GOP Death Watch

Don’t Call Republicans Who Favor Marriage Equality Prominent. Call Them Irrelevant.

We’re always pleased when political types come out in favor of marriage equality, particularly when those types are in bondage to the Republican lifestyle and for whose deliverance we pray daily.

Still, the news that about 100 Republicans have signed onto an amicus brief calling for the Supreme Court to overturn California’s Proposition 8 has gotten about so much play that you would think it actually meant something.

In fact, it means very little. Despite the MSM trumpeting the signees as “prominent,” they are by and large political has-beens, never-beens or behind-the-sceners who have virtually zero influence on the current Republican party. It’s hard to describe such luminaries as the mayor of Melrose, MA, and the former Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs as political supernovas without laughing out loud.

The list is comprised of four main groups. There are those who have skin in the game, so to speak, because they are lesbian or gay: Mary Cheney, former GOP chair Ken Mehlman, former Rep. Jim Kolbe, to name a few. There’s a collection of former elected officials or candidates, including a handful of names people might actually recognize if they like to play electoral nostalgia drinking games: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former Rep. Mary Bono Mack and former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, for example. Then there are a slew of faceless loyalists who held appointed positions in GOP presidential administrations or served as political consultant to the presidential candidates.

Finally, there is a tiny band of actual elected officials. These include two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who deserve a nod for bravery for courting a primary challenge from the right wing of the party: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Richard Hanna. Both of them find themselves in somewhat more conservative districts due to redistricting and may find winning reelection in 2014 a challenge in any case. After Ros-Lehtinen and Hanna, the list of elected officials drops off precipitously to the likes of the aforementioned Mayor of Melrose (Patrick Guerriero, who is gay) and New Hampshire state Senator John Reagan.

Let’s not kid ourselves: these people have very little influence in the fever swamps that constitute the GOP today. As Charles Pierce at Esquire put it, “Christine Todd Whitman is an influential Republican? Since when? You might as well be talking about William Seward.”

For proof, look no further than the ballot box. Just lat year, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who signed the amicus brief, ran for the GOP presidential nomination and won about 42,000 votes total. That’s the equivalent of less than half the population of Broken Arrow, OK. Even The New York Times, which played up the “prominent” angle, had to admit that the presence of so many retired politicians “suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party’s official platform.” No kidding. It also suggests that they are in less of a position to change it.

The majority of these signees are, for many party loyalists, that most awful of beasts, the RINO (Republican in Name Only), which must be hunted down until it is extinct. We don’t often look to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage for brilliant political insight, but he hit the nail on the head this time: “None of these people are actively in politics. They are not running for office because they know … supporting same-sex marriage will end your career if you’re a Republican.”

For this list to really make a difference it would have to include some truly big names who are beloved within the party. Mary Cheney is nice, but Dick Cheney would actually mean something. While it’s great that some people who still call themselves Republicans are willing to side with equality, it’s impossible to believe that the Supremes will be all a-quiver because the director for data science for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has signed an amicus brief. It’s even harder to believe that the people who control the party these days remotely care.

Maybe one day they will, but that day is still a long ways off.

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  • Aidan8

    I hear you about how it’s being played. Still, better that it happens than not.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Scalia went against 100% when he took apart the voting rights act, precursor?

  • Cam

    A LOT of them are people who make their money now lobbying. They were hired because of their ties to a powerful party.

    THEY know that if the GOP loses more seats and becomes irrelevant they lose their jobs because there is no reason to pay them when the party they have ties to has no power.

    So THEY are desperate for the party to not lose any more seats. Problem is, they have no say anymore. The GOP is controlled by the bigoted hysterical wing it seems.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    A wing that never stops flapping

  • Joel J

    This is just a case of the Republican old guard establishment trying to make itself look relevant to moderate swing voters. As noted above, the base of the party is now the nutcase Right.

  • queerty1958

    Those politicians who say they’re against gay marriage, but would say they’d support it if their weren’t any personal political ramifications are true cowards. They don’t give a shit about the American people. They only care about themselves and the money given to them my special interest.

  • Kieran

    Some Republicans have the gall to come out for gay rights and they’re quickly slapped down and called “irrelevant”. Because you know, we certainly don’t want to ENCOURAGE this kind of thing do we?

  • Badger88

    @ Kieran: I completely agree with you! If these Republicans are “irrelevant,” then they have NOTHING to gain by showing public support for marriage equality. Were they campaigning and merely pandering for the moderate vote, then I’d be okay with mocking them. But they aren’t. They are simply going out of their way to make amends for their past opposition, so how about we just accept their apologies and appreciate their help.

  • Cam


    No, they are calling them irrelevant because basically none of them have any power in the party.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    If that anti-gay, NOM-pledge-signing Mormon had won by a landslide, these fair weather friends would not be speaking out for our community. Expedient politicians only help themselves. Very few speak out when it is considered risky to do so. Those with vision carry on and create opportunities for others to follow in their wake. Yes, Joe Biden, you assisted, but Obama was the guy running for President and he embraced us and risked it all. I’ll never forget how the Democrats finally came through for us. I’ll never forget how the Republicans threw us aside, as though we were nothing-burgers.

