Are Republicans ‘co-opting’ gay rights?

Posted by Adam Serwer on

"Pro-gay rights Republicans seem to be less of an oxymoron these days. Former Solicitor General Ted Olson is, along with Ted Boies, leading the fight in the courts against California's ban on marriage equality and schooling Fox News on what fundamental rights are. Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman has come out and begun raising money for the pro-equality group Americans for Equal Rights. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who once called Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a 'faggot,' is headlining a political convention for gay and lesbian conservatives, and Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, will be appearing alongside other GOP elected officials at a dinner hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans. Even Glenn Beck has said he doesn't think the freedom to marry is a 'threat to the country.'

"Not all of these cases indicate an instance in which Republicans have embraced gay rights or even marriage equality -- Cornyn and Sessions for example, are merely attending the event -- but it's hard not to conclude, as Marc Ambinder writes, that 'it's becoming less of a stigma for bigwigs to associate with gays in the Republican Party.'

"That, according to Sam Stein, has some Democrats worried. Stein quotes a 'prominent Democratic consultant':

'I think they have been put in a tough place by these conservatives and they should be,' the consultant said. 'There are a whole group of people who are to the left of them on gay rights. And they are Republicans. It should make them feel uncomfortable.'

"It should be the goal of rights movements to work themselves out of a need for existing. The fastest way to do that is to get both parties competing for your favor. And the point of this movement is to secure LGBT rights, not to get Democrats elected. The latter is merely a means to the former.

"That said, I don't think Republicans are on the verge of seriously competing for the votes of people for whom gay rights is their first priority.

... "If Democrats are worried, they should be moving faster on repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' and figuring out a way to rhetorically extract themselves from the 'civil unions but not marriage' rhetorical compromise. At one point, they were trying to keep themselves from getting ahead of the polling on this issue; now they're in danger of falling behind it. Given that the divide over marriage equality is in large part an age issue, the window of opportunity for Democrats to glean some kind of political rewards out of supporting LGBT rights is closing. For the movement itself though, things are looking better and better."

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