2012-AUG: Debate (Cont'd). Reactions.
Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
2012-AUG-21: Debate on the Republican platform (Cont'd):
Speech by Kris Kobach, the Attorney General of Kansas and an advisor to Mitt Romney on immigration policy:
There is an audio glitch from 11 to 16 seconds in this CSPAN video.
Andrew Kirell, writing for Mediaite commented:
"And right there Kobach explained, in a nutshell, the mainstream Republican worldview that has alienated libertarians for many years. It goes something like this: We support 'liberty' and 'freedom' to do as you please, so long as those activities aren’t things we find to be yucky, abominable, or uncomfortable. In those cases, [your] freedom does not exist.
It may offend many to hear a Republican official compare gay marriage to drugs and [voluntary] polygamy, but those activities all do have several things in common: they are victimless and they are voluntary.
And government has no business outlawing them." 1
James Bopp is chairman of the platform subcommittee on: "Restoring Constitutional Government." He also attacked the amendment. He noted that the public support for many state marriage amendments indicate that:
"... strongly supporting traditional marriage is actually quite popular and would enhance the support of our candidate." 2
In conservative political and religious circles the term "supporting traditional marriage" means to support marriages between one man and one woman, while denigrating and working to prevent marriages between two persons of the same gender. What he seems to be saying is that it does not matter how unethical, discriminatory, or immoral a policy is; if it makes the election of one's candidate more likely, the policy is to be promoted at all costs, no matter whom it hurts.
The amendment was defeated on a voice vote with few supporters.
There were two small indicators that the Republican Party may be softening its attitudes towards sexual minorities:
They allowed a pro-SSM book to be displayed on an information table at the platform conference. It was David Lampo's "A fundamental freedom." 3
They also allowed the Log Cabin Republicans [LCR] -- a gay positive group -- to take part in the drafting of the platform. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the LCR said that his group's presence helped to foster "a very transparent debate" about SSM and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He noted that this has "never happened before." 4 The LCR was actually able to have a brief sentence added to the end of the draft platform statement on marriage that partly compensated for the denigration and exclusion of sexual minorities of the rest of the section. All of the LCR's main suggestions were rejected.
Reactions to the Republican platform:
On a positive note, the LCR noted in a press release that:
"There is no longer any reference [in the platform] to the supposed incompatibility of homosexuality with military service." 4
However, the Republican Party plans to "repeal the repeal" of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy and thus reinstate the ban on LGBTs openly serving in the military. Those LGBT service members who trusted the government by coming out of the closet after DADT was abolished in 2011 would be sitting ducks to a witch hunt.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- one of the leading groups promoting LGBT rights -- said that the proposed platform is:
"... blatantly out-of-step with not only the majority of our nation, but even with the rank-and-file of the Republican Party itself. ... The party is poised to send a devastating message to LGBT youth -– that they and the families they aspire to one day build are not worthy of the same protections as everyone else." 4
Michael Bronski, the author of "A Queer History of the United States," 5 said that he believes that the presence of pro-gay attendees at the platform sessions point to a party that is even more socially conservative than in the past. He said:
"The more conservative you get, perhaps the more imperative it is to have token representation with you. You need a little bit of pro-choice women and some gay guys and some black people so that you aren't completely visibly homophobic, misogynistic and racist." 5
2012-AUG-28: The Republican platform calls for a federal marriage amendment:
The platform begins with a reference to the American dream of equal opportunity for every person. It continues:
"Today that American Dream is at risk.... [GOP will] begin anew, with profound changes in the way government operates; the way it budgets, taxes and regulates." 6
Adding the phrase "and the way it attacks minorities" to the end of their statement of their American dream would have clarified their exact position.
The Republican platform calls for the passage of a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would make same-sex marriage unconstitutional everywhere in the U.S. Whether it would forcibly divorce existing same-sex married couples depends upon its exact wording, which is currently unknown. It would probably take one of two forms:
It may be a simple ban on SSM. It might only say something like: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman."
It may be a stealth amendment, like the federal marriage amendment most recently promoted in 2004:
"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
This stealth amendment resembles Amendment 1 which was passed by voters in North Carolina in 2012 to write discrimination into their state Constitution. It was promoted as only banning SSM. However, in reality, it does much more. It bans civil unions, domestic partnerships, and prohibits the state government from creating even minor laws or regulations that recognize loving committed same-sex relationship as anything more than two "legal strangers" living together as roommates. It might even wipe out the right of a person to visit their same-sex spouse or partner in some hospitals.
The scope of their proposed federal marriage amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution is unknown. Party platforms are often left vague so that they do not commit the party to take specific actions.
Amazon.com review: "It is an axiom of modern American politics that many Republicans and most conservatives are not only anti-gay but that they have capitulated to an anti-gay agenda formulated and pursued by the religious right for the past several decades. In A Fundamental Freedom, David Lampo makes the case that support for gay rights will provide long-term political benefits for the GOP and the conservative movement. He argues that an anti-gay agenda succinctly exposes the hypocrisy of those who talk of limited government and individual rights but ignore both when it comes to gay rights and other personal freedom issues. Indeed, it is the defenders of gay rights within Republican ranks who are keeping faith with core conservative principles. He also presents a variety of polling data that show that rank-and-file Republicans, including many Tea Party supporters, are far more supportive of gay rights than commonly presumed. Lampo’s call to embrace gay rights is sure to be hotly debated within the conservative movement."
Lila Shapiro, "Republican Platform Sessions Allow Gay Party Members Symbolic Victory," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-23, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
"Bronski does a stunning job of sweeping across five hundred years and weaving 'queer' through the history of this nation. Always insightful, and provocative." John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet.
"Bronski has that rare ability to comprehensively synthesize a large body of material without simplifying or distorting it, taking as much care with historical evidence as with the shifts in language necessary to accurately understand it." Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, City University of New York.
Alan Fram & Philip Elliot, "GOP OK's platform barring abortions, gay marriage," Associated Press, 2012-AUG-29, at: http://news.yahoo.com/