Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why Is Equality So "Controversial" for Republicans?

Last week, I was here in Las Vegas to celebrate the end of DADT. Once (and hopefully future) Congresswoman Dina Titus discussed what happened in the last session of Congress to make this happen, and representatives from Harry Reid's office and Shelley Berkley's office were also on hand to share their congratulations on this win and continued support for LGBTQ equality.

One would think this would be a nationwide celebration. After all, repealing DADT has broad national support. It was the end of a stupid, discriminatory policy that kept our military from keeping the best and brightest on the job protecting our country. But during the event, I was thinking about who was NOT present as much as I was noticing who was there.

At our event in Las Vegas last week, no one from Dean Heller's office even bothered to show up. Hell, no one from GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans even bothered to show up. Why is that? For a party that seems to love to talk about "personal liberty" and "military strength" so much, why wouldn't we see stronger Republican support for ending a policy that restricted personal liberty while simultaneously endangering our military's strength and our national security?

Well, I guess we all had to learn the hard way later in the week.

Who would have guessed that a decade after 9/11 and less than a decade after the start of the Iraq War, Republicans would be the ones booing an active duty soldier in Iraq? Were their promises to "support the troops" really that hollow? Does "support the troops" mean nothing if those troops happen to be gay?

Believe it or not, Andrew Sullivan really nailed it on the "support the troops... But not really" hypocrisy coming out of today's Republican Party.

But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States ... well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don't actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits.

The shocking silence on the stage - the fact that no one challenged this outrage - also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn't sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that's because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he's gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.

I've had discussions with LGBTQ equality activists before when they have bemoaned matters of equality morphing into partisan political flash points. And I genuinely understand their disappointment and frustration. But honestly, can any of us ignore Republicans' tolerance of bigotry any longer?

And can we ignore the stark differences between President Obama and the Republicans hoping to unseat him? President Obama fulfilled his promise to repeal DADT, and has not ignored the plight of LGBTQ Americans during his Presidency. The Republican candidates, on the other hand... Well, you get the picture.

I just hope Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) is right that one day, this too shall pass.

And I hope Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) is also proven right.

We’ve got campaigns across the board making the case that every American deserves to have the promise of the Declaration of Independence made real. We’re created equal. We have an equal opportunity — equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Republican party candidates are going to be proven wrong, I think not only in the long run, but also in the short run, because these are backwards policies. These are policies that don’t fit in the 21st Century. It’s disturbing, but again, the voters are going to weigh in and they’re going to weigh in for a progressive 21st Century approach to sexual orientation. [...]

If Americans of all backgrounds, all regions speak up and draw attention to those discriminatory thoughts and policies, they’re going to fall through their own weight. They’re not going to last. They never do.

Bigotry, discrimination, and hatred should have no place in today's America. And equality should not be a partisan political issue. However, that's not the reality of contemporary American politics. And it will not be reality as long as Republicans continue to allow so much bigotry to flourish in their party.

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