The Republican party’s having a gay identity crisis as of late – and the ideological winner could change the party’s political fate, not to mention the election.
As Kerry Eleveld eloquently explains in the Advocate, three of the presidential contenders oppose a federal amendment against gay marriage: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, although the latter wants to make sure no one state has to endorse another’s married gays. Regardless of Thompson’s middle ground, his and his peers’ moderate stances show that the Republican party’s facing an important decision. Will they stick to their guns and give the once omnipotent Christian right their anti-gay wish, or will they move toward the left? While we can’t yet answer that pressing question, Eleveld offers a peek into the political implications of a Giuliani nomination:
With Giuliani as competition, presumably a Democrat would have to work harder to distinguish himself or herself on gay issues. Democratic political consultant Paul Yandura puts it this way: “A Giuliani that would come out and be just inches away from any other Democratic candidate [on gay rights] is going to force the issue.”
True, Giuliani isn’t as gay-friendly as the Democratic front-runners: He has studiously dodged questions about ENDA, has said it isn’t time to revisit “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and has gone out of his way to assure conservatives that he will appoint “strict constructionist” judges to the federal bench. But to make the distinctions clear, the Democrat facing Giuliani is going to have to highlight those points–that is, discuss gay issues. “With most Republican candidates, the Democrats might be able to take the gay vote for granted,” says Sherrill of Hunter College. “As a result, they would operate on the assumption that they will get 75% to 80% of the gay vote no matter what they do [and] probably say as little as possible on LGB-related issues.
It’s known as “electoral capture” when a candidate can take an interest group for granted because they have no place else to go with their votes. Ironically, the Christian right faces the same dilemma with Republicans–only they’re so thoroughly dissatisfied with their choices this time around, “they’re having a bit of a temper tantrum right now,” says [Log Cabin Republican’s] Patrick Sammon.
It’s known as “electoral capture” when a candidate can take an interest group for granted because they have no place else to go with their votes. Ironically, the Christian right faces the same dilemma with Republicans–only they’re so thoroughly dissatisfied with their choices this time around, “they’re having a bit of a temper tantrum right now,” says Sammon.
Eleveld goes on to dissect the Evangelical’s threat to support a third party candidate, which could destroy the party’s electoral future. Unless, of course, the party aggressively pursues the gay vote, which would change the entire presidential debate. The Democrats, of course, would then be forced to flex their gay friendly muscle.