  • bgabc

    Not disputing that they have little to no sway over the current far-right GOP electorate, but many of these people are influential within Washington power circles and the value of their endorsement should not be underestimated. The list includes VIP staffers from the last three Republican presidential campaigns, respected press wranglers and pollsters, and current and former congresspeople who were/are leaders within the House GOP caucus. At the very least, it underscores the serious and growing fractures within the modern Republican Party, which can only benefit progressives. All good things.

  • LadyL

    @Badger88: What “help” would that be? Specifically?

  • vklortho

    @LadyL: Setting a precedent of Republican politicians standing up to the crazies in their party and coming out in favor of marriage equality so that other Republicans who might actually be in favor of marriage equality but afraid to say something will see that they were well received and as a result might be encouraged to voice their support.

  • tjr101

    Gutless, that’s what these Republicans who signed the brief are. Gutless. Where were they when the GOP controlled congress from 1994 up to 2006 when their party used the gay community as red meat to win elections? Oh that’s right, they were having their cake and getting paid. Screw everyone else. Now that they have nothing to lose they’re coming out in “support.”

    We as a community can forgive but we must never forget the blatant bigotry of the GOP that now only appears to be going underground because it doesn’t win as many votes anymore.

  • Billysees

    Everyone who stands with us, in word or deed, is for us.

    We need all the help we can get.

    Let bygones be bygones.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    We must never forget the blatant bigotry of the GOP. (I love how, with the push of a button, the internet has all of their words, verbatim, for access.) Princeton’s NOMster, Robert P. George, Nancy “wiggling” Elliott of New Hampshire, John weeping (alzheimers?) Boehner, Antonin hater Scalia, Pin-a-gay-kid-down-with-the-help-of-cruel-friends-and-cut-his-hair-off-Romney, John gas-bag McCain, Sarah religulous nut-job Palin, Michelle still blathering Bachmann, friend of Chris” veto” Cristie’s Mark Zuckerberg, Diana-teach-hate-Medley, Pastor electrified-fence-standing ovation-Worley and the rest…here on Gallagher’s Isle must never be mistaken for fair-minded public figures., no matter how much they morph.

  • Dionte

    If stories spread calling these people prominent, the majority of people will believe it and they will be in our favor. Unless stories spread stating otherwise.

  • John Doe

    A lot of ignorant comments here.

    The fact is, most Republicans are just 10 – 40 years behind most Democrats when it comes to LGBT equality. (It depends on the politician). Apparently a lot of people here have NO clue as to the bigotry that most of my Democratic lawmakers were spewing forth 1 – 2 generations ago. Many of the comments from Democrats a few decades ago were just as vile as things I hear today from those who are anti-equality or anti-gay. Actually, it was WORSE then because there was no “PC” police to tone things down. The vast majority of politicians (all parties) AND the public were very against LGBT equality 40 years ago. Thankfully our current generation of younger gays and lesbians don’t have to live in a society where almost all politicians, Democrats and Republicans, were anti-gay and extremely inflammatory and derogatory in their language when it came to ANY talk about gays and lesbians. Things have changed a lot in 40 years.

    For me, I’m thankful for the drastic change in attitude that is occurring in this country. In my state we just voted to approve same-sex marriage. That wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the Democrats AND Republicans that have become pro-equality in the past 5, 10, 15 years, etc. Even our liberal, Democratic, governor changed her tune on this issue last year when she FINALLY came out for full equality. It has been a slow evolving with her… and with the Republicans in my state. Many Democrats support equality in my state… but each year more Republicans are too.

    So, I am not ignorant of history. I remember a day when “gay” was not the word that society used. That wasn’t that long ago. Things have changed a lot in the past 40 years. Go back 60 years and it gets far worse. Now we’re starting to get back to laws that didn’t even allow a black man to marry a white woman! That isn’t that long ago, people. And, the Democrats current love for the LGBT population is a NEW THING that wasn’t around when I was born. So, we can live in ignorance… or we can realize that society as a whole is slowly progressing. The Republicans are very late to the game… but they are not irrelevant. Sadly, I’m sure some Republicans won’t change. But, in my state I know of Democrats that won’t change. Not for a while anyway.

    So, living in ignorance of history doesn’t help anyway. If we want to attack and complain about how many Republicans are anti-gay today…. then take a trip with me down memory lane and I’ll tell you more about what it was like to be gay 1 – 2 generations ago when NO politician was on your side. Maybe a few scattered across the country… but generally you were alone because most of society was anti-gay and few people then saw anything wrong with that.

  • Billysees

    Don’t forget —

    Repubs need conservative christians to win.

    They “must” espouse certain things that will encourage them.

    If they lose that voting block, they’ll be hurting.

  • jar

    @1EqualityUSA: Obama? I assume you forget that Obama was vocal in his opposition to gay marriage when he ran for president. His change of heart resulted from political pressure (he had pised off the gay community and we fought back- see Choi et al.) and political expediency. The ultimate point is that he has done the right thing, but his position was no better than Biden’s (who I believe is a political hack).

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Jar, Obama knows how to play the players. This is not a man with whom I would like to play poker. He’s got a sense for things and great timing.

  • Billysees

    @1EqualityUSA: 10

    So well said.
    Thanks for a good opinion and comment.

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