Postedon May 18, 2009 at 04:59 pm
May 18, 2009
GOP Chairman Michael Steele has a tough job, and I got to see so first hand. You see I ride Amtrak between DC and New York every week, and about two weeks ago I happened to be sitting right in front of him.
He barely had a moment of peace to read, check email or consult with the aides that were travelling with him. After all, Steele’s a tall man that stands out in a crowd – and most everyone on the train seemed to recognize him. So almost as soon as he’d sat down, someone was over shaking his hand and chatting. Telling him exactly what he or the party should do.
I took pity on him – despite the fact that I’ve been a loyal Democrat for decades and of course am now a professional working for marriage equality – and left him alone. At least until we were all standing up getting ready to disembark in New York.
Then I took the moment to introduce myself and apologize if my coughing fit somewhere near Wilmington had interrupted the one moment he had to concentrate on email. We exchanged pleasantries, and I congratulated him on trying to broaden the party (his party, that is!). I also offered to show him some polls that show an increasing number of Republican insiders believe marriage equality for gays is something the party should support (or at least ignore).
Unfortunately, he didn’t take me up on that. Maybe he should have – because the strain of herding all the disparate factions of the Republican party is now beginning to show. Why else would he have said over the weekend that ending discrimination in marriage for gay couples would cost small businesses money?!
I know he’s trying to recast his party’s message to make it more about economics. But really – does he actually believe this will knit together Republican economic conservatives with the social conservatives that dominate the primaries? The premise just seems laughable.
First, those economic conservatives really don’t get the ideology of the Christian right. They believe in small government, because they think more freedom will make everyone more willing to try out new business ideas and make the economy grow. The evangelicals just simply disapprove of gay people and want to do everything they can to make them go away. But economic conservatives really don’t want the government in everyone’s bedroom.
But more importantly, Steele’s idea that marriage equality will cost business money is just flat out wrong. Most businesses these days – both big and small – choose to offer domestic partner benefits. They do so, because they know that attracting and retaining a diverse work force makes them more competitive. And in many cases, they do so because they know it’s the right thing to do.
But domestic partner benefits are complicated. They take extra work to create and administer. At the end of every year, because the federal government doesn’t treat those benefits the same as for opposite sex couples, each employer has to impute the cost of those benefits and add it to the employee’s tax statement. And then the employee has to pay taxes on them. So it costs both the employer and employee extra.
So if loving and committed gay couples everywhere had the freedom to marry, then domestic partner benefit programs wouldn’t be needed. Everyone who was married would simply participate in the same programs and be treated equally.
And small businesses wouldn’t have to worry about creating special plans for their gay customers. No need to worry if the two guys in front of you are domestic partners or civil unioned and whether that means they get the family rate at the rental car counter. When they’re married, they are treated just like everyone else.
And when all employees and customers are treated like everyone else then it costs businesses less because they have fewer special circumstances to administer. And those employees and customers are happy because nobody is getting special treatment. You see we really don’t want special rights – we just want to be treated like everyone else.
So Mr. Steele, maybe next time you’re on the train, take some time to just sit and ponder. Let the fuzziness that’s created from all that glad-handing clear from your mind. Maybe then your trial balloons on marriage equality won’t be so full of hot air and you’d be able to see a clearer, brighter path for the Republican party -- and for all of us too.
Postedon May 13, 2009 at 08:09 am
May 12, 2009
The New York State Assembly passed a bill tonight that would extend marriage to same-sex couples by a 89-52 vote. Assemblymember Teresa Sayward [R-Willsboro] was among the roughly half a dozen Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. She evoked her gay son as she cast her vote.
"The word marriage symbolizes love, commitment and family and why should my son and other sons and daughters around the state of New York [not] have the same opportunity to experience that same commitment, love and family that other heterosexual couples do," Sayward said. "It’s time for us to not only reach in our hearts, but to do what we as elected officials in America have done all along and say we will not accept anything but equal rights."(Link)
Postedon May 01, 2009 at 10:42 am
May 1, 2009
More than 2,000 activists and their supporters from across the state gathered in Albany earlier this week to lobby lawmakers to back legislation that would end the exclusion of gay and lesbian New Yorkers from marriage. And while these efforts will certainly continue increase in the coming weeks, Republican legislators could play a critical role in whether marriage for same-sex couples becomes a reality in the Empire State.(Link)
Postedon Apr 20, 2009 at 10:23 am
April 18, 2009
Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt said in a speech before the Log Cabin Republicans that socially conservative Republicans need to reexamine their continued opposition to marriage equality. [Link]
Postedon Mar 16, 2009 at 11:36 am
March 13, 2009
In February, when Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. announced that he would support civil unions for gay couples, many politicians here braced for a backlash...But the backlash never developed. Indeed, after his announcement, a poll by Deseret News/KSL-TV found that two-thirds of respondents said their opinion of the governor had not changed or had become more positive because of his position on civil unions.
Postedon Mar 16, 2009 at 11:01 am
March 14, 2009
Frank Rich writes, "Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford." (Link)
Postedon Nov 26, 2008 at 10:54 am
November 26, 2008
Minister Mark Worth dissects the arguments of some socially conservative religious leaders that "redefining marriage" is wrong, referring to biblical and other instances of so-called "traditional marriage" accepted or banned in the past that society has shifted its views on. [Link]
Postedon Nov 21, 2008 at 04:21 pm
November 19, 2008
The question came up during an appearance by David Gergen at Roger Williams University last week. Gergen is the man who wrote President Nixon’s one-sentence resignation letter. He has worked for four presidents -- Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He has seen government work and not work. And he thinks full rights for gays is something that has to happen because it is the right thing. He told the large audience in Bristol that it is the new civil rights struggle. [Link]
Postedon Nov 19, 2008 at 10:01 am
November 18, 2008
On ABC’s This Week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told George Stephanopoulos that he believes the California Supreme Court will overturn Proposition 8. (Link)
Learn more about what's going on in California.