November 14, 2012 | by WBadmin
Stop damning Republicans and start talking to them

By DAVID LAMPO

This election was a watershed for gay rights with the successful passage of three state initiatives (in Maryland, Washington and Maine) to legalize same-sex marriage and the defeat of a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that would have inserted a prohibition on same-sex marriage into its constitution. The eight-year-long string of 31 defeats in state votes on gay marriage is finally over.

But as glorious as these victories are, the country remains deeply divided on gay rights. President Obama only narrowly won reelection after a bitter and divisive campaign. Although the Democrats retain a majority in the Senate, Republicans remain fully in control of the House and actually picked up a governorship, giving them a total of 30.

Consequently, one fact about the future of gay rights and marriage equality remains crystal clear: Full equality for gay and lesbian Americans will not come without the support of more elected Republicans, at both the state and federal levels. The premise that the support of just Democrats can bring us full equality is ludicrous, and any movement built on such a premise is destined to fail.

The challenges ahead are huge: Even after the Democratic sweep in 2008, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act failed to advance. The Defense of Marriage Act is still the law of the land. Only nine states and D.C. have marriage equality, and 31 states have constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage that will be difficult to undo. Most states do not have even civil unions, and adoption by gay couples is prohibited in some states. Further progress on gay rights will require a new strategy.

That strategy must begin with the acknowledgement that support for gay rights within the Republican Party rank and file is far greater than what most people believe. Recent polls, for example, show that:

• 66 percent of Republicans support employment non-discrimination legislation (Greenberg Quinlan poll).

• A majority of Republicans are satisfied with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (National Journal poll).

• 57 percent of Republicans support either same-sex marriage or civil unions (Fox News poll).

• Only 38 percent of Republicans support a federal marriage amendment (National Journal poll).

• 49 percent of young Republicans (18-29) support marriage equality (Public Religion Research Institute poll).

If gay rights supporters are interested in building a lasting and effective coalition to build on this year’s victories, it is time for them, especially their allies in the Democratic Party, to stop demonizing Republicans and start crafting a strategy and message that can help increase the support for gay rights among both rank and file Republicans and their leaders in Congress and the state legislatures. Republican attitudes are already changing very quickly.

Last year, for example, New York passed same-sex marriage only after the Republican-controlled state Senate allowed a vote on the measure: four Republicans then put it over the top. The overwhelmingly Republican state legislature in New Hampshire voted in February to keep that state’s marriage equality in the face of a rightwing campaign to repeal it. And when North Carolina added the anti-gay Amendment One to its constitution earlier this year, the state’s Tea Party Congresswoman Renee Elmers came out against it, as did David Blankenhorn, a popular evangelical leader who supported Proposition 8 in California but who now supports same-sex marriage rights.

It is time for gay rights leaders and supporters to embrace pro-gay Republicans and work with them to develop a long-term strategy that brings the message of freedom and social tolerance to every Republican leader and candidate and does not allow the religious right to frame these issues to their fellow Republicans through the lens of bigotry and intolerance. Only then can a strong, truly bipartisan movement for gay rights blossom.

David Lampo is author of “A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights” (Rowman & Littlefield 2012).

13 Comments
  • no-republicans need to talk to democrats-they MUST drop the anti-woman and anti-gay agendas-or fade into oblivion-their choice.

  • You know David, they should acknowledge and support gay rights, but they don’t and they won’t. Cue John Huntsman shaking his head and mouthing the words “don’t I know it.”

    The GOP will work hard creating a path to victory through engagement with women and hispanic voters over the next few years because they have far less of an “ick” factor for white males than gays or blacks. They don’t plan to give up on the demographic that buys their spiel, they only want to supplement it enough to win. The GOP path to victory is a very narrow road.

  • That’s the kind of knee jerk attitude that will change no one’s mind and will hurt our efforts to gain full equality. Once again, we have to change more Republican minds to pass the good laws and repeal the bad ones. It’s that simple. Best for people like to you just get out of the way.

