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.