Demonizing gay marriage becomes more difficult when we consider the individuals involved. Republicans have no problems with generalized attacks. Think Progress quotes Republican Congressman Steve King as resorting to the usual right wing name calling on same sex marriage: “And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.”
Republicans, in a throwback to McCarthyism, love to throw around claims of socialism. They also like to use gay marriage and homophobia to motivate the right wing base and bring in more votes. After all, despite their success with the Southern Strategy, they cannot always rely upon racism and xenophobia to win elections.
Republicans often forget that they are dealing with people. Therefore we see this contradiction between a personal viewpoint and Republican policy in Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer’s new book:
For a commencement address at Furman University in spring 2008, Ed Gillespie wanted to insert a few lines condemning gay marriage. Bush called the speech too “condemnatory” and said, “I’m not going to tell some gay kid in the audience that he can’t get married.” (Of course, Bush ran his 2004 campaign telling that kid just that.)
It is one thing to run a political campaign or to make bizarre generalizations comparing gay marriage with socialism. Even George Bush was bothered when he actually considered individuals. Similarly Dick Cheney’s views varied from the Republican mainstream when he considered his own daughter.
It is harder to accept Republican bigotry when considering how it actually does affect individuals. Andrew Sullivan recently discussed the personal problems he faces due to American laws regarding both gay marriage and immigration:
I’ve been in the US for a quarter of a century, have paid taxes when I was working, am married to an American and have never asked for a dime of public help. But the US – alone among developed nations – still persecutes non-Americans for having HIV and regards my civil marriage as null and void and my husband as a total stranger to me.
Britain doesn’t persecute people with HIV and never has; moreover, Britain would allow my husband and I to relocate together to England at any point. I’m not sure people fully understand what it’s like to build a life with someone and to do all you can to contribute to a society – and yet be vulnerable at any moment to having your family torn apart by the government. But it’s a strain that eventually becomes crippling: you have no security, no stability, no guarantee that you have a future you can count on. And that affects an American citizen, my husband, as well.
Why has America become such a callous outlier on these matters? Why is the government forcing more and more able, qualified, productive and talented citizens into a diaspora to protect their families? And why, even after a big victory for Obama and a Democratic Congress, is there not the slightest chance of any progress for the foreseeable future?
Because it’s about gays. And we are still, in the eyes of the federal government, sub-human.
Hopefully Sullivan is wrong about there not being the slightest chance of any progress on these issues.