CPAC settles it: On gay marriage, we won

The two Chrises, Geidner of Buzzfeed and Johnson of the Washington Blade, have a pair of dueling stories that point out just how dead, or at least dying, the issue of gay marriage is even in the conservative wing of the Republican party.

During “the” conservative Republican conference of the year, CPAC, last week, there were two dueling paneling discussions.  One by mostly-straight conservatives about how Republicans need to get over the gay issue, and one by the anti-gay religious right bemoaning the fact that they called bigots for being bigots.

As Buzzfeed points out with a great photo, the anti-gay panel happened in an empty hall, whereas the pro-gay one was standing-room-only.

And it didn’t stop there.  The most interesting comments came from the Washington Post’s conservative blogger, known to be a bit of a bomb-thrower, Jennifer Rubin (via Geidner):

“There are lots of rationales and lots of reasons that one can come to this conclusion. But, if you simply want to be a debating society, we can debate that. If you want to be a winning political party, I would suggest the debate has already taken place in America. We cannot be at war with America on issues of fairness, on issues of equality,” Rubin said.

“In 10 years, I don’t know if there will be a Republican Party,” Rubin said. “There’s nothing that says that we have to be around. But there is a lot of evidence, historically, that the progress in America has been all in one direction: tolerance, inclusion, barriers fall. You don’t go backwards.”

I’m surprised by Rubin’s comments, but then again I’m not.  I’ve noticed over the years that conservative bloggers have, as a rule, been awfully good on gay issues, including marriage.  Most of the top bloggers I met just never seemed to share the religious right/Fox News zeal for bashing gays.  It’d be interesting for someone on their side to do an analysis, someone who understands the conservative Netroots better, as to why that’s so.

But I do think, overall, that’s it’s fascinating that CPAC refused admittance to a gay GOP group, that the gay GOP group then finagled itself a seat on an unofficial panel about gay rights issue, with a positive spin, and that’s the panel everyone went to, and then the consensus in the room, at least from these two reports, was that gay civil rights is inevitable and that the GOP needed to figure out how get over it.

That I did not expect at CPAC.

I don’t think we’ve won, but I do think we’re winning.  I also think victory is inevitable (so in a way we have won, there are just going to be more battles until the other side gives up, if ever).  But that doesn’t mean we won’t lose more painful battles along the way, including possibly the Supreme Court battle taking place just next week.  But even with Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court ruling that found sodomy laws constitutional, it was horrible when the ruling came down in the 80s, but it too went away, twenty years later, and we won.

Not to get all Obama on everyone, but the arc of history argument is a relevant one, and it’s one that Rubin makes in her own way.  These issues, for whatever reason, have an inevitability about them.  Perhaps now simply because young people get it, and eventually those young people will become old people who get it when the old people who don’t get it are long gone.  It’s simply arithmetic.

One final point, and this is directed more towards my Republican friends.  It’s great that GOProud, the gay group involved here, helped to provoke this discussion.  But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re a bit nutty, as gay groups go.  This is a supposed “gay civil rights group” that didn’t come around on the notion of “gay marriage” until two months ago, when the group finally officially endorsed the notion that gays should be permitted to marry.  Dick Cheney was better on marriage than these guys.  It’s difficult not to draw a comparison with Mississippi finally realizing that slavery was a bad thing only four weeks ago.  (Mississippi earlier forgot to support women’s right to vote until 1984.)

I just worry that when Republicans finally realize they need to make amends on gay issues, they’re going to seek guidance from people who themselves don’t really have their heads on straight, as it were, about gay issues.  If GOProud had the answers on how to be respected in the gay community, they’d have that respect themselves.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Sweetie

    Being an openly gay GOP group also is a form of fighting. There are a lot of closeted “liberal” gays who don’t do much at all for the cause.

  • Sweetie

    In reference to this:

    “It’s great that GOProud, the gay group involved here, helped to provoke this discussion. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re a bit nutty, as gay groups go. This is a supposed ‘gay civil rights group’ that didn’t come around on the notion of ‘gay marriage’ until two months ago, when the group finally officially endorsed the notion that gays should be permitted to marry.”

    From the point of view of how things have changed, there isn’t a lot of difference, especially since Obama was pro-gay in 1996—a long time ago, before he was against us.

  • Sweetie

    In the current context, supporting Obama or most other dems (Hillary, for instance) is also “a bit nutty”.

    Obama and his administration, for instance, did the pedo/incest brief and a follow-up pro-DOMA brief, briefs for DADT, fired troops for being gay, et cetera. Hillary only came out for same-sex marriage after Portman did.

  • dcinsider

    After years of heartbreaking losses, after years of watching Republican gay bashing so well received throughout the US (outside of New England), and after years of feeling as though our battles were a waste of time, it is so much fun seeing our enemies tap dance around the fact that we won.

