equality supporter in his official capacity – no matter his personal life.

Doug February 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

The question is this. Do any of the LGBT GOP candidates have the intestinal fortitude to oppose the GOP leadership and support LGBT equality in actual voting. It can be extremely difficult to oppose the leadership and if they are pressured into voting with the leadership they are essentially worthless.

Houndentenor February 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

A vote for any Republican for a House Seat is a vote against ENDA because ENDA can’t come up for a vote as long as the Republicans are the majority. That’s just the reality and no nonsense about how liberals are against pro-gay Republicans can change that. The reason there aren’t more pro-gay Republicans is that Republicans are OFFICIALLY anti-gay. Some of us don’t like going to parties where we are not only uninvited but unwelcome.

Houndentenor February 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Could you send one of them down here? I’d vote for any of the three over the Republicans who are running for the House seat to represent me. (The Democrats, once again, aren’t even going to bother.) Any of them would be a better choice than the racist, sexist, homophobic Teavangelical sleaze-bags the GOP is putting up this time. Please.

Paul McGuire February 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

The same problem that kept DeMaio from getting elected mayor in San Diego is going to hurt him when he runs for congress. He continues to insist that we shouldn’t focus on social issues, and yet those issues are precisely what makes people vote Democrat. When the choice is between an out gay Republican who is basically the same as every other Republican candidate and a Democrat I think the choice is pretty clear.

The whole reason Falconer was able to win the San Diego mayor’s race despite the shift in demographics in the city was because he is pretty much fiscally conservative and socially liberal. DeMaio would have gotten trounced pretty easily if he was the main Republican candidate instead.

Jorge February 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I live in Massachusetts, though not in Tisei’s district. I know a lot of people here who were very happy to see Tisei come out (he had been ‘undercover’ for quite a while) and then run for the congressional seat. And these people were hard core ‘gay-progressive-Democrats’.

But they recognized that another Republican in the US House meant another vote for Boehner, Cantor, etc… It meant another vote for agendas that so many lgbt progressives do not support.

Votes on “social issues” don’t usually turn on the party leadership’s dime. But what is true is that whether a bill is brought to the floor in the first place does.

Aubrey Haltom February 14, 2014 at 9:48 am

Jorge,

“Votes on “social issues” don’t usually turn on the party leadership’s dime.” Can you give me an example? I’m not quite sure what you’re saying.

Though I would agree that Tisei has supported marriage equality, and even wrote a bill for a state trans rights law (including the dreaded ‘bathroom rights’) as a Republican state rep. He would be hard pressed to change those positions if he got to Congress.

Without serious repercussions at home, that is.

But yes, my overall thought had more to do with another vote in the Republican leadership’s pocket. And the inability of prospective bills/laws to get to the floor is a prime example of how a vote for any politician is a vote for their party – no matter how maverick the politician might be.

Don February 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

not to go against the grain just for the sake of it, but I would probably vote for demaio simply for his being a gay republican. when a group is too homogenous, horrible things happen. any group. right now, the GOP House is getting more and more so. To have one less straight, white, rich, old male in the room would have an impact, however small. enough so to flip my vote.

I voted for Ileana Ros Lehtinen when I lived in her district. She didn’t need my vote. Now I live in Frederica Wilson’s district. There are very few chances to flip a district from a moderate of one party to a moderate from another.

But to expect the energized, active gay left to support a gay candidate who rejects almost their entire agenda because he is gay is not very realistic. Might as well ask Alan Keyes to vote for Tammy Baldwin because Keyes has a lesbian daughter. And yes, I know he has disowned her. But I still think the comparison is in the ballpark.

To move me toward DeMaio is much easier.

Tom Scharbach February 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

[T]o expect the energized, active gay left to support a gay candidate who rejects almost their entire agenda because he is gay is not very realistic.

That’s right, and certainly so in general elections. The reverse is true, too, of course; those of us on the left can’t expect conservatives like Stephen to vote for Tammy Baldwin or Mark Pocan.

But the fact that we are not going to vote for pro-equality Republicans in general elections doesn’t mean that we can’t help change the Republican Party.

I think that contributing to pro-equality Republican candidates in primary campaigns is the most effective thing we can do help change the Republican Party. We may not be able to contribute much in each case, but small donations add up if enough people donate. Every time we help replace a “troglodyte” with a Republican candidate who is half-sensible, we’re helping.

Houndentenor February 14, 2014 at 11:46 am

And again, I didn’t see gay conservatives rallying around Tammy Baldwin. If they don’t have to support a candidate just for being gay, why do liberals?

Doug February 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

All well and good except some in the GOP want to purge gays from the party.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/mary-helen-sears-michigan-gop_n_4740426.html

Tom Scharbach February 14, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Yes, but those voices are becoming less dominant.

Cantor and the Republican leadership would rather have conservative gays inside the tent, co-opted, rather than outside the tent pissing on it, like Jimmy LaSalvia is.

