Taking a Wide Stance on Gay Issues

Update – This Youtube video was sent to me by a friend.  It is a necessary addition to the discussion:

Make Homosexuals Marry (not for all ages)

This month marks the third anniversary of the Republican Party’s Summer of Love; hot, gay, illegal love.  It was on June 11 that staunch anti-gay Senator Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting gay sex from an undercover officer in the Minneapolis-St Paul airport.  Craig followed the incident with a series of progressively more awkward public statements in which he denied being homosexual and bragged about how incredibly butch he was.  He continues to publicly insist that it was all a big misunderstanding.

Craig’s arrest was the most prominent in a series of incidents that summer in which anti-gay Republicans found themselves in jail for lewd, gay behavior.  Here are a few highlights:

Bob Allen, Florida State Representative and co-chair of McCain’s Florida campaign was arrested for offering a gay sex act for $20 to an undercover cop in a park restroom.  Allen had earned a strong 92% rating from the Christian Coalition.  That organization currently does not post a statistic for “% of time our favorite lawmakers spend soliciting gay sex in public bathrooms.”  Perhaps that’s in the works.

Glenn Murphy, Jr., new National Chairman for the Young Republicans was just being generous, asking nothing in return from the sleeping colleague he assaulted.

Richard Curtis, a Washington State lawmaker who like Larry Craig was definitely not gay, was caught up in a blackmail scheme involving a gay prostitute.

This followed a big gay summer in 2006 which had featured scandals involving Rep. Mark Foley and televangelist/Bush advisor Ted Haggard.  Haggard, incidentally, has been cured of his irritating gayness.  No word on any remedies for Foley, but he has opened up a consignment shop.

Watching hypocrisy exposed is entertaining, but what political meaning does it have?  If some noisy anti-gay politicians turn out to be gay themselves, what light does that shed on their arguments?

The issue of gay rights, perhaps more than any other, highlights the unresolved tension inside the Republican Party between its commitment to liberty and its embrace of fundamentalism.  These incidents suggest strongly that the urge to scapegoat gay Americans is motivated by individual conflicts that should have nothing to do with public policy.  When we guarantee basic human dignity to homosexuals we threaten no one.  The only interest protected by institutional bigotry is the desire to use government authority to legitimize narrow religious convictions.

Several years ago I had an interesting conversation with a good friend in Houston about civil unions.  She calmly explained to me how the presence of stable, recognized homosexual couples in her neighborhood would destroy her child’s future.  She works hard, she explained, to make clear to her daughter that homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle.  If happy, successful gays were living right next door how could she convince her daughter that she shouldn’t become a lesbian?

First of all, try to think back in time and identify who or what convinced you to be straight.  I don’t recall needing any guidance on the subject.  The idea that young people are out there trying to figure which side of the plate to swing from and being recruited by the martini-sipping gay neighbors with the fantastic landscaping is a little hard to believe.  Bigotry and paranoia tend to travel together and neither of them makes good things happen.

More importantly, though, this reasoning justifies terrible policy.  Should we should put crippling institutional obstacles in the paths of homosexual citizens so that they are more likely to be miserable – creating a system of social engineering to confirm our bigoted assumptions?  Sounds like something I’ve heard somewhere before

Is a gay lifestyle an affront to God?  Any of us are constitutionally entitled to feel that way.  We are also constitutionally banned from using government to endorse our religious opinions.  I might think that homosexuality is wrong, that no one should work on the Sabbath, and that eating oysters is an abomination.  But if I want those things to be the basis for public policy then there has to be some rational reason besides Jesus, Allah, Moses, or Reverend Campmeeting said so.

Fear makes terrible law.  Our world is changing rapidly; so fast that it terrifies some of us.  Here’s fine filter we can apply to any potential proposal – is this policy motivated by my hope for a stronger, more prosperous America, or am I just trying to shut down something someone else does that makes me queasy?

The Republican Party will find a much wider audience for its message of liberty when the public is convinced that we mean it.

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