    The setbacks will become fewer and farther between. The victories will continue to mount. This war is over, but the Republicans remain like that Japanese soldier on the island 20 years after the end of WWII, still ready to fight a war that ended already.

  • rmthunter

    I think it’s largely a matter of the natural cycle of political influence — the “Christian” right has had growing influence for the last 30-40 years, and has been catered to, because they get out the vote, especially in the primaries. I think the cynicism with which both Reagan and Bush II used them gives a good take on the attitude of those actually running the party — get their votes, then ignore them. They have now turned into a losing proposition, as those they’ve elected have actually tried to implement their policies, and as they’ve gotten more extreme, the margins of loss have gotten larger. (The same thing happened with the left in the ’60s and ’70s — they took over the Democratic party and gave us first Nixon, then Reagan.)

    So the evangelical extremists will get side-lined, the GOP will move back toward the middle (on social issues first, but I suspect eventually on fiscal issues as well, although I fear they’ll always be warmongers), the country will shift back to the left, and people outside of Washington will continue to ignore David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. (I don’t know if the people in Washington will ever get it.) This version of CPAC just illustrates that they’re waking up. (I have to say, I am surprised to see that analysis coming from Jennifer Rubin. Maybe she does have two brain cells to rub together.)

    Look, even Fox is losing viewers, which to me indicates that the country at large is a little sick of this and is ready to shift back to the left.

  • Hue-Man

    That no one showed up for the gay-hating CPAC session is a sign of green shoots – it’s almost spring. But only masochists would listen to the gay-hating bile that these tired old bigots spew. There’s nothing new, nothing relevant, and only bible-thumping lies to justify their money-raising ventures.

  • silas1898

    It’s a big win on the surface, but with no meaning. They still hate the gay. but realize that flavor of hate is not selling, so it’s back to the whole misogyny bible thumping crap, with a side order of immigrant bashing.

  • Mighty

    GOProud has liberals and lgbt liberal activists to thank for this trend. They FOUGHT us all the way by supporting candidates who were anti lgbt. Just remember it isn’t over yet. If we take a breather the bigots will use it to do what they do best… HATE

  • http://www.facebook.com/monoceros.forth Monoceros Forth

    The memorable images and words that have come out of CPAC this year have been…interesting. There’s been the kerfuffle over GOProud and Sen. Portman, the North Carolinian racist who declared that Frederick Douglass should have kissed his slavemaster’s ass in gratitude, and–somehow symbolic I think–the exhibition of Sarah Palin’s Botoxed carcase.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Their increasingly radicalized and dogmatically purist base is shrinking. Their old white fundamentalist wingnuts are being replaced and outnumbered by younger, browner, more tolerant and open-minded youngsters.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Besides, they have “illegal aliens” and Muslims as their go-to groups for rabble-rousing and fear-mongering.

    Gay people just ain’t scary enough, especially not when we’re raising perfectly normal and well-adjusted kids of our own or are simply “that nice lesbian couple down the street.”

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As I noted in another post comment thread, this is why we’re winning:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/gay-marriage-support-hits-new-high-in-post-abc-poll/

    Among young adults age 18 to 29, support for gay marriage is overwhelming, hitting a record high of 81 percent in the new poll. Even among GOP and GOP-leaning independents, the number is 52-43 in favor. Overall, it’s 58% in favor, and a rapidly dropping 36% against, an almost complete reversal from less than a decade ago.

    Think about that for a second. Four out of five adults under the age of 30, those born from 1983 on, believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry.

    You’re right, John, what happened at CPAC makes for fascinating visuals and reading, with staggering implications. What I think it means in the short term is that the GOP/Conservative Powers That Be are attempting to keep their hard-line anti-gay positions and believe in their hearts that not only is it the principled and “Godly” thing to do, but that most of America agrees with them. Their epistemic closure problem only reinforces this attitude.

    Yet their own self-declared conservative attendees are voting with their feet, and I guess many of them realize there’s nothing to be gained anymore in being homophobic bigots on social policy. It’s fast losing its power as THE wedge issue it used to be in the 90s and 00s.

    If they ever realize they need to stop constantly passing anti-woman and anti-immigrant laws as well, the Republicans might become a viable mainstream political party again.

  • paaat

    My inner cynic wishes to point out that most conservatives never really believed their own warnings about the society destroying, universe imploding ramifications of gay marriage. It was used as a wedge issue; to scare people, but it no longer has that value. It’s not that they have changed.

  • nicho

    It’s very easy to understand. The whole Republican philosophy depends on fear of other people. From time to time they just have to change the people they want their base to be afraid of.

  • iamlegion

    And yet racism and misogyny are not only still accepted, they’re pretty much _mandatory_ to get support from the GOP base. WTF?

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