That’s the whole idea behind the “Young Turks” initiative — finding and funding younger Republican candidates who talk pro-equality to attract younger “inclusive” voters, but who are willing to put so-called “social issues” on the burner behind the back burner when it comes to doing anything to oppose social conservative dominance.

I realize that I’m open to being called cynical, and maybe I am, but the number of pro-equality voters that the Republicans can hope to attract by being “inclusive” is almost certainly smaller than the number of voters that they will lose if they do anything serious about social conservatives.

Doug February 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Makes no difference what Boehner or Cantor want, it’s the Tea Party that is driving the bus.

Kosh III February 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

“The Kansas House voted yesterday to enact HB 2453, a so-called “religious conscience” law that protects discrimination against gays and lesbians (but no one else), ”

The same thing is being pushed in our Legislature but not ONE Teananniy Republican opposes it, nor does our Corpocrat Governor so it will probably be approved and then we’ll waste millions defending it in court and ultimately losing.
How’s that fiscal conservatism working out?

I’d suggest all ya’ll avowed “conservatives” leave your comfy blue-state-gay-friendly home and come and live openly in…um…..Sylacauga Alabama, Laurel Mississippi, Big Spring Texas or any other of the formerly treasonous Confederate now Republican states.

Tom Scharbach February 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

The Kansas statute is particularly heinous. Not only does it flunk all three of the “equal means equal” tests (religion-neutral, issue-neutral and class-neutral) but it extends to government employees and government services.

We are entering the “massive resistance” stage of opposition to “equal means equal”.

We will win the fight for marriage equality within a few more years — by 2018 almost certainly — but then spend the next decade fighting off and/or litigating the “massive resistance” phase of discrimination, as social conservatives try to abrogate “equal means equal” in a multitude of ways — “religious conscience” laws, “no-promo-homo” laws, the “State Marriage Defense Act”, and so on.

So be it. We’ve been fighting since the 1950′s, and we can keep it up for another decade.

Houndentenor February 14, 2014 at 11:47 am

Isn’t it funny that almost none of the gay conservatives seem to live in a deep red state, and when they do they are in a deep blue pocket of that state. They vote for a system they don’t want to subject themselves to. How odd? Typical, but odd nonetheless.

craig123 February 18, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Not true; Demaio is from San Diego, which is more likely to lean Republican (despite Filner’s late and unlamented mayoralty) and just elected a Republican mayor.

smoosh21 February 20, 2014 at 10:15 am

Sorry, come to Georgia or Alabama, and see what ‘real’ Republicans look like. The Republicans that actually control the Party and the Agenda. I seriously doubt that someone like Bob Dornan could ever get elected there again, yet he would be too liberal for most people down here.
I am not going to give support to a gay politician who actively talks about the “Gay Agenda” and assures his voters that he will not work to support issues that help the LGBT community.

Tom Scharbach February 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm

If I remember right, you live in Tennessee. I want to study Tennessee SB 2566 a bit more closely, but it looks like the morons in Tennessee are shooting themselves in the foot, thinking long-term.

The operative part of the bill speaks to “a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state“:

No person or religious or denominational organization shall be required to perform any of the following actions related to, or related to the celebration of, any civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state, if doing so would violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the person or religious or denominational organization regarding sex or gender:
(A) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges;
(B) Provide counseling, adoption, foster care, or other social services;
(C) Provide employment or employment benefits; or
(D) Solemnize a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state.

To me, that suggests that the law will become inoperative with respect to same-sex marriages if and when SCOTUS mandates marriage equality.

Kosh III February 18, 2014 at 9:48 am

Correct
Im a deceptive twist to this, the sponsoring Senator has dropped his sponsonship; another R senator has become the sponsor but the legislation is in the committe chaired by the original sponsor.

This is being supported 100% by R’s and the R governor. Welcome to conservative rule.

Tom Scharbach February 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

An update on Indiana: The Senate voted 32-17 in favor of HJR-3, the single-sentence version of the anti-marriage amendment passed by the House in recent weeks.

Five Republicans joined the Senate’s 13 Democrats in opposing HJR-3. Senators Alting, Becker and Miller, according to statements, opposed the amendment. Senator Delph, according to statements he made prior to the vote, voted against the amendment because the amendment, in his view, was fatally flawed without the second sentence. I don’t know why Senator Boots voted the way he did.

The amendment must be passed by the House and Senate again during the next legislative term in order to go onto the ballot.

Senators Alting, Becker and Miller (and perhaps Boots) joined the “Indiana Eleven” (Representatives Braun, Clere, Eberhart, Heuer, Huston, Kirchhofer, Kubacki, Saunders, Torr, Truitt, Ziemke) in standing up to social conservatives in Indiana. That’s a good thing, a sign of progress, and I hope that IGF will keep them in mind when mentioning Republicans we should be supporting.

With any luck public opinion will have shifted enough by the next legislative session to allow HJR-3 to die a quiet and well-deserved death, never voted on again.

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