    • You act like none of us are talking to Republicans. We don’t all live in liberal places, you know. It goes in one ear and out the other. Or they make excuses for supporting vehemently anti-gay candidates but do it anyway. I’m out of ideas. Tell me what to say. It’s not like I haven’t tried.

  • Ah, the typical gay republican response straight from the Clarke Cooper playbook: “if you don’t agree with me, you must have a hearing problem.” You know Mr. Lampo, the issue here is not “republicans” it’s “REPUBLICANS” as in — those in leadership positions. Unlikely that Boehner is going to veer from the path he has gone down on DOMA. Unlikely that the Speaker is going to let a “T” inclusive ENDA even reach the floor for a vote so as to not expose the intollerance of House Republicans. He will however, work aggressively to ease tensions with women and hispanic voting blocks.

    Accordingly, I am going to go all in with the Dems and the Federal Judiciary as the most viable path to removing the remaining legal barriers to full equality. You Log Cabiners still pretending that Scott Brown and Susan Collins delivered your DADT victory and not the federal judiciary? As for crossing the ideological chasm, if I recall, LCR had a strange way of showing Rep. Patrick Murphy their appreciation for all his DADT support. Want to discuss the number of times LCR has endorsed republicans who didn’t support marriage equality? Can you say Patrick Murray? Talk about getting in the way.

    I stand by my views that all the recent big tent talk we hear from the GOP does not extend to gays and blacks. They aren’t interested in changing, they think they just need to repackage the message and get smarter about not looking ignorant and intolerant.

    • Some of the big tent talk does include gays and some does not. Not sure what you point is, but not all Repblicans agree, just like not all Democrats agree. How odd that you say the legislative repeal of DADT didn’t mean anything. Tell that to every glbt group who called it a milestone. Also odd you chastise LCR for endorsing Reps who didn’t support marriage equality. Does that mean you never support Bill or Hillary or Barack in his first run? Or all the other Democrats who opposed it, like John Kerry and virtually all of the House and Senate Democratic leadership? You clearly have one standard for Dems and another for Reps.

      • The answer to your question is simple and I think it is why LCR cannot escape the hypocrisy of their endorsement of Romney. Up until now, we did not have a pro-marriage candidate to stand with. So that position was not overarching, allowing the other issues that you still prefer to focus on flow to the forefront. We now have the option of electing pro-gay rights candidates over those that would hold us to second class status. For me the choice is clear when it is economics vs. equality.

  • If all that is true, then why are all those things in the GOP platform? Why are there planks that only a minority of Republicans support? Something doesn’t add up here. Also, I talk to Republicans every day. I live in Texas now. It’s exhausting.

    • They’re in there because it’s always the ideologues who control the party platforms, the ones for whom anti-gay rights is their cause. Gay rights is not a high priority for most voters, Democrat or Republican, so motivating enough Republicans to fight to change the platform will be a challenge, but that’s what LCR and other pro-gay rights Republicans are trying to do. I think it will happen some day. Keep talking to those Republicans in Texas.

  • As there are still a small minority of politicians that remain racist, there will always be those that likewise, will always remain homophobic. We have no control over these. But what we do have control over is making efforts to bridge the gap to those GOP's that have potential for change. Change is the key to forward progression. As for the opinionator of this column and in light of this fact, he is correct.

  • James Hawk Crutchfield

    The best way to get rid of an enemy is to make that enemy your friend and in the case of Republicans you can not do that by pretending they are all alike. More and more of them are seeing the writing on the wall and know that the future is not their friend unless they change. Too many people act like all Democrats have always been our freind and supporters but it started with only a few willing to work with us and the same is true today with Republicans.

  • James Hawk Crutchfield

    Most importantly we should not let partisan Democrats tell us why we should not be reaching out as they are speaking from their political agenda. This is an issue where we needed to approach it from a gay aspect rather than a Democratic aspect.

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