Friday, January 14, 2011

Republicans and Gay Rights - An Evolving Story

      I was reading a very interesting article the other day on the dilemma that the Republican Party finds itself in in the Northeastern states. From Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Maryland, it is becoming increasingly clear to the state GOP parties that the public in those states have "moved on" in regards to gay and lesbian rights. This is why we see the New Hampshire Republican party refusing to bring up gay marriage repeal this session, for it is not a pressing issue in the state. Also, as we are seeing that in Maryland the GOP  have remarkably become "pro-civil union". This I think says something very interesting about the GOP in general and their political posturing on this issue.

     The Republican party sees itself in a quandary. It is still heavily supported by the Religious Right in certain key areas of the nation, yet at the same time the younger generations have become more socially liberal and see the GOP as encouraging bigotry and animosity towards the LGBT community. In those states which lean more liberal on such issues, and where the Religious Right does not hold as much sway, the GOP have morphed into "accepting" or not challenging pro-LGBT laws. This is what we are seeing in the Northeastern states.

      In those states where the Religious Right still holds much sway, and the Republicans chance for power depends upon their votes - such as in the South and the Mid-Western to Pacific states - it is convenient and politically the smart move to throw the LGBT community under the bus. Thus, we see anti-LGBT ordinances and amendments coming before legislatures in West Virgina, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Iowa. For the GOP, they realize that in order to keep the social conservatives, which make up their voting block in these states, they have to demonize the LGBT community and ensure that they are remembered as the party that "protected" the Religious Right from the evil gays.

     This may work for them in the short term, and I am sure that we will see anti-gay amendments and laws pass in West Virgina, North Carolina, and Wyoming in the future. But in the long term this emphasis will ensure the alienation from the party by young voters. The GOP in the Northeast have recognized this fact, thus it is only a matter of time before the GOP of the rest of the nation recognize this as well. Though it is not popular in LGBT circles to say the next statement, groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud are helping this "movement" of the GOP away from the hysteria and fear-mongering of the Religious Right, and instead towards one of tolerance and equal treatment. Thus, instead of demonizing them - as some are prone to do - we should encourage them to stay true to the principles of LGBT equality. Something that the LCR is doing a good job of and that GOProud can work on. Overall, let us be glad that history is moving forward in regards to equal rights for all Americans, and that the GOP party - even if it is their state branches - are becoming more open to the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

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