Once the fiercest of the culture warriors, Republicans have a long history of railing against the gays, but remained relatively mum during the events in St. Paul, Kirchick credits to multiple factors, not least of all John McCain…
The absence of antigay rhetoric has much to do with Mr. McCain; he is comfortable around gay people, and his old-fashioned sense of honor proscribes against making them pariahs for political gain. He also has a better record on gay issues than most of his Republican colleagues, having courageously stood up against his party by opposing the FMA.
Republicans might also have noticed the opinions of their own party members and realized that attacking the “gay agenda” would prove unpopular. On the eve of the convention, a New York Times/CBS News poll reported 49% of Republican delegates were in support of either civil unions (43%) or marriage (6%) for gay couples. While 90% of Democratic delegates support either marriage (55%) or civil unions (35%), Republican delegates — the party’s conservative base — are actually more liberal on this issue than Republican voters, only 39% of whom support either option. With 58% of the American public in favor of some form of legal recognition, Republicans are actually closer to the national mood, and are hopefully beginning to understand that Buchananite “cultural war” rhetoric is fast becoming a thing of the past.
Kirchick isn’t entirely pleased with McCain and points out that the Republican presidential candidate could have used his acceptance speech to defend his lavender peers. Like many others, however, Kirchick’s still appreciative:
[McCain] criticized his party for succumbing to the “temptations of corruption” and wasteful spending. But he also could have gone after their cynical stigmatization of an entire class of citizens. That Mr. McCain declined to go after his party on this matter is unfortunate, if understandable, given the grief he’s caused them on so many other fronts. It may sound like cold comfort, but gay people have something to appreciate in the fact that, this year, Republicans left them alone.
We guess that’s better than being used as a political tool, but – c’mon! Isn’t the American democracy built on involvement in political parties? What’s that thing about “No taxation without representation”? That revolutionary idea’s not simply about one man, one vote, but about the political embrace.