Sen. Arlen Specter Is the Gays’ New BFF. Too Bad It Doesn’t Matter


We know we’ve got a few friends on The Hill who have our backs. Harry Reid. Kirsten Gillibrand. Patrick Murphy. And now … Republican turncoat Arlen Specter?

The newly minted Democrat doesn’t have much authority these days. Despite being welcomed by Obama with open arms, Democratic leaders haven’t been willing to cede top committee posts — and Capitol cafeteria seats — to the Pennsylvania senator. And the Republicans hate the guy (at least during live Fox News hits).

So what good is it that Sen. Specter, who originally left the Democratic fold for the GOP in 1965 when Dems ignored homo witchhunting, is campaigning against the Defense of Marriage Act?

“The time has come to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” Specter wrote yesterday in the Huffington Post. “Enacted 13 years ago when the idea of same sex marriage was struggling for acceptance, the Act is a relic of a more tradition-bound time and culture.” He continues: “The repeal of DOMA is one step among several designed to fully integrate and protect the rights of gays and lesbians in American society. Recently enacted hate crimes legislation is another. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S 909), which I sponsored with the late Senator Kennedy, makes it a federal crime to target victims on the basis of disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. […] Finally, the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is outdated, and should be rescinded entirely. A person’s sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to serve their country in the armed services. Countless studies and the experiences of gays who have served in the military have borne out these findings.”

This is so true! Except politically, Specter’s musings are worth little.

The guy has always been a moderate Republican — against abortion, but in favor of a woman’s right to choose, just to name one apparent paradox. But while he enjoyed a senior position inside the GOP, now that he’s among Dems, he’s been demoted. Just to give one example: Specter was once the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee; since switching sides, he’s barely a blip there. Why such a big deal? Because the Judiciary Committee is responsible for confirming Obama’s picks federal judges — something that might come in handy for a gay rights advocate who doesn’t want judges gaveling hate from the bench.

But for now, Arlen is expected to tow the Democratic line if he has any hope of regaining stature. He no longer trades favors; he hopes for them. So while it’s excellent to see him come out for gay rights — no, really, we’re loving it! — the three-decade veteran senator is suddenly one of the weakest votes in the chamber.

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    against abortion, but in favor of a woman’s right to choose, just to name one apparent paradox.


    Sounds less like a paradox and more like a progressive, live and let live perspective.

    I know it’s a diffcult concept, but just because a person isn’t 100% rooted in your perspective on an issue doesn’t necessarily make them wrong or useless in the larger discussion.


  • Mike L.

    I’m against abortion on a personal level, but I believe women have the right to choose for themselves.

    Yeah Republicans are all about small governement so long as they can have big church dictating what you can and cannot do.

    Damn it it’s not the government’s job to keep me from going to hell b/c of socalled sins based on their bible.

  • Attmay

    The guy’s always blown with the wind, that’s why the GOP doesn’t miss him and the Democrats shun him.

  • Shawn

    Yeah, I actually agree with him on the abortion thing. If I some how got a women pregnant, I would try and get her to keep it. However, I don’t believe I should tell anyone what is best for them and I don’t feel it’s my place to tell someone how to choose what is best for the or what they should believe.

  • Mike Barton

    @Attmay: I don’t shun him – I think he’s one of the greatest allies we’ve had and, when he was a Republican, was one of very few Republicans that I ever had any respect for!

  • Bill Perdue

    Specter is really, really, really afraid he’ll lose the election.

    In 1996 he voted for DOMA and he’s one of the bigots in Congress and the administration like Obama and Hillary Clinton who think that the question of same sex marriage equality should be left up to the states, just as earlier Democrats thought that the question of slavery should be left up to the states.

    He voted against DADT but so several Republicans, not because they opposed the bigotry of Clintons DADT but because they didn’t think it was mean spirited enough.

    Many Democrats mistrust his motives in switching and many Republicans are angry about it, but the ease with which rightwingers like Arlen Specter and Strom Thurmond can switch from one right centrist party to another is just another indication of basic similarities and ties between the party of Tweedledee and the party of Tweedledum.

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